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There are some skills that just lend themselves quite well to remote work or telecommuting – IT, VA, blogging and writing are just some of the more popular ones. Today, we’re publishing our interview with Connor of the blog, Carry On Connor who works from home as a journalist, a freelance writer and a blogger.
If you want to know how to be a journalist and work from home, then you’ll enjoy this one.
We met Connor online.
We’re all members of the same blogging community and, as we keep saying, blogging is a social activity. You really only rise when you lift other people up.
You could say that of everything really but what makes blogging different is that it’s really dependent on creating a community. And that community can be quite strong.
So, we’re incredibly grateful that Connor agreed to the interview when we started asking people who fit certain criteria if they were interested in being featured in the Beyond The 9-5 Series.
If writing is in your blood but the desk job part of it isn’t, then perhaps you’ll find the inspiration in his story to transition from a more limiting way of working to the freedom that going beyond the 9-5 brings.
On working from home
Can you give us a brief intro?
I’m Connor, I’m 22 and I live in London, England.
I moved to the city from the north in 2015, and have lived here since.
I finished studying last year and started my career in journalism; I work as a showbiz writer.
When I’m not working, I’m either out in the city with friends, or winding down at home – probably flicking through Vogue magazines and playing old records. Either way, there are two things guaranteed to be by my side; a glass of pinot grigio, and Toby the pug!
How did you get into journalism? Who/what inspired you?
I always wanted to be a writer, and I slowly realised journalism was the path I wanted to go down.
I’ve always loved magazines, and a lot of the writing I was attracted to was journalistic – Joan Didion one of my (many) idols, and I wrote my undergrad dissertation on Lillian Hellman’s memoirs.
I guess the writing was always on the wall.
Did you enroll in workshops, get mentors, join clubs, etc. in addition to university? What was the journey of getting the job you loved like for you?
I was involved with student media at university and was arts editor of the student magazine. Then I started to do freelance work, writing lifestyle pieces for various websites and had a couple of pieces published by Gay Times.
Once I graduated, I took the first job offer I had and was fired after 3 months because I hated it.
So I took 4 months out to find the right job, which I started in February.
I think everything in my life has been a fluke! But as much as I can seem dismissive at times I’m always tuned in, and learned a lot through watching others work.
So I’ve not had a mentor, but if ever I find myself facing a tough decision, I just follow my instincts – it’s worked well so far.
What was it like to transition from working traditionally to working from home? What’s the most fun/rewarding part? What are some of the challenges and how did you manage these?
There are 3 different parts to my job; my ‘day job’, freelance work, and my blog.
When I used to work from an office, it was more limiting.
Now, I can switch between projects during the day, and cutting out 2 hours of wasted travel time is another bonus. I do miss the social aspect of working in an office, but my job entails going to lots of evening events, and I make a point of forcing myself to go – even if I’m not all that fussed.
It’s important to get out of the house and not fall into the trap of becoming a recluse.
What are the first and/or most important (five to ten) steps you took to get started?
1. Make the initial move and get projects off the ground.
2. Ensure you’ve a steady flow of work.
3. Make a list of your goals/what you want to achieve and give yourself a (realistic) timeframe – so important!
4. Speak to other people who work similarly and see what they have to say
5. Take the leap!
Knowing what you do now, is there anything that you would’ve done differently?
Take every opportunity you can. So many times I say ‘no’ to things and end up wishing I said ‘yes’. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.
What was the highlight of your journey?
I would say the past few months have made it all worthwhile.
No one knows who you are when you’re starting out, and it’s up to you to make a name for yourself. But I’ve been lucky in the sense that it’s only taken a year since I graduated to feel like I’ve finally broken into the industry and am now on the career path I want to be on.
Having freelance work and building my own brand is the icing on the cake.
And what was the low point? Did you ever consider giving up or going back to the 9-5? Why (not)?
There were lots!
I’ve gone through countless identity crisis, where I’ve questioned everything I’ve worked towards.
It’s easy to want to give up and try a completely different direction – especially when things aren’t going your way. But time passes, and determination pays off.
Really, it all came down to one question: ‘What else would I do?’
What advice would you give to someone who wants to transition from full-time employment to working from anywhere?
The job itself should come first. If it’s your passion, and they want you to work from an office, don’t turn it down because of that.
I’m lucky to have a salaried position that’s remote, and that’s a luxury.
Work on building a portfolio to present to prospective clients, then, when you have a steady workflow, make the leap.
But the last thing you want is to be 3 months into working from home and having no work.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your footsteps? Also wants to be a journalist who is working from home? What qualities / skills / certifications do they need to have?
Your portfolio is everything!
Work on networking and write for as many publications as you can.
Be active on social media, and make sure you’re posting about any events/launches/panels/interviews you’re doing. This shows you’re committed and not afraid to go the extra mile.
Yes, you need qualifications, but having a personality and showing your passion can really help seal the deal.
Carry On Connor
Talk to us about Carry On Connor. Who is it for?
It’s for everyone!
As a writer, I always have something to say, and there’s only so much you can put out on social media before you feel like you’re polluting everyone else’s feed.
So if you follow me on social, it’s definitely for you.
But it’s so open there’s really something for everyone.
In fact, when I checked the audience at the end of last month, I was surprised to see how consistent it was across all ages, with a 50/50 split in male and female.
Do you specialise in a specific niche? When and why did you decide to launch the brand / blog?
This has been a labour of love for so long, it feels great to have it finally out there!
I finally made the jump and launched at the beginning of July this year, and the response has been great.
My main focus is lifestyle and grooming, but that covers a fair amount – skincare, beauty, health, food, weekly blog-style posts and, of course, Toby the Pug…and anything else I want to write about, really.
It’s a mixed bag for sure!
Is this a proper business for you or more of a hobby blog?
As a journalist, digital is the way forward, and establishing a platform and brand is everything.
I love what I do, and even though it feels like a hobby, it’s business too, and something that I’m only looking to grow going forward.
But the heart and soul is there, and everything I post is something I’m interested in – if it wasn’t fun and I didn’t care about it, I wouldn’t do it.
Are there any special dates that readers need to make a note of?
I’m terrible for planning ahead, but there are a couple of projects I’m working on that I’m looking to launch soon, so make sure you follow my socials to keep up to date.
Aside from being a journalist and running Carry On Connor, what else are you working on? What else keeps you busy?
I feel like this is all I’ve worked on for the past six months! Fitting it round my other commitments was a challenge, but I made it happen. So, any free time I’ve had has been spent enjoying the summer, either spent with friends or at home on the balcony with a glass of wine.
Aside from your website, how else can people reach you?
Can you give us a picture of what a typical day looks like for you?
My working day starts at 7am, and I work on a showbiz news desk from 7am-3pm.
Then, the rest of my day depends on what I have planned.
If I have an evening event, I’ll work on freelance work or my blog until 5pm, before heading out. Otherwise, I’ll take a break then work until 6/7pm.
Lots of work – but I love it!
Thank you very much for taking part, Connor.
To recap, passion is everything. Do things because you love them and they spark a fire in your soul.
But at the same time, you also need to be realistic.
Your work is an expression of your passion but should also provide for you.
As Connor said, you don’t want to find yourself 3 months in with no work. Trust us, stressing about money is not a fun way to live.
So, discover what you love and then make a plan to live your life accordingly. Remember what Jim Rohn said, “To solve any problem, here are three questions to ask yourself: First, what could I do? Second, what could I read? Third, who could I ask?”
What about you? Have you discovered your passion? What steps are you taking to get them? Share your experiences with us by commenting below. We’d love to see where you’re at on your journey.
Until next week!