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Manual Focus

Note: The images below link to a book on amazon.com. This is not a paid promotion or review. Any opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not reflect upon the author of the book.

So freelancing fell by the wayside in the last year and a half. OOPS! It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the work. I got caught up in landing a day-job that I turned out to absolutely love. That turn of events actually reinvigorated my desire to sell what I make. If it means I need multiple platforms then that’s what I’ll do. Jumping further in, unsatisfied with free resources online, I found a book – while working said day-job – and it’s going to be another tool in my arsenal to keep trying and making this thing work.

No lie: I’ve been a failure a great deal on this journey. Go back to the beginning and count them. I’ve had two day-jobs in that time and discovered that I am actually really good at customer service! That’s a very good thing since it’s been a weakness of mine since I was born. Treating my depression was the beginning of my new life. I wouldn’t give it up even if I go broke trying.

I don’t want to actually go broke. Please, Powers-That-Be, save me from THAT. 😛

The book I bought, was gifted by my mom, is called Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo. What I like about it most is the focus on creatives. It’s not a “business book” (it totally is though). It’s a guide that says, “Here’s something to think about, and then do it!” I’ve only read the first few pages. It’s written in plain English with very little jargon to get in the way.

Not only that, but it’s written by a typography lover, so there’s always something interesting to look at. That’s really how I found it in the first place: the beautiful cover!

Just paying through it, I can tell there’s a lot of exercises and thoughtful nudges in the form of list-making, brainstorming, and graphics that illustrate business ideas visually. YES! A CREATIVE AUTHOR THAT GETS IT! I mean, check out this glimpse of a cake diagram to fill in about branding:

Anyway, I’m going to read some more and hopefully learn something new!


Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Aggressive Prices

I had to make a big decision about my shop. How much should I charge for a service?

It’s a question as old as time for artists. How to price your service or products within reason but also aggressively enough to earn meaningful amounts of money for your work. Since I’m still an e-commerce amateur, I’m sticking to the less-expensive side.

Logos cost $200. If I’m doing all the legwork, then this is a threshold I can’t go below. There is a process. I think it’s a value for the money. You start with 3 options to mix and match, and you are an important part of the design decisions. Communication is key to good design. Remember that a good logo can make your business rememberable at a glance.

Need a logo? Get Yours Now before the prices increase. 😉

Take it easy and remember to smile.

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Officially Open: The Silver Stitchery Stand-alone Shop

You may have seen notifications from me if you follow my blog the last few days. That’s because I upgraded my plan and opened a store!

The Silver Stitchery

I wanted to see if opening a separate store that I run myself would add to my profitability. Etsy has the advantage of being a well-established, large business who can play as middle man when things go wrong. However, competition there is so steep that it’s difficult to get started. Etsy charges fees for their service as well. I want to grow. So it makes sense to branch out and try all the different options open to me.

Take it easy and remember to smile. And visit my shop. PLEASE!?

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My goals

Coupons make sales. Even if it means you make less profit, sometimes it’s worth it. Be good to your customers and they will be good to you.

I’m trying to step up my game and be more active in promoting my shop and what I can do. I want to grow and learn. My next goal is to get to 1 Sale per month in my Etsy Shop. To do it, I’m paying for promoted posts, listings, and an ad campaign to get people to notice my accounts. I also am going to more actively make sure potential customers get coupon codes for favoriting my listings or shop. I think being more active is the biggest thing.

Save 10.0% on select products from NETGEAR with promo code 10OFFPRO3PK, through 2/18 while supplies last.

I’m starting to work with Upwork again. I made a fair bit of money last year, but I let it slide when I found a day job I really like. That’s not a good excuse, so I’m back at it. I have a talent for logos and design. I should be leveraging every asset. I could make more if I “went it alone” to find clients, but that would require a lot of accounting and have zero protection. I’m willing to get paid a little less if it means I’m protected from non-paying clients and having to track down the money on my own. I don’t need that additional stress in my life right now.

Finally, I vow, once again, to post more often, more regularly here. It’s good for me, and I hope interesting to other entrepreneurs.

I hope all of you, my dear readers, are having a great early 2019!

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Back to the Proposal Grind

I know I should be treating freelancing as a second job, working 10-20hrs per week to make ends meet. But I admit I forget about that a lot. It’s time once again to make that better.

My husband recently fell near his work and has been unable to work regular hours for the past month. Luckily, his workplace is covering him for much of the work time lost and subsequent surgery. However, January has been slow enough that my position is a drain on the store where I work. I have to drop to part time at best. I’m not complaining. It’s not my employer’s fault that January is slow. It simply renews the need to find bigger and better things for myself.

So I’ve been applying to jobs and spitting out proposals to the freelance winds. Mostly it comes back and splatters in my face. C’est la vie! I am proud of myself for taking it in stride and learning from past mistakes that it’s not personal. It takes a while to get established. I came late to the game somewhat and that’s my own cross to bear.

I love designing and I keep being a creative person no matter where I go from here.

Take it easy and remember to smile.

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Network with Me!

Find me on Upwork.com/fl/meganpawlak and Freelancer.com/U/meganpawlak twitter.com/MeganPawlak84 Facebook.com/meganpawlak84 instagram.com/meganpawlak meganpawlak84@gmail.com

Now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way…

This post is all about what I’ve learned about promoting myself online. Well, ok, I can’t really say everything because much of it I learned from my current job. However, I’ve finally swallowed my pride and make an account on all the major networks. As you can see above, I have accounts on not only freelancer websites, but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not included in this particular ad is Google+ and LinkedIn and of course WordPress. Frankly, the text portion was getting too long so I chose the three most popular over the other three.

This is my invitation, officially, to like, +, follow, subscribe, and email me about design, small business, work and questions you might have about my services.

Please visit behance.net/MeganPawlak for a formal portfolio.

I’ve begun working with Adobe Muse to hopefully make more pages for this blog or else where. I do have a premium subscription with WordPress, but I’m not sure if it allows me to upload webpages designed outside of WordPress.

Always learning.

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Be Positive (Sometimes)

It was brought to my attention that perhaps I’ve made my experiences sound like I have a nightmare job. I didn’t mean it that way at all. I’ve had more good weeks than bad ones, but sometimes the good weeks go by the wayside because I’m too busy to try about them. If I hated my job, I wouldn’t stay. I’ve learned a lot and I have a positive future outlook overall. 

I’m also trying to focus more on my own creative work. You’ve  probably noticed a little of it. More “ads” and a new banner and brand. I’ve learned tons about branding at my day job. I think it’s made me a better designer for it. That’s ultimately why I agreed to work there in the first place, and why I stay despite some of what I’ve experienced. 

These are my experiences. I’ve learned from it. Maybe others will too. There is no blame here. If anything my job has gotten better and it means I can dedicate more time to my personal pursuits.

I finally got around to entering a contest on 99designs. Yay! I’ll share that design soon. My concept of a good logo has changed. I think it’s for the better too! 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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The Most Greatest Awesomeness

I never claimed to always use words gud. 

Anyway, this week was good. It started out hectic but we hired a third person at work and that helped so much with catching up and having less to worry about in production. I’m sure when things get crazy we will really appreciate the third pair of hands around the shop!

In other news, I’ve had some time to play games. Been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A really great addition to the franchise. I had a few late nights playing Rimworld. It’s still in alpha, but it has only gotten more fun to play! And last, but not least, I finally installed Undertale. I know all the twists and turns but it’s still fun to go through it myself. I wanted to see how hard the battles were. I need a controller to play the game properly. I needed the stress relief during the crazy time last week. 

My brother-in-law asked if I could design a website. I told him the truth that I can do very basic sites, and since I have a Creative Cloud subscription I have Dreamweaver. I spent a few hours, too many hours, learning a little coding as I stumbled through the very most basic steps of a website. It’s not great, but it’s got all of the requested information on it! I think I learned enough to start over with a more clean CSS file and way cleaner coding. It really helps that Dreamweaver now has a fiction where you can look up what code does by right-clicking on it. A great addition to the program so you don’t need a ridiculous coding bible door-stop. Then again I shouldn’t talk since I own both The Art and Artefacts of Zelda and The Illusion of Life (the long and thick tome that describes the art and magic of Disney animation – and that’s totally a pun). 

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Indescribable Inertia

I grew up in a house. My parents owned houses my entire life. When I turned 30 I was finally able to move out with my then-boyfriend to a very nice 1-bedroom in Wheaton, IL. It was a lucky find and I love it here. I don’t want to move away from Wheaton. But there’s nothing we can afford but studio apartments, which would be a huge step down in room for us. 

It should be air in the wind compared to the journey I’m on trying to work full time and make time to freelance. It’s stressful with so much up in the air in the next 3 weeks. I’m doing my best, but I’m floundering a little right now. I’m being pulled in different directions and the net force feels like zero, but I know I’ll still keep moving one way or another. 

I managed to send out a proposal for a job on Upwork.com tonight. That felt nice. I’m also trying to make a t-shirt design for my husband. On top of that, my husband won some plane tickets at work. While that’s nice that we have a flight to use sometime between now and next February, it’s really hard to even think about that. It’s the final straw on the camel’s back. I want to focus on work, our lives, and my own happiness. Trip planning will have to wait until September. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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Clients are like Onions

Clients come to you and say “I need some shirts made.” You tell them how everything is priced and what the limits are. Then you realize this isn’t just someone who wants to make one or items, but they are planning an entire future starting here. If at first a client is demanding maybe we as designers need to ask them about their lives and motivations. 

Today, I was at my job all alone. I didn’t know that would be the case until today. It was on the calendar but I clearly didn’t read the times well enough. Not only was everything just fine, it was also eye-opening. A customer came in to approve some details on his order. I walked him through what I needed to know, told him what I knew he needed to be told, and thought that would be that. 

It turned out he was an aspiring clothing designer. By clothing designer I don’t mean someone with a degree in fashion, but someone who wanted to make an entire line of graphic tees and products. So I asked him more about what he needed and wanted since he seemed to be willing to learn to do the work for himself and save some money. He was making these designs, or having someone else make them, for a line of clothing inspired by and dedicated to a family member that was important to him. 

I never would have known this information if I hadn’t asked the question “what is it you want to do?”  Does that make me a Chatty Cathy? Is that inappropriate for a “clerk” at a small shop? I think I helped out a customer. Hopefully, that will help bring him back to our services in the future. Maybe he will tell his friends about the shop. 

I’d love to say where I work because the publicity would surely help business. I haven’t because I have published some personal thoughts about coworkers and my employer. To be sure, there are ways of finding this information anyway for someone dedicated to finding it. I also want to protect our customers and have avoided naming names as much as possible. I want this blog to be about my thoughts and lessons in my journey of freelancing and self-employment. How to talk to others is so critical! It’s been a tough 32 years of life being socially inept. I’m ready for more, anyway. 

Take it easy and remember to smile.