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I hustled. I probably didn’t “side hustle” (aff.) as defined by Chris Guillebeau, but I am going provide a perspective (a side, if you may) of hustling, which is what the blog is about. Brace yourself. I’m going for raw and verbose. What I do want you all to take away is believe in yourself in survival mode.
In the beginning of 2017
That makes it sound like a lifetime ago. I arrived at the slow conclusion that I wasn’t as interested in programming anymore. At least not as a job. I previously envisioned myself as a self-taught programmer at Facebook and Google tours through friends. I felt like a fickle failure.. that getting out of bed was difficult and depressing. People backed up my GoFundMe to get the programming going. I was doing a lot of Swagbucks (aff.) to keep bills at bay. I deferred a couple of student loans while I focused on paying the one with the highest interest off first.
It dawns on me that I can use the skills I have and made over the past year reselling. I didn’t enjoy reselling random stuff that I was sourcing from stores. My dogs are ticking allergy bombs (sorry pet-allergic people) and I was packaging in a limited space. I elected to get rid of random sourcing in July but maintained gift card reselling.
Gift cards were particularly attractive because they came in predictable amounts, resembled currency and physical gift cards were small and easy to store. I also figured as a side gig; it made valuable content and insight for my blog.
I still stand by it, everyone should have a (side) hustle.
It started as something a way to pull in extra miles and points (need to account for traveling and conference expenses). In March, I was putting in five hours/week. Holidays and special occasions assumed extended hours. Daily rounds on the computer and occasionally visiting a store. It’s December as I write this and it has consumed me as I struggle to find time writing content for the blog.
I sold over a thousand cards in November alone. It’s crazy what some of these numbers are. In March, I was doing about 200. As I enter December, I have some stock already to offload to start off strong. I’m also at an impasse. I could continue this profitable gig and turn it into a full-time job. I mean I’m already doing it full-time. I can fully dedicate without guilt. The hustler in me says to scale and look into crowdsourcing or a way to borrow capital to grow this business. I made good friends through a couple “mastermind” groups that also ran their hustles.
Neglecting the Blog
Let’s also be real. I was no longer updating my blog, which was where I was putting my future eggs. Because of the realities of chronic illness, I forced myself to rest. My mind was working off-the-clock. The times I was awake, I was in zombie-mode. I’m also working extended hours because reselling was the lifeline that kept everything going. I worked every spare moment. I dedicated the rest of my time with my dogs and the few people who made time out of their busy schedules.
Reminder that we're mortal
Recently, my grandfather passed. Outside of a handful of people, I kept that detail to myself. My grandfather was a man of superstition, fears and somewhat aloof. His passing was unfortunate. I seldom visited and when I found the time to, Alzheimer’s kicked in. It was hard knowing that my remaining time with my grandmas is limited. And seeing how detached the extended family was (technology and introversion), my nieces and nephews barely blinked an eye around their cool Aunt Shirley. One of my cousins and aunt commented I was like the damned grim reaper.
I grieved like most normals and realized how far I was from “home” (Bay Area), how my goals have naturally transitioned into doing less and achieving more (i.e., “work smarter, not harder”). I also wanted to travel more, and at some point, I’m going want human children in the mix.
The Grind that is Quarter 4 (or Q4)
So November, after I came back from two weeks of traveling. I got to work because of the holidays. It soon became clear that it was 90% reselling and 10% blogging whenever I’m not exhausted. I was making more frequent trips out to San Diego or Orange County to source. Physical cards are more profitable and limited only by time. Online, limited by the fair distribution of inventory.
As I enter December, I know I cannot keep this grind long-term. I would have to scale a different way. I neglected my blog, which I was more interested in growing. I wasn’t working on the coursework to get it going. There’s no email service set up to capture my subscribers and keep them engaged. In other words, it dropped down to hobby status. That devastated me. I almost felt like giving up again; I already grew one successful thing. After voluntarily leaving Best Buy, that’s an accomplishment. I finally had an income.
I also know long-term reselling is volatile. It’s physically demanding in both effort and mental processes.
I do know that blogging has been my passion. I had a following of 300+ when all I was writing about was teenage girl angst: puberty, boys, school. Then Facebook came along. College. Private notes. Free. Because I shared what I thought was plenty online, it allowed me to be more observant of others.
I’m warming up to the decision that I can dial back on reselling. I’m looking into crowdsourcing, but I’m going spend 2018 and beyond working and growing the blog.
Honing in on
1. Affiliate marketing (another hustle) promoting other people and their livelihoods (their hustles) and products I would happily share with loved ones. In 2018, you’ll see more online course products, and that’s mainly to set up the blog efficiently.
2. Investment in education to provide services for other bloggers and online marketers. I’m most interested in proofreading, editing (yes, proofread and editing are different tasks), copywriting and or usability testing for other blogs. I’m willing to do the occasional guest post for the right audiences.
3. Site content: It’s decidedly going focus on hustling and business creation, systems, productivity (lifehacks) and reviews of courses and sharing of good products. I’ll also sprinkle insight of working location independent (out of my home, traveling and Starbucks) while with a chronic illness.
4. Get good at social media. My focus is going be Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Facebook is where I can be myself and share personal stories. Pinterest is completely foreign and untapped. Twitter I can practice sharing shorter blurbs to match people’s attention spans.
5. Job creation. This blog isn’t going be a one-woman show for very long. 😉
6. Gift card reselling. It’s last on my priorities, we’ve had a good run. I’ve learned grit, systems and developing risk tolerance. Lots of risk tolerance.
What should you expect out of me?
I grew up in a first generation, working-class family. I am the first-born in the States that has attended and completed college in my family. My formal university studies cover psychology and linguistics. A blog is an almost perfect medium to express both. Psychology to relate to people. Linguistics to bridge communication gaps.
My “niche” or subjects of choice encompasses aspects of business creation, money making schemes and some personal finance. I am also a technophile and techno-awk in one. It’s been pointed out that I can program a remote (or some other contraption) and yet not how to use one.
Side hustling helped me pull in additional income during college. Hustling again helped me regain confidence after my surgery. Again between leaving Best Buy and it has a source of income for me. On paper, the gaps between traditional employment work against me. Online, these gaps are the inspiration behind this blog.
I still have other hopes and dreams. I’m different from my friends. I left a job I enjoyed because it didn’t work with the circumstances life dealt me. I am a survivor and that’s needed as a budding online entrepreneur. I plan on documenting the ups-and-downs of running a blog and online business so you’ll get behind-the-scenes insights into creating your own opportunities. Breaking down the business speak and being as transparent as possible.
My Goals for 2018
- Income generation.
- Pay off remaining debts: I have both consumer (business startup, mostly) and student loan debt. At 31, I aim to be debt-free. That's um, in a year (2019).
- Two luxuries: Send dogs off to doggy daycare and outsource household chores. My dogs are mostly patience and give me space to work. I’m looking into structuring my hours smarter and daycare should give them the socialization skills even puppies need.
- Health kick: more water intake (aff.) and physical activity. I also bought an Instant Pot (aff.) to ease into making more of my own meals.I've also been walking and running with Sol and Luna more. Because huskies mentally want to pull during a walk, we've been training daily with this leash (aff.) individually. The leash has a second loop where I can use to correct and keep the doggy close by shortening the lead. We walk long most days and run alternate days. Training tires them out, while the physical activity energizes me.
- Read and travel more. Recently I started reading at least one chapter/day. Increasing that to two. I’m also giving myself permission to write and jot notes in my physical books. One of my first splurges this year is an updated Kindle (aff.).
- Language learning/ hacking. It would put my Linguistics degree to shame if I don’t continue my language studies. Cranking out lessons on DuoLingo has been helpful.
- Learn about investing and *gasp* cryptocurrency. Because I’m not in traditional career 401ks, HSA and other fancy terms never quite clicked in my vocabulary. I was also barely in a position to qualify for them. What I do know is, set aside money for self-employment taxes and retirement. So I do hope, next year is my first year I can put the full amounts towards each bucket.
- Renew some old relationships. It comes with age and an acceptance that I am not great at keeping in touch and that I’ve drifted apart from others. I’ve made fewer appearances in social events as I work on my hustles. I’m mostly the same resilient bugger striving to embrace millennial life. I’m resolving to make more time for the friends and family who enjoy my company and lessen the obligation of those who don’t. A difference in my blogging journey as I’m getting wiser (maybe?) is not wasting my energy on unkindness.
- Just added: Plutus Award (Fincon) for New Blog. I'm sure not sure which category I would fall under… either personal finance or entrepreneurship. We'll see, maybe new categories can be created *dreams* hehe..
What it means for readers
I firmly believe in multiple streams of income towards financial security. I don’t think I would have gotten to this point without failing many trials. College, friends, walking away from a steady job, fired from another one, engineering relationships with chefs when I can barely cook. Every time I tried and learned a bit more. The pictures became clearer. I worked retail, loved it and stepped away knowing the pay is shit. It was a reality check not having a steady income for another year after that.
One of my virtues is “never stop learning” and it’s because of learning, I’m taking a chance to something different from my immediate family and friends and still be educational. The blog is a platform to inspire and keep learning. I’m known for my wit, quips online and it frustrates me to read so much repeat copy out there.
I am a misunderstood extrovert given that I appear quiet “in real life.” There is a dual confusion of ongoing imposter syndrome and quietness that gets mistaken as ‘shyness’ or lack of confidence. Writing with empathy helps and the vulnerability I do share in written form (introspection) allows me to dedicate more attention to observe the outside world. That means I people-watch to serve others. Because I want to, not because I have to. 🙂
I am not the girl who turn heads as she enters the room (far from it, I detest the attention), but the gal you’d stay up late chattering with. My friend Richard thinks I don’t sleep… lol. Naw.
I learned that while I’m pretty good with dogs (regularly oversee 2-5 and two of them huskies), I’m terrible with houseplants. I’ve killed more plants by overwatering than ignoring them completely.
So I hope you guys are along for the ride. It’s gonna be a learning experience. Life just is.
Money is also not inherently disgusting. Growing up I didn’t have much of it, so having a business didn’t seem as natural once I was floating sums of cash. Investing or talking about financial independence was as farfetch’d as the existence of pokémon. Have struggled most of my twenties, I understand that money opens opportunities to enrich your life.
When my sister asked if it was too late to do X, I responded with “You’re [always] going be late. It’s the matter of showing up.” Show up with confidence that you belong.
And to that, all hands on deck. The blog is my platform where I’ll share my strengths, shortcomings, fails, and transparency on where I’ll be monetizing on my blog. I’ll be documenting and experimenting because that’s all part of the business and money creating process.
The posts ahead are sporadic and frequent while I get more quality content up on the site. This means you'd be seeing me a lot more in your feeds while I settle in. You’ll also see me flailing quite a bit with social media. In exchange, I am running routine giveaways (with physical products!) to grow my email lists (ie. subscribe!), while sharing tools, tips, and tricks with my readers for their continued support. I’m also so excited to support other solopreneurs or entrepreneurs in my “network”. Here’s a breakthrough year ahead!