Building Balance and Authenticity with Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi

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Are you spending endless hours trying to make your content stand out? 

Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi is a Content Creator working just 2-4 hours each day. 

She gained 75,000 LinkedIn followers in just twelve months and became a Top Writer on Medium. 

In this episode of Creators on Air, writer Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi shares her advice on honing your craft, building better balance and standing out from the crowd.

In this episode we discuss: 

00:00 Introduction to Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi.

03:38 Diversify and experiment to bring success.

09:05 Start with value and intention, profit will come.

10:38 Use your struggles to build connection.

15:24 Self-awareness leads to clarity and success.

16:23 Choose to hone your craft.

21:31 Understanding influencer marketing in India.

23:35 Quick-fire round

Follow Niharikaa:

🐦 Twitter

👥 LinkedIn

📰 Newsletter

🎥 YouTube

Episode Transcript

Akta [00:00:00]: You don't have to quit your job, you don't have to follow growth hacks to go viral, and you don't have to burn out.

Niharikaa [00:00:05]: It's very tempting to do what trending, but stay in touch with your inner self and do what feels right instead and what seems the most you. And that will take a while to discover. So keep writing, and then you will know that, okay, like, this feels more like me, and it's a growth process.

Akta [00:00:19]: Niharika is a writer who gained 75,000 LinkedIn followers in just twelve months and became a top writer on Medium. And in this episode of Creators on Air, she shares how she built her business and went full time as a creator by working just 2 - 4 hours a day.

Niharikaa [00:00:35]: I used medium, and then I used to apply for roles on Upwork. Now Medium, since a month is not as hyping because they changed their rules, but then rules are always changing and I think writing on Medium is still better than writing anywhere else because it already has the readership, it already has publications, and you're not dealing with the stress of hosting a website or website costs or maintaining the website. I also think LinkedIn is a very great place to get clients, but definitely use Upwork because that's where I share my high-paying content.

Akta [00:01:08]: Amazing, and you actually achieved recognition as a Top Writer on Medium, which is amazing. What advice do you have for writers who actually want to build an income with Medium?

Niharikaa [00:01:21]: So it's like, I think I knew an answer for this two months ago, but right now, pretty much all Medium writers are figuring it out because sudden change. And so according to the guidelines now, the articles that work are very deeply researched. Like, some things were filled, but not 15,000 words. So it's actually become really academic that way. Personal experiences plus a hardcore research and I know, like, researching for 15 t-18 hours isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It definitely isn't mine. What used to work earlier? I'm literally just writing good quantities and submitting to good publication. Publication work, yeah.

Akta [00:01:58]: And what about LinkedIn? Because you gained 75,000 followers in twelve months, which is crazy, and you're a top LinkedIn voice. What kind of strategies did you use to kind of grow your audience and get more attention on that platform?

Niharikaa [00:02:14]: So I don’t write about what everyone else is writing about so you never see me talking about ChatGPT and then making carousels because everyone else is making carousels, and then talking about women and their habits because I think everyone is doing it and I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. I think what stands out with my content, the feedback I get most is that it’s very real and something as simple as I don’t even put makeup when I put up all my photos and I have so many women telling me that they like that side of me because otherwise whenever they’re on social media; looking online; watching TV; everyone is looking how they don’t look in their real lives, and how the real mass appear to be. And I would just recommend that, it’s very tempting to do what’s trending but like stay in touch with your inner self and do what feels right instead and what feels the most like you. And that will also take a while to discover. So keep writing for like, say, 100 days, and then you would know that, okay, this feels more like me.

Niharikaa [00:03:16]: And it's a growth process.

Akta [00:03:19]: Definitely, I like that. I like how authentic you are. And I find it really interesting that you said that you don't post carousels because I feel like everyone who gives me advice on growing on LinkedIn says that you should be posting carousels because they do really well. So have you noticed any particular types of content that work best for you on LinkedIn?

Niharikaa [00:03:38]: So, text plus photos work well. But that being said, when I was a part of the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program last year, in summer, I started doing a weekly series because it was mandatory to post four times a week. And that series, even though I had, I think, 30,000 followers back then, it used to get about double reviews, like 50,000, which is very rare with any content, usually you don't get more views. So I know, like 30 to 90 second videos working extremely well, but now, since I'm putting that energy on YouTube, I and not on LinkedIn, but yeah, I would say experiment with things and if somebody is telling you one thing, that’s sure to work then that's not true. You Know there's no one truth for everyone. I know that's more of a spiritual thing, but it does work online.

Niharikaa [00:04:24]: There's no one thing for everyone and you'll just be like everyone else.

Akta [00:04:29]: And do you have a way of writing on LinkedIn that's different to the way that you write articles for Medium? How do you distinguish between your writing?

Niharikaa [00:04:40]: Yeah so on LinkedIn, I'm going to start taking it seriously from this month. So that's my goal, I think, all this while I haven't taken it seriously and I've grown.

Akta [00:04:48]: Wow.

Niharikaa [00:04:48]: But now I see that if I do take it seriously, then I will grow. All this while I just been playing around before getting to this call, ten minutes before I wrote something, and I published, and it's very ad hoc for me, whereas for Medium, I have an idea, I will outline that, then I will write it,  I have a three step editing process and there's a lot of lists. When I post on LinkedIn it’s just like type and publish and forget about it.

Akta [00:05:14]: That's crazy that you haven't taken it seriously, but you get like 2 million impressions a month.

Niharikaa [00:05:19]: Maybe that's what’s working.

Akta [00:05:20]: Yeah. So what do you think makes your content so engaging on LinkedIn, that is bringing in the impressions? Do you think it's just authenticity alone?

Niharikaa [00:05:29]: I think I talk a lot about my story because I think all of us, like, our most unique leverage is our story. Nobody has ever the seen the same experience as you or me. And then talking about it makes you stand out. So I think that's definitely helpful. And yeah, honestly, I know authenticity sounds very small and it's overworked and overused. But to be fair, the trend I notice across platform is everyone's trying to imitate that viral or viral carousels, viral article, viral LinkedIn or others. So it's something that's lagging big time. So I do think, like, self-awareness is a very good foundation for good content because it's what makes you stand out.

Niharikaa [00:06:15]: And also, I think I’d encourage to write about what you feel like, I write about travel, and it almost always goes viral.

Akta [00:06:21]: Oh, wow.

Niharikaa [00:06:22]: And I just think it's because it's a breath of fresh air, nothing else. So don't be afraid to experiment.

Akta [00:06:28]: And do you make your stories so the things that you're kind of going through right now, or like your travel, do you somehow relate it back to your audience, or how do you incorporate your stories?

Niharikaa [00:06:38]:I always have a takeaway in my content because I want somebody to ideally pause, reflect, and take action. But it's not something I can record if they're doing it, but at least I want them to keep coming back because it improved their life in some way. So I always have a takeaway. And that takeaway doesn't have to be something big, like find your purpose. Sometimes it can be something just as simple as to think of something today. And all my content has a takeaway. Not everything involves my story because I want it to be for the audience.

Akta [00:07:14]: Yeah. And I feel like a lot of writers are on, I don't know whether to call it Twitter or X, but I feel like there's so many writers on there. Where do you think LinkedIn is helpful versus Twitter or X? Should writers be on both platforms, or?

Niharikaa [00:07:30]: Why not both? You can always repurpose content, right? Repurpose LinkedIn into Twitter. Twitter into LinkedIn and doesn't have to be like, unique content. Like, most of my 80% of them are actually just copy paste sentences from my Medium, article highlights. So every time, like 3-4 people highlight my article in medium, sending emails. By the end of the week, there are like 20 -30 odd emails. And then I just copy paste some nice highlights and schedule it for Twitter.

Akta [00:07:56]: Wow, that's such a good idea. Which platform has been most beneficial to you as a writer, do you think?

Niharikaa [00:08:02]: I really like Twitter for its community factor, and because it's what I mean, a random tweet created my core base course,  which is like a pretty big thing for me, whereas I think I started using LinkedIn much later. So I think with LinkedIn you do have access to more potential clients. There's no denying that. And it's much easier to grow. But I do like the homegrown vibe of Twitter, where you can meet your tribe across the world. And I really like that vibe.

Akta [00:08:35]: Yeah, definitely.

Niharikaa [00:08:36]: I definitely hang out more on Twitter.

Akta [00:08:38]: Yeah, I feel like most of the creators I've met as well, they've all been through Twitter. That's how I connected with you as well, because I saw your Twitter account. So I definitely agree with that. Do you ever have, like, because this is your career and your whole business runs on writing. Do you have a process for thinking about what's a profitable writing niche or how well will a topic do? Do you think about that when you're writing?

Niharikaa [00:09:05]: So my business anyway, has, I think it's over a 90% profit margin. I don't rock it 92 or 95. So I know that my profit is way more than my expenses. So it's profitable, but a profitable niche. I feel that's such a temporary sell. Like, what is AI selling right now? And I've completely start talking about it, my people will kind of lose me because that's not the person they signed up. So there's this dialogue from which is really famous, and what it translates to is that if you chase excellent, successful will come and I think that's the path I follow, that if I chase good best, I have a good intention and I'm giving value, then a successful form of I'm only going to chase a metric, then it's not going to come to me.

Akta [00:09:54]: That's amazing and how have you? I feel like you've grown a personal brand for sure, with what you're doing, but you've also managed to build your business as well. How have you managed to do both kind of simultaneously?

Niharikaa [00:10:08]: I think business was a product of the personal brand. I never wanted to do a business. I always found it  intimidating because nobody around me does it. Yeah, because my friends who do it, a lot of their businesses are set up by their fathers, so they're continuing the legacy. And I think I know one of them who's going doing there own but nobody else is doing their own thing, and some of them who are, it's not like they're doing it to make money. It's like a passion project. So I'm not really exposed to that side in real life.

Niharikaa [00:10:37]: And so that's why the business aspect of it only started. It was very random. So I had my knee surgery and then I was in bed for four weeks. I couldn't walk or do anything, and I just send a tweet that is anyone I can help with being more consistent in writing, and if you can, let me know, and if I can, then let me comment and I will be. And it was that comment, and I'll be. And I set up an auto DM, which led to a Google form, and around 126 people or something replied to it. And around 70 of them filled the form. Over 70 of them.

Niharikaa [00:11:17]: And then I shortlist 40 people from 20 countries, put them in slack group. I taught them everything I knew, and it worked. Now we're going to start our cohort on 8 people and we just have one seat left. Like, 8 times out of 7 .

Akta [00:11:32]: Amazing.

Niharikaa [00:11:33]: 7 times out of 8, yeah so that and then what I started doing was I started catering to the problem that my audience had. So it wasn't that, let me make this product and have a pre launch strategy for money. It was always that, what are the questions people are asking most often, and can I solve for them? And that became a product and that became a business. So it was a very gradual process. It was never an idea or it wasn't even attached to financial plan.

Akta [00:12:04]: I think that's incredible. Especially since you've had no business background or anyone really around you doing something like that. What has surprised you the most about running your own business?

Niharikaa [00:12:15]: Being a financially independent woman in a South Asian society is very less about money. It's not about just the dynamics and how you feel about yourself and how others look at you. And I wish more and more people, more and more women in this part of the world chase financial independence.

Akta [00:12:33]: That's amazing. How's that fuelled?

Niharikaa [00:12:35]: The Internet just has so much of potential. It just has so much potential for people to make money. Sorry, I missed the question.

Akta [00:12:43]: How has that fuelled you as a creator and a writer, then? That experience of having financial freedom.

Niharikaa [00:12:49]: Oh it’s been great, I can do whatever I want and I don't have to think of anything and just to come to a place that from thinking of should I spend on this or should I spend on that? To just thinking that I know I'm anywhere not and I'm not a shopaholic. I want something and I don't have to overthink about it. That just feels nice. It’s so relaxed mentally, this is not one of my stressors out there, and this is a stressor for so many things.

Akta [00:13:17]: And what does the business actually look like? So as a writer, what are your different revenue streams?

Niharikaa [00:13:23]: So there's this summit 21, which is a cohort based course, takes place four times a year. There's a LinkedIn recorded course, fairly new. There's a LinkedIn playbook, a Medium playbook. There's a side hustle checklist, which is actually free. These are all products. Now I'm beginning to get LinkedIn sponsorships because my audience has grown. Two days ago, I collaborated with Amazon and yeah, so that's a new frame. There's affiliate marketing, which is something I've been active with since the beginning.

Niharikaa [00:13:53]: So wherever it fits my audience then I plug in something that I have personally been a part of; a course or used a software. So I plug it in and that helps. I don't freelance anymore, but for a while, until 8months ago, that was once in a while income stream. Consulting again, I do it very rarely, but I will be doing more webinar because I did my first ever webinar last month, and in that 1 hour it was like a really small amount, but still ended up making about $1,500. Not bad at all. So yeah these are some work streams.

Akta [00:14:33]: That's amazing. How do you decide?

Niharikaa [00:14:34]: They're always changing, right? They're always changing.

Akta [00:14:36]: Yeah I mean, that's what I was going to ask. The fact that they are always changing. How do you decide when it's time to switch things up or add a new income stream? And how do you decide what that's going to be?

Niharikaa [00:14:48]: I don't overthink it. I just follow my bliss. Like whatever. I feel like crazy.

Akta [00:14:53]: And what about how to price things?

Niharikaa [00:14:57]: Again, it's just very intuitive. I don't do research and see what others are doing, I just do what I feel. That's right. And what fits the board. That's all. I don't overthink it.

Akta [00:15:08]: That's amazing.

Niharikaa [00:15:09]: I feel for the longest part of my life I've over thought about every single thing. And that didn't get me anywhere. So now I don't overthink at all. At least that's try not.

Akta [00:15:18]: So do you have any advice for people who do overthink everything? Because that's definitely me.

Niharikaa [00:15:24]: I would say again, once you become self aware, a lot of things get sorted. A lot of questions that I get, what product should I make? How should I monetize, how should I do? A lot of the how’s get very easy when you know what's happening inside. Because then you will get your own time. Like there are people who make decisions on surface level thinking that, okay, Justin Welsh is moving $130,000 a month. So what to do is not do this, do that. But no, that's not how it works. If everyone would do the same thing, then it's not that everyone would be successful. So again, I think very less people actually see the answer of what’s right for them, that’s a very very important thing.

Akta [00:16:06]: That's such a good answer. I love that. Thank you. So you started writing as a side hustle and you actually have a newsletter about side hustles. So it's called side hustle Saturdays, what do you wish more people knew about writing as a side hustle and being a creator?

Niharikaa [00:16:23]: As a side hustle, I would say that firstly about I would address the writing bit that it's a really good place to be in, but it's a choice whether you fall into the pity party of writing $5 a word, I don't want to do it and this and that, or you actually up your game and become a good writer and demand with money, because people would only pay you well if you're good. If you don't write well because you think you write well doesn’t mean people think you write well. So if you don't even write well and then you complain about not earning, then that's a very you issue. It's nothing nobody else can solve. And the problem with the internet is that the moment you're negative, you find a very good audience because everyone loves to be complaining together. So notice these small things and don't fall into it. Focus. Building your catalogue of work that tomorrow it's not you the person has to see.

Niharikaa [00:17:20]: And the moment they see your work, they know you're good and they want to come and work with you. So that's as simple as it gets. So writing a side SM is great, but build your skill and keep doing that on the side, keep applying and building a catalogue, keep writing online. And as a creator, I would say that first create product-based solutions. So don't try to create a product, try to create a solution because people will pay when their problem is solved. Honestly, if something helps, if I have to pay a few, if I have to pay money and my problem, which I'm struggling with, gets solved, and save time why wouldn’t I? And that's with most people. So I would say that product has to be. don't just create product because YouTube says that e-books is a passive income.

Niharikaa [00:18:08]: Who's going to buy it if it's not solved?

Akta [00:18:11]: Very true. What advice do you have to actually get better at writing?

Niharikaa [00:18:15]: By writing, very underrated advice

Akta [00:18:19]: Okay, love it. And just be consistent and put things out there, I'm guessing. And how did you go from having writing as a side hustle to full time? What made you kind of hit that decision? That I'm going to make that leap.

Niharikaa [00:18:33]: So I promised myself that when I may prepare my salary for three months, I'm going to call it quits. And then I did. The only thing was when I did call it quits I had like a nightmare notice period so there was like another 3 months so yeah but that was my goal.

Akta [00:18:49]: So what advice would you give to somebody who wants to make that transition from side hustle to full time?

Niharikaa [00:18:55]: Be practical about it. Don't jump into what gurus say and following your pattern and all that that you have built to pay. And unless you know you're getting money from somewhere, then don't let go of money that 100% coming to your bank account every day.  So I would say to follow something similar to what I did obviously varies depending on the responsibilities you would place here. And like I do not have rent to pay so I think that's a big chunk of expenditure for most people out there. So yeah, I would say that have your side hustle pay. I mean if you're from a developing country then more than your salary. But if you're already developing country then at least it matches your salary two months because then you’ve got like,

Niharikaa [00:19:40]: don't make it like oh, one month and salary enough, don't do that. And then also have clients in the pipeline because if this one goes, then what? You don't want to be in the deep end. So have the money bit sorted and have enough savings obviously.

Akta [00:19:57]: And how do you manage your time at the moment? Because what is your actual writing routine or process like versus managing all the business stuff and running the courses? How do you balance things?

Niharikaa [00:20:11]: I don't work much. I only work for around 3 hours, maximum 4 hours. Today is a busy day for me and it's going to be a four hour five maybe work and this is like one of my very busy days.

Akta [00:20:22]: But do you have like a structure for like, I'm going to be writing on these days.

Niharikaa [00:20:26]: Yeah. So until Medium changed, so the structure I've been following for the longest time is that I edit for an hour in the morning. I write for about anywhere between 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how long. And then in the evening I do social media stuff. Usually I'm about two and a half hours and some of my business is not going all year round so like summit is only there 4 times a year for 3 weeks. That's about. That's the only time I'm a bit more active.

Niharikaa [00:20:59]: Apart from that. Yeah, that's all I'm doing work-wise now. I'm changing things a bit because I am now focusing on doubling down on Twitter and LinkedIn. So then there are threads, there are new things and ideas that are very different for Medium. So now my new routine after figuring it out, but the hours will be similar. I don't want to spend my entire day working.

Akta [00:21:19]:That's really good. I love how balanced that is. And you said that you also started to work with sponsors for how do you have a process for finding sponsors or do they contact you or what's been working for you?

Niharikaa [00:21:31]: Well in India, it's very easy because in India, influencer marketing is a very big thing and it's a huge deal here, especially for Instagram, but now also for LinkedIn. So there's usually an agency which comes in play. It's not something that I personally enjoy so much. Clients get such a hyped up price. Like, if I quote a deck, you're going to quote like 40% more and they're going to tell me there's lack of transparency. But that's the system in India. And now that I've started using Passionfroot, at least I'll make it at the end of my newsletter and some people coming from there. A very small example of tomorrow morning I have fitness instructor to train me because I'm pretty hardcore into fitness and he is pretty expensive and he wants to train me for free just to see how it goes and then maybe I’ll talk about it right?

Niharikaa [00:22:21]: Another example is that I'm in fact starting my Ultra Speaking  course today, which will start half an hour after the hour call in. And I got that through Passionfroot and that's what's like $1,000 if I had to pay normally. So that's helpful. But I love how transparent

Akta [00:22:43]: That's amazing. I'm so glad Passionfroot has been helping you. And do you have set prices for sponsorships?

Niharikaa [00:22:50]: I have, yeah. I've made it very transparent. So there's as less back and forth as possible.

Akta [00:22:55]: That's good. And I guess that helps you to keep to like a 4 hour workday, if not less.

Niharikaa [00:23:00]: Yeah, I just think it's easier to sort of not haggle, right? To just put it out there and instead of even the other person wants not knock down my prices and then it doesn't, then they've already visited it and I've disappointed them. So I don't. Instead of that, it's good to have things. Right.

Akta [00:23:18]: And how do you work with sponsors? Because you seem like a very authentic creator and writer. So how do you work with sponsors to make sure that your work, your voice is still very true to you and your personal brand is still very real and authentic.

Niharikaa [00:23:35]: I haven't done as many collaborations, but the ones that I've done, something that stays constant is that it's going to be my story because that's why people follow me and then I'm going to plug in the brand as it feels relevant to be a part of that story. That's what I did with Taplio. Right. Like scheduling helps you save time. And I spoke about, and the thing is I actually schedule my tweets and newsletters and I scheduled a lot of things because it's such a one time job for me. Otherwise, if I start live posting on Twitter, then I'm going to keep replying to people. So actually, with their collaboration, I spoke about a 4 hour work day and how something like Taplio can help me with it.

Akta [00:24:16]: Amazing

Niharikaa [00:24:18]: So it's my story and then the brand is very relevant.

Akta [00:24:22]: Yeah, I love that. I like how you reference it back to stories versus just making it about marketing. Yeah, exactly. It just makes it sound so much more real and genuine. I'm going to end now with a quick fire round. So I'm going to ask you five questions that I ask every creator or writer that comes on air, starting with what's your favourite thing about being a creator?

Niharikaa [00:24:43]: Owning my time.

Akta [00:24:44]: I love that. What's something that gives you the most inspiration for what you create?

Niharikaa [00:24:49]: My grandad.

Akta [00:24:50]: Oh, that's sweet

Niharikaa [00:24:52]: He's not alive anymore, but his entire life story.

Akta [00:24:55]: Amazing. And what's one tool that helps you as a creator/writer?

Niharikaa [00:25:01]: Type Fury. Helps a lot.

Akta [00:25:03]: All right. Okay. Something that helps with your work life

Niharikaa [00:25:06]: Clockify because I know when it's like 3 hours, I should just like stop.

Akta [00:25:12]: Oh, nice. I like how you're so structured.

Niharikaa [00:25:15]: And it makes me feel very grateful. yeah and it makes me feel very grateful that sometimes it's like 2 hours, 30 minutes done everything. Where it's like that's not the case with most people. So it makes me feel grateful when I'm feeling like a brat.

Akta [00:25:29]: I feel like you're one of the few people that I've had on air that actually have like 4 hour work days. I feel like creators talk about 4 hour work days all the time, but you're actually one of the few who genuinely do that.

Niharikaa [00:25:38]: Actually say 4 hours to not sound lazy. Otherwise it's less than 4 hours all the time. 4 is the upper limit. But then I'm going to start looking lazy and like somebody who doesn't do anything so I just say 4.

Akta [00:25:49]: I love that. That's amazing. And what's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators?

Niharikaa [00:25:54]: Give it time. I mean, everyone sees my growth. They haven't seen that I've been writing since I was seven, writing online since I was 18 and I'm 27.

Akta [00:26:03]: Wow.

Niharikaa [00:26:03]: So what you see in pretty much decades of my scary, which is now paying off. So while you weren't seeing it, I've still been talking mice. So give it time.

Akta [00:26:15]:,Amazing. That's a great piece of advice to end on. Thank you so much for coming on air and sharing so much of your experiences. It's amazing to know how real and authentic you are and how that's shown in your work and attracted people.

Niharikaa [00:26:27]: Thank you.

Akta [00:26:28]: You're welcome.

Niharikaa [00:26:29]: Thank you so much.

Akta [00:26:30]: You can find Niharikaa on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. And if you are a creator and you do sponsorships, check out Passionfroot. We help you streamline your entire workflow. I'll see you in the next one.