- What do they say about the best-laid plans?
- From 15 hours of teaching to 40+ hours per week—did I make a HUGE mistake?
- A great place to work is about more than a decent salary—it’s about the people
- Streaks and routines help me feel like I’ve accomplished something every day
- My streaks don’t just apply to hobbies, fitness or self-improvement
- When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
- Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad
- A few twists and turns in the road, but I’m happy with where the journey has taken me
- It’s been a great two years—what do the next two hold?
This blog is being published on my fiftieth birthday. It felt like the perfect occasion for an update on my English copywriting and proofreading journey. It’s been just over two years since I left a 25+ year teaching career to reinvent myself as an English copywriter and proofreader.
The English copywriter and proofreader journey has not gone as expected—but it was never one I anticipated taking. Being removed from my job of teaching EFL at a university after 17 years was my catalyst for change. I wanted to embark on a career where my success depended on me. After years of teaching and correcting written English, becoming an English copywriter and proofreader seemed like my best option.
What do they say about the best-laid plans?
At first, I planned to focus on the Korean market, but then life threw me the first of many curveballs. After several small gigs I found on freelancing sites (Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer), I secured two steady copywriting jobs. One started in May of 2021, and the other in July. I was working about 20 hours a week, building my site and learning as much as I could about my newly chosen career.
A year ago, I wrote about “How I’ve learned to succeed as a freelance copywriter in under a year.” But are things still peachy keen another year on? Interestingly, that post has recently become my blog’s third most popular one.
From 15 hours of teaching to 40+ hours per week—did I make a HUGE mistake?
By December 2021, I’d been promoted to the marketing team lead in one of those positions. That meant I was working remotely 40 hours a week. I’m happy to report I’m still enjoying that position. But I wasn’t disappointed when the other copywriting job ended in April 2022. After working 3-4 days a week with five months of paid vacation at my previous job, 40+ hours a week was quite a change.
I’d envisioned a freelance career full of the freedom to set my own schedule and work when I felt like it. But this remote position has taught me a lot about marketing and copywriting. Additionally, it’s been a steady source of income. From my initial efforts trying to secure gigs, I realized that half the battle with freelancing is finding work. It takes a lot of effort to find gigs. You have to wade through the crap ones, apply for the good ones, and hope no one underbids you. I don’t miss that.
I still plan on working towards more of a freelance role at some point. Armed with what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about my new career in my current position, I’m even more confident I’ll succeed.
A great place to work is about more than a decent salary—it’s about the people
As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t enjoy my job nearly as much if I didn’t work with such a great team of people. Our marketing team is composed of nine individuals from varied backgrounds and locations. But my marketing director has assembled a stellar team of people who work well together. Though we’re perpetually busy, and some days are chaotic, I never dread logging on to work in the morning. Work will always be work, but I enjoy my job.
Not only is my team fantastic, but the company I work for is also great. For example, employees are free to spend several months a year working from elsewhere. I’ve had meetings with fellow employees who’ve relocated to Thailand for a few months while continuing to fulfill their daily duties. Another chose to come to Korea—and I got to meet my first coworker in person! We went out for a meal and a few drinks recently. Though we’ve chatted online and in video conferences several times, meeting in person was fantastic.
Though I’m not looking for side gigs, several Korean clients have contacted me via my site or social media to request my services. I’ve been able to squeeze in these jobs in the evenings and on weekends. This validates my belief there is a place for me in the Korean market. When I decide to focus my efforts on freelancing in the Korean market, I know I can succeed. If I’m getting work without looking, I can only assume there will be more jobs available when I start seeking out Korean clients.
Streaks and routines help me feel like I’ve accomplished something every day
If you’ve read any of my previous updates, you’ll know that I’m a creature of habit, and I enjoy streaks. I’m happy to report that my streaks are all still intact. I continue to start each day with some light stretching and 100 pushups. Between sets and while stretching, I work on Korean (Duolingo—1,650+ day streak), ear training and guitar interval training. I also find 15 minutes during the day to meditate/recharge.
I’m still rowing pretty much daily and knocking off series after series on Netflix. I’m currently waiting for the final six episodes of The Walking Dead to make it to Korea. I’m also waiting for the final ten episodes of Manifest as I work my way through Suits.
I’m still playing the guitar almost daily. When COVID restrictions lifted, my cover band played its first gig in ages with our new drummer in January. We’re currently working on some new songs for our next show. It still takes me longer to get new songs under my fingers than I’d like, but I’m definitely a better musician than when I joined the band 4+ years ago. I’m sure my new birthday gift will help too! 😉
My streaks don’t just apply to hobbies, fitness or self-improvement
I’m also approaching two years of posting about awkward English daily on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn (and recently, Twitter). After a year of weekly blogging, I reduced that to monthly, mainly due to my increased work hours. I plan to maintain that schedule for the foreseeable future. My efforts have even got me a couple of mentions in a Korean paper. The first was for an Instagram post on “drug bread” and another on city slogans, something I post about every Sunday.
As much as I enjoy routines, it might be time for a change. I need to update my morning routine. Though I want to keep stretching and studying Korean, it may be time to move on from ear training and guitar interval training. I need to find something I can do while holding stretches or between sets of pushups. I also think I’ll add some variety to my pushup routine. I’m considering trying some elevated, archer, and Sphinx pushups.
Streaks are great, but they come to an end eventually. I recently sold my bike. Before COVID, I cycled hundreds of kilometers a week, some years reaching 10,000 km. But once my commute to work involved going from the bedroom to the living room, my cycling activities came to an abrupt end. I hadn’t ridden my bike in over three years, so it was time to move on from that routine.
Part of the impetus for switching things up is due to another recent life change. With a new environment, it feels like it’s time for some new routines. This new environment has also influenced my decision to sell my bike.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
When I lost my teaching job, my life was full of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for work. I had to scrape together a makeshift ‘office’ in a corner of our living room. Though I was confident in my abilities to pivot careers, I had no way of knowing for sure how things would turn out.
One of the ‘benefits’ of my university job ending was collecting my severance pay. With my severance, the steady income from my current job, and my wife’s income, we saved up for a larger housing deposit. We were able to afford a much larger deposit on the new house we moved into a week and a half ago. If I’d kept my old job, we wouldn’t have saved up that deposit and would’ve been stuck paying a much higher monthly rent. We’re now paying a lower monthly rent in a nicer place, allowing us to save more money. And best of all…
I finally have my own office! I ‘stole’ my son’s bigger desk. He’s never home anyways and got my old, small desk. I upgraded to a much sturdier sliding keyboard tray. I’m still loving my Logitech Ergo keyboard and mouse. I may end up mounting monitor arms for my second monitor and laptop to really set up my office for comfort. And now that I have some room, I can take advantage of my reclining chair. Livin’ large!
Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad
Though we were able to make the living room office work, it was never ideal. I’ll no longer disturb my family during meetings in our new home. They won’t be prevented from cooking or watching TV while I’m in meetings—since I’ll be on the 3rd floor!
That’s right, our new place has three floors—relatively uncommon for Korea. It’s the first time I’ve had steps indoors in almost 30 years. We even have a rooftop area where we can unwind at the end of the day. It’s fast becoming my favorite place for doing my afternoon meditation.
We’re still getting settled in our new place, but overall, we’re loving it. We’re looking forward to being here for the next several years—fingers crossed. We’ve almost found places for all our stuff, and the flurry of ordering bits and pieces for the new place is almost at an end. We should be all settled in within a week or so.
A few twists and turns in the road, but I’m happy with where the journey has taken me
Two years ago, I embarked on a forced career change. Teaching unmotivated students was becoming draining, even with all the time off. But it was tough to leave a job that provided me with so much freedom. And I’ve always enjoyed teaching. Though I could’ve looked for another teaching job, I just felt it was time for a change.
Though my wife supports me (she’s great, even though she never reads my blog), she was surprised by how quickly I found my feet. Within a few months of starting my journey in February of 2021, I had two regular gigs that were bringing in close to my previous salary. We both anticipated it would take me longer to get to that level.
As I approach two years at the job that started off as a part-time copywriting freelance gig that has morphed into a full-time remote working position, I have no regrets. Not only have I found myself working with a great team, but I’ve also allayed one of my fears. After 3-day work weeks and time off every winter and summer, I always doubted if I’d be able to return to a ‘real’ 40-hour/week job. Well, I’ve been doing that for over a year now, and I still enjoy it.
It’s been a great two years—what do the next two hold?
Two years ago, I never would’ve guessed I’d be where I am. I have no idea what the future holds. Will I move into more of a freelance role? What about my current position—will I be with the same company in two years? Or will I have be blind-sided by something else and find myself in another place I never imagined? What are the chances I’ll have made it to Australia to meet more of my coworkers?
I have no idea. But I know no matter what happens, I’ll roll with the punches, adapt where necessary, and figure something out along the way. And for at least the next 2-4 years, I’ll be doing it from our cozy new home.
I’m curious to hear how you thought I’d fare when you heard I was switching careers two years ago. Did you think I could cut it as an English copywriter and proofreader? Were you worried for me? Did you know I’d kill it? Did you have your fingers crossed for me, while secretly holding your breath? Were you sure I’d be back to teaching within six months? Let me know in the comments!