Yet Another Goddamned Listicle-An Indian Comedian’s 20 point guide to freelancing and entrepreneurship
Hi, My name is Amar. I am a comedian and writer based in Delhi, India. Actually, Gurgaon, to be precise. You know where Gurgaon is? Don’t worry, even people living in Gurgaon have no clue where Gurgaon is. It is expanding. Slowly, the entire world will be consumed by Gurgaon.
Now that my introduction is settled, I am writing this piece to to help people who want to consider freelancing and entrepreneurship as a career/life option and have no clue how to go about it.
India is not a freelancer/entrepreneur country. NO, we are not. I quit my job a few years back (16 January 2015 to be precise) to follow stuff I am passionate about-specifically writing and comedy. I have written a bunch of books I am trying to get publishers interested in and I perform comedy wherever and whenever I get shows. I also work as a freelance market researcher across the Qualitative research industry. I also work as a copywriter with an ad agency a few days in a week. So, I do a bunch of stuff. The below is my guide to freelancing/entrepreneurship for whoever in the world cares to know:
- You need a skill you can freelance or sell in the market
Surprise! You need a skill that people are willing to pay for. I have figured ways of getting people to pay me for writing, for doing research work, for doing comedy shows, and for being generally hot (pass that). You need to figure out what you know that you are willing to sell to the market.
2. There is no market for your work. You need to create it.
Nobody knows you. The world doesn’t give an F about you. When I quit my job, I had no clue where would I find work and how. I still don’t know many times when my schedule is free. I don’t know. So, I think of ways to reach out to people. I call up people, send them messages, send them whats app messages which irritates the hell out of me but I do it. I devise and come up with new ways to figure out how to tell the world that I exist and to take notice. I send them samples of my work if they are kind enough to listen to me. If they aren’t, I move on.
I read a great quote yesterday and don’t remember the source-Your life isn’t made up of people who aren’t in it. Wow! So, when they say no, move on to find someone who will say yes. Someone will say yes. Out of 100 people, one will be willing to listen.
3. You are your business development team, accounts, marketing, sales and office boy
There are charms of working in an office where you have a role to yourself and you do just that. When you work for yourself, life isn’t that simple. Comfort isn’t what you get. You get discomfort. Freedom is on the other side of comfort and fear.
I have been living in a single room for a year and a half. I clean the room myself. I am everything I have. Once I start growing, perhaps I will hire people. Right now, I do everything myself. I don’t have the budgets to hire people. So, I do sales, marketing, accounts, follow ups, everything. Yes, it isn’t easy. But, give me a price for freedom.
4. In some months, you will have work. In some months, you won’t.
You know what is assured in a job? Work and the consistency of income. This is where freelancing and entrepreneurship is different. There is no work assured. Sometimes, there is no work and you are left wondering if you should already start refreshing your resume and reaching out for jobs.
It takes a long time to come to terms with this fact.
5. Indians-it’s nothing like settling
You don’t settle. You don’t. Once you settle, you are complacent. That’s the problem I have with the Indian society. Everybody wants to find a job, find a wife/husband, make kids and settle down. Settling down means you stop experimenting, you stop taking risks and you stop listening to your heart. Settling down sucks.
Find someone to love but don’t forget to love yourself and things you love. The day you forget to love yourself, life is over. You settle.
6. Be patient. Nobody pays salary at the end of the month
Patience was never a virtue I had till it was forced upon me. You have to learn to be patient in the face of delay in payments, a little work and imminent failure. Learn to look at the positives. You are your own boss.
7. You get paid for what you do. Earn it
There is 0 slack time and wages. You bill what you do. You have to earn your money and there are no shortcuts. You have to work really hard. You have to work harder than an average employee and I mean that.
8. There is no schedule
You could be working on a Sunday and chilling on a Monday. I like Mondays to be chilled. That reminds me of why I am doing what I am doing. I don’t try it deliberately but sometimes it happens and I love it.
9. You will need friends
You will need friends who understand you when your family won’t. If they do, you are disproportionately lucky. If they don’t, don’t disown them. You wouldn’t be wherever you are without them.
10. If your family supports you, you are blessed
Families are funny units of the human community. You can’t do without them because they claim your existence, quite literally. If they support you in this seemingly crazy decision, consider yourself blessed. If they don’t support you, understand that they come from a different standpoint and you can’t help it. This point is almost a note to self.
11. Get thick skin
Do you believe in BDSM? You should. It helps in getting thick skin. Jokes apart, there will be arguments at home, with people who care for you, delay in payments, frustration with lack of a work pipeline and more. You will need a thick skin to bear all of this and still keep moving because you believe in what you are doing.
12. YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED WITHOUT PASSION. THIS IS NOT A JOB
If I were to pick up the most important point in this list, it is this. This is damn tough, until unless you have a capital cushion to support you. I didn’t. There is only one reason why you will keep doing this in spite of all that it takes-you love what you do.
I love writing. I have written books nobody is publishing yet and I will write more. I cannot not do without it. Every time I take the stage and make people laugh, I feel that my life has meaning. That means a lot to me and I am ready to take on the world for what I believe in.
13. Kill the fear
Fear is the most brutal of all negative emotions. It kills your motivation to love. Fear makes you feel powerless in the face of obstacles which are far in the future.
Be afraid but walk ahead. Walk ahead slowly but walk. This is called courage.
14. You work really hard
You work really hard. I mentioned this earlier. You work day and night. Everything that you do advances your purpose. In the midst of all the work, family and friends will need time too. You need to make time.
Sometimes, you will fall dead. I did yesterday. So, I woke up at 4:30 this morning to make up for it.
15. If you love what you do, the work won’t be tiring
Work is stressful when you don’t like it. It is as simple as that.
When you don’t like what you are doing, it seems tedious, unexciting, boring. You don’t do what you find boring when you are by yourself. The reason you are by yourself is that you wanted to do work that you found meaningful.
16. Ask for help
If you need help, ask for it. I have started using #linkedin quite frequently to ask for help and suggestions. You reach out to people around the world and ask for help. The internet is a global community and there are people who will be willing to help. If need be, pay for their time.
17. Keep the work pipeline healthy
You need to figure out ways to keep the work pipeline healthy. I am still struggling with it. I have, at times, hired people to get me leads for my work and hopefully some of those leads will translate into work.
One of the key sources of confidence as an entrepreneur or freelancer is a healthy work pipeline.
18. Find people like you
No, the world is not an island and we are not stranded alone. As independent professionals, we need to find people like us with whom we can share our fears and struggles. The rise of #coworking spaces owes to this phenomenon.
In Gurgaon, there are so many-91 Springboard, Incuzspace and many others. Go there and talk to people. It helps.
19. Have fun while you work hard
Do not forget to have fun while you work hard. You need to reward yourself every time you crack a deal or find new business or finish a project or do a show.
We all have a child in us who wants to be rewarded. This is more true in entrepreneurship and freelancing where we lack a social circle of colleagues. Learn to party by yourself when you must.
20. Do it for love
Do it for love. Do I need to say more?
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Thank you for reading.
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/ComedyWalaAmar