Darshan Gajara

How did you get your first freelance gig?

My first freelance gig came from Twitter. At that time, I was studying Computer Engineering in Mumbai and already had a couple of websites under my sleeves for different councils in college.

I’d started writing a personal blog and also became active on Twitter. I was sharing a lot of tips and tricks in technology.

This client of mine was a Soft Skills Trainer and was looking for an individual who could help set up her website in WordPress and also train her so that she could maintain her website on her own.

All these things added up and I landed my first legit client.

Do you have any rituals or habits which help you to work remotely?

I wouldn’t say I’ve got a ritual that I follow throughout the day because no two days are exactly the same for me. Having said that, I do have a few things that I try to practice on a daily basis.

Like doing a 10-minutes basic workout before taking a bath. Going through the emails and social accounts (mostly Twitter and Instagram). Reading some stories from the newsletters I follow. Checking what’s new on Behance, Dribbble and Designer News via Panda.

I also watch a few videos on YouTube when taking a short break (I take quite a lot of those).

All of this keeps me entertained while I make love to my laptop.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a remote job or a freelance contract?

I would say get your personal branding game in place. Personal branding takes center stage when looking for a remote or freelance gig.

By personal branding, I mean the way you put yourself out on the internet. You’ve to show intent in positioning yourself as a freelancer who specializes in remote work.

You can achieve this by having a personal website, writing or contributing to a blog, working on side-projects, being an active participant in the related communities on Facebook, Twitter, Slack or Spectrum. There are so many of those, finding yourself one shouldn’t be a difficult job.

Once you’ve got this in place, stay true to your values. Take ownership of your work and honor commitment. Strive for longer relationships and just be nice. That’s all it takes.

What is the biggest benefit of working remotely?

For me, it’s the control of my time.

At this stage of my career where I’m exploring a lot of new opportunities and travelling very often, it becomes utmost important to have that flexibility with time.

Working remotely also makes you accountable for your time and adds a lot of intent to whatever you do. You become self-driven and no more need someone on your back to tell you what to do.

Do you see any cons of working remotely and how do you try to overcome it?

Yes, every coin has a flip side.

I feel very lonely at times when working from home. I try to overcome it by visiting friends or relatives on weekends and taking a short trip every month and a longer one every 3-4 months.

I also attend some meetups and events every once in a while.

I love your recommendations on Twitter. And I love newsletters. I wonder if you had to suggest three newsletters ( for freelancers/remote workers/makers ) which ones would be on the list ?

Damn, that’s difficult. I’ve so many to recommend, but I’ll try and keep it to just three.

  1. Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatches – freelance advice and personal stories
  2. Nguyen Le’s weekly newsletter – freelance advice
  3. The Gig List by AND CO – freelance and remote gigs

Bonus: I send this half-monthly newsletter – Product Disrupt sharing products, resources and ideas for designers and makers. You can take a look at it here.

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