Interview With Prerna Malik – Content Chef, Community Manager, and Author

Prerna MalikWhat did you do before launching your own business?

I was working as a Communications Skills and Soft Skills trainer with American Express and then, Dell India.

As part of my role, I was training executives in the art of communicating with empathy and clarity, both verbally and via their written communication.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your freelance journey.

I started working online as a writer in 2008 when my daughter was about 8 or 9 months old. I’ve always enjoyed writing both professionally and personally, and getting the chance to write and get paid while staying at home was just awesome!

Starting my blog, The Mom Writes was the first step. From thereon, I honed my craft by writing for several websites, including Blissfully Domestic, the Untrained Housewife and others, and focused on growing my audience organically by sharing content that reflected my passion as well as resonated with them.

Since business was growing, my husband joined me and we launched Social Media Direct in 2011 where we started working with small businesses on their online content and community management strategies and offered them as we call it, “gourmet” or customized solutions.

Today, we’ve already hit the $100k mark at the end of our 3rd year which was a big goal for u s… and have had the opportunity to work with several amazing industry leaders, like Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple, Anne Samoilov, Andreea Ayers of Launch Grown Joy, Sandy Forster of Wildly Wealthy and Leonie Dawson as well.

Give us an example of how you landed one of your first clients.

In the early days, I used to send out email pitches to clients. I’ve never cold called ever and I know it may work for some but it just wasn’t my style.

I would spend quite a bit of time going through small business websites and then, would craft an email pitch, customize it to their needs,  and send it to them. I’ve shared the exact pitches I’ve used to land clients in my eBook, How to be a Work at Home Mom.

How are you making money?

Currently, we have multiple income streams going though nearly all of them are service-based, except our Content Cookbook and soon-to-be-released Social Spread.

Content Cookbook helps entrepreneurs to learn the exact process by which I create my social media updates for clients and the strategies I use while Social Spread will give them 600+ ready-to-use high-engagement, most popular type of social media updates that they can simply customize, copy and paste.

As far as services go, we work with clients on complete content and community management solutions where we create all their content, engage and interact with their community, moderate it and grow their online presence.

We also, offer clients a package where they can get their updates custom created by us and then, either post them on their own or hand it over to their virtual assistant. This is an offering that’s been created especially for entrepreneurs who don’t have the time to create a social media calendar for themselves but don’t need full-scale management solutions.

Finally, content creation for business blogs, email newsletters, SEO copywriting, website content, and e-Book creation is another major income stream for us.

How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent on your home office?

We work 40-45 hours/week and we focus on being good stewards of our finances and so, invest 10% to 15% of what we earn every month back into the business, which is generally enough to manage the home office expenses as well as account for any business courses, tools, etc that we may invest in.

What has been your biggest business struggle as a freelancer?

In the first year, figuring out pricing and finding the sweet spot was a toughie but I had good mentors and resources, like AWAI that really helped me nail it and from then, on it’s been smooth sailing.

What advice would you give to a new freelancer?

Start. Just start by identifying what services you can offer and then, start by applying to jobs, pitching clients and giving them your very best.

What do you believe are the hottest telecommuting opportunities in India? 

With a lot of technical talent in India, I think website coding, developing, graphic design are really hot and in demand. Several of my friends have recommended Indian developers to me when I was scouting for one overseas. So, yeah, I’d say if you’re a designer or developer in India, you’ve gotta get out there!

What marketing strategies work best for you?

Our website is our hub. We use it to share great content that’s useful and helpful and in turn funnels readers into signing up for our email newsletters.

A robust content strategy ensures that every piece of content that we put out keeps our “delight to serve” customer in mind and helps them grow, regardless of whether or not they hire us.

Also, what’s worked well with our site is a well-planned SEO strategy. Google is our number one source of traffic and one of our goals for 2014 is to rank #1 for certain keywords further boosting our authority online.

Social Media:  Pinterest is one of our lead referrers of social traffic, followed by Facebook and then, Google+. Our focus on social media is to share content that is helpful, interesting and appeals to our audience. We focus on engaging with our audiences wherever that maybe. It can be through questions, photos, day-in-thel-life snippets or articles.

Connect with Prerna Malik…

Websites: Social Media Direct and Content Cookbook

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