Feb 2019 will make Make.Be’s 1-year birthday, and after a year as a “brand” rather than just a freelance designer website, I’m taking note of the changes.
Life’s full of ups and downs, and if your personal life is strongly tied to your business (like, you’re a stay-at-home mom or a freelancer–of both!), you’re probably going to be experiencing a lot of the tides together!
Which, of course, means your business suffers (or doesn’t function) when you don’t.
Personal aside, let’s just say that’s what happened to me last year, and at this time in 2018 I was…
Physically unable to work
Floundering to finish projects + find new work
Without a direction for the coming year
Without goals or a plan
Without an email list
With only the idea that I wanted to design, but didn’t know how to make it
Fortunately, at the same time, I came across two things that helped me move ahead.
Did you ever watch Mandy Harvey on America’s Got Talent 2017? She’s the deaf singer with the bell-like voice and incredibly inspiring story. Even though she lost her hearing, she trained herself to keep singing through muscle memory, constant practice, and learning new skills.
Situations kind of pushed me into watching America’s Got Talent when she was on, and it was just at the right time. (If you want to cry, watch this little clip with her below.)
I’ll skip my story, but the outcome of watching this was that I stopped struggling (as much) to force myself into work that I didn’t love (which led to physical burnout and made me really unhappy), and to start looking for some inspiration in what nourished me, that could push me forward.
I took out my sketchbook and started drawing again.
Around this time, I also found The Futur, and spent countless afternoons binge-watching episodes on the business of design and gaining positive reinforcement that I should be able to make it as a designer if I worked hard enough (and smart enough).
Thanks to the inspirations, I decided that I was going to commit to upgrading my skills and working on my ideal business (so I could make pretty things for people who I liked to work with), so I would have more time to spend with my family and more fulfillment doing what I loved.
I’m happy to say that although I took on much fewer projects into 2018 than I had previously while working solely in web design, I was happier because I only worked on projects that I might like to! You can see a few of them here.
A real breakdown of how it went
But big changes often take longer to manifest than small pivots, and this last year, I spent a lot more time than anticipated following others’ inspiration instead of finding my own.
In short, this was time wasted gathering supplies and seeing what I should do instead of just doing it! Here’s a comical breakdown of what 2018 looked like for me, creatively. (Share it if you’d like!)
In short, I downloaded a bunch of graphic design and font files, half-watched a lot of amazing videos on business and design, downloaded too many graphic assets, and worked mainly on personal projects, and finally started creating templates like I wanted to do at the beginning of last year.
A note on buying graphic goods
You might have wondered why I spent so much time downloading graphic assets and so little time designing with them.
My feeling is that aside from the always useful mockups, I stocked up on many things that I *could have* made and sold myself. Or, I ended up designing my own graphics for client projects because it took too long to sort through the thousands of beautiful assets that I have from Creative Market and Design Cuts.
Of those graphics that I did by, the best deals were definitely the design bundles from Creative Market, Design Cuts, and Pixel Surplus, etc., that give me an extended license, so I can use bits and pieces of graphics packs and fonts in several different projects.
I also deleted MOST of the free fonts that I had installed. These were usually only for personal use or only came with one font (e.g., REGULAR or BOLD) version of a family. Also, a lot of the quirky fonts that might be one-offs. I kept the files in organized folders so I can find them again if I need them, but mostly they’re just slowing down my computer.
Note: some font licenses are valid only for a single install; this means that if you uninstall that font that you purchased, you may need to technically buy another license to make it work. Not sure how the permissions are embedded, but please do keep this in mind.
So, in short, if you’re spending a lot of time downloading graphic goods, make sure they’re something you might actually use, and make sure to get high-quality assets that you will keep. Or, learn to make your own.
What’s in store for this coming year?
Overall, I would say that the most important things I learned from 2018 were:
Doing is usually better than just planning.
Start what you want to do now. Don’t wait.
Inspiration comes at just the right time.
2019 will hopefully hold a lot more good surprises than last year, but I’m still planning ahead so I can make progress on my own personal and business goals.
Those include learning more about digital illustration and pattern design so I can take on more creative projects, and getting to spend more time with my family.
I’m also looking to fill my calendar for these coming months with branding and graphic projects. Make.Be still does offer web design. But it’s not our primary service at this time.
So, if you’re ready to take your brand in a new direction, or if you’re just starting out on your creative journey and looking for some guidance on where to go, get in touch and let’s talk!
Happy New Year Everyone!