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How to Turn Your Green Thumb Into a Side Hustle [EP 9]

Welcome to Episode 9: How to Turn Your Green Thumb into a Side Hustle

Thoughts of spring are creeping in as the daylight hours get longer. I know I’m ready for spring but I feel as if Old Man Winter isn’t finished with us yet. I’m sure we’re in for at least 6 more weeks of winter, no matter what the groundhog says.

In this episode I’m going to talk about how you can take your love of gardening and turn it into more than just green leaves.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Bedding Plants and Flower Baskets

Anyone that has shopped for bedding plants since Spring 2020 knows how hard it is to get what you want. I know the greenhouses in my area were sold out of almost everything within a couple weeks of being open. It’s as if every single person decided that was the year to start gardening. It’s amazing what fear will do to people.

But, I’m not here to talk about the pandemic because I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about it, even though it’s a part of our everyday life now. 

If you have the space and a window that gets direct sunlight most of the day, you can start your own bedding plants. And if you plant seeds like I do, you’ll have more than enough and can sell the extras. An ideal location would be a greenhouse, but if you live in a climate like mine, the cost to heat one this time of year would eat up your profits and then some.

It takes several weeks for seedlings to grow into sellable plants. Depending on your temperate zone, you’ll want to get your seeds planted before the end of February. Some can be planted later but keep in mind peak planting time. In my area nothing is generally planted in the ground until after Victoria Day, which is the third Monday in May.

I have planted potatoes on May Long, and some seeds that don’t mind the ground being a little cooler. But when it comes to putting out tender young plants, it’s best to wait another week or two. I’d rather wait than have everything freeze and have to start over.

Now, back to the seeding.

You’ll need a lightweight soil, some cell packs, plant trays with clear lids, a spray bottle, and your seeds. It’s also good practice to have labels and a permanent marker handy. You don’t want to be playing any guessing games when it comes to telling potential customers what the plants are. And until they mature a little, it’s often difficult to tell them apart. This is especially true when it comes to flower seedlings.

Also, make sure you record everything in a notebook. Don’t rely on memory alone, because no matter how good your memory is, when it comes to a dozen or more varieties of plants, it will fail you. And yes, that is experience talking.

Next determine what stages you want to sell your plants at. Will they be a couple inches high, or will they be ready to flower? Or do you want them in all their beauty so they attract more than the bees? These are all things to consider before you start planting your seeds. 

Another very important thing to keep in mind is once your seeds germinate and get their first true leaves, it’ll be time to transplant them into bigger containers or cell packs. Do you have enough room for them, and enough natural light? 

If you don’t have the right light you can invest in some grow lights. They are relatively inexpensive, and I bought a few on Amazon. They are currently providing light for a couple of experimental plants I have, as well as some of the smaller houseplants.

You can improvise to a degree and invest in some grow light bulbs that can be put in a lamp. I have used a floor lamp and directed the fixtures toward the plants I was growing. It does help to have a light bar instead, as more space and light can be utilized.

As the seedlings grow your house may begin to look like a jungle. Ideally you’ll have a shelving unit of some sort set up in front of a direct sun window, or with the grow light bars. 

If you have the right amount of light, your plants should be growing but not becoming stretched out and leggy. And as the weeks go on, you should start to see buds appearing. As the weather warms you can move your seedlings to a greenhouse or under plastic in raised beds. If the nights are still below freezing be sure you have a reliable heat source to protect your tender young plants from freezing.

In my area the greenhouses are open to the public generally on Mother’s Day weekend. If you’re going to have your plants ready at the same time, be sure to advertise your location a week or two ahead of time. Or, you could sell them at any time by posting on social media.

If you are only going to have a few trays to sell you may be tempted to price much lower than the bigger centers but I advise against that. You’ll be cutting into your profits plus bringing down the overall price, which hurts everyone in the industry in the end. Find out ahead of time what greenhouses are charging and stay competitive. 

If you enjoy creating planters and baskets, you could add a little more to your bottom line. Your additional investment will be containers and more soil, but your earning potential is higher. 

If selling the seedlings or baskets doesn’t appeal to you, another option is to have a market garden. This is ideal if you have a large garden plot, as you can plant a lot of vegetables. If you don’t have a lot of area for a traditional garden plot, you can still have a market garden.

Raised beds are wonderful in that you can plant sooner, and attach trellises so your otherwise sprawling vegetables can grow vertically. This is ideal for cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, and other vining crops. One word of caution here though: make sure your trellises are firmly attached to your beds or to poles sunk into the ground. As your crops grow the produce gets heavy, and will cause bending or breaking if not properly anchored.

Some types of produce that is popular are potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, herbs, onions, and garlic. If you can grow these basics, plus some others to add a little variety, such as tomatillos and cucamelon, you will do well.

No matter what you grow, remember it takes time and maintenance. Weed between the rows, water regularly, and protect them from the hot sun and moths by using row covers. And you don’t have to start with acres and acres. It’s okay to start small, and if you like what you’re doing, expand a little more each year. 

The nice thing about a summer side hustle is being able to potentially fund a winter vacation. And for those of you who live in a climate like mine, a vacation to warmer temperatures is welcome.

House Plants

Do you have house plants that are multiplying? 

Not everyone wants or has the space for bedding plants, so offering houseplants can be a nice little side hustle as well. Some can be started from seed, but you’ll get much faster results by taking cuttings from your existing plants. 

Some are easier to propagate than others, but with patience it can be done. Spider plants are the easiest to propagate, plus they are air purifiers. And I think they’re the coolest plant when they’re sending out the babies. I love my spider plants, but they do not like where they are because neither one is giving me any babies.

Succulents, Christmas Cactus, Snake Plant, and ivies are the easiest to propagate. I have had good luck with fig trees and umbrella trees, and even African Violets. My only issue with the latter is they do not do well in my presence. I can get a leaf cutting from someone, start it easily enough…then it dies. I do not have the magic touch with them that my maternal grandmother had. I swear they’re a species that has a hatred for me, no matter how hard I try.

Potted houseplants do take up space, but depending on the species, you can get in upwards of $6 for a 4” potted plant. I have a prayer plant that I paid $12 for at a local shop last spring, and it came in a 4” pot if I recall correctly.

Another type of houseplant you can grow and sell is the air plant. I personally do not have any, but my daughter has several varieties and multiple sizes. She has had a few of them reproduce, which is pretty neat. She has sold several in clear bowls or terrariums, complete with coloured sand, rocks, and shells. They’re fairly easy to care for, and there’s no soil to mess around with.

Conclusion

Planting, growing, and harvesting is a great way to make some extra money during the summer months. The best part is being able to enjoy the fresh produce, because when you grow it yourself you can’t get it any fresher. Supplying it to others in your community ensures they also get quality fruits and vegetables, plus they can be rest assured no chemicals were used to keep them from perishing.

If you would like to learn more about gardening, visit my just-for-fun site where I have articles about growing your own sprouts, making self-watering planters, and other gardening tips. It’s a work in progress as I didn’t touch it for over a year due to life, but it is being added to once again.

If you have any questions about gardening, feel free to visit allingardening.ca and contact me via the contact page.

Join me next week when I talk about another gardening side hustle: making furniture and decor. 

Thanks for listening to this episode and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website takeonlifeafter50.com. If you like what you heard, you can support my podcast and blog at buymeacoffee.com/takeonlife50. 

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


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Creating the Life You Deserve: 150+ Side Hustles for People Over 50

This is an extra post, just because I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

I just published my newest book, and it is currently available here.

As I’ve been doing the side hustle podcasts and blog posts, I decided to write an ebook about the different ones that can be done. I also talk a bit about my side hustle history, just to give you an idea of what’s possible.

The ebook is just over 30 pages in length, including cover, formalities, about 175 ideas (give or take) and the back page.

Here’s an excerpt that I’m sure many of you can relate to:

For me it’s more than just writing for money. If I wanted to do only that I’d still be selling my services on gig platforms. I don’t have anything against those, and in all honesty I still have one gig listed. But I am no longer low-balling just to get the work. I know my time is worth more than a dollar an hour, so I may not be writing for clients on that site anytime soon. (See #16 for more on gig sites.)

Starting a side hustle when we’re older gives us an advantage over people half our age, especially in this century. We know the value of hard work, we can survive without the internet for more than 30 seconds, and we can count change back without needing a cash register or calculator to do it for us.

Plus, we have life’s experiences to draw on. And that alone is worth something.

We’ve seen a lot of changes in our lives. We went from using a manual typewriter to using a laptop. Do you remember when Liquid Paper came out? It was fantastic because errors could be fixed while typing instead of having to retype an entire document. Now we have the backspace or delete button.

We knew how to use a rotary phone, and rarely messed up when we called someone. And that was a time when we actually knew phone numbers of family and friends. And even our own for that matter. Now I barely know my own phone number, not to mention anyone else’s. Show a teenager or even 20-something person a rotary phone and they have no idea how to use it.

Oh, the good old days!

I’ll be back later this evening with my regular post and podcast, but I just wanted to share. Enjoy!


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Writing Ebooks and Publishing on KDP, Kobo, and other Platforms [EP 8]

In Episode 3 I talked a bit about self-publishing and what to watch for. In this episode I’m going to go a little deeper into self-publishing, and concentrate on ebooks and Kindle, Kobo, and other platforms.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Below is the transcript for this episode from the beginning, including the podcast introduction. As in previous episodes, the transcript doubles as my blog post for the week.

You’re listening to Take On Life After 50, the podcast for people over 50 who want to supplement their retirement by doing what they love. I’m your host, Diane Ziomek, and this is where you’ll find practical how-to’s and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

A look at some platforms, pricing, and distributorship.

Welcome to Episode 8: Writing Ebooks and Publishing on KDP, Kobo, and other Platforms

Do you ever feel as if winter is never going to end?

That’s about where I am sitting at this point. I don’t think it’s so much that it’s winter, I’m just getting tired of the rain in January. In my part of the world, that generally isn’t supposed to be a thing.

In Episode 3 I talked a bit about self-publishing and what to watch for. In this episode I’m going to go a little deeper into self-publishing, and concentrate on ebooks and Kindle, Kobo, and other platforms.

To start with, it doesn’t matter what genre you choose. Ebooks can be formatted for pretty much any type of book, be it fiction or nonfiction. With the advances in technology and graphics, even graphic novels are readily available as ebooks.

As an independent author I have spent a fair amount of time at my computer searching for the best place to publish. As I have searched, I realized something: one platform isn’t necessarily better than any other. Yes, some pay more royalties than others, but do you want to be exclusive to only one platform?

First, let’s talk about book length.

When it comes to ebooks, there’s no set length. As a writer though, it’s your job to provide your reader with all of the necessary information they need to get from Point A to Point B. In the case of nonfiction, for example, if you’re writing a book on how to grow a container garden you’ll want to cover everything from suitable containers to soil to lighting. Plus you’ll want to provide a list of plants that are suitable for containers. 

With better graphics programs and faster internet speeds, ebooks include more pictures than even 5 years ago. That in itself opens up more options for writers. If including photos you won’t need a super high resolution, which will cut down on downloading time of your book on a reader’s device.

When it comes to fiction, you have more options. You can publish anywhere from a few thousand words to tens of thousands of words. Some fiction is in the hundreds of thousands of words, and the one that comes to mind there is the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. 

And just like a print book, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all one story. If you have a collection of short stories, an ebook is a good way to get your work out there. If you have a series, you can publish them individually, or offer them as a boxed set. I have done this with my Pipestone Creek Romance Series. Each novella is on Amazon and priced at $2.99 US (which currently works out to $3.93 CAD), but I have the entire set of 6 available for $10.00 CAD in my Etsy Shop. As with any boxed set, it’s offered at considerable savings.

Next, let’s talk pricing.

This is where things can get a little tricky, and something I struggle with till this day.

Nonfiction is generally priced higher than fiction in print books, so the same rule of thumb should apply with an ebook. I have seen some that are $10 less in ebook form than their print counterparts, and some that are half-price or less. I have also seen the two formats priced the same.

Fiction prices are a little closer to being the same for both formats, but as expected, the ebooks are generally a couple to a few dollars less, depending on author, genre, and platform.

As mentioned, the pricing is something I struggle with. My frugal mentality says a book that’s not printed and bound should be considerably less than a printed copy, but my author mentality has a different opinion. And as independent authors, we need to take ourselves seriously. Our time is worth something, so we should not be giving our books away. With that said, there will be times when you may choose to run a promotion; which can be good to boost sales.

Depending on genre, there’s the research, first draft, second draft, fifth draft…you get the picture. Then the final manuscript, which gets uploaded to the platform of choice. It all takes time, and for some, also money. And that’s just the writing part. 

There’s also the marketing, editing, cover design, time spent on book descriptions, and the actual uploading of manuscript and cover to the platform or platforms of choice. It all takes time, so you should naturally expect some degree of return.

Third is the platform of choice.

When people think of ebooks, chances are their first thought is Kindle. I initially used only KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing, but over the years I have broadened my horizons. No matter which platform you choose, make sure you follow the guidelines and the rules. 

Before I get into the platforms, there’s the matter of an eISBN. The platform you choose will provide one, but you can also provide your own. Each country has its own process of obtaining them, so your best bet is to do an online search by simply asking “How do I get an ISBN for my book?” Some platforms do not require an ISBN for an ebook, but you can include it if you so choose.

With KDP you have a couple of options. You can publish exclusively with them and receive a higher royalty, plus enroll in KDP Select, which entitles you to a portion of the earnings based on number of pages read. This is good in the respect it gives you more ways to earn, but bad in that it only caters to the readers who read via the Kindle app.

Another option is to publish to each platform individually. When publishing to more than one, be sure you haven’t given any of them exclusive rights. If you do and are caught, publishing privileges can and will be revoked from certain platforms. 

Also keep in mind your prices should be the same across the board. Don’t have your ebook listed at, for example, $5 on one site and $10 on another. Sooner or later the pricing will be changed to the lowest one, no matter where you’re listed. So in the end, it’s best to start out consistently to avoid the hassles that will inevitably come with various prices.

Platforms such as Kindle, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, etc have their own policies and distribution territories. For maximum exposure it’s best to select all distribution channels for each platform.

A third option is to go through a distributor that takes care of listing everywhere on your behalf. One such distributor is Draft2Digital. They’ll list your book with Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, plus give you the option of library distribution as well. It’s basically a one-stop-shop so to speak.

Whichever route you take, be sure you understand how their royalty percentages work, and how you will be paid for copies sold. When going through a distributor such as Draft2Digital, you may not see any royalties for up to 90 days from the date your book was sold. Plus, there may be a payment threshold as well, so you won’t get your payment until the minimum threshold is reached.

Option 4 is to sell your books on your own site. The pricing should be consistent with listings on other platforms, if you have also taken that route. I suggest selling on your own site as an addition to the previously named platforms, simply for the fact they have a much wider reach. 

The benefit to selling on your own website is you won’t have to wait for 2 or 3 months to get your payment. You can set up a payment processor such as PayPal or Stripe, and the money will be deposited into your account within days, not weeks. If you’re selling on your site you can provide your readers with a PDF or ePub file, depending on which software you use to publish. I use Scrivener for the majority of my fiction so am able to create an ePub file as well as a PDF.

If you’re a writer or creator of workbooks you should sell on your own site. The PDF files are provided as immediate downloads to your customer, and they can print or use an app such as Goodnotes so they can write on the pages using an iPad or tablet. You can command higher prices as well.

I have my Creating and Selling Nonfiction Course Workbook on my site for $19, and it can be printed so the buyer can work through each module. I have sold a few copies since I published it, and foresee more sales in the future. When writing and selling workbooks you’re giving your customer the opportunity to learn from you, plus they can print as many copies as they wish for their own use. 

This is especially helpful for life coaches or business coaches, as the same pages can be used for different ideas. And if you’re a planner designer you can utilize this strategy as well.

Conclusion

As a writer and independent author you have the freedom to choose where you want to publish your ebooks. You also have more control over pricing and can receive much higher royalties than traditionally published authors.

Don’t let fear get in your way of putting your work out there. The real beauty of ebooks is if you mess up it’s a lot easier to fix. All you need to do is upload the corrected file to the platform and the changes will be made. I have made a few changes to mine over the years, with most of the changes being typos. If you’re going to make a lot of changes, I suggest creating it as another edition.)

Join me next week when I’m going to get into spring mode and talk about some ways to make your green thumb work for you. I’ll see you then.

Thanks for listening to this episode and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website takeonlifeafter50.com. If you like what you heard, you can support my podcast and blog at buymeacoffee.com/takeonlife50

Afterthoughts:

Now why do I think of these things after I finish recording?

If there’s anything you would like to know in terms of platforms, royalties, or general questions about self-publishing ebooks, please comment below. I will answer as best I can as a reply, or in an extra blog post.


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