A CA by profession and a writer at heart, Nishtha took a break from her 9-5 job to start freelancing full-time. As a freelance content writer, she realizes the importance of building a brand through social media. For her, personal branding is about who we are and not what the world wants.
As a writer, she recommends reading, writing on Twitter, and editing works to help polish your skills. Her tip for growth to freelancers is structuring a disciplined system for quality lead generation. She says that her best work is showing up regularly to build a brand of consistency and have trust amongst customers.
Experiencing joy every-single-day, for her writing is more than just work. As an introvert, she is loving the process of freelancing due to its flexible schedule. Her goals for the near future are to maintain good relationships with clients and to launch her new products.
Embracing the pitfalls as life lessons, she is proud of her journey so far. We admire her approach of ‘acceptance and gratitude for life’. Wishing her success as she moves forward to achieve many more milestones in life.
Read Nishtha’s inspiring journey:
1. Introduce yourself to us?
I am Nishtha Gehija. A Chartered Accountant by degree, a writer by choice and passion. I’m also the author of two books “This is What YOU Are Looking For” and “Fit Doesn’t Fit – Stop Fitting In” which focus on increasing our happiness and dealing with life challenges respectively.
Worked for five years in the corporate as an Internal Auditor, while working side-by-side on writing. In June 2020, I finally moved from part-time freelance writing to be a full-time freelance writer. I am loving the process totally!
2. Why did you choose the field of content writing? How did you get introduced to this field? What fascinates you the most about your career choice?
It is just about what sparks the joy in us. If we just listen to that and make that small effort and go to it – every single day – something beautiful would eventually turn out. I was fascinated by motivational books since 2012, and that made me a writer. Later I realized that it is super important to build your brand as well, that is when I started content writing on social media.
3. Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?
I chose to do it because I was looking for a break from the usual 9-5 and also, with the little experience, I wouldn’t have gotten the great CTC that I had left behind as an Internal Auditor. So I kept freelancing, kept building my portfolio, and now it is a joyful experience every single day. It then gave me the scope to build that old income and add on to it. It was sort of planned, sort of serendipity, and sort of being very careful to what I felt before making a decision – was it anxiety or was it excitement. If it is latter, I take the plunge!
4. How did you get your first client? What was your first project?
I got my first two clients on the same day. I was still working as a CA, and also used to run my newsletter. A reader reached out to me and said they wanted to hire me as a writer for their brand. Another one was by referral. I had told a prospect once (who did not convert) that I wrote a daily blog (I still do). Later one of his clients was looking for a blogger and he was instantly reminded of me. He referred me, and we started working together.
5. How do you price your services as a freelancer? Any essential points that a new freelancer should know of?
Several points to be taken care of:
- What value does it bring to them
- For whom it is being written
- How much time would it take me
- What is the current per-hour value of mine that is right (and not what I desire)
- Will the price add value to them
- Most importantly, do I believe I am worthy of this price – no matter what the bill is, it should convince our mind
When a new freelancer gets this idea, they will be able to price their services appropriately.
Over time as they gain experience, build their portfolio, and also gain a better understanding, they can increase their prices.
6. Throw some light on the importance of choosing niches and working on personal branding for freelancers.
There are two kinds of niches – one for clients and one for ourselves as a Personal brand. We’ll talk about the latter first.
In my opinion, personal branding niches should be something who we are and not what the world will applaud us for. If the world applauds us for doing what everyone else does, guess what – they will applaud everyone else as well. So we will end up becoming just a screw in the entire machinery.
Why not build our own niche? For example – I write about human psychology in the context of taking care of our mental health, dealing with clients, and dealing with your own self. It took me five years to figure that out. But no one I know does that. Hence, that builds a powerful niche as a personal brand.
While working with clients, they may want a part of your niche or they may bring a niche that is none of what you do. For example, I write for a health-based startup founder. It is nothing that I do as a Personal Brand – but I love fitness, so I’ve taken up his work.
Also, it allows me to have the creative freedom of exploring areas that I don’t have on mine. It is a matter of choice. However, if someone comes to me to write about bitcoin or IT industry – I would perhaps refuse. In one case, I am not inclined towards the niche, and in the other case, I won’t be able to do justice because of my lack of knowledge about IT.
7. What do you do to polish your skills as a freelancer?
Read a lot. A lot. Also, writing on Twitter helps polish writing unlike anything else.
One of the things we must do is a lot of editing. Of our own work, or work from clients that involves editing. It will take us to a very deep understanding of what is important and what needs to be ignored, and will polish our skills exponentially.
8. What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
Pro: I am an introvert. Sitting at home in silence and working is a blessing for me. More focus, warm lunch and dinner, and of course, afternoon naps 🙂
Con: In an office, we could get out and get some sun. Good for the body and the mind. As a freelancer, initially, it didn’t happen at all. Now I have started doing jumping jacks indoors only during breaks, and I open up the balcony and let the sun in. Just me trying to make a pro out of a con.
9. What are the most crucial aspects that a freelancer should focus on for growth?
Focus on systems, instead of luck. Even if your current clients pay you what you want and your monthly expenses and luxuries are taken care of, build a system of prospecting and stick to it, no matter what. The discipline to engage the brain to keep looking for business prospects will make and keep you a rich freelancer for a long, long time.
10. What’s your best piece of work to date? Why do you think that’s your favorite piece?
I think the best piece about my work is “showing up”. Let’s say I have written a bestselling book and it breaks all records in all bestselling lists. Everything is great! But what if I stop writing altogether after that? Will my best work hold any relevance?
That is why, the best work any artist could do is to show up to produce their art every single day, irrespective of what mood, weather, or mindset they are in. If we just show up and show up and show up again, we build a brand of consistency which creates trust among the community as well as clients (current and prospective). That is the best work.
The best part of this best work is: We ALL can do it, yet most give up in the first year itself.
11. What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
Off late, I have stopped thinking about the future and started planning in one-year cycles only. Talking about this cycle, I am planning to launch a few products around mental health, inspirations, and failures in my life.
Apart from that, what I want my clients to think about me (and I think they do think this way): is that she knew how to show up and be consistent despite the thick and thin of life. It is not about “I was not in a mood so I made an excuse to my client.” They are smarter than we are. It is about doing it even when I don’t feel like doing it. When I am genuinely going on leave like I did on New Year and will do it soon, they do comply happily!
That’s the vibe I want to radiate to my book readers as well as my clients, and the history will take care of itself.
12. What would do you differently if you had to begin your career again? What would you focus on once you restart?
I am proud of the journey, the pitfalls teach life lessons – some of which were covered in your questions above. So yes I did make a lot of mistakes, but I’d prefer living the same life without any changes. Because, (a), we cannot change it, and (b), this is how we give acceptance and gratitude for life, which is super important.
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.