Friday 1 August 2014

'No' now may not be 'no' later

Where have you been for the past three weeks I hear you yell!!! Yes I have been a little MIA for the past month, but it was all for a very good reason.  I had a wonderful opportunity that came along so I of course threw myself into it and had to put some little things on hold for a little while.  I've had a chance to work with an agency I have admired for a looooong time, but I've got a little story to tell of how it all happened with a huge lesson in it that I'm finally ready to share with you after being utterly mortified.

I'd wanted to work with this agency for quite a while as I came across them while I was at university and was instantly drawn in by their talented artists and fun style.  Having put it off for a long time I eventually decided to go searching for agent representation, so I made a list of my top agencies (aim high right!) and drafted a simple introduction email just to enquire about their submission process and what they are looking for in artists.

After drafting it and sending it to the first three on my list (this agency being one of them!) I realised I hadn't changed the name of the agency in the email and had sent it to three wonderful companies.  I'd basically scuppered my chances in one fellow swoop.  I can laugh about it now but at the time there was absolutely no way to come back from it and I was convinced I was going to be put on all three of their blacklists, never to be considered.

The lesson would be check, double check and triple check your emails before you send them! For goodness sake don't do what I did!

Luckily for me the lovely gentleman from the agency I've just done some designs for found the funny side and was a little sympathetic.  Nothing happened at this point (which I kind of deserved) but I bided my time, kept designing and my work is now a million times better so I knew I was in a position to go for it again.  I also secretly hoped he had forgotten about my blunder the year before.

So I emailed again (quadruple checking this time) and had a very pleasant chat with this agent, he'd noticed my blog and everything I had been doing to promote myself and build my business and wanted to see my portfolio (Score!).

So I got there in the end :)

Lesson 1 - Check, check and check again before sending!
Lesson 2 - Just because it's no now doesn't mean it's no later!

Oh and nice to be back!

Wednesday 2 July 2014

More from Emma Frances's new greetings collection!

Following on from the Boy's designs here are the Patterned Typography group.  These designs have already proven to be quite popular.  Who doesn't like floral patterns teamed with hand drawn type! There are two other parts to this post with lots of my other greetings cards! Here and here.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Staying Motivated in More Situations

Last week I talked about motivating yourself when your stock isn't selling and when you get rejection emails.  Today I've picked to talk about staying motivated when craft fairs don't go as planned and when your inspiration has dried up.  I've fallen prey to the latter of these two recently and it can be so difficult to stay focused and keep going when these happen.

Craft Fairs

Most of you will know my craft fair experience started out reeeeeeally badly, I've had some absolute stinkers, the type of fairs where no one turns up, it's completely unorganised and you go home and have a good cry (and a large glass of wine).  You can read about my experiences in my previous posts here and here.

It's just disheartening when you've spent a lot of money on stock and packaging, you've made sure your stall looks beautiful and you've put in so much time and skill to ensure your products are the best they can be, and then craft fair is a major let down.

So how do you stay motivated, well first of all, you are not alone, anyone who sells at craft fairs has these days, ask around and I'm sure you'll all have horror stories!  It's nice to be able to laugh about my bad experiences and I have certainly learnt a lot about doing craft fairs from those first three (I'm sure they will haunt me forever!).

How to tackle it! - When you get home from the fair, just have a little 'me' time, enjoy a nice cup of tea and a huge wodge of cake or something similar, and if it's been that bad, have a cry, then sleep on it.  I just look after me when I get home after a bad craft fair, if you ponder on it too much you'll end up feeling really down and things like 'I'm never going to make it...' and 'No one likes my work...' will begin to play on loop in your head.  Don't let this happen!  So a little 'me' time and then have a good sleep and you'll wake up feeling much better.

Next step is to write down what the good points from the craft fair were, what did you learn, who did you meet (other stall holders?), was there anything that happened that made you smile or laugh.  My craft fairs were as bad as they could be, and I still managed to take away something from each of them. Write all of these down and when you have another bad craft fair in the future read these back and just see how far you have come!  I still smile at the little boy from my second craft fair who loved my designs but didn't have enough money for a notebook, I let him have it for less and his beaming face will stay with me forever. He won't even realise the impact he's had!


Next up, how to stay motivated when your inspiration has gone out the window.  I'm having an awful time of this at the moment so would love to hear how others cope with this!  I need to get on and design my Christmas range (yes I know, Christmas, already!), and yet when it is sunny and hot outside I don't feel like thinking about the winter, let alone sit and draw snowy scenes, holly, mistletoe, penguins and other such wintery things.  I honestly struggle with this and some advice like I've heard of is to get away from the computer, go and take photos or do something you enjoy, but this just doesn't work when you need to get something done soon!

How to tackle it! - So my advice here is to just keep drawing, to put time aside everyday for your designing and just keep at it, you may end up with pages and pages of rubbish but there will be some lovely illustrations in there that will have potential.  Sometimes there isn't the option of putting it off and waiting for your inspiration to come back, sometimes the only option is to plod along until you power through and the ideas begin to flow again.  It's like what they tell writers to do, just keep writing, even if it is utter rubbish, eventually it will come together.  If anyone has any better advice for this let me know!

Monday 23 June 2014

Emma Frances Boys Greetings Cards!

For the past week I have been battling with hayfever!  Having never had it before it has been quite a shock as to how bad it can actually get, but I won't let it stop me.  I've had loads of deliveries over the past week of new products, packaging and just general bits and pieces, I wonder what the neighbours will think!

I've 32 cards in my collection now, and have been packaging them up so I can neatly stack them away ready for any orders that come in, so I thought I would give you a better look at all of the card designs in a few different posts.  First up some of my children's designs, all of which are already proving quite popular!  Find them in my Etsy shop here!

There are lots of other new greetings card in the Emma Frances range too, take a look here and here!

Do you have any particular favourites? I'd love to know which, leave me a comment below!

Friday 13 June 2014

Staying Motivated in Certain Situations

Staying motivated when you are working from home can be quite difficult sometimes.  Everyone will have those days where they just don't feel inspired, when a design isn't coming together, when they feel sluggish and you don't seem to get as much done.  You need to find some ways of tackling this head on, because if you leave it, it can go on for days and who has time for that!

There are loads of factors that may make you lose motivation, apart from just having 'one of those days'.  I'll often feel a little down in the dumps when a rejection email lands in my inbox, but it can be from buying a lot of stock and nothing is happening on Etsy or when you don't get any email back!  When a craft fair doesn't go well or when you hear a rude comment about your work.  There are so many things that are trying to keep you down and are wanting to prevent you from succeeding!

So here are some ways I handle these things.

No. 1

When you get a rejection email....these can be the worst, it's almost better not to hear anything than to get an email saying 'nope we don't want you'.  It really isn't the end of the world!

I write all of these companies down in a big excel document and it has become my 'I'll show them' list.  I have faith in myself and my designs, so maybe I'm just not a good fit for their company (in which case I'll find one I do fit well with) or maybe now just isn't the right time.  If some of them don't say my work isn't a good fit, then I'll highlight them as ones to contact again in the future.

How to tackle it! - When you get that email, your heart will be beating so fast before you open it and then it'll sink when you realise it's a no.  At that point you need to go and do something you love, what I do is put on a song which makes me feel happy, motivated and as if anything is possible!  At the moment, for me, this is Coldplay - A sky full of stars, don't forget to play it loud!!


So you've spent all of your money on stock and now you're facing the daunting task of selling it.  To who?  Well you've got the choice of online, in person at fairs or gain stockists who will sell it through their shop.  I'm tackling all three of these at once, which is quite the juggling act, but it's not impossible.
Feeling overwhelmed can make you shy away from what needs to be done, so write down what you want to achieve, for example 'sell £X of stock in a month', and then figure out how you will achieve it. Once you have a plan of action for what needs to be done you won't feel so overwhelmed.

What is you have stock that isn't selling?  This can be quite tricky, you can either just keep going and eventually it will sell, just veryyyyy slowly, or what I saw one of my designer friends doing (Louise Wright) is give away these items (as long as they're not costing you loads of money) to customers who buy from you regularly or who spend quite a bit on your stall.  I saw it first hand, and it makes them feel extra special, plus they will remember the kindness.

How to tackle it! - When things aren't selling it is easy to get disheartened but what you may need to do is find another route for selling your products.  For example if you only sell online, try going to stockists, or if wholesale isn't an option then sell straight to the public at fairs.  Look at all of your options if you aren't already.
Have a sale or reduce the stock that isn't moving so you are at least getting some money back that you can then put towards a product that will sell a lot better.

How do you cope with getting rejection emails?  What do you do about stock that isn't selling?

Next week I'll talk about craft fairs not going as planned!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Tips for planning your business goals - Part 3

On to part 3 of business planning, if you've not read the first two yet, you can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

So you have written down your big goals and sorted them out so you have some to aim for now and some you will tackle in the future.  Then you have broken your current goals down into bite sized pieces, you've answered tons of questions about these goals that will help you reach them.  We now need to get going on them and all of the questions you answered make up your steps to reaching them.

What we are going to do now is plan out our weekly and monthly tasks, you can also plan out each day, but I know some people prefer not to do this.

First up, when do you want to achieve this goal?  Get your calendar out (I have a separate work calendar for all of my design deadlines, etc) and decide on a deadline.  Now if you aren't very motivated, and when it comes to your own business you really need to be strict to sticking with your deadlines, you need to think of this deadline as an important client's deadline or a huge university dissertation hand in.  It is just as important (if not more so!) as it will be getting you one step closer to having a thriving business.

After you've marked your big deadlines on you need to sort out smaller deadlines for each week.  There are loads of weekly planners online which will help you with this, so download one of them, or design your own, and use this to give yourself weekly tasks.

Here is the one I designed, I'll write down and highlight tasks I need to get done on that day, but everything else I write down I can do whenever.  I also have three main goals that MUST be done that day!

We're always going to have those easy tasks on our to do lists alongside the not so nice tasks.  It can be so easy to just complete the easy ones first and leave all the nasty ones until last, which is only going to make you feel less motivated and you may not even get everything done in your week if you avoid them!

What I have begun doing is alternate between the jobs on my to do list, I will do one I enjoy and then tackle one of the ones I would rather not have to do!  Knowing I have another nice task after I get it completed makes it easier.  Imagine leaving all of the jobs you don't want to do until the end of the week, it's Friday and you're getting into that weekend mood (which is basically 'NO WORK, WOOOO').  The chances of you getting those jobs done are slim to none, I know, I've been there many a time!

Which brings me to my last point on planning your week, leave a few really nice jobs until Friday, nothing that is going to leave you frustrated and feeling like you need a whole bottle of wine to just get through it.  Just those nice easy ones you don't mind doing, preferably jobs you can have a bit of music on while you do it, it will leave your week finishing on a good note!

You can break down your week even further into daily tasks and I'm sure this works for a lot of you, however I quite like to make a mega list to get done in the week and then I have the choice of what I want to do when.  You may have an off day, a day where you are feeling tired and just not on your game, so you may not get through your to do list that day.  A weekly plan will help you plan out certain tasks for certain days aswell as those jobs you can do on any day, so those off days won't affect your whole week!

How do you plan out your goals?  Do you have daily to do lists or do you use a different method? Let me know in the comments below!