The term Freelancer is very intriguing. Dictionary defines Freelancer as-
1. A person who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them.
2. An uncommitted independent, as in politics or social life.
Delving further, the origin of the term ‘freelancer’ goes back to medieval era. It referred to a mercenary, a ‘free lance’ who could be a knight with no affiliation or loyalty to any particular lord. He could be hired by any lord for a given task in exchange of a favour or gold coins or any other thing.
Now, why am I blabbering about Freelance and freelancers? Well, I am a freelance writer by profession and it has been almost three years since I am living with this tag of a ‘Freelance Writer’. A few people find this tag glamorous whereas for several others, the gist of this profession is restricted to just half of the letters, i.e., ‘free’. I have my objections against this term. Does ‘free’ in ‘freelancer’ signify anything? Perhaps for professionals, it denotes nothing but for N number of acquaintances, it creates the perception that a freelancer has all the free time in the world.
I have been through situations where I was asked, ‘so, what do you do for a living?’ I reply, I am a freelance writer. Pat comes the reply, ‘that I got but what is your actual job’! After that, I don’t know who feels more bewildered, me or the questioner! I seriously think it’s a misnomer. I live in a society where it’s actually hard for people to believe that someone who is young, qualified and has completed his MBA, is working from home. I get weird glances when I respond to the questions like ‘which company you are working for/with’? How could someone work without being a part of an organization? Without having a designation? Without having a salary slip? And so on and so forth!
The cycle starts with your family, extends to your relatives and friends. To tell you the truth, there is nothing free in freelancing. A freelancer spends equal number of hours on his work that of his friend in a full-time regular job. The only difference is my breed is not bound to any 9-6 schedule. Yes, freelancers are privileged to not being subjected to any peer pressure, office politics, gender discrimination etc etc. However, the same things can work to your disadvantage. For instance, as you are not working under someone, it’s hard to discipline yourself. In the absence of peers and colleagues, it is not always possible to compare and analyse your quality of work. You are also not eligible for any year-end bonuses, incentives and perhaps, free local and global tours. You don’t have a steady income. One month, you are all rich and wondering where to spend your hard-earned moolah and next month, you might be pondering over where am I going to get my next meal (last part might border on exaggeration but whatever, you get the drift).
Worst part of this profession is people always assume that you are free. Anyone can call you at any point of time expecting that just because you stay at home, you will have all the free time in the world. Additionally, people will opine, ‘dude, you are so damn lucky. Not many people have such rich fortune like you!’ Honestly, during my first year as a freelancer, it all felt nice and wonderful. But now, it sucks! I feel like replying, ‘nobody has stopped you from joining me or you can be as fortunate as I am!’ But the moment, you utter these words, just prepare yourself for tales of countless excuses, sighs, problems, regrets and what not!
To tell you the truth, it demands guts and a huge risk appetite to pursue career as a freelancer leaving a secure job. If you could make it in few years, all glory is yours. You will be hailed and well, envied as well but in case, you are still struggling to make a mark for yourself, get ready for ‘told you so…’ prophecies. Yeah, it always pays to be realistic. A freelancer should periodically examine his progress and devise further strategies. At the same time, people in his life should understand that a freelance writer has his own working hours and he requires space and peace to produce his optimum. Guess, it’s time to set my own rules and stick by them.
: Image courtesy graphicdesignblog.org