Featured Lifestyle

Being a Working Woman in Pune – A Freelancer is Not Free

Repeat after me- A freelancer is not free. 

Where did I leave you the last time? Aah- Ask and aspire. Are we asking more out of our opportunities from Pune? Has it embraced the aspire ethos?
As I sip my cup of chaha and dig into pohe (I am a full blown Punekar now), I realise that I have spent almost half of my morning sending hate mail to potential and existing clients, reinforcing the fact that- a freelancer is NOT FREE. The minute you utter this Voldermort-ish word, the immediate reaction is a trifecta of:

  • Why is she sitting at home and working? Must not be very good.
  • Saste mein kaam kara loonga. What 10% discount? I’ll ask for 80%.
  • Good life ya! Bas sit at home, work whenever you want, I WANT THIS!

I’ll spend the next 10 mins giving them a crash course in a freelancer lifestyle and explain to sheepishly grinning faces that I INDEED WORK. I am not a freeloader. You see- free has a different meaning here! And then comes the big boom- “you are too expensive. I can get a college kid to do this for free beer and an internship.”
That’s my problem with Pune. While the city is growing leaps and bounds in its IT space, for someone like me who wants to build a career in media, a freelancer is akin to a college kid. And I don’t blame them! In a town full of the best media schools in the country, who wouldn’t want to pick them young and watch them grow!

According to a recent report, India is home to 15 million freelancers (WOAH!) and going strong.

But doesn’t quality count for anything? Almost 9-10 freelancer gigs are taken up by younglings with stars in their eyes and a 24/7 work ethic which comprises of just work, party, work, repeat.
But again I ask- is it only about quantity? Where is the damon quality? (Hardcore Nirma reference here!). Let me put it into perspective, (No, I’m not PMSing). According to a recent report, India is home to 15 million freelancers (WOAH!) and going strong. That number is a reality. The skillset is present and so is the dedication. During my Mumbai stint, hiring was a combination of costs and merit. In Pune on the other hand, it’s about costs only.
A growth revamp- that’s what we need. A mindset change to accept the new and mix it with experience. If we aim to be the hub of corporate India on one end of the spectrum and employ only college kids on the complete other end- where do the consultants and freelancers fit? Pune, you need to embrace the fact that good work comes in all sizes and guess what- it costs that much too.
Repeat after me- A freelancer is not free.