What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of a freelance career? Flexible work schedule, earning more money, exposure to multiple clients, working as an entrepreneur?
While there may be no right answer to define what a freelance career looks like, we’ve done the next best thing. We’ve taken 20 of the most commonly asked questions about freelancing and answered them for you.
Look through the list below to get answers to all your questions about working as a freelancer. If we’ve missed anything, feel free to ask us in the comments section below.
Q1. What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing is when someone offers her services for an agreed period in return for a fee. Freelancers are independent of the business or individuals who hire their services and are free to take up multiple projects at one time.
Q2. Can I Become A Freelancer
Yes, you can. However, if you are currently employed, you will have to quit your job unless your contract allows you to take up multiple projects.
Q3. Is Freelancing A Good Career Option?
Yes. Currently, India has the second-largest freelance workforce in the world after the US. By next year, 50 per cent of the workforce is expected to take up freelance jobs. At present, 43 per cent of freelancers are millennials, all driven by a desire to be working for themselves, and also have the right work-life balance.
According to a survey by PayPay, currently, 10 million people are freelancing in India.
Q4. What Are The Types Of Freelance Jobs
The types of a freelancing job may defer as per the industry you choose. However, there are mainly two forms of freelance roles.
- One is a project-based role where you get paid at the end of the project.
- The other is a long-term retainer or consultant role. Here you can sign a form of contract for one year and promise to provide a specific service, for a certain number of hours, for a fixed payment.
Freelancers claim to be successful and get regular payments it is advisable to get an average of 15 projects a year.
Q5. What Are Some Of The Most Popular Freelance Jobs?
Web and mobile development, web designing, Internet research and data entry are some of the key jobs for freelancers in India. However, many people are also taking up freelance positions in accounting, graphic design and consultancy.
Q6. What Is The Difference Between Freelancing And Working From Home
While people often tend to use freelancing and work from home interchangeable, there is a big difference between the two roles. A freelancer is primarily self-employed possibly with a contract. Whereas someone doing work from home job may not be self-employed. They are most likely working remotely for one company and are an employee and not an independent worker.
Q7. How Much Can You Earn As A Freelancer In India?
According to a recent survey by PayPal, freelancers in India, on an average, earn about Rs 19 lakh.
The survey further breaks it down:
- About 23 per cent freelancers earn in the range of Rs 40-45 lakh annually
- 23 per cent earn in the range of Rs 2.5-5 lakh a year
- 13 per cent earn between Rs 10-15 lakh annually
- 11 per cent earn Rs 2.5 lakh or less annually
- 8 per cent earn Rs 7.5-10 lakh annually
Q8. What Are The Advantages Of Being A Freelancer?
Freelancing offers you a lot more freedom and flexibility than a regular desk job. You get to choose the type of work you do, who you work with, how much time you spend on a project, and the location you work from.
Research also suggests that employees who work more than 50 hours per week suffer from decreased mental and physical health. Work stress can also increase your risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, by 60 per cent. You can maintain a sufficient work-life balance when you are a freelancer.
Some other advantages include:
- Getting to be your own boss/entrepreneur
- Getting a chance to work with your favourite companies
- Charging as per the work that you put in
- Flexibility of schedule
- No office politics
Q9. What Are The Disadvantages Of Being A Freelancer?
Like with every other job, freelancing also comes with its own set of disadvantages that you should address.
For starters, if you are working from home, it can get lonely. As a freelancer, you have minimum interaction with coworkers which can lead to you feeling isolated.
You also have to give up on job benefits like a PF account, health insurance and paid holidays.
Some other disadvantages include:
- Your income depends on the workload. So you cannot take too many off days.
- Working round the clock to meet deadlines
- Apart from your work, you also need to invest time in administrative responsibilities like marketing yourself, following up on your payments and chasing clients.
- There is a certain lack of job stability. There may be a month or two where you get no work.
Q10. How Do I Start Getting Freelance Work?
Start with updating your CV and letting people in your network, and friends and family know that you are looking for projects.
Next up, join local freelance communities and check if someone has posted a requirement that is perfect for you.
Some of the committees you can join are:
- Career Guidance With Kool Kanya
- Networking Now India
- GUAVABEAN Free Facebook Group
- Remote Jobs
- Remote Work & Jobs For Digital Nomads
There are many other Facebook groups. Just search for the word ‘remote jobs’ and look for groups that are dedicated to your area of expertise.
Q11. Where Can I Find Freelancing Jobs?
Apart from joining the committees mentioned above, check specialised job portals for freelance work and make your profile on those sites.
Q12. How Do I Charge For The Project?
Your rates largely depend on the kind of work you are putting in and the client’s requirement – which means no two projects can be the same.
When I had shifted from a full-time job to consultant role here what I did: I took my current drawn salary and broke it down in five days a week and eight hours a day to find my exact hourly rate. I added 20 per cent to it – to include health insurance and PF that I would not get as a consultant – and quoted an amount for my consultancy role.
If you are just starting, you can ask your fellow freelancer friends what they charge. You could also ask a question on message boards like Quora to find out the current market rate.
Set up a primary rate card of sorts for the services you offer. Here’s how you can get started if you are a content writer.
- Rs 6 per word for one article
- Rs 36,000-Rs 50,000 (depending on the research work) for 20 articles a month for 300 words each
- Rs 5,00,000 for an annual project ( articles + social media posts)
Q13. What Expenses Do I Need To Factor In While Charging For A Project?
There are several things to consider while charging for a project. First up, fix a minimum rate that you charge for all your projects. This is the rate that you will never compromise on no matter what the project is.
Once that’s done, add in your costs. Include things like conveyance if you have to go for multiple meetings for the project and a software fee if you have to purchase new software for the project.
Then think of the days you will spend working on this project and multiply those by your hourly/minimum rate. If you feel that the client is a difficult one and may ask for multiple changes, tell them that you will charge an extra fee after the second or third change.
Lastly, don’t forget that you are paying a professional tax on this bill – make sure to factor in that 10 per cent.
Q14. How Do I Network Effectively As A Freelancer?
Networking is the key to getting new projects when you are a freelancer. Everything from attending events for freelancers to being a part of online communities of freelance, you never know when, how, and who can give you a job.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- An essential part of networking is to keep in touch with your old friends, acquaintances and associates. These guys are the ones you can count on to lend a helping hand, especially career-wise.
- Make it a point to attend at least one networking event in a month. It’s not only useful to meet new people, but the experience can be handy in accelerating your career graph.
- Send out cold pitches to places that you want to work for once a month. Go through their website and social media to find out the kind of work they do, and make your pitch as personalised and relevant as possible.
Q15. How Can I Use Social Media To Get Freelance Work?
Apart from job portals, social media is a great place to find work. Here are some of the things you can do:
- If your work holds a lot of visual value, use Pinterest to create a professional board and showcase your work to clients.
- Use your Twitter bio, to sum up, the kind of work you do and share links to your work at least once a week.
- Facebook is a great place not just to share links to your work but connect with like-minded people. Join communities and job portals and be sure to look out for posts detailing project requirements.
- Even if you are in the creative space, and LinkedIn seems too professional, use the platform to drive traffic to your other social media pages/blog. Connect with the heads of departments of the companies you like to work for and watch out for their posts on job opportunities.
Q16. How Do I Avoid Scams And Fake Jobs?
According to a PayPal survey, in India, 61 per cent of freelancers report not having been paid at least once through their career. While the best thing to do is sign a contract with every individual or project you associate with, not everyone is willing to do so.
In such cases, what you can do is send out an email detailing the terms you both have agreed upon before you start the job. Make sure to mark one department head in the email, so that even if the person you are coordinating with leaves the company, your payments will not get lost. Don’t start working till you get a confirmation response on your email and treat that as a form of informal contract later.
Another good idea is to insist on one face-to-face meeting with the client before you start the job. Visit their office to get an idea of their work culture and how genuine the company is. If’ it’s a fake company, there are most likely going to refuse your request.
Another red flag to watch out for is when companies ask for money from you to give you projects. Refuse that deal instantly; it reeks of fraud. Remember it’s okay to say no to deals that don’t seem genuine or don’t interest you.
You could also ask around in your freelance communities before starting a job with a new client. Check for other people’s experiences, and ask them about the frequency of payments.
Q17. How To Ensure Work-Life Balance While Working As A Freelancer
While a freelance career ensures flexibility of working hours, you often tend up overworking to meet deadlines and make more money. One of the first things you need to do is set strict working hours for yourself. Don’t look at anything else during those hours, and focus on finishing your work.
If you are working with an international client, work out the odd timings in your schedule. Instead of starting at 10 AM while working for a US-based client, begin in the afternoon so you’ll be available for calls and meetings.
Q18. Do I Need A GST Certificate? What About Taxes?
For freelancers, incomes up to Rs 2.5 lakh is not taxed, income between the values 2.5 lakh to 5 lakh are taxed at 10%, 5 to 10 lakhs at 20%, and above 10 lakh at 30 per cent.
A freelancer can use the form ITR 4 while filing the tax returns. You can use Form 26 AS that is linked to your PAN number, and helps you know all the TDS that has been deducted.
As a freelancer, you may also be required to pay Advance Tax. Advance Taxation is the payment of taxes during frequent intervals, in a given year, instead of paying the tax once, during a given year. Freelancers can also use the Presumptive Taxation method if they earn an income less than Rs 50 Lakhs during the given financial year.
Freelancers are required to obtain GST registration and pay 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax for any income earned from these services. This is implemented for those who make an income that exceeds the threshold of Rs 20 lakh.
Q19. What Do I Do If I Cannot Find A Freelance Project?
One of the biggest risks of freelancing is not having fixed projects. You may have to spend a month or more at times without getting any project, which is why it is vital to create an emergency fund. Figure out the basic amount of money you require each month to live comfortably and deduct that amount – say 10 per cent – from your earnings.
You can also use this time to revisit your strategy and figure out why you are not getting projects. Ask fellow freelancers for help, attend events and talk to experts and try to get a new perspective.
Q20. Is There Any Specific Requirement To Becoming A Freelancer?
As long as you have the skill sets that a business or individual needs, you don’t need anything else. However, it is a good practice to:
- Have a set of contacts who can give you freelance jobs or introduce you to the right people who can hire you
- A basic blog/website where you can showcase your work
- Updated social media profiles to let people know you are looking for projects
- A basic understanding of handling your finances and marketing yourself
Research: Devika Awasthi