When I was a small child I used to stand in the garden with my arms out waiting for birds to land on me. They never did. Back then I was a dreamer, and I'd sit at my window at night making wishes to the stars. As I got older I realised that waiting is only stagnation, and that I am my own fairy godmother.
Up until recently I still didn't know what I wanted to do. Well, that's not entirely true. I guess what I mean is that, out of the options of what I believed to be obtainable, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I expected to be well established and set up with a career that I enjoyed and some savings to start planning my long term future. The reality of it is this, I'm living in my dad's council house with my fiancé and our two children of 15 and 1, and absolutely no savings whatsoever. Not quite what I envisioned right. So in April this year I decided to take a leap and set myself up as a sole trader and start my own business. I'm going to be honest with you, I had no idea what this would entail or how to really go about it... and in a lot of respects I still don't. I can tell you one thing though, it's not for the faint of heart... and it doesn't come without hard work and sacrifice.
Luckily for me, I'm a cross that bridge when I come to it kinda girl. Had I have been a sit down and work out what I need to know and do kinda girl, I'd probably still be procrastinating now! I had already set up a Facebook page and paid for a domain name before I registered the business, but had done little with them until that point. I also had absolutely no idea of the amount of things I would have to learn.
I spent night’s awake reading articles on social media marketing, Facebook algorithms, and downloading and reading e-books, to mention a few. Although there were a lot of helpful tips among them, I can definitely say that a lot of these were probably all things that I would have come across myself had I have paid more attention to my own statistics. For instance; did you know that there are certain days and times of day that are better for posting to receive engagement? I didn’t. And did you know that there are key words that you should try to avoid in posts because it damages your reach? That your post length affects your engagement? Did you know that there are hash tagging limits on Instagram and if you go over them your post can be flagged as spam? Nope nope nope! When I set out to do this, well of course I had no idea. Why would you even need to know about any of these things if you’re just posting pictures of your cat and reposting memes. You wouldn’t. One thing I did learn though from all of the ads that I followed through on Facebook, (and although some of them are very very helpful, there is a lot of click bait out there that is there to sell you something) is that facebook ads are probably the most important, and affordable advertising tools (that I am yet to use, but will, when I have fully plotted out my strategy) that any small business can use. 90% of the advertisements on my Facebook feed are based around small business, social media marketing and art... of course I clicked and wanted to know more! You do them right, they work. Well, they worked on me anyway!
I realise at this point that I haven't even mentioned the work aspect of what I do yet. So, I started at the beginning of the year, to draw baby portraits. It had been a while since I had drawn anything in any detail. If anything I had been painting, doing chalkboards and doing print works here and there or making fancy dress costumes. I had spent a few years feeling a little shot down to be honest with you. I left university at 27 with a 2:1 in fine art, believing that I would go and do great things, and within 4 months of leaving university we had lost our house and I was in the job centre being told that “art isn’t a real job. What do you actually have experience doing?” So I gave up… Temporarily. But that wasn’t the end, I’m here now aren’t I? Initially when I started this, I was just focusing on portraiture. Looking to hone in my skills and specialise in that. I guess you could say I have? I don’t know. Since starting this though, I have realised that I can pull in all of my resources and skills and market them all, and learn new ones. If it’s drawing it’s drawing right? I acquired a contract to illustrate, format and make print ready a book early in the year. Totally by chance too.
Mostly, I draw portraits. I can draw a straight up portrait from a photograph, merge several people into one portrait, or draw a portrait of one person from several reference photographs. I also claim to do illustrations too (I say claim, because it’s such a vast category that I’m not entirely sure where I stand in that category) either in colour or graphite. I have had a few commissions for embroidery design, logos and pyrography items. Although I’m relatively new to pyrography.
The aim of this blog is to give you an insight into what I do, and to create content that might be useful to you too (as well as a record for myself, as I don’t know how much storage space my memory actually has). This was just a little introduction really, and a little skim over some of the topics I would like to be talking about in this blog. Moreover, I would like to make it as informative as possible. Because if you are, like me, just about to embark on a journey to business ownership; or maybe you have already and are finding difficult to cut through the noise; I will be letting you know what has worked for me, what to avoid, and how to do things for yourself, because I know it’s not easy. Each post will be based around one or two specific subjects that I have either already learned or that I am currently learning, such as SEO. I will also create technical posts around drawing, printmaking, making marketing materials or editing your images for matching for home printing. And let’s not forget the odd product review either.
Don't wait for the birds to land on you. Go and catch them yourselves.
(*Disclaimer* Don't actually go and catch birds. That goes against what I believe. I was actually just trying to relate back to the start of the post. Peace. Don't catch birds).
Until next time
Michelle | Carbon Copy Arts