This Freelance Writer Explains The Biggest Risks Of Freelancing
Simran Doshi wrote her first blog post in 2005 at the ripe age of 9. In 2010, she built a blog from scratch to teach herself HTML basics. After finding a passion for writing, she studied English in university – that’s when she realized writing could be a fully-fledged career opportunity. Now a full-time freelance writer, Simran helps clients globally from her home base of Mumbai, India. In this freelancer feature, Simran shares how she got into freelancing, how she varies up her work so she’s never bored, and the biggest risks of freelancing to be aware of.
How did you get into freelancing?
So, after I completed my post-grad in 2018, I applied for several internships and jobs through LinkedIn.
Got a few calls. I pursued some (while many rejected me due to no prior experience). Finally, I got through an interview and joined one of the leading media houses in my country — for a 1-month internship. Accepted. But, 2 weeks into it, I knew this was not something I’d want to do for even 2 months, forget about the whole life. Completed the internship, rejected the job offer. And…
With an experience of 1 month at job, I ventured into freelancing and the business world — not giving myself any other option. Applied to several freelance marketplace websites (not knowing any better), and also for ‘remote’ jobs.
I landed my first freelance client after 6 months of not knowing what to do in this field — through a referral from my previous job.
(2019) 2 month after that, I (re)discovered this wonderful platform called LinkedIn — as something more than just a job portal. And I started posting there of what I knew about writing and freelancing. And 2 months of consistent posting and engaging and networking — I started to get inbound leads!
That was the start of my freelance career.
What kind of freelance work do you do?
I offer 4 kinds of writing services majorly — website copy, social media copy, email newsletter copy, and article/blog content. I’ve worked with clientele ranging from SMEs, established companies, to even Fortune 500s.
I have zeroed down on my services offered, but I am open to writing for business in all niches. The reason: I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing over and over again. So, to keep exploring more, I keep myself open to working for various industries.
In my freelance professional career, I’ve written for fields including textiles, food, finance, tech, IT, gaming, to even shipping, socks, farming and fisheries.
What’s the worst client experience you’ve ever had?
Worst The BEST “learning experience client” was during my initial days of freelancing.
So, this one client approached me for writing her social media copies. We got on a call, discussed at length about what work she does, her expectations, and even ‘promise’ of doing a website for her if I understood her brand voice in this one.
The only thing — that she required 12 posts written in a week. But, I felt it was genuine and also, didn’t notice any of such red flags when we talked, over emails or even on video calls. So, went ahead, and delivered the posts. Received feedback. Incorporated changes. She actually liked my work.
Come payment — I will transfer tomorrow. Next week please. Next month as I’m short on funds. My stock is clearing this week, cannot do it. After these exchanges, I didn’t stop my follow-ups, but the replies stopped coming.
This particular client wasn’t bad, I’d say. But, because I didn’t know any better, I missed out on a lot of things from my end like proper documentation, charging an advance, etc. — and in retrospect, a couple of red flags too! 🚩
What are the biggest risks of freelancing to be aware of?
There are potential risks with freelancing (which is why many people decide to quit freelancing, or not take the leap as a full-time freelancer) is…
The uncertainty associated with the field. Uncertainty that’s majorly related to:
- Finding clients
- Finding high-paying clients (really subjective phrase, still!)
- Growing as a freelancer
- No industry standards
- (Most important!) — MONEY flow.
If not managed well, these may challenge you, or even make you hate the field. But —
I, personally, do not hate anything about freelancing (not a single thing!) – because this is the life I’ve chosen for myself.
So, some days it would be the “ideal-theoretical” 4-hour 4-day work week. Other days, it would be a 14-hour 6-days work week (while I’m frantically planning and organizing everything on the remaining 7th day!).
Initial 10 days of the month, you might not have a single project. Last 10 days of the same month, you can be struggling to deliver 10 different projects.
Sometimes, payments are crazy late. Or some might not even pay you. Sometimes, my clients surprise me by paying the full amount in advance.
But, that’s part of the job. And I love every single bit of it! Even the uncertainties.
What’s one pitfall of freelancing that every freelancer should be aware of? How can they avoid it?
Not having freelance agreements and not documenting everything over emails is one of the major pitfalls.
Freelancing, or rather remote working, is based on trust. However, due to miscommunication, or no communication at all, expectations can get messed up, resulting in strained professional relationships (worst case scenario, lose work or not get paid on time — because, hey, no proof!).
So, freelance contracts and emails are really crucial for that — acting as a safety net for freelancers; and also, for effective communication & setting expectations for the clients.
What’s your top growth tip for freelancers?
Work on your personal brand.
You cannot rely on gigs from freelance marketplaces. Cold outreach can work to an extent. But, to have a sustainable freelance career, you need to start getting inbound leads i.e. clients reach out to you looking for your services.
And you can do that by building your personal brand. For this, currently, LinkedIn and Instagram are the best platforms to be in.
Create content regularly, engage, network. Consistently. And you’d see the results yourself 🙂