Four and a Half Years of Change … and a Goodbye

a goodbye

It’s well over four years since I first wrote a post for The Change Blog … and during that time, my own life has changed dramatically.

Today is also a goodbye (and you’ll understand why when you get to the end of this post). Thanks for being part of my journey – and I hope that you’ll find something in my experiences that gives you new inspiration or motivation with your own life.

Here are the past four and a half years in my life … and what I learned from them:

2008 – Beginning a New Career

When I first posted for The Change Blog in March 2008, I was just starting out on my journey. At that point, I was working full-time in IT. But at the end of July 2008, I left my day job to work for myself – and became a paid, monthly blogger here on The Change Blog. I had a place on a part-time Masters in Creative Writing, and wanted to be able to fully commit to this, too.

Those first few months were exciting, and also challenging. I was pursuing several different directions – paid blogging, keeping up two of my own blogs, and creating websites for clients. As part of my creative work, I began a new novel – a more ambitious project than I’d ever dared tackle before.

Lessons learned:

1. Sometimes, you have to make a big leap.

It was a scary step to go from full-time employment to making a living on my own … but I’d been saving up for several months, so I had money in the bank to cover my living expenses.

2. If you want to work for yourself, it’s a good idea to specialize.

I started out offering “writing and website creation”, which in retrospect was far too broad.

2009 – Moving from “Freelancer” to “Entrepreneur”

During 2009, I wrote and published an ebook, The Staff Blogging Course (which I later revised and updated into The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing).

In June of that year, I went to a small business seminar – and met some wonderful small-biz types. At that point, I still saw myself as a “freelancer” rather than a “small business” … but this helped me begin to make the shift. That summer, I launched a new blog (my current one, Aliventures) and finished the first draft of my novel.

In November, my then-boyfriend proposed, and we began to plan for our wedding. We were also starting to think of moving from where we lived, in London – as we were both due to finish our academic courses in summer 2010.

Lessons learned:

1. Seeing yourself as an entrepreneur or small business opens up new options.

I’ve always enjoyed my freelance work, but writing for pay is never going to quite be the same as writing on projects that I plan and control from beginning to end.

2. You need to put yourself out there.

I began to do more guest posting during 2009, getting the attention of bigger names in the blogging world – this really helped me further my career.

2010 – A Busy Summer

When I think back to 2010, the main part that stands out is the summer. We moved from London to Oxford in June, and were busy planning our wedding for September. I had my creative writing portfolio to finish for my degree – the deadline was just a week or so before the wedding date.

Another highlight that summer was a family trip to Bangalore, to see the work of a small charity, Divya Shanthi, which our church supports. I was very moved by what we saw, and soon afterwards, I became a trustee of the UK charity that fundraises for Divya Shanthi.

I got married in September 2010, to my wonderful husband Paul. We had a very happy day, surrounded by family and friends … followed by a lovely, relaxed honeymoon in Northumberland. (I found that the world could survive if I didn’t answer emails for two weeks!)

Lessons learned:

1. The further you can plan ahead, the better.

I had a busy, stressful time in August, when I was very busy with my creative writing portfolio, a joint-venture writing project, and getting all the details sorted out for the wedding. In retrospect, I took on too much during 2010 and should have cut back earlier on to avoid problems.

2. We have so much that we don’t appreciate.

When I saw the depth of poverty that some families face in Bangalore, it made me realize just how lucky I am – and it motivated me to help by fundraising here in the UK.

2011 – New Business Directions

Once I’d finished my degree – and all the busyness of summer 2010 was out the way – I had more time to take on new projects and explore new directions in my business.

In the last couple of months of 2010, I’d started coaching fellow writers – and this formed an important part of my work in 2011. I also launched two e-courses in 2011, which was my first foray into this form of teaching and content delivery. In November 2011, I spoke at an industry conference (BlogWorld) for the first time … and had great feedback.

2011 was also the year I knocked my novel into its final shape, with the help of a wonderful editor. I’d opened my eyes to the possibilities of self-publishing a novel in ebook form on Amazon and other major sites, something which was hitting the headlines during that year. In November 2011, I published my first novel, Lycopolis.

Lessons learned:

1. You’ll never know until you try.

I wasn’t initially too sure about coaching or running e-courses … but I loved doing both, as they let me interact directly with writers. I’ve found that it’s important to keep pushing myself a little bit beyond my comfort zone.

2. There’s always another option.

At one point, I was worried that my novel would never get read by anyone, because it’s so hard to get taken on by an agent. When I started researching self-publishing, though, I realised this would be a great direction for me. (I’d already self-published lots of non-fiction material by this point, so it wasn’t too big a leap!)

2012 – A Book … and a Baby

During 2012, I wrote Publishing E-Books For Dummies, which was published just a week ago as I write this (in September). This came about because of my speaking gig at BlogWorld in November 2011 – an editor from Wiley got in touch to ask if I’d like to submit a proposal for a new book in their For Dummies series.

Just as I finished the final chapter of the book, in mid-June, something very wonderful happened. My husband Paul and I found out that we were expecting our first child. I’m now four months into the pregnancy, and very much looking forward to being a mother.

Of course, this heralds the biggest change yet! My Master’s degree, our move from London to Oxford, our wedding, my novel, my For Dummies book … all of that seems pretty small in comparison to bringing a new life into the world.

So, my business is shifting yet again. I’m giving up almost all my paid blogging work – and saying a fond farewell to sites like The Change Blog that I’ve written for throughout the last few years. I’ve loved being a part of this community.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past four years, it’s that life never stays still and you can never truly get stuck … there’s always something new to try.

Whatever change you’re facing – or hoping for – right now, I wish you all the very best.

Photo by R’eyes

67 thoughts on “Four and a Half Years of Change … and a Goodbye”

  1. Ali,
    Your blog has inspired me so much over the past few years. This particular good-bye blog has really touched me. I wish you all of God’s blessings upon you, your husband and new baby. Blessings, Christine

  2. Goodbye and good luck. I have enjoyed the blog immensely. Your writings have reached far and wide. Best wishes from Adelaide in South Australia. Jan Lindner

    1. Peter, thanks so much for being part of the journey. :-) I’ve loved blogging here at The Change Blog (and I very much appreciated you bringing me on board when you were editor of Pick the Brain, quite some time back now!)

      Thanks for linking to Aliventures, too!

  3. NOOOO!!!!!! I’m a late arrival to the change blog, but I love it! At least please tell me you’re just not posting anymore, but that the site will be available still for reference!

    1. Michael, don’t panic! I’m just one writer here (and I usually only post once a month at that) — Peter is the owner of The Change Blog, and I’m sure he has no intentions of shutting it down.

  4. I’d just started following you. I discovered your blog when I started ZenPresence.com. I’ll miss it for sure.

    You will leave up your old posts I hope, so that we can go back and read missed articles.

    Dan Garner
    ZenPresence.com

    1. Dan, just to reiterate what I’ve said to Michael (above), Peter owns The Change Blog — I just write (wrote…!) here. The blog itself will keep running without me, don’t worry. :-)

  5. Good bye Ali! I hope you stay active on Aliventures – you inspire and motivate me. I hope to follow a path similar to yours – it would be my dream. But where to start?

    That’s what you do for us.. you give us direction.

    Best of luck and congrats on your pregnancy!

    1. Thanks TJ! I’ll certainly be continuing to post on Aliventures, so please do stick around there. :-)

      Very best of luck with your own path … in all honesty, I got started pretty much by impulse and accident. I think it’s rare that there’s a “wrong” place to begin — or a perfect one, for that matter!

  6. So sad! I enjoyed your blog so much. Best luck with your new adventure as a mom, which by far, is a much more rewarding adventure. And hope to see you soon blogging again. Regards from Mexico.

    1. Thanks Laura! I am still blogging on my own site (aliventures.com) — I’m just stepping down from my blogging here.

      Of course, Peter will be keeping The Change Blog running, and all the other writers will still be writing for it!

  7. I am 26, Unemployed, dwelling in my parents house on their pension money, give me one last notes for which i consider for my life time to change…

  8. awww bye Ali!! really enjoyed reading about your journey. somehow, i feel that this is not entirely goodbye. looking forward to seeing your name in many more great places. and many thanks to Peter for introducing you to us

  9. You have a good one Ali as someone who is in the midst of changing what I am. I find your words to be especially powerful and motivating. I am sure you will be the most motivating mother you can be and keep on going down your path I am sure it is a path full of happiness and movement. Stay amazing. and Congratulations.

    1. I’ll almost certainly be blogging about parenthood somewhere in due course, Deborah! Keep an eye on Aliventures or my twitter around mid-January, when I stop my “proper” work to go on maternity leave… :-)

  10. All the best Ali….you are an inspiration. I have always wanted to give writing a try and i will take your advice to heart….that there is always something new to try!!

  11. This piece inspired me totally! ‘M happy for you, and happy about the changes you’ve been able to effect in your life through your willpower, and determination. Yes, having a baby is a whole new thing, and a whole new life on its own, I wish you all the very best as you await the joy that comes with giving birth.

    Thanks for this post, and goodbye.
    I hope to effect some much desired changes in my life soon. I feel like I need something, but don’t know what exactly it is..

    Have fun ma’am.
    Much love.

  12. I have enjoyed reading your blogs, you have been a busy Girl…congrats on the baby hope that goes well….you will be missed…maybe we will see you again sometime? Think you can quit? lol…you to good…but enjoy your life and all the other things you do so well.

    Take care,,,I will miss your blogs.

  13. I find it kind of amazing that I find you finishing your journey as I begin mine. I’m nowhere near the fantastic writer you are, but from your words I hope to accomplish many things. I reminded of the old saying where one journey stops another begins, I just hope I can do it half as well as you have. Good luck

    The Dude

    1. Thanks so much, Barry! Very best of luck on your own journey — I’ve certainly become a better writer over the past four or so years, and I’m sure I’ve still got a way to go myself. :-)

  14. Dear Ali,

    I have always loved your posts here and on PTB too. Many many wishes for your pregnancy. Motherhood is simply the best joy a woman can have and I am sure the baby will fill your life with many more colors and happiness. And I also appreciate your decision to pursue MA in CW after a successful IT career.

    I am a B.Tech and a MBA myself and now I am pursuing a MA in Psychology. I have also decided to start it all over again and do what I truly enjoy.

    All the best! and lots of love. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Surabhi! I’m afraid you won’t see me around on PTB for much longer either — I’m taking a step back from a lot of my blogging.

      Very best of luck with your MA in Psychology; I think it’s never too late to start over with learning something new. :-)

  15. Good luck Ali. I’m so thankful for this blog because this is where I first read your material and now I can continue to follow you on your own blog.

    Oh yeah, and best of luck with motherhood, that will be your biggest and most exhilarating adventure by far.:-)

  16. Ali,
    I can say for sure that you are already an achiever! Please keep it up. “Your life is a gift from God, but what you do with it is a gift to the world”.
    May God strengthen you with more divine ideas. I wish you the best of luck as you prepare to give a life to the world. Cheers!
    But Ali, how do I have my picture published by my name (like other friends) whener I make a comment?

  17. Great inspiring article. Telling us what is most important in life…. the family, which most of us so easily ignore and take for granted in the professional race.

    Wishing good health for your family.

    Atul

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