Building a career in writing is a challenging endeavour. Ask most experienced writers and they’ll tell you one thing: it takes years to craft a distinct identity and writing style that resonates well with your audience.
Shreya Pattar understood this challenge when she first ventured into freelancing as an Indian student in Dublin. A viral post about her meeting with Jeff Weiner (the former CEO of LinkedIn, who is now the platform’s executive chairman) changed her life.
“Four years ago, there was an event in my college. Weiner was there for an interview with one of the societies, which I went to watch,” explains the Trinity College Dublin graduate.
“After the interview, he stood outside, waiting for his car and taking pictures with everyone. We had a short conversation. After that, I wrote a simple post on LinkedIn — my very first post — and forgot about it since I was not used to checking the platform.”
Surprisingly, that post garnered 1.5 million views, 14,700 reactions and 465 comments. The best part? Weiner remembered that conversation and commented on Pattar’s post.
Today, the English Literature and Philosophy graduate has established herself as a successful entrepreneur. To inspire others to begin a career in writing, she wrote seven ebooks covering topics such as freelancing, content creation and building an audience on LinkedIn.
Building her freelancing business as an international student
That viral LinkedIn post resulted in her first few clients — but balancing studies and work was no easy feat. As Pattar puts it, it was “the only routine she had”. “I gradually adapted to not getting enough sleep for the first one and half years of my freelancing career,” she explains.
“When the pandemic hit, I was at home, so it was easier to manage everything because I had that flexibility. Until then, I made peace with six to seven hours of odd sleep where I knew I was not waking up fresh. My to-do list was my utmost priority, and I was focused on getting it done for the day.”
It paid off. She made enough to pay for her rent and tuition fees in Dublin, which came up to approximately 40,000 euros. She is also proud to have written seven ebooks, which is unheard of in the Indian freelancing space.
Dealing with the critics
As Pattar’s influence grew, it became harder to avoid harsh comments on social media. “I’ve deleted LinkedIn from my phone when somebody leaves a mean comment so that I won’t see the notifications,” she recalls. “Of course, I downloaded the app again two or three days later.”
Fortunately, the content creator has a few tricks up her sleeve to distract herself from these comments if she’s having a bad day. Getting a night of good sleep, taking a shower and watching a show on Netflix helps to lift her mood.
Perhaps Pattar’s best support comes in the form of her parents. “My parents were very good with the business side of things — how to be professional, close clients and speak with people. The most I’ve gone to them would be for emotional advice. They would be the first people I would call if anything goes wrong.” That was important as she was living alone in Dublin.
“Learn from your network, grow with confidence”
Looking back, Pattar feels grateful for starting her freelancing career early. “One good thing about freelancing is that you can do it while you’re still in college. It’s not only a great way to pay your bills but an opportunity to build your network, see your net worth and be confident in what you do,” she explains.
After all, opportunities are abundant in college. All you need to do is to start putting yourself out there. In Pattar’s case, she was not afraid to hang around the business school as an art student. There, she participated in seminars and secured funding for her startup idea when she won a hackathon. She even managed to meet the Prime Minister of Ireland.
With these experiences come more compelling stories. “From a content creation perspective, you get more stories to share,” Pattar says. “The nicer your stories, it’s easier to secure better leads, grab more attention and more people will be interested to hear what you have to say.”