Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My day job went away quite suddenly (and not of my own choosing) a month ago. My last two career jobs have left a bad taste in my mouth, so I’m feeling a little gunshy about jumping back into the traditional job market. I have worked as some form of a marketing professional for about 24 years, yet I feel very unsure about getting back on that horse. Times have changed, I have changed, I’m feeling a little scarred, and all other things being equal, I’d like to make a big change. I’d like to work independently as a freelance writer.

I’ve been doing a lot of research, and the way I see it, there are two key ways to make money as a freelance writer. Well, three, really, but the third one is a slow-build. That one is writing for magazines and such. It is work I think I would enjoy very much, but I know can’t build up to an adequate income level fast enough with it. (That is, fast enough to continue making mortgage payments after my meager savings are exhausted.)

The other two ways to make money as a freelancer are to do commercial copywriting and to aggressively “monetize” a blog. (This is the process of drawing advertisers and creating other things you can sell from your blogsite, like e-books or newsletters. When done well, it can be very effective.) Commercial copywriting ties most closely into what I’ve done for all these years, and would use skills I know I have, but I’m a little hazy on how to actually market myself and build a clientele. (Again, with an implied “fast enough” at the end of that sentence.)

The blogging thing appeals to me, except that to be successful you have to passionately state your opinions about something. I feel like I’ve spent most of my adult life getting trained to suppress my opinions, make peace, smooth the waters, not alienate anyone. I would definitely have been AWESOME at this when I was in my 20’s, because back then I had a strong opinion about everything and I was pretty sure I was right. Now, I am so accustomed to self-censoring that I don’t know if I can write passionate opinion.

Most experts would say, of course, that the trick is to blog on a subject you feel passionately about. So what do I feel passionately about? Well, I feel passionately about raising my son; I am passionately intrigued with the experience of mid-life; I am passionate about my beliefs as a Catholic Christian. Beyond that, I’m not so sure.

My son is 15 years old, so I don’t fit the general mommy-blogger stereotype. They are mostly stay-at-home mothers of pre-schoolers and early-elementary-age children. The parents-of-teenage sites I have found all seem like us-against-them battle stations. So perhaps there is a niche for me to explore here…..

I found a whole mid-life blogging community, so I can definitely think about targeting something there. Actually, I could probably blog about mid-life and raising a teenager and create my own niche-within-a-niche that way.

The Christian stuff is really important to me, but I’m pretty sure that if I want to do something with that, it should be on its own separate blog. And while I know I would enjoy the writing, I’m less confident about making money through it.

So I’m thinking that tomorrow, I’m going to try blogging on the experiences of raising a teen-age son and turning 50. I can see the potential for it to turn into boring navel-gazing, but I hope I can bring enough professional discipline to the project to keep it targeted to real readers.

And thus, a blog is born!

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