Posted in Artists, author, crafting, H. S. Contino, promotion, sale, updates, Writing

New Beginnings & Rough Starts

Good morning!

Long time no blog (sorry about that)… 

So I’m one of those people that feels like I get a “fresh start” twice a year– at the beginning of a new year and on every birthday. On both of these occasions, I reflect on my life and both the areas where I’m doing well and where there is room for improvement. After all, a big part of the human experience is learning from our mistakes so we can become better people.

January 2022 was a good example of this attitude. I had so many ideas and plans! But, as often happens, things didn’t go according to plan…

In my last post of 2021, I shared my plans for “Penniless January.” The basic idea was to try to make it through an entire month without spending money on anything other than my basic bills (for example: housing and utilities). I even stocked up on groceries ahead of time– with an emphasis on shelf stable foods. Unfortunately, I over-looked one big bill that was due in January– my car insurance. This bill alone through my entire budget off.

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2022 came in with a roar here on the Oregon coast. We experienced several back to back winter storms complete with heavy rain and exceptionally strong winds. We even got a little snow (which is rare)! There were several nights that I lay in bed listening to the rain pounding against the windows of my house, and I could feel the wind tugging and pulling at the walls of my little old house. 

I woke up the morning after one of these storms to discover that one of the smaller trees in my yard had been knocked over by a wind gust. Fortunately, it fell away from the house. But, it was partially leaning against my wooden fence. I was worried that the continued weight would damage the fence, so I felt like I had no choice but to go outside– in the freezing rain– to deal with the tree situation.

Initially, I hoped I might be able to salvage the tree. But, upon close inspection, I realized that it had snapped at the base. So my only choice was to chop up the tree and get the weight off of the fence. The problem was that I don’t own a chainsaw. Technically, I could have used a credit card to buy one, but that would have tanked my “Penniless January” experiment. Instead, I used the tools I had on hand: long handle pruning shears and a hand saw.

 As an added complication, I have fibromyalgia… So, me standing out in the freezing rain while sawing away at a downed tree was a really bad idea. It took me three days to chop up the downed tree. I’d go outside for 20-30 minutes at a time and work until my pain levels got unbearable. Then I’d go back inside, change into dry clothes, take a pain pill, and rest. Once the medication kicked in, I’d go back outside. Fortunately, by the third day the rain had stopped. Plus, my neighbor saw me working and offered to loan me his power saw. What a difference it made! I was able to get more done in an hour with the power saw then I’d gotten done in two days with my wimpy tools!

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My other January plans included posting blog posts more often. I know I don’t have much of an online following, so it can be easy to neglect my blog. WordPress was advertising a program called “Bloguary” so I signed up. The basic idea was that they’d send bloggers daily emails with a line of text that was supposed to inspire us to write a blog about it– then tag it #Bloguary.

Once again, I had great intentions. It seemed like a fun idea– and I could really use the inspiration. The problem was that my reaction to most of the supposedly inspirational email messages was “Eh.” 

I did save a few– which I intended to write about– but I never did. For example:

“What is your favorite quote and why?”

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There were other January projects, but you get the idea. I began the new year full of ideas and plans, but so far each and every one of them is off to a rough start. Don’t get me wrong– I’m still trying! For example, I’m still plugging away at my finances with the goal of paying off my debts and achieving modest financial freedom. I’m also continuing to work on editing my novel, “The Other Mae,” with the goal of releasing the Beta Reader edition by the end of the year.

So, I’m still plugging away at my New Year Resolutions and goals. It’s just that I’ve been feeling discouraged because so far nothing has gone according to plan so far this year… 

On the flip side, there have been a few positive surprises. For instance, I’ve been pet sitting as a “side gig” for a number of years. Most of my clients are people I know– co-workers, neighbors, and friends. But, back in 2019, I signed up with Rover to try to pick up a few more clients. Once the pandemic hit in early 2020, I stopped receiving booking requests. Flash forward two years and people are starting to transition from working at home back to traditional work places. Since January, I’ve been receiving lots of requests for drop-in pet visits and dog walks while my clients are at work. 

I’ve always loved animals so pet sitting is the perfect side job for me. I enjoy visiting with and looking after the animals. Plus, it allows me to continue “social distancing.” Aside from an initial “Meet and Greet” with new clients, it’s usually just me and the dogs or cats. I also like being able to reassure my clients that their pets are being well cared for while they’re at work– so they have one less thing to worry about.

As an added bonus, I have several regular clients that live fairly close to me. This allows me to work on creative projects at home– like editing my novel– then take a break to go look after a client’s job. It’s a perfect balance!

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Well, this post is getting pretty long– I guess that’s what happens when you don’t post an update for a few months. Oops!

I have one more update to share. I’ve been a vendor on Etsy since 2011. Unfortunately, my online sales have been nose diving for a while now. I think the problem is that my shop and the items I have for sale “get lost in the shuffle.” There are so many people selling crafts on the website. Plus, you have to pay extra for advertising if you want your items to show up in the first few pages of search results. So between the listing, advertising, and sales fees, I have to sell a lot to cover the monthly fees.

Since the start of the pandemic, the type of stuff I sell– handmade crafts and books I wrote myself– just haven’t been selling. I think most people have been in “survival mode” and mostly spending money on essential stuff (like groceries). While I understand where they’re coming from, this has meant that my Etsy shop has been in the red most months.

Then I received an email this morning from Etsy informing sellers that they’re increasing the % of the sales fee…

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to have a liquidation sale then put my Etsy shop in “vacation mode” for a while. There’s a good chance that I’ll end up closing my online shop eventually. But, for now, I need to try to sell my remaining stock then wait and see. 

So, starting tomorrow (February 26th), most handmade crafts and crafting supplies will be 50% off. Autographed copies of my books will be 30% off.

www.etsy.com/shop/ReprievesCorner

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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and for supporting my creative pursuits. I really appreciate it!

~ H. S. Contino