Jason loves his new career as a professional writer. He can't wait until it's his long-time career.
It may have taken me 47 some years to get here, but I’m sure of it. Now that I’m a paid, professional writer, there will be no going back. It’s what I love. And I’m good at it.
In December of last year, I was at a crossroads. I had been a real estate agent for 18 years. I also owned and operated my own small carpet cleaning company for 10 years And was fed up with both for different reasons.
The real estate agent thing was once awesome. I started with RE/MAX in April of 2003 and won our office's Rookie of the Year award, only working eight months of 2003. I doubled my first year’s income from $30,000 to $60,000, then doubled it again in my 2nd full year. I hit six figures in my 3rd full year, two years in a row of making over $100,000 in a year.
I got divorced from my daughter’s mother at the end of 2007 and my real estate business took a dive as the market did. The Great Recession really messed up Idaho’s real estate market, as I’m sure it did all over the US. For the first time in a long time, I was really worried.
It hadn’t recovered much by the time I decided to go into business doing carpet cleaning as my side hustle. It quickly became my main income source. I had been using the same type of equipment since 1986 when I used to tag along with my father. He’d pay me $5 per job to do the grunt work on what was likely $75-$125 jobs. I was glad to be making money so young and I learned a trade that helped me through harder times many years later.
Carpet cleaning is murder on your back. I did it full-time from 2011 through 2021, from ages 36 to 47. It has definitely taken its toll on my lower back. I still do a few jobs here and there for loyal past clients, but am no longer advertising it or pursuing jobs when I see people looking for a good, reputable carpet cleaning company.
After having my back go out at least a half dozen times from 2018 to 2021, and my equipment breaking down that many times in four or five years, I was feeling really sad about it. You can make pretty good money doing carpet cleaning. I had just made $1500 in one 8-hour day in December. But with a broken machine and a half-broken back, I wasn’t feeling it anymore.
A Facebook friend of mine named Brian had recently been posting about doing content writing and seemed very into it. He was one of the many social media friends who I enjoyed having on my friends list, but I had yet to meet in person. I decided to pick his brain about it.
Brian is an awesome human being. He stands up for similar things that I do, is all about social justice and equality, and even has a daughter the same age as my two daughters. He was eager to help and gave me countless pointers and instructions on how to get started. I appreciated all his help and feel that I owe him a debt of gratitude for pointing me in the right direction toward being a professional, paid writer.
It was scary at first. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy and smooth from Day One. I was scared about not making enough money for the time invested in doing content writing. My main source of work has been from one site, which takes 30% of your earnings, but does provide you with as many jobs as you’re wanting to take on.
Time management became an issue for me. I was still trying to take on as much carpet cleaning work with a buddy of mine who had functioning carpet cleaning equipment but was also doing it as a side hustle. He is also a licensed real estate agent like I am. But that’s his main source of income, where it’s my 3rd stream of income at this point. I worried that I wasn’t giving enough time to my writing or taking on enough work.
I also quickly realized that blogging was as important as accepting paid work as a content writer. I focused so much on doing content writing, that I let my blogging frequency deteriorate to an embarrassing level. Once I saw that I went almost a full month without posting a new blog, I knew I had to commit to more writing.
Blogging is more fun. Content writing is a more frequent, predictable income source. But it’s not all that fun. I admit some of the many varying topics I write about are pretty interesting. I recently wrote an article about how to turn a used dumpster into an in-ground pool. I’m working on an informative piece about purple cookies, a cannabis strain that is popular at the moment. I learn something new almost every day through content writing.
But blogs are far more fun to write. I can write about anything. I love being humorous and I can interject as much humor, sarcasm, or swear words as I want to, without anyone telling me I can’t. I’ve seen the income potential from blogging, as well. One of my most-read blogs has taken my income of $29 for all of March last month to $250 halfway through April, so far.
I see the potential of blogs gaining traction and going big, so I’m writing and posting them almost daily now. It’s exciting to try to write the next big one, and to track the stats on all the ones I’ve written during my time on Medium. While content writing is still the top-earning avenue of income for me as a writer, I’m looking forward to the day that blogging surpasses it.
I’m reading articles daily about being a professional writer. I just signed up for Ko-Fi and am learning about taking tips for my writing. I’ve had over 10 articles now become featured articles for 3rd party websites affiliated with the ones I’ve posted my blogs on. Each and every small milestone I hit with content writing and blogging excites me and motivates me to keep pushing forward.
There are numerous reasons I see myself primarily as a professional writer, ahead of my other two side hustles. I am more proud of the accomplishments I’ve made as a writer these first 3 months than I am of anything else I’ve done in the other fields of business I’ve been involved in.
As far as real estate goes, that’s the least involved aspect of my typical workday. Here in Boise, Idaho, just about every other person you see on social media has a real estate license. Our market is over-saturated with real estate agents and our housing market has become unaffordable for almost everyone. Homes have literally tripled in value in the past few years and the number of licensed agents, quadrupled. I have little interest in this field, currently.
The carpet cleaning business is a good business. You can make solid income cleaning carpets. But as I type this blog, I have a radiating pain in my lower back and haven’t even performed a carpet cleaning job in over a week. The damage that has been done to my lower back in the past 10 years has been horrendous. At age 47 going on 48, time is not on my side for being able to keep doing carpet cleaning.
That brings us to my favorite aspect of my work life, WRITING. I get far more pleasure out of writing than anything else I’ve done in my work history. I’m an intelligent, creative, and humorous person. I can type without looking at the keyboard and I do it quickly. I’ve been able to crank out 1000 words in an hour if I know the topic and don’t have to research it. This serves me well with writing.
There are so many positives about writing for a living. I can do it when I want, as often as I want. I can do it first thing in the morning, take a break and then pick it back up in the afternoon. I can also crank out a blog late at night like I am doing at the moment.
I can do it from home. I can do it while on vacation. I can do it with no pants on. I can do it with my adorable little dog cuddled up to me. I don’t have to shave, I can grow my hair out long like a hippie, and I can apply to all sorts of jobs and name my price on many of them.
I take satisfaction that our industry is growing, as paid professional writers. Even though my back is crapping out on me, my brain and fingers are as sharp as ever. I can do this for many, many more years. And you better believe I’m going to. I have a lot to say.
There’s a sense of pride telling people that I’m a professional writer. I don’t get that same satisfaction telling people I’m a real estate agent. Or that I own a small carpet cleaning company. I feel unique and talented, being a professional writer. Brian is the only other professional writer I know. It’s a bond we both share and love.
I love waking up each day and actually looking forward to seeing what the day holds. I can put as much or as little time into content writing and blogging. I can seek out new avenues of writing income through achievements, job postings, or other things related to being a professional writer. My Bride is proud of me. My kids are proud of me. Hell, I’m proud of myself. That’s a wonderful feeling, indeed.
© 2022 Jason Provencio