India is one of the countries to which you can outsource anything and get talented people working for you at a fraction of what you’d pay to someone in a developed country.
While a lot of people accept these low rates, Chintan Zalani wasn’t satisfied with being paid peanuts. He made the decision to go after high paying clients instead. Today, he only works with people who appreciate the value he provides and compensate him well for it.
So how did he go from being an engineering student who dabbled in writing to an established writer who makes a great living from his writing business?
“I just tried a bunch of different things, and writing was what stuck”
When Chintan finished high school, he started studying electronics and instrumentation engineering, but he quickly realized that he didn’t have any kind of interest in it; so he explored other career options through internships while studying.
It was 2010, blogging was becoming mainstream and more and more companies were looking for content writers. “I knew that writing would be a valuable skill to acquire for any kind of career, so I started applying for various startup internships.” This led to Chintan’s first writing gig: writing short, 400-500 word posts about cricket. The pay? About $0.5/article.
From there, Chintan went on to write for several other publications, including Times of India and Aol Huffington Media. “I never intended to become a writer,” he says, “I just tried a bunch of different things and writing was what stuck.”
When Chintan graduated in 2014, he wasn’t interested in working towards the university placements that were available (software engineering, data analytics, etc.), but he also wasn’t sure whether or not he wanted to write full-time.
Still, writing was the more appealing option, so he decided to pursue it further. He started looking for clients on the ProBlogger jobs board and got some work that way. He also kept an eye for opportunities in India, which is how he got his first major client.
“A company based in Delhi was looking for a full-time content marketer. I applied but didn’t get the job. Then I asked them if they’d be interested in hiring me as a freelancer… And they were!”
However, after working for that company for a while, Chintan realized that if he wanted to grow his business he needed to focus on getting international clients. “In countries like India, where content marketing is only catching on now, companies don’t value content much, and therefore their content marketing budgets are not that great.”
So he went back to the ProBlogger job board. This time, though, he was more established as a writer, so getting work was much easier. Still, Chintan knew that he had to differentiate himself, so he decided to focus on writing long form content.
“I had tried writing long-form content for the company in Delhi and loved it. I also found that it was in huge demand because Google’s algorithm favors it. So I decided to specialize in it. I started by doing a few posts as a contributor on decent sized blogs, and then when I’d approach potential clients, I’d use those guest posts as a proof that I could write 2000+ word pieces. Soon, I had several companies paying me to produce long form (2000 – 5000 words) content for them.”
Remember those $0.5 articles? Chintan has gone a long way since then. Now he charges clients around $300 to $750 and upwards per article, and makes $3000 – $4000/month.
“I think one of the main things that allowed me to increase my rates was simply refusing to take low paid work. Sure, in the beginning, you have to suck it up, take what you can get, and get some experience under your belt. Sometimes it even makes sense to write for free if it will help you build your portfolio.
But once you have a few solid writing samples, you need to start rejecting low paid work, and go after high – paying clients that can get a good ROI from your writing. I always applied the Pareto Principle to my business – 20 percent of your clients will contribute 80 percent of the revenue. So I focused on providing them the highest-quality service and discarded the rest.”
Chintan’s Top 3 Tips for Writers in Charge audience
#1 Use expert roundups to get traffic on your blog and connect with influencers. “If you’re having a fairly new blog, then experiment with publishing expert roundups. As you involve more influencers in your post, it’s destined to get more shares and traffic. And as you perform outreach for getting quotes for your article and later requesting sharing, you demonstrate to influencers that you:
- have an expertise in your niche,
- know how to write a high-quality article
- can perform outreach besides writing (I’ve got 3 inquiries regarding if I can do outreach with writing).
I’ve scored over 4 clients indirectly from outreach for just one such expert roundup post and one of them has become a permanent client contributing about $500 every month.
It’s important to mention that you’re a ‘content marketer for hire’ somewhere in your outreach emails. I used – www.wisestamp.com to create my signature and mention my designation as a copywriter and content marketer.”
#2 Guest post on authority websites and link to credible sources within your post. “The whole point of the exercise is to write a well-researched and high-quality content piece for a blog with decent traffic in your niche.
Later on, perform outreach to the authority website owners you linked from your post and get your name as a content service provider in front of the webmasters.
From then on, the content piece becomes a part of your portfolio and helps in scoring more writing opportunities.”
#3 Put a little extra effort to stand out and communicate effectively with your clients/mentors. “If a client likes your work, he’ll be happy to provide referrals. I’ve scored referrals without even sending a request because I was upfront in my communications and wrote stellar content.
This tip also applies to training materials because most students end up passively consuming content without taking action. In my first course on copywriting at Udemy, I took action on the lectures and mailed the instructor Len Smith for feedback. He was impressed with my website and my portfolio. So he sent a few leads my way (I wasn’t able to convert them though).”
What’s next for Chintan?
“At the moment, I’m mostly writing in the online marketing niche, and cover topics like SEO, conversion optimization, etc.
However, I always had an interest in personal development, psychology and philosophy, and now I’d like to build my own authority website at ChintanZalani.com in the self-improvement niche.”