Hard to believe that I started working on the But I Also Have a Day Job blog six (!) years ago this week. At this time in 2016 I was testing designs and playing with WordPress formatting while I drafted the very first posts on Day Job Basics, and from there, it was off to the races.
This blog represented a really big step for me: back in 2016, I’d finished grad school, was trying to sell one novel and finish another, and made a major life change by moving out of Nebraska, where I’d gone to grad school and stayed an extra year working in the Agriculture department.
I knew I had to start taking my writing more seriously and figuring out my next steps, and the But I Also Have a Day Job blog was a HUGE step in clarifying the direction I wanted to take my creative work and my life in general. Before this blog, I didn’t have much of an online presence at all, had very little published work, and it felt like I was just barely starting out.
Fast forward to six years later, and I’m…pretty satisfied with how how far I’ve come. I haven’t done as much as I’ve liked, but I’m overall happy with my progress and still have my eye on the future and bigger things.
All that said, around this time of year I like to reflect on what I’ve accomplished since starting But I Also Have a Day Job, not because I’m eager to brag, but because I want to show what progress looks like, what it means to work toward goals and accomplish them, and how you too can build up a creative career little by little if you keep at it.
Major Things I’ve Accomplished from 2016 to Now
In no particular order, since 2016 I’ve…
Published a Novel!
In case this is the first blog post of mine you’re reading, back in April my novel MFA Thesis Novel was published by Vine Leaves Press, thus culminating six and a half years of hard work and waiting. After the release party at my local bookstore, I’ve been keeping up publicity and trying to get word out now that I’m an actual, published novelist (for which I got my own page on the Poets & Writers database, yahoooooo!)
I’m realizing more and more that I want to be focusing my writing around novels (as opposed to short stories, short humor, or nonfiction), and so getting an actual book published was a HUGE step toward making that a reality, and hopefully a sign of things to come!
Published a Chapbook!
Before MFA Thesis Novel there was Eikaiwa Bums, my tale of Japanese work life that forms a much condensed version of my Japan novel that I tried to get published for a long time. It was put out by Blue Cubicle Press (who were awesome to work with!), and opened a lot of doors, including helping me start a relationship with my local bookstore and giving me the experience of signing a book contract and getting printed work out into the world.
I’m still really proud of this little book and my writing about Japan in general, and I still have some copies for sale if you want to check it out.
Edited Two Writing Anthologies!
Back in 2018, my local chapter of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project came up with the idea of putting our work out for others to read for free, and to highlight the great work that NHWP was doing in general. The result was the 2018 Concord NHWP Anthology, which I led the charge in organizing and did the editing and formatting for. After the project went so well we decided to put out a second volume in 2019, this time with more group involvement and a kick-ass design by professional typesetter Maria Fowler.
Both anthologies feature a lot of great writers from the central New Hampshire area, and not only was I happy to share them with the world, but editing them gave me a tremendous amount of experience and opened up new inroads for networking.
Built an Actual Author Website!
Putting ianmrogersauthor.com together wasn’t a difficult task, but it was an important one: By putting up a for-serious author website with my name in the URL, I’m able to show people that I’m more of a professional and have an author platform that I can build, which is something But I Also Have a Day Job can’t quite do on its own.
I still love this blog (and clearly still post here every week!), and I’m thinking harder about how it can fit into my bigger plans as an author.
Published My Boss Was Crooked!
One big project I worked on in 2018 was My Boss Was Crooked!, an 8-part blog series about my experiences working for a shady online electronics retailer and how I stood up to them when they were mistreating their employees and straight-up breaking US labor laws. The experience itself taught me a lot about standing up for what’s right, and the series encapsulates a lot of my values about workplace equality and fairness for everyone.
Interviewed a Lot of Cool People!
One of my regrets over the years is that I haven’t been able to expand the Day Job Interview series as much as I’d like, but on the plus side, the series is something I’ve been able to work on and put out on an occasional basis. It’s interesting (and important!) for me to show how different kinds of creative people handle the question of balancing creative work with keeping the bills paid, and I’ve been happy to share my interviews with a Youtuber and videogame speedrunner, an illustrator, a visual novel creator, a television animator, and more.
Built Up More of a Platform as an Author!
This ties into what I talked about in the introduction about building up a web presence so people can find me and see more of my work. Social media has been helpful in that regard (especially Instagram and Twitter) in addition to sharing posts on the BIAHADJ Facebook page. More recently I’ve been putting more emphasis on my email list as a way to keep people informed as well—and you are signed up for my email list, aren’t you?????
Worked Cool Day Jobs and Built My Resume!
When I first started this blog I was working as an online test-grader, an at-home job with flexible hours that had the disadvantage of turning my brain to mush with its repetitive work. Since then, I’ve worked for an electronics retailer and traveled back to Japan to work on the JET program and teach a semester of university English. These jobs not only gave me a TON of useful experience, they helped me travel, live in new places, and brought in a whole lot of bill-paying money, which brings me to…
Gotten Out of Debt!
I can’t emphasize how much getting out of debt has changed my outlook on life and work. I feel far more free when making decisions, and don’t feel restrained by my finances anymore. On a strictly practical basis it makes bill-paying and managing my finances much easier, but on a bigger level, it’s given me the confidence I need to move forward with my work and career, since I’ve…
Transitioned to Freelance Work!
This has been my goal since before I started this blog, though it took me a while to realize it was what I was moving toward. Over the years I’ve been able to build up a bigger network of clients for my editing and writing coaching work, so when it came time to leave Japan and my teaching Day Job, I felt comfortable making the transition knowing I’d have some sort of income to supplement my savings.
Moreso than I even imagined, however, being more available (and on the same timezone!) as clients has opened me up to more jobs and opportunities I can use to bring in income while I write, thus bringing me closer than I’ve ever been to making my dream a reality.
Reflecting on how far you’ve come is really important, both because it builds confidence about your progress toward your goals, and because it can help steer you in the right direction as you continue to move forward. I’ve been reflecting more and more on how I want the next year to go, and chief among my goals is finishing my Secret New Novel and continuing to build my online presence while I expand my editing business.
These, of course, are broad strokes, so as I continue to move forward I want to be more careful about doing all of this more deliberately, so I can make sure I’m moving in the direction I really want to be moving in for the next six years 😉