Amrita describes herself as an independent, empowered and a blessed person. From dreaming and studying to be an aeronautical engineer, her fate and opportunities led her to become a freelance content & copywriter. Her journey till here was all about learning new things, implementing them, and earning alongside. Leaving her 9-5 job behind, she chose freelancing in July 2019 to be her own boss.
As a freelancer, she lays emphasis on working in a niche because employers want to hire specialists and on personal branding as it helps you position yourself as a thought leader in your field. She believes that consistency, providing value and networking as the main pillars of personal branding. She recommends social media to grow and increase your sales as a freelancer.
To the new freelancers, she recommends having a written agreement to protect the rights of both the parties. She believes that freelance journey isn’t a bed of roses, but neither full of thorns: the key here is to embrace the challenge, work on it, deliver, and grow beyond light-years.
She says “Life is worth living, loving, and eating”. Coming from a very supportive family, she has always had her father’s support towards girl child education. In the future, she looks forward to creating a similar kind of environment for other girls. She also aims to help budding writers with her consultations and wishes to see freelance writers as real entrepreneurs.
We wish her success in her journey ahead and look forward to reading her book one day.
Read Amrita’s inspiring journey:
1. Introduce yourself to us?
Hey, I’m Amrita Pathak, a freelance technical writer and copywriter by profession, and a book-lover by passion.
I help early-stage startups and businesses in the technology domain to improve their brand presence, boost customer engagement, and achieve better conversion rates.
I have been living in Bhubaneswar (Odisha) for the last eight years, but I originally belong to Ranchi (Jharkhand). I’m blessed to have amazing parents who always support my two younger sisters and me regarding what we want with our lives as long as we’re on the right path.
Growing up, we didn’t have the luxury of fancy dolls, the latest toy cars, or brand new bicycles, but my father made sure we girls get a proper education. Despite his financial difficulties, he allowed us to pursue Engineering, Architecture, and Zoology, respectively for his three girls.
I believe that’s the greatest gift a girl child can get – the right to education.
I’m truly proud of my parents!
2. Why did you choose the field of writing? How did you get introduced to this field? What fascinates you the most about your career choice?
Writing was always in my life. It was more of a realization than a choice.
Looking back, I can remember how passionate I was in school when we were given a topic to write an essay on. In standard 8th, I even won a state-level writing competition organized on the occasion of Wildlife Week.
Now, here’s the thing, I enjoyed writing but never thought of making it my profession.
This is how Writing came into my life:
My professional journey began as an aeronautical engineer, and becoming an astronaut was my first love. Yeah, I know, it’s a dream to many.
But I actually went miles ahead to making it a real deal. I completed my B.tech in Aeronautical Engineering in 2017, undertook a few internships, and worked with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as an Apprentice Trainee.
But I needed to start earning sooner in order to support my family.
I had a dream to complete my M.S. in Aeronautics & Astronautics and be in the place I wanted. Sadly, I wasn’t in a position to even prepare for it, let alone studying abroad.
I was in the middle of nowhere. Shattered, I realized sometimes it becomes more important to fulfil the needs of family than ours. I started applying to jobs, faced lots of rejections.
Nevertheless, I found a company, worked there, but the ambience and work ethics started consuming my inner peace.
I began my search again, and one day on Indeed.com, one of my friends saw a job posting for ‘content writers’. He knew I had interest in books and writing. He said, why not try it.
I did. I appeared for the interview, wrote an article, and bingo, I was selected!
That’s how professional writing came into my life. It was the first turning point of my career.
Now, I’m happily married to writing and I love it, (although I browse some NASA pics sometimes to say hi to my ex, Aeronautics).
What fascinates me about writing the most is I get to read about a lot of different things every day. Professional writing has huge learning potential. You can explore a multitude of topics and research in-depth.
Writers can actually learn while working by accessing an ocean of information available on the internet. Nobody is there to stop you. The more you research, the better the things unfold.
What can be better than that – learning and earning?
3. Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?
I worked as a content writer for a year in my 9-5 job. I was also taking up some freelance work as a side hustle in August 2019.
My job didn’t work out well for me, I had my reasons.
However, it taught me the basics of content writing. I was exposed to various topics and learned how to approach them in the right way. It helped me a lot to set the grounds for a sustainable writing career.
I resigned from my office in February 2020. I knew I wanted to be my boss, have my personal working space, and a productive environment (free from office politics) to grow my writing skills.
The next day, I was back in business as a freelance writer!
4. Throw some light on the importance of choosing niches and working on personal branding for freelancers.
Choosing a niche is important. It establishes you as an expert in a specific field, and businesses want to hire a specialist.
But again, I’d advise you not to choose a niche when you are a beginner. First, try exploring various niches and topics to understand what works for you and what niche interests you the most.
Once you have written across niches, you can choose one that interests you the most.
Is it something you want to do for the rest of your life?
What about its career scope?
Do some research and introspection to get the answers to these questions.
For example, I used to work on many topics from health, fashion, and beauty to travel, technology, thought leadership, and what not in my initial writing days.
I realized technical writing is something I want to build my writing career on. I love writing on it and the industry is ever-expanding. So, it seemed like a good way.
As a technical writer, around 95% of my clients are from the technology domain. I also pick non-technical topics sometimes in thought leadership, business, and book reviews to explore my creativity.
Personal branding is indeed crucial for freelancers. It opens the door to truckloads of writing opportunities, recognition in your domain, and collaboration from fellow experts. It will position you as a thought leader and an expert in your field.
For personal branding, you can choose a social media platform such as LinkedIn (my personal favourite), Instagram, Twitter, or whatever works for you. However, choose only one at the start, and then move to another after you have built an audience base.
More than choosing the platforms, it’s important to be authentic with whatever digital footprints you leave. However, if you are not, people are going to find it out sooner or later.
As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, it applies to your personal branding efforts as well. Being consistent with your efforts, providing value to your audience (informing, educating, or entertaining), and networking while being authentic are pillars of personal branding.
5. Talk to us about, how to build and use your network effectively as a freelancer?
Growing your online tribe and nurturing it is a necessity for your growth. Social media provides an excellent space where you can do this.
- Pick a platform, such as LinkedIn
- Be active on it
- Complete your profile with relevant information
- Post valuable content consistently by sharing your personal and professional experiences
- Engage with others’ content with insightful comments
- Talk to people in your network
Keep repeating the last three points.
This way, people start recognizing you and your efforts. You can also send connection requests to people in your field and your target audience, and at the same time welcome others who may add value to your life.
To get clients, you can leverage two methods:
- Outbound leads: Search keywords like “freelance content writer”, “copywriter”, and so on. If you see any relevant requirement posted by someone under “posts”, send them a personalized connection request explaining why you want to be connected. Talk to them.
- Inbound leads: With the right networking skills and authentic personal branding, people may reach out to you with their requirements. Yes, that powerful your personal brand can be!
6. How do you deal with writer’s block? What are the steps that you take to overcome it?
Writer’s block is not a myth to me. At one time, my mind is brimming with ideas. At another time, I’d stare at the blank screen for hours, doing nothing. The triggers for writer’s block can vary from person to person. In my case, these are:
- When I’m disturbed by something going on in my heart or mind
- The topic is not that interesting
- I just don’t want to write or feel creative at the moment
Before, I used to fight with this condition and tried writing even if I didn’t want to. However, now, I:
- Take breaks
- Talk to my family or friends
- Do something else like cleaning my house or organizing my workplace
- Makeup (Yes, I do it to distract myself)
- Read a novel I wanted to read for so long
Just relax, give yourself some time. Don’t be harsh on yourself when you get writer’s block.
7. As a freelancer, what were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?
When I resigned from my office and ventured into full-time freelancing in Feb 2020, I already had a few clients in my hands. However, again, the stakes were high because if freelancing failed, I could have gone broke. Now the twist is nobody in my family knew about this.
Another problem I faced was a lack of knowledge in freelancing. Back then, I figured it out all by myself with a lot of hits and misses.
I learned from my mistakes and hit harder in my next move.
To add fuel to the fire, the pandemic hit us around that time. Businesses were at loss, even I lost a couple of clients. In April, I got really scared. However, I kept the faith, worked with dedication on whatever projects I had back then. In the next month, I got a high-ticket client from Europe through referral.
The mistake I made: Initially, I did not have a freelance agreement for my clients. I faced a lot of difficulties regarding the scope of work, number of revisions, and so on.
A written agreement is a must because it protects the rights of you and your client. Neither party can violate the agreement, else they could face legal consequences. It also works like a guide you can refer to in case of doubts.
8. What according to you are the most essential skills that anyone interested in this area of work should develop? Mention, if any, recommended tools or resources for new freelancers/content writers to use.
The first and foremost skill you should develop as a freelance writer is to work on your writing skills, purely. Evolving as a writer must be your top priority followed by networking, personal branding, and collaboration.
Suppose, you have invested plenty of your time in building a personal brand. You bagged some high-paying client who was really impressed with your online presence.
Now, you can only help them if you deliver a quality content piece he expects from you. Nothing else. It requires excellent writing skills.
Yes, work on your brand, grow your network, collaborate with people but always keep improving your writing.
Tools I’d recommend:
- Grammarly to check your grammar
- Google Doc and Sheet to keep records and track them
- PayPal for international payments
- Read books – fiction/non-fiction both (On Writing, Everybody Writes )
- Read blogs such as Copy Blogger and Hubspot,
- Follow blogs in your preferred niches. I follow TechCrunch and The Verge for technology
9. What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
You are your own boss.
This is both a pro and a con.
When no one’s there to boss you around or order you, you’ll love it. I do.
In freelancing, you are free to choose who you want to work with, your work schedule, payment, and so on. You can go on vacations and nobody will disturb you. You can take a nap whenever you need it. That’s a pro.
However, you still need to be organized and stick to your routine, else it will impact your business and/or health.
You don’t have to use this luxury as a means to procrastinate or keep delaying your work till the time your client fires you.
It’s essential to strike a balance.
10. What are the most crucial aspects that a freelancer should focus on for growth?
There are lots of freelancers in the market. However, if you want to stand out, you need to work on a number of things starting from your core skills.
- If you are a freelance writer, work on your writing skills
- Up-skilling by being a constant learner
- Marketing your services (try the book – This Is Marketing by Seth Godin.)
- Multi-tasking (pitching clients, scheduling calls, preparing quotation, on-boarding, working, editing/revisions, invoicing, and managing finances). You are a one-(wo)man army.
- Work-life balance
- Time management
- Building a strong social media presence
- Networking and collaboration
11. What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
I wish to see freelance writers to be recognized as real business owners because it’s a real business. Sadly, not everyone understands it.
At a personal level, I’ve started offering consultation to new writers who contact me through LinkedIn, Instagram, or my website to spread awareness and help them grow.
My father gets a lot of negative comments because he supports our dreams. They question him as to why he is wasting money on our higher education. However, he listens to nobody. 🙂
So, I envision an atmosphere for girls where the right to education and dowry-free marriage exist. I want to spread as much awareness as I can through my words.
I too want to write a book under my name. It could be both fiction and non-fiction.
12. What would do you differently if you had to begin your career again? What would you focus on once you restart?
If I had to restart my career, I’d use LinkedIn more to create content and focus on building my personal brand a bit early.
However, I feel content now.
Although writing isn’t my first love, I fell in love with it gradually. Or, maybe I was already in love with it but didn’t realize it. Whatever be the case, I’m exactly where I wanted to be – in the safe haven of writing.
Freelance writing has given me so much I could only fathom if I look back. I now have the independence, financial stability, and I’m glad I chose freelancing. It was the second turning point of my life.
If you are thinking of shifting to full-time freelancing after reading Amrita’s story, read our blog on Financial management for Freelancers to ace your financial planning using effective techniques.