Thinking about money and being clearer about what I offer my customers
My mind has been elsewhere over the last few weeks. What with the Easter holidays and the rest of my family being struck down with a sickness bug for over a week I've been forced to take more time away from my desk than I'd like and had a lot of time to think. I'm also hyper aware that the redundancy money from my old job is fast running out and I have been faced with reality that I have not been able to get as far with this business as I'd have liked in the last few months.
There have been some refreshingly honest things I've read online recently talking about money and how much people are earning through their businesses or freelance work. Things like this post from Niki at Miss Magpie Spy, these Instagram Stories from Claire at Delicious Monster Tea and Annie Ridout's book The Freelance Mum. It's good to see the time it's taken for other people to build up their businesses to a point when they are financially viable and important for people to be talking about this. Sometimes the facade of social media can give the impression that people are smashing it and earning the big bucks, but the truth is that it is hard work getting a business to a point where it can support you financially - and I say this from the very naive point of being close to the start of my business journey.
The truth is that I average about one product order a week from either my Etsy shop or this website and maybe one other day of freelance work or a commission a month. It's only amounted to just over £1200 since the beginning of this calendar year, which is actually what I need to be earning monthly to cover my half of the bills. I have been VERY lucky to have my redundancy money to live on for the last few months, but that's not going to last forever. And whilst I didn't expect to be making enough to cover all my expenses by this point, I had hoped to be earning more. Frustratingly, because of an unlucky run of various colds, bugs and viruses I and my family have had over the last few months, coupled with Easter and bank holidays, I haven't been able to work all of the hours I'd allotted to myself per week since March. I don't know if being able to work all of them would have made a difference, but it certainly feels like I could have given it a better shot at progressing.
So (moan over), now I'm at a crossroads where I need to work out a way forward. Currently my thinking is that I will keep designing and selling my prints online (but perhaps without as ambitious a growth plan as I had at the start of the year), get a part time job (in fact I had an interview this morning at a place that seems like an awesome place to work) and be more specific about freelance options I offer (when I set up my website I just brain dumped all the things I potentially could do onto my Work With Me page - not a very clear offering!).
I have wanted Graphic Design to be my main freelance offering for a while. In fact I feel like I've had quite a few 'Sliding Doors' moments in my education and career where I could have gone down a graphic design route but ended up taking a different path. The main thing that's held me back is not feeling like I actually have the technical skills to do it, so I've finally bitten the bullet and got myself Adobe InDesign and started working my way through online tutorials. Suddenly a whole world of opportunities feels like it's opened up before me! And being able to market myself more clearly as a 'Graphic Designer and Artist' seems so much less intimidating than describing myself as an artist/sort-of-designer/administrator/project coordinator/marketer/social media/events/retail person.
If these last few months have taught me anything, it's that experimenting with your career (if you have the luxury to do so) can help you narrow down the things you DON'T want to do as much as the things you do. And being closer to a point of financially needing to make a decision means I have been able to prioritise and focus on the things that (hopefully!) will make money as well as bring me joy in my work. So... wish me luck I guess?!?
Aaanyway... this has been a very self-indulgent post, so thank you so much for sticking with me. If you have some simple bits of graphic design that need doing and you'd like to help out a fledgling graphic designer build up her skills and portfolio, get in touch!
p.s. the cover photo for this blog post is by the awesome Danni Reeder.