Inside the mind of a Freelancer is a section where we interview top Indian freelancers and deconstruct their thoughts to help you take the plunge, make better decisions and live a better life.
I am super pleased to present to you a man who needs no introduction. But then I would still go ahead and do it. Balraj KN is a freelancer with over 20 years of experience.
He has contributed editorial cartoons to a few publications. The list includes Deccan Herald, Bangalore Mirror, Entrepreneur India, The New York Times blog and The Guardian. He has contributed to organisations like J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi Focus, Flipkart, Samsung and Cricbuzz. You can check out his complete portfolio on his Behance profile.
I just required one conversation with him to figure out that Balraj is greater than the sum of his achievements. He is extremely witty and super helpful. Maybe he is because he has been there and done that to understand what everyone is going through. And maybe, maybe because he is too chill to care about anything.
So, it wasn’t that difficult for me to reach out to him because we share the similar brand of humor only that his jokes are better – short, witty and the one’s that revolve around daily life.
This is how we hit it off. Thanks to Shashi Tharoor for helping me do this interview with Balraj KN 🙂
My conversation with Balraj
The farrago post that got me the interview
Over to you Balraj.
1. About yourself, background, the work that you do.
I’m quite an interesting person and I’m not saying this as a self-absorbed boast. Anybody would end up as one if he/she has tried a few things, lived a little, failed enough and tasted a semblance of some success in between.
I graduated as a visual artist with sculpture as specialization because no one had a bachelor’s course in cartooning and I was partially colour-blind to choose any other visual arts stream. Coming across a few copywriter friends inspired my creative pursuits early in life and kept me busy as a copywriter in a few ad agencies. I always wanted to be a cartoonist but copywriting is the best thing that could have happened to my cartooning. After limping through a few years of life and work, I understood that compelling ideas that are communicated with brevity is what would make my cartoons creative. But may not necessarily yours. Cartooning, copywriting, caricaturing, illustrating, visual scribing/graphic facilitation constitute much of the creative work I do regularly.
2. How much do you work every day? What’s your daily routine?
Routine doesn’t seem to work for me. But it helps that I’m quite self-motivated. When you are a freelancer, workflow from clients, old and new, is quite unpredictable, except for regular clients. So I mostly try to adapt to the workflow rather than keeping regular working hours. It doesn’t worry me if I don’t start and end my work at a particular time. What gives me joy is ideating, writing, drawing and creating, even when there’s no commercial work or deadlines to meet. And what I create and post as non-paid work also works as marketing and brand building.
3. Can you share a few productivity hacks for our readers?
Creative work doesn’t just happen when you are meeting deadlines. Creative brain flourishes with a regular conscious and sub-conscious feeding of stimuli, which in other words can also be called as productive and fun downtime. And that downtime can range anything from regular reading across subjects, watching popular culture, having engaging conversations, participating in meaningful art, theater, culture and musical events. Wider the extra-curricular pursuits the better, at least for me it has seemed. Creativity flourishes when you try and oscillate between high concentrated working and total relaxation. Hence, activity and resting are two sides of the same creative coin.
4. What was the biggest low in your freelance career?
Failures, mistakes, and learning are part of everyone’s life. A failure or a fall would be accepted as one if you don’t pick yourself up and start walking. There have been many lows in my life. The biggest one was when I didn’t know what to do with my life. Now it’s slightly better because at least I clearly know what I don’t want to do.
5. How do you get new clients to signup?
My business as a creative professional is very small and I intend to keep it that way. I’m the wrong person to ask for advice on scaling. Word of mouth, online and offline networking, showcasing work on social media, making friends in the industries that you operate are a few that have worked for me. You can use your creative skills here too. For example, you can do samples for a prospective client in your free time and share it. The idea is to look at and study the need of a prospective client and surprise them with your creativity.
6. What are the dark sides of freelancing or the things you hate doing as a freelancer?
There are no particular dark sides special to freelancing. You just have ups and downs, like in all walks of life. Monetary security was a cause of concern in the initial years. With experience, I learned to control monthly spending based on my earnings. One has to figure out his/her wants and then prioritize them. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to freelancing. But freelancing has a better chance of blossoming if you work for someone the first few years of your career.
7. What would you say to the ones who are afraid to take the leap?
I’m no one to push or stop anyone from taking the leap, or plunge. You may not remember me when you succeed and I might not come to your rescue when you fail. Each one sings to his or her own heartbeat. Everyone is a mosaic of his or her own rich personal experiences. Freelancing is less of a career choice and more of a life decision you might make at different points. Experiment with what works best for you. If you are bored with your job, freelance. If freelancing isn’t paying enough, take up a job. Fail, till you succeed, at whatever that works best for you.
If you have further questions for Balraj, leave it in the comments below. If you are interested in his services, you can hit him up on his website.
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