I read an interesting blog post recently I came across that was posted on a Facebook group I follow. It was directed to people that own a business. The essence of the post was really the cliche of “you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t understand where you’ve been”. In other words, it suggested that one reflect on what successes and challenges they experienced in their business and analyze what and why something worked and determine what and how went wrong.
Never one to shy away from an opportunity for reflection; this struck a chord.
Not only for my business life, but for my personal as well.
At the end of 2017, I had some lofty goals for 2018 I shared in a blog post at that time. I didn’t quite reach all of them, but I definitely made some strides.
I started J. Mane Gallery, an online art gallery where I offer monthly themed art competitions for fellow artists to enter. It has been slow out of the year long gate, but I love doing it! Some of the challenges, dealing with haters. Yes, haters. Self-Promotion is key and the internet is free, and so are the comments by fellow artists insulted that I ask for a submission fee because my gallery is online. They are entitled to their opinion. Another challenge has been keeping up with all the promotion and trying to find the formula for why an artist would want to submit their work to my show. But, I have had a lot of compliments too. It’s still small, but it is growing. I have 269 Instagram followers, 231 followers on Facebook and 234 subscribers to my email list!
I also tried to change up my marketing strategy and chose to forgo trying to sell products directly on this website and replaced it by directing people to one of three Print-on-Demand sights I use: Society6, Redbubble or Pixels. The challenge: I gave my website less attention. So I am still trying to come up with the best formula for attracting visitors to my website, and then converting those visitors into loyal, buying fans.
I increased my social media presence. I didn’t double my followers (my goal for 2018), but as of writing this blog post, I have 661 Instagram followers and 22 people subscribe to my email list! I also have an average of 20,000 monthly views on Pinterest (but I’m actually not sure why that’s exciting).
In 2018 I decided not to open a second Society6 shop and just concentrated on the one I had. I had a banner year in sales. And although succulents were in, and I certainly expressed my personal obsession, my abstract designs were the most popular. I also closed my Etsy shop. Competition was fierce and I just couldn’t give it the attention it deserved. You can read my story about how I broke up with Etsy here.
I started blogging again and then I stopped blogging again. Mostly because I am still not sure what to blog about and I am still not convinced anyone really cares what I have to say.
As I mentioned, I amped up my social media presence. That’s a huge undertaking and I felt I spent more time promoting and less time creating. Since I can’t post about what I create if I haven’t created anything, I think the horse is the art and the promoting is the cart, in this scenario.
On a personal note, in 2018, I learned I am lousy with money. I used to write everything I spent down. Then I thought I was writing everything I spent down until I realized after having no money left at the end of the month, I wasn’t really writing what I was I spending down.
I turned 50. My son graduated from college, got a job and moved out. We actually spent 2018 as empty nesters and I have to admit, I like it.
Two years ago, I bought a book called, Questions For Life: Two Year Guided Daily Journal For Intentional Living by Jessica A. Walsh. The year is left blank, so you can start at any time, and the purpose is to briefly (in about 4 lines) summarize your day, write one thing you were grateful for that day, one thing that made you happy that day and then there is a thought provoking question, like what’s your favorite childhood memory or what are you passionate about. In 2017, I challenged myself to do it for the year. And I did. It is an interesting exercise, and I highly recommend it. You can get a copy of the book from Amazon. I was excited to do it again in 2018, and I decided to not read what I wrote on the same day the previous year, until I wrote my daily entry for 2018 (they are on the same page). What I learned is that for the most part, nothing changed.
Life still had it’s stresses and interestingly enough, my daughter became my rock. She is my confidant and cheerleader. That’s not to say I became closer to her than I did my son. It’s just different.
So what’s in store for 2019?
I am going to continue to create and try to grow my thriving business.
Always a goal, I am going to try to increase followers, increase sales and increase art submissions to J Mane Gallery.
I am going to create a budget worksheet that works for me.
I am also going to learn from my past, so my history is not destined to repeat itself.
I am going to have fun being a 1/2 a century old.