2023 was my YEAR of FEAR
Pushing through fear, that is.
I just had my most wildly successful year ever and I don’t think it would have been possible without taking some scary leaps.
I’m not usually one to invest in myself or my business. I’m usually happy staying at a comfortable steady level. I’ve been at this professional creative thing for 21 years now and I had hit a pretty comfortable income level.
Then I thought to myself - I’m not getting any younger and life is short. Growth doesn’t come from comfort zones. Why don’t I do some things that will start moving my business forward?
So this year I …
- Invested in a business coach
- Bought a course to help me start working on my Artful Entrepreneur course
- Hired my first employee
So terrifying! I physically felt nauseous at the start of each of these decisions. Spending money is not something I’ve ever done lightly.
But with these substantial investments came substantial income! Who knew that the old saying “you have to spend money to make money” was actually true!
I invested in a three month Flammable Entrepreneur coaching program run by Logan Elliot. I was matched up with a fantastic point coach - and fellow Canadian - Lauren McConnell - she was my one on one coach who kept me accountable to my bi-weekly actions and was my cheerleader and editor helping me interact with clients.
I found the course to be just the kick in the butt I needed. It helped me take a good hard look at the business I had built and reassess it from the ground up. I figured out where I could make improvements and what things I should concentrate on actually move the business needle forward.
I personally do really well with spreadsheets, accountability and working through course modules so it was a perfect fit. I’m also a really hard and focused learner, especially if I’m paying money for something. Of course, you get out what you put in so I made sure to work hard through out, even if the workload sometimes seemed like a lot.
I now make sure I focus on things that build my business and not just my art skills. I put strategy behind my social posts. I do cold outreach emails. I value myself and price appropriately - even if it sometimes makes me squirm inside. My money and business mindset has had a definite shift and I’ve seen such positive results. I’ve also met a fabulous group of like-minded creative entrepreneurs along the way, who I can turn to for advice and support.
BUILDING MY OWN ONLINE COURSE
This year I decided to finally pivot part of my business into the educational stream. I’ve had it on my goals list FOREVER!
I truly want to help others craft a life they love by building a thriving creative business. I want to squash that starving artist myth.
Coming soon - The Artful Entrepreneur
Over my two decades in business I’ve been an illustrator with an artist’s representative, worked as a senior graphic designer in an animation studio, and then returned back to running my own illustration business completely solo. These experiences helped me see the industry from a unique perspective. I’ve been hired as a freelancer, and had to hire them myself. I’ve seen business meetings and experienced the office politics that go on behind the scenes of bringing projects to life. I’ve experimented with pricing, lost jobs, won jobs and made clients and friends along the way. Pushed through self doubt and impostor syndrome. Learned how to say NO when a job throws up red flags.
My aim is to help creative people that may have fallen into an unfulfilling 9-5 they’re stuck in. They’re scared to make the leap to a creative career. Or they’re artists fresh out of school not sure where to start, how to do it, feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, confused.
I want to give creatives the tools and confidence to leave their day jobs, to approach potential clients, to show off their work and start making money doing what they love.
I’m so excited to share what I have to offer, and help other creatives skip the trial and error I had to go through.
If it sounds like something you’d benefit from please sign up for my newsletter for updates.
HIRING MY FIRST EMPLOYEE
This may have been the scariest leap I took this year. Although I was ok at being a manager, I did not enjoy it when I was in an office. So I was super nervous taking this step - to the point where I had a physical lump in my throat for a week before we started working together.
I had fears that I wouldn’t have enough work to keep someone else busy. That I wouldn’t enjoy working with someone else. That all turned out to be far from the truth. There was definitely a learning curve for both of us but after a few weeks we got the hang of working together.
Shen is my new awesome virtual assistant. He’s kept the business end of my business moving forward while I was tied up working on illustration projects. He’s been great at keeping my social media calendar filled, has helped me with graphic design work for product offerings and has learned and navigated his way around Kartra - an all-in-one platform for hosting my newsletter and courses.
Having Shen working with me has felt like doubling myself. He’s able to do all those businessy things I kept putting on the back burner because I was too wrapped up in creating artwork. However, it does take a lot of extra work to get him set up with the instruction and assets he needs. FYI Loom is a great resource for instructing someone.
In a few short months we’ve managed to
- design and launch a pricing guide
- migrate my email newsletter from mailchimp to Kartra
- create a bunch of email nuture sequences
- keep my two social media accounts active daily
- create reels and edit videos
- edit my GeekyPet.net shop
- update parts of my website
- plan out blog posts
SO HOW DID ALL THESE INVESTMENTS FINANCIALLY PLAY OUT?
Diversification is the secret sauce! I made over six figures and I truly believe it’s because I didn’t rely on ONLY client work or ONLY kids books. Having a multiple money sources relieves the stress of worrying when that next client job request will come in.
Here are my 2023 income streams
🎨 ILLUSTRATION CLIENT WORK
- 5 - 32 page children’s books - That’s 160 pages of illustration 🤪
- 8 - Hand lettered logos for small businesses and the animation industry
- 2 - Book covers illustrated, lettered and designed
- 1 - Packaging project that got canceled on the client’s end (nothing to do with me)
- 1 - Editorial magazine project double page spread 😸
- 12 - Geeky Pet Projects - pet portrait commissions, new designs and prints, print on demand
- 4 - ComicCons attended - Toronto Comicon, Calgary Expo, Toronto Fan Expo, Halifax Hal-Con
🍷 PAINT NITE
- 19 events hosted - taught 361 people how to paint while drinking
- Skillshare - Talks - Digital products
- NONE this year - getting the itch to do some in my home, maybe for a new recording studio area
- 258 contacts (if you want to help me boost this number SIGN UP here 😉)
All in all a pretty great year!
I’m proud of my accomplishments and can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.