“Thanks for coming all this way to meet us. So what do you do, Naveen?” asks the man.
To which Naveen politely answers, “Sir, I am a freelancer in the field of digital marketing.”
There was an awkward silence between the two of them that went on lasting for 30 seconds.
“So what do you actually do, Naveen, to make a stable income?”.
“Sir, this is the only source of income I have, and I seem to be doing just fine.”, says Naveen with visible despair on his face.
Many Naveens in our society are treated as an outcast by many of us, especially the older generation.
My question is, where does this perception that freelancers are nowhere near to the ones working full time for an organization arise? What makes us think they can not make ends meet or can not provide for their families?
It is sad and harsh, but the reality is that freelancers, even in today’s day and age, are still looked down upon by many in India.
Freelancing, in India, is witnessing remarkable growth as it has become extremely popular amongst the youth.
Many young professionals are now inclined towards this joining the industry as it offers them a prospect to pursue their dream job, passion, and creativity.
We, as youngsters, are falling in love with the flexibility that tags along with freelancing gigs. When I lost my job due to COVID-19, freelancing saved my boat from sinking.
This is what compelled me to write down my thoughts on how freelancing is helping many like me survive and make an earning working on something that we love!
Current status in India
Wikipedia says India ranks 2nd after the US with a freelancing workforce of around 15 million independent professionals hailing from various industries!
It also says that by the year 2020, 50% of the Indian professionals are likely to go independent working as freelancers.
Aren’t these numbers mind-boggling?
According to an article by Business Today, India produces 1 in 4 freelancers now! It is ironic how despite India’s significant participation and contribution in strengthening the freelance industry, we are still fighting tooth and nail for the acceptance of the same as a worthy profession.
Women and Freelancing
Global digital payment services firm Payoneer says that one in every five freelancers in India is a woman, working for online marketplaces with an average working time of 2-2.5 hours a day.
So, what lured the women of India to go independent and become a freelancing professional?
The answer is simple. It offers greater job opportunities, the flexibility that offers the work-life balance, and reducing the inequalities in pay.
Research shows that women are 10% more productive than men. One can only imagine the difference it would make in society when freelancing gigs become more organized, accessible, and easier for the women in India who are homemakers and housewives wanting to make a living!
COVID-19 and Freelancing
Even in the trying times of COVID-19, where all other industries and sectors are experiencing a financial hit, the freelancing industry is booming and how!
It should not come to you as a surprise when I say that many organizations in India, and globally, are on a spree to fire their employees in the name of cost-cutting, which will help them survive the pandemic. These layoffs are forcing a majority of the Indian workforce to become freelancers.
According to the statistics presented by Inventiva, due to the work from home opportunities now available to most of the workforce, the freelance gigs available on the Indian job portals have experienced a surge, as high as 75%!
As the companies are turning their back towards full-time staff, contract-based jobs and freelance work has picked up the pace and has already started to show a positive result.
The companies are hiring freelancers for roles as technical as a software developer as it certainly helps them in the long run. Some of the many reasons are
- Cost effective: In the importance of restructuring the workforce and to save the cost a company spends on long term employment, companies are leaning towards freelancers to get the job done. Doing which, they won’t be liable or obligated to pay for the maintenance of the employee and can get the job done by working from home, on a project-to-project basis.
- Flexibility: Freelancers have proved time and again that they are hardworking and the most agile to begin with. They are capable of working on multiple projects and have been showing results by completing the projects on time, if not within the given time.
- Quality work: No matter how hard a freelancer works, they have to prove their worth time and again by being their best productive self and showing quality work. It is a known fact that contributes heavily to why a company wants to hire a freelancer if given an option.
Slowly but steadily, the perception is changing
There used to be a time when the Indian parents used to scrunch their noses and make a frowny face whenever their child would bring up the topic of becoming a freelancer to pursue his/her dreams as it wasn’t considered a serious or a “real” job for that matter.
There used to be times when fathers were reluctant to marry their daughter to men who worked as freelancers solely because of the lack of stability and security that a full time job promises.
You can not ignore the boom the freelance industry has experienced in recent times and the pace at which the industry is continuing to grow! This is not only helping the young professionals make a living while pursuing their dreams, it is contributing heavily in changing our perception of freelancers.
While the changes are visible, we are still far from accepting freelancers as equivalents. Being a part of society, it becomes our job to make this difference as significant as possible, providing our very hardworking and passionate freelancers a healthy ecosystem to survive and thrive and make the most of it.