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How to Earn a Great Living as a Freelance Writer in India

August 3rd, 2012

shuchi 4Let me begin by stating that the definition of a “great living” can differ between individuals and economies. $1000 a month may be lousy pay for a writer based in the US but for someone living in India, it counts for a decent income, enough to pay the bills and still leave room for investments and indulgences.

Entering the Freelance Writing Market

When I first entered the freelance writing market in 2005, things did not look very promising. I knew there was money to be made, but had no clue where to look. I could thankfully dodge the $1/article content mill assignments because I started out by pitching to publications (I was hungry to see my name in print). It was probably one of the best career decisions I made back then because not only did it give me an opportunity to create an impressive portfolio right in the beginning of my career, it also made me confident that there are well-paid writing opportunities out there. With credits in small to mid-range magazines to back me up, I did not feel the need to take up cheap work just for the sake of getting started.

Writing for Profit Using the Internet

At one stage, I thought of diversifying into web content writing as it presented scope for more and regular work. After spending weeks scrounging job portals, I realized they were full of cheap gigs. I tried my hand at a couple of average to low paying assignments but they clearly weren’t working for me. The effort I was putting in was hardly translating into cash. I figured it was time to launch my professional website and market myself like a maniac. And that, I did. My marketing efforts paid off and I was commissioned to write regular features in a couple of newly launched magazines. In good time, I was approached by popular, high-end Indian publications like Femina.in, Good Housekeeping and Home Review without so much as sending a query!

As I built and expanded my online presence, bigger and better projects started pouring in. I had learnt the most important lesson as a freelance writer: the good, green stuff is nowhere near freelance job boards. The big gigs are mostly unadvertised and you have to throw yourself out there into the online space so that prospective clients can find you. Many Indian writers are misinformed that international clients pay much more than Indian ones. If you are good at your job, any client from any part of the world will not hesitate to compensate for your skills and expertise. Some of my best-paying clients are Indian and my client kitty at any given time, is a balanced mix of Indian and international clients.

That said, I do not blame writers willing to work for ridiculously low rates because I believe that every writer exists in a unique professional space and charges what they think they are worth. There are $50,000 handbags made by Louis Vuitton and then there are $10 handbags made by err, China. There is a market for everything and people buy what they can best afford. Where you place yourself on the scale is entirely your choice.

Shuchi Singh Kalra has been writing professionally for over 7 years. Start-ups to corporates and publishing houses to popular magazines, she has a diverse repertoire of clients in her kitty. Shuchi is also the founder of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, a quaint little writing and editing firm that services a global clientele. She also enjoys mentoring and connecting with other writers through the Indian Freelance Writers Blog. Pay her a visit at www.shuchikalra.com.

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