Three years ago, I never knew I would be able to stay in bed past 7 a.m., earn money right there while snuggling in bed, and be able to fix dinner before 9 p.m. I didn’t know I could have all the freedom to work, sleep, exercise, meditate, and spend quality time with my daughter. At that time, I was a waitress and a chef. Before that, I was a nanny. Before becoming a nanny, I used to run a small fast-food cafe. You can say my employment history doesn’t define the perfect resume: dead-end jobs that no potential employer would be impressed with.
Running that fast food cafe was as demanding as it was frustrating. I was doing it single-handedly. That means I did the shopping, the chopping, the cooking, the serving, and the accounting. It was exhausting, with limited time for myself, and even more limited funds to run it more efficiently. It’s no surprise when I had to close it down within just two months.
Then, I got a job as a nanny, helping care for three kids under five years old. Any babysitter would tell you that minding infants and toddlers is a sport that requires extra patience, maximum alertness, and maternal instincts. If I wasn’t rocking a chubby fellow, and singing with my hoarse voice, I was on my toes, ready to stop a little human from tumbling down the stairs, or using their mother’s makeup kit for a painting experiment. While it was exhausting, I enjoyed the job for the most part because I love kids, naturally. But, then I went down with a bad flu, and the parents decided they couldn’t wait for me to recover. I got replaced, and once again, I was on the streets looking for work.
I then got a job as a waitress/chef in a three-star hotel which was more of a labor camp than a place for hospitality. The hotel was understaffed, meaning I didn’t have a clear job description. If I wasn’t serving tables, I was helping the two chefs spruce up orders. I was also doubling up as a steward and a housekeeper, handling all the cleaning. It was no different from my fast food venture, except I wasn’t in charge here. I worked a minimum of 16 hours a day, six days a week.
Although the hotel was busy and doing well, the manager didn’t think adding more staff was a worthy investment. Sometimes, my shift lasted far into the night and all I’d do upon getting home was drop on the bed with exhaustion. I had little to no personal life, and no time to be a mother, or anything else. My days were spent being a cook, a cleaner, a waitress, and a chef with meager pay. I would have quit had I not needed every penny I was earning from all that slaving. When you’re desperate, there are choices you can’t afford to make.
The long hours soon took a toll on my health, and life in general. I developed back problems that escalated with time. It was not long before my health was so compromised that I wasn’t that productive anymore. By that time, it was a new year, 2020. Just when I was ready to quit, COVID-19 happened. The hospitality industry was one of the most affected. The hotel was one of the many that were shut down, with workers sent home as mitigation guidelines took effect.
I stayed home during the early weeks of the pandemic, and for the first time in three years, I recreated the ideal family life. I was there for my daughter; I could clean and organize my house, treat my family to homemade food, and dedicate ample time to my spiritual life. Despite the pandemic, I was relieved to have escaped the rat race. Except, I was broke, and couldn’t think of getting another job, not with my bad back, the virus wreaking havoc on the world, and the economy hanging on a thread.
And yet, I needed to get a job. That’s when I remembered my passion for books, storytelling, and love for the written word. I knew I could write because it was my pastime, and one of my favorite activities on social media. Fired up with a new resolve, and with plenty of time on my hands, I embarked on learning how to write for websites and blogs. I signed up for a writing course and, after two weeks, I had a few samples to get me started. I avoided content mills.
Instead, I applied to work for established writers who had substantial work to outsource. This strategy enabled me to receive feedback from experienced writers, learn on the job, and improve my craft. It was a mentorship of sorts, but with steady pay. The rates for a newbie weren’t anywhere near average but they were better than what I earned as a wannabe entrepreneur, a nanny, or a hotel worker. Soon, I was able to build my portfolio, and apply directly to clients.
Being the height of a recession meant jobs were scarce. My workflow and income weren’t consistent but they were sustainable. Besides, the benefits made it even more rewarding. For one, I was doing what I love, cultivating my passion, and helping businesses achieve their objectives with content. For another, I was now a full-time mother, and had enough time to develop other aspects of my life.
I could work from the comfort of my bed, couch, or desk for as long or as short as I wanted. Talk about flexibility! I didn’t need to wake up at 5 a.m., and deal with the mad rush of commuting, an impossible boss, or crappy pay. I could stay in bed all day, and still pay bills comfortably. For me, the pandemic could have been a blessing in disguise because it was at the height of that recession that I became a freelance writer, and finally took charge of my life.
There are still tons of businesses out there that need creatively written content and you could be the person to write for them. If you can create a killer portfolio, you can pitch those markets that hire and pay writers. And if you don’t know where to look, just check out WritersWeekly’s Paying Markets, along with their weekly freelance job listings.
- Writing From the Crypt…Almost: Hilarious Musings From a 70-Year-Old Writer! – by Terry Schutz
- How Freelance Writers Can Survive the Slow Summer Months By Dawn Colclasure
- How Freelancing Writing Can Lead To Creative Work At Your Full-time Job! By Roy A. Barnes
- I Finally Found Freedom! How I Quit My Corporate Job, Moved To The South China Sea, And Became A Freelance Writer By Walter (Walt) Simms
- Becoming a Full Time Freelance Writer Takes Time, Planning, and Work. Here’s How I Did It!! – by Ingrid Cruz
- How Venturing Out of My Niche Changed My Entire Writing Career by Michael Leonard
Teri O’halo McMahonn is a lifestyle freelance writer who’s been featured in a few publications such as YourTango. A great cook and homemaker, she writes about everything lifestyle: home, food, relationships, travel, kids, and parenting. When not writing for clients, she shares her passion for organic herbs, recipes, and natural medicine on her blog. Connect with Teri on LinkedIn.
>>>Read More WritersWeekly Feature Articles<<<
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