Nine Months of Hustle: From the Beginning to Now

Nine Months of Hustle: From the Beginning to Now | The things I did to survive.

Well, technically it has been about 10 month-ish I think when things kinda fell apart… or it kinda felt like they did. You know, life… it just happens every now and then, and if anything, there’s much to be grateful for, for those life-moments, because that is one time when we truly realize that our lives aren’t necessarily always in our control. This is the time to reflect and realign, be patient, and learn to be patient, generous, kind, hard working, determined, hopeful… etc. Well, I’m not sure exactly how much the last 9/10 months have taught me, but I’d like to think I’ve learned at least some things about life in general.

Putting aside life for now, let’s look at the hustle part of it for the sake of this post. In today’s post, I will talk about what I did that kept me afloat, enabled me to pay some bills (I did miss a few, not gonna lie), and buy food (which included the most Ramen I’ve ever eaten in my life). But still, here I am, and life is significantly improved by the grace of the Almighty. My friend is still helping me with a super discounted rent for his spare bedroom, and I am still eating quite a bit of ramen and a ton of bananas, but at least I am eating, and I’m not constantly terrified. Still hustling, still unsure when the next paycheck will be deposited in the bank, but life is… for better words, significantly improved from the way things were, say, 9/10 month-ish ago.

I won’t talk about the struggle part, I just don’t like talking about them. Some people prefer being transparent, I however, like to maintain a certain amount of opaqueness, if you’ll allow me, please. Instead, I’ll jump into the part where I talk about how I hustled, what I did, steps I took, etc.

Around April, I was kind of losing my mind and had no clue what I could do get some money! There were (and still are) debts, unpaid bills, and what not. I couldn’t get the perfect job because of circumstances I won’t go into in this post. So, I had to think of the next best thing. I had to step back and think which skills I had that I could essentially use to make money? Thank the Almighty for hobbies ehh? People say it’s a curse to have many passions and many hobbies… NAWWW. It can totally be a blessing depending on the circumstances! It is because I have always had so many hobbies that I knew how to take photos, how to code websites, how to design print medium such as booklets, magazines, etc. It is because of my hobbies that I knew how to use Photoshop, LightRoom, InDesign, Aptana Studio, WordPress, Blogger, Illustrator, and yada yada yada. And I have so far used ALL OF THE AFOREMENTIONED to get paying gigs.

The whole process has been VERY sporadic as I did not have a system in place and in many ways I still do not. And before I go any further, I have ONLY JUST NOW started to get what you might call, a somewhat regular stream job incoming jobs. With that out of the way, let’s see what I did:

  1. I set up an Etsy shop. I can design blogs for Blogger and WordPress platforms. I have always coded my blogs myself, and have helped a couple of people in the past with theirs. So, here was something I knew I could do. However, just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you can make money off it as a freelancer. You need people to hire you, and for that you need a portfolio. You can create a portfolio in two ways. Personal projects, and real clients. Since I had no real client, I designed two WordPress blogs for myself, and created a bunch of Blogger templates as I see people selling them on Etsy ALL THE TIME! Guess how many Blogger templates I sold since April 2016? 8. Yes, that is the number eight, eahta, æhta… Each of them cost 25 bucks, so, yeah… However, when you have negative on your bank account and you are practically starving, 25 bucks can get you a lot of bananas and Ramen. So please, do not look down upon my 25 dollar templates. They have saved my life at least 8 times so far, and no, I’m not being sarcastic.
  2. I found Melyssa Griffin’s Facebook group — Blog + Biz BFFs. This so far has been the largest source of income for me. This is where i find most of my design and virtual assisting jobs. I cannot remember for the life of me how i came across Melyssa Griffin, those 9/10 months ago, but I know I’m extremely thankful that I did. The first thing I did after joining the group was to engage. It’s a group for bloggers and small business owners. Often people come here with their troubles, both in life and in work. Sometimes there are people asking questions about something not working on their blog, or asking for advice on a logo or blog graphic they created. I tried to engage and be helpful as often as possible. However, to be honest, I think I learned more from this group and its amazing members way, WAY more than I was ever some help to others. Sometimes people look for a designer, a developer or just someone who could help them fix something quickly. I picked up whatever job I could find. I have so far worked as a Virtual Assistant scheduling people’s social media, fixing WordPress bugs, researched things like — “how to be intimate with your partner during dinner time” (yeah) for blog posts, and even made a bunch of multiple choice questions for a client who was teaching a social media workshop to non-profit executives! FUN!
  3. I designed websites, for free first, then for very cheap, then for somewhat cheap… You get the picture. And yes, I found my clients via Melyssa’s group that I mentioned above.
  4. A wonderful editor of a wonderful magazine, Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE, commissioned me to do a photo essay + interview for her upcoming issue. How I landed this gig is a whole other story which I will cover another day. Today I’m simply talking about the things I did, not how I did them. That will come, eventually.

Well, still struggling, still hustling, but I think it may be getting a little better these days, and I’m not hating life and myself quite as much, thanks to Almighty. If you have ever hustled HARD in your life, I’d love to hear your story! Share away int he comments!

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