Four and a Half Years of Change … and a Goodbye
Itâ€™s well over four years since I first wrote a post for The Change Blog … and during that time, my own life has changed dramatically.
Today is also a goodbye (and youâ€™ll understand why when you get to the end of this post). Thanks for being part of my journey â€“ and I hope that youâ€™ll find something in my experiences that gives you new inspiration or motivation with your own life.
Here are the past four and a half years in my life … and what I learned from them:
2008 â€“ Beginning a New Career
When I first posted for The Change Blog in March 2008, I was just starting out on my journey. At that point, I was working full-time in IT. But at the end of July 2008, I left my day job to work for myself â€“ and became a paid, monthly blogger here on The Change Blog. I had a place on a part-time Masters in Creative Writing, and wanted to be able to fully commit to this, too.
Those first few months were exciting, and also challenging. I was pursuing several different directions â€“ paid blogging, keeping up two of my own blogs, and creating websites for clients. As part of my creative work, I began a new novel â€“ a more ambitious project than Iâ€™d ever dared tackle before.
1. Sometimes, you have to make a big leap.
It was a scary step to go from full-time employment to making a living on my own … but Iâ€™d been saving up for several months, so I had money in the bank to cover my living expenses.
2. If you want to work for yourself, itâ€™s a good idea to specialize.
I started out offering â€œwriting and website creationâ€, which in retrospect was far too broad.
2009 â€“ Moving from â€œFreelancerâ€ to â€œEntrepreneurâ€
During 2009, I wrote and published an ebook, The Staff Blogging Course (which I later revised and updated into The Bloggerâ€™s Guide to Freelancing).
In June of that year, I went to a small business seminar â€“ and met some wonderful small-biz types. At that point, I still saw myself as a â€œfreelancerâ€ rather than a â€œsmall businessâ€ … but this helped me begin to make the shift. That summer, I launched a new blog (my current one, Aliventures) and finished the first draft of my novel.
In November, my then-boyfriend proposed, and we began to plan for our wedding. We were also starting to think of moving from where we lived, in London â€“ as we were both due to finish our academic courses in summer 2010.
1. Seeing yourself as an entrepreneur or small business opens up new options.
Iâ€™ve always enjoyed my freelance work, but writing for pay is never going to quite be the same as writing on projects that I plan and control from beginning to end.
2. You need to put yourself out there.
I began to do more guest posting during 2009, getting the attention of bigger names in the blogging world â€“ this really helped me further my career.
2010 â€“ A Busy Summer
When I think back to 2010, the main part that stands out is the summer. We moved from London to Oxford in June, and were busy planning our wedding for September. I had my creative writing portfolio to finish for my degree â€“ the deadline was just a week or so before the wedding date.
Another highlight that summer was a family trip to Bangalore, to see the work of a small charity, Divya Shanthi, which our church supports. I was very moved by what we saw, and soon afterwards, I became a trustee of the UK charity that fundraises for Divya Shanthi.
I got married in September 2010, to my wonderful husband Paul. We had a very happy day, surrounded by family and friends … followed by a lovely, relaxed honeymoon in Northumberland. (I found that the world could survive if I didnâ€™t answer emails for two weeks!)
1. The further you can plan ahead, the better.
I had a busy, stressful time in August, when I was very busy with my creative writing portfolio, a joint-venture writing project, and getting all the details sorted out for the wedding. In retrospect, I took on too much during 2010 and should have cut back earlier on to avoid problems.
2. We have so much that we donâ€™t appreciate.
When I saw the depth of poverty that some families face in Bangalore, it made me realize just how lucky I am â€“ and it motivated me to help by fundraising here in the UK.
2011 â€“ New Business Directions
Once Iâ€™d finished my degree â€“ and all the busyness of summer 2010 was out the way â€“ I had more time to take on new projects and explore new directions in my business.
In the last couple of months of 2010, Iâ€™d started coaching fellow writers â€“ and this formed an important part of my work in 2011. I also launched two e-courses in 2011, which was my first foray into this form of teaching and content delivery. In November 2011, I spoke at an industry conference (BlogWorld) for the first time … and had great feedback.
2011 was also the year I knocked my novel into its final shape, with the help of a wonderful editor. Iâ€™d opened my eyes to the possibilities of self-publishing a novel in ebook form on Amazon and other major sites, something which was hitting the headlines during that year. In November 2011, I published my first novel, Lycopolis.
1. Youâ€™ll never know until you try.
I wasnâ€™t initially too sure about coaching or running e-courses … but I loved doing both, as they let me interact directly with writers. Iâ€™ve found that itâ€™s important to keep pushing myself a little bit beyond my comfort zone.
2. Thereâ€™s always another option.
At one point, I was worried that my novel would never get read by anyone, because itâ€™s so hard to get taken on by an agent. When I started researching self-publishing, though, I realised this would be a great direction for me. (Iâ€™d already self-published lots of non-fiction material by this point, so it wasnâ€™t too big a leap!)
2012 â€“ A Book … and a Baby
During 2012, I wrote Publishing E-Books For Dummies, which was published just a week ago as I write this (in September). This came about because of my speaking gig at BlogWorld in November 2011 â€“ an editor from Wiley got in touch to ask if Iâ€™d like to submit a proposal for a new book in their For Dummies series.
Just as I finished the final chapter of the book, in mid-June, something very wonderful happened. My husband Paul and I found out that we were expecting our first child. Iâ€™m now four months into the pregnancy, and very much looking forward to being a mother.
Of course, this heralds the biggest change yet! My Masterâ€™s degree, our move from London to Oxford, our wedding, my novel, my For Dummies book … all of that seems pretty small in comparison to bringing a new life into the world.
So, my business is shifting yet again. Iâ€™m giving up almost all my paid blogging work â€“ and saying a fond farewell to sites like The Change Blog that Iâ€™ve written for throughout the last few years. Iâ€™ve loved being a part of this community.
If thereâ€™s one thing Iâ€™ve learnt over the past four years, itâ€™s that life never stays still and you can never truly get stuck … thereâ€™s always something new to try.
Whatever change youâ€™re facing â€“ or hoping for â€“ right now, I wish you all the very best.
Photo by R’eyes