Interview: Asa Ghaffar

Asa Ghaffar came to the online freelancing world after working as an account and wealth manager for over a decade. Now, instead of helping people sitting across from him, he helps them with his online articles. Asa also has a debt relief solutions site to help answer questions about personal debt.

Enjoy this interview.

What’s the measure of a successful writer?

I think that much depends on your personal circumstances. If you’ve got bills to pay, you’ve got to make enough money to get by. If you can feed your family and keep a roof over your head, without compromising your ethics, you’re doing well IMO. It’s important to write about subjects that genuinely interest you.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m very interested in sports and love watching rugby, American football, baseball and soccer. I also like lifting weights, play squash, take long walks, go to the cinema, talk to friends and spend time with my girlfriend. I’m trying to spend less time playing stupid games on FB. I need help.

Why did you stop working in banking?

I made an exit from banking as I wasn’t happy about the way my customers were being treated. The emphasis had switched from providing an ethical and quality service to selling financial products to customers at any cost. The final straw came when I got into trouble for helping a blind lady sort out her financial affairs after her husband had died. The bank couldn’t spare 30 minutes to help someone.

What led me to start writing?

I still love personal finance, but wanted to do something slightly different. I found an advert for Suite101 in September 2008 and liked the look of the revenue-share model so I decided to give it a shot. Writing not only provided me with the opportunity to make some extra income, it also meant that I could assist people without any company constraints. I’m now able to help readers to get a lower rate loan, improve their credit rating, refinance their mortgage, tackle mis-selling scams and dispel some of the myths surrounding dealing with debt problems. I’ve really enjoyed it.

As the competition is so tough, how do you manage to get readers?

If you’re going to write for the web, you need to use long-tail keyword phrases to generate traffic. You’re going to need to perform sufficient SEO research and competition analysis before you begin to start writing. Even then you won’t get the same number of readers as other niches. This isn’t necessarily an issue. You’ll have to work hard, stay patient and produce lots of quality content to generate a fraction of the traffic you’re accustomed to getting in other niches.

Tips for writers looking to get into financial writing.

My timing into financial writing was rather fortuitous as we were on the brink of the worst recession since the 1920’s. Personal finance is a tough nut to crack as the niche is now close to being saturated. High value (CPC) adverts have led to an influx of content. This makes it difficult for readers to find your work. You wish that you could convey your message to more people, but this is the way the niche is now. You have to do a lot of work to reach very few readers. I keep reading, learning and talking to other writers so that I can evolve as a SEO writer. I find it fascinating, but I don’t bring the subject up socially.

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