– Shreya Pattar interviewed by Hardik Lashkari
From scribbling on back of school notebooks to writing engaging posts on LinkedIn to delivering a powerful brew of content for clients, her journey has been magical.
She is a content writer & entrepreneur, and a student of English Literature and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin.
Holding the key to tremendous engagement on LinkedIn, Shreya Pattar is today’s guest in #letsLiveContent series.
Shreya’s startup, Doozy, recently won funding at the Dragons’ Den competition in Trinity. She also won a summer internship with one of the Big Four in Ireland, through the Trinity Employability Award.
A doctor of words as she believes herself to be, Shreya weaves heartwarming stories that resonate with the readers. On LinkedIn, she shares her unique stories and learnings that hook readers instantly.
If you want to learn how to build strong relationships with your clients, balance writing with a job or studies, and leverage LinkedIn, this interview is a MUST for you!
You call yourself a “Doctor of Words.” What does it mean?
Ever since I was young I always wanted to be a doctor: initially a veterinarian, and then an ophthalmologist. With all things changing, writing remained the only constant factor in my life. So right before my 12th Board exams, I told my parents, “I want to write, I want to pursue literature.” This wasn’t a surprise to them, and they said yes.
And that’s how I went from a journey of being a doctor that cures people to being someone who writes and heals people through words. That’s how I became a “Doctor of Words!” Though I had used it jocularly, the words stuck with me!
Is there a difference between writing content and writing in general?
We write everyday: text messages, posts, one-liner captions on social media like Instagram, Facebook, whatever. So writing is something that we cannot get rid of. Content writing is on the professional side, and is about capturing people’s attention and converting them into people who are really interested in you and in your brand.
It should be something that people remember you for.
Does writing have a bright and sustainable future?
Yes. Usually, the idea that ‘writing cannot be a good career’ comes mostly from people who don’t write themselves, and don’t know anything about writing whatsoever. They still view writing as novels and scripts. But now, the forms of writing have changed.
Today, writing includes articles for brands, and speeches for CEOs; everything is writing. There couldn’t be a better time to make a career in writing.
My suggestion? Do it yourself, and figure out how it works for you.
You vouch for writing everyday. Why is that important?
Yeah, I strongly believe that you should write everyday. When you write something every day, more than just learning the craft, it gives you an idea whether this is something you really want to do.
If you can’t commit yourself to 15 minutes of writing daily, it’s unlikely that you will be willing to give hours and hours every single day, maybe even staying up all night trying to get things done on time.
Writing everyday prepares you mentally rather than just learning the skills to write better.
How do you balance writing and college studies together?
One thing that really worked out well for me is my choice of course and the education system in Ireland. My English & Philosophy course involves a lot of reading, so I have around 15 hours of lectures per week. This allows me enough time to read for college,while also working. It does get challenging, especially since there’s so much more going on in college. But I find a way to make things work.
Do you write on one particular niche or can you write on any topic given?
Last year, someone posted on LinkedIn, “What niches have you written on?” I started typing it down, and I ended up with a long list of 35-40 niches! (Laughs) Honestly, only saying “Yes” to new things has brought me here.
Would you settle down with a niche?
Every day, every month, my interests are changing based on everything that’s going on. There are a few topics I enjoy a lot, like fitness – I write for my mom’s Instagram fitness page sometimes. And I’ve noticed that even the niche itself is evolving by the day: earlier, fitness was all about fad diets, but now it’s about learning what calorie deficit is and how you can make your body stronger. So the nature of the niches itself is evolving and that affects my interests too. I am also building my team, so all niches are welcome!
What is your process for researching on a topic before writing an article?
Most of my research is the material that the client gives me: references, website or presentation. Honestly, today research is so easy.
Everything is readily available with one Google search: a research paper, a study, an opinion, people’s view on an article, a whole book, a crisp summary of a book… everything is on there.
I spend as much time as needed for research, which depends on the content.
What is your editing process? How do you make your content concise and avoid grammatical mistakes?
Grammatical mistakes are not something I commonly end up doing, so I’ll probably put that aside.
When it comes to editing, I think the structure and cohesion is very important. I wrote about this in my recent post that I wouldn’t have hired myself a few years ago… that’s because I never spent time editing.
Shreya’s Post: I would not have hired myself.
Now, after every sentence I write, I ask myself, “So what?” I’m basically asking, “Why does this line matter?” If I can answer that question sensibly, I continue. Otherwise, I get rid of the sentence.
How do you close a deal with a new client?
With time, I’ve learnt to qualify my prospects in the early stages. Suppose you approach me for website content. I will look at your profile, and if I find you to be the decision maker, I will set up a call with you. If you are not a decision maker, I will say something like “Hello, I can help you with the content development… my fees start from xyz… does that suit you?” This process helps close deals much faster.
How do you win a client’s confidence?
By being honest. I tell them they need to be patient with the entire process, and that patience is a must. For example, when anyone approaches me for LinkedIn marketing, I say, “Hey I can absolutely do this for you and I’m very good at it… what I need from you is patience. We’ll make it work for you, but you need to be committed and involved in the process, and very, very patient. Does that work?” So yeah, I love being honest about my process, and the clients happily agree.
One tip you would suggest for meeting the client’s expectations and keeping them happy?
So many writers message me “Shreya I wrote something but the client said they were not expecting this…” And I’m like, “Did you speak to your client first? Did you tell them what you were planning to do?”
So, my suggestion is:
Involve the client in your content writing process.
How do you come out of the writers’ block?
With clients, writing is straightforward: they know what they want, they tell you what is the purpose of the content, and you have to get to writing it. If I am stuck on a client’s content, I speak to the client. Again: involve the client in your process. An easy life is literally one call away.
Regarding LinkedIn… when you met Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, did he give you a secret key to generate such an amazing engagement on LinkedIn?
I met Jeff at a college event. I told him I’m a student and don’t know how to use LinkedIn to get an internship.” He asked, “What’s your dream job?” When I paused, he said, “You need to break your goals down and you need to be very specific as to what you want in life.” And that absolutely cleared things up for me. The reason his advice helped was because I acted on it and went very specific with LinkedIn.
I have been committed to LinkedIn for these one and a half years, so I’m getting what I’m getting today… all because I narrowed it down to one thing.
What goes into planning for content that helps you build a sound personal brand on LinkedIn?
Based on the feedback and engagement on my initial posts, I altered my writing style, structure, and the post’s essence. Earlier, I wanted to stuff in the details. People would still like those posts because they were informative, but the posts could have captured much more attention.
Now, I edit my posts ruthlessly, cut out all the fluff and make my story crisp.
I think most people do not commit themselves to personal branding because the result takes so long. But patience is important, and you need to give personal branding your ALL.
How do you write such apt quotes at the end of each post?
My dad reads a LOT, so he keeps sharing quotes with me all the time. While writing a post, I scroll through these messages and pick one that suits best. Sometimes, I look up the quotes, and keep looking until I find one.
How should writers tackle LinkedIn engagement anxiety?
I think if you hit “post” on a piece of content, your job is done. If the post resonates with people, it will do well. Don’t look at the numbers, don’t overthink if you could have written it better – move on and focus on the next piece. Basically, learn from the post, but don’t dwell on it.
Does LinkedIn marketing mean tagging a million people to get traction on a post?
Tagging lots of people is a LinkedIn gimmick, not LinkedIn marketing. LinkedIn marketing is marketing yourself – sharing your skills, values, expertise, personality, opinions, thoughts, and work ethics. You can tag people if you want to, but tag the relevant people; I want to be tagged on a post that I can add value to.
So don’t run after gimmicks, put your content out there and be patient… everything sorts out with patience and providing real value.
How does your dad inspire you to write well and handle pressure?
My dad has always been my person. Always. He is a very good writer, he reads a lot, he knows all that’s happening, and he is the best mentor I could ever have. When I lived at home, I would barge into my dad’s room and rant about my work. Now, I still drop him a message like “I’m stressed over college” or “Why did that person comment so harshly…”, and he calms me down instantly. I admire my dad’s mental and emotional strength so much, and I aspire to achieve that emotional intelligence some day.
Your recent post about copywriting performed well on Instagram. How does repurposing the content help?
I definitely suggest repurposing content to everyone. Don’t create content from scratch; make it relevant for whatever platform you are putting it on.
I started on Instagram when I realised that content is content and stories are stories, and people will enjoy your stories no matter what platform they are on. I was already posting on LinkedIn and all I needed to do was to create some pictures and put it on Instagram.
I found Instagram to be a very good place to leverage the “Story” feature, so I host lots of Q&As and live sessions. It’s definitely a different way of connecting with my audience.
You use minimal designs on Instagram…
When I started posting on Instagram last year, I was creating graphics on Canva. They looked good, but they took up a lot of time… which led me to stop posting. Now, I am active again on Instagram, and am doing well with minimalistic posts. It proves that your content and consistency matters the most, all other things can be built over time.
How can companies and startups leverage content marketing after the pandemic gets over?
If you want to leverage content marketing after the pandemic, the best thing to do is start now. Just think about it, all the big online advertisements – travel, airlines, hotels, fashion – have stopped. The leading industries have halted their ads because the situation does not comply with what they do.
So, if you’re selling some other products or services, imagine running an ad at this point: you’ll get good engagement with a low cost per click.
If you really want to do well after the pandemic, it’s very important to start now.
What are your 3 most important tips for the content writers?
- Stop looking for a mentor or guidance: Just start writing, experiment in the field, make your own mistakes, and then ask for guidance. Knowing about other people’s challenges won’t help you avoid yours. Don’t depend on people even before you’ve started.
- Be patient: You won’t start getting clients and making money right from day one. There are no shortcuts. Be extremely consistent and extremely patient.
- Commit to writing: If I wouldn’t have stuck to writing on LinkedIn, I wouldn’t have been here. You wouldn’t have known me, and we wouldn’t have had this interview. Opportunities strike when you stick to something and commit to it, so commit to writing and it will work up.
Do you read books? Any book that helped you acquire writing skills?
Books have always been a big part of my life. My dad is very fond of reading, so my room back in Mumbai has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves… which got me hooked to books. As a young girl, my favourite was the Tintin series. So much of my creativity and vocabulary came from those books, along with my interest in stories and storytelling. I just loved Tintin so much, and that’s where my love for reading started. I think the writing skills came with practice.
Your favourite go-to resources?
LinkedIn is so much fun, I just like scrolling through the posts. This inspires me to write my own posts… like my post about “What do copywriters do?” was actually what I commented on someone else’s post!
Overall, it was a wonderful experience to interview Shreya. The interview is like a to-do guide for the aspiring, newbie and even experienced writers who wish to make their mark in the world of writing!
Connect with Shreya on LinkedIn, and message her for any guidance… make sure your questions are specific! You can also find Shreya on Instagram, and check out her website.
Like, comment and share this article with two of your friends who might find it helpful. And for more such insightful interviews, follow #letslivecontent.