Weeks 11-17

It would seem as though I’ve been a bit lazy with things over the past six weeks or so, considering how there’s not been a single entry since the start of December. However, the reasons behind my complete failure to keep a consistent stream of posts stem solely from the fact that I’ve simply not had enough hours in the day to do most other things.

First of all, in little over 5 weeks, I’ll be leaving Australia to go travelling for the following 9 or 10 months or so. This has meant that I’ve had to incorporate a whole load of planning and scheduling into my daily itinerary, usually for a couple of hours or so after work.

Then there’s South Stand Grumps, my Manchester City blog that has also been extremely neglected. Without even realising, a 5 or 6 week gap between entries appeared there too, which is criminal if you ask me. So, an executive intervention was required and after deciding to change the format to a weekly post on a relevant topic, it’s been much more manageable, and Sunday mornings have been spared for these entries.

Finally, and the most time-consuming of all, is the business start-up. I mentioned in my last post that an opportunity came up with a friend. Well, this has continued to snowball since then and we’re pretty much at the brink of going live.

So, when I’ve not been working the day job, writing about City or planning for my onward travels, every other second of free time has been spent writing business plans, cash-flow projections, building websites & marketing documents, and just anything else that has cropped up. I have literally been absorbed in all of this most weekends.

The biggest issue I have, however, is that it seems as though the more commitments I gain, the less time I have to fulfil them. For example, in the past, I could incorporate most of my other obligations into my 9-5 work-day: I’d spend my hour-long lunch in front of the computer, or turn a quiet Friday afternoon into something more productive.

However, since starting these temporary jobs since early December, it’s been so fast-paced that I’ve simply not had the time to do anything but work, really. Appalling, isn’t it?

Also, despite going to bed extremely early, I’ve also found myself unable to nod-off until quite late, meaning that I’m sleeping through ‘business time’ (although, the only reason why I’m able to write this is that I actually woke up at 4:30am on a Thursday morning. This could be a good start).

So, yeah. I’ve been busy, and now that I’m done regurgitating my barrel-full of excuses, onto my progress…

First of all, in order to focus solely on the business, I’m currently not searching for any writing work. It’s not as drastic a change in proceedings, however, as the business is coming along nicely and within time, it’ll mean that I can come full-circle with my plans.

So, what is it that the business does, I hear you ask? Well, we’re delving into the Social Media world and offering a product that allows companies to post to all of their portals with just one simple email. Not entirely unique, but good enough. On top of that flagship, we’ll be looking to offer the full spectrum of services to help with site traffic, increase of sales etc.

My role is to manage the content side of things. This means that once we’re up and running, I’ll be writing blogs on behalf of clients while dabbling with a few other bits. So, like I said, it’s very much incorporating my plans of writing full-time, but just a bit jazzed up.

At this current point-in-time – and as with any start-up – for every task we complete, several others emerge. This is probably because that in order to keep the start-up costs to a minimum, we’ve been doing everything ourselves. Therefore, we’re slightly behind our target but it’s not to say that we’re disheartened.

I do have previous experience in setting up a company and so have been putting that to good use with the business plan et al, whilst also chipping in with everything and anything, including website building.

The site is almost at an acceptable level for us to start directing clients to – so please feel free to have a butchers – but it’s nowhere near where we want it to be. There’ll be many tweaks along the way and once we get a few clients on board, we can probably afford to have a professional knock something up for us. This will have to do for now, though.

We’re about to send out our first targeted mail-shot and we have a few sales guys willing to work on a commission only basis, so very soon we can expect to have at least a dribble of leads coming in.

As we’re targeting the UK market to begin with and I’m not going to be in England for the majority of this year, I’ll be continuing to assist from afar, putting in a few hours a day while I travel. Once I’m back in the country, I’m hoping that it will be at a level for me to just jump straight in on a full-time basis.

So, that’s where I’m up to. At this point, I think it’d be complete bullshit if I said that I could maintain weekly updates. I can’t. Plain and simple. Monthly updates could be a possibility, however.

Weeks 9-10

Shitting hell – I did it again.

Despite my best intentions not to miss another week, the hunt for a new job completely cocked everything up and I ended up skipping last Friday’s entry.

As I’ve mentioned previously, whilst I’m still looking to eventually move from being a corporate slave into a self-employed free spirit, the real transition will begin in November 2014, as I will be back in the UK by then.

All my efforts at this stage are just giving me a head-start really – my main focus is to save enough money here in Australia to be able to head over to South & Central America for a few months next year.

So, as my contract in my last workplace ended two weeks ago, last week was all about finding new employment. This meant meetings with recruiters and working two days in a warehouse – which, for the record, was thoroughly enjoyable – before I was finally offered an ongoing temp role for a large drinks manufacturer/distributor on Friday. The sigh of relief that I breathed wasn’t just huge, it was colossally gigantic (that’s bigger than huge, right?)

My new job started on Monday and I’m fairly confident that I’ll be back in the swing of things within the next week or two, once I’m able to complete my work tasks with less conscious effort.

Enough of that; what have I been up to on the more interesting side of things, I hear you ask? Well, it’s not all been stagnant since my last entry, but I have moved away from seeking new clients for the time-being, as an interesting opportunity has arisen that is definitely worth exploring further.

This particular prospect all started back in Week 1, when I was discussing my career idea with my best mate from back home. He asked if I could knock up an article for him on haircuts, as he himself is setting up a company offering social network solutions and had created an example website – which was for a fictional hair salon in a Manchester suburb – in order to give a visual aid to potential clients. As he said this could potentially lead to a lot of paid business in the future and considering that he’s a mate, I offered to write it for free.

Within time, I was asked to produce content for the fictional website’s Homepage and About Us section too, which gave me the opportunity to fabricate a colourful company history ranging from run-ins with mobsters and near bankruptcy, right through to winning prestigious awards and styling Royal hair.

This turned out to be a very enjoyable task and as I was happy to help out a mate, I again declined payment for the services. It was about this point when my mate divulged more information in regards to his company’s offering and asked if I would like to more involvement than just writing articles on an ad-hoc basis.

Now, this would mean slightly straying from my initial plan, but from past experience, I realise that when you set out on your own in the business world, sometimes openings that are presented to you have to be grasped with both hands. This can ultimately mean going off on a tangent, but it can be for the greater good.

After weighing up the factors in the situation, I came to the conclusion that this is too good an opportunity to pass up and if I’m honest, there’s no-one I’d rather work alongside in a business venture. So, I accepted and I’m now on board.

My role is to manage all of the content on the company’s marketing material and website, as well as writing articles for clients. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be invoicing him for my time – so, not too far from what I’m seeking to do anyway.

My mate is also still employed at the moment and the company is very much at the beginning of its inception. Therefore, my spare time in the last two weeks have been spent drafting company logos and website/marketing content. However, it’s all on hold now, as I was advised that we haven’t got the foundations in place just yet, so we’re spending this weekend writing up a business plan, cash flow projection etc – generally just going back to the basics.

I have had time to tie up a couple of other loose ends, and I’ll still be writing the odd bit elsewhere in the foreseeable future. For example, I finished an article on visa regulations for migrant workers and I’m writing a full website for finance company, but the latter is on hold as I’m waiting to hear back regarding a number of regulatory questions that I posed to them.

Then there’s also the recipe site and the what’s-on guide that I’m contributing to: I wrote my first recipe last night and I’ll be sending my first restaurant review over to the what’s on guide this weekend.

So, whilst the primary focus is now on the business, there’s still a workflow coming in elsewhere. However, perhaps this should eventually be incorporated into the company – I’m not sure to be honest.

I’m just happy that a bit of normality has returned to my 9-5 life, so that I can now focus on my escape route – whatever that turns out to be – on a more consistent basis.

 

 

Weeks 5-8

As the title of this post would suggest, things have been a bit slack at my end over the past few weeks. There’s a massive gap that now needs filling and all the continuity that I once had has pretty much gone to shit. This is simply due to the fact that I took a little holiday and whilst I did anticipate that writing opportunities would be rather sporadic, I didn’t realise how few and far between they would actually be.

I realise that taking a break at this early stage might not be the most ideal scenario. However, my family were visiting and as I hadn’t seen them in two years, I wanted to lap up as much time with them as is possible – perfectly justifiable, if you ask me.

So, the holiday was cracking. We embarked on a road-trip to Sydney, and then took in some stunning beaches on Australia’s south east coast. Although my girlfriend and I have visited these areas previously, it was well worth retracing our steps just to fall in love with this magnificent country again.

By living in a city centre, you seem to miss the real essence of the land. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy Melbourne – it’s a fantastic place and will now always be my second home – but as with any bustling metropolis, the city isn’t a true representation of its nation. It’s really more of its own entity, much like London and England.

Anyway, I’m shit-chatting. Back to business.

Whilst the past few weeks have been generally unproductive on the writing front, it’s not all been doom and gloom: I completed my assignment for the national betting company and received a PayPal transfer for $700 – my first significant pay-packet; I wrote an article to pitch to the travel editor at the Guardian that was unfortunately declined, but it was a fantastic learning curve non-the-less and gave me a good insight into the world I’m seeking to enter; I also brought one further paid client on board who is in the financial industry and has asked for website content.

That pretty much brings us up to the start of this week, when I returned to Melbourne and began to run through the usual post-holiday motions. It started with a brief spell of denial followed by full acceptance of the circumstance soon after. Once I had my organising head securely fitted, I then compiled and prioritised a mental list of tasks, including drawing up an aggressive fitness regime to shift the excess weight gained in the past fortnight or so. Reluctantly undertaking those duties was the final phase on returning to reality.

If I remember correctly, picking up on the writing slotted somewhere in-between searching for a new full-time job – my current contract actually ends today – and the thorough cleaning of my apartment. Although despite all the good intentions, deep down I knew it was to be a slow resurgence.

However, as the week comes to an end, I do feel as though I’m finally making headway across the park. Granted, I’ve not been able to devote as much time to writing as I would have liked, but I’ve made headway on the finance website content and there have been some exciting developments with a friend who has set up a social network solutions company. Although, it’s still in the early stages, so I’ll report back more on that next week.

Elsewhere, there’s some repeat business from a previous client that I’ll also be picking up next week and I’m seeking alternative publications for my travel article pitch too.

My application to contribute to an online recipe website was accepted. Whilst I appreciate that this may seem rather odd, I can assure you that there is an element of sense in there. You see, my girlfriend and I fancy ourselves as half-decent cooks, so it could be a decent little earner for not much effort – we’d simply be detailing our usual creations.

Finally, there’s my football blog, South Stand Grumps, which will be resumed this weekend too. As we were on the road, I was unable to keep totally up-to-date with the goings on in England, an absolute nightmare for any normal fan, let alone a chap trying to document his thoughts and opinions. Above all, I think I’m just mostly excited about watching a live game for the first time in three weeks.

The only current concerning matter is on the cash-flow front. As I’ve mentioned, I’m precariously close to being unemployed with nothing concrete lined up. Now, I’m not ready to write in a full-time capacity just yet, so my attention may therefore have to be divided. I’ll need to learn how to effectively juggle writing with job hunting, which might seem easy, but it could also be my biggest challenge to date.

Week 4

There’s no trying to hide it; I previously attempted to mask a fairly uneventful week by saturating it with my thoughts on the lessons that I’ve learned and reflecting on my progress to date. Yawn…

So, no more sugar-coating, let’s just get it all out of the way now and say that Week 3 was fucking shit. Not just shit; fucking shit.

Apologies for the profanities, but at least it’s emphasised the extremity of the point I was making and we can now move on.

And on that notion, I am very happy to report that Week 4 has been the polar opposite of my experiences over the previous seven days, and the productivity is all owed to a knight in shining armour that came in the most bizarre form.

You see, on Sunday, I was undertaking a spot of housework and needed to pull the clothes maiden out of the built-in wardrobe – a generally menial task in usual circumstances, but was rendered somewhat complex in this instance due to an internal overcrowding issue.

In the struggle that ensued, I felt a slight twinge and then a sudden rush of pain in the lower-back area… Shit.

When my girlfriend arrived back from the supermarket – having completed her end of the ‘you-nip-to-the-shop-and-I’ll-do-the-laundry’ bargain – she found me crumpled on the bed, writhing in agony with my duties still unfulfilled. To make matters worse, she extracted the maiden from the closet with ease. Typical.

That was that then, I’d put my back out and so spent Monday between the sofa and bed, unsuccessfully trying to ascertain how to assume the most comfortable position. However, there was to be a silver lining to my cloud.

As I had freed myself from all other non-back related distractions, I was therefore able to work my way through a number of articles which I had lined up for that week, thus providing me with a taster of what my desired lifestyle would be like.

The work was actually piling up; firstly, the betting agency that employed my services for the ten Melbourne Cup blogs asked for an additional four on top. Also, the staff relocation article was ready to complete, after the questionnaires/interviews had been returned. Then there was two or three blogs required for my football site through the week, so all-in-all, I had a lot on my plate.

However, in the space of one morning, I had completed six of the Melbourne Cup blogs – all I have to do now is get one posted every other day – along with the staff relocation article and for the first time, I was able to put an hourly rate to my efforts.

I was shocked to find that I earned $80 per hour for that morning’s work – motivating to say the least.

I have since received repeat business from the ‘staff relocation’ client, and coupled with the extra work which the betting company requested, I’d say that’s also very positive.

In regards to the pieces which I’ve undertaken purely for experience; I had a Skype meeting with the ‘what’s on’ guide client on Sunday and that will hopefully pick up over the next few weeks. Apparently, there a chance to earn some decent figures down the line too, but for the moment, I’m just happy to gain further know-how.

Also, my environmental client from back home did eventually get in touch; they loved the article and it has since been posted on their website.

The final thing to report for this week is that I’m putting the finishing touches to my travel blog pitch for The Guardian newspaper. My friend on the inside is helping me tweak it, so that should be submitted by the start of next week at the very latest. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. And your toes. And anything else that crosses.

At the point where things appear to be moving at a steady pace, it wouldn’t be wise to take a road-trip to Sydney with your family that you’ve not seen in two years. However, that is exactly what’s happening.

My family arrives in the early hours of Tuesday morning and whilst I’ll be lapping up every minute of their company, I’m still hoping to have the odd ‘Business Time’ in the morning to continue my progress.

But the thing is that I’m not expecting much, so you shouldn’t either.

Week 3

Decisions are a part of life and most of us face a whole host of them on a daily basis. They can be both big and small and we all have our own ways of dealing with them, depending on the magnitude of the particular problem at hand.

For example: choosing what clothes to wear because Melbourne’s weather is so unpredictable, or whether to have peanut butter or cheese on your morning toast (have both, with a splash of hot sauce too), or whether to have another beer when you know that you’re already going to wake up with a stonking hangover.

You get the idea; all very tough choices.

However, despite it being a life-changing moment, my decision to try to write for a living seemed to be a relatively simple one. Well, it took me 28 years, numerous shitty office jobs and a trip to the other side of the world before the penny dropped, but once it did, that was it.

So, now that the dust has settled on that easy- yet-gigantic choice, numerous others have since arisen which are probably going to require a dash of logic and sensibility to overcome.

Without delving into all of them straight away, as that would be boring, I’ll just focus on one that features quite prominently in my mind at the moment – what will my niche be?

This question was pitched to me from my mate at The Guardian and was more focused towards journalism, rather than writing in general. However, it has got me wondering whether I should carve my niche now, or not pigeonhole myself and to continue creating a rather diverse portfolio of work.

I then scanned over a piece from a blogger by the name of Damyanti, where she explored writing out of your comfort zone. Whilst the post was directed towards creative writing, I think it’s an interesting notion for anyone in the industry to ponder.

For me, writing out of my comfort zone would be taking on projects with alien subjects. So, although it’s important to find my niche (I already have an idea what that is), I should be taking on as many topics as possible, as this can only be beneficial to my development. I’d hate the thought of going stale and regurgitating old tripe over and over again. Decision made; don’t focus on my niche just yet and play the field a bit more.

Continuing on with this theme; one choice I made last week has been the determining factor behind a slight lack of activity over the past few days, and even though it was a bit of a mistake, it’s one which I’ve made at the right time.

You see, I opted not to apply for any further work, so not to over-face myself. However, with one project requiring input from others before I can continue and another client deferring that job for a week, my workload was suddenly depleted.

My experience in sales roles should have told me that you need a constant stream of leads, and that’s something which I can’t afford to forget when I eventually become self-employed on a permanent basis – another valuable lesson learnt.

So, after completing my ongoing assignment with the betting company, I then focused all of my attentions to the piece for the environmental company. After some initial struggles with the keywords not quite fitting the subject, I managed to alter a few of the variables and by the end of my Business Time (see Week 2) on Tuesday, it was finished and sent over for review.

I’ve still not actually heard back though, so I will chase it up this evening. I’m sincerely hoping that it’s just a case of the client being busy, but there’s the chance that this could be another first…

Anyway, back to this week; by Wednesday, I was scratching around for work and so I took to the job boards again.

From reading other tales of those who have been in similar situations to me, I’ve found that everyone seems to have their favourite online spots for finding jobs, and what works for me might not work for you.

Last month, I was reading one guy’s blog who was a staunch advocate of elance.com, so I signed up to there. But, for me, it just seemed ‘proper shit’ (as they say in Manchester). Now, that’s not to say that it won’t work for someone else; it’s just not for me.

Another chap recommended pro-blogger.com, but most jobs posted on there seem a bit too high profile for little old me at the moment, so that’s just one I’m keeping an eye on for the time-being.

I’ve then come across sites such as bubblews.com and postloop.com – both come across as being utter bullshit and just completely untrustworthy. They’ll be avoided like the plague from here on in.

So, onto the site where I’ve had most luck – Gumtree.com. Every application that I’ve put in on there so far has had a positive response (actually, there was one submission which didn’t get any feedback, but the advert was a few weeks old so I’m discounting it).

After finding one listing on Wednesday which seemed quite interesting, I put an enquiry in and received a response back today. It looks like it could be quite a meaty affair from what the client has said, so I’ve scheduled to call him over the weekend to discuss further, as per his request.

With other jobs, I’ve left the pay rates to one side for the time-being, as my priority has been gaining experience and I’m receiving income from other sources. However, going by my gut instincts, I definitely want to agree the fee up front in this instance.

Elsewhere this week; I’ve posted another piece on my football site and I’ve had some positive news regarding a travel blog pitch that I’m discussing, but I’m not going to disclose any more on that just yet as it’s still early days.

All-in-all, despite not been overly productive, I’m still moving ahead and progressing, so it’s just about applying a bit of patience with the projects that are currently out of my hands.

The slight respite has meant that over the last two days I’ve been able to revisit my novel, which has been neglected in recent weeks. Hopefully I can give it regular attention from here on in.

Week 2

Around three and half months ago, when I first started my football blog, South Stand Grumps, it was important to feel as though there was an ongoing progression with my work.

As it was just a hobby in the beginning, and I was simply a drop in the already saturated market that are unofficial Manchester City fan sites, progression came in the form of mere recognition and the chance to reach out to a wider audience.

Obviously, as an industry novice, I was also looking to learn as much as possible and so began reading other football articles from a different perspective, as well as lapping up any guides or advice that was readily available on the internet.

Naturally, I’ve applied the same logic since I decided to take my writing to the next stage. For example, at the end of every week, I find myself pondering: What have I learnt this week? What ‘new’ things have I done this week? Am I one step closer to reaching my goal?

I think this stems from spending almost a decade in sales environments, where you constantly have to adapt your pitch and styles in order to consistently improve your results. From experience, I’ve discovered that whilst a certain tact or angle might work wonders on more than one occasion, it can be dangerous to believe that it’s the finished article. You can never stop learning, as many wise people have probably uttered (I’m not too sure).

So, back to the point, in terms of productivity and progression from where I was this time seven days ago, I think that I can definitely tick both boxes.

If I had to break down my week, I’d say that Monday was probably my most constructive day. Firstly, I received an email back from an application that I posted last week. The client wants a piece on relocating staff, so feeling as though she was perhaps looking to bounce a few ideas around from the general gist of her response, I did exactly that.

I wasn’t sure whether this was good protocol or whether I should have just asked for the requirements, but it seemed to be received well and by Wednesday, we had a clear structure in place.

I’ve since started writing the piece, but got only as far as a rough intro, as I had to wait for the green light from her to contact some companies to retrieve a few case studies. I fired what I had over to the client this morning for review and received a ‘thumbs up’ along with the first interview contacts for next week, so that’s now moving along nicely.

Also on Monday: I published my bi-weekly blog for my first client, the national betting company; I applied for one voluntary position (experience is priority at the moment); I then pitched my services for free to a friend back home, who has an organisation in the environmental sector.

It’s probably good time to mention a rather bizarre fact at this point: seeing as though I’m on the other side of the world, I’ve had to pattern my sleep around Manchester City’s fixture schedule.

That might not seem too strange, but it has required a few 4am midweek starts, along with a couple of occasions where a game beginning at 1am has been sandwiched between two 3-4 hour kips. ‘His poor girlfriend’, you must all be thinking.

The weird part is that I now rise at 4am every single day. There is some sense behind this, as I’ve realised that it’s probably quite beneficial in my circumstance. You see, I’m not so much a night person, in that, after a full day of mind-numbingly repetitive office work, the last thing I want to do when I return home is engage my brain.

I therefore found that by waking up at this time, I have a full three hours before both my girlfriend and I get ready for work, and I’m more alert than I would be at 6pm (once I’ve thrown a coffee down my neck).

So, this is what I’ll now be referring to as my ‘Business Time’ – For the record, I’m aware of the Flight of the Conchords song with a similar title and what it’s in reference to. If I’m honest, that’s probably why I chose to name it that.

So, I’ve now got my ‘Business Time’ at the most optimum point for me, which means that I can give 100% to my writing and then whatever’s left can go to the monotonous work tasks. I’m finally sticking it to the man; the man who pays me though. Hmmm…

In Tuesday’s ‘Business Time’, I received confirmation that my recent Danny Tiatto Interview (see Week 1) was now published on a second site that I contribute to and had received a lot more positive feedback.

I also received emails back from the two voluntary applications that I’d submitted the day before, and both were keen to move forward.

For the first one, I’ve been liaising with my friend in the environmental sector over the past few days. I will be creating a blog which will have links to her site and I’ll be posting a couple of articles for her over the next few weeks.

The other job is for a ‘what’s on’ guide. I spoke with the client last night and we’ve agreed to discuss further over the weekend, but it certainly looks promising at this early stage.

So, that now means I have four clients currently on board (albeit only two of those are paid), with one other (a friend’s company in the finance sector) still tentative. The fact that all five companies are all in different industries will certainly help me build a diverse portfolio and as I keep saying, that’s my priority at this stage.

As I’m juggling a full-time job, as well my commitments to South Stand Grumps, I think this is the point where I decide not to bite off more than I can chew. I’m conscious about over-committing myself and not delivering, so whilst I’ll be keeping an eye on the job boards, unless it’s something truly spectacular, I won’t be applying for any more positions just yet.

Elsewhere this week; I’ve built a new spreadsheet to keep track of clients and payments. I’m a bit of an Excel geek, so any form of planning or arranging usually revolves around a new spreadsheet. I also thought it wise to create a template invoice, so that it’s readily available should clients request it. I’ve then assigned each client their own ID number for administrative purposes. ‘Shit just got real’, as Martin Lawrence once said.

Finally, I got two pieces of good feedback in the latter half of the week.

The first came from the betting company in regards to the pieces that I’ve working on for them – I posted my fourth out of the ten they assigned me on Thursday – it all seems to be positive, so I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing for them.

The second was on South Stand Grumps from my friend who works at The Guardian in London. He was impressed and has mentioned looking into sub-editing as a way to earn extra cash, so it’s something else to explore down the lines which I hadn’t previously considered.

To answer the three questions I mentioned earlier: I can’t say that I’ve learnt anything new this week, I’ve just reaffirmed old beliefs; Bringing on my first piece of work from an advert is something new; I believe that I’m definitely closer to my goal, but there’s still a long way to go yet.

Before I sign off for the week, I’d like to add that if anybody would like to offer advice/feedback/criticism, then please do leave me a comment.

Week 1

First of all, this isn’t actually ‘Week One’ in the sense that on Monday, I didn’t just wake up and decide that I was going to try and write for a living.

If, at this point, you’re completely baffled about what I’m gibbering on about, please pop over to the ‘My Story’ page and have a quick gander there before continuing on and possibly creating further confusion. In fact, even if you see yourself as a bit of an intellectual and can probably fathom the essence of everything by my rather informative tagline, it might still be worth investing the time anyway.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes – this is not ‘Week One’. This is, however, the first week of me documenting my attempts to create the perfect lifestyle to return to, once I eventually arrive back in Manchester (which is currently scheduled for around November 2014).

Just for the record, Anne also has dreams and hers are to work in an environmental capacity, so we are exploring options for her as well. My posts may seem very self-centred, in that I’m only going to babble on about my progress, but I assure you that this is not the case.

So, in terms of a timeline of key events to date; it all escalated around three to four weeks ago, when I had the idea that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. Anne and I started looking into courses and making a rough plan of how we could juggle university with starting a family. Initially, I wasn’t looking to jump into anything until we got back to Manchester, but to meticulously plot out every detail of my impending plan.

From there, I contacted Peter, an old school friend of mine who works for the Guardian newspaper in London. In his words of wisdom, he advised against the course, as he didn’t feel it would really strengthen my prospects and just recommended that I write as much as possible, whilst also trying to carve my niche.

For me, waffling on about football and travel for a living seems ideal; they are two topics which I’m passionate about and I’m more than comfortable in discussing either extensively, so to do that for a living would be a dream. Niche found and step one complete.

I knew that my prospects of landing a decent sports or travel gig right now are bleak to say the least, so it was back to the drawing board in terms of how I could position myself now in order to improve my chances in a year’s time.

Firstly, I have my football blog and have even managed to conduct my first interview with a Manchester City legend by the name of Danny Tiatto. My subsequent write-up received relative widespread acclaim for an amateur, so it was very much a success in my eyes.

Sticking with the football theme, my application to write for WhatCulture.com, a new and upcoming site on the football scene, was accepted in the last few weeks also. They have just received Premier League accreditation and so should this still be the case when I’m back in Manchester, then I’ll be able to attend football matches as a Press Officer. Once again, this is another good coup which could prove to be invaluable down the line.

The only problem with everything so far is that my projected weekly income is currently zilch, and which means I’d have to find alternative employment once I’m back home to support my family ambitions. This would inevitably be office work, as I’ve kind of pigeon-holed myself now, and I know for a fact that it would eventually kill all of my writing dreams, as juggling a 9-5, babies and writing would surely be nigh impossible.

Therefore, I needed a new plan and one which would ensure that I avoid re-entering the world of unsatisfying office jobs at all costs.

I was struggling to forge any concrete thoughts or schemes, but then up popped my Melbourne-based friend, Ash, who is an SEO Executive at a national betting company. He planted the Content Writing idea into my head and has subsequently assisted in finding me my first paid employment in my new career.

The job is to write ten pieces on the prestigious Melbourne Cup, which, for those Brits who didn’t know, is Australia’s equivalent to the Grand National. The blogs are to be written twice weekly for the next 5 weeks (I’m currently at the end of my first week).

Elsewhere, I’ve found numerous sites of people who have done exactly what I’m doing and it’s all very inspirational. Ash has also advised me to create a Google+ profile and given me an insight into the SEO universe.

I’ve signed up to elance.com, which I’m not too sure about just yet, I’m checking other job-boards such as pro-blogger and I’ve updated other social networking sites to reflect my new career position: Freelance Writer.

I’m still working full-time at present, and the ‘masterplan’ is to continue with this until March, when Anne and I will leave to do our final travel stint. Throughout this period, I will offer services for free to friends and contacts to build up my portfolio, whilst also taking on any other paid projects that I can find.

I will then try to secure some form of funding through regular blogging of our adventures in South America; surely going overland from the most southern tip of the continent, right through to Mexico City will be of interest to some people?

Once we arrive back in Manchester, it’s all systems go. By then, I’m hoping to have made a number of contacts and have a wide portfolio of work to showcase.

Hopefully, I will be able to give tips and hints to others in a similar position to me, but from what I’ve gathered at the moment; what works for one person, might not necessarily work for the next.

One other milestone that I’ve failed to mention; I’ve also started work on a novel. It’s very much in the early stages and has taken a back seat recently but I’m hoping to revisit it in the next couple of weeks.

This is the start of the transition, and I’m full of optimism with only a hint of trepidation right now. Below are links to the pieces that I’ve mentioned above:

Danny Tiatto Interview

Freelance Work on Melbourne Cup

Recent Piece for WhatCulture on Manchester City