Monday, 14 July 2014

Happy Blogiversary! 4 years old this week....


Today's post is a special anniversary one.  This week marks the 4th anniversary of my very first blog post. Which also means it's the 4th anniversary of my website/beginning of 'Artwork By Angie'.

What an incredible four year journey it has been.  A journey that has made me extremely thankful that I found the courage to make that very first post and to keep at it to see where it took me.

Well, it has certainly taken me and my work to places I only ever dreamed of.
With this post, the images are of groups of designs that I think represent each of the past four years....

2010- In the beginning there was 'The Bird's and The Bees' collection 
 Back in the summer of 2010, my youngest daughter began nursery.  Prior to that I had been doing very occasional freelance graphic design projects and a few portrait commissions here and there. All of it was very word of mouth and was as much as I could handle whilst my children were babies.

For the months leading up to my daughter beginning nursery, I knew I wanted to get a collection of cards and prints together and create a website shop for them and see what happens from there.  I also had the idea to perhaps do some craft fairs and definitely open a shop on an online market place - a Folksy shop for starters.  So that was my plan then.  My goal back then was to simply see if I could make some sales at all... at the very least, see if anyone would be in the slightest bit interested in my designs.

If you had asked me back in July 2010 where I hoped it would all be in four years time, I would have said 'making enough for me to not have to go out and get a job...and for me to still be enjoying my art'.

To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure whether that was achievable and was quite prepared to face the prospect of getting a job.... 
2011 - The Birds and The Bees were joined by the 'Life is Sweet' collection.  Life is Sweet was the first of my collections to make it to a large trade event that year (Autumn Fair International).

Thankfully, so far, it's not had to come to that.  I guess you could say I achieved what I set out to do to this point.

I can't say it's been easy.  It hasn't.  It's been the hardest I have ever worked in my entire life...and when I consider all the hours I've put in over the past four years, it is definitely the worst paid job!  

However the thing you can't put a price tag on is the joy I get from designing and the freedom I feel from being my own boss. I feel very lucky and very grateful to say that I love my job - as I get to do what I love most, most of the time.

Besides, there is so much more to do and so many more opportunities to pursue.  I may be four years in, but I feel like I've only just scratched the surface.  I've learned so much, yet there is so much more I need to learn.... 

2012 - The Life is Sweet range expanded into my first ever gift wrap designs.  Later that year, my first Christmas collection, 'Tis The Season' was developed.

Around this time last year I reached a turning point with the business.  I was overwhelmed with the amount of orders I had.  I desperately needed to create some thinking and planning time to work out what the best way to take my business forward was as I felt like I was just reacting to external pressures and not necessarily in a way that had my best interests at heart...

2013 - This was the year for 'Living the Dream' - a collection of 20 greetings cards and illustration prints,
glowing with sunshine

So, just before the summer of 2013, I stopped.  Closed my order book. Took a look at it all properly, did some research, made some firm plans and set some SMART goals.  

Those of you that have ever had experience in business management or marketing may be familiar with SMART goals.  For the benefit of those who've not seen it before, this is what it means...

When you set a goal for your business, for the best results aim to make it SMART:

Doing all of that was the best thing I ever did.  

A year on and those plans have stood me in good stead.  They've helped steer me away from making highly risky decisions and are helping me to stay focused on what is best for me and what I need and want to get out of my business...
2014 - This year is all about Bloomin' Lovely gardens with 12 new greetings cards, prints and lots of new gift wrap designs.  It's the first year I have a calendar too. 

Which brings us up to date.  2014 so far has been a far more relaxed year.  
There are still struggles.  There is still lots to do, pressure of deadlines, balancing books, decisions to be made - hey, that's business for you!

 I feel far more relaxed about it all because I'm wiser and better prepared than this time last year, when I didn't even feel like I had time to think it all through properly. The main benefit of that is - now my mind is filled with lots of ideas, options and hope for the future.... 
Snippets of some of the sightings of my designs in shops and trade fairs from the past four years.
My happy little creative corner where all  my designs were made.
A small, but much loved space that has served and continues to serve me well. 

Although there are never enough hours in the day to do everything, looking back at all the work I've developed over the past four years, I'm really excited about the prospect of seeing what all the work I will develop in the next four years (all being well) will look like....and my main goal from here on in is 
to simply keep going and see where it takes me next! 

Have a lovely week
Best wishes