Why do most writers need a second job?

February 28, 2023, No comments

Most authors have a day job to survive. Unless they are J K Rowling or John Grisham (or have a very understanding other half), they can’t live from writing alone. A 2022 survey of UK authors showed that professional authors were earning only £7000 a year, a drop of 43% in 15 years. And a mere 19% of authors earn all their income from writing. So most have a second job.

I used to have one that was related to my books, at least. I would give talks and workshops about Switzerland, all over the country and abroad. They were for companies like Google and ABB, tourist boards and expat groups, schools and festivals, or whoever asked – and was willing to pay (every author has stories of being expected to work for free). Sadly, the pandemic stopped all such events and they have yet to recover.

Now I have a different second job. Not so different in that it involves writing and travelling, but very different in that covers the whole world. I am the content creator for a great travel agency in Zurich called Cosa Travel. They have been designing tailor-made trips for over 40 years so it’s been wonderful to become part of such an experienced team.

But it all started with Swiss Watching. Because of that book, I ended up working for Cosa on their Swiss itineraries and content, as well as becoming one of their guides in and around Bern. That led to a bigger role rewriting their whole website for a brand relaunch last month, with everything from the company pages to travel articles being revamped and rewritten. It was a mammoth task but the end results are fantastic.

Even better is that I get to travel for work again, not just in Switzerland. With Cosa, I have stayed in a rainforest ecolodge and an iconic landmark hotel. I’ve had a private guided tour of Fez, gone sloth-spotting in Costa Rica (see above) and will soon be on a train to Prague and Vienna. And I have travelled the world without leaving home, researching and writing about Fiji and Botswana, Bhutan and Rio.

Second jobs can get in the way of writing. It can be a vicious circle of time versus money. You have to work to earn the money that enables you to write but by working you don’t have enough time to write. I am lucky that my second job deals with two of the things I love most (and sometimes even all three if chocolate is involved), and leaves me time to write for myself.

Speaking of which, I am about to start researching my new Swiss book. More on that another time, but it does involve a lot of travelling in Switzerland.

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