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Freelance Journalist Praachi Raniwala On The Thrills & Challenges Of Being A One-Person Army

khushboo sharmakhushboo sharma  |  Oct 7, 2021
Praachi

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Journalist Praachi Raniwala discovered the joys of freelancing by pure serendipity. Back in 2013, she was taking a break after two years at L’Officiel India, and going independent was not even a part of the plan. “Little did I know that freelancing was, in fact, the scenic route I was searching for,” says Praachi who thought of it as a temporary phase back then. Eight years later, she is recognised as one of the most prolific freelance journalists in India. Today, Praachi’s bylines have appeared in some of the most esteemed publications across the world, including The New York Times, Vogue, InStyle US, Condé Nast Traveller India, Khaleej Times Dubai, Brides.com, Mint Lounge, and The Voice of Fashion among others. 

Leaving a cushy, full-time job to pursue freelancing is not for the weak-hearted. Praachi, however, has segued her way into her freelancing career. “It’s been very organic unfolding,” she says. Praachi makes it sound effortless, but a lot of determination has gone into the making of her career. Her commitment to deadlines and consistency has definitely paid off.  As a writer and journalist, you’ve got to have an articulate point of view and Praachi brings exactly that to the table. She also has the ability to offer a fresh take on the most hackneyed of subjects. These two qualities have earned her a coveted space in reputed digital and print magazines, the kind that most writers dream of. 

Praachi Raniwala

As a freelance writer, Praachi’s portfolio is dynamic and sometimes, her days go by in a frenzy. A typical day involves emails, calls, interviews, editing, writing, re-writing, and juggling so much more. Yes, it gets overwhelming to be a one-person army but Praachi wouldn’t have it any other way. Recently, Praachi has started sharing her knowledge and hosting individual workshops and coaching sessions on topics like freelancing, pitching, and working in the fashion and lifestyle industry. Keeping it trendy, she has also been curating a series of bite-sized Instagram articles called #PennedByPAsks. A multi-hyphenate in the truest sense, Praachi has ventured into a new territory recently by co-founding Mumbai-based boutique floral arrangement company, Bloom Barn. She has been handling marketing, brand strategy, and social media and is currently planning great, grand things for the venture. 

Whoever said that you can not do it all, definitely needs to meet Praachi.  She perfectly fits in our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series as someone who dared to do things differently and showed us the path ahead. In a recent chat with POPxo, Praachi talked about the thrills and challenges of freelancing and how it has exposed her to an all-new world. Excerpts below. 

How do you begin your day? 

I like to take a couple of minutes to mentally map out the day every morning. Some days, I begin with a workout, and on others, it’s breakfast before the laptop commands all my attention. The first 30 minutes are to respond to any pressing emails or catch up on essential industry reading, before focusing on submissions for the day. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I had a more fixed routine pre-pandemic. I am more relaxed about letting my day flow now. But a typical working day involves a lot of emails, calls, and working on my stories. The latter includes discussing the treatment of the feature with my editors, setting up and conducting requisite interviews for it, writing (and then rewriting!), editing, and sourcing images. 

Tell us a little about your first professional experience and how it all began.

It was as an intern at a luxury PR firm in Bombay during my final year of studying communication and advertising. This was my first real taste of the fashion industry. It was also how I was introduced to the world of fashion journalism, something I knew very little about until then. If not for that internship, I probably may not have pursued writing when I did. 

What made you decide to take up freelance work as opposed to a full-time job?

I stumbled into freelancing, it was never part of the plan. I was taking a break after two years as a features writer at L’Officiel India, and freelancing was supposed to be a temporary exploration as I figured out my next steps. Little did I know that freelancing was, in fact, the scenic route I was searching for. 

Your bylines have appeared in esteemed publications across the globe. How did you establish yourself as a renowned freelance writer and journalist?

I didn’t plan it or set about achieving this in any strategic manner. I still don’t have a game plan. It’s been very organic unfolding. Consistency, commitment, and honing my point of view definitely helped. It’s also important to be open to learning, unlearning, and relearning so you can evolve with the times.

Praachi Raniwala

What, according to you, are the pros and cons of being a freelance journalist?

I love the freedom and flexibility it allows me. The opportunity to take on diverse and versatile projects is another plus. The downside — though it’s not really a con, so to speak — is having to be a one-person army. I definitely miss the people I connect, and being surrounded by like-minded professionals on a daily basis to converse and brainstorm with. 

What was a turning point in your career?

Going freelance. It opened up a whole new world that was very new and uncharted for me at the time but has panned out quite alright. 

A mantra that you swear by in your professional and personal life?

Your professional and personal values are bound to overlap, one informs the other. I would say it’s to be reliable, honest, level-headed, and respectful. Know that there will be good days, and bad. Follow your instincts, take a few risks even if they fail, and make sure you’re enjoying the ride. 

What key skills or qualities do you think helped you succeed?

Commitment to deadlines, being a reliable resource, and adaptability. Think of unique ways to approach the same ol’ subject, and bring freshness to your narratives. Ultimately, when you enjoy what you do, and success is sure to follow.

What would you consider to be your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

I hope it’s yet to come 🙂

Any advice for young writers and journalists?

The first piece of advice: you don’t need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps! Just work hard, be nice, stay true to yourself; and the rest will take care of itself. 

Praachi Raniwala

What kind of future do you envision for yourself?

I am more of a ‘one day at a time’ person, so no grand plans to share. But I do hope I can spread my byline far and wide while writing about Indian design talent. 

And lastly, how do you unwind? 

It’s different for different days — reading, listening to music, indulging in my favourite foods are some of them. Some days are for Netflix binges while others are to completely switch off. 

Featured Image Courtesy: Praachi Raniwala