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I used to be a corporate executive working in the HR and Training departments of reputed companies. My story follows the trajectory of majority of qualified working women in India. Once I became a mother, I had to select my priorities, and I chose to give up full time employment to devote all my time to my child.
As my child grew up a little, I began to feel restless for resuming my professional life. I knew corporate jobs were out of bounds for me, as I couldn’t leave my kid with a hired help for the whole day.
Teaching and training had always been close to my heart. From childhood, I loved teaching and had wanted to become a teacher when I grew up. I had pursued English Literature, and later Business Management in college for doing something in academics.
Now I thought of taking up teaching on a part-time basis, for the flexibility it offered to qualified homemakers like me. After applying to various management institutes, I was finally appointed as visiting faculty member at two management institutes. I was to teach HRM, Organizational Behaviour and Industrial Relations in one institute, and Soft Skills and Business Communication at another.
I couldn’t believe my luck! I didn’t have to compromise on my family life, I got the job I enjoyed, and as a bonus, the pay was good. My students responded well to my teaching, and I loved interacting with bright young minds. Heck, I even enjoyed disciplining the no-gooders and bringing them in line!
Then my luck ran out. One moment I was enjoying animatedly discussing about cross-cultural communication or behavioral grids with my students, and the next moment I found I had no job. The recession had necessitated cost reduction measures. All institutes had closed appointments, and decided to function only with internal faculty.
I realized for the first time, that I was classified as “external faculty member”, someone who could be dispensed with at will.
Feeling worthless is the worst feeling in the world. My identity was gone, and I was left feeling hollow and somehow cheated. It seemed as if I was doomed to remain just a stay-at-home mom all my life.
I desperately wanted an avenue to share my knowledge, to voice my helplessness and angst.
It was then that I started thinking of starting my own blog. I had so much to say, and had no forum to voice my ideas, my learning from so many years of corporate and teaching experience. I started my own blog on Blogger.com. I started small and slow, writing once every few days. (In fact, I was so naïve that I used to delete some posts after a few days to free up space on the blog! I felt that topical posts had lived their utility, and consigned them to the bin after a week or two}. Talk about consistency!
Any topic that catches my fancy – I put my thoughts on it on my blog. Mostly, my writing is about self improvement, soft skill development, leadership, interview and communication.
I also started a food blog as I love food. The process of creating something soul satisfying from scratch gives me quite a kick. And I read up a lot on different cuisines, their uniqueness, and also experimented a lot with ingredients and techniques. As a reviewer on Zomato, I had gained expertise in assessing restaurants and eateries too.
Enough fodder for my food blog posts!
I love writing and decided to take up part-time or freelancing content writing gigs.
My first assignment was to develop two skill-training courses for a local institute, for which I would be paid a fixed amount. I had to follow the parameters of NSDC and NASSCOM to create course outlines, teaching guides and learning material.
I learnt to keep an open mind, and learn whatever I could about the topics I wrote about.
However, getting paid for this job turned out to be a different ball game altogether. “No approval” for this and that, “changes required”, “Still not satisfactory”, these phrases started cropping up whenever the question of payment popped up. I went on complying, making changes, editing, and finally managed to get paid for one course.
I was told that the second course material wasn’t approved – so no payment!
All my months of pouring over the laptop, researching and writing, building up volumes of courseware – gone in vain!
First lesson of Freelancing Learnt : Never agree to start work without a contract mentioning monetary details.
The tumultuous, fraud-ridden world of content writing was becoming clear to me. Another portal I wrote for refused to pay, citing trivial excuses.
I started charging on a per word basis, getting a measly .50 paise per word. Beggars can’t be choosers, I thought, and since I was new to this field, I accepted whatever peanuts were offered to me.
Charging for content writing is an extremely tricky area. For a new writer, the “market rates” are way below respectable. Though I had almost two years of writing experience, but that was mostly through freelancing and blogging, and those didn’t count for real “work experience” (full time content writing).
In the midst of all this gloom, there was one positive development. On the basis of my previous work experience, in particular management training experience, I landed a contract of writing for an edu-tech company to write on my favourite topics like Workplace Behaviour, Leadership, Performance Feedback, etc. Though the pay wasn’t much to speak of, I loved writing on these topics, and stuck on for a couple of years.
A freelance content writer’s professional journey is a rather lonely one. You are your own companion, right from the research for material, to the writing and editing of content.
It’s also a roller coaster ride. Sometimes, I was struggling to handle multiple workloads, working non-stop without breaks, and sometimes days went by without any project.
These days were lonely and fraught with uncertainty, and I was on the verge of giving up many times. But another lesson I learnt was that of #persistence.
You have to keep at it; learning new things, pitching your proposal, offering your writing services, negotiating prices, sending samples (another gray area) and clarifying terms and conditions.
I can now proudly say that I have written on almost any topic under the sun. From content abstracting, to advising on personal relationships, from management concepts to skincare, fashion, travel, films and lifestyle, I have been there, done that.
Today, I can sum up my learning in the following words:
ü Writing content for work, and writing for pleasure are two entirely different things. You cannot afford to be bored by the sameness of the work assigned to you, as long as it pays your bills.
ü Proof reading, cross checking reference sources, editing, rewriting, are part of a content writer’s job. However, clarify the number of edits you will be willing to make. Or you will be stuck with re-editing and re-writing till eternity!
ü Writing for SEO effectiveness is totally different from writing for academics or writing as a hobby. Your priority is keyword insertion, and in making the text crisp and effective, ending with a Call to Action (CTA).
ü Content writing is monotonous and will feel like drudgery sometimes. Writer’s Block is very very common. Be prepared to stare at the blank computer screen in front of you for hours at a stretch. (Who said writing content was easy, anyway?)
ü Keep an open mind towards hustling and pitching for new projects or gigs. Existing ones may dry up without notice.
ü Repurpose your old content, stay active on social media, and market your work. You need to #buildyourbrand. Content marketing makes up 70% of a writer’s work. Writing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora or any other social media platform helps you build your image. Work comes only to those who have a strong brand.
I hope that my learning over the past nine years in content writing helps all budding writers and bloggers out there. The initial years of struggle apart, it was a bumpy yet fulfilling journey.
And at the end of the day, you get paid to do what you love most – Writing!
I left a successful corporate career in HR and teaching, to focus on my first love - writing. My first book of short stories - Pebbles in the Sand, is available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.in/ read more...
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If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
Smita could visit her mother only in summers when her daughter had school holidays. Her daughter also enjoyed meeting her Nani, and both of them had done their reservations for a week. A month before their visit, her husband told her, “My mom is coming for 4-5 months!”
Smita shuddered. She knew the repercussions. She would have to hear sarcastic comments from her mother-in-law for visiting her mother. She may make these comments directly only a bit, but her servants would be flooded with the words, “How horrible she is! She leaves me and goes!”
Maybe Animal is going to make Ranbir the superstar he yearns to be, but is this the kind of legacy his grandfather and granduncles would wish for?
I have no intention of watching Animal. I have heard it’s acting like a small baby screaming and yelling for attention. However, I read some interesting reviews which gave away the original, brilliant and awe-inspiring plot (was that sarcastic enough?), and I don’t really need to go watch it to have an informed opinion.
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I was wondering; if any woman director gets inspired by this movie and replicates this with a female protagonist, what would happen?. Oh wait, that’s the story of so many women in this world. Forget about not giving them love, you have fathers who try to kill their daughters or sell them off or do other equally despicable things.
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