Our studio workspace is without doubt the most revolutionary addition to our lives since moving. Ever since I quite my job and started my business full time I’ve been working from the dining room table. I’m sure there are many out there that can empathise with this newbie struggle, although when I was doing it I felt like I was the only one who didn’t have a lovely designated workspace, or even just a desk!! In our old teeny or shall we say ‘cosy’ flat, we had to make the choice between a dining table or a desk for me. There honestly wasn’t room for both and with us really valuing having people into our home for meals, it wasn’t really a choice.
Funny story. It’s very rare for me to lack motivation and seriously consider climbing back into bed during the day. People question me all the time about that very thing as I work from home and I can honestly say it’s never really an issue. Today however I felt it big time. I really couldn’t be bothered to do anything and felt unexplainably low and uninspired. Then I found out from my Husband, in all it’s ironic glory that today was ‘blue Monday’, deemed the most depressing day of the year. Well, that definitely got a smile out of me as I laughed at what a cliche I was. I’d conformed with this strange statistic whilst being totally oblivious. I’d been wondering why everyone seemed obsessed with the colour blue on Instagram prior to this discovery. It reminds me of the time I got embarrassingly annoyed that the light got so dim when trying to shoot a DIY post, only to find out much later that it was a solar eclipse. Maybe I need to get out more.
Last time I talked about making the jump to freelance and perhaps the word jump is an understatement, at least for what it felt like at the time. In this post I’ll talk about the day to day of setting up on your own and the great bits as well as the many challenges. Hopefully I can give a realistic view of growing your own creative business. As I’ve said before, these posts are coming from my own experiences and friends in similar positions that I’ve chatted to. Just because I’ve made the jump and come out the other end unscathed doesn’t make me an expert. Having said that I don’t really know what you need to qualify as an expert on any given subject. I definitely wouldn’t say a degree or even a masters or PHD could make you an expert in any field without years of experience living out the day to day of whatever it was you studied.
Starting out on my full time freelance journey, I felt liberated and that kind of nervous excitement you get that’s mainly powered by adrenaline. I finished work on a Tuesday weirdly enough and lots of people asked if I was going to take the rest of the week off before diving in, to which my answer was ‘no, I’m just going to get on with it’. As I said previously, I’d decided on what my days would generally be looking like with a bare bones structure but it was surreal hearing my alarm go off the next morning and knowing that I was officially the boss (eek). I set off on my walk around the park on my fake commute (I’m weird I know) and realised I could just take my time if I wanted. I started noticing parts of our neighbourhood I’d never had the time to notice before and actually finding inspiration all around me. It helped that it was a super sunny Spring morning, of course.
After that little diversion into blogging last time, I’m now going to talk about my hop, skip and a jump to freelance, promise! First things first I NEVER saw myself as being a full time freelancer. Leaving uni I was very quick to tell people I wasn’t interested in going it alone and just wanted to work in house at a design studio, where I would have a steady income and somebody else to take care of the business side of things. People warned me that most creatives end up going freelance at some point but I wasn’t having any of it. Perhaps part of it was doubting I could do all of what it takes like the finance, planning, legalities, promotion etc. Sure, I could design but the rest totally freaked me out. I’m not naturally business minded and having an in house job was certainly the safe option. The same lump of money landed in my account every month, my working hours were the same everyday and once I shut down my computer at the end of the day I could check out in every way.
As I said before, blogging gave me exposure and opportunities I hadn’t even expected and it wasn’t too long before freelance requests started coming in. To begin with it was sporadic, small jobs and then more and more wedding related projects were landing on my lap. I was working my full time in house design role and doing other non-card related private commissions on the side so it didn’t interfere.
It started out fine but the more it went on the more I was completely burned out. I basically never rested and that wasn’t fun. It’s how I hear lots of creatives start they’re freelance journey and is in a way necessary to start with but isn’t sustainable. There came a point in the summer of 2013 that I started getting freelance offers from people further removed from myself. For the first time I had no link to them through mutual friends or contacts, which was exciting but I also realised something had to change if I wanted to pursue that sort of thing.
I don’t often get overly personal in this space and really I don’t often go into details about my freelance work either. There have been many ups and downs since spreading my wings and going it alone, somewhat like a hormonal pregnant lady watching a rom com. The short response is I love it!…But the longer response would be that most of the time I feel totally overwhelmed and the last few weeks have been that x 20.
I’ll let you into a secret…I’m not great at multi tasking and what I really mean is poor would be an understatement. I’m hoping that some crazy miracle will put that right if I ever become a Mum but for now I seem to be lacking that feminine trait. Somewhere along the way I worked out that for someone who’s totally unorganised, forgetful and unable to process more than one thing at a time, lists were going to become a dear friend. So I endlessly write lists on anything and everything whether that’s job stuff or just who I need to text back and to a degree I seem to be able to fool people into thinking I’m an organised kind of gal. The truth is I still struggle.
Stepping into the full time freelancing world meant swapping one job role for about eight instead. Obviously of all the hats I have to wear Designer and Blogger are the most fun but then you need to throw PR, Accountant, Packing Assistant, Technical Assistant and Receptionist into the mix. I’m sure there are others too. Sometimes I feel a bit like my head isn’t big enough to contain all of these aspects of life even with my beloved lists. Then I look around and wonder is anyone else feeling this too? People say pay someone to do some of the other things or even get a cleaner so that doesn’t take hours out but who is really in the position to do that when their starting out as a small business? It’s great advice for further down the line but not so much now.
Another thing I’ve been contending with since going it alone is that I feel like progress is so slow. In my old job I used to feel like a pretty fast worker. I’d get the job done, easily meet deadlines and walk away at the end of each day with not a thought about workload in my brain. Now, I feel like I’m in a dream. You know, one of the ones where you’re running but your legs feel soooo heavy that you can barely pick them up. I work much longer hours than before and yet feel like I’m moving nowhere fast. I hear ya, it’s probably because I’m much more emotionally and personally invested in my work but it’s a shift. I really don’t think I could do this kind of work if I didn’t believe that God was author of each day with all it’s joys as well as it’s limitations. Thats the place I find peace when I’m looking at my list thats getting longer rather than shorter. I’ve never prayed so much about work as now or seen so clearly my tendency to take everything on my own back and panic rather than trusting the God who’s in control and provides.
I love the work I get to do. I love that the times I spend being creative are exactly that. I love that I care about what I do and that I get to work from home. I also love the God led me into this and has kept me here despite me pushing other doors just incase…but man it’s hard. I’m realising more and more that I’m human i.e finite (obvious I know), that prioritising is a skill I will be honing for the rest of my life, as a boss I’m super hard on myself and for the most part, figuring things outs as I go along is the nature of this business. I’m learning loads! I’m excited as to where this will lead as business does seem to be growing. I’m writing this ironically having been blessed with my best month yet by far (phew) and there’s tons to be thankful for. Sometimes I just need to step away from the canvas and take some time to look at the picture.
On that note it’s back to work, thankful to know I’m not alone or doing this by accident and praying for running legs!
Hello! I was about to say good morning and then realised it was somehow the afternoon! Don’t worry I’m not still in bed, otherwise this featured post would be highly hypocritical. Ezebee is a handmade and vintage marketplace for indie sellers and is committed to promoting creative community. They asked me to contribute a post about working from home as a creative and so even though I still sometimes feel like a novice, I’ve learnt a few things along the way. For a peek into my workspace and some tips to stay motivated and inspired come on over to their online magazine, Ezebee Mag.
Well hello! Blogging has taken a back seat over the last two weeks but I hope you don’t mind too much because it’s all been in aid of getting my new Etsy shop off the ground, yay!
I often get asked why I don’t have an Etsy shop and I’ve asked myself the very same question over and over. It’s practically a right of passage for any aspiring designer maker but I kept on saying ‘I just don’t have enough time right now’ and shelved the idea as a rosy, future goal. Then I went freelance and time and space to focus opened up and so I bring you all my starter collection of DIY Wedding Printable sets and Art Prints. Here’s a little peak of a few of my products but come right this way if you’d like to see the rest of The Lovely Drawer shop on Etsy.
I really hope you enjoy my shop and I look forward to bringing you more! I will also be making some exciting changes to my Bespoke Wedding Packages in the near future so keep a look out for that.
Along with this I also have pretty huge news. I handed in my notice at my design job and will be moving into freelance design full time….ahhh! Freelance Fridays will now extend out into the whole week. I may need to do crazy things like take a walk round the block each morning just to fake a commute, at least to start with. I’m excited about new possible opportunities and exploring different avenues. At the same time it’s all a bit scary but I’m so glad to know I can trust God to provide what we need even if it’s not what I want. Thank goodness he is a faithful God who knows what I need even better than I do myself. So on that note please do browse through my portfolio and get in touch if you would like any design work whether that’s branding, graphic design, design for a website or blog, illustration, or pattern work.
You may already know that I love weddings and have great fun designing wedding stationery for the big day. If you have upcoming nuptials and are on the look out for some bespoke paper love to suit your look and feel for the occasion then please do have a look at my packages and get in touch. You should also be able to find me on bloglovin now, so please follow!
*Nick and I celebrated 2 years of being married. So much has changed since that lovely day but I’m very thankful for where we are.
*This was my very first month of Freelance Fridays. Aside from the pleasing alliteration, it’s been so amazing to have an official day dedicated to doing my freelance projects. It’s made my weekends a lot more relaxing. Welcome to my studio…our dining table.
*Leaves are turning golden and lining the pavements. Nick’s ‘I love Autumn’ t-shirt has been worn all through Spring & Summer but has finally lost it’s irony.
*Plans have been underway for our church to move for a trial at a new venue next Sunday. For more info check out the Trinity West blog.
*My favourite children’s illustrator came to town! We made the most of it by visiting Mr Jeffer’s new exhibition at Lazarides and spent an evening listening to him talk about his life, work and inspiration at the Southbank Centre. What a legend!