Week 20 – The End and Beginning

The Road Behind

The past three weeks have been pretty monumental for me. Firstly, I moved from Seattle to Australia with my girlfriend Nayoung. I’ve also taken a huge step towards accomplishing the first of my two major life goals; goals I wrote down in an Evernote document 8 months ago and read almost every day as part of my daily morning ritual.

Though I’d love to talk about all the amazing adventures I’ve been going in Australia I’m afraid that I really don’t have as much to say after three weeks in the country as I would have hoped. My time in Australia thus far has been far from a vacation. I’ve worked three 12 hour shifts over the last three days, and this came after a long process of looking for a job day-in and day-out in Brisbane.

I did get the chance to enjoy three days in Melbourne before heading north to the warmer climate of Queensland, “The Sunshine State”. Strangely, I feel as though I have a better sense for Melbourne after those three days than I do for Brisbane after nearly three weeks. My time in Melbourne was a spent exploring the major tourist attractions, gardens, and museums, while my time in Brisbane has been largely dominated by finding work for both me and my girlfriend. I’ll be sure to update you with my thoughts on Australia once I get the chance to take some time off and explore the country, meet the locals, and enjoy everything that the beautiful city of Brisbane has to offer. For the time being, I’d like to talk about that major goal I alluded to earlier. Here’s what I wrote down in that Evernote document:

“Achieve complete career autonomy. Make or find a creative job which allows you to work anywhere you want, anytime you want.”

I’ve worked in a variety of fields since graduating from college. I studied computer science and began the first few years of life out of college in that field as an independent game developer, but I grew slowly disinterested and unhappy with computer programming over time and have shifted away from that career trajectory. I’ve been a headhunter and a Web Developer in Seattle, an English teacher in Korea, and now I work at a restaurant in Brisbane, but I didn’t enter into any of these jobs expecting to find a long-term career. They were meant to pay the bills and buy time until I could find something that I really wanted to do.

It was during my stay in Korea that I chose to focus my spare time on writing. It was getting too easy to play videos all day in a country where you couldn’t speak the language and had already explored most of the city and I wanted to be doing something productive with my extra time. I’ve written regularly over they years to better feedback than from my other creative endeavors and its something I’ve always enjoyed doing. After keeping up with it for several months I realized that writing was something I could see myself doing every day.

The Road Ahead

It brings me great pleasure to announce that I’ve taken my first major step towards becoming a full-time writer. Depending on how these next few weeks shake down, I’ll have weekly or monthly paid writing work with between 3 and 5 different blogs.

I initially applied to writing positions out of necessity. I assumed my writing skills were still a ways out from being professional quality and originally hadn’t planned to apply for paid writing work until the end of the 5 and 50 year long challenge, but I was having trouble finding work in Australia and needed to find a way to start making money before I bled through too much of my savings. I literally googled “how to find online writing jobs”, followed suggested links to various job boards for freelance bloggers, and applied to a small handful of sites which I felt best suited my writing experience. I applied to two tech review sites, two gaming websites, and one all-round news source. Much to my surprise I received replies from all of them with requests to write paid trial articles, and I have already accepted a weekly writing spot with a software review website!

The rate for the majority of these websites is 5 cents (US) per word, which is a pretty standard for newer writers like myself. It come out to about 20-30 dollars per hour (depending on the amount of research I have to do to before writing) which is a very livable wage, but the total hours per week of paid writing I have at the moment isn’t quite enough to subsist off of. It’s still far too early in the process of picking up and choosing writing jobs to call myself a full-time writer, but the road to being a self-employed “autonomous” content creator is now closer than it ever has been before.

The 5 and 50 Story

It seemed obvious to me that the first step to becoming a full-time content creator was to just start making content and worry about everything else later. This blog, 5 and 50, was invented purely as a means to bring me closer to the goal of becoming a full-time content creator. The path wasn’t exactly clear, but if I wanted to write and make videos and get payed for it, how was writing and making videos not the best way to go about achieving that goal? I was constantly asked by my friends why I wasn’t advertising 5 and 50 or trying to grow my readership. My answer was always the same – it wasn’t my goal to have this be a popular blog. I was doing this to learn.

5 and 50 made up the bulk of my resume and example articles while applying for paid writing positions. Multiple editors cited pieces of 5 and 50 they liked as their reason for accepting me. One editor cited a piece of 5 and 50 he didn’t like as a reason for accepting me. In reference to my first attempt at stand-up comedy, he said something along the lines of “You’re much newer to writing than the people I generally look for, but I’m replying to you because I like your hustle. Most comedians would be trying to bury an act like that but you put it on the internet for everyone to see. Respect.”

This blog was certainly never critically acclaimed or widely read (which would have been nice), but it achieved its intended purpose with flying colors. With that in mind, its with a heavy heart that I’m announcing to all three of my readers that the 5 and 50 year-long challenge will be coming to a 32 week premature conclusion. The reason I took on this challenge was to get paid to make stuff. Though I’ve achieved that goal, that isn’t the primary reason I have to discontinue the year long challenge. The real reason is that life is now getting the way.

With roughly 20 hours of paid writing to do per week I still need to find other ways to pay my rent until I can make a full-time job of this. I’ve started working at a restaurant which has opened its doors in just the past few days, and for those of you who have never worked at a restaurant before this means that things have been absolutely chaotic. I’ve worked three straight doubles (12 hours days) over the last three days as we are short staffed for the time being, and I have had to find time during the few hours left in the day when I’m not sleeping to work on my writing and spend time with my girlfriend. Between my writing jobs, my day job, my girlfriend, and 5 and 50, something had to go.

This isn’t all to say that 5 and 50 as a blog or an idea is shutting down. Things are just going to change – here’s how:

5 and 50 is the new home for all of my professional writing content

I’m going to need somewhere to host all of my written articles and this website makes the most sense for it. I’ve already registered an LLC for 5 and 50 and payed for a year of webhosting, plus I really like the name “5 and 50”. It should be pretty easy to port over the business to take on all of my writing income.

The primary focus for this website will be to provide those who are interested with an outlet to follow my writing and content creation. I’ll use this site to post all my published content, make all relevant announcements about projects I’m working on, the new blogs I’m writing for, and the strides I take towards becoming a full-time writer and world traveler.

New original content for this website will not be restricted to the 5 and 50 format

This isn’t to say I’ll never do another 5 and 50 challenge, I really enjoy the format and have a ton of fun making them. There’s still a time and place for 5 and 50 challenges in the future but it might be a little while before I come back to this idea. New original content for this blog will likely be focused around more personal subjects such as life in Australia (akin to my blog about life in Korea) or about my career as an aspiring writer.

Interestingly, I falsely assumed that people would be more interested in hearing project ideas and tips for learning new skills (5 and 50 articles) from someone they’ve never heard about (me) than they’d be interested in hearing personal stories about someone they’ve never heard about (also me). This turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Despite doing much more SEO for this website than any of the other blogs I’ve done in the past this one has attracted far less organic growth. All this despite the fact that I produced much more regular content for 5 and 50 than my other blogs. In retrospect, it makes sense that people would rather read stories about strangers than take advice from them.

Before I sign off my last 5 and 50 article I want to give a huge thanks to the two people who supported me most through the project, my amazing girlfriend Nayoung and my father Tom.

You’ll be hearing much more from me soon.

– Aleco



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