Writing her first poem at the age of 8, Mukti has been inclined towards writing since childhood. Post studying commerce and pursuing her career in journalism, she was sure of becoming a writer. With the determination to be a brand herself, she ventured onto her journey as a freelance writer. For three consecutive years, she was featured in the list of Top 10 content writers of India. She is also an author of a bestselling poetry book. She believes that maintaining transparency is important in pricing. As a professional, integrity is a virtue and originality an asset for her. When it comes to freelancing, she thinks of freedom as a benefit and uncertainty as a challenge. She wants to remind people of Jesus Christ with her actions and behaviour towards them. She is happy and content with her life, and does work with professionalism and integrity. We wish her success with all her future endeavors.
Read Mukti’s journey of following her passion here:
Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
I was born in a God-fearing Christian family in Indore, India. My father served in the State Bank of India and pastored a local church. My mother Prerna has been a house-wife dividing her time between crocheting and teaching. My brother Abhishek has founded a media and video production company AVM Pictures. I have had a very happy childhood. I had access to a good amount of books – mostly fiction. So I grew up reading Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Lewis Caroll, C S Lewis, J K Rowling, Charlotte Bronte and the likes. I wrote my first poem at the age of eight, my parents and teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in writing or journalism.
Why did you choose the field of content writing? Speak to us about your passion for writing? Tell us about being amongst the top 10 content writers of India?
I have been inclined towards writing since childhood. But by age 15, I was determined to make a career in journalism. After graduation in commerce, I did a diploma course in Journalism and Mass Communication. I worked with the Free Press Journal and The Times of India. But four years into journalism and I was sure that writing drove me more than anything.
So I quit my job with the Times and began searching for freelance assignments. When I quit my job, well-wishers told me: who quits a brand? And I replied: I am quitting a brand because I want to be the brand. With that determination, I plunged into the field of freelance writing. After much struggle, I established my credibility and began getting work regularly. Being featured among the Top 10 content writers was a matter of chance. The founder of the website (Engineer Babu) had seen my work, so he asked me to share my portfolio. When I did and he verified the testimonials with my clients, he was sure that I should be in the list of 2018. He was generous enough to include me in the 2019 and 2020 list as well.
Having said that, I do want to add that any list – be it Top 10 or Top 100 actors or directors or writers, even the People magazine’s World’s Most Influential People’s List – is all very subjective. India has 1.33 billion people and it is hard to create a comprehensive list taking into account writers, coders, designers in every field or industry. Yet, I do appreciate the courage and efforts of those who do attempt these lists: I am sure they work hard to verify each person in the list. So I take it as a matter of great pride but with a pinch of salt. I am far from being the best or among the Top 10, I am still getting there.
Speak to us about your bestselling book. Tell our readers about the value and the credibility it adds in your content writing portfolio?
Yeah that’s an interesting story. It was in January 2020 that I was desperate to get my book published. So I entered my name in a poetry anthology being published by a Canadian Publisher Ukiyoto for Valentine’s Day. They had a great track-record. They selected two of my poems. But when they sent me the PDF of the final book, I got cold feet: maybe it’s not a good idea to get published with 10 different authors in one anthology. So I withdrew my poems. Though, I had given two of my other poems to an Indian anthology published by Swipe Pages. But everything was delayed due to Lockdown. I forgot all about it until mid-August.
I got an email from a writing website saying that Amazon Kindle is open for its Select Program. By then, I had only 20 poems and 4 chapters of a fiction book. I first entered the manuscript of the fiction book. But within 48 hours I realised even this was a bad decision because I had to finish the full book by October 2020. So I withdrew the book again and entered a poetry book instead on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing platform. It was due to be released on September 15th 2020. I am a huge fan of Chai so I named my poetry collection: Poems In A Chai Cup. It was during this time I discovered that Amazon India won’t publish paperback or hardback, they had some issues with Indian printers. My heart sank because I desperately wanted people to read the paperback version while sipping chai. So I contacted Ukiyoto Publishing again. They asked me to submit the full manuscript of my book. So I wrote the rest of the 22 poems within 8 days. Ukiyoto released the paperback and hardback versions within 10 days of my Kindle edition on Amazon. It became a bestseller in three categories within 48 hours.
I don’t really know if a poetry collection will add to my freelance portfolio because most of my clients are not literary companies but they are businesses in IT, consumer durables, travel, e-commerce, finance, digital marketing. I see my poetry book more as an addition to my personal branding than professional.
As a freelancer, how are your services priced? What are the key strategies for you?
I try to price my services mainly on a per word basis because that creates a lot of transparency among the two parties. I have tried hourly models as well but they are hard to keep a tab on. My pricing strategy is about transparency so that both parties know well in advance about the budget and there are no surprises at the end of the project.
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.
Integrity is key to me for sure. When you deliver what you promise, credibility gets attached with your professional profile automatically. I may not be the best writer there is, but I do strive to be an honest writer and an honest professional. Since I am an ardent follower of Jesus Christ, integrity is a virtue. A lot of times I do fail but I get back up and follow higher standards of integrity.
As for originality, how else can you stand out without being original? It should be taken as an asset. If you are original, you become indispensable because there’s no one else in the whole world who writes quite like you. When you give credit where it’s due, you invite no-nonsense premium clients who are trying to win customers through good-quality, properly sourced and well-researched content.
How to negotiate your deal with clients? What are the important points and techniques to keep in mind?
Do not negotiate. Earn your price by quality and integrity. You will then get only those clients who want to pay your price. Period.
How do you use social media to your strength to build an effective network and generate sales leads?
I largely use Linked-in for lead generation, my Instagram and Facebook profiles are just for personal branding. I try to post blogs and opinions a few times a month on Linked-in. I have an All-Star Linkedin profile that also attracts clients regularly.
What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
The benefit of freelancing is the freedom it offers, the flip side is the uncertainty it comes with.
What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?
When they change their minds about a comprehensive feedback they had given earlier. This messes with the mind of a writer. So when a client gives a certain feedback to the writer, and the writer makes changes as per that, this creates a certain block in the writer’s mind: he or she feels this is how it should be. After such edits when the client changes his mind and gives a whole new feedback, it will annoy even the most seasoned writers.
I request companies and startups to be firm and confident in taking content decisions because nobody, absolutely nobody gets it right the first time. So even if the first piece of content didn’t quite get there, let it go and improve along the way, instead of suggesting multiple revisions in the first piece. Ofcourse, that doesn’t mean they must tolerate errors.
What’s your best piece of work to date? Why do you think that’s your favourite piece?
I am still to write my best piece. My favourite pieces also keep changing as I grow. But this is my latest piece that I have liked: When the ground beneath my feet shook and There are no good writers, only good editors.
What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
My vision is to create an environment in the freelance writing world where writers won’t need to justify their pricing. I want to be known for my integrity and professionalism. It is my heart’s desire that in the way I treat people, they may be reminded of the example and life of Jesus Christ.
Do you feel content with yourself as you look back or do you think you have missed something?
I am actually at a place in life that I have always dreamed of. I have the freedom to say No to projects I don’t agree on. I take mental breaks at will, I pursue my other interests of reading, music and travelling whenever I want. There’s always something you will miss out in life. I missed out on pursuing more music.
Do you have any courses or e-book for budding writers wanting to make a career?
Yes sure, I rolled out my Content Writing Kickstarter Course that anyone can access. I have received positive feedback on this and I encourage young writers to take up this short course.