This is a repost of old content that I wrote back in June before my blog crashed and burned thanks to a renegade plugin. With that said, this post is still absolutely accurate and I’ll be adding additional information to the bottom as a bonus! will share with you how I turned my life around completely, and why I would encourage you to do the same. I first had the idea to make a post about my decision to shift gears when I saw this post in my Timehop:
A year ago I was stuck in a rut. I was in a lousy relationship with someone who didn’t seem to actually care about me, my feelings, my wants, or my needs very much. I had been working at the same place since high school, where I had gained a great deal of responsibility, but I wasn’t being compensated fairly for my time, stress, or the pressure that was put on me on a daily basis even when I wasn’t at work. (Which was infrequent, given my 5 and 6 days per week schedules.) I graduated college two years prior and had been served with rejection notices to the graduate schools I had applied for. (Both of which are very competitive due to their expansive financial aid offerings; a must for me if I were to continue my education.) I felt stuck. I was stuck. My primary work was in a secretarial role of sorts, and my attempts to find something which utilized those skills and the education I had worked so hard to achieve had been unsuccessful.
In July, shortly after my birthday, I decided I wanted to be happy. That was it. Everyone talks about seeking happiness in the little things, which I totally support, but I’ve come to realize how much easier it is to find contentment in the smaller parts of life when you have bigger things to be happy about, too. Happiness wasn’t something I was going to allow to be optional, anymore.
Although I hadn’t heard the quote prior to writing this blog post, I believe it sums up my experience perfectly. What good was looking for happiness if I wasn’t willing or able to make my own? That was when I decided to start making changes. I left the lousy boyfriend and temporarily moved in with family until I could get back on my feet. I quit the job that had been holding me down for eight years. (Yes, you read right. EIGHT years at a job that I hated every single day.) I started work at a new job that would allow me to read and write more, two hobbies that had been grossly neglected in the last two years in particular.
One thing that I did prior to this realization that pointed me in the right direction was contacting Meg Murrderher about writing for her horror entertainment web site, Gores Truly. I had tried out to become a regular writer there and got through the process. Before I left my lousy job I was posting reviews of films, books, and more on a regular basis, but I knew I wanted more. I hoped to write a book, and I wanted to expand the topics I could write about. That led to me replying to several other “we need writers!” social media posts. After I had been writing for an assortment of blogs for a while, I thought it was time to break Blogging Onward from its shackles and keep a log of my progress, as well as share helpful resources for other writers. I also added bylines at The Glitter Diaries and Zombie Apocalypse Defense Force (now Horror Fuel) to my repertoire. On a personal note, I also began seeing the wonderful man you all now know to be my partner in life, love, and crime – Jonathan.
In January of 2015 I launched this website and began freelance writing through Fiverr. The website allows me to do quick writing jobs for clients who seek me out rather than requiring that I hunt them down and spend the majority of the time I could be writing pitching ideas. True, with this site I tend to make slightly less than the Editorial Freelance Association suggests for freelance writing of any stripe, but the work tends to be fairly easy
albeit mind numbing at times. I’m now six months into my writing for hire and for my own enjoyment journey and I couldn’t be happier! I’m well on my way to becoming a member of the Online Film Critics society. I have had the opportunity to interview several influential independent (and more mainstream) filmmakers, actors and actresses, artists, and authors. I have been given books, movies, products and apps to review because, as it turns out, people actually seem to care about what I have to say.With all that being said, I still have my day job. Although freelancing does keep me busy and writing about horror/writing/life/misc. keeps me sane, I’m still working on getting into a position where I can support myself fully doing what I love. I’m advocating taking risk and putting yourself out there, not making you or your family homeless. (Ideally the title “starving artist” should only be figurative.)
My Tips for Letting Yourself Take Risks:
1. Don’t Let Fear Bog You Down
- When I applied for my current day job, I wasn’t really qualified. My attempts at linking my former job to the prospective new one were flimsy, at best. I worked very hard to make a case for myself by linking anything I could from my old job to the skills that would be required for the new job, and tried to implement specific keywords that I found in the job posting but also on the organization website. I tailored my resume and cover letter to both the organization and the particular position I was applying for and sent off an email with my fingers crossed. I got the job.
- When I started writing for Gores Truly, The Glitter Diaries, and Zombie Apocalypse Defense Force I didn’t know a thing about journalism. I am a geeky girl at heart, so I just wanted to write about things I love and share those writings with other like minds. That was essentially it. I picked a few videos I had in my Netflix queue, watched them repeatedly while taking notes, and pulled up ‘how to write film review’ articles until I
was semi-confident that I knew what I was doing enough to fool the editorial staff at each of those websites.
- You know how they say “fake it till you make it”? That’s an excellent strategy for trying a new genre of writing or a new form of art. You might not be able to fool those who know more than you, but more often than not you’ll surprise yourself. People tend to come off as more competent than they actually feel and less nervous than they really are, so it’s imperative that you not let jitters keep you from trying new things. I got the bylines, I got better, and I have since been contacted randomly by other sites to contribute individual pieces to their sites or to begin writing for them on a regular basis. (See: My byline at Wicked Horror for the most prominent example.)
- When I started working on Fiverr I struggled with writing my profile. I’m one of those people who absolutely hates talking about myself. My strategy was to look up gigs of people who were doing what I wanted to do well (copy writing, marketing, creative writing, and content development for websites) and see what I had in common with them. I then looked at what I do differently. I compared the two lists, picked my strengths, and built up from there. I did the exact same thing with each of the “gigs” I set up on Fiverr. One order came, and then another, and then another and the rest is history. I’m now making a decent income through freelancing on that website and have earned a high reputation as a reputable freelance writer. I used that reputation, as well as that experience, to cultivate my presence on other writing sites and through my website and now have acquired a decent number of clients independently through word of mouth. I periodically now get random emails from bloggers who would like me to ghost write for them or help them produce ebooks or other downloadable content for their site. It’s wonderful! Granted, I did have experience writing professionally for an assortment of agencies, but this was the first time that I was going to do work for myself as an independent agent.
2. It Doesn’t Have to Earn You Money to Be Worthwhile
- To quote the illustrious Beyonce Knowles in her song ‘Haunted’ : “Soul not for sale / Probably won’t make no money off this, oh well”. Money is great. Saving money from my part time job and financial aid is how I got through four years of undergraduate education without the crippling debt that is plaguing many of my friends and peers. Saving money from that same part time turned full time job is how I was able to buy a car (with a loan as well) when the transmission went out on my old one. Money is not, however, the be all end all. Happiness, mental health, and quality of life are much more important. I left a job where I was making $13+ per hour to work fewer hours and start at $9 per hour. I went from feeling claustrophobic, depressed, and hopeless to feeling like I could breathe again. Suddenly I had time to do the things I enjoyed, and I had the opportunity to make money on the side while also doing something I enjoy – win win! Just because something will be hard does not mean that it won’t be worth it. I scraped and struggled to get by when I first started this job, but now after making it through the introductory period I earned a raise and have been able to increase the number of hours I’m working. Am I making what I made before? Not by a long shot, but I’m also not working 10 hour days 6 days a week and I have time to write. …Yeah, I’ll take my smaller paychecks, thank you very much.
- Again, I’m not advocating for giving up your paying job entirely if it isn’t possible with your family or living situation. However, if you and your family can make a few cutbacks that will allow you or your significant other to do something that you are passionate about, you’ll see many rewards. (They might just not all be tangible.)
3. Don’t Interpret Rejection As Failure
- Just because everyone can’t see the bigger picture doesn’t mean that things won’t work out. Small minded friends and family might not see your vision, but that’s okay. As long as you aren’t putting yourself or your family in danger it’s okay to branch out of your comfort zone to pursue something you’re passionate about. Who knows? You may not be the next great bestselling author, new modern artist, or award winning filmmaker, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try if it’s what you love. Sometimes just the act of creating can be therapeutic, even if you don’t put it on display or share it with the world.
- There are literally hundreds of authors, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and other creative types who were shot down by critics, publishers, and more. The job I have now wasn’t the first I applied for, it was just the first I heard back from. The Harry Potter series was rejected a dozen times or more before it was finally picked up by a publisher. Do not despair! Just because one person or organization can’t see your worth doesn’t mean it isn’t there, it just means that you need to keep looking for those people who can appreciate you, your talents, and your hard work.
Update: 12/26/15 –
I have been freelancing for one year as of November 2015. I will have been a freelance/writing/editing blogger for 1 year as of January 1, 2016. This year I have edited two manuscripts which are published now, had an academic article accepted for publication, written an insane amount of website/blog/newsletter content for an assortment of business owners and organizations, written content for an ecourse for a bestselling author and business consultant, and published not only an educational ebook about honeymoon planning, but a multi-author horror anthology! This is not to mention the amazing business and personal contacts I have made by networking with other bloggers, writers, and creative entrepreneurs.
Even though creating the anthology was a huge investment, thanks to my side hustle editing/content writing work I will be making a small profit this year! This feels like a huge accomplishment, and has me motivated to look toward the future.
It was all made possible by being willing to take risks and let myself get away from my comfort zone in the interest of staying sane.
So Now What?
This is incredibly important to me. I’m turning this blog entry into a series of posts about pursuing your passions and taking risks, even if it means you’ll suffer some losses. You’ll hear from writers, bloggers, and anyone else who sounds off in the comments, email, or social media about wanting to contribute to this project. I would LOVE to hear about your own experiences with risk taking and how it has helped you grow as a person.