Dr. Paras, Doctor & Writer
Hi, my name is Paras, and I’m from Pakistan.
Freelancing is like a rabbit hole, once you fall into it, there's no coming back and you are met with a whole new world.
When I accidentally entered this world, it was to do something interesting and learn new skills.
I am a passionate learner and I get easily bored doing the same thing again and again, so I'm always looking for new things to try.
Though I was never a writer (I don't like sitting on my butt for hours), when I did try it I was hooked on the freedom it gave.
Plus I learned that I’m actually good and clients like my quirky, humorous and engaging writing style.
What do you do?
I’m a doctor. I graduated from medical school in January 2018.
Besides that, I’ve been freelancing as a writer & SEO specialist since I was in medical school. It’s been more than 8 years now and I’m really enjoying the ride.
How did you become a freelancer?
There are six essential things that have helped me in initiating this journey:
The desire for learning new things
Flexibility in growing
A strong work ethic
These form the core of every new freelancer’s journey, whether you are an aspiring graphic designer, a programmer or a digital marketer.
When I was just getting started, I stumbled from one thing to the next (language tutoring, translating, writing) until I found what interested me the most.
Why did you become a freelancer?
Like most freelancers, I started out because I wanted to make a decent (or at least near-decent) income.
However, ironically, to become a great freelancer you have to make money your secondary interest. Your desire to learn new things should be your primary reason.
My writing journey became all about learning. I did a couple of unpaid projects so I could learn and gain constructive feedback from experienced writers.
Doing those unpaid projects has helped me gain experience and shape my portfolio, which is now huge.
Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?
I still remember my first paid freelancing job, working as an English Tutor, where I used to earn around $1 per day (compared to my current earnings of $50 per day).
Later my freelancing endeavors progressed to being a communications expert, and once I had a firm grip on the Mandarin language, I worked as a translator to help foreigners in China with their travel plans.
What expectations did you have going into this kind of job? And how has it been the same or different from what you expected?
In the beginning, I didn’t have any expectations because I really wasn’t sure if I was going to stick to it or not. There were a lot of ifs and buts at play.
However, my nature of trying out new things pushed me to stick with it.
Considering how far I’ve come, freelancing has definitely brought out the creative side that was hiding deep inside me. If I’d never tried freelancing, I would never have discovered a new hobby that also earns decent bucks.
What’s your favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?
I can be in my tees and PJs while writing letters to Ministers in the Political Assembly. That’s my favorite thing about working from home.
During my break hour I can quickly and efficiently manage a lot of stuff at home, allowing me to give undivided attention to my work afterwards.
What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?
Ah, my least favorite thing was that initially I couldn’t avoid the distractions at home. Eventually, I solved that problem by turning an empty room into my working space.
How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer. Until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying?
There’s no exact number. Depending on how focused you are and how hard you’re working towards your goal, it could take months or even years for you to start paying your bills. In my case, it took me roughly 2 years to gain momentum and start saving for my education and travelling expenses.
How did you price your services when you were just starting out?
In the beginning, my prices were very low because I was an amateur and needed as much experience as I could get. Sometimes, I applied to unpaid internship programs just so I could be hired later on by the same company.
What was your biggest struggle when you were just starting out?
Trusting clients was my biggest struggle. It was a challenge to trust clients offering writing gigs as some of them don’t even pay after the completing the work. That’s what I struggled with in the starting years.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew back then?
I wish I knew the guys at GUAVABEAN back then.
Aside from that, I wish I knew the best practices of writing engaging and compelling content, which I learned later on after doing a lot of research.
I suggest beginner copywriting freelancers to go through Neil Patel’s blogs, those are the best if you want to grasp content writing quickly. His works simplified a lot of stuff for me and made me a better writer.
What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked the best for you?
Freelancer forums like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Problogger are the best sites for finding work. Aside from these, I usually promote my writings by staying active on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels to get noticed by employers around the globe.
What's one BIG lesson you learned the hard way on your freelancer journey?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned for having a fruitful working relationship is that excellent communication is paramount. It should be provided 24/7 until the client/employer is satisfied and believes the work will be delivered per the requirements.
How do you stay motivated when work is tough or there aren’t enough jobs coming in?
Staying motivated isn’t an easy task, especially when there isn’t any new work coming.
So to stay motivated, I read other writers’ works and motivational blogs to keep those creative juices flowing in my brain.
If you met a new freelancer who wanted to get into your line of work, what advice would you give them?
In addition to the six things I mentioned before, believing in yourself is the best advice I can give to any newbie.
Any tips or tricks for working with difficult clients?
The trick to working efficiently with a difficult client is to spend a great deal of time understanding the requirements of said client, what his company or project is about, and contemplating what makes this client different than others.
For instance, some clients have never worked with freelancers before, so they have trouble trusting their work ability.
Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?
I just recently started working a 9-5 job, so I’m doing both actually.
For me, this 9-5 job is a means to gain experience as a claim-processing officer, medical coder, medical biller and a medical insurance case manager.
What are you favorite tools for work? Any apps or programs you love?
Tools are important for working in a effective and productive manner, but for me, it’s better not to complicate things with unnecessary tools.
My all-time favorite tool for writing is Microsoft Word.
Sometimes, I use Google Docs for the topics that require a great deal of reviewing and editing, which is quite convenient as I can work while commuting.
For communication with the clients, I’ve switched from Discord and Slack to Ring Central Meetings as it’s better in every way.
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