What I learnt from freelancing since the age of 19

Published: December 29, 2020 at 10:18 am

In recent times, since many of us are working from home, people have turned to freelance to use their extra time and make some additional income. While it may seem easy and glamorous to make money working from home or any remote location, freelancing is not as easy as it appears to be. In this article, Rakesh Singh shares lessons learned during his journey as a freelancer for over the last six years, from the age of 19.

About The Author: Rakesh Singh has completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and works with a top eCommerce company as a Product Manager. He is interested in Fintech, Personal Finance and enjoys reading non-fiction, travelling for food and playing a game of chess. Also, by Rakesh: Five ways to save money when shopping online.
This article focuses on the qualities necessary for a freelancer to succeed. If you are looking for income generation ideas with the right kind of outlook, consult the list of resources given at the end of the article.

My Journey: I was born and brought up in a middle-class family in a Tier-3 city of India. I always felt the pocket money given to me by my parents was never sufficient- especially after looking at lifestyles of other classmates who came from rich and wealthy families. Instead of asking for extra pocket money from my parents, I started looking online for money-making opportunities.

Like every newbie, I had my share of signing up for get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level marketing companies, online ‘typing’ & ‘data entry jobs’ etc. However, I was not ready to give up. I then decided to tweak my approach. I emailed a few bloggers whose blogs I followed and started asking them if they wanted any intern or assistant to work for them. Looking at my persistence and after testing my skills, they started passing some small tasks followed by major projects once I delivered and built a rapport with them.

They were also kind enough to refer me to their other blogger friends, and steadily I seemed to have a constant flow of work. I have been freelancing on the side for the last six years now, and I am very thankful to have an additional source of income apart from my day job. The stability a steady second income source brings to your life is altogether different!

Below are some of the learnings from my journey of the last six years doing freelancing part-time. If any of you FreeFinCal readers can gain anything from my learning’s, I’ll be very happy.

1 Importance of being disciplined

Freelancing is akin to being your boss. Easier said than done; it needs you to be extremely disciplined. You have no one forcing you to stay disciplined, but you need to cultivate the habit yourself. Dedicating sufficient time for freelancing (if doing it with along with your day job), sticking to the deadlines, behaving responsibly and communicating well with your client are some of the key areas of the self-discipline.

2 Constantly learning & keeping myself updated

This is extremely most important aspects of what I learned as part of the freelancer journey. Constant learning & keeping myself updated with the latest advancements in the area of my skillset helped me keep my ideas refreshed.  It also helped me stay ahead of the competition and opened up new opportunities.

3 Not to compare me with others

Comparing yourself to others can make you feel bad about yourself. These negative thoughts suck up all the energy and reduce your productivity. I learnt expressing myself for what I am and not for someone else.

4 Importance of saying NO

Not every client you get in your freelancing career will be good. Picking the right clients and turning down the ones whom you are not comfortable to work helped me achieve better relationships. I learnt how to nurture the relationships that matter and avoiding the ones where trust may be broken. Sometimes you may already have too much work on your platter, but you still don’t want to deny any new job or client. Learn to say NO at the right time to the right clients.

5 The value of appreciation

Getting appreciated about your work helps you feel better. I learnt a lot about the value of appreciation during my career as a freelancer. Many argue that you do your work and get the paycheck, why worry about the appreciation?  But, in real life, appreciation matters a lot. Your confidence levels increase significantly if you are appreciated for your work. I expect my client to appreciate and respect my work if it’s good.

6 Importance of maintaining proper accounts

I have met many freelancers who do not like the paperwork and avoid invoicing. Sending invoices to your clients, following up on unpaid invoices, keeping proper track of expenses are all integral functions of freelancing. After all, money made from freelancing is what hits your bank account and not what is invoiced or submitted. Keeping proper records will also help you while filing taxes and avoid the hassles of last-minute accounting and data collating task while filing your returns.

I have tried to include some of the most significant learnings from my journey of the last six years as a freelancer. When I started six years back, there were not too many takers. Today freelancing is a buzzword with every other person thinking of freelancing. If you follow the proper approach and do it diligently, freelancing can be a very lucrative source for income.

Resources to create a side-income

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18), Gamechanger, Chinchu Gets a Superpower! and seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations based on money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association, IIST Alumni Association. For speaking engagements, write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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