Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Sravani and I am the chief executive officer of Apna Writer. At Apna Writer, we offer various forms of content writing services to our clients with the utmost professionalism.
Content is the heart and soul of the current day business. It is how businesses connect with their customers. And even before they turn somebody into a customer, they need to educate and nurture their prospects, build relationships with them, establish trust with them to make them a fan of the business/brand.
I felt the need to fulfill this gap for businesses by providing them with reliable & quality content writing services that help them achieve their business goals.
This is how Apna Writer came into the picture.
Ranging from content for websites, blogs, emails, social media, advertisements, press releases, and a lot more, our skilled team of thinkers, writers, and editors deliver top-notch content in various formats as per the client demands.
Our clients include digital marketers to renewed bloggers, startups to established businesses, basically, anyone who wants to connect with, nurture, convert and sustain their customers online, using the power of communication via content across various online platforms and mediums.
Even though I have been working in this field for the last 8 years, Apna Writer is a strengthened idea from my experience just a year ago.
Initially, we worked with around 1-2 new clients a month. But, currently, we are associating ourselves with at least 20 new clients a month.
I always measure my success through the number of repeat clients I have, and I am happy to announce that I have been successful in retaining over 95% of the clients. All thanks to the wonderful team behind Apna Writer, who leave no stone unturned to deliver more than the client’s expectations every time we onboard someone.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After my marriage, I had started working as a freelance writer, and used to make a decent earning as a writer.
However, I was not satisfied. Something always felt incomplete, as I always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur, but as a freelance writer, I was just self-employed, who owned a job (my own), but not a business.
In addition, I felt that all the platforms which I was using to find work and write articles for the clients, were not good enough.
All that thought process about business and the experience working on these platforms made me feel a strong need for a better platform that can connect both writers and publishers. You never know if your idea is right or wrong unless you try it, so I decided to go ‘all-in’ with my idea and try it out.
This is when I was posed with another major problem. Though I was all motivated to execute upon my idea, being a B.tech graduate, I knew nothing about business management.
But I did not let this lack of experience stop me. Being a newbie, I extensively conducted my research on the internet on how to start an online business and manage it. I continuously kept educating myself on various business systems and processes to set up to ensure I give a strong foundation to my business.
From this idea, I made my first experiment as an entrepreneur. Just FYI, I am not talking about Apna Writer here.
I, then, developed a market platform to connect both writers and publishers. I worked on this project for four years and learned many aspects of entrepreneurship.
But it wasn’t a great success story I would say.
However, I would like to share one crucial learning to entrepreneurship aspirants. It is that understanding your clients is much more important for your business success compared to any other factor you can work on.
Anyhow, as I always was, and still am, a keen learner, I analyzed my mistakes, learned from them, to bounce back again. Though I was able to connect writers and publishers, which my main intention was, I was not able to guarantee the quality of the content through that platform.
Not being able to discover good writers who could deliver high-quality content.
I had come to understand, by practice and experience, that there are many writers in India. However, the writers who can produce high-quality content are very few and are tough to come across.
This left me with dissatisfaction with my model.
But this also was my epiphany.
Now I knew what my previous venture lacked, and it is from this dissatisfaction the idea of Apna Writer was born. With Apna Writer, I perfected every mistake I made in my last venture and implemented my valuable lessons.
And currently, we are doing great in terms of business. All because I focused on finding skilled writers who understand the importance of their work, and how powerfully it can affect the business world.
Even though we are quite active on social media, the amount we’ve spent on paid marketing, to date, is zero. All our growth has been organic since the start and this is a major achievement I would say considering how the organic reach on social media is declining over the past few years.
I believe this is all because our clients are happy with our service, and hence they themselves act as our brand evangelists. Our clients refer us to their contacts in their network, and this is how word of mouth is working best for us. And to exponentially increase that effect, we leave no stone unturned to satisfy our clients, once we onboard them.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
No matter how much technology may advance, it can never replace humans.
So I started a new business model where I addressed the clients, understood their needs, and delivered quality content as per their business goals. Initially, I started with the simplest platform possible just to reach out to the clients & share with them our contact details.
I have seen some great products and services failing only because of the wrong team, who didn’t share the same vision as their leader.
The clients enquired, checked our samples, got convinced by them and started giving orders.
And once they did, we worked even harder than we did to onboard them, to fulfill their demands, and satisfy their requirements. This working model, with all human interaction, and limited technology, has given my business success, and extreme pleasure and happiness to me as well, because all our clients are happy with our services.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My prior experience clearly taught me a lesson that to do business in any field, you should gain the trust of the clients & your approach to clients should be pitch-perfect.
So, I did not dwell on the business directly. I just entered the field using social media and made people feel my presence. As I was into content writing services, I made sure that people in the industry recognize me for that itself and start trusting me over others.
I did personal branding for myself by creating content myself, publishing it across different groups and communities, engaging with people, answering their doubts, building my authority in the space, and making people know me as someone who knew what she was doing.
Once, I felt confident; I started my website apnawriter.com. I made sure that my website is as simple as possible for all the users, along with being fast and user-friendly.
Also, you need to manage your budget wisely, so I tried to keep my costs as low as possible for the website launch. I launched my website using WordPress with minimum features. Moreover, my primary focus was mostly on organic traffic.
I am still carrying out website SEO optimization and am using social media to reach out to people.
Even as of this interview, I am not using any money on advertising at all and am just depending on the word of mouth from my existing clients to scale my business.
But this is not a scalable strategy I know. And that is why, in near future, I have plans to scale my business using various online marketing practices like paid ads, email marketing, webinars, training, etc to reach out to a larger segment of the audience waiting to be served with our professional services.
I believe I just need a little more experience with business management and set up the proper systems in place, both offline and online, before I scale up my business, so that whenever I do, I have the bandwidth to handle it all and still maintain the quality I deliver to my clients, ensuring their 100% satisfaction.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Trust and satisfaction of customers are the main ingredients that are essential for the success of any business. No matter how much you spend on marketing or branding, if your product/service is not good you can never succeed.
And as shared before, I gained the trust of my customers by being active on social media, answering their queries, offering solutions to their problems, and showcasing the results of my work.
If you solve their problems in the field, it is natural for them to perceive you as the expert in the field. And when that happens, the natural next step for them is to transact with you. Hence, my major investment in starting the business was my time, rather than money, which I used to genuinely help people, and continue to do so even now.
The next essential to run a business successfully is the right team.
In my working experience, I have seen some great products and services failing only because of the wrong team, who didn’t share the same vision as their leader, who did not give it their 100% to the cause and hence led to the failure of the venture. I would say, no one is to blame here rather than the leader as it is the duty of the leader to hire, cultivate and nurture a competent team.
I am lucky enough that I built the right team to work with me from the start because my team needed skilled and competent writers, editors, and publishers.
Now, once a customer comes to us, we make sure that he is completely satisfied with our services, because we know we have the right team to do so.
In this process, we sometimes write the same content multiple times for first-time clients as they don’t give the requirements properly the first time.
However, as we continue further, they understand our professional process and ensure that the inputs are provided properly, and then automatically the overall process becomes smoother, with the result being top class, and 100% satisfactory to the customer requirements.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I believe that brand marketing is always more powerful than direct response marketing in the long term. This is why, currently, we are operating on minimum profits and maximum customer satisfaction.
Thus, we are in the process of building a brand in the industry, without actually spending on marketing for now, but will surely incorporate direct response marketing as well, to scale up our business in the future.
Our profits are currently below 10%. But I’m happy with our baby steps towards building Apna Writer as a reliable, trusted, and powerful brand.
When I look at the journey we’ve had at Apna Writer, I feel proud, and at the same time, determined to walk down a long path ahead, becoming the best in the industry when it comes to crafting content for better communication between businesses and their target customers.
As shared before, our customers are our brand ambassadors and this is why currently our customer retention rate is over 95%, which is excellent for a business.
I’m very positive about our expansion in the future while ensuring proper business setups being in place and maintaining the high-quality standards our clients love us for.
One of the biggest challenges, as shared before, is finding skilled and competent writers in India, who not only love their work but also understand the industry demands and are capable to satisfy those.
This is why we are also planning on training the writers as per the industry demands, making them eligible for working in the online content creation space. When we create more impact with people, we will automatically be on the path to scale up our business.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
First of all, it’s a great question that you’ve asked.
As you now know Apna Writer is my second startup. Though my first startup was not a success, it was not a failure either.
But, I must admit that I learned a lot from my first startup. I applied those lessons successfully in Apnawriter and hence I succeeded.
One major lesson I learned is that no matter how good your platform is if you can't guarantee the quality, it won't succeed.
So, we make sure that each content piece we deliver is of top-notch quality, which fulfills the client expectation in terms of the content requirement, is grammatically correct, error-free, has a smooth flow, transitions well between the topics are 100% unique plagiarism free and is in the business tone that the client has developed for its business.
In fact, after the writer does the quality checks from his end, it is reviewed by our team of editors, before we deliver it to the client.
Secondly, always invest wisely and spend wisely in business.
I’ve already shared that we are not investing much money in paid marketing as of now, but instead we are investing our time to make sure that clients are satisfied and that our team gets paid well. This increases the brand trust in both the clients as well as the team and the long term, they are both going to support the business, even in the tough times, because we treated them well.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
There are a bunch of tools that I and our team make use of for our proper business functioning.
Another on the list is Trello, this helps us to keep track of all the projects we are working on and what’s the status of the work done.
When we talk about premium tools, Copyscape tops our list. We don’t want to compromise on the uniqueness of work delivered to our clients, and Copyscape helps us to keep our content 100% plagiarism-free.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My sincere advice would be to don't just start your startup if you are frustrated with your job or your boss.
Find your real reason behind getting into entrepreneurship, your big WHY behind your startup, and then decide to do whatever it takes to fulfill that WHY.
Understand your market, understand your audience, the problems they face, the solution they want, the journey they want, the transformation they want, and then create a solution that eliminates all their objections, solves their hard, pressing problem, and makes them a better version of themselves by using your product.
Also as I have stated earlier in today’s interview, while doing all of that, spend every penny wisely.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Indeed we are. We are always in search of quality full/part-time writers and editors for our company. If, you, the person reading this interview, considers that you are good at writing, or want to learn how to become a good one, wants to service clients, make some money on the side, or want to take this up full time, feel free to reach out at apnawriter.com
Where can we go to learn more?
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