Some months ago, I submitted my Ph.D. thesis. My scholarship was finished and I did not have enough money to survive in Europe. Even after doing my bachelor’s (exchange), master’s and Ph.D. under fully-funded scholarships in Europe, I was unemployed. It reminded me of my time in Pakistan when I just finished my bachelor’s and wanted to find a job. With all the skills and good profile, I could not find any job. Like many other students, I knew that I had some invaluable skills gained by studying and living in different countries, working with so many different people, but I had no idea how to market them. There was no way to connect with people who needed my skills and are willing to pay for my work.
In Pakistan, it is particularly harder for talented and hardworking people to cash their skills. In fact, there is no relationship between your skills and your salary due to no meritocracy and sifarish culture. Many of us decide to come abroad for scholarships, but all the scholarships will eventually finish. The practical life is not as easy as getting a scholarship, not to mention the time you need to defend your Ph.D., get a work permit, meanwhile, have no money to survive.
Freelancing is like an online mandi of skills. If I need to finish some work and do not have time/resources/skills to do it, I can go to freelancing platforms and get it done. Of course, I will have to pay the person who does the job. Thanks to the flexibility it offers, more and more companies are moving online. If you need to develop a website, why go to a software house when you can get it done online at a lesser cost.
For students and other skilled people, it offers a way to cash skills. You can go to one of the freelancing platforms, navigate through the jobs available and see if you can do something. The better work you do, the better reviews you get and it brings more customers. The cycle continues.
You might be thinking, “What will I do online?” It is a reasonable question and I thought the same. I have a background in agriculture and shifted to molecular biology during Ph.D. but I did most of the work with my hands, in the laboratory. I thought freelancing makes sense for developers, graphic designers, etc., but there is nothing for me. I was wrong and yes, you are wrong too. You have many skills that you don’t even know. Do you know the MS office? There are jobs for you. Do you speak English? There are jobs for you. If you are reading this, chances are you like reading and could write better than thousands of others who did not bother to continue reading. By writing an article like this, you can earn somewhere between 10-100$.
Is freelancing a piece of cake? Definitely no. In my first month, I did not get any job. Most people would quit in their first month, thinking they are not good enough. Others will survive because they will think about what they are doing wrong. They will work on themselves and finally land a job. The hardest is to find the first job. After reading about freelancing and watching several Youtube videos, I finally landed my first job of 13$. Yes, only 13$. In Italy, where I live, one meal costs more than 13$. Nevertheless, I gave my best and delivered the work on time. The client was so happy and satisfied with my work and offered me a big contract of 600$+. Earning some hundred dollars in the first couple of months did not change my life but knowing that I can be anywhere in the world and earn money is a feeling that I cannot explain to you. All you need is a computer and internet connection to experience it yourself.