Blessed with a wonderful and supportive family, Komal is a literature student, who started freelancing in hopes to realize her full-potential. A freelance content and copywriter, she highlights the importance of staying true to yourself and creating your position in the market. For her, independence and exposure to information are the best things about freelancing.
The one thing that she tells other freelancers is not compromising on their authenticity for anything; negotiation and pricing are directly proportional to the value of services you offer. While she acknowledges the importance of selecting a niche for freelancers, she recommends working in different industries to take advantage of many opportunities. According to her, communication, negotiation, and marketing are the most important skills for any freelancer.
Feeling content with her journey so far, she is grateful for the person that she is today. Now a proud, organized, and independent person, she aims to scale her business this year and we wish her success for the same.
Read Komal’s inspiring journey:
- Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
Hey, I’m Komal Ahuja, a final year literature student, a freelance content and copywriter. I help brands create content that connects and converts, and on the side, I also help freelancers take their freelancing career to the next level. Another thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m a professional dancer trained in styles like jazz, ballet, contemporary and waacking.
I’m from Noida, Delhi NCR and live with my family. I have my mom, dad, brother, sister, and sister-in-law with me. They’re all amazing and are super proud of me for having done so much while being in college. Everyone in my family has a separate business of their own, I’ve got a fashion garment exporter, home chef, wedding planner, vocalist, choreographer, and architect in a family, so I’m blessed to have people who understand what it’s like to have your own business and work on your own terms. This has tremendously helped me in my freelancing career too.
My childhood was pretty amazing. Being the youngest in the family, I was always pampered the most. Everyone thought dancing was something I was going to go forward with, but writing happened, and they couldn’t be more proud of me. One thing I always embrace is the fact that my family has never been rigid about career roles. They’re extremely open to anything I wish to do, given I put my heart into it. So, I think I’m truly blessed and lucky to have such a wonderful and supporting family.
- Why did you choose the field of content writing? Speak to us about your passion for writing?
Since childhood, I’ve always been a book lover. My mom used to get me 1 book every month when I was in school, and it almost always got finished in 10-12 days. I’ve been reading since then, and my genres have changed from fiction to nonfiction, but the love for books has remained the same.
I started journaling early on when I was in 8th or 9th standard. I mostly wrote about my day-to-day happenings. It was a rant of a 14-year-old girl, but it came straight from the heart.
So, I guess I’ve been into writing since then, but it was after I nurtured my skills through internships, that I fell more in love with content writing.
- Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?
In college, pursuing a literature degree meant lots of reading and writing, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I was dancing in college all the time, but I also made sure to do content writing internships to build up skills.
In the first couple of months of 2020, I felt like I could do more than just internships. One day, I randomly decided to make a LinkedIn account, attended a bunch of webinars to see how the platform worked and started creating content and talking to people there. Slowly, I started getting leads, and I haven’t looked back since then.
It was accidental, not intentional, but if it hadn’t happened, I would have missed out on so many wonderful opportunities. Mostly, I realized what I’m capable of and reaffirmed my faith in being a young independent girl, capable of having a vision that’s respected in this chaotic world.
I wouldn’t say I chose to freelance, it came to me, and I’m so glad it did because honestly, 2020 has been a life-changing year for me, not just in terms of professional growth but also personal growth.
- As a freelancer, speak about having integrity as an essential characteristic? Tell our readers about being original, giving credits and having a USP with your work and services offered.
To me, integrity and authenticity are paramount as a freelancer. Whenever I’m on a live session or webinar, and someone asks me about the ‘one thing’ I would tell freelancers to do, it’s always about keeping your authenticity intact, and not trading it for anything.
There are a lot of freelancers in the market, and consuming content everyday affects our thoughts and perceptions, making us susceptible to being influenced by them. In these moments, it’s crucial to be authentic because that’s one of the most important things to make you stand apart from the competition.
Being original and having a USP with your work is as important as working in the first place because without this, you’re just going to be like others in the market and it’s easy to get lost.
People often get inspired by thought leaders in the industry and try to walk their path. I made the same mistake in the beginning too. But it’s important to remember that while they can inspire you, it’s not necessary what worked for them will work for you too.
So staying true to yourself and creating your position in the market is really important.
- Throw some light on the importance of choosing niches and working on personal branding for freelancers.
Choosing a niche is great as a freelancer, but you should never be too rigid about it. People indeed like to work with those who specialize in one niche, but as a freelancer, working in different industries provides a lot of advantage because then you have scope for a lot of opportunities.
So, definitely, if you already have a niche you feel is perfect for you and you solely want to work in it, that’s perfect. But if you’re not too sure, take your time and experience different things to decide how you want to proceed finally. Take it at your own pace.
Personal branding and marketing your services as a freelancer are vital for me. It positions you in front of your target audience, contributes towards a strong digital presence and opens the door to not just freelance gigs but also speaking opportunities and brand collaborations.
It’s true that today, everyone has a presence online, so while that’s a necessity, it’s also important to note that building a personal brand takes time, effort and consistency. Results don’t come in immediately, but it can have a major impact on your freelancing career in the long run.
If you position yourself the right way, you’ll make yourself visible to a wider audience, thus, increasing the chances of attracting new and better opportunities. Moreover, once you start talking about your industry, and people start identifying with you, it just positions you as an expert, which is great for standing out from the crowd and creating your own offers.
- How to negotiate your deal with clients? What are the important points and techniques to keep in mind?
Negotiation is a skill every freelancer must-have, and which largely determines the kind of deal you can crack with the client.
If you’ve quoted an amount to a client, and they want to negotiate with you, it’s mostly a matter of value and not price. If they value your services, and the kind of result they’re getting, pricing won’t be a problem.
An essential thing which can completely take negotiation off the list for freelancers is communicating why you’re charging what you’re charging. This mainly talks about what processes you follow while working on the project, what does the back-end process look like, how do you approach the project and more. If the client is not from your industry, it’s quite rare that they would know what kind of work you do to provide the end-result, so it’s important to communicate that.
Apart from this, I have 3 solutions to negotiations that I personally follow, after I’ve communicated the value I’m providing to the clients:
- Give them a 10% discount on the overall invoice, not the individual deliverables.
- Give them consultation instead of execution.
- Pass on the project to someone who will charge closer to their project.
Whatever happens, compromising on your value and charging lower than what you’re worth is not the right way to move forward. So, even if the deal doesn’t work out due to budget constraints, I always ensure we end it on a good note.
- How do you price your services as a freelancer? Any essential points that a new freelancer should know of?
The scope of work, the amount of time I’m planning to invest in the project, and the experience I have determines the kind of price I quote my clients. Every project has a different requirement, and so it’s mostly tailor-made for every project.
In the beginning, there are a lot of confusions regarding how to price your services, what pricing model to follow and the kind of payment terms you should have as a freelancer but experiencing all of this is significant to determine what personally works for you.
As a beginner, you can charge per hour, per project, and on a retainer basis. Freelance writers can also charge per word. But to decide what kind of model works best for you, experiencing and trying out different things is quite essential.
New freelancers make a mistake of charging less than what they are worth, so for that, I would always recommend talking to a freelancer in your field about pricing so they can at least give you an idea about the starting prices and if what you have in mind is right.
- 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.
In my opinion, communication, negotiation and marketing your services are some important skills every freelancer should have. These skills can help you stand apart from your competitors and even help you land high ticket deals.
For tools I recommend:
- Trello for project management
- Grammarly for editing
- Slack for communication
- Google sheet for track records
For content and copywriting resources, I recommend:
- Cashvertising book
- HubSpot, Copy Blogger and Marketing Examples blogs
- VeryGoodCopy newsletter
- What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
The biggest pro for me would be the kind of independence and exposure to information it offers. The feeling of working whenever I want and from wherever I want is priceless. The sky’s the limit when it comes to earning money, and the kind of experiences you get on the journey are great for personal growth.
I think the biggest con is that not everyone understands the value of freelancers and the kind of effort that goes behind the scenes of doing everything from pitching, closing, invoicing, negotiating, doing the work, following up, marketing your services and more.
While a large part of the industrial scene respects freelancers, their value still stands at a weak spot, but it’s slowly building with time.
- What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?
Micromanaging is something I completely dislike. Being a freelancer brings its independence, but sometimes clients get over-involved in the project or try to micromanage tasks which makes it a little difficult to manage work.
But, luckily, I’ve been blessed with great clients who hardly micromanage me and are super sweet when it comes to acknowledging my work or recommending me to others. There are clients who I’ve been working with since the first month I started freelancing, and they’re the sweetest people ever.
- What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
Currently, the mission is to scale my business by hiring a team in 2021, so I can take on more projects and include more services. At the same time, I’m also working on better offers for freelancers so I can help them in better ways through eBooks, consultation calls, courses and more.
I don’t know how people will look back to remember me, but I want to give them something worthwhile to remember me by, hence, the offers. So, I believe that the best way I can help is by providing value and serving my audience, so that’s what I’m doing!
- Do you feel content with yourself as you look back or do you think you have missed something?
From a reckless, unorganized person to a planned and organized one.
From an ‘I don’t know what to have for breakfast tomorrow’ to ‘This is my 2-week plan,’ mindset.
From dreaming about buying things for my family to actually doing it.
From imagining independence, I promised myself to actually living it years before I intended.
I absolutely feel content with my journey and how things have turned out to be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The journey hasn’t been perfect; I had my lows, but they shaped me into the person I am today, and the kind of mindset I carry, so I’m grateful for them.
If you are wondering about how to market yourself as a freelancer, read our article on How To Write a Perfect Cold Email? to optimize on another efficient marketing technique.