I’ve got a new job! I might be able to ‘have my cake and eat it’ after all!
As many of you will know, I left my 20+ year career in pharmacy 16 months ago and started my blog. It wasn’t easy to walk away from my part-time pharmacy job, with its stable income, flexible working and lovely team mates. However, I’d been unhappy in my job for some time and I longed to pursue a more creative career.
Over the years I’d tried to compensate for my uncreative job with hobbies such as sewing, crafts and writing. I also ‘DIYed’ my house to the nth degree, but it just wasn’t enough. As well as my creative interests, I’d always had a passion for money-saving and over the years I’ve helped my friends and family save money.
Not surprisingly, when my church decided to open a debt advice centre a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to be involved. I’ve been working one day a week as a voluntary debt adviser at the centre ever since, finding it far more satisfying and rewarding than my pharmacy job.
Leaving my job.
After much thought and prayer, and with the support of my family and friends, I handed in my notice. The following week I started my blog and carried on with my volunteer work at Cornerstone Money Advice, Nottingham.
As well as my voluntary role, I wanted to pursue my love of writing. I’d dabbled in creative writing and penned a few fan fiction stories, but I was keen to take things further. After a timely chat with my friend and neighbour, lifestyle blogger Amanda Cottingham from The Ana Mum Diary, I realised blogging could be just what I was looking for.
Life after pharmacy.
Although it was a tough decision to leave my pharmacy job, it didn’t take me long to realise I’d done the right thing. The week after I handed in my notice, I was vacuuming the living room when I stopped in my tracks, feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears. The reason? I could actually feel myself becoming happier! You see, for months I’d been feeling like a square peg in a round hole. When I finally left work, a weight was lifted. It confirmed my decision and I even found myself wondering why it took me so long!
I realise not everyone has a choice to leave work. I realise I’m in a privileged position. My husband has a good job and he’s been fully supportive of my decision to leave. In fact, Mr T and the kids have all been amazingly supportive.
My ‘career break’ began in earnest. I hoped it would be a ‘career change’. However, despite knowing I didn’t want to go back to pharmacy, I still couldn’t bring myself to let my pharmacy registration lapse. I suppose it was the safety net I needed but hoped I’d never have to use.
Blogging your way to riches?
After 16 months, I’m happy to say Maflingo is starting to bear fruit after all the hard work I’ve put into it. I’ve worked with some wonderful brands and had some lovely experiences. It hasn’t been easy, though. I’ve never worked so hard (for so little) in my life! Plus, in the early days, the kids saw less of me, not more.
I recently read a useful book about blogging by Emma Bradley and Lynn James called ‘Blogging your way to riches‘. In the last 12 months, you could say I’ve been ‘Blogging my way to riches’, but not riches of the financial kind (yet)! In fact, if I add up all the various costs of setting up and running my blog, I’m not sure I’ve made much money at all (I’ll know more when I do my tax return!). However, I’ve gained riches in so many other ways. Most importantly, I’ve had a much-needed creative outlet and learned how to write again. I’ve made lots of wonderful new blogging friends too, who’ve inspired me with their stories, struggles and adventures. I’ve laughed with them and I’ve cried with them. Their creativity and talent amazes me and their generosity and support has overwhelmed me at times.
Blogging: The good.
I’ve said before, blogging isn’t so much a learning curve, it’s a cliff face! Consequently, making it this far has given me a real sense of achievement. Also, as well as giving me a ‘voice’ and a creative outlet, blogging has given my confidence an unexpected boost. It’s a bonus I hadn’t anticipated. When I was little, I always used to ask my younger sister to make phone calls for me because I was afraid of speaking to people on the phone. I feared I’d say the wrong thing, get tongue-tied or make a fool of myself. Now I’m interacting and engaging with brands and PRs with much more confidence. After more than a year of blogging, I feel more self-assured (though I’m still prone to the occasional wobble). I can still remember being amazed and surprised when I pitched to a brand and got my first positive response. When it happened for the second and third time, I finally started to believe it wasn’t a fluke! I must be doing something right!
Blogging: The bad.
Unfortunately, my perfectionism means a blog post that should take me one hour takes me five (this has taken me about 5 hours of faffing already!). Why can I ‘talk for England’, rattle off lengthy comments on other people’s blogs and write 1000 word reviews of my friend’s multi-chapter story in less than an hour, but I can’t fire off a quick blog post?
Niche smiche! I’m still not sure about this whole niche business, either. It’s harder to include interiors, DIY, money-saving tips, lifestyle, crafts and my random musings now I’ve dropped down to two posts a week. A while ago I wrote about my struggles with finding my ‘niche’. I deciding in the end that my niche wasn’t about a topic at all. Instead, I concluded my niche had more to do with a ‘mood’. I wanted my niche to be ‘positivity’…I wanted it to be good news, (HERE). I can’t say I’ve completely shaken the ‘niche’ monkey off my back, though! It’s a work in progress.
Blogging can be frustrating and it’s easy to feel discouraged when you see others doing so well. I learned some important truths early on from other bloggers, which have really helped:
- Comparison is the thief of joy.
- Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.
- Content is king. This is perhaps the most important one of all. When it all seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start with conquering social media and the rest, just keep writing!
Blogging is hard work! I need to remind myself to set boundaries, for my sake and my family’s sake. I don’t always get the balance right. I can’t be ‘all over’ social media. I love being part of the blogging community and would love to read more blogs and get more involved. I like to encourage and support. The problem is, it takes me so long to write a post, it leaves me less time to mingle without it impacting family life.
Blogging: The future.
Did I expect to be earning a decent income from my blog after 16 months? Probably not. I realise it’s a marathon and not a sprint. It could even turn out to be a marathon where I never win a medal or prize, and that’s the problem. The ‘long-haul’ nature of blogging means I don’t have a reliable or sustainable income (yet). It’s not just about finances though. One of the unexpected consequences of my career break/career change is the ‘Identity Crisis’ it brought with it. I didn’t think it would bother me, but it does. Deep down I know my career doesn’t define me. My Christian faith reminds me of my true value (Jesus died for me). Nevertheless, I’ve felt a pang whenever I’ve been asked to state my job on applications for bank accounts, insurance policies and the like. Who am I? What is my job? Am I a SAHM? A pharmacist, (I’m still registered as one)? A writer? Debt adviser? I’ve actually found this to be one of the hardest things to come to terms with over the last 16 months.
I’ll admit I’ve struggled being a SAHM, if that’s what I’ve been. Even though I know it’s one of the hardest jobs there is (you just don’t get paid for it!) Before this career break, I’d taken a year out after the birth of our two girls, but that was it. The funny thing is, I’ve never been busier than I am now, but it still isn’t the same. I can’t help wanting to contribute financially. That isn’t coming from Mr T, either. He can see the first fruits of my blogging and has been so supportive. It’s me who wants a part-time job again – for lots of reasons. However, it needs to work for me and my family.
Having my cake and eating it.
In January, a year after leaving pharmacy, I started my job hunting in earnest. I was ready to go back to work, but I didn’t just want any job, either. In fact, I found myself agreeing with many of the points Mess and Merlot’s Charlie mentioned in her timely post: I don’t want a job – and that’s okay because we were looking for something that was as rare as ‘Steak Tartare’. We both wanted something that would fit in with school, kids, family life (and blogging). I also wanted to be able to keep up my voluntary work. More than that, after being so unhappy in my pharmacy job, I wanted a job I would enjoy – one that interested me and used my skills.
My prayers have been answered!
So to cut a long story short [insert eye roll here], I’ve only gone and got myself a job! What’s more, I’ve managed to get that rare ‘Steak Tartare’ job. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I’ve been given ‘more than I could ask for or imagine’ because it’s a ‘have your cake and eat it’ job! It ticks all the boxes and more.
New job. New beginnings.
I’m delighted to announce that from the beginning of May I will be working for Community Money Advice, the Christian Debt Advice Charity my own debt advice centre is affiliated to. It’s part-time (16 hours a week), remote-working and flexible. What’s more, it compliments my existing voluntary debt advice role and because it’s part-time I hope to keep writing my blog! Amazingly, even the skills I picked up in my pharmacy role (training, supporting, advising) and blogging (marketing and social media) won’t be wasted. I’ll be supporting and training volunteers and I was offered an extra 4 hours per week to help with social media campaigns.
I am so excited about this next phase of my career. I’m sure there will be challenges. I’m sure my busy life may become even busier at first: especially if I fail to master the art of writing speedy blog posts! However, debt advice is something I feel passionate about. It’s such a privilege to be able to help people to take control of their finances and escape from debt. What’s more, it hopefully means I can finally say goodbye to my old career and look forward to a new one.
Over to you.
If you’re a SAHM, or if you’re on a career break, returned to work after a career break or have changed careers, I’d love to hear from you. What are your experiences? Do you have any advice or tips? Are you in a job you love, or a job you hate? Are you thinking of changing careers? As always, I’m all ears!