After becoming a first time mum, Megan Blandford, 34, surprised herself. She didn’t feel compelled to return to her human resources role in the corporate world.
Her company wanted her to return to work full time. “I remember sitting in front of my computer one day and thinking: ‘what do I do?'” she says. “I always wanted to try writing since I was a little girl and I got caught up in this sort of sensible path of the mainstream thing people do. So I sat there and thought, right it’s now or never.”
A great blog – but then what?
Megan was first drawn into the world of blogging. Her writing and photography skills were quickly rewarded with Megan being recognised as a Kidspot Top 50 Blogger in 2010, 2011, and as a Kidspot VIP Blogger in 2013.
“My blog was the first step away from my corporate life and it amazed me when people wanted to read what I had written,” says Megan, who is based in Beechworth, on the outskirts of Melbourne.
But it wasn’t clear to Megan how to take that next step in order to build up her business as a writer. And this is where social media and online networks worked their magic. Well known writer Allison Tait read between the lines of Megan’s blog posts and saw that Megan was confused about what to do next. Allison approached Megan and suggested a plan, which included enrolling in a five-week writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre.
This was the turning point for Megan.
Early 2012, Megan completed the Australian Writers’ Centre Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 online course.
“The course gave me the confidence to start writing and to make a business out of it. I learnt what to do as a writer, how to pitch, how to work with editors and it took away my fears that I was going to do the wrong thing,” Megan says.
“It gave me the confidence to write.”
And that’s just what Megan did. “I had two goals,” Megan says. “First was to make an income from writing so I didn’t need to return to corporate work. And second was to write for the magazines that intimidated me. I had to prove to myself that I could do this.”
The confidence to make it happen
Megan started pitching story ideas to editors as soon as the course had finished. Not shying away from a challenge Megan went after her biggest targets – an inflight magazine and a newspaper. She was commissioned by both.
Megan’s story about adventure travel for families in Queenstown was published in Jetstar’s inflight magazine. Then, the My Career section of Fairfax newspapers published an article by Megan about innovative management and employee performance. “This proved to me that I could do it,” says Megan. And then she went after more.
Just 18 months after completing her course at the Australian Writers’ Centre – and after having another baby – Megan has cleverly established a niche for herself in the fields of parenting … and adventure travel!
She has been successfully published in many publications including Wellbeing, Kidspot, Essential Baby, Essential Kids, International Traveller, Practical Parenting, Wild, Go Camping, Mamamia as well as My Career and Jetstar.
Diversifying her income from writing
Megan has also integrated her business background into her writing and has added corporate writing to her portfolio. Corporate publications include Superfriend and NRMA.
She is confident that continuing to blog is still an effective breeding ground for finding and testing ideas and practising her writing techniques. “I see my blog as a marketing tool and good practice for writing regularly,” she says. “A lot of work has come to me through my blog.”
Getting through the initial doubt about whether she could write was a milestone for Megan. “Through the course, I found the self-belief I needed to call myself a writer, and the skills I needed to be able to do this,” says Megan.
“I really credit doing the course at the Australian Writers’ Centre as a real turning point in my writing career. It’s helped me build it up as a business and the community around it , with other writers … talking through ideas and problems that we’re facing … has been a huge help.”
Megan says: “I work from home and travel for my writing, and I also do corporate writing and have spoken about freelancing at conferences. But the best thing is that I’m now making a living from what I love – all because I enrolled in an online course that day.”
Written by Lisa Schofield with additions.