When you hear the word retirement, what do you think of? Relaxing, doing nothing, traveling, volunteering, or finally having the time to do the things you have been putting off for a year? For me, I found the best job of my life during retirement.
About My Previous Jobs
I’ve had several jobs over the years, from a waitress in high school to the Chief Information Officer of a school district.
I earned my certificate as a Respiratory Care Practitioner and worked in the medical field for about 10 years. Then, I decided to go back to school to get my teaching certificate and became a business and computer teacher. After several years in the high school classroom, I accepted a position as a technology integration specialist, then moved on to be the director of technology and finally the Chief Information Officer for the school district. I enjoyed all my positions and loved the people. But while I enjoyed the work, it wasn’t my passion. I’m passionate about three things: family, Christmas, and travel.
A Part-Time Gig
As my son grew and became more independent, I knew I needed to find something to occupy my time when he left for college. So when he was in high school, I started a side business of ghostwriting and virtual assisting.
The part-time gig was great, and the extra money helped pay for college, vacations, and other extras.
What Will I Do When I Retire?
When I was about 56, I started thinking about retirement and what I wanted to do when I left my job. I planned to retire at 62. I knew I would have to find something to occupy my time or I would be very bored. I wanted an active and productive retirement for as long as possible.
We have always enjoyed traveling, and we wanted to travel more. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to be a travel writer and write about the places we visit and maybe make a little extra money to feed my passion and travel more?”
I didn’t know much about the world of travel writing, so I started researching. I even attended a travel writing conference to learn more. After that, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.
I spent evenings and weekends writing several articles for free or minimal pay to get the bylines while still employed.
Yearning For Scheduling Freedom
I traveled on long weekends and days off, but I felt stifled by a fixed work schedule. I yearned for more freedom in scheduling. It seemed like the best trips or events were happening when I had to be at work. I wanted to be in control and work the hours and days I desired. I’m a night owl, and I wanted the freedom to work in the evenings and well into the night if I wished.
When an opportunity for early retirement opened up, I jumped at the chance. I retired from my full-time job to become a travel writer. I was 58 and finally off the clock.
My co-workers knew my passion was travel and, as a retirement gift, gave me a Southwest Airlines gift card for a future trip.
Slow Start To Travel Writing
While I still was writing for others and doing virtual expert work, I wasn’t putting myself and my writing out there. I didn’t think I had enough experience or my writing wasn’t good enough, etc., to pitch the higher-paying publications. You know how you second guess yourself… that was me.
After about a year, I got the nerve to submit an article in December of 2019 to TravelAwaits. The site editors liked my writing, and they wanted more articles.
Even during the pandemic, I was still pitching and receiving assignments. Even though we were not permitted to travel for a while, my previous trips gave me plenty to write about. Writing and reliving the trips I have taken is fun, and it helps me relive happy memories. I wrote consistently.
Pandemic Silver Lining
As soon as things started opening up in our state, we began traveling again. During the pandemic, the silver lining for me was finding places we had overlooked as we traveled to other states. COVID forced us to discover the treasures in our backyard and see all the fantastic things in the Keystone State.
I assumed it would be another year or two till I had the experience and enough bylines to ask for free stays or trips, and I was paying for all travel out of pocket. After I had about 25 articles published, I started receiving invitations to visit places at their expense, and that was a happy surprise.
Destinations were reaching out to me asking if I could visit and showcase their town or activity.
The places we have been invited to visit have surprised me.
Sales and pitching were always something that seemed scary and not something I would ever want to do. But I have found that I love the pitch process with both writing outlets and destinations. I find it fun to pitch. (Call me crazy!) So that was a pleasant surprise.
Another surprise was how wonderfully we were treated on the various press trips. Whether it was an individual trip or a group trip, the destinations treated us well. Also, the people in every town we have visited have been very friendly and helpful.
Some people’s reactions to my becoming a travel writer are amusing. Some are shocked that I would want to work after retirement. But to me, travel and travel writing are fun!
Others think I travel and then come home and write an article in an hour, and that’s it. There is so much more to it. I spend an average of about eight hours writing each article. Plus, there is follow-up and pitching stories. When they hear about that part of the job, it doesn’t sound as glamorous to them.
The perks of being a travel writer are wonderful. We have visited at least 12 states in the past 6 months, and we have taken a week-long Route 6 trip within Pennsylvania, plus weekends in Lancaster, Kane, Bradford, and others.
We have enjoyed a hot air balloon ride, segway tour, gyroplane ride, day driving a Polaris Slingshot, and other fun activities.
What I Would Do Differently
I would not have waited so long to submit my first article to TravelAwaits. I would also have started pitching destinations sooner, but considering it was in the middle of a pandemic, I didn’t really have a choice.
I spend a lot of time traveling and writing about my travels, but I love every minute of it. I’m happier now than I have ever been, and I genuinely have found the best job of my life during retirement.
Tips To Get Started With Freelance Writing
By following the tips below, you, too, might find freelance writing is the best job of your life:
- Believe in yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself and your writing, others won’t have confidence in you either.
- Take action. Don’t procrastinate. They can be baby steps but take action.
- Write consistently. The more you write, the better your writing will be.
- Use a spelling and grammar checker. I use Grammarly and it also checks for plagiarism.
- Learn to pitch yourself and your ideas.
- Set time boundaries. It is easy to let work creep into your evenings, and you could work nonstop. (I have issues with this.)
- Don’t take rejection personally. Everyone gets rejected on pitches. It isn’t anything personal, just not the right fit for their demographic.
- Write about things you enjoy so that you find personal satisfaction in what you are writing about.