How I Found My Passion and Used It To Become a Successful Blogger
Finding My Passion As a Blog Writer
Several years after exiting the Marine Corps and being unable to find where I fit in society, I landed a corporate job that paid well, but it wasn’t something I was necessarily passionate about. Eventually, it led to burnout. During that time my mom had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and eventually passed away because of it. After her passing, I did some soul searching and looked for an outlet where I could express myself and to be honest, keep my mind busy.
At that time I frequented a military blogging site that was owned and operated by military veterans who tested and evaluated all types of outdoor gear, and then wrote articles on their personal thoughts of that specific gear. As an outdoor gear guy myself, I read and absorbed as much as I could. So, on a whim, I decided what the hell, I’m going to email them and see if they need any other veterans to evaluate products and write about their experiences.
Expecting my request to get lost in the black hole of the internet, I was pleasantly surprised. They responded within a few days and I ended up starting as a pro-bono writer shortly after them vetting my military background. I quickly went from pro-bono to a paid freelance writer within the first 6 months.
When asked to fill in temporarily as the editor for a short period of time, I took that as an opportunity to prove myself, which eventually led to me taking that position full-time. Although the full-time position only lasted two years, it enabled me to leave my corporate job to pursue something I was truly passionate about, a dream job if you want to call it that. It also put me on a course to be a very successful blogger and build new relationships.
Above: Myself and two of my staff writers covering an outdoor industry conference
How Blogging Helped Me Deal With a Traumatic Experience
Little did I know that this job as a writer and editor would allow me to put some closure on a traumatic event I experience in the Marine Corps. During my enlistment in the Marine Corps, I was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
The TRAP team acted as a quick reaction force in the event one of our pilots went down behind enemy lines. If we got the call we were inserted behind enemy lines to locate and recover the pilot. Prior to our 6-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, we had to complete several field exercises in order to be deemed ‘Special Operations Capable’.
During the last field exercise known as Exercise Purple Star, we were tasked with a night insertion and movement to our objective. Prior to the operation kicking off, we all sat around playing cards, watching movies, and just generally shooting the shit with each other. Little did we know that our ‘training’ exercise would turn into the recovery of our own guys. Here is my short account of that experience.
Once Exercise Purple Star kicked off my unit was stacked just inside the door leading to the dark flight deck of the USS Saipan off the coast of North Carolina, doing our final weapons and gear checks. Once we had the green light we made our way out to our assigned CH46 helicopters (3 in all). To this day I’ll never forget the smell of aviation fuel, the sound of the helo’s on the flight deck spinning up, and the blast of heat as we loaded into the back of the CH46.
The plan was to take the three CH46 helicopters towards the coast to the assigned Landing Zone (LZ Bluebird). Prior to us landing in the LZ we had a Cobra Attack Helicopter clear the LZ for us to ensure no enemy was present. As we approached the LZ, looking out the small window next to where I was sitting I saw a huge fireball appear in the sky. At that moment our helicopter banked left at a steep angle. Seconds later the crew chief passed back the hand signal (his fists hitting each other) signaling that there was a mid-air collision (The Cobra and lead CH46 helicopter had just collided).
Long story short, the training mission was aborted and we recovered the bodies of our own brothers (the very same guys we were playing cards with just hours ago).
Being able to write about that traumatic night not only brought some much needed closure to me, but also brought some closure to a few families of the fallen service members. I received an outpouring of support and thanks on LinkedIn when I posted my article talking about that horrific night. I even had a few family members of the fallen send me direct messages thanking me for not allowing people to forget about the sacrifice their loved ones made that night and to provide them, the family left behind, with some closure. That in itself proved to me that my new writing career is where I’m meant to be.
After that media company restructured and eliminated positions, mine included, I knew I wanted to keep writing, so myself and a fellow veteran decided to start our own website from scratch: The Gear Bunker. Because of our previous experience with creating content for a successful blog, we were able to grow our new website from nothing to 19,000 monthly visitors within a year organically. And we are still growing.
My day job also consists of creating blog content for a local digital marketing agency. Being able to take what I’ve learned from my beginnings as a pro-bono writer to now and help local businesses grow and succeed is just as rewarding.
It’s amazing what you can do when you’ve identified your passion.
How Do You Identify Your Passion and Turn That Into a Career?
When it comes to identifying what you’re passionate about doing, you have to be in the right frame of mind. For example, if you walked into a restaurant with the mindset of “I’m not hungry” and “I don’t want to be here“, then chances are you’re not going to find anything on the menu that sounds good. And you’re going to be miserable the entire time you’re there.
The same principle stands for finding your passion. If you have the mindset of “I’m never going to find my passion” or “It’s too complicated” then you’re going to miss out on what could possibly be the best thing that happened to you. How do you expect to find that job that doesn’t feel like a job if you don’t believe it exists?
Becoming a successful blogger was never on my radar until I opened myself up and did a little searching. If I would have never sent that cold email to the editor of the website, I would have missed out on an amazing opportunity. Sometimes all it takes is one small step outside of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself these two questions; What do you love to do? What do you spend your downtime doing? Once you’ve answered those two questions, start to figure out how to turn those answers into a fulfilling career.
Getting paid to do what I love…
Writing is a powerful tool. Not only can it provide you with exciting career opportunities, but it can be therapeutic and rewarding for you and those that read your work. With the internet now, your writing has the potential to reach millions of readers and impact their lives in a positive way. Sharing your experiences is a great starting point. Start there and see where it goes.
Be sure to follow the Calepin blog as I continue to share my unique experiences and lessons learned on my journey to becoming a successful blogger.