NextGen MilSpouse is going beyond traditional career tips and tricks for military spouses! We are sharing the real stories of working military spouses (just like you!) and their professional success stories on Wednesdays.
Name: Lizann Lightfoot
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
I’m a self-published author, a blogger and a freelance writer
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
About 3 years. I published my first book in 2014, then started freelance writing in 2016.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
I work from home, which is important to me since I have 4 young children.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love getting paid to do something I enjoy (writing) and the fact that my work helps other military spouses!
I am all about supporting and encouraging other people as they navigate the challenges of military life. My first book, Welcome to Rota: The Unofficial Guide to Getting Settled, and Enjoying the Culture, Food, and Travel Opportunities of Southern Spain is a guidebook for military families stationed overseas in Rota, Spain. I wanted to make it easier for people to move to Spain, find houses and schools, and get adjusted to Spanish culture. It has been so satisfying to help improve lives at a duty station I loved.
Now, as a blogger and freelancer, I write articles about handling military life – resources, money-saving advice, and strategies for handling deployments or raising children on your own. These tips can truly improve the quality of military spouse life. I love meeting amazing military spouses online and connecting with new people.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
Becoming a self-published author was a 1-person show. I decided to write a book based on our experiences in Spain. I used Create Space, an Amazon publishing company, to be my own editor, publisher and marketing department. It was a lot of work, but the book continues to sell well and receive excellent reviews even after 3 years, so I consider it a success.
The writing and editing jobs happened more indirectly. I started a blog called The Seasoned Spouse. As an English major, I wanted my posts to be well-written and professional, even if I didn’t have a big audience. I reached out to all kinds of military spouse websites, companies and individuals, offering to do guests posts for them.
Some ignored me, but others followed through.
Soon, I had a trickle of paid offers from various blogs, magazines and companies. I continued to build my portfolio and the work steadily increased.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Set goals, and then…just keep swimming. You have to put your eggs in a lot of baskets because you don’t know which one will hatch, haha.
With blogging, it is typical to make no profit for the first 3 months. During that time, you should be reaching out and networking, but it will take a while for anything to start paying off.
The same is true with writing a book – there is a lot of work upfront before there is any profit. So just keep trying and doing your best.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase Lizann’s book via our links, you help us keep the lights on and the good times rolling.
How do you feel about failure?
It’s frustrating. But sometimes it can also be a learning opportunity or a chance to go in a new direction. I try to stay positive about most things.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Living overseas was the hardest. There are rules about how and where you can apply for jobs, so opportunities are really limited. That’s partly why I chose to write my book: creating and selling a product on base was one of the few ways to earn income while stationed overseas.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
Best advice: “You can do this.” (It’s the people who believe in me that make my work possible. Otherwise it would be way too easy to just give up.)
Worst advice: “You should just homeschool.” Yes, I have 4 kids. Yes, I spent a few years unemployed and staying home with my babies. That doesn’t mean I have to spend every moment with my kids or wait until they are all grown up before I work again.
Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My husband has always been very supportive of anything I do. Whether I was a stay at home mom, working on my book, or spending evenings writing on my laptop, he has always been my biggest motivator and fan.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
I wish I could say yes. But sadly, not really.
Too many years of deployments and me being a stay at home mom means that I am responsible for everything with the kids, laundry, cleaning, shopping, and cooking.
Here’s the trade-off: he’s the one who gets up to go to work when it’s still dark. My strategy is to have a routine and do a little bit of laundry or cleaning every day so it doesn’t build up. I cook every day, but make use of my crockpot or cooking in large batches to make it easier.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
You have to out-source some things. I take the toddler to a babysitter/preschool 2 mornings per week. When I was writing the book, I had a housekeeper come to clean once a week.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone.
I love my headset and dictation software. It makes writing go so much faster, and blocks out some of the noise from the kids or TV.
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Fitbit helps me feel like I accomplish something each day, if I balance food and exercise.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Quiet. I don’t listen to music. I crave silence.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Probably spend more time snuggling the kids and husband, because that’s my fave.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Flying. I could get places so much faster!