What It's About
A designer helps get voters to the polls!
Words of Wisdom
It’s hard to make money selling on Etsy. I see a lot of people selling the same few items using the same skills that everyone else does. People who'd seen me knitting or drawing or crafting would tell me "Hey! You should open an Etsy store!" without thinking about how much work it really takes to set up a viable small business. Instead, find a niche, start small, and see what happens. Be nimble and open to new ideas, and don't spend a lot of money until things work out.
Mailing postcards to potential voters has become a big movement that works to get people off the couch and voting. The largest group of this type can be found at PostcardstoVoters.org, a community that has amassed over 20,000 volunteers that arrange parties all over the country. They get together in small groups, have a party and write personal postcards to potential voters in key elections.
Notes from Chris
Mary Hawkins believes everyone should have a say in the way their country is run. Last year she was looking for a way to encourage as many people as possible to go out and vote on election day. But, she’d be the first to tell you she’s no in your face political activist. As a self-described introvert, the idea of cold calling or door knocking didn’t appeal to her. What she needed was activism for introverts... and she soon stumbled across the perfect thing. Furthermore, what started as a way to encourage voters would turn into Marys first successful side hustle. But before we reveal the results, let’s take a quick look at Mary's background. Her campaign trail if you will. On top of her passion for democracy, Mary is also a talented animator and designer. She’s been freelancing for over 10 years and has worked with brands like Viacom, L’Oreal, NBC and many more. For those working a traditional office job the life of a freelancer probably sounds glamorous. You can work from home in your underwear and only work the hours that you want. Everything is perfect in the freelancer life. Right? Well, freelancing has its benefits but it also has challenges. One of the biggest disadvantages is that you inevitably have periods without much work. That can be worrisome financially, especially when you aren’t sure when the next job is coming through. For Mary, quiet periods occur around mid-year when many people in the media take vacations. In 2017, it was actually a welcome break because Mary was just about to stumble across the perfect type of political activism. One that appealed to her introverted nature and allowed her to use her design skills to encourage people to get out and vote. Mary was introduced to the world of postcards to voters. This is a movement where groups of volunteers write postcards to registered voters reminding them to vote in their upcoming election. The postcards are hand written directly to each individual and, data suggests, have a huge positive effect on voter turnout. Mary loved the idea and immediately volunteered to write postcards in her down time. Soon she was sending out more and more, into the hundreds. She enjoyed it so much that she believed she could bring some artistic flair to the postcards themselves. The design was the easy part—after all, Mary was an expert. She made a couple of cute postcards for voters and then set about printing them up for her own use. It wasn’t long before other volunteers and friends commented on her made-for-purpose postcards and suggested she try selling them on Etsy. She agreed and launched her side hustle, Mary Likes Postcards. Since the beginning of the year, she has sold over $60,000 worth of postcards through her Etsy store and existing customers. The exact profit Mary is going to work out when things settle down a bit later in the year, but it will be significant. Since she does the work herself, her only real expenses are printing and shipping. How does she generate that kind of money all while still working a full-time job? Mary understands this is a seasonal business. She can maximize profits from Mary Likes Postcards during the voting season and increase her freelance hours when time permits. She hopes to grow it more next year, especially as the election cycle ramps up again next year, and then again in 2020 when it really ramps up with another presidential election. She’s already added additional products to her store, including stickers and stamps that people can use to decorate the postcards. Cast your ballot for freedom! My vote is definitely in favor of this project.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Mary Likes Postcards: Rock the vote! Head on over to Mary's Etsy page to learn more about this niche side hustle
- Mental Floss | 15 Facts About Elections Around the World: Democracy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor—and neither is its essential mechanism, the election. Read on to learn more about how people around the world—and how some people who are currently out of this world—perform their essential civic duty when Election Day rolls around
- Stay-At-Home Mom Helps Immigrants Gain Citizenship with YouTube Tutorials: In Washington, DC, a stay-at-home mom and former teacher helps immigrants gain citizenship with YouTube tutorials
- Policy Researcher Offers Private Tours of Nation’s Capital: A public policy researcher starts a Washington, DC tour guide business and overcomes the hurdle of competitive TripAdvisor reviews
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work! Yours in the revolution,
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To infinity and beyond,