I love to be always learning something new. Never one to be put off doing something because I don’t know how to.
I am old enough to remember a time before everyone had a computer. Even in high school, we learnt very little about computing. In art school, I managed to get away without really using one either! I could draw the old fashioned way, and we kept countless sketchbooks and technical sketches of what we were making. I believe the way the design school works now is a lot more focused on computer-aided drawings, but we were always encouraged to draw by hand.
Since then, I have had very few jobs which have forced me to work on a computer. I always think myself extremely lucky to have never been part of an office team! I have always been a maker and whenever I’ve needed to show someone an idea I’ve been able to put together a mock-up or drawn a small sketch to work it out.
I needed to learn everything! What I make has evolved over the years, and in the early days, shops and galleries sold my work. But now my whole business is online. It is my hope that soon I will be able to sell at craft fairs and more independent retail spaces, but for now, online is critical.
I have learnt to make my own website. Alongside this, some kind of brand identity with colours and fonts and a distinct look to my images. Reading books and watching free videos has helped a lot with this. I am also not afraid to get in touch with the help team at “Showit” who host my website. They understand that not everyone is computer literate and are always happy to help!
Selling online means I needed to become my own product photographer. With a camera in your pocket all the time, everyone can be a photographer but to produce clear product photos does take some time and skill! A picture can tell a thousand words, but they need to be the right ones! I have done an online photography course to learn about composition and how to use the functions of my camera. Editing I’ve learnt mainly through trial and error!
Along with a lovely photo, you also need the caption. Writing the copy for my online listings is an ongoing battle, trying to get the balance between informative and fun. Learning about “keywords” and “good SEO” has me with my head in my hands more than I could tell you. There are aspects of the internet search I understand, but I have a long way to go with it!
Having been a bookbinder for many years, I have not needed to concern myself with the book’s contents!
These days, I also design my calendar layouts and traveller’s notebook inserts on my computer. I do a rough draft by hand of course, but then everything is finalised and printed using the graphic design software on my laptop.
Recently I splurged on an Ipad! To use for drawing! In the past, I have drawn aspects of my printed goods by hand. I then scan them into the computer to send for printing or for dies to be made. But, now I can draw straight to the screen! I can resize and recolour at the touch of a button.
Another learning curve, although in time, it should speed up my process, allow for much more versatility in my design work.
Using social media is an eye-opener too. Almost everyone is on it, keeping up with friends and the news or just watching funny cat videos. Using social media to promote your business is a whole different animal. Not only do you need beautiful images and text to go with them, but they also are not the minimal product images and descriptions from your online shop. On social media, you are selling the lifestyle. It’s a step further on. I need to show my work being used in real life – and looking inspirational. It is not the easiest of tasks! And then you need to choose your platform, or spread yourself across them all!
I will always be learning and improving my skills. The way the world works is continually evolving, and independent businesses need to keep up. For one person this is a lot of work, and there is a lot of room for improvement, but most of the time I enjoy it. It is good to be responsible for how every aspect of my business works and the freedom to do it how I see fit!