Today’s guest post is by Janet Camilleri who answers the question, “Can you make money writing?”
Janet shares with us how her chequered career led her in a roundabout way to start her own copywriting, blogging and SEO agency.
Further Reading: If you’re interested in making money from writing, how to earn from sponsored posts, affiliate links and advertising, then find out more about blogging and writing for money in this post: How to Make Money Writing as a side hustle.
And now, over to Janet …
Once I was a Primary School Teacher.
Experts say that a job for life is a thing of the past, with today’s young person likely to have at least 17 different jobs throughout their career.
I’m here to tell you that experiencing several job – and even complete career changes, is nothing new. My own career path has been a long and winding one, with stints as a sales assistant in a jewellery store, making sandwiches in a canteen, as a checkout chick, and also a Tupperware Lady – all before I turned 21.
Can you make money writing?
Although I’d always loved to write, being a dutiful daughter, I heeded my mother’s advice: “You can’t make a living as a writer!”. Ummm actually mum, as it turns out, you can 😉 .
So upon finishing high school, it was off to teacher’s college for me. At that stage it was a three year diploma, and at the two and half year point I experienced some grave misgivings about my career choice. While I enjoyed studying, I wasn’t so fond of standing in a classroom, surrounded by children. But I completed the course and gained my Diploma of Teaching.
You probably won’t be surprised that I lasted all of three months as a qualified teacher, and it was an incredibly stressful experience. In hindsight I probably would have benefited from counselling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after I quit teaching!
It turned out that I much preferred office work. I started with a job as a clerk in the public service, in the Office of the State Superannuation Fund. Not only did I love that job, but I also met the love of my life there. I guess you could say it was meant to be!
Working in an office was very different to what it is today. We were given an envelope filled with cash on pay day, and eagerly awaited the arrival of the tea lady and her trolley at 10am and 3pm each day.
My desk was topped with a large blotter, pens, pencils, rulers, note pads, and a telephone. There were no PCs – instead, just one monitor and keyboard sat in the middle of our section of ten staff. If we wanted information from the computer database, we would enter a request and later that day a print out (from a dot matrix printer) would be delivered to our desk.
Until the late 80’s smoking was allowed in the workplace, so if you were unfortunate enough to have a desk next to a smoker, you just had to put up with it – gross!
In the years up until our first child was born, I worked in various state and local government departments, usually in areas related to finance – which I find incredibly amusing as that is SO not my forte!
I was fortunate to be a stay at home mum to our son (born in 1994) and daughter (1996), but much as I loved my children, the old grey matter was crying out for more.
Learning how to make money writing.
It was around this time I stumbled across a book in the library called, “How to be a Successful Housewife Writer” (not very PC at all!).
Despite the cringe-worthy title, it was a book that changed my life – it seemed there were people out there who would actually pay me to write! I will never forget the thrill of seeing my first article published in a magazine, and receiving a cheque in the mail – which I spent on a luxurious new bedspread.
I also started running a small magazine-style newsletter of my own, Footprints for Australian Christian women in a purely voluntary capacity, from 1998 to 2012. (If blogging had been around I’m sure I would have done that instead!)
Once both our children were at school, I knew it was time to return to the paid work force so I signed up as an office temp. It took about 12 months, but eventually I landed a permanent part time position as a library assistant, an interesting role which worked well with our family life.
Writing community newsletters
When the Community Development team of our local Council advertised for an admin assistant to write community newsletters, it sounded like the perfect job for me – and sure enough I was called in for an interview. When the panel asked if I had any experience in writing newsletters, I was able to hand them the latest issue of Footprints and quote the old TV saying: “Here’s one I prepared earlier!”
Needless to say I got the job 😉 .
It was a fantastic role although there was a lot of staff turnover, leading to changes in my position. I began to realise that my dream job was becoming more of a nightmare but hey, it was close to home, secure employment – I wasn’t going anywhere. I thought I’d be there til the day I retired, even if I was stagnating …
In October 2012 my position was made redundant. Now what?!
Front Page Web Writing is born. Now I make money writing via my own business.
I just couldn’t bear the thought of having to commute to the city every day, or dealing with another horrible boss, so I bravely (and naively!) decided to see if I could take these writing skills of mine and turn them into a business. I must confess that if a redundancy hadn’t forced my hand it would probably never have happened – but I have no regrets.
I had some vague idea of starting a blog and taking it from there – doing a bit of admin, social media, and web writing for others as well, I was a real “Jill of all trades” and master of none. Flying to New Zealand for a wedding in 2013, I had absolutely no idea what to write in the “occupation” field on my customs form!
Over time my twin passions for copywriting and Search Engine Optimisation revealed themselves, and I registered my business Front Page Web Writing (because I use my writing skills to get my clients’ websites on the front page of Google search results) at the end of 2014.
It’s taken several years to build up a similar income, and I do miss some of the benefits that come with being a government employee – guaranteed regular income, paid sick leave and holidays, superannuation contributions.
But I wake up most days with a spring in my step, eager to get to work – and I don’t think there are too many employees that feel like that!
Thanks Janet! It’s been so interesting reading and learning more about your life and work, and I’m sure that Lifestyle Fifty readers will find your story just as fascinating as I have.
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