So, my back's stuffed and I need to retrain. Where do I begin?

#42
I hit 40 last year and it seems that my spine is deeply unhappy, 20 years of working in jobs which involve lifting and shifting have damaged the lower end and I have a permanent ache. It isn't the end of the world, but unless I retrain in a less physically demanding role then the future looks grim and I can expect to be sitting in Wetherspoons on a Tuesday afternoon within a decade. I'm not sure where to start with this, I was diagnosed about 6 months ago and initially went with the whole positive-thinking "use it as an opportunity to do what you really want to" line. Sadly, it quickly became apparent that the things I enjoy involve low pay, few jobs, and unless I have a field-specific degree, little prospect for advancement. Also, sitting on my arrse with a book and some beer doesn't pay at all. So I've decided to bin the whole thing and go for a more practical approach, checking out where the work is in the local economy and aiming for those jobs regardless of how dull they seem - a wage is a wage and I have kids to feed and a house to pay for. Unfortunately, other than knocking on the doors of recruitment agencies, I have no idea where to start with this. Has anyone else been in this position, and if so what did you do?

My morale and confidence has taken a bit of a knock and I'm pretty worried about competing with bouncy 20-somethings, pretty much everything on my CV counts for bloody nothing now. I just need to put a plan of action together and am struggling a bit. There seems to be a lot of clued up people from various fields on these forums and I'd appreciate any help getting some structure to this.

Cheers
Start with gentle masturbation, building up to something more strenuous like jumping out of the bushes in your local park naked, greased up and wearing a balaclava, shouting something helpful and informative like 'Stop screaming and it'll soon be over'.
 
#43
Start with gentle masturbation, building up to something more strenuous like jumping out of the bushes in your local park naked, greased up and wearing a balaclava, shouting something helpful and informative like 'Stop screaming and it'll soon be over'.
Tried that, was beaten up by some Sheila with more muscles than me. That kind of thing doesn't work too well out here.
 
Last edited:
#44
The OP is an Australian resident and very nearly an Australian......When he is, he'll be eligible for Study Assist. He won't start repaying until he earns $54k and that will be at 4%. It climbs on incrementally to 8% for all those in over $103k. The loan is interest free.

It gets better. All of his incidental expenses (text books, exam fees, travel to seminars etc etc) are tax deductable at below the line, not at the marginal rate. And he can use his loan to study any degree course at any Australian university.

Of course, as a British citizen, he might also be eligible for a Student Loan and to study at the Open University. But why would anyone choose a high interest loan with steep payback terms when they are eligible for Study Assist?
I knew about Study Assist but not the tax part, that's pretty handy to know, thanks. I have thought about building on my degree, it's the direction I'm not too sure about now. I'll check out the MBA. I spoke to my mother back home yesterday, she sniffed at the idea - "Do you remember that ******** your sister was with in 1998? HE had an MBA too!" Bless her.
 
Last edited:

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#45
At the same time work on the online proofreading/editing, the small successes will keep morale up and pay for my lunches if I have to start pounding pavement for work.
Consider Technical Authoring jobs. If you work for a fairly 'techy' company it can pay quite well and it'll keep your brain stretched. Best to bone up on a few authoring tools like Robohelp and FrameMaker first, plus look at the more technical side of Word (Templates, Styles and so on).

Its how I earn a crust these days...

Wordsmith
 
#47
Consider Technical Authoring jobs. If you work for a fairly 'techy' company it can pay quite well and it'll keep your brain stretched. Best to bone up on a few authoring tools like Robohelp and FrameMaker first, plus look at the more technical side of Word (Templates, Styles and so on).

Its how I earn a crust these days...

Wordsmith
I don't supose you happen to know of any good courses that I could take to build Tech Authoring skills? I'm guessing it's quite a specific writing style. There are heaps on online courses for writing/editing but most of them don't seem to be worth the paper they're written on.

I don't work for a techy company but it isn't hard to find work online, it's certainly something I'd like to pursue.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#48
I don't supose you happen to know of any good courses that I could take to build Tech Authoring skills? I'm guessing it's quite a specific writing style. There are heaps on online courses for writing/editing but most of them don't seem to be worth the paper they're written on.

I don't work for a techy company but it isn't hard to find work online, it's certainly something I'd like to pursue.
Download help files and look at the style. Absolute raft of documents here*.

Oracle Help Center

Get to be a whizz on Word, learning the more technical side of using it: styles, templates, formatting and so on. Also download some authoring tools and see how they work. Unfortunately, you can't get trial copies of RoboHelp and FrameMaker any more, but the free software will give you an idea. You can write both documents and the on-line help that pops up when you click the 'help' button in a computer program..

Tech Authoring is really about the ability to explain things concisely and in clear English. If you want to try it out, learn to use an obscure feature of Word or Excel, document how to do it and give the document to a friend. If they can work out how to use the functionality based on your document alone, you've got Tech Authoring skills.

Wordsmith

* I used to be an inmate of that asylum.
 
#49
Lots of technical / scientific / business writing courses on Coursera. My business partner did one earlier this year before writing our product descriptions which significantly improved her writing.

Pick a course from a decent US university. Don't go for an Asian one.
 
#50
It's clear you can write. Your prose is very good.

As well as tech authoring, there are other writing jobs - advertising copywriter, editing, student essays...
 
#51
It's clear you can write. Your prose is very good.

As well as tech authoring, there are other writing jobs - advertising copywriter, editing, student essays...
IMHO it isn't the actual writing that is the challenge; it is getting the work. This sort of work has become very commoditised and most of the work lies in the gig economy. How do you make your services stand out in a packed world of people looking for writing work and how do you achieve a price that is viable? How do you avoid talking to a void?

It's really no different from building any business in the digital marketplace. I'd spend some time understanding digital marketing.
 
#53
IMHO it isn't the actual writing that is the challenge; it is getting the work. This sort of work has become very commoditised and most of the work lies in the gig economy. How do you make your services stand out in a packed world of people looking for writing work and how do you achieve a price that is viable? How do you avoid talking to a void?

It's really no different from building any business in the digital marketplace. I'd spend some time understanding digital marketing.
Good point.

Talking of digital marketing, there seems to be a demand for Digital Media Content writers - writing the stuff that appears on company's websites. Without actually looking, I found quite a few jobs, as opposed to gigs, advertised.

We all think we can write, but the difference between a writer and a keyboard basher is clear when you read the OP's prose...
 
#54
Good point.

Talking of digital marketing, there seems to be a demand for Digital Media Content writers - writing the stuff that appears on company's websites.
There's a huge demand for copy; content is all in the digital marketing space. Most of the work is paid by the piece and the market is global. We get copy written in Croatia. Sure, there are full time jobs with big businesses, but they are a very small part of the market

I've ridden this route myself. I have a long track record of writing business cases, bids and proposals. It started when I was serving and I took it into a corporate career in business development. I led big bid teams and subsequently developed the business cases for some big projects.

When I came to Aus, I tried to lever that into a writing career. OK, so I was "niche" but I had a track record with big players. It was extremely hard to get work, particularly work that was financially viable.

I'm on the other side now as a customer building a business in an entirely different sector. I'm constantly bombarded by copy writers, graphic designers, web developers etc etc before I go near the online market places. It is very difficult to differentiate them.

Like you, I don't think the OP has any issue with writing. Marketing will be his challenge.
 
#55
SC

I’m a member of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC).

Their newsletter is available online at:

InfoPlus newsletter

This is a free subscription and advertises several authoring and related courses some of which are purely online.

Not sure how relevant the content will be to life in OZ but it will cost you nothing to look.
 
#56
Yep, gotta couple of mates ,ex RGJ, doing it ( so not the brightest tw@ts that ever lived ha ha ) plus one who is a signaler - level crossings, rail switches , etc..
These lads didn't originally come from Northolt did they?
 
#58
Thanks for the good advice. It's pretty clear that a career in writing isn't a basket to put all of my eggs in, some of the commentary here just confirms the opinions that I already hold. I'm going to study up and expand my skill set anyway, simply because I enjoy it so much, and if nothing else it's kicked that sense of imminent doom into the long grass. A couple of hours freelance work in the evening is still a little money in the bank that I wouldn't otherwise have. I've set myself a couple of ground rules: no writing for websites which exist solely to create ad revenue or the owners (on the grounds that I'd be smarter to start one of my own) and no writing essays for students

There is a heck of a lot of copywriting, proofreading and editing work out there but a vast amount of it is total horse manure and the pay really is a joke - I've seen full time work being offered with wages "as high as" $1000 per month. You've got to be having a laugh, that's fine if you're in some SE Asian village but who else could seriously consider living on that. It does make sense, however - writing isn't a rare and sought-after skill and content standards aren't exactly elevated.

I do feel bad for the younger generation who seem to be being indoctrinated into thinking long hours for crap pay and no job security (i.e the gig economy) is somehow progress. There's going to be hell to pay one day.
 
Last edited:
#59
writing isn't a rare and sought-after skill and content standards aren't exactly elevated.
I'd argue that writing well is a rare skill which is highly sought after and there are plenty of clients out there who expect very high standards of copy for which they pay a premium. If you have the ability to write quality copy quickly you can make realty good money. I think @Wordsmith would back me up on that.

The key is marketing, which is true of any new venture or career path you look at. Have a look at Nick Stephenson's free videos on how he became a succesful fiction author. All marketing.
 

Similar threads


Latest Threads

Top