Have you ever wondered if you are too far gone to change your career path? Let’s say you’ve done everything that was expected of you, but you still aren’t fulfilled with your life. It’s time to make a change, but unfortunately most people struggle with taking that leap. Because that is what it is, a leap of faith that you are going to make the right change in your life. This is my story of how I did what society told me was the right thing to do, and then I took the leap to do what I felt was most important for me. I chose to follow my dreams and became a professional writer, which is directing me to my lifelong dream of being a published book author. Follow me down my path and discover what it took for me to make my dream a reality.
College Track and Graduate Degree
All through school I was what you would call smart. I made straight As, was in the gifted program, took honors classes in high school, and graduated at the top five percent of my class of 500 students. I went straight to college, did not delay with that first job that turns into a career for most. After graduating within four years with a bachelor degree in sociology, I kept on the collegiate path and completed a graduate degree in a year and a half, also in sociology. The sociology part was great, I love learning about different cultures, especially religions. Yet even with a graduate degree in focus I was still moving on cruise control.
I was pursuing the path that was expected of me. Graduate high school, go to college, graduate college…but now what? My college degree looked great on paper, but the reality was I wasn’t preparing for a future career. Yes, there was the option of going to get a PhD in sociology and to become a college professor. However, I was burned out on the whole college life, and my brain had turned to mush. I needed what they call real-world experience in order to determine what I really wanted to do with my life.
Part-time Jobs and a Single Mother’s World
After leaving the comforts of the college life, I worked for a family member at a smalltime cider factory. It was tedious work on an assembly line with nearly boiling bottles of pasteurized cider passing me by, bottle after bottle, day after day. Tighten the caps, affix the labels, box the bottles, stack the cases, rinse and repeat. It was a total 180 from where I had been headed, and I struggled internally. This was not the life for me. I was stuck in life and longing for some direction, but I didn’t know what would move me along.
Enter motherhood. I dated someone and ended up getting pregnant, but the relationship was a flop and I end up on my own rather than living in a planned nuclear family. My world was completely upside down from where I expected it to be in my five-year plan. Forget going back to the safety-net of college. Now I had to take another low wage, low prestige job working at a gas station on the evening shift in order to support my son. Meanwhile he was being cared for by someone else while I worked from 7 am to 12 pm Monday to Friday and then 4 am to 4 pm on the weekends.
Finally I snapped. I was becoming a country bumpkin cliche and I hated my jobs, both of them. That wasn’t the worst. The worst was having to give my son to someone else to raise him while I worked. Breastfeeding between shifts and on breaks was overwhelming and I felt I couldn’t provide or bond with my child. The bottom dropped one winter morning when my house was so cold that I thought the refrigerator had quit working. I panicked afraid I would lose the last food I had. The maintenance man reported back about the issue he said my house was freezing at 46 degrees. The fridge wasn’t running because it didn’t need to.
The truth was I couldn’t afford to properly heat my home so I had to keep the heat as low as possible. This was no life or home for me or my son. Heck, I couldn’t even pay for food anymore, and for the first and only time in my life I applied and was approved for food stamps. Talk about a humbling experience, using food stamps to pay for groceries when a couple of years prior I was researching and writing about poverty and low-income families in graduate courses.
The Revelation and Jobs Online
I quit both of my jobs, and I asked my dad if we could live with him for a while until I figured something else out. I was hysterical and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and thankfully my dad let us come back home. At this point, broke and with no hope, I started to reapply to a local college for a doctorate program. But then it hit me, the most important thing to me at that time was to raise my son. He had just turned one and now I had the ability to be there with him full time, and I wasn’t about to give that up.
I’d always been a reader and now I was reading self-help books about how to find my true passion so to make a better life for the two of us. Along with always being a reader, I had always said I wanted to write a book. That. That is my passion. That is what I want out of my life, to write and that is something I have always been good at. Some of the best feedback I recall from my college professors was about my writing, I had the ability to tell a tale they said. Could I write a book? Was it possible?
Writing Professionally Online
While I researched self-publishing I came across several forum posts and websites about getting paid to write from home. I dug in deep and discovered a whole world of working online as a freelance writer. I took on projects that would mold me and train me to be a web content writer. That first month I earned $50—for the entire month—but I wasn’t discouraged. I’d found bloggers talking about earning six figures with professional writing, and that gave me hope. If I had the passion and ability to be a writer, then I would be able to make a career out of this.
Writing a book, I have discovered, is far harder than writing articles and blog posts. While I have been writing professionally since 2009, I still haven’t self-published a single book. But I’m still working at it. Turns out novelists have to do a lot of reading, which is right up my alley, both in their genre and on how to actually write. I’m still plugging along, teaching myself the craft, and practicing my creative writing skills. If I could just do this all day long, noveling, that would be the ultimate dream. However, as a still-single mother I have bills, bills, bills, and noveling isn’t going to pay them this year.
To bring in the bucks I write online using a broker site called WriterAccess, which is the best paying site I’ve found to date. The perk of using an online broker site is that the site handles all marketing and customer service, so you get to focus on what matters most—the writing process. Oh, I’ve tried all the others including the now defunct sites of Media Shower and Elance (now UpWork), as well as Textbroker, Constant Content, Zerys and the like.
I’ve stuck with WriterAccess because of three qualities that all online writers want: quality service from their help desk, quality of clientele, and the best pay per word rates of any online service. Why waste time with the rest of the low-paying sites when I can focus on building up my clientele at one great paying site? I also have a few select private clients that I choose to work with based on building my skills and resume.
Living the Dream20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Click To Tweet
However, as noted, I want to stick to the craft of writing. The more writing experience I can garner online, and I’m at 2.9 million words in the bank, the better for my writing skills. I also have more time now to work on my fiction writing so that I can fulfill my ultimate dream of being a published author. In the meantime I have long achieved my first goal of financial success by exceeding my $50,000 a year income. This year, in fact, I’m set to double that figure, which brings me full circle. Now I am one of those six-figure writers who inspired me to make a go of working online when I first started out on this career path.
I am proof that if you have the talent and the passion that you can achieve your dreams, while making a few detours along the way.