The employment scenario in India remains fairly bleak during the pandemic, especially from the havoc it’s playing on the national economy due to miscalculated risks of the lockdown. Businesses small to large are waking up to the horrors of losing business while employees find themselves losing jobs rapidly in wake of the financial downturns of their respective employers.
Whether the lockdowns fetched the desired results in curbing the pandemic is highly debatable. However, there’s one way that a fresher or experienced employee can overcome the evil effects of unemployment it created. And that’s by finding freelance work.
Is Freelancing Worth It?
When I say freelance work, this question might emerge on your mind: ''Is freelancing worth it? So far, we’ve heard about freelance journalists that live in our neighborhood. ''
But freelancing is actually much more than that.
For starters, even the domestic helper that works for an hour or two at your home or office can also be considered as a freelancer. However, they come under the category of labor. At the same time, those insurance and investment agents that ask you for business could also be freelancers.
That’s because freelancers aren’t employees of any company or individual. Instead, they’re independent contractors that provide specific services for a fixed pay.
However, here’s a startling figure from PayPal, the single-largest online payment system in the world. Freelancers in India earn an average of Rs.2 million per year. This means an average of Rs.166,666.66, per month. PayPal studies found that some freelancers in India earn much higher- up to Rs.500,000 per month.
India is home to the second-largest freelance workforce in the world: there’re between 15 million to 17 million freelancers in this country.
Freelancing allows you to work for Indian as well as foreign clients. There are no lower or upper limits on the number of jobs you can take, as long as you can complete them on the schedules of the buyer.
If this sounds interesting and you’re willing to find freelance work during the pandemic, here are some top strategies.
Top Strategies to Find Freelance Work
These topmost strategies should help you overcome any effects of the economic devastation the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking on the Indian economy and the job market. And if you plan well, these strategies would help you become a successful freelancer who doesn’t need to take fulltime jobs anywhere.
Select Areas of Freelance Work
The first thing to do for finding freelance work is to define the skills you can offer. These needn’t necessarily be skills related to your academic qualifications or work experience, though these would vastly help. If you’re an expert at something as a hobbyist or love doing a specific task, list that on top of the freelance skills you can provide.
Create a list of all the skills you can offer as a freelancer. Generally, a prosperous freelancer will offer one main skill and several side skills. For example, I will offer content writing or career advice as the main skill followed by proofreading, editing, counseling, and similar ones as side skills.
The more the skills you can provide, the greater the chances of landing some prized freelance assignments.
Apply for GSTIN
This is the second most important part of the strategy to find freelance work. Under India’s laws, all freelancers require a Goods & Services Tax (GST) Identification Number. Generally, a Chartered Accountant or a reliable consultancy firm will help you to get a GSTIN as a freelancer. Most people that wish to freelance do not bother to get a GSTIN and hence are unsuccessful.
A GSTIN is also useful for opening a bank account as a freelancer. You can opt to receive the funds from freelancing directly to your ordinary, savings bank account. However, this will make you liable to pay higher Income Tax. It can also become difficult to justify lots of remittances to your account from various sources around the world when it comes to the taxman.
Instead, a GSTIN will save you a lot of taxation and legal wrangles. Usually, a good CPA ( Chartered Public Accountant) or consulting firm will get you a GSTIN within a week of application. All it needs is your Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Aadhar details.
Open PayPal, Payoneer or Stripe Account
The next on your freelancing strategy should be to open a PayPal account. This is the simplest part. All you need is a bank account, mobile number, and an email ID. Create an account online. Once PayPal verifies your credentials through various checks, it will ask you for the GSTIN and bank account number.
Upon submitting the GSTIN and bank account numbers, PayPal usually credits Re.1 or so in your account and asks back for the money. You have to send back the one Rupee from your bank account only. Once that’s done means your bank account stands verified and you can receive payments from your freelancing work.
Payoneer and Stripe also provide great services to freelancers and have integrations with Freelancer Management Systems ( FMS) like Transformify.
Study Freelance Work Websites
Studying and understanding how freelance work websites work will take some time. However, this is an important part of your strategy to find freelance work during the pandemic. Hence, don’t neglect this part merely because you find it time-consuming or even boring.
Successful freelancers have superb profiles on these websites and hence they’re successful. Therefore, take time to study some of the best profiles you’ll find on freelancing websites such as Upwork.com, Transformify and FlexJobs.com, among others. Learn how they’re presenting their skills and experience. Also find different skills that are in demand in your particular field for freelancing.
Also, look for tutorials on how to bid for freelance work. Yes, you need to submit proposals to buyers and quote a price to get freelance work. It’s not as simple as someone seeing your profile, getting a good impression, and offering you the work.
Create Superb LinkedIn Profile
Create a LinkedIn profile that matches the skills you’re offering online. That’s because every top freelancing platform will ask you for the LinkedIn profile while registering. Failing to do so means your freelancer profile won’t be fully completed and you cannot bid jobs. Nor would your profile be visible to buyers of your services.
Mention all the skills you’re offering as a freelancer on your LinkedIn profile. And get a few superb references that can speak well about your skills, experience and services. These could be your former or current bosses and faculty members or even colleagues. Include as much information about yourself as a professional in that specific field.
Setup Your Office at Home
Your next move should be setting up a small office at home. That’s because the majority of freelancers work from home. Of course, you can also work online from any other location daily or during a trip to someplace. That doesn’t matter.
One of the main parts of freelancing is to be able to work comfortably to deliver the necessary work on schedule. This helps you in maintaining a steady income flow. Also, create a timetable for your work-from-home hours. And stick to it closely.
Sign-Up on Freelancing Platforms
There’re several superb freelancing platforms you can register on. These include Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, Transformify, FlexJobs.com, Fiverr.com, Toptal.com, and many more. Pot your profile on these platforms. Some of them ask for payment upfront while others will deduct between five and 20 percent of our income as their commissions. Very few, like Transformify, take no cut on your earnings.
This means you need to fix a rate for your freelance services. The rate should consider the amount of money you’ll pay as commission or fees to these platforms. And the prevailing exchange rates of the US Dollar to the Indian Rupee. Always quote your price in US Dollars since that makes it easier for calculations, though you’re free to get clients from any part of the world.
Get a Mix of Assignments
And finally, get a mix of various freelance assignments that match your skills. These can broadly be defined as short-term, mid-term, and long-term assignments. By having all these three types of assignments on your portfolio, it’s possible to maintain a steady income. Also, keep bidding for newer tasks whenever possible.
Never take more tasks than you can handle. Remember, a buyer doesn’t pay you directly. They pay the money to the freelancing platform, which in turn holds it in escrow. It’s only after the buyer is satisfied and allows the platform to pay that you’ll actually get the money.
Get More References
You can ask for references, recommendations, and appreciation letters from buyers whose tasks you complete successfully. These are extremely important to move upwards on the freelancing ladders. The higher the number of recommendations and appreciations, the better chances of getting lucrative assignments.
You can also ask these buyers to mention something about your services on your LinkedIn profile. That’s because most buyers also go through the LinkedIn profile of a freelancer before shortlisting some. A great LinkedIn profile with a superb freelance platform profile is a killer combination to win any prestigious and well-paying assignment.
Keep Adding Newer Skills
Thanks to online learning systems, it’s very easy to acquire and add new skills as a freelancer. However, a word of caution here. Add skills only if you believe they’re absolutely necessary for your freelance work. Never widen the scope of your work because you might end up trying to do several complex tasks at one time without succeeding at any.
Read superb tutorials online about how to increase the number of skills you’re offering as a freelancer. These tutorials are from real-life people that are successful freelancers and want to help others.
These 10 tips should help you create a superb freelance strategy that’ll see you earn enough money and accolades through the pandemic and beyond. Freelancing is a superb way to work if you have the necessary skills and willing to take extra efforts.