Career Break and Freelancing Experience - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Career Break and Freelancing Experience

Taking a break from career is an alien concept in India, though it is very common in Europe. Few years ago I had met a guy named Karol in Bali, who worked as an architecture consultant in Poland. He would work for 1.5 years and then travel for 6 months non stop with his savings. Many individuals around the world take sabbatical from work or quit their job to pursue their passion. 

But this concept is almost unknown among working class in India. I believe that is primarily due to financial commitments- people get into car loan, home loan and other such traps soon after getting a job, which limits their ability to live a life without salary and secondarily due to social stigma- a man without job is considered incompetent, irresponsible and useless. Indian parents and society starts pressurizing children from very young age on what is important in life-like "7th std is important", 10th is very important, 12th is Super important, "degree" is utmost important, "job" is important, buying house is important, getting married and having kids is important and so on. There is never a phase where parents or society says "you've done enough, nothing else is important in life now- feel free to take a break and do whatever your heart wants". Usually this phase is reserved for post retirement life, but by then one is left with limited energy, health and desire to do anything different in life.

Between April 2019 and October 2020, I didn't have a well paying corporate job. So I was technically a jobless person. But for me, it was a well deserved break from going to office for about 13.5 years, though there was a big risk of loosing regular income, not getting similar job sooner and not being able to manage myself well. I took this risk, travelled as much as I could, did lots of freelancing assignments to earn some money and after 1.5 years of break, I am now back to a well paying corporate job. This post shares my experience in this regard.

Along with my blogging journey, I had seen several bloggers and influencers managing their life reasonably well, without any office job. Though I didn't have exact specifics of how they are managing (earn everything from blogging or spouse supporting financially or managing with savings etc) it gave me a confidence that I can try some freelancing stints leveraging my 14 years of blogging experience and 39 country travel experience. Some of the long term trips I wanted to do were almost impossible with a day job, I had never spent a monsoon month in my hometown since decades and ideas like writing a book needed lots of time to think. I didn't have home loan or such liabilities, was living a very simple life without huge expenses and could afford to take a risk. Thus I decided to try it out.

I had four priorities or objectives for my career break- 

  1. Travel as much as possible 
  2. Write Books
  3. Experiment on my idea of a travel start up
  4. See how much I can earn from freelance assignments and consulting gigs.
Out of these the travel start up idea I had to abandon as Covid has made the concept unviable for now. Remaining three I did achieve to reasonable satisfaction (there is always a thought that I could have explored more, earned more or written another book). Below is a snapshot of what I did during my career break: I travelled 3.2 times around the world last year, authored two books, did fair bit of freelance gigs.

What I did during my career break

  • Jan to June 2020: Content writing assignment for Karnataka Tourism website refresh. Learnt a lot about my home state Karnataka in the process. Was contracted by an agency which got the mandate to update the website. Got most of my payment but haven't got any credit in the website, hence unable to claim officially. Have written about 600 articles related to Karnataka in English and Kannada. Also volunteered to do free translation of Govt of India's covid related announcements to Kannada, contributed content to other sites and managed a short trip to Dharmashala and Muscat just before lockdown.
  • July 2020: Relaxed time at home town enjoying rainy season, follow up on payments, social media consulting for a saree brand, explored places of interest in Udupi district
  • Aug 2020: Content writing and consulting for a travel startup, short trips to Sirsi etc
  • September 2020: Rest at home due to Bike accident
  • October 2020: Recovery, got job in Udupi, end of career break
What worked well for me:
  • Even when I was earning well, my major expense was my international trips. Other than that I didn't spend on gadgets, food or car. I lived a simple life which allowed me to have enough savings and no liabilities like home loans, so could sustain for years without any problems
  • I could make decent money from blog and freelance assignments- good enough to cover my basic expenses but nowhere close to my corporate salary. I did dip into my savings to cover USA & UK trips but I couldn't risk dipping deeper to buy a drone/action camera/new bike or better DSLR. Had to manage with whatever I already had. Didn't buy any new gadgets. Revenue from other sources like adsense, sponsored posts, book sales loyalty were lot less and weren't good enough to cover monthly expenses.
  • It was a different experience sending quotations, getting a deal, completing it, following up for payments. Rejected many opportunities where people were expecting work almost for free, had to take tough measures to get payments processed in some cases
  • The blog I had been working on since 2006 gave me a good platform to establish myself. I had lots of existing content and travel experience to show.
  • With Zomato Level 10 rating, I got several restaurant invites, so didn't have to spend much on eating out. A few sponsored trips also happened, reducing travel cost.

Things that didn't work in my favor/things I didn't do:

  • Didn't publicly announce that I am into freelancing. Half the time I was busy traveling and writing, other half I was busy handling freelance assignments that came my way. So I didn't have any need to publicly announce that I am looking for work or assignments.
  • Didn't opt for any paid promotions. If you're willing to pay 35-50k or more to PR agencies, you can get featured in major newspapers/magazines. You can pay and get your social media profiles verified (blue ticks). Promoting your work via adwords/facebook boost or other paid medium can get you some extra visibility. I didn't do any of them. Whatever visibility and contacts I got were organic.
  • I don't blindly praise a brand. If I see any mistakes, scope for improvements then I write about it. This doesn't go well with many brands/PR agencies who want only positive content. I wrote about flaws in Club Mahindra's membership scheme and they sent me a legal notice. I wrote about how TravelSpice works in reality and they invited other bloggers to stay in 5 star hotels and write positive story about them. One of my tweet on WhiteHatJr went viral and I lost a sponsored post opportunity with its parent company. These are just a few examples. There're many 'influencers' who attend brand A's launch event today and write "Brand A's Model X is the best product in the world" and next day they are in a competitor event and claim "Brand B's Model Y is the best thing in the world" without highlighting any technical details, limitations or drawbacks of the product/service. I don't do that.
  • Poor instagram followers. While my blog is doing very well, registering over a million search impressions every month and good number of traffic, DA etc, my other social media handles do not have impressive numbers. I have barely 1500 followers on Instagram- main platform checked by PRs. Never bought a follower and this poor count means most agencies won't even consider me for opportunities. 

My advise to you if you are planning a sabbatical/career break

  • Don't fall into financial traps like home loans. It will drain your energy and funds, leaving you incapable of taking a long break. If you already have one, get rid of it, or have a partner who can support you.
  • Learn to live with minimum expenses. If you can't live without luxury like expensive shopping, food etc you will drain your savings super fast. It is possible to manage with minimum monthly expenses- you may have to shift to less expensive city, less expensive house etc.
  • Be ready and flexible: You may have to wait for 18 months instead of 6, you may have to shift cities, compromise with salary, take a slightly different roles etc. If you are flexible finding regular job after your break will be easy.
  • Do not sit idle. It is very easy to waste an entire month sitting in home, doing nothing and watching TV. That shouldn't be your objective from a career break. Do something creative, try new hobbies, follow your passion, have something to show what you did during your career break. Hiring folks will need to differentiate between an incompetent individual who couldn't find any job vs someone who took a break to pursue his/her passion
  • Keep your family in loop. Decide how you want to be introduced. Indian society doesn't like to see someone as 'jobless'. If you are not making much money even your family members will be in stress to earn more or compromise on luxury. So take them into confidence w.r.t your plans and have a plan B.
I haven't achieved anything extremely significant, but I got a good life experience. If you keep all your bucketlist items for post retirement, that will never happen. Take a break if you feel the need. There is risk but there is also lots of rewards. Best wishes. Now I am back to a full time job, so blogging and travel will be mostly weekend activities. If you have any specific questions I am happy to help.


  1. Inspiring, well articulated viewpoints. Good wiahes in your new job assignment.

  2. Excellent article. Very inspiring and motivating. Most Indians don’t understand the importance of career break and traveling around the world, whilst it too common in the west.

  3. Such a wonderful article, Shrinidhi. Can relate to most of the points here. I took a 3 year career break to travel with freelance gigs, but had to dip into my savings pretty deep. :)


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