The world loves second acts – what’s your?
Today is the day SecondAct.com Managing Editor Donna Wares invited bloggers in the 2012 WordCount Blogathon to share their reinvention stories. Donna encouraged anyone who wanted to write about how they have, are or plan to reinvent some aspect of their life. That could be changing careers, going back to school, moving to a different country, becoming a parent, going to work for a nonprofit or starting a business.
Donna and I will go through all of the stories and select a few to highlight in a post on SecondAct.com in coming days.
Meanwhile, I’m sharing my own career reinvention. It’s a story I’ve told here before, of how blogging helped me step back into a career as a journalist and freelance writer after I took time off to be a stay at home mom.
The original version of this post ran in 2012. An updated version ran in January while I was doing a guest editing stint for BlogHer, the women’s blog network.
Sometime in June 2010, I pushed the “Publish” button on the 500th post on my blog.
Those 500 blog posts changed my life – by helping me reinvent my career. In two and a half years, I went from stay at home mom to full-time journalist and blogger making a lot more money than I ever did as a staff writer at a major daily newspaper.
It all happened because I blogged.
Since then, I’ve written more than 800 posts on WordCount, my blog for freelance writers, and contributed hundreds of other posts to the publications I now write for on a regular basis.
I don’t point this out to brag. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished, especially at a time of change in the media business when many freelance writers question their ability to continue working in a manner to which they’ve been accustomed.
The main reason I’m sharing is to reassure you that if I can do it, you can too. All it takes is commitment, confidence -– and a blog.
How Blogging Reinvented My Career
Here’s how blogging played into my career reinvention:
In late 2000, I put my work as a technology journalist on hold to have a baby. That made three kids, a husband, dog, assorted lizards and goldfish, a house and yard. It was too much to handle all of that and work without constantly feeling stressed out.
By the time the baby was a toddler, I dabbled with a little part-time work: a semester teaching journalism school here, writing a couple articles there. But no way was I prepared to take the full-time plunge.
That happened a few years later when our oldest went to college and our youngest went to first grade.
It turns out that writing was the easiest part of re-entering the freelance business.
Much harder was figuring out everything else that had changed since I’d been away. I’d quit during the dot-com bust and wasn’t up to speed on online innovations. At coffee one day, a friend casually mentioned LinkedIn and I needed her to explain it to me — me, who’d spent years keeping everyone else informed on the latest and greatest tech news.
To get myself up to speed, I started a blog. I signed up with Blogger but quickly switched to WordPress.com because, honestly, the free version of WordPress had prettier themes, and more of them.
At first, I blogged with no specific subject in mind. Most of my initial posts were marginal, though a few have held up surprisingly well.
The Transformative Power of Blogging
I got the hang of it soon enough, and the next two and a half years blogging literally transformed my writing business. Here’s how:
By teaching myself the mechanics of blogging, I nabbed assignments to write about blogging and social media for publications like Inc.com.
By teaching myself to blog, I made myself more marketable by showing perspective clients that in addition to writing news, features and columns, I was proficient in another writing form, no small matter as more publications add contributor-written blogs.
By using the blog to showcase my resume, bio and clips, I landed one of the biggest freelance gig of my career, a contract to edit a corporate finance website for American Express that launched in spring 2010. I later learned that prior to contacting me, the website’s project managers vetted me by reviewing my work experience on my blog and in my LinkedIn profile.
By showing I understood the medium and could post week in and week out, I was asked to be a paid blogger at SecondAct.com, Entrepreneur Magazine’s website people for over 40. You can read my posts on job hunting and careers on SecondAct twice a week.
By using my blog to track what’s happening in the digital media industry I’ve been invited to speak at journalism conferences and industry groups, including the American Society of Journalist and Authors’ annual writers conference.
By inviting other writers with blogs to join me in a personal challenge to blog every day for a month, I started the WordCount Blogathon, an annual event that’s created a community of writers and bloggers and become one of the highlights of my year.
By holding myself to a regular blogging schedule and strict editorial standards, I qualified to join the BlogHer Publishing Network, which pays me to run ads on my blog.
I realize not everyone reading this is a professional writer -– but you don’t have to be to make a blog part of your career transformation.