Manisha Dhalani is an experienced writer, content marketer and entrepreneur who assists solo and social entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises. When she is not working – which is a rare sight – she can be found with her nose buried in a book, or her face stuffed with chocolate cake.
She had us at Chocolate cake! Nevertheless, here is her story…
I grew up in a little town in Brunei and was always an ambitious child (still am!). I was always unsure about where I belonged – especially because I was born in Singapore, raised in Brunei and I’m a Malaysian citizen. While uncertainties were present in my formative years, I now know that my home and heart is where words are.
Today, I am an entrepreneur, something that I always wanted to be as I grew up watching my Dad run his own business.
My dad left India in his early 20s to set up a life for himself. He hated studying but always liked exploring new ideas. In his travels, he arrived in Brunei and started his business after a few years of working under others. I saw his struggles but I also noticed his fun ideas and go-getter nature that I must’ve inherited. I liked sitting in the shop and saying hello to customers since young, punching in keys on the cashier and later helping him out with events during festive periods. It made me understand the ever-changing entrepreneurship journey and how it always keeps you on your toes. I suppose those feelings excited me, as I do get bored quite easily.
I wake up every morning now excited to help someone by doing what I love – content writing and marketing.Manisha Dhalani – A writer and an entrepreneur
I’ve honed my skills for many years and, with all these knowledge, now offer customised content and storytelling services for businesses in varying stages and of differing strengths. Clients engage me to write short-form content like social media captions, or long-form pieces like listicles and lead magnets to help with their organic growth.
I’ve been referred to as a quiet achiever by many. I’ve tried my hand at many things and love working behind the scenes. I’m still an avid reader and will always be a student of life.
As a woman, although I’ve never followed a traditional life path, being an entrepreneur is my outlet to display my nurturing (some say grandmotherly!) behaviour. I’m constantly guided by my intuition and it has helped me grow my and my clients’ businesses.
Ever since you decided to freelance and be an entrepreneur, you have never looked back. Why?
This goes back to the feeling of excitement. I work on many different and exciting projects. Creating new content for customers and thinking out of the box every time I get a challenge is something that keeps me on my toes always. I love seeing other people’s business grow. Plus, I have the flexibility of moving between the countries I call home as I’m my own boss! That to me is a gift I feel very blessed for.
Some say being a freelancer you have a luxury of time. Would you agree?
Not. At. All. Not in the beginning at least. Although I’ve been doing this for almost a decade, I still feel like there are too little hours in a day. What helps me is my to-do list. I have a planner (physical) that I write my things to do on and attack one at a time. At the start, I got overwhelmed very easily but now I know mental management and compartmentalisation needs to be done before and after work every day. What I do think is a luxury for freelancers is the ability of working remotely. I’ve been a homebody and I do travel a fair bit. My backpack has become my mobile office so, yes, there’s more time to do things you want to as long as you focus on delivering whatever your clients want.
What sacrifices did you make as an entrepreneur?
I think I put a lot of relationships on the backburner when I first started. I still do. I am an introvert and doing work for me is actually FUN. Another thing I wished I did more was travel for some normal fun. Sometimes, I take trips only to spend a few hours in the hotel room doing work versus going out worry-free. I’m learning as I go – making time for at least one or two personal meetings every week, reading more and exploring smaller places domestically like beaches or gardens I’ve never been to instead of making myself feel bad for not exploring out of my comfort zone.
Differences between writing for yourself versus your clients?
When I write for my clients, I have a deadline, an agenda, an outline, a structure, a process. When I write for myself, I have zero accountability and I end up dazing off into space instead of writing my words out. I admire authors who dedicate time to write out their prose, but I can’t seem to be able to zoom in into this. A lot of people say that “the best time is now”, but often for writers who wander in their head, the “own time” is really random.
I stopped feeling bad about this, though. I just write for myself whenever the inspiration and energy comes.Manisha Dhalani – a digital nomad.
Manisha has been working in editorial roles since 2007. Since then, she has never stopped helping brands and businesses grow organically through content marketing efforts. Aside from that, she actively works on Udemy courses and shares free mini marketing hacks on her Instagram profile (@minimarketinghacks). If you are in need of additional support in your content, writing or marketing, do check her portfolio out at https://www.manishadhalani.com/.