Writing a book is a rare feat. It becomes rarer when you write your first book by 16, it becomes further rarer when you write two by the time you are 18. That’s the opening line for Udita for you. From picking her first freelancing gig in class 9 to now doing growth marketing for more than 25 clients with a great personal brand of more than 1 Lakh followers, Udita’s story is nothing else but inspiring. Read this blog to know more about her and you will fall in love with her storytelling.
Tell us about your background first. Which part of the country do you belong to? How was your childhood? Your schooling and your family.
My family is from Uttar Pradesh, but I grew up in Bokaro Steel City, a small suburban town in Jharkhand. My childhood was the same as that of anyone else, playing in the dirt, spending hours cycling around town and fighting with my older sibling.
I was in class 1 when my father gifted me my first book, and I never looked back. By grade 5, I was done with Famous 5, Nancy Drew, Ruskin Bond. By Class 8, I was done with Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Hunger Games, and by college, I picked up Stephen King, George RR Martin, etc. By now I have read over 2000 books including comics and self-help. The best part is that I don’t regret a single minute I have spent on reading books.
My family has been very supportive of my love for books. In class 9, when I joined an e-commerce and publishing company as a freelancer, my family supported the decision by helping me maintain my schedule. I think they are the reason why I co-authored my first book by Class 11.
How did your love for reading start and how has your reading progressed over the years? Suggest some books which you can read again and again.
As I mentioned earlier, at a very young age I developed my passion for reading. I feel at peace while reading. As my journey has been very upsetting for me due to some personal reasons, I use books as a medium to escape reality.
As a kid I started fighting my mental health issues. Since the time I have started accepting my reality, I have grown as a person and my preference in books has evolved.
At this point in life, I feel delighted and content. I believe that is why my books shelves are filled with random books on various topics including growth, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Looking back, I started with books like Panchatantra, Champak and Harry Potter. Now I see the kind of taste that I have developed and I believe that’s a huge leap.
Even today I keep going back to Marvel Comics. They occupy a huge space in my heart. No offence to DC fans, I love those too.
Writing books at such an early age is unheard of. Tell us more about it, the book names, what are they about, how it happened and what was the overall experience like.
I started writing small snippets from class 7; I never sat in front of MS word and typed my heart out until class 9th, when I was paid to do the same. Amidst writing all these things, I came across a small short story publishing competition. I applied for the same and, voila, I was shortlisted. For me, watching my name printed in a book was genuinely the best feeling. It continued till college when I wrote my first ever novel.
When both my books were published, I was 16 and 18, respectively. Both the books are based on teenage love. The stories revolve around a kid who has strict parents, as they have put a restriction on dating till the age of 18. I wrote both the books to present my views on the same topic, as I stem from a similar background.
Writing is like therapy to me. It just moves me to some other place. I think, in the same year I actively started writing on Quora platform. I’m currently at 16.5 Million views and have over 40,000 followers. I realize that it has been a long journey. I never thought people would ever have interest in knowing how I feel and in understanding my perspectives. Now I feel overwhelmed.
Of course, now I’m a different person. As I reflect back on those stories, I feel awkward, but I don’t regret it. 🙂
Here are the links to both of my books:
You took a formal education in Journalism. What was the reason for it? Why did you choose journalism? Did you enjoy studying journalism back then?
I chose Journalism, as it was the closest to what I wanted to do. I had mental health issues, and I wanted to be vocal about my choices. I felt like Journalism was a great place to start. However, once it started, I instantly disliked my choice. It was not as easy as I expected it to be.
I thought it was very chaotic for me. As there was film making, photography, long essays had to be written, and around the same time I started getting more followers. I was growing in my space and wanted to move towards social media gradually. I dived deep into the subject of marketing and found my fondness for the same.
After reading, your second love was for the internet. How did this happen? How and when did it make you decide that you want to be a marketer.
I should have read all the questions before answering. I remember a company giving me a free hamper after seeing that I have 1000 followers on Instagram. I got engrossed in digital marketing, reading books, doing courses, and meanwhile also freelanced wherever I could, to understand the industry better. I realized that the internet is the future, and I’m here to disrupt the way we use it.
From journalism to content writer is still a standard path people follow in their careers. But from Journalism to Marketer, Growth Hacker is uncommon. Did you at any point of time feel it as a Risky choice to make? Why or Why not?
A lot of people are unaware of my coding skills. When I was in college, I had learnt 4-5 languages, tried making and hence built a few things. I think that working in startups provides you with an opportunity to grow as a person. I was a part of their early team in all the Startups that I have worked with. It exposed me to a space where I could be involved in everything, and simultaneously evolve as an individual. No one has ever questioned me on why I chose to switch, in fact everyone has always encouraged me. I have realized that your neck only hurts when you look back, and I don’t believe in hurting my neck. My mantra is owning my decisions and having no regrets.
You have a great personal brand of about 1 Lakh followers spread across platforms. How did you build it? It will surely be a great read for our readers.
I started with having only about 200-300 followers, because of the book that I wrote. But as I moved forward and started writing more on the internet, the followers kept increasing. I don’t think I realized how big it was until I hit a million views on Quora. At that point I registered that maybe this thing is going to go far.
On one fine night, I sat down and chose the platforms I like. I built an identity on all those platforms and slowly witnessed them grow along with me. There are no specific tips or tricks for this. I was just lucky to be someone whose voice and thoughts are heard. Over the years, I kept jumping from one social media to another. It began with Facebook, Quora, Insta. LinkedIn and lastly Twitter. I think I managed to kill it. People with good content always get recognized, and some turn out to be just lucky, like me.
Why did you do freelancing? What was the Gap in your job which you intended to fill through freelancing?
I chose to do freelancing because I wanted to kill time and make extra money as I moved forward. I had left a full-time job in April, when a Europe based company hired me for three months paying a pretty hefty amount. That paycheque was twice the amount of what my full time annual salary was. That was my moment of calling, I realized that this is it.
A ‘Gap’ sounds more like a negative word; freelancing is a lifestyle in itself and needs to be looked at the same way.
What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?
I think asking for money is low-key humiliating. I have been in the industry for seven years, and yet somehow, people manage to make freelancers feel wrong about their existence. By asking things like, Is it important to pay you now? Can you wait? Why do you charge so much? Give us a discount? I mean, imagine asking for a margin in the industry which exists on self-worth and dedication.
The best part of freelancing is that it allows you the freedom which comes with being on your own.
What are your mission and vision? How do you want history to look at you?
Living in Bangalore, I know it is a cliche, but I want to be an entrepreneur. I see myself breaking through at least one industry. I want history to look at me and say, “Damn, she proved all of us wrong”.
As you look back, do you feel satisfied with yourself or do you think you missed something?
Even though I’m satisfied, I wish I had made more friends in college. I was so busy changing ambitions that I never got a chance to be there for them. Though I like where I’m right now, I hope once I feel content with the place I am in, I will make friends.
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