Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do [Ep. 5]

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 to supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

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. Thank you for your continued support.

Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do

Note: This blog post is copied from the episode script, which has been transcribed by otter.ai, and edited by me.

Welcome to Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I do What I do.

I hope you had a happy holiday season, and that 2022 started out on a good note. My Christmas and New Year’s was quiet. But when the temperatures are hovering in the minus 30 to minus 40 Celsius range, it’s not a bad thing to not have to venture very far.

In my last episode, I said I was going to take the Christmas break to plan out the first quarter of 2022. And part of that plan is to increase the number of listings I have in my Etsy shop. I started off with five sales between my two shops the first two days of the year, which I’m quite happy with. To some it may not seem like much but for me it paid my fees plus I had some money deposited into my bank account this week. Anytime my fees get covered with a little bit of extra, I consider that a win.

More of my story.

January 5 marks the 20th month since I became a widow. And that life event has made me appreciate the people in my life so much more. We never know what each day will bring. And the world as we know it can quickly come crashing down. My world changed in a heartbeat. Or rather, when his heart stopped beating. The things I took for granted were no longer there, like him being here when I got home from work. We had plans, and many of those plans died with him.

One of my regular blog readers asked me today, what was different about me since I became a widow? And my first answer was, I don’t take things for granted now. I also told him I’m still trying to figure life out. Because when something like that happens, it’s not something that can be done in a week, a month, or even a year. I now do all the tasks and chores we shared. And I’ve become better at being self sufficient. And when something arises that I’m unable to do, I’ve learned to ask for help from friends or family. And when I’m asking for help, you know I must really need it because I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to certain things. And in the case of frozen water lines earlier this week (oops, I meant last week), I had to call a plumber. It was something that I couldn’t fix. And it’s just the way it happened to be.

We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can do what we have to so we can move forward. For me, that meant resigning from my job as a library assistant, and taking the time that I needed for me. Too many people are forced to go back to work after the death of a spouse. I know someone who has been, you know, told that she should go back and I don’t agree with that. I refused to be one of those people being forced to go back.

I did go ahead with our deck building plans that we had had. Although, I may have made the deck bigger than we had discussed. Taking on a massive project like that gave me something to do to keep busy. It also taught me to not be afraid of a chop saw. And that using one was much faster than a handsaw. And ironically, it was the handsaw that I cut my leg with. Go figure.

As I completed that project that was about six weeks in the making, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had taken a pile pile of lumber and cement blocks that didn’t come with instructions, and turned them into a two level deck complete was railing and steps. The latter were made from stair risers I bought but the set between the two levels was made from wood. I do have to say, had anyone told me two years ago that I could have made a deck almost all on my own I would have told them they were nuts.

That life event made it even more important for me to pursue my dream of creating passive income. I started my side hustles and blog pre-widowhood with the intention of supplementing our income so we could travel. Now I do it to not only support myself financially, but also to show you there are so many options available when you’re ready to say goodbye to the 9 to 5.

Or maybe you’re not ready to give up the 9 to 5 just yet. And that’s okay. Being over 50 gives us an advantage over the 20-somethings in the world. We have life experience. And that alone can give us a list of side hustles we can do that the younger generations can’t.

30 years ago I couldn’t give anyone parenting advice. Although, I may have attempted to a time or two. But now that I have kids on my own, I feel my input is valuable. I don’t proclaim to be the perfect parent, because really, there’s no such thing. But at least I can understand what other parents endure. And in a few months, I’ll be able to share some of that advice with my daughter when her first baby arrives. I think that’s pretty exciting.

I also couldn’t tell anyone how to change oil in a vehicle, how to change a tire, or how to build a raised garden bed. But now that I’ve lived a few more decades, I have that knowledge as well.

You see, life experience goes a long way. The 20-somethings are generally booksmart but us 50-somethings are life smart, as well as book smart. And what I’m trying to say is this, if you’re ready to slow down in life, or want to change, then do what makes you happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.

Whatever side hustle you choose doesn’t have to become permanent. You do it for as long as you wish, and you have full control over when you stop. Maybe you only want a few hundred extra dollars a month. With there being so many options available both online and off, there’s no reason you can’t do what you want. I think our generation has an advantage because we’ve lived in a world without computers, in a world without the internet. And we know what life is like without them. And if you’re anything like me, you also know how easy it is to utilize their power.

Some side hustles are a one time deal, while others are an ongoing moneymaker. You may not find that perfect fit for you right away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Always remember that we grow as we get older. So what you wanted to do 10 years ago may no longer be something that excites you now. In my case, 10 years ago, I wanted to be a bookkeeper. After doing it as a side hustle for a couple years, I realized it really wasn’t my calling after all. And now I just do my own books.

I’ve done a lot of things over the years for mail order fabric squares to different party plans. But to date, my very favorite is creating printables I sell in my Etsy shop. Plus, I love sharing my knowledge with others when it comes to side hustles and self publishing.

I believe others can learn from my oopses. And believe me when I say I’ve made a few. I don’t claim to be perfect or to know it all. What I do know was I love what I do. And it has taken me a lifetime to get here. There is no timeline on when you should do something when you shouldn’t do something. If you want to go back to school when you’re in your 50s go back to school when you’re in your 50s. There’s nothing saying you can’t. And if someone says you shouldn’t, their opinion really doesn’t really matter.

Conclusion

Now that you know more of my story, I will continue the episodes as I started; giving you ideas and resources so you can find what works for you. And speaking of resources, don’t forget to check out the tools and resources page on my website takeonlifeafter50.com. It doesn’t matter what stage of your working years you’re at because a side hustle can be started at any time. The advantage for those of us over 50 is we have a little more time to pursue our own interests.

Kids are grown and have lives of their own which means we are able to set up a studio or not or an office in a spare bedroom. The night owls can once again work when they’re most productive. And I am that night owl. Our projects can be left out without fear of someone else moving without someone else moving it. Unless of course there are cats in the house. And yes, that’s experience talking. I love my cats but I sure don’t love it when they decide to rearrange things for me. I forgot what it was like to have indoor cats because hubby was allergic to them. After the first disaster or two I learned to put away whatever I didn’t want scattered from one end of the house to the other.

In next week’s episode I’ll talk about starting a printable side hustle and why Etsy is a good starting point. See you then.

Thanks for listening to this episode, and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from if you want to learn more about me visit my website to takeonlifeafter50.com and get your copy of 3 Side Hustles to Fill Your Piggy Bank.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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

3 Products You Can Make & Sell

Finding products to make that won’t break the bank in postage can be a challenge. This post not only gives you the products, it also gives you the instructions on how to do them.

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. Thank you for your continued support.

1. Dry Erase Sheets

Are you a list-maker, or do you have family chore charts that you fill out each week? Are those lists and charts tossed when complete?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, chances are you already have a good idea that there’s a fair amount of wasted paper. And if you’re tossing a lot of paper in the trash, then so are others who have the lists and charts like you.

Sure, you can go to a stationery store and buy a whiteboard, but they are rarely tailored to your needs. It’s easy to make your own, and they can be as plain or pretty as you please.

This is a nice way to share your designs with others, plus earn a little side income as well. If you already make printables, this is the perfect addition to what you’re already creating. The only difference is this is a tangible product you will have to mail to your customer.

What you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Laminator (or access to one) and laminating sheets
  • Magnet strips or dots (optional)
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Ribbon or thin cord (optional)
  • Dry erase markers (optional)

Directions:

  1. Print out your design of choice. You could offer customized charts, lists, trackers, etc., or have basic designs. It’s entirely up to you.
  2. Laminate the sheet and add a magnetic strip or dots.
  3. Or, punch holes in the top corners and tie a thin cord or ribbon to it so it can be hung on a wall or door.
  4. When listing your item you can give your customer options in size, hanging method, and whether or not they want a marker included. Do keep in mind that shipping with a marker in the package will be more expensive as it will be heavier and thicker.

It’s up to you whether you want to offer customized/personalized sheets. Keep in mind if you do, it’s a little extra work on your end but that service can set you apart from the competition.

Be sure to specify the thickness of your product in your listing so customers are well aware they are not getting an actual “board”. These sheets will only be as thick as the paper you use plus the thickness of the laminating sheets.

2. Blank Notebooks/Journals

If you have an artistic hand you can hand draw designs and pictures on the front cover of a blank, lined, or dot grid notebook. I have ordered my spiral dot grid notebooks from Amazon and am happy with the quality.

The neat thing about them is the firm clear plastic cover. This enables me to design my own title page and have it protected. Plus the cover is thick enough to act as a firm writing surface.

These are just under an inch (2.5 cm) thick so shouldn’t be too expensive to ship. My advice is to package one and take it to your local post office so you know what shipping will be to your selected countries. When I ship physical items, I generally only ship within Canada. I know that cuts into my customer base, but I have been burned on shipping more than once (because I didn’t do my homework).

If you want to take it one step further, you could include weekly and daily layouts that your customer can replicate within the book as they choose. Remember this will take more time and you should adjust your pricing accordingly.

Or, if you’re really creative and have a flair for bookmaking, you could make your own saddle-stitched notebooks. These would truly be one-of-a-kind, and you could customize as much or as little as you like.

3. Cards

Cardmaking is a lucrative business.

You can choose to offer handmade cards with the ribbons, cutouts, washi tape, and handwritten verses; or computer designed and printed on cardstock. Or you can offer both.

Cards are light and do not cost much to mail to your customers. Packaging so they are not bent in transit is essential, because the last thing you want is an unhappy customer.

You can offer customers cards for all occasions, or you can niche down to a select few. If you’re offering computer-designed cards you can give the customer the option of purchasing a digital file, or you can send them a printed copy at a higher price.

I love receiving handmade cards, and I can appreciate the work that goes into them. There are papers of all colours, punches, stickers, adhesive dots, ribbons, rubber stamps, embellishments, etc. to make any type of cards and envelopes you desire.

I have a friend who will sit down and make several cards at once, and she always has a variety to choose from when she (or someone else) needs a card for a special occasion. She has streamlined her process so she isn’t making each card from start to finish one at a time. Her cutting, stamping, and embellishing is done while she has all of her tools out.

This cuts down on her time to make each card, plus she can make several the same but different if she so chooses. It’s easier to make several Christmas cards at a time than to make one Christmas, one birthday, one wedding, one sympathy, etc.

I have only ever made cards for family and friends, but I have been the recipient of her cards on more than one occasion and am envious of her talent.

This is a card I bought from an Etsy Shop when I needed one. I printed it at home, and even though my printer was having some colour issues I think it still turned out pretty good.
Pricing

When it comes to pricing your work, my first suggestion is to do a search on Etsy to see what others are charging for like products.

Next be sure to calculate the cost of your materials plus the time it took to make the item start to finish. As you make more of the same item you will be more efficient, but if the price point is working, don’t sell yourself short by lowering your price.

And if you got your materials on sale, do not lower the price of your products to reflect your lower cost. The reason for this is because next time you may have to pay full price for materials. Having your prices yo-yo is not good business. Staying consistent is best.

Conclusion

As you can see, it doesn’t take a big item to make a difference. I will be adding more printable cards to my TOLA50Printables Shop in the upcoming weeks for a variety of occasions.

I hope you are able to utilize one or all of the ideas in this post. Let me know what worked for you, or what didn’t.

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

Our Pets are Family Too

Recent events have made me stop and think about why I started this website/blog.

You’ve read my posts on side hustles, which there are more than any other topic I had intended to cover when I started this. You’ve also read about my loss of Ross in May 2020.

As of today I’m going to talk more about what being over 50 means; the good and the bad. We so often shut people out when they’re going through a rough time; simply because we ourselves don’t know how to deal with the situation.

I’m aware that I could be shut out as well, but I’m a big girl and can handle it. Now let me back up the bus just a little.

On Monday afternoon my geriatric Blue Heeler went missing. He is blind, fairly deaf, and 12 years old. My last time to see him was in the morning before I went to my doctor’s appointment, and when I got home I figured he was asleep in his house. And at that point, he most likely was.

My side door camera picked him up walking down the steps and out of camera range at 1:25 in the afternoon. He’s an old boy, so spends several hours during the day napping. He’ll make his rounds between my house and my father-in-law’s, but is always home for supper. When he didn’t eat I then realized there was something wrong.

I searched around the yard that evening, but it’s not the first time he’s been gone for a few hours. When he still hadn’t returned by morning I became really concerned. I searched my yard, nearby fields, ditches, and my father-in-law’s yard…to no avail. By the end of the day I had walked (according to my Fitbit) almost 9 miles. No sign of him anywhere.

After looking yesterday without any sign of him, my hopes of finding him alive are diminishing. I am utilizing the power of Facebook as one last ditch effort to get him back; or at least find out what happened to him. Calls to the SPCA and local vet have turned up nothing.

What hurts my heart the most is there are people out there who steal dogs for their own gain; and it’s rarely just because they want their own dog. Our world is full of uncaring people, who don’t consider a pet as a family member. Our pets are a big part of our family, and when one disappears without a trace it’s heartbreaking.

We’ve had pets die before, but with that comes closure. When they disappear the closure isn’t there, and our minds conjure up all sorts of things. I’m a big girl and know death is a fact of life. I’ve experienced it enough in my lifetime but also know closure is needed. It doesn’t get easier as we age; dealing with death. In fact, we’re more aware of it as we age I think.

If you’ve joined me just to learn how to make money with side hustles, I’ll still be posting about them. I’m also going to post about other things life throws at me; both good and bad. Maybe I’ll talk more about my pets, my friends, my kids. Maybe I’ll talk about a new recipe I have tried or pattern I have designed…or book I have read.

I don’t claim to have all the answers; I just go through life one day at a time like everyone else does. And right now, my missing dog is all I can think about. If he’s passed on simply because it was his time, all I want is to do is find him. If he’s still alive, I want him home.

Buddy sitting in my swing with me. He was so happy.