I have been writing, for pay or for
fun, most of my life.
In 1986, I became the advertising copywriter for a small publishing
company in Sauk Centre: Vocational Biographies. This company
produced an exciting career information resource, used by schools
and counselors in all fifty states, and beyond.
My job history gave me an eclectic
skill set. By the time Vocational Biographies hired me, I'd been an English teacher; staff writer for an historical society; radio
disk jockey; and office worker/customer service contact for a
commercial refrigeration company on the West Coast.
Besides on-the-job experience, I
had studied Computer Science for two years at what is now the University of
Minnesota, Moorhead. I had also studied art and design, although
company discovered that I could handle graphic design, and got along
with computers. I started designing their advertising pieces, as
well as writing copy.
Years passed. My skills with software and data analysis were
needed to maintain and study the company's mailing lists, so I
started doing that instead of creative work. (They're still using
some of my order form designs, after seven years.) Through all of this, my
wife's advice served me well: "keep learning!"
In 1997, I realized that there were very few websites which
discussed small towns: at least, not favorably. Since I like living
here in the center of Minnesota, I created a small website called “I
Love It Here!”
The website grew. Now it is called
Brendan's Island, with
over fifty pages and four major sections.
Early in 2003, the Marketing Manager
of Vocational Biographies discovered Brendan's Island. She was
impressed, and wanted to know who had designed it. That's when I started developing
Vocational Biographies' online presence. In June of 2003, the
company's website was up and running. I'd also been talking with the
Palmer House Hotel's manager. Their website launched in July, 2003.
Education, a sister company of Vocational Biographies, wanted a web
presence. I designed and launched their website
in February of 2004.
Goodbye Paychecks, Hello
Vocational Biographies/Project Special Education went out of
business in 2006. The last I checked, the products were still
available through an educational resources distributor.
recommend trying to restart a career when you're near retirement
age. I'm not sure what my status is now. Official records say I'm
I won't argue the point, although my 'retirement' feels
more like working as a full-time writer. Having myself as a boss is
nice, except when I feel like asking for a raise. Or regular pay,
for that matter.
And that's another topic.