Meet Sohail Abid – a freelancer who is a real trailblazer!

January 15, 2011 at 12:17 am 17 comments

Pakistani freelancers have made quite a mark on sites like Rent-a-Coder, oDesk and Elance. They have shown that despite the challenges that they face in terms of power outages and connectivity issues, they have been able to meet customer deadlines and more than live up to the expectations of customers from across the globe. Some estimate that the freelance business via these sites may be as high as US$40 – 80 million which is truly amazing. We are going to try and find a way to substantiate this figure by conducting some specific research this year.

In the meantime, it is still a wonderful day when you come across someone like Sohail Abid who shows you that freelancers are going beyond just delivering outsourced work.

Sohail is a cultural analyst who also happens to be a software engineer by some weird act of God. He had quite a good career in the Pakistani software industry but says he quit after 3 years when during an interview for a new position, he asked for better salary than they were offering, and the potential employer said to him “If you are that good, why don’t you work for yourself?” So he did just that. He refused their offer, and started working on his own. He had been working as the team lead/project manager at that time. “And I have never looked back.” says Sohail. “9-5 is a big no-no for me now.”

So what has Sohail done that has prompted this post? Well, he has done many things (he wanted to be a physicist, studied software engineering, wrote an existentialist novel, and ended up in cultural research. About 9 months ago he also embarked on a Motorcycle tour of Pakistan). I may write about all that in detail some time but, at this moment, the Breaking News is that he has developed a WordPress plugin that gives users something Facebook isn’t offering: the ability to embed their public material on their blogs. It is called “Embed Facebook” and lets one embed various Facebook objects (albums, single photo, page, event, video, group, or note) in a blog post by simply pasting the URL.

Here’s a demo of the plugin: http://wp.sohailabid.com/

This plugin is available from the official WordPress plugins repository: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/embed-facebook/ (and has been downloaded 7000+ times in less than two months, which is a success from a wordpress plugin perspective as they are only used by website owners, not end users like iPhone apps🙂.

So when we assessing the talent that exists in Pakistan, let’s not forget that other than the companies, there are many freelancers who are marching to their own tune and doing their own thing – all below the radar. Well done Sohail. We are proud to know you. Keep doing whatever your heart tells you to because it is your passion (in addition to your hard work and talent) that has resulted in some of the wonderful work you have been able to do thus far.

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Jaywalker  |  January 15, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Perhaps, you should contact some of the Pakistanis mentioned in this article.

    Reply
  • 2. Ammar Yasir  |  January 15, 2011 at 12:54 am

    I am a Sohail Abid fan!

    There is so much to learn from him in every field that he has tried his luck with and for sure I am not the only one here. Luckily I got the chance to meet him and know him a lil bit as a person and I have only nice things to say about him🙂

    Reply
  • 3. Fariha Akhtar  |  January 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Sohail is a gem of a person, always willing to help others and extremely down to earth despite having so many qualities. This plugin looks awesome. Well done Sohail !

    Reply
  • 4. Shiraz Hassan  |  January 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Thumb’s up to Sohail
    Love you!

    Reply
  • 5. Sohail Abid  |  January 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you Jehan for covering me and my WordPress plugin in such a nice way!

    I would like to add something here for other freelancers: do work on such side projects and release them in the open source community. It does wonders for your brand and, not to mention, brings new clients.

    Reply
  • 6. Sohail Abid  |  January 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Ammar and Fariha: Gracias!

    Reply
  • 7. Salma Jafri  |  January 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Jehan,

    Thanks for covering Sohail – he is indeed a freelancing rockstar!

    You said “We are going to try and find a way to substantiate this figure by conducting some specific research this year.” Would it be possible for you to share the nature of this research (publicly or privately). Also would it be possible to meet you regarding more freelancing/outsourcing awareness & information in Pakistan? I’ve already mentioned the idea to Rabia and have contacts in the freelance bidding sites you mentioned above who have showed interest in promoting Pakistan as the next big outsourcing destination. Would love to chat more about this. You have my email🙂

    Salma Jafri

    Reply
  • 8. Muhammad Younas  |  January 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I have used Sohail’s expertise for a couple of projects and without any doubt he is a super star. His deep expertise in wordpress allows him to deliver the project in time and always better than what you would expect.

    Keep up the good work Sohail.

    Reply
  • 9. Usman Saeed  |  January 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Sohail Abid is my classmate from our F.Sc days. You say here that he wanted to be be a physicist; quite correct. We both wanted to be but in the end only I ended being one and that journey is still ongoing. BTW I miss you buddy, you would have made an outstanding physicist as well.

    Reply
  • 10. Zain Shaikh  |  January 16, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Sohail, awesome man! wonderful.🙂

    Reply
  • 11. kamalfaridi  |  January 16, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Excellent

    Reply
  • 12. uzairsukhera  |  January 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    @Sohaib”:
    Is there any way to bring the blogs to facebook? It is the otheway round of what you have done.

    Reply
  • 13. Yaser  |  January 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    that is really great, a story worth telling.
    thanks for promoting all the youngsters who take bold steps, we really need that.

    Reply
  • 14. Zafar  |  January 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Thats greats.
    Sohail made me feel proud as he is my class mate. I know how much hard working he is… He love his work…

    Reply
  • 15. Tahir Azeem Alvi  |  February 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Well Done Sohail.

    Reply
  • 16. herbalvitality  |  May 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Facebook embed, is a great plugin. Come back from your travels and let us have more!

    Reply
  • 17. herbalvitality  |  May 14, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Facebook embed is a great plugin. Come back from you travels and let us have more!

    Reply

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