Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Freelancing in India: the mental roadblocks

Namaste Friends and Freelancers, 

How are you doing today? Hope you all had a great start to the new year. I had an awesome start myself. Things are going awesome and super with me this year and I hope it is the same case with you too. 

 Well, today I am going to talk about the very basic reason behind this blog and our YouTube Channel – Freelancing in India. Why is freelancing a challenge in India and what are the various roadblocks? We will see those today, in details. 

Freelancing in India is not a new thing and neither it is unknown to the Indian online fraternity. There are many around the country who have been freelancing for years and some of them have even taken up freelancing as a full-time source of income. However, it is still done in a very haphazard way and there exists a peculiar phobia of getting started. Even after starting, very few are actually able to continue or make it big while doing online freelancing in India. Most of the freelancing careers in India cease after a couple of months or years of starting or they end up being a mediocre, irregular and insignificant source of income. 

The Indian Freelancer
Why is it so? Why is online freelancing in India not as lucrative career option in the country as it is in other countries and continents? With the constant increase in population and decrease in the government and non-government jobs, freelancing is actually an awesome career option. Do you know that? Do you believe in that? Does the country believe in that? If not, why? Let us look into this today. 

Why is freelancing not the top career option in India? This has got to do with the Indian culture and the way Indians approach a professional career for themselves and their family; or the way one aspires to earn money. The Indian habits do not let us take up freelancing as a career. Even though we have come a long way from the traditional thought of higher education followed by a government job, we have not completely accepted the fact that there can be career options other than a government or a non-government or private job. Freelancing opportunities in India are not less but are very much industry specific. Let us talk about these things in a little more detailed way so that you will understand what I am talking about. 

Old school of thought: 

There are grades and levels created in almost all realms of the Indian society. There are biases based on caste, language, customs and what not. There are places still where one is graded based on the kind of work that she or he does. And even in modern urban societies, even though not visible from the outside, this idea is there in people’s mind. The old Indian school of thought definitely sees freelancing as a lower grade job or profession than being in some fixed job. Not very long ago Government job used to be the main criteria of labeling someone successful or not. As people realized slowly that government jobs are drying up, private jobs took their place; however, these jobs were mainly associated with the place or city of work as well. If you are working in Bangalore, Hyderabad or Pune or any other Metro city, then you are successful, otherwise not. Freelancing as a career option was not even in the list. 

Indian habits: 

Habitually, Indians are not very keen on taking up freelancing jobs as primary source of income as there is no stability or consistency in those. Lack of knowledge or basic idea about the freelancing work culture may be blamed here. Most parents in India, even today think that their kid needs to be either a doctor and have his own nursing home or an engineer and work in an MNC. This is what they put in the minds of the young kids as the benchmark of success, and everyone start putting their efforts in trying to achieve that – both the parents and the kids. If you think about it for a moment in depth, you will realize that this in some way also restricts and kills the creativity in the child, and many fail to choose the career they would be more fit for. Freelancing in India cannot thrive if we do not come out of these habits. 

Middle-Class conventions: 

This is what a middle class family does, who are not into any kind of family business. Family business is one legitimate way of doing something apart from the conventional careers. But if you are not lucky enough to born in a business family, then you are not left with any other option other than becoming either a doctor or an engineer. In last couple of decades many Indians have grown from lower middle-class to upper middle class and the thoughts have also changed little bit, and not drastically. There are options found and explored in the fields of entertainment, infotainment, sports and media. Even though these are also types of freelance work, but they got into the list of ‘respected jobs’ around the country. Today, many people are OK to send their kin and wards to work in such domains and still feel good about it. So, the affirmative nod for freelancing in India is very industry specific. 

Definition of Struggle: 

If you want to struggle for 5 years to become an IAS or for 10 years to get a role in a television soap or even an ad or for about 20 years to have your own hosted program on a news channel, it is still considered fine in India; not struggling for a few years to establish yourself as a freelance blogger or a freelancer YouTuber or maybe a service provider on any of the freelance websites online! By struggle in freelancing, I mean putting in efforts to learn and convert your knowledge to earn. Freelancing online is not an ‘earn money quick’ or ‘get rich quick’ scheme and hence it needs lot of efforts in learning and then persistently and constantly putting efforts to get jobs, work and deliver. There is a lot of effort associated with freelancing. And even after you have made some name in the market for yourself, it is not necessary that you will get the next job without any effort. Hence, the struggle in freelancing is perennial and lifelong. 

So, you can see that most of the roadblocks are in our minds and not necessarily in practice. Mostly these are about the aspirations, conventions, habits, opinions and the way we look at freelancing as a career option in India. Again, this is not necessarily a case only in India. Freelancing in a few other south Asian countries are also as tough (in the mind) as is freelancing in India, but people are still trying to break these barriers and make a mark for themselves in the vast world of freelancing. 

There may be a few other things that have stopped you or anyone you know from becoming a freelancer. Please let me know in your comments and we can surely talk about those in future as well. 

We will next talk about a few other topics which will help you get going with freelancing. I am definite that these WHYs are more important to talk about before we start on specific WHATs and HOWs. Do let me know how you are liking these posts in your comments below. 

Cheers!

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you liked it. If you did, please do not forget to subscribe to us. You may also want to check out our YouTube Channel, where we post videos with various freelancing tips and tricks, which can definitely boost your freelancing career and business! 
The Channel name is The Indian Freelancer, and can be accessed on www.YouTube.com/TheIndianFreelancer

Thanks a lot, 
The Indian Freelancer 
Let's Learn and Grow Together!

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The Indian Freelancer