Welcome to my watercolor blog!!
Hi, my friends!! It's been a long time since I've written anything for the internet and I've missed it so much. I've moved my watercolor blog to this website where I'll be posting my tips and tricks, supply lists, and potentially video classes to go hand-in-hand with the art I sell and create.
Lately, I've been working with and spending time with other creative humans who desire to start their own businesses. At this point, I've essentially developed a starter kit of to-do's for the people who long to live their dreams and work for themselves, and have found that I thrive when I aid other people in their creative journeys.
All of this to say, after working two jobs on top of owning a small business and then transitioning to full time art before the holidays, I wanted to create a resource for other creatives of the best practices to implement to aid personal and financial success. These are all things that I've learned from my experience with my business that have all improved my productivity and my mental health as I've navigated working crazy hours to make my dream of being a full time artist come true. If you're a creative who loves working on your craft, I hope these tips help you find balance and create space for your best work.
Develop a sleep schedule that *actually* works for you, and don't feel shame if it looks different from the norm.
For months I was attempting to fall asleep at 10pm and wake up at 7:30/8am in order to start work and treat my job like a 9-5. The only problem being that my job isn't a corporate job at all! My business requires creativity in every capacity and my creative juices flow freely naturally in the afternoon and evening. So when I was trying to "be productive" and wake up early, it made me want to nap in the afternoon and go to sleep early and I actually would struggle to be productive at all. But the beauty of being a creative is that we don't have to be on anyone else's schedule! I now wake up around 9:30 every morning feeling refreshed and ready to create, and though this will need to change when I have kids one day, it is perfect for where my business is right now.
Create a routine that you love and makes you feel like you have security.
Being a full time artist is very unpredictable. There's not a guaranteed salary or company benefits and normally we wear a lot of different hats and never have the same day twice. But what I've found to be so helpful to my mental health and the growth of my business is consistency and routine. I've created a workflow that is consistent and a sleep schedule that complements my creative energy, and this not only maximizes my productivity but keeps me from burning out. And this routine isn't simply waking up and working, but scheduling in afternoon runs in between paintings or paperwork to break up my mentally heavy tasks. It's starting my day reading my Bible, drinking a cup of coffee and clarifying my objectives and to-dos.
This also includes finding a rhythm with your work that includes all of your roles. I typically have three phases of my business: painting and creating; printing, product photography, and listing on my website; and finally marketing, packing orders, and inventory. Having this rotation of tasks is very helpful for me because as soon as I'm tired of one set of tasks it's time for a new focus.
Your calendar is your very best friend.
Creating a routine and rotation of tasks is very much centered around the goals I set for each month. At this point in my business, I have a routine of when I release collections which allows me to plan one to two months in advance opposed to mapping out collections at the beginning of the year. But once I have a release date on my calendar it allows me to set weekly and monthly goals which determines the tasks I accomplish that day. This has been a game changer!!
Have tasks for yourself to complete on days when you feel uninspired or mentally drained.
My favorite thing about working for myself is the ability to take hard days slow. There are some days when I wake up and have planned to paint but simply cannot create anything I love. So I have a list of monotonous and necessary tasks that I keep for days when my creative energy is shot. I do a lot of my digital design in my bed as I watch Netflix on the days it's hard to get out of bed! It helps me be productive even on difficult days and has been unbelievably helpful, especially during the seasons where I was running my business on top of other jobs and responsibilities.
Meal prep before heavy work weeks, especially launch weeks, and set timers so you remember to eat.
I may be the only one, but when I first started my business I was forgetting to eat almost every day because I had so much to do. I still get that way on launch weeks when I'm wrapping up a lot of work, and I've had to learn to take the time to meal prep and set timers proactively to nourish my body and mind. Creating is almost impossible when you don't have fuel!
Taking time off is investing in yourself and your art, not taking time away from it.
I wanted to end on this note because I am well aware that creating your own small business is very time consuming. Each week I work at minimum two twelve hour work days on top of my other eight to nine hour workdays, and even still there is almost always something I could be doing. Being the only person who wears the hats of creator, digitizer, accountant, orderer, inventory-taker, content creator, social media marketer, packager, customer service representative, product photographer, wholesale coordinator, diversifier, and printing specialist means that my to-do list is beyond what I could ever accomplish even if I worked every hour of the week. And if I didn't set boundaries with my art, it would consume my entire life and I would burn out very quick. I can't emphasize this enough: taking a day off to rest and refuel is essential to making beautiful art. Creating space to enjoy the people and places that inspire you will add to your creativity, and therefore your art. Do not feel guilty for setting boundaries and enjoying your life!!!
These were some of my favorite tips, and I hope they're so helpful to you wherever you are on your journey. If this was encouraging to you, please let me know! And if you have any other questions about running a small business or being an artist I always love connecting with all of you.
All my love,
Whitney Lynne Webster