Freelancing 101

A Guide to India’s Freelance Market

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 12/07/228 min read
A Guide to India’s Freelance Market
The Indian freelance market is among the fastest-growing industries. Read this article to find out everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

The Indian Freelance Market

Laws for Indian Freelancers

Most Popular Freelancer Roles in India

How Much Do Freelancers Earn in India?

● 5 Steps to Becoming a Professional Freelancer in Any Field in India

Freelance opportunities have now overshadowed traditional nine-to-five jobs. Freelancing has become a preferred working method for many people because it allows flexibility.

The freelance market in India is a rapidly evolving industry with space for everyone. If you are also looking to take advantage of this new trend, this article highlights everything you need to know about freelancing work in India and how you can set up your own business.

The Indian Freelance Market

The global freelance market size was valued at USD 2.35 billion in 2018. Since then, the market size has grown at 15.3% and is expected to be valued at USD 9.19 million by 2027. The Indian freelancing market has shown tremendous growth. It currently ranks as the second fastest-growing freelancing market globally.

The startup culture in India and the global pandemic have been driving forces behind this growth. Today, there are over 15 million freelancers in India across diverse services. India Today reported a 46% increase in the number of freelancers between Q1 to Q2 of 2020.

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While many freelancers started freelancing to supplement their income during the pandemic, the flexibility and income provided by being your boss have encouraged them to continue the role. Freelancers are not limited to just content writers but also include graphic designers, developers, editors, and many more fields.

Today, freelancers are in high demand. Freelancers are hired by startups and small businesses and by international businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

These statistics go a long way in showing the freelancing opportunities in India. You can easily become a freelancer in India without investing any amount.

While freelancing was once considered a part-time job, it is not so. Today, freelancing can become a full-time job and be the primary source of your income. However, if you wish to start freelancing work in India, you must understand the legal regulations integrated for freelancers.

Laws for Indian Freelancers

There are two important laws for freelancers in India. These are as follows:

1. All earnings are considered income.

Any amount you earn by providing intellectual or manual services is considered an income. As a result, you must show the amount under “Profits and Gains from Business/Profession.”

Your total annual income will be a sum of all these earnings, regardless of how small or large.

2. Freelancers are allowed special deductions.

Since you will not be an employee of any firm, you will not receive perks like PF. However, this also means all expenses will be paid out of your pocket. This allows freelancing businesses in India to claim some tax deductions.

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These expenses can be anything from traveling fares to electricity. The only criterion is that it should be directly related to your service.

Expenses that are allowed include:

● Rent for a property or a co-working space: You can claim it under an expense if you rent an office for your work.

● Asset depreciation cost: This is only applicable to tangible products you use for work, such as laptops.

● Property repair costs: This includes the cost of repairing laptops, PCs, or other assets that you use to provide the service.

● Office expenses: You can claim office expenses such as purchasing a new laptop, printer, or supplies. Additionally, electricity bills, telephone bills, and others can also be claimed under office expenses.

● Travel and hospitality expenses: You can include this expense if you are traveling to meet a client. Alternatively, if you are hosting meetings for your clients, you can also include all expenses for rooms, food, etc.

● Medical expenses: Any medical insurance you purchase for yourself can be deducted. In addition, you can include any insurance plan you purchase for your spouse and children here.

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The graphic above shows the benefits you get as an employed persona and those you can show in deductions as a freelancer.

It is important to note that this is not the complete list of deductions allowed. You may be allowed other deductions depending upon the role you choose. Furthermore, you may not be eligible for all of these deductions, depending upon the nature of your work.

5 Most Popular Freelancer Roles in India

Freelancing opportunities in India are available to people from all backgrounds in India. Therefore, you can start a freelancing business in India in any field. You can choose the services you provide, your clients, and your rates.

That being said, here are the top five most popular freelancing roles.

1. Content writing

From reading news every day to scrolling through Facebook and Instagram – content is everywhere. Content writing is no longer limited to writing blogs and articles. Instead, you can be paid to write Instagram captions, LinkedIn posts, tweets, emails, etc.

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Content writing is a vast field. The aim behind writing any content is the same: capture the reader’s attention. Therefore, if you have a way with words, content writing is one of the most popular words.

Some skills that you will need for this role include:

Topic research and data interpretation

Language proficiency (not necessarily in English, but any language)

Good time management

Information organizational skills

● SEO understanding

2. Digital marketing

Digital marketing is a vast field. It includes PPC, SEO, SEM, email marketing, lead generation, and many other subfields. As a result, you can start freelancing work in India in these fields, provided you understand the requirements.

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Professional digital marketers need to master a range of these subfields. The primary responsibility of digital marketers is to improve their conversion rates.

However, this isn’t done by only PPC or SEO. Instead, marketers must combine multiple services to improve their conversion rate at each funnel.

Some skills you will need for this role:

Strong grasp of SEO guidelines

Copywriting skills

Content and marketing strategy development

Understanding analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, SEMrush, etc.

● Updated knowledge of the latest trends

3. Web development

Web development has emerged as the third most popular field in India. There are significantly higher freelancing jobs in India in this field. As a result, you can capitalize on your skills and provide freelancing services.

Freelance web developers offer both front-end and back-end services. Developers with Java, Python, JavaScript, and PHP skills are in great demand. As a result, you can provide a range of services from creating code to bug troubleshooting, resolution, and many more.

Some skills you need to know:

Testing and debugging

Proficiency in a programming language(s)

In-depth knowledge of development

UX and UI development

● Design skills

4. Graphic design

The graphic design industry has grown in parallel with the content writing industry. Graphic designers focus on developing visual solutions for clients. However, you can offer a range of services like logo design, marketing graphics, pamphlets, industrial designs, etc.

Since the goal is to make a visual representation of the data, you can work with public relations teams, marketing teams, and many other companies.

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Skills you will need are:

Attention to detail

Understanding of graphic design rules

Proficiency with design tools like Adobe Photoshop

Networking skills

● Creativity

5. Blockchain development

Many industries have integrated blockchain technology. Since this is a relatively new industry, there is a high demand for experts who understand blockchain technology.

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Blockchain developers can work on a wide range of projects. Cryptocurrency, data structuring, computer networking, decentralized applications, smart contracts, and many more are based on this technology.

Therefore, if you have a firm grasp of blockchain technology, you can offer to freelance in India.

Skills that you need to know:

Software development

Data structures and algorithm development

● Experience with open-source projects

If you are ready to start freelancing in India in any of these fields, you should also read our top 13 tips for freelancers before you get started.

How Much Do Freelancers Earn in India?

According to AmbitionBox, the average freelancer income in India is INR 4.1 LPA, while the estimated take-home salary is between INR 30,205 to INR 31,515 per month.

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The average annual salary also depends on the experience of the freelancer.

Freelancers with less than one year of experience earn less than INR 1 LPA, while those with 1-2 years of experience earn INR 2-3 LPA.

● The average salary continues to increase with experience. Freelancers with 12-15 years of experience earn an average INR 6.6-6.7 LPA salary.

Average freelancer income in India may also depend upon the designation of the freelancer. Freelance writers earn between INR 1-and 6 LPA, while SEO consultants earn between INR 3 to INR 25LPA.

 

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Freelance writers earn between INR 99 to INR 1,000 per hour of work. This depends upon the years of experience. As the graph shows, freelancers with one year of experience usually earn INR 389 per hour, while those with 5-9 years of experience earn INR 491 per hour.

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Freelancing income can also depend upon the services you provide. Given below is an exhibit that shows how your hourly income may vary depending upon the skills or services you provide.

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5 Steps to Becoming a Professional Freelancer in Any Field in India

Finding freelancing jobs in India is not too difficult. You can start your freelancing business in India by following these five steps:

1. Identify your skills

As already highlighted in this article, you can provide freelancing services for various industries. However, which service do you provide with your expertise?

The first thing to determine is which monetizable skills you have. If you have experience in content writing, you can become a freelance content writer. Finding the right skill may take time.

2. Understand your market standards

Each industry has its unique standards. Let us take content writing as an example. Creating an article for a marketing company is significantly different from creating an article for a pharmaceutical company. Both services involve writing. However, the technical language used, the tone, and the length are different.

The same can be said about all industries and services. Therefore, it is important to evaluate which market your skills match carefully. As a freelancer, you will have to spend time understanding the unspoken rules of your chosen market before you start working.

3. Set up your prices

Setting up your quotations is a difficult task. Most freelancers do not set one fixed price for all projects. Instead, they select a price range. This allows you to charge fees based on the effort. More comprehensive projects can be charged with the higher end of your range. In contrast, those that are simple can be charged lesser.

It is also important to understand the market price. Conduct thorough research to understand what other freelancers are charging. Evaluate their skill set compared to yours and determine what you should charge for your services.

4. Create a portfolio

Creating a portfolio is a critical step in freelancing. Your chances of being hired increase if you can showcase your skills instead of just talking about them. Ideally, a portfolio should include at least five niche-specific samples to help clients understand your skillset and diversity.

As you complete more projects, you can continue adding to your portfolio.

5. Approach clients

Only once you have set your quotation and created a portfolio should you start approaching clients. Most freelancers find work through word of mouth and referrals. Therefore, the first thing to do is find clients within your existing network.

However, you can also find freelancing opportunities in India through other methods. Almost 49% of freelancers also depend on freelancing platforms and marketplaces such as Pepper Content and Freelancer and online job boards for freelancing opportunities in India.

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Read our article on how to get more gigs as a freelancer to understand more about how you can increase your client portfolio.

In the End

Finding freelancing work in India is becoming increasingly easy, and if you are ready to leap, you can start your freelancing business in India in no time. In this booming industry, there is space for everyone.

Key Takeaways

● Starting freelance work in India is simple and can be done in five steps. However, it requires perseverance and dedication. It can take a few months to a few years to establish yourself.

● Each freelancing role has a unique skill set, based on which the rates are determined. You can provide these services provided you have the skillset and are ready to continue learning.

● Freelancers in India are not provided any benefits such as health insurance or PF since they are not employees. However, you can claim these and other business-related expenses when filing income tax.

● This article highlights the top five freelancing opportunities in India. However, many other roles have not been included.

Freelancing rates are determined entirely by your expertise, skillset, and experience. Therefore, you will have to upgrade your skills regularly to increase your income or rates. This is done to show improvement that your clients can benefit from.

FAQs

1. Do I need to create a freelancing contract for clients?

Many companies have freelancing contracts that they will offer you. However, use a contract to safeguard your interests.

2. Do I need to transfer all copyrights of my work after payment?

No, it is not necessary to transfer all copyrights. Freelancers can also opt to hold copyrights and provide exclusive access. However, not all clients may agree to this.

3. How much should I charge for freelance content writing?

Rates for freelance content writing depend upon your skills, experience, and expertise. There is no standard formula for selecting rates. You should research how much people who have similar experience and expertise charge.

4.How do I get paid for my work?

You can receive payment directly in your business bank account. Alternatively, you can also use e-wallets like PayTM, PayPal, BharatPay, or GPay.

5. Do I need to register my freelancing business in India?

No, you do not need to register your freelancing business. You are only legally required to register your business if your income is over INR 20 lakh per annum.

6. Can I use the same bank account for personal and freelancing?

Yes, you can use the same account. However, it is recommended to help you separate personal expenses from business expenses. This can make filing for income tax difficult.

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