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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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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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A Strange Turn of Events

Remember I sdetailed my plans to use Redbubble.com as an outlet for some of my designs? It turns out the one piece that sells there is a watercolor piece of the Tybee Lighthouse outside of Savannah, GA. It’s beautiful, but not what I’d thought would be my best seller. I guess I need to refocus what I use for Redbubble!

The piece has sold twice as a sticker, which is also not what I expected. I should stop having any expectations like this! I obviously do not know anything about what might sell. That’s why you always put out everything you have until you find your niche! I will have to remember this…

Take it easy and remember to smile!

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Journeys Have Many Paths

It’s ok to be on a path different from the one you start out taking. My experience in the last 2 years has underscored just how unpredictable life is. While I still love design work, The exact type of work I do has shifted.

I recently started a 50 Day Logo Challenge. By subscribing to an email list, I received 50 prompts to design logos. The challenge has made he think differently about what’s good or not because I had to work with so many ideas but only for a single day at a time. I’ve been enjoying it and considering taking the idea a step further. I want to take those prompts and make a series of logos for each. I want each concept to have about 5 different choices, just like I’d show to a client.

I have largely stopped using Upwork, but not because it isn’t a useful resource. I just had to decide how to spend my time. I want to freelance more with logo design. I still think I have talent to offer the field. With this challenge I’ve noticed my execution improving!

My Etsy Shop is helping me out too. I’ve made sales of SVG files, and I’m going to continue to put out listings there. I think it could take off and if it does then I’ll focus on that and leave other freelancing aside. I just have to get there first, so until then, just keep trying all paths until one becomes disentangled from the others.

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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Accomplished

What a great day! Work went great! And now I’m prepping for my 1 yr wedding anniversary with a trip to Savannah, GA. I’m feeling more comfortable as a someone in charge of production. I get to use all of my skills.

I have a new chance at being me. I can work digitally and physically. It’s not 3D printing or anything, but stores need window decals right? Company cars need logos on them. Truck drivers need to comply with DOT regulations and have their business license information on their trucks. Little girls need copies of their favorite shirt that accidentally got stained and ruined. Schools need branded uniforms. There’s a lot I get to see and do. Most graphic designers never work physically with printers and produce what they are designing. It’s an asset to my skills that I know how logos are used in the real world.

Trust me. If you need a logo get it in vector format as well as .jpg or .png. It will save you money down the road to have a vectors file that can be made as big or as small as you want! You could hire me – shameless plug- to make your logo because my pricing comes with any and all formats you could ever need. If you’ve read my blog you know what my qualifications are. 😉

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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To Make or not to Make?

I hate Shakespeare’s work. I mean I only like adaptations. Sometimes the stories are good, but the language gets in the way. I don’t have time to sit down and watch something where the words are ones I know, but they are in such a convoluted and poetic order that I can’t understand the meaning of them. What does this have to do with design? That’s a good question with an interesting answer. Stay tuned!

I basically went to college to learn the language of visual arts and how to create them. Now, in my job, I’m learning the language of making. How to measure and make things with my hands that are physically present. I like it, and I enjoy the thrill of a hard job well done. But, I also love to create designs. I wish I was the designer and not the maker. I realize these two areas are not exclusive. Doing both is a boon most designers don’t ever get to experience. It’s possible to do both on a tiny, individual scale. Do you need a casual party invitation designed? Less than 100 printed? That’s great! I can do that myself on a home printer and it will be more custom and less work for you than buying a premade set from a store.

I like my job, but do I want to do it forever? I don’t know. Do I hate it as much as I hate Shakespeare? Nope. Certainly not. I can live with this and be happy I dare say!

Take it easy, and remember to smile!

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Machine Embroidery is Kryptonite

I’m in production. That’s my job. In this case it means I make stuff. I run a printer, embroidery machine, and a hot iron press. Car decals and custom t-shirts are most popular, and thankfully the most straightforward to make. Embroidery, now that’s another issue. 

My mom is a sewer. She likes sewing doll clothing mostly. I’ve been familiar with how a sewing machgine works since I was much younger, but this embroidery machine boggles my mind. So many more things can go wrong with it than on a sewing machine. Also, it’s never clear whether I’ve done something wrong to it or it’s just plain malfunctioning. In one case, I had a pattern that would sew fine until it got to this one area, then it would say the thread broke even though it clearly hadn’t.  I have no idea who to troubleshoot that. You see what I mean!?

Sometimes the backing material is too light. Sometimes the thread randomly messes up when it was fine a few seconds ago. It’s very frustrating to work with a complex machine like this. It’s not that I don’t have help, but I need to be able to diagnose these problems on my own so I can ask for the solution instead of floundering like an amateur. I am an amateur. What I don’t want is for customers to think that about the store! 

I’m learning new things all the time. I actually like my job most of the time. However, I don’t want to ever run a store like this. I’m confused all the time about pricing and products and what we can and can’t do. I can tell you how long it takes me in production, but not how much that time and materials are worth. 

When I think about pricing, I usually try to make it easy on both myself and the customer. Set pricing for certain services or products. If you read my blog when I post, then you’ve seen I’ve posted a couple of ads for my services at Guru.com. You’ll probably see more like them in the future. Design, I think is best represented by a per-hour rate, while a specific product would be a flat minimum budget. For example, another product that might be a flat rate would be image editing: $1/photo with a minim price of $25 for light balancing, basic spot removal, and background removal. Given that photos like that take minutes, it’s actually less time to turn around 25 images for one client since they will likely all be similar. Thus it makes sense to change the $25 even if it’s only one image because there would be a lot of “empty time” before and after to turn the job around in production. On the other hand, if a client wants beauty editing for their products, those images would take hours per image, and vary too greatly to charge a flat fee, so charging $15/hr makes more sense. 

Did I lose you? Sorry. Talking about pricing is one of the trickiest parts of any business. I struggle with it all time. This probably won’t be the last time. 

Take it easy and remember to smile.