Freelancing is... Freeing?
By: Nivita Sriram
Pre-covid, I was living the rushed 8-5 lifestyle with little-to-no room to breathe. I woke up at 4:45 AM Monday-Friday, hit the gym (for some forced endorphins to get me through the week), and went to work. Rinse and repeat, five times. That was an experience within itself- I didn’t know I had it in me to wake up at the crack of dawn to lift some weights. I will admit this ungodly routine gave me an unreasonable amount of confidence though. Obviously, this all changed once lockdown began. Just like everyone else, my lifestyle changed more than I ever could’ve imagined just within the span of a couple months. I quickly realized I now have the privilege of slowing down and building myself. Now, during COVID, I’m living the freelance life and it’s oddly refreshing, liberating and exciting. I was anxious jumping into it, but now I almost wish I had tried dipping my feet in sooner. Within the marketing world, there’s so much to explore- something I hadn’t fully realized before freelancing. Freelance marketing and social media have allowed me to connect with people I’ve never met (and perhaps may never meet) and learn from them. Instagram has given me the tools to educate myself on topics I didn’t have the opportunity to learn about in “traditional” work experiences. If used wisely, social media can be used to better inform ourselves on whatever topic is of interest, while sharing this newfound information with others. I’ve completely changed the way I interact with Instagram over the course of the last three months- and this change has altered the way I view social media as well. Instead of rolling my eyes while I'm scrolling through IG, I find myself leaving the app having learned something, or feeling inspired to write, create, or try something new with work. I owe this (much needed) shift in perspective to my “career” switch. Freelancing has forced me to connect with others (via the dark hole that is social media), and attempt to put myself out there in the digital space while attempting to stand out. If people don’t know you exist, and see the capabilities and talent that you possess, how will you acquire clients? How will you get paid? You don’t need to be a well-established brand or influencer to create your own personal brand on Instagram. Your Instagram has the potential to become your portfolio. My position with LifesforSocial and working closely with Afshan has opened my eyes to not only the technical aspects of marketing, but the importance of aesthetics, imagery, typography and design as well. Branding can make or break your Instagram, Facebook, website, or whatever digital platform you use. People should be able to pinpoint 2-3 things you talk about consistently on your account- but if, and only if you have a strong brand. I will admit- I felt a little “imposter-ish” while consulting clients on building their brands, without having built my own. Without diving into freelancing though, I would’ve never given myself the opportunity to develop my own personal brand and create room to find my place in the Instagram world. These days, seeing other BIPOC in the marketing/digital/creative space on social media has been very inspiring and the content coming out of the BIPOC space is something I actually look forward to engaging with on Instagram. Freelancing has shown me different sides of social media that I hadn’t thought so deeply about before; including the power it has to create movement in terms of social and human rights issues. Posting cute pictures is all fun and dandy, but the last couple months have motivated me to use my platform wisely -- not just for the pictures when I’m feeling good, but for storytelling, visuals and content that can create great impact, too. The repetitive, mundane routine of pre-covid (and freelance) life certainly inhibited me from developing any creative side projects- including writing, teaching myself about graphic design and aesthetics, or building my personal brand. I didn’t “have time” to internalize my thoughts, put them on paper, and take a jump in sharing my opinions with the world. Now, I have the privilege of time to learn about things that I didn’t prioritize before. I’m becoming more inspired and encouraged by others on social media to be more vocal about my experience as a woman of color and Second Generation American, in our world- and in the digital space. It’s been refreshing to do less rinsing and repeating, and more reflecting, learning, creating and expressing.