The Indian gig economy has seen remarkable growth over the past few years. At present, India is home to the second-largest community of independent workers.
Moreover, there has been a massive rise in demand for independent workers. In 2018-19 alone, 72 percent of all gig projects were in large corporates and professional services firms.
But, all things considered, the ecosystem is still very much in its nascency. Companies are still getting used to working with independent workers, and workers are figuring out if it is a sustainable way to live.
As an organisation that aims to make this space more comfortable for both parties, we wanted to provide a platform for them to learn and grow. That’s the reasoning behind the launch of TapChief Huddle; our all-new meetup series.
Last Thursday (17-10-2019), we organised our very first meetup. The agenda was to help freelancers understand how to grow their network and in turn, use that to get more clients. The speakers were Anuradha C (freelance trainer and writer) and Sidharth Chhawchharia (freelance developer), two hugely successful and experienced freelancers from our community. Our CEO and Co-founder, Shashank Murali, hosted the session.
About the speakers
Anuradha is a corporate trainer and a content writer, and she has been freelancing for almost ten years now. She started her career as a Software Engineer with TCS in 1999 and then moved to Huawei in 2001.
She went on to work at Huawei for another nine years. During her stint there, she was hugely successful. But, after spending almost a decade at the company, she was beginning to feel straitjacketed and one-dimensional. She felt as if she hit a mid-life crisis, and this prompted her to quit her full-time role and become a freelancer.
Her decision to quit a well-paying job did cause a furore in family circles. But, Anuradha was firm and determined. She wanted to break the glass ceiling, learn the latest in tech, and also, put her excellent articulation skills to good use. That’s how Anuradha ended up becoming a corporate trainer and content writer. She has now been a freelancer for almost a decade and is living proof that it can be a sustainable career pathway.
Sidharth is a freelance developer, and also, the founder of Stack Pro, an organisation that provides consulting and technology solutions for small and medium enterprises. He started his career as a Technical Analyst at HashedIn in 2015.
After spending two years with the company, he quit the job to try his hand at freelancing. Although he did get a few projects, his network wasn’t strong enough, and he struggled to get quality clients. So, he returned to a full-time role after six months.
But, Sidharth wasn’t one to give up on his freelance dream. He was persisted, built his network, and finally, in 2018, he once again quit his job to get back to freelancing. This time he was much more prepared, he leveraged his network and platforms like TapChief to build a steady stream of projects. Now he is a successful freelance developer and has his own tech firm.
TC Huddle #1 recap
The event kicked-off with a thirty-minute long fireside chat with the two speakers. The conversation topics ranged from how to get your first client to common problems that freelancers face, such as burnout and loneliness.
We’ve compiled all the major takeaways from the conversation here:
1. The most effective ways to get your first client
- Build your network before you take the plunge to become a freelancer.
- If you are finding it difficult to get projects initially, build up your portfolio by working for free or at a lower rate.
2. Tips for bridging the trust deficit with the clients
- Genuinely empathise with the client. For the short period that you are working with them, consider yourself as part of their team.
- Always take the first project with a client extra seriously. Ensure the quality of the output is top-notch and is delivered on time.
3. Ways to ensure you are on the same page as the client when working remotely
- Get to know the client, establish a rapport with them by having regular conversations. Over-communicate to show that you have a thorough grasp of their problems and challenges.
- Gather adequate data about the project before you get started. Spend time exploring the space or industry the client is in, and understand the exact outcomes they are looking to achieve.
4. Things to keep in mind while pricing your services
- Be dynamic in your pricing. Look at factors such as — your career stage, size of the client’s business, the value will it add to your portfolio, and the effort and time you have to invest.
- Till you have a few good projects or brand names in your portfolio, be a bit more cautious with your pricing. Ensure you don’t turn off the clients.
5. Proven strategies to acquire new clients
- Ensure you build a robust professional network. Stay in touch with your ex-colleagues, ex-bosses, and classmates. Once you decide to take the plunge, let everyone know that you are on the lookout for projects. Even if it doesn’t get you projects immediately, you may earn a few referrals.
- Do a lot of self-marketing. If you are good at something, don’t be modest, say it outrightly. You are the best judge of your skills – not anyone else.
- Attend relevant events where you have a very diverse group of people congregating. This will help you acquire new clients through word-of-mouth. Startup meets, hackathons, symposiums, are all great avenues to get business.
- Even if you have only a very minimal reach on social media, ensure it is relevant and practical. Connect with people in decision-making positions, interact with them, and develop a connection.
- Write articles that are incredibly relevant and helpful to your target audience. Your posts are a great way to showcase your expertise, philosophies, and skillset. They are available on the public domain, and people can view them at any time.
- Sign up to TapChief; makes it much easier to find new projects. TapChief brings more structure to the freelancing ecosystem, and more importantly, it lets you find and work on projects from the comforts of your home.
6. Things clients can do better when they work with freelancers
- Don’t treat freelancers as full-time employees of your organisation. Most people take up freelancing to escape from the corporate grind.
- Respect a freelancer’s time. Don’t expect them to be at your beck-and-call. Unlike organisations, freelancers have to do everything by themselves. So, when you ask them to work on things without any prior intimation, their plan for the day gets disrupted.
7. Burnout and loneliness are two common challenges that freelancers face, how do you cope with them?
- Partition your time between personal and professional commitments, and stick to that timetable. Ensure you don’t work after your designated work hours. Let the clients know your work timings.
- Dedicate your mornings for the more creative and intellectual tasks, and afternoons for calls, meetings, interactions, among other things.
- Have a dedicated workspace at home. Ensure it is de-cluttered and organised, ergonomically optimised, offers privacy, and stimulates creativity.
- Work from a coworking space; it is a great way to overcome loneliness. It gives you a chance to meet, interact, and become friends with people who have similar interests and are going through the same problems as you in life.
This fireside chat was followed by a quick Q&A session with our community members. Here are a few excerpts.
1. How do you know what projects to apply for?
2. How to deal with delays in payment by clients?
- Ensure that you follow-up with the client on regular intervals.
- Don’t hesitate to escalate the issue. After all, you deserve to be compensated for the work you have completed.
- If all else fails, turn up at their office, and enquire about the delay.
3. Why did you take up freelancing? (Question was directed to Anuradha)
- Allowed her to work on a variety of things and not just concentrate on one particular area.
- Enabled her to dedicate more time for her family and other hobbies.
- Helped her stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in the industry and also, upskill herself without having to pay for it.
4. What will it take for the Indian freelance ecosystem to develop? (Answered by Shashank)
The biggest challenge the Indian freelance ecosystem is facing is the deficit of trust between clients and independent professionals. On the one hand, you have businesses who feel that Indian professionals are not professional enough. And on the other hand, independent professionals are reluctant to trust corporations, because they are unsure about many things — if they will get any projects, if they will get paid, if the payment will be made on time, and if the client will respect them.
To bridge this gap, you need to educate both businesses and independent workers through discussion forums, conferences, social media posts, and more. It will help both sides understand how to do things the right way and pull together in the right direction. Secondly, you need a platform such as TapChief in the middle. The impeccable technological solutions that TapChief offers will allow both sides to collaborate seamlessly and solve different pieces of the puzzle — the discovery of talent, discovery of gigs, project management, data transfers, payment, legal contracts, and more.
4. The differences between Indian clients and offshore clients
We really appreciate all the freelancers and professionals from our community who turned up for the event despite the heavy rainfall and the Bangalore traffic. And a special mention to Sriram Hariharan who came all the way from Coimbatore to attend the session.
Lastly, a massive thank you to Anuradha and Sidharth. They were amazing —kept the audience engaged throughout and offered extremely helpful and relevant insights.
The next TC Huddle will be happening pretty soon, watch this space for updates.