As part of our BloggersIdeas interview series, today we have Amal Rafeeq who is a Freelance Writer who got hit by the disease called “Creativity” which makes him go crazy with Business strategies, creative writing, product reviews, SEO and Copywriting.
He is an expert blogger who teaches people to do things through the brilliant way!
Lets explore with Amal.
Can you tell us something about your Freelancing Journey?
It all started out from my ambition to do something different. To do something outside the box which other people around me wouldn’t figure out. I always wanted to stand out!
Then at the age of 16, I started breaking and making things online. I built websites – sold them, designed logos, built niche blogs – earned money through AdSense, got into Affiliate Marketing and then I finally created my own product. It was an eBook which earned me over $1300 in total. But somehow, from somewhere, I found out that it’s not what I wanted to do. I was not satisfied with what I did.
And after 2 months, I abandoned marketing the eBook and now it’s completely lost in time.
Through all these things I’ve done online, I realized that there is one thing I loved to do. One thing I was happy doing and one thing I felt satisfied with.
Writing! Yups, I loved to write, and I still do. And that’s when I turned my targets completely into it. I started writing guest posts, then did some content writing deals around the web for cheap rates. So cheap as even $4 / post. I just wanted to write.
In time, I got a handful of clients and built a strong relationship with them. Through recommendations, Social Media and my blog, I started connecting with new and new people/firms which needed write ups.
I kept on doing that and I didn’t felt tired or unsatisfied doing it like what I had experienced earlier.
And that’s when I decided that this is what I’m going to do with my life. I decided to write and make a living out of it.
I began learning new things about freelancing, experimented it and grew in time. It was a tough road for sure. I’ve faced huge rejections, huge criticism and even had gone bankrupted. But my love for writing kept me alive and gave me the motivation to pick myself up and keep moving. The journey has been a one in which I learned a lot and it has been a great adventure.
Right now, I’m at one of the best colleges in India, paying the fees, hostel rent and surviving on my own. All because of Freelance Writing.
You’re expertise in Blogging has made you prominent on the industry. Why is it important and how do you make the best out of it?
Blogging really is a weapon you can make use for better conversions and to improve your total reach, regardless of what kind of online business you do. It could be a Freelance Business, a startup company, a product or even an online course – Blogging will surely take you to the next level.
Here’s what you need to do. First and most of all, make sure your blog stays on the right topic. The right topic is the one which your potential customers, clients or readers can spend some time on. You must write on topics that they could take away something from. Know the fact that with your blog, you are actually going to target your potential audience, not anyone else.
For example : If you go through my blog, you can see that I write mainly with an intention to showcase my writing skills and impress my potential clients to turn them into the “Actual Clients”. I use my posts as my writing samples, through which I make better conversions.
What’s your Search Engine Optimization strategy?
Search Engines are a great stream to drive in the right kind of audience. Grab hold of the opportunity. Make sure your website is well optimized for Search Engines. If you’re running an online business, find out your golden keyword which people search for and shape your website content with it. Don’t overdo, just be natural. And whenever you’re writing a post, target your Golden keyword.
SEO is a big game if you ask me. Mastering it can be a little tough walk in the park. Since I’m afraid I don’t have the space to explain every techniques I use from A to Z, I recommend you to read my article on Medium – “The SEO Techniques to Rank like a Boss”.
In short : Create good content, optimize it with the right keyword, build quality links, gain more social shares. Boom!
What blogs do you read? Tell me about an article you recently read that stuck out to you!
I’ve recently read an article which Jeff Goins wrote on his blog. It’s the “Three Critical Steps to Writing Success”. It really made an impact on the way I think and act. And I’m sure you’ll also love it if you’re a wanna-be writer.
If you’re into reading, I recommend you to hit Medium.com which has a great variety of content on different topics. I read daily from it.
How do you win more clients to work with?
I’m a person who don’t believe in Miracles. It doesn’t happen out there in the real life. And one thing you need to do to gain great results is to Take Action and do the Miracles by yourself.
I don’t wait for people to come meet me and say “Oh hey, I loved your work – And I’m hiring you”. I’m a type who attacks and say “Oh Hi, I write good shit and I would love to work with you!”
Find companies and people who are in need of writers. Use Marketplaces like Elance.com to get the names of people who needs write ups. I never use contact them through these Marketplace websites. But I’ll search em’ up and hit them at the spot directly.
Whenever you’re pitching a potential client, know that it’s the most crucial and make or break task. Your pitch has the ability to put an impression on you or even put you right at the spam. Be simple, be direct, be Creative and let them know why hiring you will be worth their pennies. I recommend you to learn some Email etiquettes before going for the kill.
And when I pitch people, I include my writing samples and improves my chances of getting the work.
One other way through which I drive in a small but high paying portion of clients are through my writings itself. I write a lot on my blog which usually go viral through my helpful social media connections. I write a lot of guest posts on websites which comes under the radar of people who could be my clients.
And whenever I get a client and writes for them, I make sure I write it such a way to make it worth their money. This improves my chances for getting hired again. These people can even recommend you to other companies or people.
Last week, a lady asked Emailed me and asked if I could write for them and I did. The deal was splendid that it earned me $280 for a single post. And in end, I asked her how did she found me. She said “I’m a friend of Carolyn, she said you kill it with your writing and recommended you.”. I was really flattered, and yeah – was jumping in joy realizing that things are really starting to get better.
You’ve been an expert in Affiliate Marketing too. How do you make more sales and how can we do it the right way?
Affiliate Marketing is really an interesting game.The one in which you have to pick the right kinda products and present into people wisely. The thing I love the most about Affiliate Marketing is that, it helps you to earn killer money even without spending a dime.
If you’re a blogger or a business owner, you can monetize the audience you already have without any sweaty efforts and earn while helping the people.
The only mantra which you need to follow is – “Only promote Great products. Or you’ll break the trust bond between you and the people around you”.
To make more sales, be wise when you’re selecting the product which you’re going to promote.
You can use websites like ClickBank to surf through Affiliate Products. Don’t just go for high commission deals, select products that your audience are likely to buy.
Writing a review of the product, adding up a banner on your website and using Social Media to spread the word are good ways to make more sales.
You need to be sure that you know what you’re recommending. When you’re promoting a product, tell them why they need to buy and it how it’s going to help them. Make better suggestions and you are likely to get more sales.
What are the biggest hurdles you’ve came across in your business?
I started out with everything on the age of 16. And you can imagine the responses and reactions an Indian kid receives when he does something that can’t be easily explained to everyone else. They laughed at me, they scolded me and they even thought I was mad. It took some time to have my own wallet and convince them to have my own freedom of space and actions.
Then there’s something that slowed me down all the time. My laziness. I admit it, in times, I’m a lazy person. Ones the disease hits, it’ll stick with me for sometime. Right now, I’m really trying to fight it back.
I’ve been into Writer’s Block, “Wake-Up-In-The-Morning Block”, “do-some-damn-work-block” and so many major kind of laziness. But yes, I’ve improved. And no, it’s not completely gone from me. I’m still working on it.
Then there’s the language barrier. I’m a typical Indian teenager who studied in schools which holds the tagline “English Medium” just for the sake of getting more admissions.
I can sadly say that our English classes were boring enough that even the lecturers sucked at what they did.
I know my language is still not that good to compete with the best freelancers out there. But I had to depend on English movies, endless reading of books and listening to podcasts to reach the level of language I’m at right now. Still, I find it tough for me to get into opportunities which can improve my language skills. This has been a major hurdle for me.
You’re in College right now. How do you make time for both your academics and career?
I know that writing will be my future and career. It’s decided. And to make my tasks easier, I’ve chosen the best course for suits me. I’ve taken BA in Journalism, Psychology and English Major.
I believe Journalism is going to make me better in reaching out to editors, help me to learn the etiquettes of communication to mass audience and to understand the ethics of mass communication. Freelance Writing is a lot similar to what a Journalist do. So, no worries here.
Then at the same time, Psychology, through which I learn about Human Behaviour and Mental Process will help me to make better conversions and understand how people think and act.
This will enable me to become more successive in my career and my life as I believe. And then, there’s English Major which will hopefully increase language into a better one, which I need the most.
We Arts students get a lot of free time. We need to run around with camera, take reports, do researches around the city and do a lot of experiments. And since I love doing all this, I finish my works as soon as possible and gain myself a lot of time to work on my freelancing. I even carry my laptop to college so that I can work on the go.
I stay at the college hostel where I get the relaxation and support to write and do more. So, my academics is not slowing me down, but helping me up I’d say.
What are the 3 best advices you can give out to help other newbie Freelancers?
Practise and Learn : No one is perfect in the world. It doesn’t matter what kind of freelancing you do. It could be designing, it could be writing or it could be technical assistance : Whatever you are doing, there’s more to learn. And the one and only way to master the art of doing it better is to keep on practising.
If you’re a writer, write more.
If you’re a designer, design more. Do more of what you actually want to do. Trust me, you’ll grow in time and through effort. This doesn’t only improve your skillset. But also, you can have something to put up on your portfolio and show it up to the world. Practice, Practice, Practice and Learn. Then do what you have learnt.
Handle Rejections : Freelancing is not a work from paradise. Well, it can be. But not when you’re starting out. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get the response you hoped for every single time you pitch an editor or every time you write something hoping that it’ll go viral.
Rejection happens, it’s natural. So accept it. You might only get the response you’ve hoped for about only 2 times out of the 20 pitches you do. Maybe the rate will even go like 4 out of 400. But trust me, rejections happen. Just be ready to cope up and accept it.
Always have a backup plan. Don’t just put all your eggs on the same basket.
I recommend you to have enough money on the bank to go smoothly for at least 2 months before going freelancing. Keep on putting your efforts and kick away your fear of rejections.
Be Creative : Let me tell you one thing. The competition out there is tough. The people who are in search of Freelancers are confused because of the competition. And thus they filter out the best people and hire them.
And to be the best, you need to be creative. Do it in a different and unique way. Present yourself to them in a creative way. And whenever you do something about your freelance business, pause for a moment and find out if you can make the actions creative.
What are your plans for the Future? What can we expect in some years?
I guess you already know that my future will be all about writing. For the next 2 or 3 years, I’ll be focusing on improving my skills – especially of writing, communication and marketing myself. Then I’ll be moving on to increasing my reach and will be going completely freelancing. It’ll be my major! I dream to work with the giant companies and I know I can achieve it.
As a writer, I also have an ambition to become a published author. Through my journey, if I get an idea to write on, I’ll be writing a book for sure. But I sure have no plans on it yet.
In short – I love to write and I’ll be doing it throughout my life.
Thanks a lot to you Jitendra, for giving me an opportunity to share what I know to your readers. I hope they’ve got something to take away and run with.
I love making new friends. If you would like to connect with me – add me on Facebook, circle around me on Google+ or Follow me on Twitter. Feel free to send a message and I’d be happy to get back to you. Cheers!
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