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.
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.
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.
Freelance writing is something I’ve always wanted to get into. I tried to back in 2015 and early 2016. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The only real experience I had was the experience with my bachelor’s degree provided me six year prior and whatever personal experience on social media. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
2021, I decided to get my act together. I’ve been working on my mental and physical health. I really began to focus on this blog and writing. I also wanted to bring in more income with what I was already doing. I took a month reading various strategies about ideas and notions of passive income.
Medium, along with the blog, were my first real attempts at the beginning of 2021. I’ve written a couple things on Medium but what I’ve done is just used my blogs post from here over there. I know it’s not very original but at least I can grow the audience with my writing. This blog though has been a rock. I have tweaked it here and there, trying to perfect it as role changes. In addition to being a lifestyle blog, I am beginning to use it as a portfolio as well.
I wrote about my first attempt with a RedBubble store. I still have yet to make a sale but I haven’t lost motivation. Instead focusing mainly on graphic design, I decided to put up samples of my photography. The aspect of being free is certainly appealing but I really like the variety of products they offer to put the image on. But after working on this enterprise a bit more, I came back to the thought of freelancing again. This time, I hope it’ll be different than the first time. I’m older, have a second degree, and am somewhat wiser from my past mistakes. I also had about a month’s period of watching YouTube videos and tutorials on LinkedIn to help relearn and polish skills.
There is still I have to learn and refresh. A lot of the writing styles that I learned in college I haven’t touched in years because I couldn’t find a job with my chosen field originally. But I have spent time refining what I know and learning about writing in different contexts thanks to my master’s degree and continuing to grow in creative writing. As I researched how-to, Fiverr and Upwork were the websites that stood out. I still don’t know about starting a business or anything like that but using those platforms seems like a good stepping stone.
Only recently have I gotten this idea of “passive income” into my head. I blame the numerous articles Medium recommended when I started to look at freelance writing. I read a few of them and it caught my interest. I have watched dozens of YouTube videos and read various articles on Medium and whatever Google Reader suggested.
But this post isn’t another article about the top five ways to get a side hustle, what to look for when figuring out what to do, or five things you need to do to make money. There is countless content about those things out there. Instead, I want to write about the biggest issues I encountered with beginning a side hustle: myself.
To be fair, I did do the research and see what the prime side hustles seemed to be these days. Things that topped the list were print-on-demand services, freelance writing, virtual assistant, and the list goes on. I settled with something I thought was simple: a RedBubble store. I have experimented with photography in the past and dabbled with graphic design so I thought this was the perfect excuse to try to expand it to the next level. Now, to be fair, I still have yet to make my first sale. I did have someone like one of my designs, so that is a start!
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I am even writing on this topic if I’ve had no monetary success. For me, the biggest obstacle in even starting a side hustle has been myself.
You’re your own worst enemy.
You’ve probably heard that saying before. Perhaps you’re flashing back to your first memory of really getting past the fear and insecurity and putting yourself out there. For me, a side hustle is another extension of that.
I’ve always been insecure about myself and had low self-esteem. Putting myself out for the world to see is always a challenge from putting on an outfit for a date, starting the first day at a new job, or beginning a new online venture. One of the hardest moments is hitting that ‘publish button. What will people think? Will it be a viral sensation? Will it get a lot of likes? Will I pick the right hashtags to get the right target audience?
The second part is continuing that momentum and believing in myself. It’s one thing to take that next first step. It’s another to sustain it.
Keeping It Going
To keep anything going, you need to plan for the long term.
I’ve always lacked this skill. I’ve gone through life thinking in terms of extremes and short-term. Either it is can/cannot, pass/fail, good/bad, etc. There was also the problem of keeping a short-term perspective. With that either/or mindset, it could only apply to a specific moment or situation. For example, I try a new skill. Two things either happen: I do well or I do not. If I do well, I use that as evidence and keep going. If I don’t do well, then I take it as it is: a universal sign that tells me whatever it is is not meant to be.
These flaws in logic are things I have struggled to overcome and grapple with consciously from day to day. It is hard and frustrating. I want to be perfect with everything I do the first time. I need the instant validation. If I don’t, I get easily discouraged and quit.
The act of writing is something that had similar struggles. I remember writing my first story at 11. Was it amazing? Not exactly. Was it something I continued to work on over the next twenty years? Absolutely. Do I forget that fact and continue to be hard on myself? Unfortunately, this is true as well.
With opening a RedBubble shop, I have to tell myself to keep going even though I haven’t found that instant fame or money. It is a new challenge trying to figure out designs, which old photos might do well, and gambling on the right keywords to figure out what will capture people’s interests. I still haven’t figured it out. The traffic isn’t that reassuring either. But that isn’t going to make me quit just yet. I want to learn how to be successful and decipher and understand a new skill set, which will keep me going.
My love for writing was not an overnight miracle. It took many years of learning, experimenting, trial, and error, and I still haven’t figured it out. I am a better writer because of it though. With learning and experimenting with this side hustle, I hope to become a better person and learn a few lessons about business.
It sucks getting old. For one, your body isn’t as flexible as it used to be. Once you hit 30, your back and knees complain a lot more. There’s the gray hair. You probably have different responsibilities and obligations in contrast to when you’re 20s or even as a teenager. You could lose sight of the past times you used to love like a sport or hobby just because life gets too busy.
I found myself in the same boat this past year, especially all the crap that 2020 entailed. To combat the stressors from 2020 and things in general, I turned to rediscover hobbies that I used to enjoy. It wasn’t as simple as waking up one morning and bed, declaring, “I think I’ll start taking pictures today!” I did buy a used camera on eBay after a lot of research a couple of weeks later, but my point is I didn’t begin something impulsively. I’ve had similar thoughts along with the lines of, “I should take a creative writing class,” or, “I need to figure out what is passive income.” A lot of these urges and ideas have come from my desire to rediscover and rekindle old interests.
As a teenager, I considered myself a creative type. I was terrible with my math and science classes, however, I did really well in history and English classes. Naturally, my interest gravitated there. First, it was writing withdrawing coming into second. I knew I was no Picasso but having something to work on and work towards was a nice change of pace. But writing gave me an outlet like nothing else could.
I always felt like I have struggled with putting exactly how I felt or saw the world for others to understand. I wrote my first “real” story when I was 11, and I never felt well-spoken, I didn’t like public speaking until I worked in restaurants, and I was self-conscious about everything. Writing gave me the building blocks to start to articulate exactly how I felt and saw the world. I would venture out, learning graphic design, doodling, and sketching. When smartphones finally got a decent camera and Instagram came to life in 2012, photography became a game-changer. Writing remained my forte but having the ability to branch out and try new modes of expression.
Back to the present. Now, I’m heading towards my mid-thirties, still dealing with ongoing issues with covid and the reckoning of 2020 that is forcing me to work through some personal and larger issues. Probably like a lot of people, my anxiety and depression got worse, it was hard to find something positive or routine from the initial lockdown or keeping a limited social life.
It was hard to find the good and have something to look forward to. Cue rediscovering my childhood hobbies earlier this year. I begin to revisit the old notebooks I wrote in during high school. I found my old sketchbook from 1999. I found more notebooks and worked my way through over 20 years of creative endeavors.
I rediscovered why I used to write a poem or doodle just for the fun of it. It was because I could. The act of creation gave me a way to express whatever I was feeling at the moment and give substance to it. The ongoing act of continuing to write a little each day and learn a new graphics program on my iPad feeds my adult self with the same wonder and satisfaction I felt at 17 after working on a long poem for a month.
It doesn’t take much but taking the time to do small things, like writing 20 minutes a day or finding another creative outlet, gives me something to look forward to and helps build a daily routine. It allows me to rediscover the things that made me happy as a child and grow those same passions as an adult. Rekindling the same hobbies that excited you 20 years ago can grow and evolve 20 years later.
To be completely honest, this is still very much a work in progress.
Back in 2016, along with trying to figure out the freelance writing thing, I also attempted to navigate the online store/photography thing. I came across the website SmugMug in 2016. I had no clue what I was doing as I uploaded a collection of photos I took in 2015 and from an OBX trip in 2016. I clicked a bunch of buttons, didn’t really do any research, and hoped for the best. The same with writing. It was basically hit publish and hope for the best.
Flash forward to 2021. I never deleted my SmugMug website and continued to used it as a space for storing my photos and a portfolio for the ones I really liked. And those photos just sat there. People could download them or try and order a print and nothing would really come with it. Thursday, after researching some options and debating the idea a bit more seriously, I upgraded my plan so I would be enable to sell those photos I have left open for the past five years.
Do I expect anything to come of it? Not much right now, but I hope it might do something one day. I have only recently tried to grow serious about the craft with investing in a new camera and learning Adobe Lightroom. Even with learning freelancing and online selling, there is a lot to learn do. I still haven’t done a lot, and still have a lot to learn. With the creation of the store, I hope to capitalize on what I have done and build from there.
Check it out if you have a moment. I would love to hear your feedback.
Photography is something I’ve always had an interest in and took every opportunity to dabble in. For the longest time, I used a Canon Powershot from 2010 that still works for a lot of shots. When I got my first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy II, the initial release of Instagram timed together perfectly. And for awhile, those two worked perfectly.
Then in 2015, I started bodyboarding and wanted to take video of my adventures out. The videos weren’t amazing but I acquired two older GoPros. My go-to for video is still my GoPro Hero Session. I’ve also used the the screen capture feature on computers to grab a few awesome moments to throw on Instagram. I also had an old Canon PowerShot that I’ve experimented with too. You can see my efforts of photography here if you’re curious. Even before than, my very first laptop back in 2005 had Paint Shop Pro on it and I used to love creating wallpapers and graphics for fun.
This past month, I got it into my head to revisit an old desire of mine. Getting serious and learning photography. I used to challenge myself by trying to take great picture with my phone, but I wanted to up my game. After a handful of hours, I found used Canon Rebel T6 for a good deal on eBay. I’ve also had Photoshop and Lightroom sitting on my MacBook because I wanted to dive back into photo editing and graphic design again a couple years back. Taking this opportunity to master the new camera seems like the best opportunity to relearn these skills again, especially Photoshop as that seems to be the preferred standard today.
I’m not sure what the future holds with the photography front or if it will turn into something serious. As sour as 2020 was and rough the first half of 2021 has been, I hope to capture some awesome shots for the latter half of the year.
This isn’t my first time attempting to write a blog. This isn’t even my first attempt at the writing thing to be perfectly honest. If you navigate your way to the About Me and This Blog page, you will find a somewhat lengthier introduction of myself and this purpose. Well, here’s another one. I write because I enjoy it. I would very much like to do it full time as a living. Who wouldn’t want to the thing you love? Some of the best advice I received was do it because of you love it, not because you have to. In the past, I am more inclined to believe the more interested and emotionally invested someone is, the better results. Writing is no different. To new beginnings.