Life has a way of throwing curve balls. Things can click along nice and straight for a time and then life gives an extra spit and spin, and before you know it, here comes the curve ball.
From the Top Three in Sales in the Midwest to Out-of-Work.
No point in dwelling on it. No pity party. Door closed.
The important aspect is how I bounced back, fought back, and found a new career at the ripe old age of 58. There was some luck thrown in, too, (see #2 below), but with the tips below, you may find the spark to set aflame your own new journey.
Here are the 3 things that opened a new door after losing my job:
- Freelance writing. Dabbling in writing had been a hobby all my life.
- Marrying Conrad. Encouraging me in my new writing career is tops on his list.
- House Sitting. What? Yes, house sitting. More on that later.
So let’s break it down. First is my love of writing. The great thing about freelance writing is that everyone’s an expert on SOMETHING! Even if you have no experience writing, being an expert is a big foot in the door for getting jobs. As a matter of fact, my biggest and most lucrative assignment was writing about window treatments – which had been my previous career. It was a fun writing assignment that was full time for 8 months and now is on an ongoing “maintenance” level.
Options for freelance writers
Over 4 years of searching out freelance writing gigs, I offer 4 avenues to explore:
- Local college writing courses to get you started. Many are online. I took one in magazine article writing.
- TheTravelWritersLife.com is a great comprehensive resource for programs, workshops and inspiration to become a travel writer. I took The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program, which is a printed out “class” that I received in the mail, one chapter at a time. I highly recommend it.
- BarefootConsultants.co/ is a website run by Winton Churchill. He has put together programs with baby boomers in mind to make a global career – one which can be performed anywhere because you work online as consultants or freelancers.
- Google.com/Alerts is a good search tool. Set up your own search terms and Google emails them to you as they are found. My main alert is for “freelance writing.” This has been very successful for me.
- BeAWriter.org is also an excellent source for aspiring writers trying to learn the craft.
How to help clients find you, the freelancer
In addition to searching out avenues for which to write, you must also posture yourself to be available for employers to find you. Whether you post a stellar profile on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter, you’ve got to invigorate your image to stand out. For us older folks, our life experiences are the ticket. I took the time and enthusiasm to tell about my past career on LinkedIn, and that’s where the company found me for the rewarding assignment writing about window treatments.
Networking is a practice I have benefited from for years. Let people know who you are and what you need. This is achieved through trade organizations, chambers of commerce, social clubs, etc. And who can forget the internet. It opens up our contacts to include the whole planet.
I want to tell you more about my success with networking on Facebook and Twitter, but first I need to tie the facts all together, especially about house sitting.
Creating inventive freelancing opportunities
Shortly after Conrad and I married, we wanted to do some traveling. I’m always on the lookout for a cheaper way to do things and had remembered a friend who told me about house sitting. House sitting is an exchange – the homeowner gets peace of mind knowing their home is looked after while they’re away and the house sitter gets free lodging. Free lodging sounded good to me. Really good! Homeowners and house sitters are matched up on websites. After trying our hand at house sitting – in Denmark, Spain and Italy – we were hooked.
House sitting is slow travel at its finest. We linger for weeks or months and deeply immerse in a culture, experiencing local grocery stores, architecture, and neighbors while being unencumbered with lodging costs.
People everywhere asked how we got started house sitting. They would show such enthusiasm about the fast-growing budget way to travel. I became a house sitting zealot and wanted to get others excited about it, too! So I wrote a how-to book on house sitting. It turned out well with lots of fun graphics and I knew it would help others be successful by following my tips and expertise.
Where to Publish My House Sitting Book?
That was a big question. The practical answers included doing our own marketing, which I wasn’t excited about. How could I advertise a book? It seemed too big.
All the options kept pointing to starting my own website – to be a blogger. As a person who often would rather observe, (the writer’s way), I couldn’t see pushing my views on the internet. But it was the best way to sell my house sitting ebook.
Combining freelancing tools and opportunities
I did start a website and have come to love blogging. And now I can combine the three items that opened doors for me: freelance writing, marrying Conrad, and house sitting. Conrad is my ever-present cheering squad and companion while house sitting and I blog about all the funny, amazing and poignant experiences along the way.
Facebook and Twitter are essential tools I use in networking with other writers, travelers and bloggers. I not only gain business from the people I know there, but have made great friends out in our planet’s community – some of whom we’ve met up with and shared food and good times.
It’s never too late to start a new freelancing business
Do you have that little voice urging you to try something new? You can take your expertise in anything – knitting, landscaping, corporate life, welding, sailing, reading, cooking, sports – and turn it into a freelancing career. Good Luck!
Written By: Josie Schneider