For me, 40 was the time when it really hit me: I wasn't anywhere near where I thought I would be at 40. Not even close. Not even a compass and a Boy Scout troop could get me back on track to what my hopes and dreams had been.
Around Christmas of that year, I was also short of money for gifts. (Funny how a kid's Wish List gets more expensive every year. Whatever happened to being happy with the cardboard box the presents comes in?! But, I digress...) I had always loved writing as a kid, so why not try writing for some extra Christmas money? (At the time I was married, so I just needed "extra" money. Not like we had tons of money, but whatevs.)
I hung out my shingle as a writer on a couple of websites, and my first writing gig was for......
Hamsters. I was supposed to write 50 articles about hamsters.
Oh. Did I mention that I had 3 days to do this? No? Oh, yeah. That happened, too.
Long story short: via lots of coffee and little sleep, I got it done. And the pay was nice. (Not great, but nice.) And the best part was that I could make money as a writer.
I'm going to share a 3 step plan to help you kickstart your career as a writer (of non-fiction - sorry, people, I can't give you advice for paying the bills with fiction writing).
I'm not going to give you any "rah rah, go team" advice, because that is a whole blog post in itself. You CAN do this! Here are the first three steps you need to take:
1. Get a website. It doesn't have to be anything super elaborate. I use Weebly for mine (not the freebie version - paid hosting - www.ShayRockhold.com), and I love it. Wordpress is another option, too. Need help? Contact me and I can get you a simple writing website for under $300. You NEED a website for this. Or a blog. Something. (I used a blog for my first gig, but the website works a LOT better.)
2. Get at least 5 writing samples on your website. I have books now, but when I first started out, I had samples of articles, reports, and a press release. I have a lot of work I can point to now, but when I was just starting out, people needed to see some samples. (DON'T let anyone talk you into writing a sample article for free. Just no. Point them to your website for samples.)
3. Network online and offline. You can join sites like Upwork and get some good gigs, but I have found that business people are thrilled to find a local writer to work with. You can find a local BNI group (membership costs you quite a bit, though), or you can check out Meetup.com to find local networking events in your area. (Get business cards at Vistaprint to hand out.)
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About L. Shay Bradham
L. Shay Bradham is a writer, published author, mom of 3, activist, Trekkie, coffee aficionado, and plays an impressive game of Klingon Monopoly.