The beauty with brains, Shehzeen’s name needs no introductions if you are a user of Instagram. She is one of the revolutionary Pakistani bloggers and opted for a full-time blogging profession by quitting her high-powered corporate job. Due to her genuine, original and distinctive writing styles, her blog ‘The Desi Wonder Woman” is now able to attract 200,000 readers from all over the globe every month.
From home decor to shopping sprees and travel, her blog is a delightful, and a perfect combination of everything that a reader loves to know about. On account of Women’s day today, we approached Shehzeen who was kind enough to spare some time for an interview despite her super busy schedule and work commitments.
Let’s know more about her. Read on…
ChalkTalk: Tell us about your educational background.
Shehzeen: I did my Matric, FSc and subsequent bachelors in Computer Science all from Lahore.
ChalkTalk: What motivated you to opt for blogging as a full time career?
Shehzeen: I started doing it as a creative outlet of sorts, but when it got sudden traction, I felt that it could be something I could develop into being a full-time job for myself. I’d been writing since I was a kid, off and on with gaps in between, and it was something I’d always go back to. And this time it just felt like I wanted it to be a bigger part of my life than just something on the side.
ChalkTalk: If not a blogger, what would you have been today?
Shehzeen: Really no idea because I live very spontaneously when it comes to life plans. But probably something creative?
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ChalkTalk: How has blogging transformed over the years? From when you started till today.
Shehzeen: There’s been massive growth and will continue to expand. When I started, there was no concept of getting paid for talking about a product you loved. And social accounts existed mainly for fashion/style critiques or personal blogging. A huge number of people today (and some age groups entirely) consume content over digital and therefore it makes business sense for brands to use that medium to advertise to their key demographic. And so we see influencers and bloggers grow or thrive in a space that didn’t exist before. Now there’s immense potential and you can get paid really well if your content is good and resonates with your followers.
ChalkTalk: Women bloggers are ruling all over, do you define it as a women-oriented line of work?
Shehzeen: It’s a women *dominated* medium – currently – because most advertising today targets women. But it’s not a women-oriented line of work by any means. There’s a large space for male bloggers/influencers to grow at this point because while advertising is disproportionately geared towards women, that doesn’t mean, it’s negligible for guys. The size of the pie is smaller, but it’s significant. Everything at the end of the day though, comes down to content – you can exist in a space, but whether it delivers financial feasibility for you, that depends on what you’re putting out there.
ChalkTalk: Not many people regard blogging as a serious profession. What your take on this?
Shehzeen: Anything that is a divergence from what people are used to, is never taken seriously by the majority. Initially. And that is true not just for professions, but anything that’s new. It’s important to seek validation from your own self and with what you create and not from other people’s perception. Financially speaking, it does limit your earning potential initially because people are less willing to work with you or give opportunities but I’ve always believed in creating opportunities if they don’t exist. I monetized my own blog when I had only about 5000 followers, even when half the brands approaching me believed ‘freebies’ were legitimate compensation. It entirely depends on you and how you move it forward, the rest is irrelevant.
Now brands have started paying so earning potential is hugely better, but still so many exist that want to provide product instead of paying correctly.
ChalkTalk: Living in Australia, what’s the general perception of Pakistani women there according to your observation?
Shehzeen: I haven’t noticed any significant difference in everyday life (I can’t comment on workplace behavior since I don’t work out of a typical office). But specifically for me, work-wise it is a challenge because the potential for the desi consumer is still untapped here. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with quite a few brands here already, but being a brown blogger and someone who dresses modestly, it’s a challenge. While the market here has tapped into the modest market and hijabi bloggers are represented (which is great), I fall neither here nor there.
However, my job is to keep myself aware of those variables but to not let them be the driver or to allow them to confuse me. If you have self-assurance, work will come; that’s all I keep in mind.
ChalkTalk: Have you ever faced any gender discrimination?
Shehzeen: All my life, at different points in time. There are all kinds of people in this world and you encounter it from time to time. I don’t think it can ever fully go away, but what’s important is that you understand and learn how to not let it get in your way or stop you from getting what you want. It should not negatively influence *your* decisions (the only person who should negatively get influenced by it is the discriminator him/herself, because they’re stunting their personal growth by being that way).
ChalkTalk: What is the scope of women in blogging? How can it benefit those who have a vocation for it?
Shehzeen: It’s huge. But to create a profession out of it for yourself, you need everything you’d put into a regular job, and sometimes even more. Financial growth is gradual, but you can charge higher as your following, engagement and influence grow in the market. Reputation is also a big factor in driving what you can demand – this is something you don’t see people talking about right now when it comes to social media tutorials etc, but give it a few years, and it will be a big driver of being a financially stable blogger.
When I started, I always wrote personal pieces but I also shared things I loved using and experimenting with. And having worked for so many years before that, I was always clear that I wanted to be compensated for my services if a brand wanted me to talk about their product. Freebies and gifts were never my interest area. Till today, I don’t get as many gift packages but I always stay on track with my sponsored content (projects with contracts behind them).
ChalkTalk: Any message you would like to give for women on account of women’s day.
Shehzeen: Do what you want to do. Be OK with failing. Stop living in ‘what-ifs’. Be less afraid. More fearless. Stop producing excuses for why something’s not happening, start finding solutions for how to make it happen. Don’t believe your work is not worth it. Trust in your capabilities. Be your own person. Integrity over everything.
A happy Women’s Day to all women. Keep rocking with whatever you are best at. 🙂