Oh my little business is a whole baby year old! It's been well over 365 days now since I got the confirmation that I had registered as self employed and owned all rights to Gwennan Rees Illustration and I have been working (and blogging) full time freelance by myself in my bedroom and then in my brother's bedroom which I nicked and made an office when he moved out. Cheers pal.
I think with business, especially a small one or one still relatively new (a year is NOTHING really), sometimes it can all feel a bit disheartening when you're having a slow month or you haven't made millions in your first six months - I mean really, where are your millions????
With that in mind and bearing in mind I don't actually show that much of my business on my blog I thought I'd do a cute little round up of some of the best things I achieved in my first year of self employment. I have my Etsy shop and I sometimes share a doodle or two on my Instagram but for those of you who haven't seen, here's a little insight into what I do for a career cos lol blogging isn't actually my full time job even though it might seem like I spend all my time at it.
1. I didn't make a loss!
One thing you absolutely HAVE to be aware of before you go self employed is the likelihood of you making no dollah in your first year, maybe even more. You make money sure but when you have to take your tax off yourself and come to your end of year financing and have to tot up what you made against what expenses you had...it's not a lot. Starting a business is costly and you need a lot of stock and money behind you to start. In my first year what I made was in no way liveable as an income but I didn't make a complete loss and that is good enough start for me.
2. I set up this blog!
So in case you haven't been reading all that long, I started this blog under a different name on Wordpress for free way back in March last year as part of a university sideline to my illustration website because my tutors said having a blog with reasonably regular content would keep my website fresh and hitting the top ratings on Google. Fast forward to January and fun fact; I didn't need anything to stay top of Google, my name is unusual enough I'm like the top 3 pages when you Google me so I moved hosts to Squarespace, migrated all my blog posts (deleted the first few cos they were reviews of uni talks) and Twenty Something Meltdown was born. It is undoubtedly the best thing that happened from my business and now I get to rant on to all of you lovely cherubs!
3. I had repeat customers.
You can only hope in business that someone likes you enough to work with you again and again and I got some of them gems. I worked with graphic designer Ben Seas multiple times on The Conwy Collective which was a business map of North Wales which was a project lasting weeks and then we also worked together this side of Christmas on another map and a logo design too.
4. My Etsy shop.
I bloody love my Etsy shop since I redid it, took all new photos and created new products (hello bullet journal stickers) and it's nice to know lots of you like it too! I had a big run on cards for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day which was fabulous and I'm excited to create new things, I have a lot of blogger inspired ideas which I want to come into fruition. Don't forget you can contact me for custom orders on Etsy and I have 20% off a second order all of this summer!
5. My cards went worldwide.
Last Christmas was FABULOUS for my business. So many people ordered custom cards and didn't just order them in their tens....oh no, people ordered in their hundreds and thousands. I worked on two custom orders for clients in the States, one set of Christmas cards and one set of greetings cards for a client who also ended up ordering personalised notecards as Christmas gifts as well. I also secured a deal for a company who sent parcels all over the world who wanted compliment slips to send in each parcel for Christmas and they ordered A LOT and it was a really quick turnaround (maybe 5 days start to finish?) so that was a real challenge. It's exciting to wonder where your work ended up and who saw it.
6. Local business relations.
You can't get much more local than literally the farm you live on can you? For those of you who haven't seen, Joss' parents live on a farm which also hosts their orchards and their cider making business. Yes I live on a cider orchard, don't hate me too much. Just before Christmas Joss' parents employed me to create 4 one off illustrations for their business which showed off what they did and their process and those illustrations are now shown on every stall they attend.
7. My regular job.
I ALWAYS forget to talk about this job. Because I do it regularly and it's not a one off commission I almost forget it counts as a part of my business, just because it's a weekly design job. I did my first ever pitch to Llantwit Major Horticultural Society (a local gardening society) way back in October because they were looking to design a website and had no clue how to go about it. I successfully did the pitch without freaking out and secured the job and not only did I design them their website, I created it too and now I manage it. Everything on the website is designed and implemented by me, I run their email address and correspondence, I do all their poster design, I run their Facebook and Twitter accounts and I do any admin they need such as printing/binding their summer show schedules and updating their membership forms and if that wasn't enough I design and create their monthly newsletter too. It's the biggest job I have undertaken in my first year and *hopefully* they're going to keep me on past this October when the contract renews too.
8. I went self employed!
When I look back on my first year of business it's easy to forget that I took the plunge and went self employed and that's the biggest achievement of all. It's not easy, it's tough slog but I took the chance when it presented itself and I couldn't be happier that I did. Doing a creative degree isn't easy and doesn't guarantee you a career at the end of it and I'm glad I stuck to my guns and gave it a go and am using my qualification.
A year is a long time but in the grand schemes of business, it's nothing. Let's hope year 2 goes plain sailing too (and more money would be great obvs).
If you DO like what I've been working on please don't hesitate to get in contact with me. The work on my Etsy shop is not the extent of what I can do and I am more than willing to answer questions about any type of project.
Tweet me or email me at gwennanreesillustration.com if you want to discuss a project, however big or small!