Naman: Conquering Life By Living In A Breath

From wanting to study CS to turning into a digital marketer, Naman specializes in Social Media Branding & Marketing. His fate led him to start freelancing in 2020. He says that the journey is about learning something new each day. The three best words that describe him are Confused, Determined, and Strong-Willed.

He started his journey by building a personal brand on LinkedIn and by cold pitching to various agencies/startups. He believes that consistency, engagement, and networking are the three important pillars to creating your presence. As a freelancer, he advises listening to your clients and knowing your worth, when determining your pricing. 

Liking the relevance and practicality of his career choice, he shows perseverance and commitment to his work. His mantra is “If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs”. His goal is to earn income while making an impact. He lives in the present and takes one day at a time. We wish him success in the future. 

Read his interesting journey:

1. Introduce yourself to us?

Hey there! I’m Naman Sarawgi, I’m a freelance digital marketer and a full-time cricket enthusiast. I’m an introvert whose job requires him to be constantly active on social media (the irony isn’t lost on me). I assist brands and individuals in maintaining an online presence via social media marketing and google friendly WordPress websites. 

Besides that, I am an avid listener who is always up for meeting new people and learning about their lives (I know I said I am an introvert and I stand by it. Please don’t attack me!)

2. Why did you choose the field of marketing? How did you get introduced to this field? What fascinates you the most about your career choice?

Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I chose marketing, rather it chose me. Let me explain! So, before I knew anything about Digital Marketing I was pursuing CS, and no it wasn’t Computer Science (I wish I was that cool!). It was a professional degree known as Company Secretaryship. I had finished my classes for the 2nd level of the exam but soon realized that the course wasn’t meant for me. So I quit the course and thus began the hunt for a suitable activity to occupy my idle mind. 

Like every other teenager with a lot of time, I spent the majority of it surfing on the internet in the hopes of finding something that would pique my interest, something which was more application-based, rather than just learning and vomiting it on paper. That’s when I learned about the existence of Digital Marketing. It piqued my interest so I started reading about it, collecting all the information about it that I possibly could, and continue to do so to date.

What I find extremely fascinating about my career choice is its relevance and practicality. There’s no right answer or the perfect formula to achieving your intended goal. It’s all about execution, the timing, the consistent effort to learn what’s new; to explore new approaches  (the more you explore it the better you’ll get at it). Most importantly, the thing that is considered to be a waste of time i.e. social media, has now become the source of my income. 

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

Once I realized that I finally found something that I was genuinely interested in, the next thing on my mind was to look for an institute. I was looking for a place where I could learn Digital Marketing under the right guidance of a good mentor. I enrolled in a Diploma Course at an institute in Kolkata (my hometown). When I was in the last leg of the course, 2020 decided to grace us with its presence. All I had was a couple of paid internships under my belt in the name of experience. 

That’s when I took to LinkedIn and approached agencies for jobs and internships but due to lack of experience, I couldn’t get any. Hence, I decided to build my own personal brand on LinkedIn and then approach agencies/start-ups and what do you know? It worked! That was the beginning of my freelancing journey

I’m not a freelancer by choice but I became one due to the lack of options and the unwillingness to waste a year sitting at home. However, I love it now because of the freedom it gives me. By god’s grace, I have now reached a stage where I can choose the product/brand that I want to work with, spoiled for choice, I guess!.

P.S: I have tried UpWork and its other relatives such as Fiverr, but personally I think it’s too saturated for someone who is just starting out. LinkedIn is a goldmine, if you want to freelance get on LinkedIn and build your presence there. Here are 3 tips on how you can do that: 

  • Be consistent, add value by putting out your niche-specific content. 
  • Engage with the content of people in your industry 
  • Lastly, Network Network and Network, as much as you can, that’s the key. 

Apart from this if you want to know more or if you need some help, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn anytime. I’ll be more than happy to help you out. 🙂

4. How do you price your services as a freelancer? Any essential points that a new freelancer should know of?

Honestly, pricing depends on the scope of work and the kind of services a brand/company requires. Social media is the same for everyone, but when it comes to brands/products/services it’s a totally different ball game. 

You cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ kind of approach. Sure there are certain basics that have to be followed needless to say but a single strategy or a certain kind of content cannot work for different kinds of brands. So there are a couple of things that I keep in mind while pricing. 

Firstly, I do thorough market research primarily, to analyze their competition and figure out the lack/shortcomings in their approach. I also try to understand their current approach and how I can improve that. Once I am through with the analysis, I have a clear idea of what I need to do and the amount of time and effort that it requires. 

The second thing I keep in mind is the client’s brief, the end goal (what the client actually wants to achieve), and the KPIs. Keeping in mind these tedious but important steps I quote my price.

My advice will be to ALWAYS keep your ears wide open and listen to what your clients have to say when you’re on a call. You’ll get a lot of answers & ideas from the client itself.  It is very important for you to know your worth and charge accordingly. Please do not fall into the trap of “XYZ is charging less for the same services “. 

There will always be someone or the other that does that but if you do the same then you are undervaluing yourself and also telling your client that you will be open to such negotiations in the future. Instead, try and offer the client something extra as a bonus and seal the deal. 

5. How to negotiate your deal with clients? What are the important points and techniques to keep in mind?

Ah, that’s the toughest part of being a freelancer. After all, negotiating and cracking a deal is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, when you sign up to become a freelancer, you have to be an all-rounder. 

Unfortunately, people are still not that convinced about spending on Digital Marketing, so you need to understand that and ensure that your client knows what it is that you offer. 

As a freelancer, it’s your job to make your client understand why you are charging so much. At the same time, please don’t expect them to understand everything that you do/say because there are high chances that they won’t understand all the technical details or are aware of digital marketing as a tool for marketing. 

Other than these, there are few things that I do:

a) Offer them a 10% discount on the quoted price or give an add-on to one of my services. 

b) Give them a consultation instead of taking the required steps myself. 

c) If it still doesn’t work out between us then get them in touch with someone from my network/ refer someone else to them. 

This differs from business to business and in the majority of the cases, I offer businesses a discount if they are ready to become a retainer client.

6. How do you use social media to your strength to build an effective network and generate sales leads?

Currently, I feel the negative side of social media is highlighted way too much in the market. It’s the users who should be blamed for that and not the platforms, really. Social media can do wonders for you both personally and professionally if used in the right manner!

In today’s time, social media holds so much power that it can make or break your business in a matter of minutes. Irrespective of your business or service, your audience is on social media, if you want to connect with your target audience and garner more consumers you have to maintain an online brand presence in the correct manner! 

As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is my go-to place for personal branding and recently I have started using Twitter as well! Previously I used to use Instagram as well but I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of leads, so I started focusing on one platform i.e. LinkedIn and it worked for me. When you’re starting out, be vigilant and consistent on a particular platform, connect with people of your niche/industry, engage with their content, and network! Once you feel confident with the numbers and the kind of audience that you have garnered, jump on to a different platform and do the same. Don’t target all at once, scale one and then try to expand your network!

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

I’ll keep this one short, just keep learning and exploring. This field is very dynamic, it’s constantly evolving so keep yourself updated.  Read blogs, keep an eye on what are the new trends, follow what your competitors do (there is a lot to learn just by observing the content that someone posts or engages with), go and learn new things to upskill yourself! I personally make sure not to break the learning streak by learning about different things that are beyond my niche but a part of the industry as it helps in the long run. 

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

In my opinion, no matter how many videos or tips and tricks you learn from the internet about productivity, it’s all useless until it comes from within. You name it, I have tried it. Right from waking up early in the morning to maintaining a strict routine nothing worked for me unless I made up my mind. As a freelancer, most of your time is spent at home. It becomes difficult when at home there are a hundred distractions and more especially during this pandemic when everyone’s at home. 

Over time I have realized the importance of prioritizing the right thing at the right time. I list down the things that I need to do in a day keeping its priority in mind and I stick to that no matter what. Apart from that, I note down everything that I do in a day with the amount of time it took me to complete it. This helps me figure out where I’m wasting time so that I can utilize it better and become more productive at what I do. This is something that I learned from Ankur Warikoo and it has helped me immensely to keep a track of my time. Much recommended 🙂

9. As a freelancer, what were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?

It’s the acceptance, not that I care about it too much, but it gets to you after a certain point. I’m sure most of the freelancers would be able to relate to this and understand exactly what I mean. 

Apart from this, it was the lack of experience. During my initial days, when I started freelancing it was tough to convince people to give me the project as all I had were ideas and knowledge to execute them. I happily accept that I wasn’t good at pitching and a couple of times when I managed to crack a deal I made a fool out of myself by shaking hands with the wrong set of people. I wasted a good amount of time doing that, so yeah choosing and pitching the right kind of brand and people is important which I learned with time.

One of my worst mistakes as a freelancer initially, was that I didn’t know the power of following up. I used to approach people and when they didn’t reply or they used to say “I’ll get back to you”, I never followed up. 

Once I started following up I started closing more deals. It does two things: it gives your client the idea that you really want that project and it also makes them think that if you care enough to follow up then they are probably more just another project to you, that you care! Never underestimate the power of following up (also a common man!)

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

Pro: It’s freedom!  It’s known to all that you have the freedom to work whenever you want but in reality, that’s not the case. Yes – we have the freedom of being free from working hours but we have deadlines too. It’s the freedom of choice rather than the freedom of time! You have the freedom to choose a person or brand that you want to work with. Working with someone with whom your vibe matches and one who understands & respects your point of view is important!  

Con: Life is beyond 9-5, you just don’t know when to stop.  More often than not, you will have to deal with people who behave like  ‘they know it all’ act as if what you do is a piece of cake for them. It used to piss me off more than it should have but it happens when you’re starting but you will learn to deal with them. Be patient, build a portfolio and get over this hurdle!  

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

I live for today & not for tomorrow. 

Honestly, I don’t have a vision or mission as of now. I would be lying if I say the thought of the future doesn’t bother me, yes once in a while it scares me as well. Yes, I want to end up doing something of my own, but I am not sure what that will be, not sure if that would even be in the field of marketing. The goal is to make an income while making an impact. Hence, No Mission, No Vision. One day at a time! 

If at all history looks at me, I want it to look at me as a genuine human being and not someone who is trying to be a human as much as possible. 

12. What would do you differently if you had to begin your career again? What would you focus on once you restart?

If I get a restart button for my career, I would like to start with my college days. I didn’t do anything in my college life apart from studying for CS. I missed out a lot in college, I would like to replace my CS days with being active in college and doing multiple internships right from the get-go, explore different areas to find my interests, and not succumb to the rat race. Another thing would be to find a genuine mentor, trust me, it makes a lot of difference. I do have a lot of digital mentors now but the hunt for a genuine one is still on!

Naman can be reached out on Refrens, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

If you are planning to make your digital portfolio, read our article on ‘15 Elements You Must Implement in Your Portfolio Website’ to gain the maximum benefit.