Anmol is a commerce graduate whose love for technology and writing led him to become a content marketer. Anmol has written a love story and four 4 paperback anthologies that are published. Anmol’s passion for exploring places and the freedom that freelancing allows motivated him to pursue freelancing full-time. He figured that he was more of a free-bird who was not the right fit for the traditional 9-5 corporate life. He is someone who believes in planning, but is not rigid with his beliefs and expectations. With his optimistic outlook on life, Anmol is the go-to guy who wants to offer solutions to everyone in need of help.
Read Anmol’s story of embracing freelancing as a lifestyle here:
Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
I am from Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. I completed my graduation and came to Delhi in 2014 to pursue my passion for writing. Not many people know this, my father passed away when I was in class XII. My mother left soon after, in the first year of my graduation.
I am a single child, so it was tough. But after I came to Delhi, I found my partner who I consider to be my family. In fact, it is her who keeps pushing me to do better, year after year.
I had a pretty normal childhood just like anyone else. Nothing fancy about it. I got good schooling, good values and I feel life was pretty satisfying back then.
Tell us about your educational background. Why did you choose to do B.Com and study the field of finance?
B. Com. was an obvious choice after I completed my schooling with Commerce stream. To be honest, I was not sure about what to do after class X. I just enrolled in Commerce and on top of it, I chose computers as my fifth subject instead of Mathematics. You won’t find many people doing this, but my father supported me.
I wanted to keep computers as a subject because I was in love with technology but didn’t want to pursue science. By the time I completed my class XII, I was just like any other student – confused. Some friends suggested that I enroll for a CA course, and I signed up for the examination. It was more of a casual thing than a serious plan. Cleared CPT at that time. But life happened, and I couldn’t take out time to pursue IPCC further. So, I dropped out of it and just graduated with a B. Com. degree.
What was the trigger for you to shift to “marketing”? Talk to us about your love for writing?
Actually, it was the other way around. I fell in love with writing first and then, slowly drifted towards marketing. As I said, I came to Delhi to discover career prospects. I was already freelancing before I came here and had a client in Delhi who suggested I should come.
Moreover, at that time, I was really into writing stories. My first story was for an online publication. When it was published, I knew I had to pursue writing. After that, I got into an anthology for another story and I started taking writing seriously.
Once I came to Delhi, I spent a few years learning more about writing and marketing. I was more inclined towards creative writing and publishing my novel at that point, but somehow, I ended up working as a full-time content professional. I slowly self-learned about marketing, content, the online world and switched a couple of jobs. During the process, I found that I can work as a decent content marketer.
Tell us about your first story that got published? How did you feel?
It was actually a long shot. I was in my hometown and I used to spend a lot of time online, just like any other college kid. But I had this habit of keeping a journal with me. I didn’t talk to a lot of people but I regularly wrote something or the other.
One day, I found that some website (it is not live now) is looking for fiction story writers and I thought of giving it a shot. I had a few plots in mind, wrote a love story and sent it to the editor. They selected the story and it went live soon after. It was actually very well received by the readers.
That was an epiphany for me. I knew this could work but didn’t really know how. So, I started researching more and then found another contest for a paperback anthology by a publisher. I participated and was selected in that too. Like this, I got into 4 paperback anthologies by the end of 2014.
I gained confidence and started freelancing alongside for a few clients, at that time. As I wrote more, the path became clearer. I knew I would be doing something with writing for life.
When did you decide to build a business around marketing? What excites you the most about content marketing?
Actually, marketing as a thought came at a much later stage to me than writing. At that time, I was still in my first job where I was the only person who took care of online marketing for the business. I was still learning but I had a habit – to try new things and read a lot.
While I experimented on the job, I slowly built my knowledge bank, got fundamental knowledge of marketing and started to really think like a marketer whenever I wrote or did a campaign activity.
I realized if I could do it for someone else, I could do it for myself, too. But I was too enthusiastic about it at that point. It was after I switched from the job. I realized in a year that corporate life isn’t for me. I was more of a free bird who couldn’t fit in the nine-to-five schedule.
When I thought about what I will do if not a job, content marketing seemed to be like a plausible option for freelancing.
When did you start freelancing? Did you plan it or how it happened?
As I said, I started freelancing right after college along with my ‘fiction writing’ endeavors. It was back in 2014. I didn’t know anyone who was a writer, I didn’t know how the online world works. But I was a quick learner.
The internet helped me understand how it works. I signed up on Freelancer.com and a couple of other platforms and that’s how it started. Throughout my career, when I was in a full-time job, I took freelance projects from time to time. Mostly were offered by people who knew me personally and my employers were fine with me taking side projects.
After about 3 years in the job, I realized I know enough to start on my own and in Dec 2017, I quit my job to pursue full-time freelancing.
Before quitting the job, I planned a lot of things – from finances to the client pipeline, to understanding if I am right in taking the step. It took me about six months to make the shift, plan everything and actually jump off the corporate boat.
You can read about my journey along with some actionable tips for being a better freelancer on my website, here.
What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?
Well, freelancing to me is a lifestyle than a career choice. I always say it to everyone who asks me about the pros and cons.
If you can work as a one-man army, on your own, then there is nothing as empowering as a freelancing career. I am sure you must have heard the common answers- “Freelancers are considered to work for free”, “Clients don’t appreciate the hard work,” etc.
I feel that if you trust your instinct, work and believe in yourself, then freelancing is for you.
To me, the biggest benefit of freelancing is the ‘freedom’ it brings. You are not bound to a set routine or monotony. One day you can work from your home, the next day you can be anywhere in the world. I love to explore places. Freelancing gave me the power to explore. That’s the best thing.
For the worse parts, I would say, there is still no structure to the freelancing world. Not many are aware of the gig economy in India and that’s the worst thing. Sometimes, it is hard to explain how you earn money from your home to people, especially in small towns and cities.
What is the one thing you hate about clients? What can they do to make your life better?
I won’t say I hate something but there are a few red flags that always are a big turnoff – like if a prospect or a client wants me to give him a quote upfront without explaining their product, business goals, etc. I love to measure the depth of the water before I dive in.
Sometimes, clients deem you as an expert and think they don’t have to explain anything. So, I hate unclear goals and vague expectations. Then there is this thing about unresponsive clients that really makes me question their integrity and commitment.
If I have to say one thing to clients and prospects, I would say, “A freelancer’s work can only help your business if you are also committed 100% to support the freelancer. Someone who is working for you isn’t a magician with a wand. If you don’t know your business inside out even after years, who is an independent consultant who just knows you for a few days, maybe weeks.”
How do you price your services?
As I said, I don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ model. Every business is different, and I take my time to understand the product, audience, and goals from a marketing campaign. Based on the inputs from the client, I conduct a prelim audit of existing efforts, identify the gaps and see how much time and effort it would take to achieve goals. Based on my monthly time engagement, I create a fixed quote for the project. It’s a subjective process.
But I do have a simple strategy for freelancers who are just starting up. I call this a personal income goal strategy. I am asked a lot on how to put a price tag on services and I always ask the person to set income goals for the year or month.
Break down the goals in small segments and see how much time you can take out every day to achieve that income goal. Based on that, you will find an hourly rate. Now see how many hours you would need to complete a task and multiply your hourly rate to give a quote to a client. This also sorts out the ‘hourly rate’ debate for writers and other freelancers. I explained it in detail here.
What is your best work till date? Why do you think it is the best?
I don’t like having favorites. For me, each deliverable, each plan, each strategy that I draft is a personal favorite for that day, week or month. Then I move on to the next one.
I believe when we have a sticky perception for our own work, especially in marketing, we tend to lose sight of what the client’s goal is. So, I prefer listening to the audience and working accordingly. If the audience appreciates the work, and the bottom line improves, then my job is done.
But just for the sake of this conversation, I would say I love working on projects from scratch where I am at full liberty to experiment -with branding, product, marketing, etc. I got a few chances to do this in the last couple of years and there was this client in D2C space who I helped in scaling up his revenues through organic marketing. Low budget, zero brand visibility and stiff competition were the main challenges. Still, we managed to crunch in some good numbers in just 45 days.
What are your mission and vision? How do you want history to look at you?
I don’t have a standard mission or vision for life but several goals that I write down at the beginning of every year. I believe that as one grows as a person, their perspective and expectations change too. So, I don’t like to have a rigid mission in my life.
When it comes to how I want to be perceived, I would say, I would love to be seen as a helpful guy who knows what he is doing and has a solution, not just services to offer.
Even in personal life, I like helping friends and I would like it if they look back at me and appreciate me being there for them. Just that.
Also, I want people to feel that I am the go-to guy whenever they think of changing their life path, professional or otherwise as I really like talking about positivity.
If you are thinking of shifting to full-time freelancing after reading Anmol’s story, read our blog on Financial management for Freelancers to ace your financial planning using effective techniques.