I graduated from a top Indian business school in April 2018, had a decent GPA, a few job prospects, and pretty much everything I needed to get a corporate job.
But there was one problem:
The ROI from corporate was crap.
I hated the corporate lifestyle.
(Okay, I lied. There were two problems)
In India, the median salary of a financial analyst (The most compatible job with my degree) converts to roughly $7,200 USD/year.
If you do some quick math — that’s less than four dollars an hour!
What’s more, most companies lock you into a year-long contract which basically means you’re tied down to a single job for an entire year.
*cough* corporate slave *cough*
Freelancing is where you work part-time, full-time, or ad-hoc basis with clients. Plus, you have complete freedom over how you work (as long as you deliver quality results and meet deadlines).
In my case, corporate could never offer me the same freedom—and this made it a no-brainer to chuck corporate and become a freelancer. However, freelancing is not a carefree lifestyle, and the freedom that comes with it is usually a double-edged sword—there’s no one keeping you on track but yourself!
But looking back, freelancing has been the best life decision I’ve made that has helped me live a life most people don’t.
In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned from my freelancing journey to help you get a better idea of what to expect.
Lesson 1. College achievements don’t matter
Back in college, I believed achieving good grades and certifications would help me land a great job. But today, I realize the grading system is a huge vanity metric. If you reverse engineer what it takes to get a high GPA, you’ll know it’s a metric that defines how good you are at regurgitation.
Now, you do need a sufficient GPAs to get in a top tier university, but that’s it! In the real world? Results and branding are way more important. In fact, all of my clients have hired me because of my results—and not a single one of them have asked about my degree.
Lesson 2. Get used to the chaos.
Unlike corporate, freelancing is a very dynamic career. Unless you have a long-term retainer with a client, you’ll most likely have to jump from one project to another or manage multiple client projects at the same time.
What’s more, there will be days where you’ll have to pull an all-nighter to meet unexpected deadlines or requests from clients.
The stability in freelancing is almost non-existent. There will be times when you have no clients and other days you will have too much to handle. But this instability is key to becoming a stronger person and tackle life head-on when it gives you lemons.
Lesson 3. Systemize your workflow.
Freelancing has afforded me a lot of freedom. But this sense of freedom can be both intoxicating and terrifying, especially as there’s no one telling you what to do except you.
When you’re on your own, it’s easy to go off track and take it easy (especially if you’re traveling the world and working remotely like me). But just like corporate, freelancing is a real career. After all, your clients are paying you real money and expect quality work delivered on time.
This is where building a flexible system (think: Asana) has helped keep track of client projects and deadlines. I’m not maintaining a Google calendar to keep track of all my events to ensure I don’t miss any of them.
Lesson 4. There is no singular path to success.
Back in college, I believed in a structured way of living life. First, I’d get good grades, then a decent job, work my way up the corporate ladder to finally retire in 20-30 years.
While this was the norm in the past—it’s just not how the world works anymore. Today, economies have significantly changed, and succeeding in life is not straightforward.
Many people get stuck in this perfection trap and end up doing things because of societal pressure. But there’s no reason to stick to the norm, especially when there are so many opportunities.
Freelancing has made me realize that life is indifferent to what I do. I dabbled in multiple projects, and overtime doubled down on things I like—and that’s life. There’s no specific path to success. Instead, you need to try different things until you find something you like—and even then you can still change it and go do something else!
Most of my friends got jobs and higher degrees after graduation. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you believe that’s the only thing you can do or worse; societal pressure then—that’s bulls**t!
Now, I have no intention to tell you how to live your life. Instead, I want to show you that a different path is possible.
Mark Quadros is a freelance content marketer who helps SaaS and online businesses develop content that not only drives traffic but also boosts user-engagement. In his free time, he loves traveling the world and living a minimalist life from his backpack.
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