How I Started Three New Lucrative Careers After Age 50
In 2004, at age 48, after living in New York City my entire life, I made a decision to move to Paris with my longtime partner. Prior to our move, I was a successful chef, caterer, and business owner in New York for 20 years, and my partner was a high-profile art director in the fashion industry.
We traveled to Paris for the first time in 1979 and fell in love with the city. Over the next 20 years, we returned frequently, and on a trip in 2004, my partner and I decided it was time to move there.
We went home and started creating a plan to move to Paris. We sold our Manhattan business in July 2005 and moved to Paris the next month. The profit we made from the sale enabled us to live for a year without working.
Career wise, I was eager to do something new. My catering business in New York had been physically demanding, as I would work 10- to 12-hour days on my feet, cooking, serving, and cleaning. In the last years before we moved, it was taking a toll on me. I didn’t want to be a chef or caterer anymore. That part of my life was over.
I knew I had to reinvent myself and a series of events unexpectedly led me to my next careers.
When I first moved to Paris, friends, family, and colleagues from the U.S. would ask me for advice about the city, like information on the best hotels, restaurants, and museums. At first it was fun to share this, but after a while, constantly dispensing the same information became a tedious chore.
At that time blogging was starting to become popular, and I found out that successful bloggers could make a living. I had an idea to start an insider’s blog about what to do and see in Paris from an American expat’s perspective. It was a way to channel all the information I imparted to my friends into a possible business. I launched my blog, Eye Prefer Paris, in June 2006. In the decade and a half since, I’ve written over 2,700 blog posts. The blog took off quickly and within a few years I had over 8,000 subscribers. Companies asked me if I would accept advertising, and soon I was making a modest income this way.
The first year I lived in Paris, since I wasn’t working, my friends and relatives bombarded me with messages about coming to visit. When they came, instead of doing the usual tourist things, I showed them Paris from my point of view and shared off-the-beaten-track attractions. It was also fun for me to show off the city, so an idea popped into my head: What if I showed clients the same sites I showed my friends, in the same informal manner?
I launched my tour site in January 2007, and I booked my first tour within 10 days. The tours were private and limited to no more than six people, so as to keep them similar to the way I did them for my friends. In the next few months, I aggressively marketed the tours by advertising them on my blog, connecting with travel agents and hotel concierges, and setting up a TripAdvisor account. By the end of 2007, 80% of my income was derived from my tours.
My third business venture was photography. After I set up my blog, I knew that photos had to be an essential feature of my posts, since Paris was so photogenic. I bought a top-of-the-line Nikon camera and taught myself how to take photos through trial and error. Fast forward about three years and I’d started to sell prints of my photos on my own photo site and Etsy, and had two successful photo exhibits in Paris.
Today I am happy and fulfilled, while generating three healthy income streams.
By Richard Nahem