I got a chance to up-skill myself with Digital Marketing last year in 2020 with #DigitalDeepak. Thats when I figured out my niche to thrive and grow – Content & SEO Writing. Writing always fascinated me since childhood and I used to write short poems and essays. This led me into Content writing post my Digital Marketing Internship. My blog speaksaurabh.com is an outcome of my initiative to start writing.
Kicking off any new venture looks for an inspiration from the best of the lot. Thats when I came across Mukti Masih- the No. 1 Content Writer in India. Her work has truly inspired me and her humility has indeed gobsmacked me. When someone inspires you, you wish to know more about that person. And I was glad to have the opportunity to interview Mukti Masih.
Let me take you through the inspiring journey of the Best Content Writer and know Mukti more closely……
1. To start with, can we know what kind of a person you are? Your education, your interests, hobbies.
I am a highly disorganised, gut-driven person who can be impulsive and decisive at the same time. I grew up dreaming of being a journalist with the Times of India, so after graduation (I could not find a graduate course in Mass Communication back in the 2000s in my city), I did a year-long course in Journalism and Mass Communication. So my degrees are B.Com, Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication (it was really a PG course but they called it a Bachelor’s course) and MA (Sociology). Since two of my hobbies – reading and writing – really became my profession, I actively looked for other hobbies. Eventually, I embraced singing and painting (acrylic landscapes). Travelling is definitely my thing too. Does playing with my dog Jack count as a hobby? It should.
2. What drove you to be a content writer?
Creative frustration. So I was 21 years and 6 months old when I cleared the interview with The Times of India. That’s pretty young to achieve a goal and believe me it sucks! Within a year I was bored, same old stories, music concerts, fashion and Bollywood gossip. So I proposed a few meaningful columns that never saw the light of the day. I quit. I wanted to write whatever the hell I wanted.
3. How long have you been in this area of content?
I did journalism for four years. And in freelance content writing for 12 years. But I have been writing since the age of eight.
4. How did AVM pictures take birth? Did you and Abhishek plan for it or was random idea that made so big?
AVM Pictures is the sole brain-child of my brother Abhishek Masih who is a master storyteller and video editor. This guy had created his company logo at the age of 14 and showed it to me. He founded AVM Pictures when he was in final year of college and I was working with the Times. But his vision just totally took me by surprise. He invited me over as a Co-founder a few years later and I gladly accepted. Today, we have worked with some of the most respected brands in real estate, wire production, manufacturing, consumer goods and education fields. But the entire credit goes to Abhishek for envisioning this while he was in school.
5. What are your services?
AVM Pictures delivers Video Content and Text Content. We are now producing EdTech content as well. So EdTech companies may check out our Hindi Language course content created for Expatriates and foreign nationals and get an idea of how good our company is at that kind of content.
6. What are your best qualities and skills? What are the qualities and skills needed for someone to be a content marketer or writer?
I truly believe there are way better writers in India than us – the top 10 folks! The key is how you handle work and how you deal with clients. When I cannot deliver, I say so. When I am late, I communicate ahead of time. When I know I do not have the skills to handle, I say so. The one quality that has kept me on top of my game is honesty in communication. Content marketers need a variety of skills, but content writers mostly can get by just fine by three vital skills: good hold on language, ability to manipulate contexts and strict professional ethics.
7. When you started as a content marketer a few years back- how was the industry back then? How is the industry now?
I did not start a few years back, I began a decade ago when I had no clue about sites like Fiverr or Freelancer or Upwork. I was on my own navigating the freelancing world. People did not trust freelancers, and freelancers were notorious for cheating. Since then and now, there are more opportunities for freelancers, industries are warming up to the Gig Economy and a lot of respect has come about in the industry. I see freelancers with a lot of professionalism now and more people willing to pay freelance writers.
8. What has changed and how?
I think the 2008 recession changed things for freelancers, in India at least. When people lost jobs, property and money, they realized they needed to have an alternative source of income. Many full-time job folks began taking gigs over the weekend, only to realize that they were making more value for money in gigs than their jobs. While the gig economy is not a new concept in the West, it did become acceptable only recently in India. Now thanks to the pandemic, people realized how comfortable and pleasant it is to work from home, amid your child interrupting you or your mother bringing you home-made chai. This is a good sign of change in the mindset. Thanks to influencers and Instagram content creators, the industry has changed for good.
9. What is it that you learned and what did you unlearn?
I learnt NOT to fall in love with my writing. I learnt editing is everything. I unlearned stereotypes such as the size of the paycheck determines your quality of life. I realized living a healthy, happy and meaningful life is priceless and cannot be measured by a paycheck.
10. What are the evergreen skills or topics today in content writing?
I wish I knew the topics! I think I am still learning to understand what trending topics are all about. Maybe you can teach me, I am very open to learning and adapting. But evergreen skills are the same: good grammar, great writing, greater editing.
11. Which topics are low in demand but people need to write or focus on?
I think we should discuss professional ethics of startups more. The whole world, and especially India is in awe of the startup culture. The truth is most freelancers have negative experiences of working with startups because the latter do not follow work ethics. Startups must rise above fund raising and early exits and focus on building industries around their niche.
12. What keeps you motivated?
I am honestly not motivated every single day. And I have learnt to be okay with that. It’s important to recognize that we are humans and cannot be super motivated every day. I have sloppy Mondays and busy weekends, and that’s okay. At times, I just sit on my stairs, sip chai and do nothing. But on days I am specially not motivated, I recall how much freelancing life has given me: respect, freedom to live life on my own terms and not being answerable to anybody else. That’s precious and if this doesn’t motivate a writer, I don’t know what will.
13. What is your biggest achievement?
My friend and her family visited me just before the lockdown. My friend showed my book – Poems In A Chai Cup – to her two daughters, and since I had named this friend in the dedication of the book, the girls got excited that their mother’s name was in my book. So they made me promise that I include their names in the dedication section of my next book. I signed a copy for them. My friend later told me that the girls have started a new hobby: story writing. They all gather in their living room every weekend and write random stories. When my friend asked them why this hobby suddenly, they said: we want to be like Mukti! This by far has been my biggest achievement.
14. How will people get into content marketing and develop in this area?
They MUST not get into content marketing if they do not have a passion for creative content or writing. Content has become so competitive, accessible and story-oriented that unless you do have specific skills, you will not survive. I get inquiries from content aspirants such as: how do I feel inspired to write? It’s like a boy wants to be a cricketer but does not feel inspired to play cricket. I tell them: if you are not inspired, this profession is not for you. Find something that truly inspires you first, then you can inspire the rest of the world. I suggest weighing your motivations for content marketing: why do you want to get into it? Is it because now everyone seems to be choosing it? Ask hard questions and answer them honestly. Once you are sure content marketing is for you, develop skills in storytelling. I think Google once surveyed online buyers and turned out: 80% buyers make decisions based on emotions. Stories evoke emotions.
15. Are you open to collaboration and how do you collaborate with people?
Yes, in fact, all of us at AVM Pictures are remote freelancers. Our entire team is remote. We cannot survive without collaboration. We find people through personal recommendations and online networking. We also do a lot of hiring from Fiverr.
16. Finally, what are your words of wisdom for the upcoming young content writers?
Learn the language first. Even with apps like Grammarly, you will need good language skills if you wish to retire with this profession and get paid respectably. Your writing portfolio is your BEST marketing tool. Wield it well.
@Mukti – Thanks for the inspiring interview session. It was humble on your part to share your journey and insights about Content Writing.
So guys….lets roll our thoughts and pen them down. Keep blogging !!!