How It All Began
The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. Here is the inspiring story of Shweta who charted her own path by turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Shweta, a B.Tech graduate, completed her graduation in the year 2021. She had begun freelancing in the third year of her graduation to get exposure. In order to find her niche, she dabbled in different facets of online marketing like social media marketing, digital marketing, and others.
While society wants a software engineer to get a 9 to 5 job with a reputed company, Shweta had some other plans. Being a curious soul, she had the spark to learn and grow. The same curiosity and life circumstances changed her destiny.
An Odyssey Of A Freelancer
Some health conditions put Shweta on complete bed rest in the year 2019 for a couple of months. Since she was not able to study, she had ample time on her hand to think about her next step. She decided to put her skills to good use. Her knowledge to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram helped her resell products from different websites. Owing to the good response, she started earning around Rs. 13,000 every month.
However, she had bigger plans. She tried her hands on copywriting and designing as she was good with Canva. Her hunger to learn made her master Photoshop as well. When her brother began his start-up, she joined him as a graphic designer. While the start-up didn’t last, she learned the ropes of designing from it. She then created her Instagram page to broaden her reach. She got her first client when she clocked in 800 followers. She continued getting more clients’ to post reaching 2000 followers. She loved it so much that she pursued this full-time.
Trials and Tribulations
The initial years of being a freelancer are not easy. There are many trials and errors, especially related to that pricing.
Shweta devised pricing strategies based on her prior experience. She has a word of advice regarding this. Freelancers should charge based on their experience and skills, whether they are beginners, middle-level, or experts. Pricing is also based on the duration of the project and the location of the client, whether they are local or international.
Check out how to price yourself as a freelancer in this guide.
In the initial phase, Shweta was more bent on gaining clients rather than earning money. She believes that exposure and experience are more important. The more and better you work, the more you can charge for your services. She began with Rs. 100 per post, which gradually increased as she got a hold in the industry.
When asked about work-life balance, Shweta says that the working models of a freelancer and a full-time employee are quite different. When an employee takes a leave, there is someone else to handle the responsibilities. But the same is not true for a freelancer, who is like a one-man army. The freelancer bears the loss, unlike an employee. Shweta says, “As a freelancer, I schedule a week wherein I execute the projects, while I keep a day aside to take client calls. This helps me balance my time for work and family.
Check out an ideal day for a successful freelancer.
Essential Skills To Thrive
According to Shweta, communication is the most important skill that helps a freelancer or any professional to survive and thrive. Even if all other skills are in place, the absence of communication skills can be a downer. Shweta says that many freelancers have a phobia of video calling. However, in order to succeed as a freelancer, such fears should be converted into fortes.
Networking comes second to communication. It helped Shweta get clients. She adds, “I got my first client through social media posts on my Instagram page. I clearly remember charging just Rs. 100 for the work. The first highest fee that I received was US$ 1000. I had bagged this project through interactions on Instagram posts. The client had asked me to build her website, which was a huge opportunity for me.”
Check out how to network as a freelancer in the blog.
Shweta recommends that freelancers should not learn something just for the sake of learning. They should make a point to apply the learnings to their life as well. In order to survive the competition, freelancers should always keep learning and improving their skills.
The Learnings From The Industry
There are many things that a person would like to do differently if given a second chance. When asked about the same, Shweta said that if given another opportunity, she would begin by building her presence on LinkedIn. Shweta began her career through communication and networking on Instagram. It worked for her. However, she wished she had made better use of LinkedIn.
She adds to this, “When I opened an account on LinkedIn, I did not have a plan. Later on, in my career, I realized that LinkedIn is way better than Instagram. Earlier, I was f the opinion that LinkedIn is only for professionals and businesspersons. However, the fact is that LinkedIn is for all kinds of professionals, even creators like me. If I had begun on LinkedIn, then I would have got more outbound reach in lesser time and my struggles would have lessened as well.”
The Importance Of Feedback
For freshers, Shweta recommends aspiring freelancers to take a proper brief from the client, including their competitors and business. She adds that feedback is quite important for freelancers. She recommends taking feedback throughout the project, instead of taking one at the end. Shweta advises that feedback is something that makes clients happy. When the work proceeds according to their requirements, then in the end the clients get what they want. While some might believe in submitting the final project, to reveal their expertise. I believe that work is all about relationships. Constant feedback removes the element of surprise from the final submission.”
Check out the 5 ways to collect client feedback as a freelancer.