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.
Ramya Sriram is a cartoonist, copywriter and a communication specialist. She runs a web comic space called The Tap and is a full-time freelancer.
I got to know about Ramya when one of my friends shared an article of her’s. The article was about quitting jobs and pursuing dreams. Being in a similar place in life, I could relate to her story.
Since then, I have been an admirer of her comic strips and her essays.
More than her stories, I love the way she presents it. When you read it, you get a sense of real-ness. The one which you deeply feel when you know that writer is speaking the plain truth.
So if you are someone who is looking for ’10 ways to have an amazing freelance career’ or ‘How to become a successful freelancer in 3 easy steps’, you are going to be utterly disappointed.
More than all the flashy benefits, what defines a freelancer’s life is the constant fire fighting — the deadlines, the self-doubt or even the occasional anxiety attacks.
Ramya’s write ups talk about these challenges at the deepest level. So when I came up with the idea of Gig Economy, Ramya was an obvious choice in the list of awesome freelancers I wanted to interview.
Over to Ramya!
1. Hi, Ramya, can you talk a bit about yourself, your background and the work that you do?
I work as a cartoonist, copywriter, and travel writer. I run The Tap, thetap.in, a webcomic and a creative space of sorts. I take up copywriting, content writing and illustration projects — everything from running social media campaigns to illustrating wedding invitations. I’ve been freelancing for a couple of years now and have never been happier 🙂
I had a crazy career path — coached for medicine, studied engineering, dropped out of an MBA, worked in a publishing house, was (and am) a copywriter, before working full-time as a writer and illustrator. I had the cover of a full-time job to be able to experiment with The Tap until I took the plunge.
2. How many hours do you put in every day? What’s your daily routine like? Can you share a few productivity hacks for our readers?
Well, I work typically about 10ish hours a day. Depends on what you call “work” really — sometimes I’m working on my writing or drawings, sometimes drawing for a client. My daily routine is fairly fixed now since I’m working on a contract, handing digital content for a startup. I go on a morning walk, have breakfast, work 9 to 5 during the day, relax, watch a movie or go out in the evenings. I stay up late if I’ve got multiple projects going on — but I like most evenings to be free from work 🙂
My productivity tips for freelancers is pretty simple really –
-Have a fixed routine. Not only does it help you get into ‘work mode’ but it also helps you understand the amount of time, energy and effort you put into every project.
-Having weekly and monthly goals also help — time moves really quickly and then you feel pretty awful to find that you’ve wasted weeks away!
-Get out of the house at least once a day — swim, run, walk, cycle
-Get enough sleep 🙂
-Be super-organized when it comes to bills and invoices
3. What was the biggest low in your freelance career?
Well, thankfully, I don’t think I’ve faced it yet. I think the point just after I quit my full-time job, especially one I didn’t vehemently dislike, was a bit scary. But I’ve had a very supportive family so that’s been a real blessing.
4. How do you get new clients to sign-up?
Most of my work comes through word-of-mouth. I sometimes pitch directly to organizations — and in most cases, that works. LinkedIn is a great way to network. I think regular newsletters help too — but I’m awfully inconsistent. Most of my clients have either spotted my work on Facebook, have seen my website or media interviews, or have been referred to me. I’ve got a couple of commissions through Twitter, and surprisingly, Reddit, but I’m not consistent enough on those too 🙂
5. What are the dark sides of freelancing or the things you hate doing as a freelancer?
I really miss the social life of an office. There are days you can feel awfully isolated — I feel that a lot more in the UK. I think that’s one of the things I sorely miss — the noisy chatter of an office, somebody playing music, having a group to sit down with at lunch. I think coworking spaces are changing that. I’m fairly social and I dislike not having enough human interaction.
Another thing which I don’t like doing very much is updating multiple social media platforms. I’ve handled social media for other organizations and I’ve loved it. But when it comes to my work, I find that I prefer to use that time creating stuff 🙂 I know people who post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tapastic, Webtoons, Behance, Imgur, Reddit and what not — and I find that pretty energy-sapping! I stick to one or two main platforms as of now.
For me, what I like best about freelancing is being able to focus all your time and energy on your projects, with minimal distraction. I also like working in the balcony or garden 🙂
6. What would you say to the ones who are afraid to take the leap? Also if you can share those little details at the time of taking the leap, it would be super awesome.
I’ve actually written about this in detail here. I think the first step would be to think about your affordability — in terms of cost, time, energy, effort. There’s never going to be a perfect time to quit a full-time job — it always comes with some uncertainty. So when you see a window, go for it! If your circumstances are favorable, don’t plan too much, because I believe that we are wired in such a way that if you quit, you’ll start making backup plans anyway. The easiest way to make a decision would be to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and that usually answers most of your doubts and fears.
When I quit a full-time job, I was able to, because by then I had built some sort of network. I also had a very supportive family. Being able to have taken that leap has made me push myself a lot more, and has landed me some very interesting projects.
I’d say keep experimenting, find what you like, and be bold 🙂
If you have any specific questions for Ramya, you can leave that in the comments below and we try updating the blog.