Friday, 30 May 2014

Tips for planning your business goals - Part 2

Following on from Part 1, about organising your business plans, I'll now show you how I go about planning my goals from the plans in my little notebook.

I can imagine you have quite a few pages covered in colour co-ordinated notes by now, what we need to do is sort these out into what needs to be tackled straight away (these will be the ones that will benefit your business right now) and the longer term goals that will need to be built up little by little.

Start with your large goals, some of mine are:

  1. To launch new product collections
  2. To get more sales through Etsy
  3. To gain more stockists
These are all huge goals which on there own seem an impossible task!  There are tons of questions to be asked for each and it can be daunting to really go for it and make them happen, I mean where do you start!  It's so easy to dilly dally around and put it off so it takes you a lot longer, when your business could be flourishing if you had just taken the leap to begin with!

Some are a little more straight forward than others though.  These three goals interlink with each other too, which helps, so try and aim for goals that all revolve around a similar theme (for example have your freelance goals, building your brand goals, blogging and social media goals, licensing deal goals).  This way you're not trying to tackle everything at once.  You will need the time to build each part of your business properly and you may not invest enough time to ensure you meet these plans, or they may take you a lot longer!

So I've picked my three big goals that I will be focusing on at the moment, from here I need to ask my self lots of questions so I can assess how I will meet them and draw up a schedule I need to stick to to make it happen.

Launching new collections

  • What products would I like to get manufactured?
  • Should I expand upon current product ranges? In which case do new designs need to be made or can do I have designs in my portfolio that work well together?
  • Researching manufacturers needs to be undertaken, and this can take a considerable amount of time!
  • Do I need to send away for samples or get a product sample made up? (these can take a few weeks to be made, sometimes longer!)
  • Which target market will I be aiming these products at?
  • You need to look at your finances and see how much money you can budget for this.
  • What quantities will you be ordering?
  • What packaging would you need to order for these products?
  • Will you need different packaging if you were to sell online or wholesale?
  • Is wholesale a viable option?  Will you make enough of a profit?
  • Will you be launching these collections at an event? In which case how will you need to plan out your production schedule so you meet the deadline?

You get the idea, there are a lot of little things that go into these goals, so you need to write each big plan out and then ask yourself lots and lots of questions.  Ask other people or other designers what you need to do to meet a certain goal, they may know of other aspects that you need to take into account.

One of the most haunting pieces of advice I've been given is that 'you don't know what you don't know', which is why it is so important to ask others!

Follow on to Part 3 here!

Why not ask your questions below so I and others can help you get the answers!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tips for planning your business goals - Part 1

It's so easy to feel a bit overwhelmed in this industry, I often have a huge amount of ideas, dreams and goals going on all at once.  When this happens I start to feel a little nervous and worried I'm going to forget one of these important ideas that could be what helps me make it as an established designer or that gets me to the next stage of my career.

I'm sure many of you are the same, it's when ideas come out of nowhere, something just seems to spark when you are doing the most mundane job!  These ideas and plans can come from absolutely anywhere and from everything around you.  With all of these ideas going on it is so easy not to know where to start, this is usually where I become less productive because I'm thinking through each route before I decide what order to tackle them in.  By this point more ideas have sprung up and I'm even more lost!

I'm on a mission to make it in this industry, so this needs to be tackled and I need to be utilising all of the time I have (show of hands for those of you that could use more hours in the day!).  I'm going at this head on, I'll bring in better ways of organising these thoughts and plans and instead of wasting time on triple thinking each and every route and I will find a way of cutting this time wasting down.

It's so important to get your thoughts in line and plan the future of your business so you use your time more effectively.  This is going to be a series of blogposts that will hopefully help others in the same situation.

Ok so today's tip is a way of keeping track of all of those ideas.  No one can possibly do everything at once, you need to pick and choose, this isn't to say you shouldn't keep notes of any ideas you come up with!  They may be future money makers, ideas for future products or generally things you need to do to make your business better but just don't have the time at the present.

What I have begun doing is carrying a small notebook around with me, A6 is a good size as you can pop it in your pocket, but A5 can fit in your handbag too!  I use this to write down anything that happens to come into my head that I would like to look into.  I date the top of the page so I know how long I've been holding onto a certain point and give them a colour code at the end of the day or week.

Green for GO! - These are the ideas I want to address in the short term, those ideas you just don't want to sit on and can't wait to get working on.  These will be the most important for your business at this point in time.  You can then add these into your daily/weekly/monthly plans (more on this at a later date!)

Orange for ON HOLD! - These points are the ones that have sparked your interest and you feel they would be good for your business but you need to slot some other details in before you can act on these. They may be ones you just don't have the money or time to address yet, make a little note of why you can't do them and put them to the back of your mind.  These points shouldn't be worrying you anymore, you've written them down so you won't forget them!

Red for REACH! - These are the goals you are reaching for, the ideas that will come into play at some point in the distance.  These could be products you would want to look into getting manufactured, businesses you would dream of working with, bigger marketing plans.  These are the huge ideas that are just too big a project for a smaller business or the clients you feel you aren't ready to go for.

If there are any ideas you liked at first look but once you've researched a little around it you feel it just isn't right for you or your business then keep a list of these points and the reasons why.  This will stop you coming back to them (which is a waste of your time if you've already looked into it!), so track them in the back of your notebook.

Hopefully this system will help you feel a little less stressed out and the likeliness of you forgetting something amazing has vanished!  I know it has helped me massively and I have been able to build up goals from these colour codes.  You can even give your notebook a little makeover by covering it with your own pretty pattern, much nicer to carry around now!

How do you tackle all of the ideas you get for your business?  Do you have another system or way of keeping track of them all?

If you like this post don't forget to share it! You can do this via the social media buttons below.

Don't miss out on Part 2 and Part 3!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Closer look at Emma Frances's new greetings cards!

I have had the most wonderful weekend, I'm sure many of you will have been out enjoying the sun (for once the weather in England was glorious!)

Firstly I had a day out to Belton House which was spectacular, then Sunday was spent relaxing in the garden which resulted in gaining many more freckles!  We had a delicious BBQ, my dad is an organic farmer and our burgers are the best I've ever tasted which made it extra special.  Then yesterday I got down to some work, feeling completely rejuvenated, and managed to continue with my new greetings collection, which I can show you a few snippets of today!

I mentioned my new greetings range last week and how I was building up my current best selling cards to form bigger and better collections.  My floral Happy Birthday card is super popular so I have taken other floral designs from my portfolio and combined them with some hand drawn typography to bring you some gorgeous greetings!

Bright and cheerful florals!

Cute little flowers and butterflies combined with big sketched flowers

A little sad, I know, but Forget-me-nots were my grandads favourite flower and the underlying meaning with this card is you'll never forget them.

There are more to come too! Are there any particular designs you would like to see as greetings cards? Take a look at my portfolio and let me know in a comment below!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Working on a bigger greetings range!

I have loads going on at the moment and a lot of designing is being done for my expanded greetings collection.  They sold so well at the arts market I did last week that I need to put another order in!

So I have been drawing away and expanding my current collection.  At the moment I have a bit of a mismatch group of designs, although you can tell the same person designed them, they don't all go together cohesively.  It's so important to design in collections and last year I didn't entirely do this.  I did have big plans for larger collections that worked together but somehow in the excitement of getting products manufactured before the Christmas rush, my brain went and flew out the window.

I now have the time to sit down and get this done, so here is a little look at the collections I'm expanding upon and some of my ideas:

The harvest time tractor and combine duo will become a much bigger collection, I've always had loads of ideas for this group of designs and will be including a dumper truck, backhoe loader (digger), lorry, train, plane, helicopter, fire engine and police car.  Below you can see the dumper truck and backhoe loader, what do you think?

The dragonfly card has been very popular and gets a lot of attention so I am adding a bumblebee, ladybird and butterfly to this, complete with the floral coordinating greetings.

Another popular design is the Ditsy Floral Happy Birthday, I've decided to use my other floral patterns and combine them with some hand drawn typography to build up a bright and colourful collection that will sit wonderfully together in the shops.

Finally I'll be adding in some of my other children's designs such as the outer space, the castles and the under the sea designs.  I think this gives me plenty to be getting on with but I do have a few others up my sleeve which you may get a sneak preview of in the future!

Take a look at my current portfolio and let me know if theres anything you think would make a fab greetings card!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Beautiful Artwork from Yellena James

Whilst perusing through Etsy for some wonderful finds I came across an amazing artist who's eye for detail is incredible!  I just had to share her work with you, today I'll be showcasing the work of Yellena James, who's intricate, abstract pieces are mesmerising.  There is just so much to look at in her work, you don't know where to begin!  I had a tough time choosing which pieces to show you all!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

My Fear of Craft Fairs is Banished!

After quite a few months of swearing I would never do another craft fair (due to this and this) I finally got the courage to try again. Last Saturday I joined a whole host of wonderful artists and makers along with local shops and vintage stalls for a lovely little Arts Market in the centre of Derby.

This market was set up by Sheena Holland who runs a vintage shop in the Blacksmith's Yard which is where the market sets up the first Saturday of every month.  Sheena has been working incredibly hard to advertise the market and get the word out there, and she's done a fantastic job!

The nerves began as soon as I woke up so by the time I set off to the market I was a bit of a mess.  I just couldn't shake the feeling it was going to be yet another failure, and when you love what you do every failure feels so much harder to take.  Once I'd set up and had a little chat with the lady on the stall next to me I felt calmer, the sun was shining too and it was set to be a wonderful day.  If things didn't go to plan at least I would enjoy a day out in the fresh air and get a little sun after weeks of being inside working.

I'm pleased to say it went really really well, I not only covered my stall (which I didn't even manage at previous craft fairs!), I made money!  Everyone was so positive and it was lovely to hear what people thought about my work.  I met a local photographer who is going to help me get some fantastic product photos, chatted to other artists and illustrators, was invited to another craft fair and even gained another stockist!  So all in all one a brilliant day, I can't wait for the next one!

My stall on the day

Some of the personalised children's prints I took

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Truly Amazing Work of Maud Vantours!

I'll often come across wonderful designers that jump out at me so I keep a file of websites and come back to them for these showcases.  I love the unusual arts, where designers use different materials in an unusual way.  Their talent really shines through and it's always nice to see how some artists push the boundaries of what is normally thought of as art.

Today I have the wonderful Maud Vantours who is a French designer based in Paris.  She uses paper to make beautiful sculptures!