Revisiting Photography, Side Hustles, and Resurrecting My Online Photography Shops

Revisiting the photography side hustle. My photo (c) 2022.

Last year, I bought myself a used DSLR camera. I had aspirations of learning photography and selling my photos as a side hustle. A year later, that camera mostly sat, and I became distracted with other things. That hasn’t stopped me from still taking photos. The only things I use consistently are is my phone for pictures and editing using Adobe Lightroom.

I find myself in a position where I need to increase my income in addition to the jobs I already work again. This was kind of the idea last year when I decided to get back into photography as well (in addition to strengthening my skill set). I originally used two platforms to attempt to sell on, RedBubble and SmugMug. (I still haven’t sold anything to this day).

The last time I did anything or revisited my shops was back earlier this year. I let things go. I didn’t update or add anything new. I just kind of let it sit there. I even switched to a cheaper plan on SmugMug to save money. Admittedly, there are a few problems that I have. I have a short attention span, have trouble staying consistent with things, and get dissuaded easily if I don’t have immediate success or validation. This caused me to lose interest and let it flounder.

Fast forward and we’re into the second half of 2022. I find myself in a position of needing to bring in extra income and I’m getting nervous about money again. I am terrible with budgeting and my anxieties and quick urge to spend have gotten me trouble from time to time in my 20s. I am trying not to do that again, so I can’t help but get anxious when I find myself spending a bit more than I planned to.

I researched some ideas last year for side hustles and side gigs. I still freelance with writing and editing. I write with Medium (although not as consistently as I would like). I signed up for DoorDash but, in all honesty, was too afraid to do so with the risks and dangers of driving. I really don’t want to risk a wreck with my car so I haven’t done that. In my early 20s, I used to donate plasma for extra cash. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to go that route unless I really have to. So I found myself back to photography and those old shops I had.

Why did I decide to come back to my online shops (aside from money)? Last Saturday, I was at a local coffee shop and they were also hosting a small local vendor market. We were talking and she talked about how she started and the goal was you just needed to start somewhere and just stick with it. And it just reminded me that I must go back and stick with this effort. So, I’m trying to resurrect selling my photography again. Hopefully, I’ll be consistent and stick with it again.

If you want to check out my stuff (again), take a look: RedBubble and SmugMug.

Learning Balance: Moving Edition

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

I’m hoping I am nearing the end of a month-long process of moving. I got the keys last month, but the process has been slow going. I thought it would be quick like 1-2-3, and then boom. Done. But this isn’t the case. Moving has become another exercise in life, and one which I’m struggling with. I am finding that moving isn’t clear-cut and straightforward, like many things in life. It’s taking time and I need to remind myself about patience.

The first thing is dealing with the yard. I’m moving to a small townhome but I wasn’t anticipating feeling as overwhelmed with it as I thought I would. I’ve been living in an apartment for the past 6 years. Before then, yard work was always something I avoided as a kid. I have one memory of getting poison ivy really bad at 9 years old that was enough to dissuade me from playing out in the woods and avoiding the outdoors, including yard work. Now, I have a tiny little yard to add to my upkeep. It’s been a struggle because I expect things to be done immediately instead of realizing that it takes time to do something. There are projects I want to be done, and I don’t have the means or the knowledge to do them. Researching how to perform sed projects or opting for someone to do it for me takes time either way.

The next thing is the house itself. I had to make some major purchases right at the beginning. As a result, that doesn’t leave me much room to make immediate changes or projects. This is okay for the time being. But after living on my own for the past 6 years, my apartments felt like extensions of my bedroom or my college dorm. There was no real rhyme or reason to design, decorations, or decor. Just a bunch of eclectic knick-knacks that I have accumulated over the years. Which is okay too. But for the past few years, I have just left things cluttered everywhere. I still want to display my knick-knacks. I let my geek flag fly with my Funko Pops, books, and odds and ends. But I am going to try and do it tastefully, well, at least have matching shelves for it all to fit together. These things, like the yard, will come in time.

Lastly, the task of readjusting to a new location will be challenging. I live in the city I grew up in. The family isn’t too far away. I’ll be moving about 20 miles away to a new city, and while it’s from the same metro area, it’s still a new city. Readjusting to a new house let alone a new place is intimidating. For the first couple of weeks, I used the GPS to find my way there and back to my apartment. I try to take in the sights and memorize the alternative routes my GPS has taken me on. I’ve made an effort to try and get to know my neighbors. I found a gym and my bank. I think that I will eventually invest in a bike this fall after some money again to bike to everything nearby and try and save some money as gas keeps climbing. And I know I’ll adjust, but the biggest issue is getting past that anxiety of being alone without actually being alone. 20 miles isn’t a long distance but it’s a long enough distance to feel somewhat isolated. As I navigate moving and the coming months of adjustment, I need to use those newfound patience skills and become patient with myself as I figure out the new area as well. This, of course, is easier said than done.

Moving is probably one of the more stressful times in a person’s life. I know my stress has been crazy for the past few weeks and it’ll only get worse over the next few days leading up to Friday. But this experience will hopefully make me better as a person and teach me that life is a balance with patience, things will eventually get done.

Making Time

My photo (c) 2022

I’m in the middle of moving. Next month, I’ll be doing the big move to my new home that is a bit closer to the coast and the beach. Not much but I’ve started calling it my own little beach house.

But moving is stressful. The past couple of weeks have been fraught with anxiety and stress. This is due to a couple of issues with the scale of the upcoming move, trying to figure out things, and just figure out where to start. There have been nights where I’ve had trouble sleeping and trying to keep my head straight.

After running some errands this morning and dropping by the new home, I decided to explore and revisit some old restaurants that I used to frequent about five years ago. Nothing crazy.

Photo by me (c) 2022

I didn’t stay long; just enough to have two drinks and some fish tacos for lunch. During that time, I felt myself awash with memories of being their 5 years prior, trying to take in the moment, and just be present in the moment. It was hard. I found my thoughts distracted and my anxiety going to the list of things that I need to do with the upcoming move. It made it difficult to take in such a gorgeous day. But while I was sitting there, my thoughts also drifted to when I go to this restaurant 5 years ago. I had hopes and dreams. I dreamed of moving out on my own, owning my own little place by the coast, and being somewhat at peace with myself. And the truth is, today, in some form, this has come true.

I’ve had a hard time staying present in the moment and letting my anxiety get the best of me. It’s been a very trying few weeks. But today served as a reminder that I am going somewhere and that things are finally shaping up. Besides, the fish tacos were amazing.

I just need to to stay focused on the present a bit more rather than letting my anxiety get the better of me.

My Goals For Writing in 2022.

Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

I started last year with a resolution to grow my writing. This included growing my freelance writing efforts and trying to grow more profitable. I let it go most of last year until that summer where I managed to cobble together a website, applied to the Medium Partner Program, got over my fears, and created profiles on Fiverr and Upwork. So, how did 2021 end up?

2021 Reflections

Last year was better than I had hoped. 2021 didn’t see me making massive gains, but I made a lot more progress than I think I would have. My months on Medium didn’t see me making hundreds of dollars (in fact, it was only a couple at most), but that encouragement was enough to get started. I tried to keep my own website updated, but not as often as I hoped. Freelance-wise, I had a few orders and after a couple of beginning gigs on Upwork, I’m hitting my stride. All and all, not a bad start. I also experimented with learning nonfiction creative writing, but I found myself wanting to go back to my roots with writing fiction. Overall, it was a really positive year writing.

2022 Writing Goals

In 2022, I am now working 2 jobs (excluding the freelance writing I am still doing), and it feels like my schedule has never been busier. It can honestly be overwhelming at times. My Mondays and Wednesdays could easily be 12 hour days. I’m still struggling to get my routine down for the next few months and also planning some other major life decisions like moving by June. The first handful of months of 2022 is going to be busy. And planning my schedule and routine will be even more important. My 2022 hopes for my writing include a few things.

My first resolution: continue to grow my freelance writing efforts.

I didn’t make loads and loads of money freelance writing last year where I could quit my main jobs and retire early. But I found myself doing the sorts of writing I have always wanted with a job. My freelance writing is primarily content writing, but I have done resume reviews and edits as well. I find that Fiverr is good for resume gigs and Upwork has been best for long-term work. I hope to really try to work on that progress in 2021 and capitalize on it in 2022.

The second resolution: managing my time better and finding more time to write.

This sounds dumb, but I have a tendency to overlook myself and take on more than I can do. In addition to writing and my main job, I’ve also been trying to work on my mental and physical health for the past few years. When I’m not working or writing, my schedule has a lot of appointments and errands to keep. What I found was that I was miscalculation time commitments and/or how long something would take. That left little time to write for fun or not enough time to focus on my other writing projects.

And the last resolution: writing more fiction.

One of the reasons why I drifted towards creative nonfiction last year was because I thought it would be therapeutic. But maybe I have some avoidance issues or other mental issues, but I found writing about nonfiction and my life like pulling teeth. It was a difficult experience and I often found myself going through some unpleasant periods in my life that I am still struggling to get past. Fiction and escapism are two of the reason why I started writing when I was 11 years old. Writing fiction in my mid-30s has the same appeal as it did over 20 years. So I hope to write more fiction in 2022 and even tackle one of the writing sessions that NaNoWriMo does in April or July, or even try tackling NaNoWriMo in November and maybe attempting a novel in 30 days.

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash

As I grew older, I’ve been feeling myself become more nostalgic. I don’t yearn for memories or really good food or falling asleep at the dinner table (which has happened to me before). Instead, I grow nostalgic about the memories of my family and those simpler times.

I know, it’s silly. As I kid, I used to always dread the three-hour drive to my grandparents’ home and would sometimes get overwhelmed by all the activity and craziness that was Thanksgiving. I also get nostalgic for the family members that have lost. It’s not just the memories of that particular dinner, but it brings a whole sea of memories that I have gathered throughout my life.

This Thanksgiving, I will be assisting in cooking it for the first time. Another milestone. Another notch in my belt. But I will still be surrounded by memories of my family and be thankful for every single one of them.

The First Time I Felt Like a Writer

I always try to write for myself. The first was a short story. I was 11 years old and did it spur of the moment. After that, I got the bug. I continued to write for the next six years. During that time, I didn’t feel like an artist. I kept my writing to myself. It was a secret that I didn’t like sharing. I was self-conscious about it, carefully shielding the notebook I would carry everywhere with me to write. The writing was just something you didn’t share. That changed my senior year of high school. That year, I found myself struggling to find electives to fill my class schedule. At that point, I had an idea that I wanted to go into technical writing and took things like a journalism class. But I decided to also take a creative writing as well just for the variety.

Up to this point, the only type of writing class I had taken was the state-mandated public school English classes. I was also in honors and AP English too, but writing still was one of those things I kept to myself. I didn’t know what to expect going into it. But to my surprise, it was one of the most chill and interesting classes I’ve ever taken. I adored my teacher. I felt more inspired than ever. I was getting past my anxiety about sharing my written work.

As I began to slowly get past this anxiety of sharing, my teacher announced an extra credit opportunity. At a local coffee house, every Wednesday night, there would be an open mic for people to come read their poetry and written works. I thought it couldn’t hurt. So, that night, I arrived three hours early. I claimed a table in the back near the exit in case I decided to exit early.

As the open mic got underway, I kept largely to myself. There were a lot of people I didn’t know or recognize. There were a lot of people reading amazing work that made me feel inferior. At the halfway point, there was a brief intermission. I could feel the tightness in my chest and the tingling in my fingers; tell-tale signs of an impending anxiety attack. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to share. I wanted to get past my fear. I finished the last of my coffee, and right as the open mic was about to get underway again, I wrote my name with the black dry erase marker. “Kelly P.”

I hurried back to my outpost at the back of the room to wait. I don’t remember much of it after that. I was nervous. I kept eyeing the exit. But then, I heard someone call me. “Kelly P. You’re up!” I grabbed my notebook at the time, a gray composition notebook held together by duct tape. My hands were shaking. I eyed the room briefly as I grabbed the mic. I couldn’t make eye contact. With a trembling voice, I introduced myself. “Uh, hi. My name is Kelly P. and I will be reading…uh,” I flipped to a random poem. I don’t recall saying the title. I just remember keeping my eyes downcast, focusing on my handwriting, and the mic shoved up against my mouth. I had been told I had a problem with public speaking and hopefully they might hear me.

I don’t remember the words. I tried to read them in one breath, avoiding eye contact the entire time so I wouldn’t be judged. As the last words left my mouth at the end of my breath, I finally looked. People clapped. I felt shocked and then surprised. No one was mocking me, telling me how bad of a writer I was. It was the opposite. I felt the anxiety leave me replaced with some euphoric high. I got a rush from performing my mic and sharing my writing for the first time. I felt good. I felt confident for the first time in my life about my writing. I still feel that euphoric high whenever I give a big presentation or after a big social engagement.

As I left the stage, I reclaimed my table in the back. I felt relief and lingered on the positive vibes as the open mic finished. This was only the first of many open mics throughout my senior year of high school. For the first time in my young life, I truly felt like a writer.

Part 1: Is There Any Value in an eReader?

Part one of a three-part series.

Photo by Antonio Scalogna on Unsplash

I think got my first eReader sometime in 2007 or 2008 while I was in college.

I got it as a Christmas gift from my mom. It was white. You know, that gray-white that electronics at that era were. It reminded me of a Hewitt-Packer, was it was just a few shades whiter to almost beat being gray. I don’t remember the name brand of thing. It was off-brand and not an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes and Noble Nook. It was some company that was trying to jump on the bandwagon of the latest tech craze. Like all those companies who tried to manufacture their own MP3 players in the early 2000s. This company was trying to accomplish the same thing.

I don’t remember the exact specifications of it. I do remember that I couldn’t download any new books. I mean, it might have, but it was connected to an existing bookstore. I knew that I could download older eBooks and Project Gutenberg is what came to mind.

So, I downloaded a small batch of classic novels from Project Gutenberg. After Christmas break came and went, I went back to college and brought my Reader with me.

My bachelor’s degree was English so I had a combination of literature and writing classes I was taking at one time or another. I thought to be proactive, I would try to download one of the class textbooks on my eReader to make my life easier. I would only have to carry one thing instead of multiple books. The experience didn’t go so well.

The reading experience was clunky. The eReader didn’t work have the time. I missed the tactile feel of the pages between my fingers. The appreciation for the intricate designs of the book and paper quality. Nothing seemed to be better than the physical copy. I was 19 or 20 at the time but I swore to never invest in an eReader or an eBook. Until a few years ago.

In the following two articles of this mini-series, I will explore my opinions about the physicality of books and how my attitudes have shifted over the past few years.

This is also published on Medium.

I Walked in a Crowd for the First Time Since March 2020

Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

Last Sunday, I almost didn’t go. I almost talked myself out of going. But I didn’t want to waste money on another ticket. I was going to go. That morning, I gathered my camera, my bag, my mask, sunglasses, water, and sanitizer and drove to the airfield. This past weekend, I went out into my first crowd since Covid first happened. I know that doesn’t sound significant, but for me, it was.

I have been working from home since March 2020. When I go out, I’m always cautious. I remember to wear my mask. I always use a hand sanitizer afterward. With covid, my anxiety increased tenfold, especially during those first few months during the initial lockdown. It was a hard transition that I’m still trying to get over. I’ve made some progress though. It’s small things like managing to go to the gym while I wear my mask. Going over to a friend’s house when I know there will be a few people. Even getting the courage to go to a restaurant during the least busy times.

I used to be able to go out into public with no issues. I loved to hang out in bars and coffee shops and just people watch. I didn’t have the fear of anything bad happening to me. I look forward to it. With covid, it got harder for me and the anxiety seemed to hold me back from enjoying every aspect of life.

But on Sunday, I managed to get a hold of my anxiety for a couple of hours. I walked outside, kept my distance, and managed to snap a few pictures. I know this post is short and doesn’t have a lot of content to it, but to me, it was a huge milestone.

It’s a Match! What Dating and Job Hunting Have In Common

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Job hunting can be intimidating. There are so many ways to go about it these days as a lot of the process is automated. It’s all about connections and who you know. LinkedIn has come into play over the past decade as an excellent tool in professional networking and needs. But despite all this advancement in technology, it can still be a challenge in trying to land an interview.

During the time I worked with resume writing and cover letters, I was taught that you needed it to customize the job. Sound advice. But that advice felt generic and, at times, hard to figure out especially when you were trying to even begin writing. I also learned it’s important to highlight and show soft skills when one doesn’t necessarily have the experience been asked for. Trying to combine these two concepts was difficult for me and trying to articulate when I did resume writing was hard as well.

Then I looked at it in terms of dating. I know it sounds silly. Job hunting. Dating. What could they possibly have in common? Bear with me a moment.

One of the timeless pieces of advice one receives with job hunting is to customize the job. If you have ever been on a dating app, in theory, you do the same thing. I have many horrible Tinder stories and I have tried my fair share of dating apps. Whenever I agreed to meet with a guy, I would always try and view his profile and make plans to make talking points about what he had on his dating profile. I know, it sounds silly and a little controlling, but in my mind, it was the thing that could make or break a second date. If you find someone interesting and he or she has that they love dogs and hiking, you’re going to try and talk about dogs and hiking in the mountains. Even though you’re more of a cat person and really prefer the beach.

The same idea applies to looking at a job ad. If an employer list that they want public speaking and leadership as skills, you will try to find a way to make that stand out on your resume. Say you only have experience working in customer service. We can make that work! Your ability to speak with customers counts as being skilled with public speaking. Did you ever oversee another employee, for example, checking outside work in a restaurant? That counts for leadership skills as well! If an employer is looking for a certain skill, you will reframe your experiences to make it sound like the skills they are looking for. It will help you stand out as an ideal candidate.

New Update, New Look

The new logo.

I don’t know what came over me this weekend. I had been working on making Medium a more concrete thing and trying to refine my Fiverr gigs in landing that ever elusive first client. I started thinking and listing all the creative avenues I had started in 2021 and reflected back on the original goal of this website.

I created Kelly’s Surf Words to serve as a blog and slowly evolve into freelancing writing. The website languished until June until I started getting serious about it. I did a couple of blog entries but nothing more. August was getting the courage to join Fiverr and Upwork. I started writing a bit more for Medium these past couple of weeks. I also had a RedBubble shop. I had all these creative endeavors but they were all over. I lacked a central location to house everything.

Which brings me back to this blog, which is now also a hub for my creative endeavors, my freelance writing, my photography, and a portfolio. I decided to house it all under here: Kelly’s Surf Words

I spent a good chuck of today in between my job and everything else updating and reconfiguring pages. I even bit the bullet and invested in a professional logo. It’s seems an odd mismatch, like all the things going on here. The owl represent Athena’s owl (the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology) and the original title of the website, Kelly’s Surf Words which connects my love of the beach with my love of writing.

Here’s to a new phase and beginning to the life of Kelly’s Surf Words.