New book gives freelancers a step-by-step guide on being successful
Why take up a job where you get a raise only once a year? Does it mean that you have shown no progress in 12 months? No
A new book meant to be a manual for freelancers questions the very logic of a 9-to-5 corporate life. Why take up a job where you get a raise only once a year? Does it mean that you have shown no progress in 12 months? No, it doesn't, is one of the points that Pyjama Profits (Bloomsbury India), the book in question, tries to make.
In fact, its co-author, 25-year-old entrepreneur Varun Mayya, feels that the time is nigh when automation will pose a clear and present danger to salaried individuals.
"Today, roles like lead generation in the sales department are gone. Nobody hires such people anymore if they use tools like Apollo or Softbound [as a substitute]," he says. Mayya even pooh-poohs college education, which he believes is useful mainly for networking. "Who knows whether the skills you start learning will be as relevant four years down the line?" he asks.
These are some of the reasons why he and Abhinav Chhikara, the other author, stress on freelancing being a more viable career alternative. And with that in mind, they wrote Pyjama Profit, a guide to making money sitting at home in your slacks. We picked out a few of their mantras. Here they are, in case you too want to follow a professional path where, as it's often said, "you are your own boss".
Find your skill
The main thing here is to find something you do better than the average person. And even if you are a complete newbie, it's best to start learning on the job than wait six months or so for getting a hang of it. Here's why: somewhere out there, there is a business that is looking for what you offer, but has a budget of only, say, $20. They would then fall back on a person who fits that price limit, i.e. you. And in the process of delivering that project, you would have learnt more than you would have while merely studying the subject. The book also classifies various "pyjama categories", or lucrative freelancing job profiles. These include marketing, content writing, design and web development. Pick one that you think is best aligned to your skill set.
Get yourself out there
What's the point of having a skill if no one is aware of what you can offer? Also, even if you touch base with a prospective employer, how do you convince them that you are the best person for the job? This is where communication enters the picture. Each step at which you interact with the business, the person at the other end of the email or Skype chat forms an impression of who you are. So always put your best foot forward.
Then there's the question of the payment model. What works best? Fixed price, hourly, or weekly billing rates? Weekly billing is the answer, since it ensures that the client doesn't delay what he owes you at the end of every seven days. With fixed-price rates, you never know, the person might do a disappearing act when it's time to pay up.
Build your brand
Aim at becoming an authority on your subject. This might sound difficult. But in practice, it essentially means being better than the average person, and sharing your work with others. After all, who do we consider as "experts"? It's people who we can learn from, based simply on the fact that they have something of value to say, which they have put out for public consumption. Be that person. Create a logo and a website. Include three basics: An introduction to yourself, a portfolio that showcases previous work, and contact details for people to get in touch. Put out new content regularly. And most importantly, document your learning process in the public domain. Don't be shy even if you feel that you aren't good enough. For, given the rapid advances in technology, you then become a part of the ever-changing tech graph instead of being someone left in the lurch.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Open four different bank accounts for your business, savings, monthly expenditure and splurge funds. Whatever payment you get from any client goes into your business account (this also helps streamline your tax filing, another essential, even if boring, aspect of managing your finances). The savings account is meant for different investment schemes, such as the government's New Pension Scheme or Mediclaim. For the monthly expenditure account, get a standing instruction on your business account to have 25 per cent of after-tax funds moved here. Link it to phone apps like Walnut to keep a track on your rent money, gym payment and so on. And finally, touch your splurge fund as little as you can. Remember, this money is best kept aside for a rainy day. It's not to buy your friends free shots at the bar.
Okay, so a salaried job gives you a sense of stability. Yet, it also puts a cap on your income. Plus, do we still measure "success" with an increasingly outdated model of owning a house, car and having a wife and children? The concept of "having made it" has changed in today's day and age. And it doesn't necessitate having a stable job. But keep two things in mind as a freelancer. A) Worrying achieves nothing apart from compounding problems. And B) If you have a stressful situation like a presentation imminent, distract yourself with hobbies and friends, instead of thinking too much about it once your preparation is done.
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