We haven’t been out of town for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been attending various meetings but both Brenda and I are starting to show the signs of cabin fever. We would like to see the snow disappear, some green on the ground and more sunlight in the sky. I think that’s what made me think the other day that February is such a short month so it feels as if winter passes quickly.
The sad truth is that we had to cancel out of one of our out of town vending dates a week ago because of another heavy dump of snow. Although we did not get as much as was predicted, six inches in one day was enough to cause us to just stay home. We turned it into a ‘snow day’ and watched DVDs for the entire day resting comfortably under blankets in the bedroom.
It is times like this that I pause and think about what we would have been doing instead back before our third quarter transition. I know that there would have been no rest and that the daily grind of our business would have dictated that at least one of us had to be at the office. Now that the office is upstairs and the demands of work have shifted so much, I appreciate the change.
I suspect that I will encounter this on a regular basis throughout this year. It will mark our second year (in July) of closing our storefront business. It will also mark our fourth year of doing the things we were doing as hobbies that have since become our new careers. Not many days go by where I don’t think about the progress we have made and the smooth transition that happened.
There is no doubt in my mind that what we are doing now in our lives is pretty close to what we are supposed to be doing in our lives. I say that because it feels right. It really does fit like a glove. Both Brenda and I have found our niches. It’s such a comfortable fit that even if we have to cancel something due to weather, it’s minor. It’s no longer a major inconvenience.
We even have a relatively clear idea of how we want to approach the coming year with our home-based businesses. I think the past couple of years have helped to prepare us for this moment. The moment where we start to further define what we will and will not do as part of our growing business plans. It’s a great feeling to have this much control for a change.
While neither of us has any preconceived notions of what we expect to happen for us in 2018, we both know this year will be a year of definition. In a way, both of us have embraced the third quarter transition and are about to fine tune it to the place where everything seems to fall right into place. We couldn’t think about doing any of this until the fit became comfortable for us which is where we happen to be now. It fits and feels right. Now is the time to work with that.
Clearly my wife, Brenda and I are very much settled into our third quarter transition. It is actually becoming very comfortable to me. I still try to keep regular hours in my ghostwriting career but I also enjoy the flexibility it has given me. For the longest time I found that part of the change in careers to be somewhat difficult to get used to. I still have the odd day I must refer to a calendar to make sure I am on the right day as I frequently think I’m a day ahead.
Where I think I really got a little lost during the transition was that I was no longer required to be downtown on a daily basis. In fact, I now force myself to go once a week to check the mail and take care of other business. When we had our office downtown on the main street there were times I checked the mail three times in a day. I now look forward to “mail day” as if it was some sort of special occasion. Things have certainly changed in my life at this point.
I try to still get up each morning no later than 7:00 AM and will sleep in once a week to around 8:00 AM. On the mornings when we vend out of town the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM. When we had our downtown business I was getting up at 6:45 AM and on my single day off I would sleep in until 8:00 AM, if I could. In a way, I’m glad that I can keep the same basic hours as there are many mornings I find that I can get a lot done before noon hour.
So far, this New Year has been interesting. Aside from the snow, we are still doing our vending and I am still ghostwriting. We took a couple of weekends off in January opting to go back to the market in Oliver, British Columbia in mid-January. We have also cut our Saturday/Sunday vending schedule down to just Saturdays for now. We’ll add Sundays probably at the end of February or in early March. My ghostwriting, on the other hand, has not slowed down.
This is what makes January this year really stand out for me. My ghostwriting was not as established last January and we were not vending as early in the year, either. Things really slowed down and both of us noticed it was much like when we had our storefront business. January was extremely slow as a result of the post-Christmas downturn. Apparently that isn’t the case with web developers in need of content written for their websites.
My workload has been pretty steady in this month and the fact that we have temporarily suspended our Sunday vending dates has given me an extra day to catch up. There was one point in the month where I would finish five jobs over the course of a day with eight more in the wings. By the time the day had ended, although I had completed five jobs, another five would come in and I guess I didn’t really catch up after all. It has been an interesting January.
I am looking forward to spring so we can get to doing some work in the yard and spending more time outdoors. However, when it comes to vending, I’m not so sure how many outdoor events I want to participate in. I think that comes from starting to realize and recognize that I am really beginning to find that this third quarter transition is fitting me well. I still have the odd off day but for the most part, each day is different from the next and not a blur of days strung together.
Both my wife and I have been talking about it a lot lately. We’ve really marveled at how well our third quarter transition has gone. This past year, in particular, has set a lot of milestones in place for us. When we look back on it, 2017 will likely be remembered as the year we completed our midlife career changes and started to see some serious growth in both of our ventures.
Brenda’s side hustle (JamBusters!) has seen a tremendous amount of success. We measure success in the number of jars of product we sell at each vending event we attend. Because we booked just over twice as many dates this year than we did in 2016, the numbers were going to naturally increase. I don’t think either of us expected to see sales leap to where they got to in 2017.
It has a lot to do with us no longer looking at the vending part of JamBusters! as anything other than a marketing opportunity. For part of 2016 it was a bit of an escape for us and a means to generate income. The stresses related to that are gone so we now enjoy the vending far more than we did. In a way, you could say that now the pressure is off, it can take on a life of its own.
As it turns out, I think it is safe to say that is precisely what has happened. I gauge the success of JamBusters! in another way as well. I observe Brenda when she discovers a new recipe and her reaction when she makes something with it that works out well and is accepted by customers. The feedback from others really contributes to the overall life of the brand and products.
As for my side hustle (Looseink Freelance Ninja) I don’t think I could be much happier with how it has turned out. The smooth transition into more and more writing – something I already enjoy doing – made the idea of freelance work almost a no-brainer. However, I do remember those scary days wondering if I could outbid my way into some work as a relative newcomer.
The tactic worked and allowed me to build a fairly decent portfolio and client base. As much as I had heard about avoiding ‘content farms’ for work, I actually used them to establish myself as a web content writer. Even with a number of long-term clients and a couple of writing team positions, I still use the content farms for additional work. They helped me to complete my transition.
What our moves did – shifting two part-time hobbies into full-time sources of employment – ended up giving us more control over our future. As both Brenda and I work from home, unless we are at a vending venue with JamBusters! it has really made our lives a lot less complicated although they are most likely far busier that they used to be.
I think the point I am trying to make here is that there is nothing wrong with keeping busy. Only the difference is when you are busy working for yourself instead of working for someone else. Both of us are entrepreneurs and we tackle our days like entrepreneurs. The fact that we don’t feel stressed now that we are really just working for ourselves makes our moves truly good midlife career changes.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.