My bizarre path to freelancing content marketing

Many moons ago, I wanted to work ‘in computers’.

This stemmed from a boyhood love of technology that remains today, but was also led by the rapid realisation that by opting for my first choice of career (journalism) I wasn’t exactly going to shower myself with riches.

I should point out at this juncture that I’ve never worked solely to earn money. In my book, it’s an awesome side effect of having something meaningful to do each day, but even as a kid I recognised that the ability to gradually increase my earning potential would be key to leading a successful, fulfilled and comfortable life.

OK, maybe I didn’t think quite that deeply about it, and had I known back then that the average wage for a software engineer, come my late thirties, would be $92,000, I might have studied a little harder during those particular lessons.

Alas, my route from education to where I am now (a freelance content marketer) was something I simply couldn’t have predicted.

Here’s how I think I did it.

I did actually work ‘in computers’ — for a bit

Having discounted journalism during a bout of work experience in that field, I decided to instead follow my nose and head down the tech route.

This proved to be a fairly smart decision, as it threw me straight into the deep end of the modern workplace; I essentially went from school life into that of the office almost immediately and with little to no training. It was tough, but also an incredibly efficient way to build my character — rapidly.

I jumped at every available opportunity

My career in computing took on many forms during my time at two very different businesses.

I went from network support to software support, before heading into on-site installation and training. Eventually, I somehow wound up in sales (which also combined marketing) before eventually finding myself sat on the board of the last firm I worked for.

None of this happened by chance. I had to jump at every opportunity I spotted and then work dammed hard to become proficient at something of which I had no prior experience.

Crucially, these many different experiences taught me how to conduct myself in business; a lesson you simply can’t learn from any book or day course.

When the time was right, I made the leap

I’d always harboured a desire to ‘go it alone’ and make something of myself.

Some people do this on a whim and it works brilliantly. Others plan for months — years, even — only for things to rapidly head south when they finally make the leap.

It’s an incredibly tricky and risky thing to do.

I’d like to think I sat somewhere in-between those camps, because I made the leap into independent working both at the height of my career as a company director and after an awful lot of soul searching about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

And you know what? It was the best decision I ever made.

Final thought

I have no interest in building my micro business into something more significant. I don’t want staff, investors or shareholders. And that won’t change, no matter how long I marvel at the pay gaps between the world’s top CEOs and their workforces.

Very few of us will ever reach the heady heights of people like Apple’s Tim Cook, but the thing I’ve learned during my journey through working life thus far is that you simply can’t — and shouldn’t — plan every step of the way.

Have goals, sure, but don’t sweat every detail.

Let things happen naturally, grab every opportunity, and follow your nose as the path in front of you clears. It’s working for me so far!

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