Sketching her life in a way that it makes her feel proud when she looks back at it, Surabhi pursued commerce but later found her interest in event management. But life had other plans for her and leaving her highest paying job, she started her journey as a freelance writer.
Found her passion for writing when penning down long-notes to her best friend, Surabhi is now creating content for businesses and startups across the globe. She believes in delivering quality, keeping a growth-oriented approach towards client’s organization and positive word of mouth for getting more clients. According to her, ‘being your own boss’ is a boon and a curse for freelancers and recommends reading for upskilling as a writer.
A person who gives her everything in whatever she does, her vision is to bring a change through her words. We wish that she intensifies the happiness and gratification she feels while writing, by continuing to do so for long-term.
Read Surabhi’s enriching journey:
Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
I am just an average girl from a middle-class family in Kolkata! My parents were extremely supportive right from the beginning – never told me what I “must” do. I remember my father would always say, “It’s your life… do whatever you wish to, but when you stand in front of the mirror, you must be proud of what you see.”
My mother, who is also my best friend, my confidante, my secret sharer, my cheerleader, basically my everything always told me how I can achieve the world – but even if I can’t, she will still be there to love me like she always has.
Even though I was a good student, my parents never pressured me to gain marks. They celebrated equally; it doesn’t matter whether I score 50 or 90.
Post studying finance, why did you choose the field of content writing? Speak to us about your passion for writing?
Commerce was a natural choice when I was choosing subjects in class 11, mainly because of a “marwari” family upbringing. Plus then I was also unaware of the opportunities that the other two fields of studies might have offered. Now, how I wish I would have chosen English!
Time in Higher secondary school passed in a blink of an eye. I scored “brilliant” (sorry for bragging, but it is what it is). I secured a seat in the greatest college for Commerce in Kolkata but DIDN’T go for it.
Most of my relatives dismissed this choice and told me that it’s a shame, but I had different dreams, and with my parents by my side, I was sure I wanted to pursue it. I wanted to spread smiles and be a part of celebrations. I am an over-the-top kind of person – I love celebrating even the tiniest endeavors, achievements, or occasions.
Hence, I pursued a diploma in Event Management and topped my batch. I secured the highest paying job, but my family didn’t want me to do a 9-5 job – so I HAD to LET GO of it. But no regrets there because it was during my event management journey, I realized that “writing” is a profession. Yes, I didn’t even know that!
About passion, it all began from writing long-notes for my best friends. I liked to put emotions on paper, and when it brought a smile on the faces who read it – it just gives me a kind of happiness and gratification that’s unexplainable.
Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?
I didn’t really “choose” to freelance. Honestly, I didn’t even know what was freelancing until I started doing it. Infact, I was not aware about it for quite some time while pursuing it. I know that’s quite lame, but who are we without our failures and shortcomings?
I never really did a 9-5 or a full-time job. I was freelancing from the very beginning. It happened while I was pursuing a diploma in Event Management. There was an assignment that asked us to write an event plan from scratch.
My teacher was amazed at the way I write, and that’s when he told me, “Surabhi, your real talent is here, in this paper!”. Not just that, a few days later, he told me he wanted to start a blog and wanted to hire me as a writer – that was my first ever freelance project.
I couldn’t believe that writing could even fetch money but fortunately… there was no looking back since then.
How did you approach the first few clients? Give key suggestions to the new freelancers.
When I started, it was just for some “self-earned” pocket money and to satiate my desire to write. That’s all.
But here’s what I followed all throughout – Whatever you do, give it your all or don’t do it at all – that’s what helped me get more clients.
My teacher, who was also my client, was so impressed with my work (he was also very kind) that he introduced me to some more people looking for content writers. That’s how it took off.
For newbies, do what you are doing right and let your existing clients know that you are up for more work. But remember, when they refer you to their circle, it’s your job to make sure you don’t disappoint them. Positive word-of-mouth can never be forced; it is earned.
What do you do for upskilling as a freelancer?
Read, Read and Read.
I start my day with one industry-leading blog like CMI, Neil Patel, ConvinceNConvert, etc., daily and read some other leading freelancer’s work throughout the day and end the day with some book reading.
Of late, I have also tried a few free courses on Coursera and Udemy, and they proved to be really effective.
Throw some light on the importance of choosing niches and working on personal branding for Freelancers
Choosing niches is extremely important, but you can’t expect to do that overnight. In the beginning, it’s extremely important to keep your doors open and explore. Don’t restrict yourself to a particular niche unless you are 100% sure.
I have been in the industry for about 2+ years now, and until now, I just know that I can’t do hardcore tech, crypto, and finance. Other than that, I enjoy exploring, and by far, mental health, relationship, and lifestyle have been my favorite areas of work.
About personal branding, honestly, I am still learning it.
I have always been a believer of “do what you do best and let your work make the noise”. However, the Internet works on a completely opposite funda: How will people know that you are doing good work until you show it to them.
So, yes. Personal branding is REALLY important for all the newbies who are looking to make a difference. I suggest that just start with sharing your experiences, and you will learn the hacks while you are at it.
How do you deal with writer’s block? What are the steps that you take to overcome it?
Firstly, I want to take this moment and tell everyone that Writer’s Block is REAL. For everyone who thinks words just spill out of our minds – it doesn’t. We take real effort to create a copy that adheres to the client’s needs.
I still remember how I struggled for 5 straight days to write even one sentence on one of my very important projects. While I used to panic in the beginning, now when I know it’s natural for a creative person to be out of shape – I take my time to get back at it.
To get out of the spiral, I take a day off, party, read, meditate, and sometimes spare a few minutes to write anything that comes to mind (without judgment!). That gives me a fair kickstart.
What are the most crucial aspects that a freelancer should focus on for growth?
In my opinion, a freelancer is a micro-entrepreneur where he/she is responsible for everything in the business.
Right from pitching clients, drafting outlines, crafting on-point copy, taking multiple calls, resolving all the client-queries, creating invoices, social media promotion, personal branding, and everything else there is – a freelancer does everything single-handedly.
Thus, to ensure growth as a freelancer, there’s so much you need to do. But don’t get overwhelmed; just start somewhere. I, personally, keep a tap on all the current trends and try to include them while crafting my think-pieces – it shows that apart from being an exceptional writer, you are also aware of what’s happening around you.
What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
The star advantage of Freelancing that dismisses all the disadvantages is that You are your own boss. No one can ask you why are you not on time? Or, why don’t I have that file on my desk? Unless you ask that – to yourself!
As much as “being your own boss” is a boon, it is also a curse. Now that you are responsible for your growth, you fail to draw a line between work and life. The balance is very difficult to achieve because you are either too lost in work or too lost in life.
So, yeah, Freelancing isn’t easy, but the reward achieved will make it all worth it!
What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?
There’s no particular thing that I dislike, perse. My clients have been really kind to me all throughout, but there have been a few leads that made me wonder, “WHY!” (Thankfully, I didn’t take those projects forward).
Some clients don’t consider writing as “real” work. They tell you that they are outsourcing because they don’t have the time to write (while they can), not because they need an expert’s hand. That’s one thing that really gets to me.
Clients need to understand how quality content is the ONLY way you can get your business rolling.
What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
My mission and vision are both the same: I want my words to make sense. That’s all.
20 years from today, when I look back, I want to be able to tell myself, “My words created a change,” and I want to be proud of that change.
Do you feel content with yourself as you look back, or do you think you have missed something?
There’s not one thing that I would want to change in my journey. Not a single thing. While I had been complaining when I had to drop a well-paid job, now I feel so blessed and gratified when I see how it has all added up.
There are so many people around the globe struggling for food and shelter, so I think God has been really kind to me. I always try to extend this kindness in whatever ways I can.
I had never thought I would be a content creator but likewise, who ever thought, walking outdoors will become a luxury (all thanks to Covid).
So, in short, believe in miracles, and when life gives you an opportunity, be a miracle for someone.
If you are inspired to become a freelancer and want to know about getting sales leads, read our article on How to increase quality leads as a Freelancer?.