Okay, 2017! Where did you go?

I can’t believe I’m writing this post already, the last post of the year! It seems like just yesterday when I wrote my round up of 2016. A whole 12 months has flown past since then, and a lot of change has happened, too!

After bringing in the New Year 2016 and my birthday in Goa last year, I headed back to Mumbai and picked up from where I left off – drowning in work, on marketing and advertising campaigns with around a dozen of the country’s best brands as a part of a leading ad agency in India.

TGG bhandardara

Before long, February rolled around and passed uneventfully, for a change. At home, I continued blogging about the new restaurants I tried and about a couple of experiences here and there. Just as I began finding myself in a rut, BAM! I started getting opportunity after opportunity to collaborate with more brands. The difference was that I wasn’t being asked to create marketing material for them anymore, but to feature them right here on That Goan Girl!

What!! The goal I’d been working to achieve for the last 3 years with a lukewarm results was coming true all at once! The fact that I had to decline most of them because of work commitments was frustrating and that’s when I took the leap to quit in March. Would the collabs keep rolling in the way they were now? Was this spur-of-the-moment decision a mistake, especially since I’m living on my own and have to support myself? Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried so much!

In April, I headed off to Delhi for the launch of Tata Tigor and stayed an extra day to wander around. I saw the Safdarjung Tomb, Agrasen ki Baoli and as usual, visited some delicious Delhi restaurants! On returning, I set out on the next adventure and explored Aayush Resort in Panvel with some close friends.

In the terribly hot month of May, just as I was winding up my professional work commitments, I moved homes. I left the tiny apartment in the city that I hated so much and moved to a bigger, brighter one on the outskirts for less than half the rent (since I didn’t have a job and had big plans to travel, this made a lot of sense.)

aayush resort panvel

Finally, the rains arrived in June, and this was when things really started rolling! My freelance marketing gig turned into a full-fledged company – Digitally Scrambled – with my partner, Sandeep. We worked to on-board new clients, the first of which was Dubl’up, a Goa-based company! Yay!

thatgoangirl bhandardara

This was the time when I also experienced one of the best sights I have ever seen – a million fireflies in Bhandardara! Although it was to be a one-night stay, I stayed another night just to experience it again! Bhandardara was beautiful and I couldn’t stop writing about it either!! It rained almost the entire time and on the way back to Mumbai, I made my second pit-stop at Alibaug, at a property that I think I’ll always consider a favourite – Casa De La Luna. It was around this time that I dabbled in a bit of PR too!

alibaug thatgoangirl

On returning, I caught up with work and onboarded a couple of new clients. Without any planning at all, I headed off to Matheran in July and then Goa in August which was my first Mumbai-Goa road trip. I was starting to develop the kind of lifestyle I wanted, and beginning to love it. Working on my laptop while on the train, in airport waiting rooms, stopping at cafes on the side of the street, and in my PJs in bed, while having the luxury to pack up and travel without having to ask for holidays or adjust to that of others in a formal workplace. Perfect!

thatgoangirl matheran

It did come with a couple of hitches, as is the case with travel, but I’d prefer a nomadic life like this over anything else.

On the way back to Mumbai from Goa during late August, I explored a tiny bit of Ratnagiri and then for a month or so, I visited a bunch of new restaurants in Mumbai. By this time, I was getting used to the remark “so, you seem to be travelling a lot these days, huh?” Such a good feeling!!

thatgoangirl dapoli

Almost through to the last quarter of the year – wow! While I hadn’t explored a single hill station in my life, in September, I explored the 2nd one in one year! Mahabaleshwar was stunning and the resort I stayed at, Brightland, was a great, luxurious escape from the heat in Mumbai! On the way back to Mumbai, I made another stop in Ratnagiri, this time reviewing the Fern Samali in Dapoli!

thatgoangirl mahabaleshwar

November took me back to Delhi where I participated in the World Fair Trade Week, organized by the World Fair Trade Conference and Fair Trade Forum India. This all-expense paid trip at the Crowne Plaza opened my eyes to the fascinating world of Fair Trade and I learnt so much during my time there. This trip reaffirmed my belief that there’s a world of learning, experiences and opportunities out there, which I’d have otherwise missed by sitting in a cubicle all day.

thatgoangirl delhi

And then, of course, another trip back to Goa in November to catch up with all the restaurants I’d been invited to review! By now, I’d collaborated with some great brands – Nubia, 7UP, SkyScanner, Diageo,Woodland, Zivame, and a ton of restaurants!

thatgoangirl woodland

Finally, I headed off to Canada in the first week of December to experience my first White Christmas with friends and family living in Toronto. I’m still here, and while my fingers are numb from the cold, I have so many warm, snowy memories already – and there’s still another 15 days to go! Oh, and the cherry on the cake is that That Goan Girl took home an award yesterday at the Indian Blogger Awards! Yep, we’re officially the best blog in Goa now!

thatgoangirl canada

It brings me so much joy, excitement, and a little bit of nervousness when I look back and realize that the goal of becoming someone who works on the move and travels for a living on my terms is slowly shaping up. In fact, I have the first 2-3 months of 2018 planned out in terms of travel too.

Is there a downside? There always is! The lack of stability, loneliness, the nagging voice in my brain that tells me to sit up and work at 1AM when I’d rather be out partying with friends. I have learnt that there is a lot of pressure to get the best photos, write well and make sure you experience as much as possible while staying genuine and true to what you’d usually do and enjoy. Unlike in Canada, the competition in India is FIERCE, with every second individual trying their ‘luck’ in the blogosphere. I’ve learnt to stop bothering about followers, likes, etc, and go back to why I started blogging in the first place – to document my experiences for me!

It’s been a pleasure meeting and interacting with so many of you this year. Cheers to 2018 and I hope you stay on for the ride.

Happy New Year!

Every couple of months we read about millennials being the best generation – the ones born with the start-up bug, the outspoken ones, the independent thinkers and most educated.

We’re capable of doing great things and a lot of fellow Gen Y-ers are changing the world in ways no other generation was able to.

However, as we realize our potential on one hand, we struggle a lot on the other – making excuses that hold us back from doing what we want to.  We put off important decisions, waste time with the TV and avoid hanging out with people we know will have a great impact on us because we’re just plain lazy.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty good at making plans… and then putting them on hold until tomorrow for reasons I convince myself are legitimate. Deep down, I know they’re not – they’re just excuses.

In spite of knowing this, do I still make them?

Hell yes! But I’ve begun to catch myself midway and say, “look… you’re making a lame-ass excuse. Can you live with yourself knowing that?” More often than not, I can’t; so I do something about it.

The fact is, until you do something, everything you want will remain out of reach. No one will simply hand what you want to you.

I hear friends making them ALL the time – “It would be easier if I was better looking, if I had more money, if I had more will-power…”

It’s a pity – because your twenties (and mine) is the best time to go all out.

So! Have you ever caught yourself saying any of these?

“I’ll do it someday!” – This reminds me of those times I really, REALLY wanted something as a child and the parents would say, “we’ll see.” Everyone knows all too well that “we’ll see” isn’t a “yes.” Just like ‘someday’ isn’t a day of the week. Still, it makes us feel better because we aren’t saying ‘NEVER.’

Did Steve Jobs wait for “someday” to change the world with his iPhone and iPad? Did Mark Zukerberg say “someday” to start Facebook? If it’s important enough to do someday, then it’s important enough to be done TODAY.

Who can guarantee tomorrow? Start small, but start today!

“I don’t have the time” – Why? Why do we romanticize being busy like it’s a good thing? If we don’t have time now, do we think we will have tons of time in the future? We don’t have the time to apply for a new job, so we’re stuck in dead-end jobs. We don’t have the time to cook healthy, so we accept unhealthy take-outs. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but not everyone knows how to use them. It’s all about priorities. I recently read an article that said to replace “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority.” For example, “I didn’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If that doesn’t sound right, it’s a reminder to choose differently.

“That would work for XYZ, but not for me” – Many of us think this way. We look at what others have and think “good for them, but I can’t do it because *insert random attribute that you think you don’t have here* It’s a crippling way to think and not at all productive. Everyone starts with nothing. Every start-up grew from scratch. Every famous Youtuber has had to overcome some trial. It doesn’t mean that because you think you aren’t as pretty/don’t have financial backing/aren’t lucky etc, that you can’t do the same.

The main problem is that you’re probably looking at a giant mountain of a task instead of breaking it up into pieces, so you discard it as unachievable. Or you compare yourself to people who have already done the work. Yes, they’re 5 steps ahead of you now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the same five steps.

“No one cares about what I think” – If you haven’t given anyone a reason to care about what you think, no one will. You have to prove that what you think is valuable. You have two choices here – either stop caring about what everyone thinks or change what you think will be valuable. In both cases, you have the control.

“It’s not the right time” –Ok, so you’ve actually admitted that you want something or may want it, but you haven’t made the commitment to act on it. Rather than working towards it, you blame the bad economy, your lack of education or guidance, your new job and whatever else you have going on. No doubt, you have to take care of certain things before it can be the “right time,” but blaming something you can’t control as an excuse for not achieving what you’re after is lame-ass. There will never be the perfect opportunity, and it’s good to remember that when you delay yourself.

Have you found yourself procrastinating? Comments are always appreciated and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. I hope you’ve been following my adventures in Bhopal! Can’t wait to tell you all about it in my next post. Till then, I’m sharing little snippets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See ya there!

Bye! <3

I started Freelance Writing a year and a half ago… by accident, to help out a friend whose content marketer backed out at the last moment. I worked that weekend, got paid and went on my way.

Before long, I got another call – this friend recommended me to someone else. It was a big brand and a small project. From there, it snowballed. I dabbled in fashion, travel, parenting, law and food writing and enjoyed it – and then I started my own blog.

After a while, I found myself submitting multiple projects and articles every day, 7 days a week. It was mentally exhausting and I would often start my laptop even before brushing my teeth in the morning. I charged reasonably and delivered quality.

Since it was a somewhat of a hobby, it didn’t hurt when people found someone cheaper and went away. There were plenty of fish in the sea. But when I look around, I see so many freelancers selling themselves short and for some of them, it’s their only source of income.

I’ve taken what I’ve learnt over time, from my own and others’ experiences and spilled them into this post. If you’re a Freelance Writer, this is what you definitely SHOULD NOT do.

Never quote a price without knowing the details – Every project differs in the time you need to put into writing and researching on it, even if the word limit required is the same. It’s easy to write about ‘How to get more Instagram followers.’ But if you need to explain ‘Tips for trading online,’ you’re going to need to understand the subject first (considering you will write without copy-pasting), so factor in the costs for your time and charge accordingly.

Not working regular hours – If freelancing is your primary source of income, you need to treat it like one. Set regular hours and stick to them. Use the time to look for new projects and work on existing ones. Dedicated work time disciplines your mind and body to work – and no, playing Angry Birds does not count. Remember to have a work-life balance to keep your sanity intact. This is something I could not do for a long time, simply because I could not say ‘No.’ So I took on project after project and basically had no life. (That’s when I increased my prices!)

Don’t let competitors determine your prices – Because let’s face it, the industry sucks! Everyone undercuts everyone else, and the ultimate quote is unfathomably low. Stick to your standards unless your client is willing to settle for a lower quality piece.

Think about it

If you charge Rs. 5000 for 1000 words and you lower your price to Rs. 2500, you’re going to have to work double the time to make the money you need. Ultimately, you’ll run out of time and after writing 2000 words, find yourself with money that doesn’t justify your day’s work. Don’t do that. Period.

Not knowing what to charge – When breaking into the freelance world, many people think it’s a good idea to start working at a lower price range for experience and to have a few good brands on your portfolio. However, it shouldn’t go on for long, and sooner or later you should figure out what you’re worth. If you peg yourself in the low-rate category for long, you’ll find yourself stuck there with clients who pay you too less for what you deliver. The best way out of this scenario is to price yourself according to your skill and only work with those who value this skill and creativity. Build a reputation and then raise your prices.

Not asking questions – You’ve landed your first project! Now you’re scared that the client will see how “inexperienced” you are and take the business elsewhere. So to cover it up, you put on a confident face and don’t ask questions. Bad idea. Professionals ask questions. What if you hired a graphic designer and he didn’t ask questions about your logo? Instead he did what he thought you would like? To give your best and minimize rework, ask questions! It shows that you know your craft and want info to write in a way that represents them better.

Spending too much time on a project – This one is for the new writers. You want to do a good job and hopefully, gain a happy, long-term client. But if they are paying you Rs. 1000 and you put in Rs. 5000 worth of time and effort, you’re losing money! This can be a tricky situation to get out of. Remember to factor in time for rewrites and edits and put in only as much work as the project is worth.

Looking for work on Facebook – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a random person in a group for freelancers posting a (badly written) requirement for freelance writers. It is usually followed by 468134687 responses. This person, with a limited access profile and no DP will proceed to give you some work and disappear once you submit it.

Firstly, Facebook should be your LAST resource for project hunting (personal references being the first!) Yes, there are genuine people on Facebook and to find them, look for posts from people who have a proper name, DP, website listed and have been active on the site for years. Go to his company’s website, look for the company’s social media pages, look up the guy on LinkedIn and if you’re satisfied, THEN contact him. You need to take some effort, but at least you won’t be left hanging once the job is done.

Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket – Never rely on one or two clients for all your income. Like financial investments, diversify so that you have multiple income streams. Falling into a false sense of security is dangerous, and also, you’ll stop challenging yourself.

Don’t Overbook – Many freelancers take on project after project and are then unable to complete them. What follows? You guessed it! Excuses!

You can’t just expect to complete your work by typing faster. Writing is hard work and it takes time to deliver quality. Stick to 2-3 pieces a day so you don’t frustrate yourself and your clients.

Taking word-of-mouth promises when it comes to payments – It’s always a good thing to work with bigger, well known companies. There are hundreds of start-ups opening every single day, and not only will they squeeze you dry with their shoe-string budgets, but they’re the most likely to disappear in a week. No matter who you work with, ensure your payment terms and commercials are put down on email and acknowledged by the client on email. Always insist on a 50% advance if you have the slightest gut feeling that the company will default.

There’s so much I can write about on this topic, but these are the most important things to keep in mind. Comment below and let me know about your experiences and tips, if you have any!

Don’t forget to subscribe to That Goan Girl! My next post will be a GIVEAWAY and ONLY subscribers are eligible!! Can’t wait!!

Toodles!

xoxo

Hey guys!!

Drum roll please….

I’ve been working with an amazing team to recreate my blog and today’s the day to reveal it!

Yep…The ‘That Goan Girl’ revamp is fiiiinalllyyy here!!

I’d been meaning to launch the new and improved blog in February (as many of my old readers know) but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. In fact, it wasn’t easy at all!

Oh well, good things take time!

First things first, I totally missed blogging during the last couple of weeks. Going without TGG was weird and I felt totally isolated from everyone (AKA you guys!) There were still posts uploaded on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but it’s not the same as writing a nice, long letter.. you know what I mean?

So, during my first job in marketing, I had to deal with people who were getting their websites developed or redesigned and it drove me crazy that they couldn’t settle on what they wanted. Going back and forth – changing the most minuscule things for months on end really tested my patience.

But after these couple of months of website work… I totally understand!

I’ve put my heart, soul and OCD-ness into this makeover and it’s more than just aesthetic changes. I’ve tried to make it as user friendly and organized as possible.

What started out as a documentation of my travel to Malaysia and Canada now incorporates a lot more food, lifestyle and personal ramblings, a teeny bit of fashion and sneak peeks of events.

That Goan Girl has totally evolved since I started blogging a year ago

And so have I…

So for me it’s become more about a healthy balance. (which is funny because the amount of time I’ve spent on this blog is absurd and is definitely not the best example of balance!)

Before I go, I have a few shout-outs to the guys behind the scenes!

Thank you Sandeep, you’re a total rock star for helping me bring the design I had in my head to reality! I know I annoyed you and you totally wanted to punch me in the face (whoops)!  I couldn’t have asked for a better digital guru!

Thanks Greig – for designing my Twitter banner and Shiva for the kick-ass logo even though I changed my mind a gazillion times.

And thank you, readers! For always coming back, commenting on the blog and on social media (I read each one and try to reply to them all). It’s been amazing connecting with you, receiving your emails every day and getting to know you! Without that, I wouldn’t have been enjoying this amazing ride quite as much

I hope you enjoy the new face-lift! PUHLEEZ let me know what you think.

Oh.. and stay tuned because there are some awesome-sauce giveaways this week to spread the joy!

Bye! xoxo