What do you do – at age 52 – when you haven’t been employed for more than 20 years, and the whole basis of your successful freelance business has effectively been swept away?

If you’ve been checking out the earlier articles in this series you’ll know this wasn’t the first time I’d been faced with a challenge like this. And I’ll confess it took me a while to come up with the answer. I had ideas, but somehow I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Everything was a fog.

But I’d been doing some brainstorming – with some very useful help from a networking contact – and one day the lightning struck.

Because I suddenly realised that I had all the skills I needed to create good quality, entertaining, and genuinely interesting email newsletters.

That was exciting – to me, at least! It took me in a genuinely new direction that also made good use of my experience and my skill set. Better yet, I was probably going to enjoy it. I’d need to build the newsletters themselves in HTML, so I’d be back to coding. (Something I’d only really done for fun before this). I’d be producing something that was required at regular intervals. (So I’d be able to have a predictable income.) And once I was up and running, the idea was scalable. (So I’d probably need some help.)


There was just one (big) snag. I would need to distribute those email newsletters to hundreds, or even thousands, of email addresses. And that wasn’t something I could do without specialist programming. (I was a little ahead of the trend – and affordable email distribution programs had yet to appear.)

I made a few tentative efforts using some then available commercial software. It could just about do the job,  but was far from satisfactory. The truth was that I was in a bit of a fog. I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t see the right way to do it.

Then I had one of those chance conversations that change lives. Over the fence. With my next door neighbour. Who happened to be a professional programmer. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I see your problem. And I can fix it.’

And he did. With his help I had an effective, usable way to send out as many emails as I wanted to, to as many addresses as my clients could throw at me. Which was, of course, just the beginning of a very steep learning curve…!

Because my next job was to build my very first team…