Chumki: A Diamond made under pressure

Talking her heart out to stories, Chumki decided to follow her passion for writing to become a content writer with the support of her parents. She believes in cooperation and maintaining a healthy relationship in a world like this can take you far. She strives for self-development and to build and manage great content for her audience. She says that prioritization is essential to retain the quality of work.

According to her continuous learning and connecting with like-minded individuals help sharpen your skills. For her, reflecting at the end of the day leads to better management. Cherishing the freedom that freelancing allows, she also agrees that the inconsistency in getting work is a major challenge for freelancers. For growth as a freelancer, she believes in acing the marketing part and continuous improvement in work. 

With her positive vibes and her learning attitude she is surely a delight to work with. She wants to be the greatest storyteller in the world, helping people in finding their ikigai of life. We wish to read her books one day. May success always be your companion. 

Read her inspiring journey: 

Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?

I am Chumki Sen, destiny’s long-lost child, still figuring out ways of how to do adulting.

I am a Bengali; I have been brought up in a family where my mother used to work full-time as a staff nurse in a Government hospital. My father had lost his job when I was in the fifth grade, probably the toughest time while growing up. I have lived in a locality called Behala, situated in the southeastern part of  Kolkata for as long as I could remember. 

I have already said it was a hard childhood, but that never stopped me from reaching out to my creative potential. I became an avid reader at a very early age, probably because of the influence of my father and grandfather, and also started writing by then. I still remember writing poems as mother’s day gifts to make my mother smile, after a long hard working day. 

I have always nurtured my love for words but was too shy to show them in front of others. My parents have always supported me in whatever I wanted to do with my life, whether it is choosing science as my subject or leaving options like Masters to become a full-time content writer.

I was a big fan of comic books and detective novels so my father used to bring me books every instance. My love for words took a new level when I started to visit Kolkata Bookfair and eventually college street, which is the heart of the book market here. Then high secondary and graduation happened, and I started losing touch with books and words. But I kept on journaling my thoughts and storylines I used to cook in my imagination, which later on helped me coming back to myself as a writer.

Post studying science, why did you choose the field of content writing? Speak to us about your passion for writing? 

If I say that I chose this profession of content writing, then that’ll be telling the half-truth. Somehow this career of content writer chose me. After I graduated with an Honours in Chemistry, I started feeling lost. I wanted to pursue a career that would make me enough money, and also I wanted to nurture my passion for writing.

I started to apply for internships as a subject matter expert in different companies and had landed an internship at Gradeup. I used to research about getting jobs in the digital arena and came across a digital marketing course that was about to change my life. I came to know about content marketing and also started writing my blog as an assignment. I knew writing could be my career, then content writing happened. As soon as I finished writing my first content, it was a nudge. I landed a couple more content writing internships and then a job as a full-time writer. I was also writing for guest posts and got featured on some websites by then.

But the 9 to 5 schedule for writing pieces started to feel like a cage after months. Still, I moved forward because I was pursuing a career that I love, and I also get to write. I have learned a lot about content during this time, but somehow the schedule was killing me. I again started taking internships and also learnt about freelancing, and if that can be an option or not? I no longer felt joy because of the rush and decided to quit the job to become a full-time freelancer, earlier this year.  

I had no job, no money but still, it was my passion for writing that kept me going until I landed my first client after 3 or 4 months. I was also writing guest posts and doing my internships as well. Now that I look back, I have been through the bad days already, writing was always something that helped me keep myself together. Writing is what gives me hope, and a purpose to move on, looking at a pleasant future. 

When did you decide to build a business around marketing? What excites you the most about content marketing?

I am still into full-time freelancing as a content writer. But I have started working on my own brand ‘The Sparkle Writes’, which will be a writing service and content marketing solution to the world of digital aids. As soon as I started getting clients, and they were loving my work I thought why not take it to another level? Why not a brand instead of a name? 

Content marketing still has a great opportunity for the world, business owners still need a great deal of it to establish themselves in front of the world. Content marketing excites me because it does deal with content writing, and what is marketing without some good old, valuable content to look at? 

Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?

I have mentioned earlier that it was the love and passion for words that drove me into freelancing. I started freelancing not more than a few months ago. Content writing happened to me at a time where I was really looking for a solution to my career, and freelancing arrived on a blue moon when I was dying from a dead-end job. I wasn’t growing anymore, I was stuck, I still had a long way to go, somewhere to challenge myself as a writer and I needed to learn marketing aspects of content as well.

Freelancing came to me as a breather, I get to write for my clients, the schedule is all mine, I am free to work for my own blog and website. Payouts aren’t bad either. I am still taking courses for content marketing, implementing my industry experience into my work, managing client relationships, and finances on my own. I haven’t felt this empowered for a very long time. Some clients also trust me in building content and branding plans for them. I love what I do and I want to keep doing it all my life. I have come this far, from landing with my first client to working on different projects now. 

The first client I have ever got was the beginning of my journey as a freelance content writer. I have worked with agencies and also individuals till now. As I moved on from one project to another, it built my confidence and gave light to my passion a little more.

Talk to us about, how to build and use your network effectively as a freelancer?

Networking is the oil for freelancing. Words have their special place in the network of freelancers, but a little bit of audiovisuals is taking its own place of interest now. I feel no platform can contribute to the process if one doesn’t know how to network. I am not a big fan of pitching, networking is what brings freelancers into the limelight.

Building an attractive online presence is not enough, connecting to the people in your industry is a big step. I have my share of the network which provides value and keeps me engaging in the world of content, how things are changing its course over time. As a content creator, I create, share, engage with a lot of content with others, that’s how to build your network as a freelancer. 

Freelancing is a life skill, and it should not stop only at bringing new prospects, it is lifelong learning where building your network with small steps can have a broader impact on careers.

What do you do to polish your skills as a freelancer?

One thing I absolutely love about freelancing is that it pushes you to go beyond your limitations. I keep a check on my reading, writing skills, grammar skills, and also I update myself with the marketing world. Exploring different topics is one of my favorite hobbies, I also like to drive inspirations from movies and tv shows.

Freelancing has opened new doors for me, as a communicator, as a writer, and as an individual. I still buy courses and keep taking classes for further study. I schedule my learning time every day so that I can work on my projects peacefully. Connecting with like-minded individuals in my industry also helps me in sharpening my skills as a freelancer.

How do you ensure productivity? What are the critical points to keep in mind to ensure efficiency?

Productivity has changed its definition in this exceptional year of 2020. Being Homestuck for months helped me in learning time management and also scheduling my tasks for the day. I practice simple tricks like setting goals for a month and then move forward to achieve them with my weekly to-do lists. I have also started learning French and exercising to ensure that I remain active through my working days. But it doesn’t mean I do not take time off my daily work schedule. Taking breaks for doing something that refreshes your soul is another key to being productive.

Efficiency does not come without consistency. It doesn’t matter how much you’re doing, the spirit is to go on each day, every day with the same zeal.

  • You have to prioritize your tasks according to your requirement. Only then you will be able to retain the quality of your work.
  • Productivity is a choice, it doesn’t happen suddenly on a bright sunny day after you have waited for it long. Do not wait for the perfect time, just do your thing, keep on doing it, and make it a habit.
  • At the end of the day, make time for reflection. Reflecting on work, life and schedules will help you manage everything better.
  • Do not lose touch with pen and paper, or you will lose your productive self.

What are the most crucial aspects that a freelancer should focus on for growth?

The most crucial factor is not stopping anywhere as a freelancer. It means you need to upskill yourself, learn new things, implement your learnings, make mistakes, and grow stronger.

Freelancers have two major things to focus on: One is how to market themselves and another one is to keep improving their work. Finding the balance between these two is what makes freelancing comprehensive.

What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?

The pro in freelancing has to be the freedom of work. I love this about freelancing. I work when I want, as per my comfort and also as per my choice. I take projects when I can and when I know I can do it and it will serve my creative potential as a writer. As a freelancer, you can grow as a professional and also as an individual in all life aspects.

One major con might be the inconsistency in getting work. As a beginner, I had to wait for quite some time to get my first client, So there will be days when you can hardly rest, and there can also be days when you can hardly find work. It depends on so many factors.

What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?

I was not very good at communicating and negotiating at first, but I learned it over time. I often came across clients who think it is very easy to produce content on a daily basis, and therefore they go for impossible negotiation standards, which is not always acceptable.

They should understand that when hiring a professional content writer, they are hiring a voice for their brand. There is a huge amount of research, marketing fundamentals, and wordcraft that happen in this process. They should understand they are not charging freelance writers only for the words, but also for their efforts in research and analysis too.

What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?

I am an explorer, I have always been one. Someday in the future, I would love to write books to share my stories. I have so much to tell the world, but I hardly get time for that outside my work. I have visions for my brand ‘The Sparkle Writes’ and I am also developing my website and blog to serve the industry of content makers. I want to work as a brand, I want to collaborate with professionals, I want to set up my own office, the dreams are never-ending.

I want history to look at me and state, “She had one hell of a life. I wish I had met her once.”

Do you feel content with yourself as you look back or do you think you have missed something?

I have struggled a lot to be here, and I feel happy. I tend to keep a positive vibe and grow as much as I can as a human being. All my life, I have made my choices and followed my passion and my heart, wherever it led me to. Even if there are things that I have missed, I can get past them quite effortlessly. Although I wish I had been a better communicator, there has to be something that you should learn on your own, that’s the beauty of life. 

Chumki can be reached out on Refrens, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

Sealed the Deal, but confused on what to include in the contract? Read our article on “Freelancer Contracts: What should you include?” to know of all the contract essential elements.