An aspiring law student, Abhishek started freelance writing in the second year of his college while studying literature. While he appreciates the freedom that comes along with freelancing, he still believes that the illusion of ‘being your own boss’ proves to be a major disadvantage for freelancers. Post studying commerce and wanting to study law, somewhere in between he found his passion for writing. From writing a daily journal to starting his own blog to now helping businesses with copywriting, his journey has just begun.
Read Abhishek’s journey of venturing into freelancing here:
Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
Well, I googled myself this morning, and here’s what I found…” The only writer who does not have any questionable search histories, who is affordable and who doesn’t cost extra in redoing the low-quality content (because he doesn’t provide low-quality content)”
Jokes apart, I am a part-time seasoned copywriter who helps small-scale businesses and blog owners to chop up their most daunting writing projects into doable tasks. I help bloggers and other fellow writers to evaluate their writing so they can make their content more engaging and persuasive. I am also a neglectful owner of a blog Lessons To Learn, where I write about the highs and lows of being a law student who is trying to make his name in the writing.
I have been living in Delhi, India for most of my life, although I was born in Allahabad. I have been brought up in a well-doing middle-class family, who used to have a very pretty straight forward attitude towards the career and life of their children. I was the youngest son in the family so I didn’t feel any kind of responsibility to sort out my life as early as possible and get a job to support the family.
In fact, I had a very good time during my childhood days. Nothing fancy about it. I got good schooling, ample time to explore and try things out. But I never thought of becoming a writer at that time.
Tell us about your educational background? Why did you choose to do B.A. Hons English including studying English Language and Literature?
Well, I was a commerce student before college. I had enough of studying Accounts in my school days. So, I really didn’t want to study the same subject again by doing B. Com or CA, CS, etc.
I always wanted to become a lawyer, but couldn’t crack the CLAT exam during that time. So instead of dropping the year, I chose to study Literature.
I clearly remember it was the first year of my college when I felt something lacking. For whatever reason, I struggled to fit in and find my place in that first year. Although technically I had friends. Yet there was this underlying sense of loneliness like I just wasn’t myself. I was constantly worried about what other people were thinking of me and I had this unhealthy desire to be liked by everyone. Then I got to a point where I said enough was enough, I didn’t like feeling the way I did, so I decided to make a change and that is what brought me to the world of …writing (and not online writing).
Writing a daily journal turned out to be a great way for me to take a break from all that nonsense. To breathe, to contemplate, and to speak whatever the hell I wanted to speak for so long. And doing this thing for a while lifted up my confidence. I regained my focus and started preparing for Law again.
We went through your blog ‘Write It Abhi!’ and found it quite interesting. What triggered you to start your blog? What purpose does it satisfy for you?
It was in 2nd year of my college when I came to know about this concept of online content writing, where you can earn some easy money by writing just for a few hours. Sounded like a Data entry job, where they scam people and pay an extremely low price.
But it wasn’t like that at all. It was a real deal. I thought I had already written so much that I can easily do this job. But later, I found out that it’s not that easy. At that time, I didn’t have a clue about SEO, Ranking, or even how to format the article, etc.
Whatever kind of article I would submit, the client would always ask me to rewrite that at least 2 more times. I used to take 2 days to write a 1000-word article. I was getting frustrated by this typing and deleting words again and again.
Writing which used to be so pacifying was again making me tore my hairs out. But still, I liked the idea of blogging, online writing, and working from home. Considering the financial purposes as well, I desperately wanted to make this work.
That’s why I decided to practice writing every day. So, I set up a blog where I will publish one article every week and make this writing process less painful. But these copywriting, bait and switch headlines, follower counts, and social media hacks, … was taking away all the joy of writing.
Now although I was writing daily, I wasn’t enjoying it, or at least I wasn’t saying things I wanted to say. That’s why I set up another blog Lessons To Learn for general writing, where I write just without pandering and worrying about keywords, SERPs, etc.
I seriously believe that….
If everybody forgets about copywriting, click-bait headlines, likes & follower counts, and social media hacks, …there would be many more beautiful stories that inspire us to fight these uncertain times.
When did you decide to build a business around copywriting and marketing? What excites you the most about content marketing?
To be honest I don’t have a business as such around copywriting. I still write as a freelancer, whenever I get time to write. But I am not that much regular in taking these long-term freelancing projects. As I have to balance it with my studies as well. So, I am not doing it on a very large scale.
As far as the exciting part is concerned… I think that would be the psychology behind these things. Why Do Clients Buy? (Why don’t they?)
Marketing not only helps you to sell things but also to understand these human behaviors in a much better way. As good marketers know what makes people vulnerable, how to influence their decisions etc.
Whether you are a writer or not, these are the skills worth learning. At least one would be certainly interested in knowing how many times he got tricked by these hacks and tactics.
Why did you opt for freelancing? When did you start freelancing? Did you plan it or how it happened?
As I said earlier, I started freelancing during the 2nd year of my college. It was back in 2016-17. Although in the starting it was quite hard to get people to guide me and help me to hone my skills. That’s why I have written a lot of articles for free or almost at dirt cheap prices. But in return, I got their harsh and rude feedback. However, that guided me on how to research and edit these articles.
I didn’t plan to be a freelancer. But it was my only choice, after all. I couldn’t bunk the whole semester to do a job. For students like me, freelancing was the only way to get some pocket money without sacrificing the studies.
Talk to us about ‘how do you use social media to your strength’? What are your key strategies?
From this year only, I am trying to be active on LinkedIn to get a few clients here and there. But I didn’t get more than 3-4 clients till now from LinkedIn. Even out of those 4, 1 turned out to be a fraud.
So, the only advantage I want to have on LinkedIn is creating a kind of social proof. If clients want to look over at my profile, they will find me to be a genuine person with such and such followers, whose skills are endorsed by other fellow writers.
Seeing these kinds of proofs tend to remove the hesitation from clients’ minds.
But, in short, I don’t use social media to get any clients leads, etc. Most of the time I try to collaborate with Digital Marketing Agency or other Digital Marketers who tend to outsource the writing stuff to freelancers.
Currently, I am working with Brands Trumpets Marketing, where I have to write the content for all of their clients and they take care of other marketing stuff.
Other than that, I also take projects on Upwork. So, these mediums generate enough work for me to fill my free time.
As a writer, it is important to stay up-to-date, how do you stay aware of the happenings around the world?
I just follow Twitter and Google News. Other than that, I have a few apps installed on my phone which keep me updated about all the happenings around me. But I think Twitter and Google news is more than enough to know what topics are trending, which stories to follow, and how to use them in my content creation process.
What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?
Of course, the best thing about freelancing is the freedom it brings to you. Allowing you to be your own boss. The comfort of working from anywhere in the world, on top of that getting paid for it.
After all, who the hell wants to work in a 4×6 cubicle, if you can get the same amount of money by sitting in a lounge chair on the beach, writing down your thoughts with one hand and drinking your favorite drink with the other.
But the worst thing would also be the illusion it creates of being your boss. The truth is everybody wants to be a writer. Freelancing seems like a glamorous and easy job to the outsider. One that you can do from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Perhaps in your pajamas, and most importantly, satisfying your ‘creative urge’ and writing what you are passionate about.
But contrary to what most beginners think, it isn’t as easy as sending your articles off to editors, in the hope that they may make it into print. Freelancing is a science, with its own laws and rules. It is less about writing than about other things, such as coming up with fresh and original ideas, convincing your editor to buy your idea, delivering what the editor wants, and coping with the inevitable rejections.
Despite having all of this sorted out, this is not the business model you want to have. No matter how experienced you are, you still have to work to get paid. You don’t want to work your whole life to earn money. Rather you want a model where you will be earning even while sleeping.
So in my opinion, this is the right hierarchy of business models…
Product-based business > Service-based Business> Freelancing + Studying > Hourly Job
So, ideally, you want: High scalability, a problem people will already pay to solve, recurring revenue. You want to work once and collect forever and less of assignment-based income like freelancing.
What is the one thing you hate about clients? What can they do to make your life better?
Since I am a college student, most of my clients tend to treat me as an intern or a part-time employee. They will just call me anytime, always asking for last-minute changes. So, this kind of thing generally sets me off. But still, I get paid on time mostly so I don’t bother about it. Other than that, I don’t have any problems with my clients until now. I hope that it will continue to be the same way.
What is your best work till date? Why do you think it is the best?
Well according to me, my best work would be in my daily journals where I used to write my heart out. Other than that, I have done mostly ghostwriting so can’t share anything specific.
As you look back, do you feel satisfied with yourself or do you think you missed something?
I don’t want to look back right now and compare my progress. Currently, I am already on a path very uncertain, as far as my law career is concerned.
So, I don’t want to stop and start measuring how far I have come. Things are going according to the plan until now, where I can earn as well as study at the same time. Of course, I have no regrets regarding my freelancing career, but still, I don’t want to retrospect my journey till I complete the L.LB.
If you are inspired by Abhishek’s story and want to earn income through freelancing, read our blog Sales 101 – Basics of Sales for Freelancers to kickstart your journey.