Solopreneur is freedom for me

2 months ago   •   11 min read

By Zekeriya Mulbay
Table of contents

Greetings to all! Since the 2017 summer, I have worked as a freelancer. My name is Nil. In reality, I'm not sure how accurate the term "freelancer" would be; perhaps the term "solopreneur," which is derived from the word "entrepreneur," would be more appropriate. Because what I'm about to say will clarify how entrepreneurs are also by nature independent contractors.


Independence

While working as a graphic designer, copywriter in an advertising agency, and then as a brand communication specialist in a corporate company, I always had one thing in mind: Independence.

I am aware that for some people, that word doesn't mean much. For instance, a buddy of mine once stated, "What does it matter if you don't lose your independence while working for the company? In addition, I'm glad to boast that I work for X company and have the support of such a prestigious business name behind me," he continued. But if you've come to this page or have even the slightest interest in working for yourself, a part of you secretly yearns for freedom.


My adventure-Freelancing

But let's get back to our story. I took maternity leave in the final month of 2016 and had the privilege of spending the majority of 2017 with my child (a sleepless and challenging privilege, but I don't know how I would have left my child to go back to work, how I could return to work, and how I could put my mind to work if I hadn't been on leave).

During my maternity leave, I came to the realization that I could finally live the life I had always wanted—get up and go wherever I like, relocate to a new city—while toting my baby around in a backpack. I decided to take the opportunity once I had a taste of it and said, "This is the opportunity."

I started by considering what talent I had that I could market. My copywriting experience caused me to ask myself, "Who pays an outsider to write Word and accomplish something?" I decided to attempt it anyhow and went to the first Turkish freelancing website I came across.

I also set a goal for myself so that my family wouldn't think I was trying to do something stupid:

If my monthly income from freelancing is equal to or greater than the pay I receive from my job at the corporate company, I will not return to work after maternity leave. I will try to be a freelance writer this summer.

Although this was a very clear goal, of course, shrill voices came from my family, “Are you going to give up your regular, paid job?!” many have said.

My answers:

  1. I've always wanted to own my own business so that I could pursue the topics I'm passionate about while working from home.
  2. I want to raise my child myself, to see him grow.
  3. I no longer want to spend a total of 12 hours a day (with traffic) away from my home.

Then something extremely odd occurred. From this platform I entered, people started genuinely offering me copywriting gigs. And I really liked getting paid for the work I did, because it put money in my pocket! I was shocked to learn that this industry had a significant need for independent workers.

When I checked my account that year in August, precisely on the day when my maternity leave was due and I was expected to return to work, I discovered that I had made more money from my position at the corporate company as word of my celebrity spread and overseas jobs started to come in.


As a parent freelancer

Oh, forgive me if I sound as if this is a simple task; I do not count the fact that I am alone at home, that I try to work while rocking the stroller at the same time, that I say "it doesn't work like this" and go to my mother's house in another city, that I entrust the child to my mother, and that I go to internet cafes and send emails because the signal strength does not exist in the middle of the night. I'm not counting the reasons since I was unable to see anything on the route to my dreams :)

My first goal of "not returning to a corporate job" was accomplished, and I persuaded my family by displaying my account status. Things were now developing. When I considered whether I might market other abilities I possess, I understood that I could use some of my branding experiences. I learned about the Ankara Brand Days event at the perfect time.


I establish my own company

I met another freelancer at that event who I had connected with online and who had previously held the position of art director in advertising companies.

We decided after this meeting that we could work with bigger businesses. He was going to help with the graphic design while I handled the branding and copywriting.

Soon following this arrangement, we were presented with the opportunity to work for a significant corporation for whom my close buddy served as a reference. The business did have one need, though: since it was a corporate location, I had to create contracts and issue bills. But I didn't yet have a business! As we enter 2018, I have created my solo proprietorship on this occasion.


2019 came with a challenge

Whether for good or ill, we were hired that year, and we even asked ourselves, "Are we prisoners in the office?" Our only issue was that, despite the fact that we lacked the necessary skills, we had to accept any job that would provide us with a reliable source of income in the already competitive Ankara market.

We ran into social media management concerns, which I didn't enjoy. By delegating tasks to others in web design, there were instances when I came close to being a customer service representative.

I received a call asking me to work as a copywriter for the 2019 municipal elections before the end of 2018. I now felt in a good place and that I had instilled trust in my abilities. The only issue was that I was seriously damaged. since I had no knowledge about finding a niche.

I've always had the fear of having to return to full-time work and that I'll do whatever to keep my income from dropping. When things got busy, it was really challenging to care for my son and divide up household duties.

I had to enrol my son in a daycare facility two months before he turned two years old since I couldn't afford to pay a babysitter (and the one we tried for a month on a half-day basis turned out to be a terrible character).

My new setup, including the nursery, didn't seem to be having any problems. But at the start of 2019, we got some bad news: My dear mother-in-law had been given a cancer diagnosis. I made an effort to maintain my positive attitude during all of this—that is, during the exhausting election atmosphere—by juggling my family, my kid, who had just begun daycare and was constantly ill, the ongoing clients, and the election job. My mother-in-health law's sadly declined immediately after we learned we had won the elections; she passed away in May at the hospital where she had been admitted.

Our entire family felt uneasy. It was such a shock to me after this experience that all work-related issues were so trivial and fleeting. Finding a new job was my last chance to recover from depression; I would try to materialize the start-up concept that had been simmering in the back of my thoughts for a while.


My freelance marketplace project

My objective was to create a new platform for employment where independent contractors could collaborate. However, I was the only person in this scenario; I had no partner, sales staff, web designer, or social media manager.

To improve my drive and be a part of the start-up ecosystem, I even joined a joint office. There, despite my lack of technological expertise, I made an attempt to launch my own freelance marketplace. An occasional software developer told me he had helped me in some ways with problems I didn't understand, but that he had sided with someone who offered better pay at the conclusion of the first month.

When October 2019 rolled around, I persisted in my attempts despite knowing that they wouldn't succeed because I didn't want to face the truth. Naturally, I don't need to continue because once the developer departed, I gave up because I couldn't take it any longer.

I raised the white flag and gave up as 2020 approached. I underwent yet another severe bout of despair; this time, my stomach problems and anaemia began as a result of all the grief and stress I went through that year. I was so weak and depressed during the therapy period that I could not leave the couch for the entire day.

My former vivacious attitude, which was often running to meetings outside of town, was completely gone. There was no trace of my old energetic mood, which was always running to out-of-town meetings. Most importantly, I was ashamed of my family, I was in serious debt, and I lost my faith in myself.


COVID

Then, as we were considering what else might be involved in this situation, we learned that a strange virus was to blame for a number of fatal crashes in China. The nurseries were shut down in March when we said, "We don't come here, they eat bats and that's why, ehühehe." And I was confined to the house with my 3-year-old son, who was unable to leave the apartment's garden.

It goes without saying that in order to pay off my debts, I had to please my current clients and accept new clients who were inferior to them. My mood was stagnant at home with the kid, the never-ending cleaning, and the torture of working remotely. On top of that, I had to constantly deal with the ignorance, personal whims, ignorance, and delays of payments from the customers I had agreed to do business with cheaply.

June saw the start of kindergarten, but I was also mentally and financially spent. The greatest thing to do once the curfews ended was to take the family to the summer cottage to change the weather. Although this change in the weather was beneficial to me spiritually, it increased my financial debt.

Most of the work I completed while I was in quarantine wasn't compensated. I decided on a company model where I would outsource businesses that needed brand consultation, like remote staff, and make frequent office visits as I entered the new era.

With this model, I was able to have two or three regular customers, I successfully completed my goal of paying my debts by the end of the year, but we had come to the end of the period with them (for different reasons) and I fell into a gap again as we entered 2021.


I decided to contact clients from different countries

I responded "OK" this time. "The Turkish boss's mentality is the issue." Finding consumers abroad has been my primary objective for years, so I've now decided to give it a try. What would I do, though? I contacted a friend who works as a software developer and has been using Upwork for years.

She questioned, "Why haven't you been to Upwork yet?" My profile, which I opened and closed in 2018, was modified as a result. I had a gut feeling that this time, I was heading in the correct direction. I don't know if you believe in spiritual things, but every symmetrical number and message I saw seemed to be the universe's way of informing me that I was on the right course. (don't call this woman crazy).

I looked at the clock and saw the number 11:11, I saw the same number on the license plate of the car passing in front of me, I came across such strange coincidences that sounded bullshit but for some reason excited me at that time…

When I mentioned Upwork to my friend who is an art director, she responded, "There is a team dealing with just that, and there is a person named Zekeriya at the head of it. Was that Freelancer Guide? I joined the Freelancer Guide group's Discord channel, I can't recall if it was February or March 2021. (I even just learned that there is such a thing as Discord).

I started exporting services seriously after getting my first job and second job, which I couldn't sleep due to enthusiasm. I appreciated the group's sense of synergy, inspiration, and support; after spending so much time alone, especially after closing my office during the quarantine and being confined to the house, I felt as though I was in a virtual plaza here. That seemed as if I could take a break from work to meet someone for tea, and it was extremely healthy for my psychological well-being.

I also began working on my branding training package, which I had thought of years earlier but had been unable to implement because of my start-up and my problematic customers. I completed it entirely and had it prepared for sale before the year ended, which still defies belief. I was first afraid, but in September I added the precise costs I had in mind to my Upwork project list. What took place? My sales rose rather than decrease! I exceeded all of my expectations in terms of exports in October 2021, or before the end of the year. Who gets it?" I said as we started along this route.

When I initially started working as a freelancer, I recall wondering all the time, "Who gets it." However, there was a space. I discovered that the industry had a huge amount of potential and that there is a market for every product after identifying my speciality and being explicit that "I am an expert in this field, this is my package, and this is my price." I currently just create Brand Strategy documents and Logo & Brand Identity designs. To everything else, I say no. Potential clients who have ambiguous requests, the potential for caprice, or other red flags are immediately blocked; I don't even write a response to them.

After that, I might encounter unexpected and challenging clients, yes. But at least I am certain of the source. I can fill in my gaps and get better if I so choose. I can sell items besides Upwork if I want to. I've observed that there are other factors to consider besides growth and teamwork that determine success, such as starting a business and volleying the ball. I came to the conclusion that many of the ideas I had about working for yourself and being a freelancer were just ideas.

That's why I began writing instead of as a freelancer or small business owner. I run a one-man business. I am an entity that creates and has the ability to sell the value it provides to the world, whether I be a private company or a single gun. I didn't write about my three to four-year struggle through these challenges to terrify you; rather, I wanted to show you how they helped me get to where I am now.

Sometimes we aspire to be the "boss," but it sometimes takes years for us to discover that it isn't enjoyable to manage people. Sometimes we aspire to "be rich," but in order to believe that having enough money provides us more joy, we must borrow tens of thousands of dollars.

We sometimes claim to accomplish everything, but it usually takes a few irate clients for us to realize that we shouldn't try to do everything and accept everyone.


Go out from your comfort zone

I'll just say that making your own decisions defines who you are. Today, get outside your comfort zone. Get beaten up. Gain the confidence necessary to ask for or perhaps make money. Say no more often. There may be many locations in life where you can accomplish these things, but with the inertia of a paid job, not so much. Do not, under any circumstances, confine yourself to your immediate surroundings.

The globe is enormous. There are countless potential outcomes. In addition to TL, there are other currencies. Also, don't be terrified of English (Worst case, it has Google Translate).

And never stress yourself over these ephemeral works, don't be gastritis like me.

Stay healthy.

Nil Yalçınkaya

www.nilyalcinkaya.com

Nil Y.
Upwork Freelancer Nil Y. is here to help: Brand Strategist & Brand Identity Designer

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