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Freelance projects for working women in India are popular as a balanced work life option. Here is how to pitch for a freelance project.
By Aparna Vedapuri Singh
Many working women in India have turned freelancers; freelance jobs for women are becoming popular in a situation where women are the primary caregivers for their families and feel the need for flexible work options, which most employers don’t offer yet.
Searching and identifying the right freelance projects in India is not easy though – whatever your skill is, (writing, design, accounting, marketing, HR being some of the popular ones), the market is crowded and it is difficult to find well-paying clients at the beginning.
Before I started Women’s Web, I worked as a freelance communications consultant for small and mid-sized businesses for 3 years. Today, I’m on the other side of the desk, and receive pitches from freelance writers regularly. Based on my experience on both fronts, here are my tips on how to pitch for a freelance project in India, regardless of your specialization.
Establish your credibility
It is true that most freelance projects (to start with) come your way through your network, unless you are actively using a business blog. So, someone you know hears of someone else they know, who is looking for a skills trainer, and you get to submit a proposal. Still, it is rare that you directly know the client. Moreover, your contact at the company is usually only an entry point, and she still has to get your proposal approved by her boss or peers – who don’t know you.
Establish your credibility by providing extensive examples of work you have done; mention others you’ve worked with, offer to supply references. If you haven’t done too many freelance projects before, focus on what in your work experience qualifies you for the job.
Establish your credibility by providing extensive examples of work you have done; mention others you’ve worked with, offer to supply references.
If you are pitching for a project in an entirely new field, give some concrete ideas as to what you would bring to the job. Most clients would be very wary of hiring someone whom they don’t know anything about, so don’t pitch with an open email telling them you would like to work with them. (Yes, you would be surprised at the number of such emails we get.) It is alright for your pitch to be a little excessively detailed than for it to be a bare bones proposal that tells no one anything they can use.
Research the client
So you haven’t been invited to send a proposal, but want to send in an enquiry note, asking about possible freelance projects with the company? Do your homework.
Check if their website has any guidelines on what they look for. Learn a little more about the kind of work they do, and if your skills and experience sound relevant. Don’t send general pitches or ideas irrelevant to them. For instance, you will not find beauty product reviews on Women’s Web, but we get enquiries all the time from freelance writers who write on beauty or skincare.
Some people like editors receive an enormous number of enquiries, especially as freelance jobs for women are becoming so popular. The truth is that most people sound like one another, especially on email. If you want to stand out, highlight specific areas of expertise; use past experiences in your career as a launching board and be liberal with ideas.
If you want to stand out, highlight specific areas of expertise; use past experiences in your career as a launching board and be liberal with ideas.
Many who pitch for freelance projects shy away from giving ideas for fear that ideas can be stolen. You may disagree with this but my take is that few ideas are really unheard of. It is how you implement your idea that matters. I’m much more inclined to commission work from writers who come to me with a specific idea, and why they are the right person to work on that idea.
Build a body of work
If you are a working woman just starting off on freelance projects in India, use a business blog to position yourself as an expert while you are hunting for work. We hear that there are too many blogs, but actually, there are very few high quality, professional blogs relevant to the Indian context. Occupy that space in your field. If you don’t have much prior experience, build a body of work while you are pitching – work pro bono for a non-profit organization, create something for yourself.
Network – if you can.
Networking is still the best way of breaking into the market for freelance projects, whatever your field is. People hire people they trust, and trust doesn’t get built in a day. Networking selflessly, rather than spammily is the best way to get people to refer you for projects, in my experience. Don’t make the common networking mistake of reaching out to people only when you need them. Be helpful liberally, and the Universe does tend to pay you back.
Are you a working woman in India looking to make a start on freelance projects? How do you plan to find the right work for yourself? Share!
*Photo credit: Richard Matthews (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas
Very helpful article. I would like to add that freelance work needs a lot of dedication and research. Maintaining deadlines and understanding Client’s views/opinions are must for a freelancer. There can be occasions where re-work on the project will be required as per the Client’s suggestions and that should be taken in good spirits. Freelancer’s mostly work from home and can fall into the trap of “do all the housework” and earn money through freelancing cycle. It is not possible for longer periods to continue working late at night and keep doing all the house chores and family duties. It is essential to separate the work and personal time for better results in both spheres. Freelancing can be very enriching experience if you can find and collaborate with like minded Clients.
Great article Aparna.
I’d like to add – it’s important to stay in touch with people you freelance for, even if you go through a lean period. After my divorce I opted for a job and didn’t maintain contact. All the years of carefully building up my profile went down the drain and I have to work even harder at it now.
Loved your post on freelancing. Very pertinent and useful.
Felt compelled to share with you my experience of trying my hand at freelancing. The client had advertised in The Times Ascent, which I thought was a platform for serious clients. I applied, they asked me to submit a 3000 word write-up on myself, which I did . They said I was on, and sent me some training assignment for which I was not to be paid. I did the training work as suggested, and they said they were satisfied with my work.
They sent me my first proper assignment but didn’t tell me how much they would be paying, and foolishly I did not even ask, thinking it would not be too bad for part-time, home-based work.. It was a time-taking but intellectually stimulating job which I was happy to land. So I got the work done in the stipulated time of one week, working two hours daily. They then mailed me, saying that they made payments on a per-page basis,and since the work I did was seven pages long( I thought it was more than that, but they might have had their own notions of how long a page should be) and since one page was worth fifty rupees, they would be shortly mailing me a check of Rs. 350!
That’s less than what what my maid would make for working fourteen hours! Just imagine!
I promptly mailed them that I was not interested in more assignments. I was tempted to return their check, saying they would be needing it to fish for fools willing to work for such measly peanuts, but then I thought they wouldn’t mind the check being returned at all. So I kept it and bought myself a packet of Darjeeling tea with it. Heh!
very helpful tips mentioned in the article. I want to add one thing : Dont shy away from talking about about your milestones or strengths. every client would want to know how you can deliver and if you’ll be better than the others. So if you dont talk about strengths, who will? But remember not to go overboard with it. don’t sound pompous. but yes, do write or tell how you would be a better choice.
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