The Everyday Struggle of Being a Freelancer

I’m a freelance writer and, contrary to what you might think, I don’t drink coffee all day and sit idly at home.

After completing my MBA, I worked in sales at a multinational company for some time. But after a point, I just didn’t feel like being another cog in the wheel. One day, I decided to quit my job and follow my passion – writing.

I have always loved writing and felt that pouring my thoughts on a piece of paper would contend my soul. But writing as a profession is not as easy as you think.

The competition is staggering, mostly because everyone is an online content creator of some sort today.

According to the office of national statistics, around 4.8 million people are quitting their jobs annually and transitioning into freelance work. This has further increased competition in the industry.

When I started off as a freelance writer, I had a hard time maintaining a work-life balance, especially since I was being paid peanuts. My recruiters would either ask for experience in the field or an extensive portfolio and, at that time, I had neither.

People usually say that money is important but following your dreams and doing what you love is equally so. That’s exactly what I was doing.

But my friends would poke fun at me. They would say things like: “your work is easier than ours,” “you get to stay at home all day,” “there are no rules for you,” “you are your own boss” and so on. They still do.

These statements piss me off to no end because they don’t know about how difficult and stressful my life actually is.

Yes, I am my own boss, I can pull up a chair, stretch my legs, watch films, play loud music and do everything else that you can imagine. But there’s a darker side to this story.

Freelancers end up having to deal with a whole host of psycho-somatic problems such as depression, stress, back-pain, eye-strain, headaches, etc. And then there’s that constant fear of losing a client or project you’re working on.

The biggest pain we go through is, without a doubt, rejection. I can’t express my frustration when I spend more than eight hours researching and writing a 5,000-word article and then it gets rejected.

Also read: Interns Don’t Live on Sunshine and Air, They Need Money Too

Also, let me clear the air on one more myth associated with freelancers. Yes, we don’t have fixed work-hours and are not restricted to the nine-to-five grind. But that’s not because we’re slacking, but because, at times, we end up working more than eight hours a day and can’t always do it within arbitrary time strictures. And with such a routine, it often gets difficult to manage work, life and friends. I have to skip get-togethers and meet-ups because of my work so many times. It’s a grind in itself – one that I’m accountable for to myself.

We often work at odd hours of the day, even during midnight. We try to be thrifty, cutting short on our daily expenses to save for the month’s end.

To top it all, neighbours and relatives come home and ask enervating questions like, “What is your son/ daughter doing?” to my parents only to brag about their own children.

At that point, I just feel like saying, Chai thandi ho jayegi, peeke chale jaana (Tea is getting cold, please drink and go).

Besides, there’s a sense of uncertainty in this field.

Our clients sometimes cancel contracts and projects at the turn of a dime. We always have to keep an eye out for new projects and opportunities.

While the apparel isn’t akin to a corporate job where you wear suits and ties and pass orders, our deadlines are pretty much the same – strict. And sometimes, we slog for hours without getting paid.

I remember, my first client had asked me to work without expecting any remuneration. It took me more than a year to find a client who would pay me for my work. For that entire year, I would take up unpaid projects and would write content for free just to build a nice portfolio.

Often, I feel it truly was a risk to choose my passion for writing over money and security. Tell me, isn’t it crazy to write articles for free just because you’re a newbie in the field? But then again, life seems pointless when you stop taking risks and stick to your comfort zone.

Sometimes, in order to pursue your dreams, you will have to leave your comfort zone.

There are many people like me who are facing similar problems. Despite the diversity of industry, most of us are depressed, unhappy and absolutely not at peace.

It takes a very long time to establish oneself in the writing industry. I feel the competition here is much more cutthroat in comparison to the finance and marketing industry where I worked before.

But there, people always looked burned out when they came home from work and, perhaps, this is the reason why so many people, from across the globe, are shifting towards freelance work.

People are seeking change and it’s about time we recognise the worth of freelance writers and treat them well.

Before I end, I want to say something to those who hire freelance writers. I understand that we are ‘free’ lancers (as the name suggests) but we also need to pay our bills, eat food, and stay happy and healthy to work for you. We don’t live on sunshine.

D. Krishna Prasad is an MBA graduate and is currently working as a content writer. He is a contributor writer for various media sites like shethepeopletv, Outlook Traveller, Amaravati Times Magazine, Your Story among others. He is currently writing his first fictional novel.  

Featured image credit: Unsplash