A freelancer is not bound by geographical locations. You can live underwater and you’re good to go as long as you have an internet connection and a computer. While finding work online has been fairly easy, I haven’t yet broken into the publishing industry in UAE.
Part of the reason of why I haven’t yet gotten freelance work from this region is because I’m an expat and do not speak Arabic. Most people want bilingual (English and Arabic) freelancers and the few inquiries I’ve gotten are for Arabic writing. Which kind of sucks but it shows that if you want to freelance in the region, there’s work. You just have to know the language.
I do plan on breaking into print media by the middle of next year though, Insha’Allah. There are plenty of English newspapers and magazines.
The most common method of payment for web content writing/designing is through PayPal. The bad news is that paypal does not have withdrawal options for UAE. It only gives you the option of withdrawing on your credit or debit card. It would have been fine, if the service charges weren’t so much!
I however still use PayPal as my preferred method of payment. Luckily for me, I’ve got family in US and Europe and most of my purchases are online and so far they’ve all been investments into my freelancing business.
Freelancing is lonely business anywhere, but here, it is more so. When I moved here, I had no family or friends. So when I got tired of working or was facing a mental block there was no place I could head out to.
This one’s my biggest peeve. Most of my clients are US based and the time difference is usually anywhere from 9-12 hours. Which means that my day is their night. I’m often working late into the night so that I can email/chat with clients promptly.
The weekend here comprises of Friday and Saturday while Sunday is a working day. Most clients work on Fri & Sat, and naturally think I do too. It’s not a big issue but it’s a problem if someone sends me urgent work.
While there are a few drawbacks to it, it’s not all bad. The biggest plus is that we’re working on our own terms and most of my clients don’t even care which part of the world I’m in as long as I deliver work on time.
As I’ve freelanced over the months, I’ve gotten around most of the drawbacks and it’s not so bothersome anymore. Stay tuned for a post about how I worked out a solution to these issues.