When I am asked, “Are you working?” and I reply, “Yes, I freelance from home”, more often than not I am met with looks of incomprehension, or looks that say, “Oh, so you don’t work.” To be honest, I myself took quite a long time to assert to myself that “Yes, I work. Freelance writing is work. Full time work.” and not respond with “No, I don’t”. Having been in a typical day job in the software industry for the greater part of the past decade, work always conjures up the vision of sitting in a cubicle inside a large office and a lot of people buzzing about at a hectic pace. Not to mention the hefty sum that gets credited to your bank account on the last working day of every month. Freelance work doesn’t always get thought of in the same level as a regular job. However, those who have been freelancing would tell you that it is as demanding, and sometimes even more, than a regular day job.
I have been freelancing on writing projects for about three years now, and I am a lot wiser about working from home than I had ever been. I know three years are not much, and I am just starting out. And yet, there are a few things I have learned in this time, that have altered the way I used to look at work.
Being your own boss
It is a great thing, not having to report to anyone, not having to follow orders. Freelancing from home means you are your own boss. You can take the day off when you feel like it. You can turn down a client if you don’t like him. You can abscond from work without having to inform anyone. However, if you are really looking to make some progress through your freelancing gigs, you have to be as strict to yourselves as your boss in a company would be to you. I used to do all those things I mentioned above for some time. And then I realized. I was not making any money, or any significant improvement through my projects. If I have to substantiate what I am doing, I have to be my own boss, but a very disciplined one at that.
Every Penny has to be earned
I have come to realize, the regular 9-5 jobs, especially in the IT industry, end up making us spoilt brats. We are paid big money, much earlier in our careers, and we start to think that is the norm, not the exception. We do work our asses off for that money, but the time spent at work comprises of a mixture of a lot of things – team building, management, coding and development, taking part in the company’s cultural events, spending time in the canteen, and so on. However, now that I am a freelancer, I see how low clients are willing to pay, and even more pathetic, how low people are willing to work for. In the last three years, I have maintained a rate below which I won’t work. I have told myself it is ok to go without a client for sometime, instead of pulling your hair out for someone who’s paying you lesser than peanuts.
Having said that, even at the rates I work, you really HAVE TO WORK to get paid a decent amount. You really have to sit down and write a given number of words to see your bank account get credited with a directly proportional amount. Never before in life had my effort been so directly linked with the payment – as is the case with anyone working in the software industry. But now, every word matters. Every penny has to be earned.
Risks are meant to be taken
I have always been a very safe kind of person, planning things, foreseeing all possible dangers or pitfalls, the works. Off late though, I have started plunging headlong into different things that I have never done before. It might be a case of motherhood bringing about a kind of bravado to my character, but I have gone ahead and done a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise have cared about. I have opened my own firm, trained people on soft skills, and am working furiously to get my storytelling endeavor up and running. I have come to realize that this need to constantly reinvent myself has been with me all along, and it is probably what keeps my life interesting. Now I am happy, even eager than ever, to take risks.
Freelancing and entrepreneurship is an exciting journey, one in which you don’t know where the next turn is going to lead you to. So obviously, there are going to be a lot of lessons to be learned, many more than the three listed here. Being a keen learner, I look forward to what lessons the future hands out to me. This is interesting, what I am doing, and I am happy that I am getting to do something like this.
About Yamini Vijendran
Yamini Vijendran (@saimini) is the author of ‘Full Circle’, a romance novella published by Indireads. A techie turned freelance writer, Yamini has been churning out content from her home in Pune for the past three years. Her short stories have been published in ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’, an Anthology published by Penguin India, New Asian Writing and Six Sentences, and her poems in The Indian Review, Contemporary Literary Review of India and ‘A World Rediscovered’ a poetry Anthology by Cyberwit Publications. Visit her at http://yaminivijendran.