Do you get a sinking feeling on Sunday night, dreading Monday morning’s return to work? Making a career change a New Year’s Resolution is not uncommon but many people never get past putting it on their list year after year either because they think it’s impossible or because they just don’t know where you start. You might have to earn money but that doesn’t mean you have to hate the way you do it. Make 2014 the year you get your dream job! I’m running a series of interviews with people who have successfully changed careers so you can learn from them and see that it is possible to have a job you love.
There are some impressive stories ahead, but it’s only fair that I first answer the same questions I’ve asked everyone else .
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a freelance writer staring down the barrel of 40. I’m married with two kids. As well as writing I work as a researcher, exam invigilator and child pedestrian safety trainer. Pinterest is my vice.
2. What made you decide to become a writer? What were you doing before? Was it an epiphany or were you actively looking for a career change?
I have always enjoyed writing for my own pleasure and have had a kept a personal blog since 2005. I was made redundant in 2006 while I was pregnant (and therefore unemployable). When my baby was four months old I started a freelance research job which I ran alongside a “messy” toddler group I had started. I fell into freelance writing (though a now defunct website similar to Elance or ODesk) when my research work dropped off and I had find a new way of earning money. I quickly found my groove and was fortunate enough to gain some regular clients.
3. What process did you go through re: courses, work experience, business advice, etc.
Thankfully I already had the skills and experience to start writing and researching. Having registered as self employed through my toddler group I was familiar with the tax requirements of being self employed.
4. How long did the process take from inspiration to calling yourself a professional?
It took me around six months of being paid for what I did before I could confidently refer to myself as a writer.
5. What does a typical day involve for you?
I get up early to do research or writing before getting the kids off to school. I write until lunchtime then head off to one of my other jobs in the afternoon. There’s usually a bit more writing at night after dinner/bath/bedtime is done. Weekends are workdays for me too. Sometimes I will have one day off a week but more often than not I work every day.
6. What are the best bits about your job?
Having the ability to fit my job around my family. I also like the sense of control that I didn’t have as an employee. Being made redundant can be cripplingly financially. With a variety of jobs it’s a relief not to be completely depending on someone else’s business.
7. And the worst bits?
Being responsible for generating my own income. It’s a job in itself making sure I have enough work lined up and I am still struggling to perfect my pipeline. There are things to be said for having a regular salary!
8. Has the change been a good one for you?
There are times I miss working 9-5 Monday to Friday in an office where I leave work behind when I go home, but otherwise it’s been good. The flexibility has been priceless in school holidays and when the kids are ill, and I see a lot more of them than I otherwise would. I have also developed skills and gained in confidence through trying new things. We don’t have pots of money as a family but we do have something I feel is far more valuable.
9. What advice for anyone considering something similar?
Go into it with your eyes wide open. Freelancing involves long hours and you’re not paid for the time you spend looking for work. It can be terrifying when a contract is coming to an end and there’s nothing lined up to replace it. I make sure I have enough money to take care of bills and necessities should I suffer a dry spell. You have to have confidence in what you’re doing and be thick skinned enough to take the rejections. Sometimes the rewards are more personal than financial but I would much rather be happy 52 weeks of the year than stress and slog 48 weeks of the year to afford a luxury holiday or fancy car.