Want to start a new career? Maybe you’ve been made redundant, hate your current job, have medical problems that make working outside the home difficult or want to return to the workforce for the first time in years. Whatever the reason, starting a new career can be scary.
Today we’re lucky to have reader and contributor Sharon Gourlay sharing her story and tips with us about living the life you really want.
Sharon has changed changed careers twice in recent years in her quest to find her dream lifestyle.
I started out in IT. It was ok. The work was challenging, at least initially, my colleagues were great and the pay was even better. Unfortunately, though, it just wasn’t me. Sitting at a desk looking at code for 40 hours a week became boring. I wanted more social interaction and I wanted to do something that mattered.
Next stop was teaching. I was certainly never bored. It was quite the opposite. The pressure, the stress and the incredibly massive workload had me burnt out in a matter of months. I felt like I spent no time with my own kids, and I was incredibly unhappy. It was time for another change.
This time I dreamed big and left teaching behind to work online, primarily as a blogger, freelance writer and website creator. It is working out very well for me. In fact, I love it so much that I now work helping others to also start working from home.
Should you Work Online?
If you are seeking a new career or lifestyle change then working online could be perfect for you. As long as you have a computer and internet connection along with some basic computer skills, there are opportunities that you could do online. You certainly don’t have to be a computer genius. One of the best parts about online work is that the barriers that exist in other forms of employment melt away. It doesn’t matter what you look like, your age or physical capabilities. People will judge you on your work only.
There really are a crazy amount of opportunities online. Work out what you are good at or what you enjoy doing and you may actually be able to find work in that area. There are seriously people who earn money from doing things like taking a photo of themselves holding a sign, to reading a script in a cartoon voice.
A place that I recommend people start is by freelancing. Popular options include writing, data entry, internet research, design work or being a virtual assistant. It is not necessary to be an expert in any of these fields. How much experiences and how good you are at tasks will determine how much money you can earn, but not having an experience is not a barrier to getting started.
Pros of Working Online
The biggest pro of working online would have to be flexibility. You have control over how often and when you work. This can be an excellent bonus as you move towards retirement as there is no reason that you can’t keep working online for as long as you want or have an extended semi retirement. You can even work as you travel which is what I do.
There is also no worry about ageism. In my experience, people never ask for your age and it is not a factor at all. For writing work, age is a big bonus. The more experiences you have, the more things you can write about easily and quickly meaning the more money you can make.
The other plus is that you can get started working online while still working in another job to test out if it is the right direction for you. This can make the career change far less scary.
Cons of Working Online
The biggest downside to working online is an unreliable income. Some weeks may be fantastic, other weeks not so good. At the beginning, you may need to work for less money than traditional jobs while you establish yourself. The best paid work online can be quite competitive.
Basically you have to consider getting started working online in the same way as you would starting a new traditional business. You need to put work in at the beginning and not expect much financial reward for awhile. The good news is, however, that if you take the freelancing route that you should start earning some money immediately, if you are not too fussy about pay rates.
How to Get Started
The best way to get started is to just start! I know this sounds obvious but the number of work options are many so it is easy to spend so much time trying to make a decision that you never actually start. If starting a new career online is something that interests you, put aside a day and go through the following checklist.
- Decide how you want to earn money online. This is perhaps the most difficult task. For inspiration, check out my list of 50 different ways to make money online. If freelancing is something that interests you, this guide to selecting the best area for you may also be useful
- Once you have decided what you want to do, work out your next step. If it is freelancing, set up a profile on sites like oDesk and eLance and start applying for work. Tell everyone you know that you are available for work in that area. If you are struggling to work out the next step, google is your friend or ask me.
- Work out a plan for going forward. How will you find work? Where can you advertise your services? How will your price yourself? Be realistic with this last one. If you are just starting out, expect to not make much money and count any paid work as a bonus as you build up some clients and start a portfolio of work.
Starting a new career in your fifties (and beyond) does not have to be scary. There are many opportunities online that could fit into your life perfectly. The challenge is to find the right one!
Sharon Gourlay is an Australian blogger, freelance writer, website creator and mum of two crazy kids. Sharon is passionate about helping others earn money online. Check out her website for great tips, advice and inspiration to get you started working from home now.
Website: Work / Home / Life http://www.workhomelife.com.au
Would you consider starting up an online career?
I recently left a 17 year career in nursing. We moved abroad and I am enjoying some time being a Haus Frau. However, at some point I think I would like to have a paycheck again. I have been keeping busy with my blog, but at some point I think freelance writing many be a good option for me.
This post was very helpful, thank you!
Enjoy your time as a Haus Frau Cherie and keeping busy with your blog. Yes, freelance writing could be a good add on to what you’re doing and having the blog as your platform is a great step up.
I would like to make some money through our blog but so far that hasn’t happened. Thank goodness I don’t need the money. lol You offer some good tips though and I want to hang onto them for the future.
Hi Victoria, you have a great blog – I’m sure it will happen 🙂
I agree that you’re never too old to start something new. I’m 63, own a business and am just starting to work toward the online world of earning an income and having more flexibility…want to visit the grand kids more often! Thanks for the encouragement.
Yes, go you Candi! I’m so excited for you 🙂
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
I re-invented my career at 52 and changed jobs twice until I found the perfect (most of the time) part-time job doing what I’m good at. My blog is my hobby, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to actually do something about all those emails that randomly turn up in my inbox offering me stuff. Stay tuned – who knows what the future holds?
Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
Thanks for sharing my post, Leanne 🙂 And I’m sure your blog will be more than just a hobby soon 🙂
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
I love that we can have the adventurous spirit to start new careers in midlife and beyond Jo. Some great tips from Sharon and that cruise certainly looks inviting! We are off on one in October and I can’t wait! Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great week!
Have a great week too Sue, and how wonderful that you’re off on a cruise in October 🙂
Life Images by Jill
yep, I am ready to start a new life and career!
You go girl! Can’t wait to see where you go this year in the career and new life stakes Jill!
Thanks, Sharon, for a very inspiring blog post. I, too, am just deciding what I want to be when I grow up!
I’m glad you’re not quite grown up Catherine 🙂 But here’s hoping the writer in you holds fast to her dream for when you are 🙂
Thanks for all your kind words! I love hearing how others have been able to make working online work for them. It is very inspiring.
The internet opens up so many opportunities for everyone. It really is marvelous all of the choices that exist out there, although I often think all of the choices is also what makes it so hard! It can be tough to chose just one path. Blogging is certainly one very interesting path to take.
Thanks for a great post Sharon. It’s certainly struck a chord with Lifestyle Fifty regulars, and I can tell you from my stats it’s been widely read too.
My story is fairly similar to Sharon’s. Two years ago I was working as a Bookkeeper and was bored to tears. I made the decision to start up my own blog, then somehow try to make that a part-time job. After not quite two years I was noticed by a Hotel/Resort website marketing & management company who asked me to write blogs for hotel websites. Now I am getting more and more writing gigs and I have started to earn a reasonable income from my writing work. So I agree completely with everything Sharon says as I am living proof that a 50+ year old can change careers!
You have done so well Kathy. Such a success story. Keep it up 🙂
Wow! That’s fantastic, Kathy. You obviously made the right move. Congrats on your success (and being so brave!).
Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
Already doing it and loving it!
Hello Janet! Yes, you are (doing it) and so well too 🙂
So much to think about, thank you for the post xxx
Thanks Rae. Sharon did a great job didn’t she? 🙂
Raychael aka Mystery Case
I’m not too far off my fifties but hardly want to think about it. Having said that though, I’ve had 22 moves and my career has always taken a back seat while we followed hubby around the country. Now that we are staying in Perth and the girls are all in high school, I’m hoping I might finally be able to work out what I want to be when I grow up.
I’m rather enjoying the blogging side of things and possibly looking at revamping my virtual assistant business. It’s great to have choices.
I hope you continue with the blogging side of things Raychael, and I’m very interested in your virtual assistant business 🙂 Gosh, I think you may have had more moves than me – and yes, following hubby’s careers is both good and bad, but it’s great to know we can still pick up the pieces.