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Side Gigs and Income in 2016

Wow, I have been blogging for 4 years, but over the past few months I have completely rebranded this site and it feels like I’m starting over. This blog is about my journey to unlocking a simple(r) life. I want to share our experience and inspire others by offering free challenges and tips for earning side gig income, implementing careful spending habits, and feeding the piggy bank for rainy days (or travel).

I’ll share practical information about our travels, from pre-planning to recovering from mishaps when far from home. It IS possible to live well and travel more while enjoying the best things in life (which are often free). Our side hustles provide a little extra income to fund our camera gear and travels.

2016 was a good year for side gigs. 

*This post includes affiliate links. To learn more, see the Disclosures tab at the top of this page.

My New Side Hustle -Travel Writing

I decided to invest in travel writing for side gig income. The financial investment was a carefully considered diversion to our spending plan for the year. During a weekend seminar with Great Escapes Publishing, I gained an important understanding of the publishing industry and how freelance writing fits in with magazine and online publications.

The coursework was challenging but when I embraced the challenge of the travel writing process, I achieved positive results. Within weeks, I had some published articles and received two payments from one of the article outlets. That’s a side hustle win!

SendOutCards – Amazing Marketing Tool

Send Out Cards tops the chart as one of my favorite online (easy) businesses.  Once again, I used the tools consistently throughout the year and reaped the benefits of making personal connections using greeting cards.

Remember mailboxes that were mounted on a post by the road? I sure do. I remember growing up on a dusty country road with a mailbox near the end of the driveway. I remember the excitement when I received letters or packages from family and friends. Even today, I cherish beautiful greeting cards and personal letters.

SendOutCards makes that same magic happen in a high-tech world.  I send customized greeting cards with personal notes to my friends and my business contacts. With the Sendcere app, I can do this right from my iphone whenever that tiny inner voice prompts me to reach out to someone.

I love SendOutCards because of the personal connections that otherwise may fall into the dark hole of procrastination.

I love SendOutCards because it allows me to build my business relationships real time.

I love SendOutCards because the production and mailing center is US-based and cards are printed, inspected, and mailed with care. Every. Single. Time.

Really, I love SendOutCards!

At the end of a chaotic workday, it’s easy for me to pause for a few minutes and select an appropriate pre-formatted greeting card, add some personal text, and send a card – which will be printed on quality card stock, with stunning colors, and mailed for delivery.  I can even send a little appreciation gift along with the card – with just a couple more clicks!

 

Why SendOutCards Works for Me

As an online customer, SendOutCards saves me time and money – over and over!

As an entrepreneur, SendOutCards provides everything I need to run my business and build a team of like-minded professionals.

Join my group as a customer or Join my team as an online business owner! Just click the top right corner of that page to send a card today.

Let me know if you have any questions about how to implement SendOutCards in your business (or just for keeping up with friends and family). I’ll set you up to send a few cards for free and test it out for yourself. (Trust me, sending cards has never been so easy!)

With the newly released Sendcere app, I’ve changed my travel routine. I can use iphone photos and send my own photos as amazing postcards. When I return home, my mailbox has collected my favorite memories, ready to display or frame.

Download the sendcere app from your mobile phone app store and use referrer code 152198 for immediate access to the program.

 

 

Web site design, computer hardware repairs and software training

In 2016, we spent several weeks providing free tech help to local residents, which was a very fulfilling service project. Overall, we’ve reduced our customer list for computer hardware repairs.  We’re offering software training services on an “as requested” basis and looking into creating some online classes in 2017.

Affiliate programs

 

My Crochet Getaway website, is still an affiliate marketer through Commission Junction and offers advertising for Tripadvisor, Michaels, and All Brands. We expanded to affiliate marketing with Amazon.com.  We are pleased with the activity (click-through) on both Commission Junction and Amazon, but somewhat disappointed in the revenue conversions.

I still anticipate success with side hustle income using affiliate marketing on our blogs and websites.  As we update the sites in 2017, we’ll increase the focus on product reviews and reduce the sidebar banner ads. Why?  It’s all in the numbers and I love digging into the numbers to understand how to improve my sites.

The numbers show that readers of the Crochet Getaway site are much more likely to click on text-based links.  In fact, the text ads generated 25% of the ad impressions (seeing the ad on the screen) but were more than 98% of the click-through for the Amazon.com affiliate activity. Readers on that site were far more likely to click on a link in a relevant article than to click on a sidebar ad. That’s great data and I know what to do differently in 2017.

A positive takeaway on affiliate programs was that I began tracking some key statistics for sites and for specific types of blog post articles.  By doing so, I’m ready to expand my affiliate relationships in 2017.

 

Stock Photography

When traveling, I'm always on the lookout for stock photography opportunities.  Stock photos are those types of photos that are commonly seen in advertising – bold, vivid images with ample space for advertising text.

I am selling stock photography on Dreamstime and Bigstock, but there are dozens of reputable agencies if you are interested in pursuing stock photography as a side hustle gig.

Click Here to sign up as a customer or contributor for Dreamstime.  This is a referral link and will request your registration at the site (just set up a user id and password).

Stock photography is not a get rich quick model (but then, what is?).  I started with stock photography in June of 2014 and ended 2016 with 325 photos active on Dreamstime and 239 photos active on Bigstock. Each photo must be uploaded to the sites and indexed with keywords and a title.  The process takes a few minutes for each photo.  Once approved, there is no additional effort required and both of these agencies provide real-time information about earnings.

Etsy and designsbygwyn

The designsbygwyn store on Etsy continues to have steady traffic. However, I’ve stretched myself too thin and am challenged to maintain a consistent inventory level on the site. My goal for 2017 is to offer more custom crochet items (variety of colors and sizes) and increase my customer base.

I have some cute printed cotton fabric in my craft room stash and am looking for some quick-create items to make and sell – which will keep my inventory levels more constant and add to the benefits of this side hustle.

Summary

Reflecting on 2016, there were many positive takeaways.  It was a busy year with travel to Florida, California, South Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. We enjoyed some good road trips and connecting with friends. Along the way, I practiced my travel writing skills and captured ideas for future articles. For side hustle income, we've improved our photography skills and increased online business activity.

To save on expenses, we’ve discussed ways to save on overnight accommodations during extended trips. One avenue that we have researched is to contract as pet-sitters. In 2016, we experimented with this idea and had an adorable Australian Shepard stay with us for eight days in the spring. We provided short-term fostering for three abandoned dogs, nursing them to health, and then assisting with finding forever homes. These experiences add to our confidence about pet-sitting as a key element in our travel plans.

Let's see what 2017 brings!  Subscribe to receive more information about side gigs or to just read along with our journey.

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