Painting the blank canvas of life, Samarpita is a freelance writer & editor, who chose this path post completing her masters and leaving her corporate job. Restless at heart, she doesn’t shy away from the challenges of life and is always ready to learn and try new things.
She weaved her own path to freelancing through trial and error. As a successful freelancer, she recommends choosing a niche and highlights the importance of personal branding. She says that having integrity and maintaining transparency with clients always leads to mutual respect. Over the years, she has realised that commanding your price with confidence to the clients will help you achieve the value that you deserve.
She expresses her love for writing, but says that she is a passionate editor. Her main aim for 2021 is to guide new writers with her videos, books and posts. With her patience, determination and hardworking nature, we are sure she will achieve many more milestones in life. We wish her success for the future.
Read Samarpita’s inspiring journey:
1. Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
I am an only child, and before anyone wonders by the stereotype, my parents took every care to ensure I don’t grow up spoilt. Even as a child, I have been independent, mature, and responsible.
My father was a metallurgist with a PhD, and my mother was a star student who studied in the most illustrious institutions on her own merit right till her post graduation. I lost my father to Cancer when I was only 16, and my mother has brought me up since them.
Being brought up by a single mother has shaped me for trials of life and I don’t shy from challenges that life throws. I have had a happy, carefree, sheltered, and loved childhood of which I would want to change nothing until the time I lost my father.
2. Post doing Mass Communication, tell us about choosing the field of writing? Speak to us about your passion for writing and the recognitions/awards that you have received.
I didn’t choose writing right away. I had done Masters in Economics before studying Mass Communication, and began my career in the corporate sector. Restless at heart, I always want to do and try new things. From corporate, I had moved to customer/client service, and it is from there that I moved to journalism.
All this while, my love for words existed and was being nurtured. Books have been my best friends from even before I could read, and my parents would read me stories or I would just go through picture books back then.
During my stint with journalism, I moved towns and moved to one where English dailies were amiss and freelancing with them online wasn’t that huge a thing. It was then that I decided to start freelancing, but this time I turned to a writer and an editor.
I love to write, but my passion lies in editing. To take something beautiful, and polish it to perfection gives me a special kind of high. I am one of the only 6 Indians to have been awarded and recognised by the United Nations Voluntary for exemplary work with content for their project in 2010.
3. Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?
I was living in a town where opportunities for journalism in English were non-existent and that was no reason for me to do NOTHING. It took me a few months, but bit by bit, I started freelancing.
I began in 2010. I learnt as I went ahead. When I’d started freelancing, I didn’t know anyone else who was a creative freelancer, so I had to learn the ropes through trial and error. I made it a point to get to know other people with similar professions and now I have a solid, strong tribe of fellow creative freelancers.
4. Speak to us about being an author. Tell our readers about the value and the credibility it adds in your writing portfolio?
I have always wanted to write for children. But my first book didn’t happen out of this desire. It happened because I wanted to reach out to more writing enthusiasts and talk to them about writing, editing, and promoting their writing. That is why I wrote ‘Write. Edit. Promote.’ and later, ‘How To Write A Story Effectively’. The idea behind both these books is to help writers and authors understand concepts in simple manners and take their writing to a whole new level.
My work keeps me busy so I haven’t been able to do a lot of justice to fiction writing. I did publish two short stories for children last year – Bedtime Stories With Roxy & Tina: Two Short Stories For Children, and I am working with an author friend to publish one short story each on Valentine’s Day this year.
5. 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 the base a freelancer’s career stands on. I believe in accepting if I went wrong, asking for extra time if I need it instead of ghosting clients, and being upfront about my deliverables as well as expectations.
I insist on complete transparency from both sides and have had clients come back to me with repeat projects because they trust me, and my integrity & transparency. The goal behind completing each project is to make the client so happy that they won’t go anywhere else.
I don’t bend over backwards to please the client. It’s a matter of mutual respect and I protect my own worth too.
6. Throw some light on the importance of choosing niches and working on personal branding for freelancers.
This might be an unpopular opinion because I see many, many freelancers, specially bloggers, who dabble with multiple niches and to the world they have successfully created an image of a flourishing professional – but like too many cooks spoil the broth, similarly, too many niches cannot be expertise of a single person.
I am about to launch a 8-part series about blogging on my Youtube channel Words’ Worth With Samarpita later this month. The channel is new and I am still learning the ropes around the platform, but I am excited as I have a lot to share about freelancing, blogging, writing, editing, and more. In this series, I will have an entire episode only on choosing the correct niche, and shall talk about multiple niches and how to deal with them.
Personal branding is very important and it is a slow, gradual process. It cannot be rushed, and it cannot be haphazard. A strong strategy made by someone who understands the core of the person is important. This is a deep topic and there is so much that needs to be known before hopping into the process. Create your personal brand only when you know what you are going to sell, not because it seems a cool thing to you.
7. How to negotiate your deal with clients? What are the important points and techniques to keep in mind?
As I told earlier, I learnt over the years with many trials and errors. For a while, I used to be bullied by clients into accepting more work for less. But with time I learnt a few things:
- It’s important for me to be ace at my job. I have to be confident to command my price.
- Not everyone will agree to what I quote. I learnt to differentiate between who genuinely has a tight budget but really wants to work with me, and who just wants cheap labour. I started letting go of the latter, and began to customise my quotes for the former. There are many who agree with my quote instantly so in the end things balance out.
- Terms like ‘more work’ are scams. More work should mean more money, not more hours at a pittance. So if everyone is throwing peanuts at you for continuous work, what are you earning out of it?
8. 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/ writers to use.
Anyone keen to become a freelance writer or an editor must love the language, irrespective of which language they choose to work with. Love for the language doesn’t mean using big, flowery words. It means loving it so in-depth that one is able to use simple words correctly to paint a picture without having to use a thousand words.
One needs to always keep learning and brushing on their skillset. Also important are integrity and transparency. Your client must want to work with you again not just because your work is great but their experience of working with you is great too.
9. What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?
Oh, there are so many pros. I have learnt more in my freelance career than I had in my corporate career where all my focus was only on my KPIs. Now, I get to branch out, learn new things, collaborate with other creative freelancers, and do so much more than I could have even dreamt of if I was working for someone else.
It’s like getting a blank canvas and painting it as I wish. Sometimes I paint over some colours to bring in new shades and the entire picture starts looking different and that is exactly how my career graph looks.
The one con which bothers me a lot is the pain one needs to go through to define their work timings for everybody else. Working from the home office doesn’t quite sit well with Indians still, and a person is imagined to be free if they are home. It took me years to ensure that my work hours are treated with respect and that I don’t get disturbed doing it.
Another con is how a lot of people outside the freelance zone just don’t understand what our job involves and take the easy way out to assume that it’s blogging. That can be infuriating in the beginning but when you get more & more involved in your work, you stop to care what other people think or don’t.
10. What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?
Clients who bargain. I understand that everybody has a budget and my quote might be too high for them. I do understand that, and I say so because I have reduced my quote for people who I have genuinely sensed want to work with me but cannot afford to. It’s in the attitude.
Some are upfront about what they can pay, and some try to act smart by saying things like there will be more work, or even worse, say things like – its just a little bit of work, am sure you can do it for less. That’s being disrespectful. If it was that easy, you’d have done it yourself or hired someone who does it in your budget.
Don’t disrespect my work while trying to haggle. I put vibes high on my list of comfort factors, and there have been times when I have agreed to the client’s budget because of their amazing vibes. But that’s with individuals paying from their own pockets. I hate it when big agencies and companies bargain while giving two pages of expectations that they have from me.
11. What’s your best piece of work to date? Why do you think that’s your favourite piece?
Ah! A book I’d edited had taken its author to the Hay Festival and I was pretty stoked about it. Articles I’d written for The Culture Trip are some of my precious ones, with Tattooed Tribes: Art, Tradition, And The Body As Canvas being my absolute favourite.
12. What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?
There is a lot of miscommunication belied out to new writers and hopeful authors all over the Internet, specially in writing groups. I want my books, videos, and posts to guide people to write better. That’s one of my main agendas for 2021.
13. Do you feel content with yourself as you look back or do you think you have missed something?
Today, I would say YES! It’s taken me years of slow, hard work and being patient through all the lows to arrive at a place where I understand freelance work might not always be steady but when the highs come, they take one higher than expected. It is a LOT of handwork since you are a one-person company and if done well, the rewards are pure jubilance.
With freelancing comes uncertainty and financial instability, read our blog on ‘Financial Management for Freelancers’ to ace your financial planning.