Sunday, October 24, 2010

Working From Home - A Realizable Dream After All by Deepa Govind

Some dreams are meant to be dreamt, some are meant to be worked upon, some are meant to be chanced upon, while some just hit you between the eyes, and leaves sparks flying all over the place.

In my case, it was purely a chanced upon opportunity. Never even dreamt in my wildest dreams that I would work from home, and yet make a decent amount of money out of this venture. Today, 3 years after my first paid freelancing gig, I have a domain name to call my own, the design, development, and associated costs all paid out my freelancing income over this time. I will not disclose how much, but it is "pretty much".

May be starting this topic from the monetary aspect is not the right way to start after all. But, it is for those, who ask me "Do you earn enough?", whilst trying to be polite by not asking "How much do you earn?"

We have been witness to the changes around us over the past couple of decades. Especially, those coming from the typical Indian middle class family would agree that, for working women and the perspective around them have evolved at a remarkable pace during this time. This was the period wherein, the gender discrimination was beginning to fade away at home, and "higher education" for the daughter of the family was approached with reverence (.. and not worry about finding a groom for over-educated daughter...)We saw girls getting into "professional courses" ( read, Medical, Engineering.... still private tuition for IIT's was reserved for male child). The girl had to secure a seat truly out of her own merit.... "As parents, we will enroll and pay the school/college fees, you are expected to prove that you are worth it".. was the underlying message to the daughter from the family. Today, we KNOW, she is indeed worth every penny that was spent on her education. We now have females in almost all aspects of life, ranging from our neighborhood lady-auto-driver - ISRO - UN - and many more to come.

The point I am trying to make is, there is no substitute to hard work, persistence and perseverance. If not for the efforts put in by those women ( who lived by every word in the previous paragraph), I will not be in a position to write/ comprehend this, you wouldn't be here either reading this. We are born with the gene that drives us to "prove beyond what we are endowed with". So, anthropologically, that gives an added advantage for females, don't you think so?

Miracles do not happen overnight, and earning a decent income via work from home is definitely nothing less than a miracle. So, establishing yourself in the freelancing market is going to take all the perseverance you can muster. Though, this is holds true irrespective of gender, non-freelancing-regular job as well, the stakes are high for males for whom freelancing is the only source of income for the family. For this, and for this reason alone, I would recommend this to females. Especially to those, who have had the fortune of "good education", but forced to "be at home", due to family constraints.... could be children, out in the foreign soil, aging/ailing members in the family... etc.

My English teacher used to say "Well begun is half done". Today, I understand the true meaning of these words of wisdom. Freelancing is not a "walk-in" interview that one would do, with a couple of copies of CV. It really doesn't matter what degree one holds, or how many high profile companies one had worked with in the past. These details will add credibility, but will definitely NOT land you at the first paid freelancing job.

If you have had the experience of giving seminars as a part of your college curriculum, you would understand the role of research that goes before you sit to write the title on a piece of paper. That is an over simplified version of what is to come on your freelancing future. Research - research - research. Then, its consolidate and present yourself to potential clients.

I want to become a successful freelancer. What should I do?

* Conventional CV's do not hold water in freelancing. So don't get your hopes high about that very impressive CV.

* Freelancing is all about the details. (... the devil is indeed in the details...)

* Think hard, about those aspects in your CV, where you can break down those degrees into workable-detail-oriented-solutions.

* This is the hardest part, and this is where you should be investing your time, intelligence, and analytical skills.

* Insider tip: Document every thought that crosses your mind, while you are at it. This might seem unimportant now, but will miss for not having done this when you re-visit the thought after 3 months flat.

I can confidently outline the specific details oriented projects I am capable of handling, Now what?

* Admit shamelessly that you (we) are slaves to Google.

* Try to identify " work from home with no skills needed" type jobs from genuine ones. Focus on the jobs that match the details you have come up in the first phase.

* Research on freelancing sites. What works for me, may not be the best for you. I have found oDesk, Elance, Scriptance, iFreelance, to offer genuine jobs. They too have their share of "con." So for every job that remotely matches your-type, double check, triple check, or even quadruple check if needed.

* Insider Tip: It is okay to go ahead and create profiles in freelancing sites. But be sure not to give you personal email / phone number/ photograph in them until you are totally convinced. When in doubt, visit the community forum at these sites, and observe, inquire, and continue to ask until the responses are reasonably satisfactory.

I have found a job that I am capable of doing. How much should I charge for my services.

* Ah!, the all important (million $$) question.

* First timers, visit various community portals to get an idea about remuneration for "this kind" of projects.... Thanks to Google.

* Try to bid around the average, to start with.

* Insider tip: The focus should be on proving your expertise on doing the job, stick to delivery schedule, and match the standards expected by the client. The more you are picky about nickels and dimes, you give the impression that money drives your attitude, and gives an impression that you are susceptible to drop an ongoing project, when you have a more-paying-offer.

Whatever freelancing site you choose, whatever job you choose to do,

1. Follow the Terms and Conditions of the site.
2. Be truthful about performing at the project.
3. Provide realistic delivery dates, and adhere to it all costs.

Insider tip: It is always better to overestimate the delivery date, and deliver the product at least 24 hrs before the proposed date.

Deepa Govind freelance Virtual Assistant from Bangalore. She is proficient in developing customised database application using Zoho Creator. She also takes up projects on ghostwriting for blogs, ebooks, newsletters etc. She blogs at While you are there, use the contact form to get in touch with her.