Sometimes you can never tell how well you and your business are doing as your head is completely buried in carrying out the day to day admin, emails, posting orders, coming up with new ideas, printing said ideas, promoting on social media and then there’s doing the tax returns and you might have a glimpse into whether or not it’s all worth it. That's with having a day job too.
The tasks above were all the things I do for Text From A Friend which doesn’t include any of the work I take on for my ‘proper job’ as an art director. The day job means I still have to do work for my own clients, freelance for others and find new opportunities to keep the cash rolling in. (It’s funny how I still refer to my side hustle as not a real job even though I’d say it’s taking up 50% of my time, if not more and yes, I’m failing to admit that!)
I for one struggle with parts of it, sometimes all of it, and it’s only when you start to see sales increase, and the fact that your side hustle may be taking up more time than your day job, then you realise something is working. People are buying your product. And that I have to say is the best feeling in the world. Because then it makes it all worth it, doesn’t it?
Or does it? On the back of making sales it means you are thinking of more opportunities, being more creative and always looking to add to the range. Meantime all those day to day admin tasks get bigger and bigger. And bigger. The to do lists never end either.
All this and you’re a one man (or should I say girl) band and asking friends and family to help starts to become attractive. Another sign of growing is when you start falling over yourself in your studio and look around to see how far your little ‘money while I sleep idea’ has come. I am quite chuffed about it all when I do manage to take a step back and look at how far it’s grown.
This time last year I had around 10 card products. A friend pestered and nagged me to take the bull by the horns and push my idea properly rather than waste the opportunity. So I did. My freelancing slowed down a little which meant I could focus on it and make decisions about what to do next. The biggest decision being to buy my own hot foil press. I had sleepless nights about spending a huge amount of money, drove a 16 hour round trip to view the press and still didn’t buy it until a week later!
Now? I’m so glad I did. That was the turning point for me. I was now in control of costs, stock, timings and designs. In fact, everything. It was liberating to say the least. Once I got over the initial fear and nerves of course. So much so my product range count is now at 80. Apologies for making you read all this way to get to the point of the story ;)
Those initial 10 products started out in a large plastic tub under my bed and I posted out when the occasional sale came through. In January 2017 I moved them into the studio. It wasn’t long before I had to purchase some small storage boxes and then towards then end of last year I seriously had to upgrade to shelving. One wasn’t enough so I got a second. A third is looking likely but I’m bearing with it right now. I’m expanding vertically before I look at moving to a bigger studio. The corner space suits me just fine right now.
The growth has never failed to surprise me and I don’t think the sheer joy of people buying something from me that I have designed will ever fade. Last year was a major step in the right direction. Taking control, becoming a partner with Not On The High Street, supplying small independent retailers, expanding the range, testing out markets and seeing real faces laugh at the cards was worth it. Even when I was freezing my ass off in minus 7 degrees.
Having other people believe in you and help you see beyond the end of your nose is just what we all need. I am always doing that for other people in my role as an art director and working with small businesses and startups, but when it comes to telling yourself that same advice, then it’s sometimes harder to hear and even harder to listen.
What was the turning point for you last year? Or will you be making one this year?How has your business grown recently? Tell me your story.