Six Reasons Why Freelance Commercial Writing Might Just Be the Perfect “Retirement” Career!

Six Reasons Why Freelance Commercial Writing Might Just Be the Perfect “Retirement” Career!
Good Money, Flexibility, No Age Barriers – What’s Not to Like?
By Peter Bowerman

According to Martie Callaghan, she’s always been a writer. “In nearly every past job, I would find a way to wriggle some type of writing into my job description.” Finally, five years ago, the Preston, Maryland grandmother made the break from secretarial work and took the plunge into freelancing. Starting with magazine features, she soon transitioned to the more lucrative “commercial” writing, crafting marketing materials for clients in banking, law, interior design, health care, and more. At 58, Martie is buoyant: “My cash flow keeps getting better, and I’m devoting more time to family and less to work. Commercial freelancing is the PERFECT fit.”

Is commercial freelancing a fit for you? Six reasons why the answer might be yes…

#1 – Downsizing & Outsourcing: THE trends in companies of all sizes, as many in this group have undoubtedly – and perhaps, painfully – experienced, firsthand. Yet, outsourcing means freelancers. Why not be on the upside of the trend?

Hawaii-based Sharon Meindertsma, 56, admittedly ready for a change from pharmaceutical sales, had the decision made for her when suddenly downsized out of her job. She’s reveling in the challenge of her new career, saying, “Becoming a commercial writer has been like being back in college, scary, but excited about at all the opportunity out there. Most importantly, it’s a profession I can pursue for the rest of my life, finally be my own boss and best of all, see what I’m made of.”

#2 – Experience: By definition, this demographic has a large body of career experience, which can be leveraged into a full- or part-time writing income. Wouldn’t a client rather hire someone who knows their business, industry, culture, and vernacular?

At 64, Chuck Belitz, former military contractor, was president of a small company, where he handled all writing responsibilities. After the company was sold, Belitz launched Inklings Media, bidding writing work from the government and its prime contractors, and offer his services throughout the Southeastern U.S. He observes, “I have formed a loose consortium of freelance writers, graphic designers, video producers, and editors from Birmingham to Atlanta. The prospects look good.”

#3 – Work Ethic: Copywriting buyers routinely lament the scarcity of reliability, excellence, and thoroughness in those they hire. A more traditional grounding tends to give this group a stronger work ethic and an intimacy with those very core values.

Dr. Bill Duhey of San Diego retired from the steel industry at 57, after various management positions and a final stint as editor of the plant magazine. The next year, he began a career as a consultant and seminar leader for companies across North America. At 76, he decided to become a commercial freelancer, reading up on the field and getting busy. A year later, things are going well. Says Duhey, “I have three clients who give me all the work I can handle. I earn a comfortable income, but I’m still young and looking for more work.”

#4 – The “Age-ism” Antidote: The commercial writing field is very democratic, in that it’s virtually all performance-based. One’s education, credentials, or age (which can often, unfairly, impact women more) matter far less than one’s ability to get the job done.

Buffalo area local Paul Chimera, 55, who makes about 75% of his income from freelancing – much of it commercial – observes, “If you write well, they’ll put you to work – whether you’re a Gen-X’r in sandals and a T-shirt, or a dashing old guy like me. If you’re 85 and can still turn out good stuff, that’s all they care about.” Chimera’s written everything from brochures to infomercials, and for clients in recreation, food, housing, printing, and more.

California-based Celia Sue Hecht, also 55, who transitioned from journalism to freelance PR writing (one arena of commercial freelancing), echoes this, observing, “Given that stereotyping is alive and well in some business environments, for older women, this is the way to go.”

#5 – Income: Whether someone needs to bring in a decent income or wants to scale back their work pace, with hourly rates in the field of $50-125 in most major metros, this field delivers handsomely for the time invested.

Former teacher Joe Yenkavitch, now 60, of Essex Junction, Vermont, continued his ongoing love of writing after retiring, but found that most magazine freelancing “doesn’t come close to compensating you for the time spent.” So he switched gears: “Once I got over the hang-up that commercial freelancing wasn’t creative enough, a whole world of possibilities opened up. I can make decent money, remain creative, and still pursue my next novel.”

#6 – Flexibility: A near-universal sentiment of the 55+ set is the desire to spend more time with family or involved in the activities of their choosing. With the income potential offered by this field, it truly allows its practitioners to craft a life on their own terms.

57-year-old Wayne Winkle of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, a former mental health professional, loves to write, was good at it in his career, and is starting a commercial freelancing business with his daughter. He finds the flexibility and variety of the work especially appealing, adding, “I’m looking forward to the additional income and to seeing my daughter get to be a stay-at-home mom for my two grandsons.”

Today’s seniors thirst for more – more work adventure, more quality of life, more excitement. Martie Callaghan sums it up when she says, “I can’t imagine doing a 9-5 gig again, nor can I imagine not working at all.”

Planning the next exciting chapter of your life? Looking for a flexible, lucrative way to build on a three- or four-decade experience base? As you read this, thousands of writers are landing countless, high-paying writing jobs. Why not you?

Interested in turning your love of writing into a full-time living? Or a flexible, lucrative “retirement” career? For a free report (AND to subscribe to his free ezine and blog) on lucrative “commercial” freelancing, there, check out the brand-new updated edition of the award-winning 2000 Book-of-the-Month Club selection, “The Well-Fed Writer,” the how-to industry “standard” by veteran commercial writer and business coach Peter Bowerman. Got a book in you? Forget the publisher – do it yourself and turn it into a full-time living! For a free report, visit, home of Peter’s award-winning 2007 release, “The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living,” which chronicles his self-publishing success on his first WFW titles (52,000 copies in print and a full-time living for seven-plus years).


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