How I Made It – Amal Dua
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to embark on a freelance career!
It’s not something I planned for, it happened quite naturally. After I received my first 1-year consulting contract, I had planned to go back to a full-time role. But as luck would have it, I got connected with Outsized, among other opportunities that seemed too good to pass up, and it just went on from there.
In your experience, what are some of the pros and cons of freelancing?
Pros: I can decide my own hours and choose to work from anywhere and at any time inspiration strikes.
Cons: Obviously job security is less than that in a full-time role, benefits may be lacking, and you may feel detached from the missions of companies you work for as you only get to experience a limited part of the work in their bigger picture.
However, the biggest pro which far outweighs the cons is being able to meet and interact with a vibrant and intelligent community and to get to do it several times as you pick up more opportunities
How do you generally come across opportunities as a freelancer or independent consultant?
I usually reach out to companies that are hiring and ask if they have any independent consulting roles open but most often than not, they reach out to me based on my LinkedIn presence and past client references. As you work with a diverse cohort of leaders, the leaders themselves talk to other decision-makers. If you leave a positive lasting impression, you’re bound to be recommended for other problem-solving roles.
Is there anything you still struggle with as a freelancer?
Sometimes it’s still tough to juggle actual work and several meetings. Scheduling my day becomes a challenge sometimes but it’s not constant. I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years.
Are there any resources you have found useful as a freelancer?
Google is a friend, and so is LinkedIn. Then there is open-source software such as Apache Superset and other knowledge portals such as Stack Overflow and even tutorials on YouTube. The more you learn during your downtime, the more you can deploy and impress on actual projects.
Are there areas you would like support but haven’t yet found anything useful?
I am keen to support financial services clients and am interested in understanding what data they value and the techniques they employ. For that, I have not found a one-stop shop of resources.
Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started out as an independent?
Not at all, I feel if I had preconceived notions of this path, it would have restricted me. I may not have thought certain things were possible or that my time could truly be valuable outside of a 9-5 and would have maybe undervalued myself. Learning is as much a part of the journey as having learned it at the end of the road. I’m glad I knew nothing and didn’t try and mimic someone else’s. This allowed me to carve the best path for myself. For example, I regularly work over 60 hours a week and at the same time am not very picky about projects I believe in experiencing every industry and kind of work at least once. Someone may want to work less and maybe take their time for picking their next job; it all depends on personal choice. So, I would say take every piece of advice with a pinch of salt and try and shape your own niche in the market.
Have you ever considered quitting freelancing? If yes, can you tell us why?
I have only considered it to start my own registered business but the market conditions for freelancing vs starting a business were always in the former’s favor as far as ROI is concerned so I haven’t taken this step yet. As soon as the scales tip, I would be willing to part ways.
Finally, what are your top tips for people thinking about going into freelancing?
As I said, try and etch your own path and understand that the root word in freelancing is free, and as such, it should make you feel freer, both financially and with your time.