The single biggest benefit of being a freelance writer is the flexibility it affords. I still work hard, but unlike my previous role as a veterinarian, I can adapt my schedule to fit my life, rather than the other way around. And this means I don’t have to miss out on important family events or time with friends anymore.
A combination of several factors inspired me to seek out a portable income. Flexibility aside, I wanted to have enough time to take care of my physical and mental health. Now I feel like I have a much healthier work-life balance.
During my seven years as a full-time veterinarian, I mainly worked in general practice, primarily seeing dogs and cats—first for a few years in Sarasota, Florida, and then two years in the Middle East. Although I liked working with and helping animals, after a while I didn’t enjoy things like surgery and anesthesia. Also, as an introvert, I sometimes found the pace of the busy days to be tiring.
For my two years in Abu Dhabi, I worked a lot of overnight emergency shifts in addition to my day shifts, and I started to suffer some of the effects of burnout and lack of sleep. At that point, I decided to take a break.
I wanted to add more flexibility and travel to my life, so I signed up for an online program on getting paid to teach English. I have to admit that I never ended up teaching English, but I still enjoyed going through the program. It came to me at the right time—I got it at about the same time I started experimenting with copywriting and travel writing. Although I haven’t taught English yet, the course helped me see how many different ways there are to create a portable income.
As a freelancer, I mainly write for the pet, veterinary, and travel industries. This primarily includes articles, web page content, emails, and long-copy sales letters. I’ve also won a few writing contests, and I worked as the editor of a newsletter for a few months.
With my go-anywhere income, I can choose to prioritize time with family and friends. Plus, it’s easier to make time for travel. I just got back from two months in Kolkata, India. I’d visited before and I have friends there, so I thought, why not take advantage of my new flexibility and stay for a longer time?
One of my favorite things about my time in India was my cook, who came every day to prepare meals for me—her cooking was better than the food I had in any restaurant…and it cost just $30 per month. I also enjoyed the literary side of the city—the world’s largest second-hand book market is there, as well as the home of Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner in literature.
Living in Kolkata was a special experience. While less glamorous than traditional sightseeing, it was good to really dive in deep and experience the culture and daily life. That’s the type of slow, meaningful travel that I could never do with my previous career, when I had limited vacation time. I hope to do this again in the future, and explore another country.
Finding my feet as a writer took time, but today my freelance work pays the bills, and is continuing to grow. My dream now is to get a book published, too, and I’m continuing to work toward that goal when I can.
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