“In freelancing the ‘Free’ or the ‘Freedom’ comes with Discipline!” -- Sabir Ahmed, Founder of Inspizen
In a time when freelancing is becoming the talk of the town and across industries. We had a chat with a freelancing professional, Sabir Ahmed who is the Founder of Inspizen. He has been freelancing for three years and was excited to give us his perspective on this young and dynamic workstyle of freelancing.
SA: When I first entered the industry, I took up a corporate job. I joined a company which designed apps. It all seemed very exciting but I soon felt that my co-workers lacked motivation and were being complacent in their job roles. The company I worked for was mainly driven in making money and not creating new ideas and solutions. Thus, I stepped out of the world of corporate jobs and entered the world of freelancing.
TL: How has your freelancing journey been like?
SA: To be truthful, it was rough in the beginning. There was a lot of trial and error. Getting clients was tricky as they prefer someone with experience. But soon I started getting my clients through reference and my business started. Over the years, my business expanded and I have become an established freelancer.
TL: Would you consider yourself to be a successful freelancer?
SA: I definitely consider myself to be a successful freelancer. However, I have a long way to go. I have been able to get a good number of clients and have expanded in a considerable manner. I feel discipline and patience is key for any freelancer to expand his/ her business and make the impact in the market.
TL: What advice would you give new freelancers?
SA: I think the most important advice I would like to give them is to be patient. I have heard many new freelancers complain and consider getting back to their old jobs because they were unable to land projects just in a few weeks. For them I would say that they need to have a disciplined approach to work. Expecting things to work from day one is a little unreasonable. With discipline towards work I am sure they will be able to land projects and clients easily.
TL: Have you been working on the same type of projects from the beginning?
TL: What are the mistakes you have made as a freelancer?
SA: I think the biggest mistake I made as a freelancer is that I didn’t explore the space. I didn’t keep my eyes on the advances that were being made in my field. As freelancers, we too tend to get complacent and focus on making money and not learn. We take on too much work and which tends to keep us busy and give us very little time for learning. And this limits our opportunity to switch technologies.
TL: Any advice you would give to new freelancers trying to crack new projects?
SA: After being a freelancer for three years I know that clients look for reviews before deciding on giving a project. But new freelancers have a disadvantage of not having reviews. Keeping this in mind, it is crucial for new freelancers to put up profiles and portfolios. This will increase the likelihood of getting a project as the clients have something to refer to. Create a structured proposal for the clients. The proposals you send should focus on the requirement of the client and not be a random template. Tell them how they can achieve their goal. This will make your proposal more relatable and eye-catching. I would also suggest aiming at making deals with smaller clients, as the chances of getting these deals are higher. Once you get to work with these clients you can use the reviews you receive from them to attract bigger clients.
TL: What are the tools and apps you use as a freelancer?
SA: I tend to use a lot of free tools and apps for my work. But it differs from one project to another. Apps such as Skype, Trello and Slack are my usual. Trello, I use for keeping track of my tasks and Slack for communication.
TL: If you stuck to the corporate job, would you have learnt so much?
SA: I would say a definite No. I would have stuck to the same profile. But may have shifted jobs and thus explored different companies and work cultures. The learning that occurs as a freelancer doesn’t occur in a corporate role.
TL: Anything else you would like to advice to our new freelancers?
SA: In freelancing the ‘free’ or ‘freedom’ comes with discipline. Unlike in corporate jobs where there is a level of micromanaging; freelancers are responsible for their own work. I would also suggest them to join co-working spaces as it helps increase their productivity.
Freelancing is a workstyle which has a lot of self-ownership. As freelancers, we need to be able to not only be Subject Matter Experts but also have good interpersonal skills. We need to not only be patient in the beginning but also be able to deliver the clients’ demands as business picks up. All this is possible only when one has a strong goal and determination to achieve. With these qualities, the sky is the limit for any freelancer.