With a new year comes thoughts of what you might like to do differently. It may be the typical list of eat better, dry January, hitting the gym, doing that DIY job that you’ve been hiding from for months. Equally if you’re creative the new start may leave you brainstorming how you could turn your creative hobby into a business. For some people it’s that burning question that keeps on popping back into their minds and for some it’s just a little ‘what if’ niggle that gets shelved over and over because after all, ‘life’s too busy’ or ‘you probably wouldn’t be a success anyway.’ It’s tough to get up the nerve to just start, partly as you often don’t know where to start and so you continue with the same old 9-5 hustle! I’ve been there and I empathise but I come bearing good news that there’s help at hand. My first port of call was to open an Etsy shop in order to kick off my own business and I’m so glad I did. This year Etsy brings you Etsy Resolution, a free four week bootcamp starting at the end of January, designed specifically to help you with everything you need to know in order to set up shop, so you can feel confident to get rolling and smack the new year in the face!
I love the time between Christmas and New Year, where life is slow and without the ‘to do’ lists and usual routines, there’s space to ponder the year that’s just flown by. I think it’s so important to give thanks and at the same time take stock for the upcoming year. Me and my husband aways make the point of spending some of New Years Eve day looking back on the year. We dig out the prayers we wrote down at the same point in the previous year and get to praise God for so many answered as well as think through how we’d like to grow and the things we’d love to see happen for the coming year. It reminds us how faithful God has been and whilst hard work counts for something, it’s all made possible by him!
It’s been an amazing year for The Lovely Drawer and I continue to be blown away by the new directions it’s taken me and the opportunities I’ve had come my way. Thank you so much to all of you lovely people that have ordered from my online shops or commissioned me for projects, as well as all of you bloggers and creatives that have kept on inspiring me and swapped advise and empathy. The road has been hard but I’m so thankful to love what I do and still get find myself in disbelief explaining I’m a small business owner when people ask. Me? Really?! I don’t think anyone who knows me saw that coming. I’m actually earning a decent living doing me dream job! Whilst it’s tons harder than my ‘not so’ dream jobs but I couldn’t care less.
It’s been longer than I intended since the last ‘Behind The Screen’ post so I apologise. Ironically this one of all so far should be have been the quickest and easiest to write as I’ve already spoken on this stuff at two events. It’s also something I feel really strongly about and constantly sigh as I see so many people get it really wrong. Obviously some of it is down to taste but there are some banding basics that need to be considered across the board when you’re creating an identity for your business. Whether it’s your blog, a full time business or selling things on the side of your job, branding is so important and really can make or break your business. Does that sound a bit extreme? I’ll explain why it’s not and this is all coming from someone who got it so wrong so many times before, trust me.
Even though you may not have put any thought into branding your blog or business, I’m afraid to break the uncomfortable news that you have created a brand, like it or not. Everything has an identity with the images used, the logo, the font, the voice and tone etc etc. The idea of ‘unbranded’ is a total myth. Even so called, ‘unbranded products like Tesco Value still have recognisable packaging that’s consistent across the whole range. You could probably recall what they look like in your head and you associate that with ‘cheap’. So if everything is branded then surely we need to be very deliberate about the process, in order to send out the right message, communicate the right story and create the right feel. Branding is the packaging to your product. Done well, it cleverly draws the audience / buyer in so they want to read further, listen longer or purchase.
So if it’s important to get your branding right then what kinds of things should you consider…
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!