January will mark the third anniversary of my freelance writing home-based business. The actual first day was January 4, 2014 when I posted a profile on a popular freelance job website. My original plan was to try to find something extra for my wife, Brenda to do when she had some idle time in front of her computer at work. I spent a fair deal of time conducting various online searches in the weeks before stumbling across a freelance job website.
I posted a skeleton profile as that was the only way I could access the vast collection of job postings on the website. I was both amazed and impressed with the selection and started noticing many jobs that matched my own particular skills set. It was with that in mind that I started submitting bids for some of the postings I thought I could actually accomplish without a lot of time.
It didn’t take long for me to connect with a few different clients and in my first year I wrote a ton of articles. I was only working ‘part-time’ as I still owned and operated a small-town local community weekly newspaper at the time. I looked at the freelance work as two things at first. It was a creative outlet allowing me to write about various things that were not local in content (which was my main focus with the newspaper), and it generated some extra cash.
I was actually doing rather well with the earnings in my first year and slightly eased up on the volume of jobs I placed bids on in 2015. By this time I had been included on the writing teams of more than a couple of clients and had a steady flow of writing work coming in that kept me busy. I started to see freelance writing as a potentially new career path to keep me busy and still earning an income by the time I decided to seriously consider semi-retirement.
Although I kept submitting bids for writing jobs to fill some open spaces, I had even more clients pull me into their writing teams. I was also gaining clients through referrals from the happy ones. By this time I was getting serious about my home-based business launching a Facebook Page and joining the local Chamber of Commerce. Freelance work earnings were comparable to my business earnings by the end of the year.
In 2016 the newspaper suffered a serious blow and never fully recovered. I turned to my freelance writing to pick up the slack and by May we were looking at what we could do to stay above water with the newspaper not rebounding. The obvious choice was to start writing freelance full-time but at first I wasn’t sure it would work. I had doubts that there would be enough work so I turned to some of my clients.
They all assured me that they would keep me busy and to be sure I added a handful of new clients who were looking for low volume (weekly or bi-weekly) work but on a long-term basis. That was just the perfect fit for the cycle of work I had been developing so when we closed the newspaper in July 2016 I was close to making the complete switch.
I started full-time freelance work at my home-based business in September and it has been a steady stream of work since. In addition to the long-term clients I have had, I’ve added more and even had two former clients come back to me with long-term writing jobs. I could still add another one or two and probably will as a few of the jobs I am working on will eventually come to an end.
What I didn’t know in January 2014 was that I was putting the blocks in place to make a smooth third quarter transition. There was no way of me knowing that my third career was just starting and that I was grooming it along for me to leap into it as a new full-time source of income. I think having it percolating in the background as we struggled with our primary source of income may have had a lot to do with making the decision to shut one door that much easier.
As I approach 2017 I have several long-term clients in place and suspect that I will keep adding new ones as projects end or openings present themselves. If you are being faced with making a huge career shift going into the New Year, take a look at what you are doing outside of work. Possibly you have a hobby or activity you are involved in that could become a new career or at least an additional source of income.
Because I was not intentionally building my freelance work into a career at the beginning, chances are you won’t see a potential opportunity within your specific situation at the moment. That’s okay. All you need to do now is look at your social/leisure activities in a different light over the next little while. Then you may see an option that could open a series of doors for you turning into a new career. To learn more about how to do this, check out my eBook “Surviving Midlife Career Changes” on Amazon.
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My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.