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BEHIND-THE-SCENES: 2019 in Review

decorative: logo

This year isn’t 100% over, but it’s getting there and I’m starting my 2020 planning, so I wanted to share some milestones and talk about my goals for 2020.

1. I started (and will complete) a certificate in User Experience Design

This degree has really helped me think about how to get my personal website in order and how to better serve clients. It’s my hope that the clout behind the program I completed will make me a more attractive candidate to customers seeking web design and re-design.

2020 Goal: Book three clients for entirely new web design work or full rebrands.

2. I transitioned from Etsy to a custom storefront and invested in a WordPress business account

My store now has its own branding and I’m no longer subject to the whims of Etsy’s fees and algorithm. BUT I haven’t quite figured out how to capture that occasional passive income from someone finding my stuff while browsing. So,

2020 Goal: Figure out how to generate more passive income, whether that’s re-listing best-sellers on Etsy or finding directories/search engines that do that same work.

3. I released two full product lines

I released a Pride line and a fall line this year. These included my first apparel pieces, my first buttons, my first enamel pens, and more. I learned a lot between the first line and the second and I’m looking forward to applying even more lessons learned.

2020 Goal: Streamline pre-sales, better determine the wants and needs of my market, and work on new marketing tactics like influencer marketing.

4. I did my first brand collaboration

I was connected to another brand by a friend and we worked on a collection together. I learned a lot about how to structure an agreement and that there are things I can ask for from the outset to make a collaboration fair.

2020 Goal: work with two different brands on collaborative projects.

5. I booked my first package client

I really loved working on developing an entire new brand. I came out of the process with a better pricing model and more markets to tap.

2020 Goal: Hone my client niches and target my marketing to them. I’d like to book at least one client a quarter.

6. I booked my first long-term, recurring client

Yes, I will take some more stability, thank you. Working with these folks has made it clear to me that I have the expertise necessary for long-term consulting. I have enjoyed getting to know a brand intimately and hope to continue doing that with others.

2020 Goal: Book one additional recurring client

7. I started my first full rebrand

I’m halfway through the rebrand — we’re through logos and style guides, moving toward a website face-lift and creating/updating social channels — and that work is happening at a good pace. I have updated my process and paperwork for branding work and am prepared to establish a more efficient process for rebrands.

2020 Goal: Design the complete rebrand process from beginning to end and book one full rebrand.

8. I completed the first season of Sects Sell and ran the entire second season.

Season 1 ran weekly for 13 weeks and covered some of the majors — these pieces were fully-realized and connected to specific retro inspirations. Season 2 was 31 daily pieces inspired by a wider variety of cults and coercive controllers.

2020 Goal: Complete Sects Sell Season 3 in October with a narrower set of parameters.

9. I started making a living doing client work.

It took until September of this year, but I’m finally done with Instacart and Postmates.

2020 Goal: Double my 2019 income. If I accomplish my other goals, this is well within reach, but however I get it done, this is the most crucial goal. I gave my business two years to become self-sufficient. Those 2 years end in March of 2021. If I can double my income in 2020 – and continue growing in 2021 — I’ll be solvent by then.
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CAN I HELP YOU? Podcasters

If you have a podcast, I have a question! I’m looking to break into the Podcast Cover design market and I’m looking to expand that part of my portfolio. I’m open to three kinds of clients:

  1. The FREE option: you tell me which 3 episodes you think I should listen to, I ask you some questions, and then I make you whatever I want.
    You DO get to use that image as a podcast cover on iTunes, etc!
    You DON’T get to use it on merch or in promotional materials without paying a licensing fee!
  2. The LICENSING-FEE-ONLY option: you tell me which 3 episodes you think I should listen to, I ask you some questions, and then I make you whatever I want.
    You DO get to use that image as a podcast cover on iTunes, etc! You also get to put it on merch and in ads for 2 years!
    You DO NOT get to use it forever!
    This option costs $100 and you will be able to extend the license in perpetuity at the same rate.
  3. The DEEPLY-DISCOUNTED-FULL-SERVICE option: you tell me which 3 episodes you think I should listen to, I ask you some questions, I sketch four concepts, we do four rounds of revisions, and land on one image.
    You DO get to use that images for whatever you want forever!
    This option costs $500 and you never have to pay me a licensing again.

If you’re interested, let me know:

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HOW-TO: employing plain language as a UX professional AND as a small business owner

I read a great piece on Medium by Rachael Renk called Using Plain Language in UX Writing. In it, she makes a pitch for using plain English in UX work and making strong writing skills a priority for UX designers. The primary example she gives is microcopy on a website you’re building — and that’s hugely important; it can make or break whether someone interact with the content. But it also got me thinking about all of the other ways that I apply that same spirit of saying exactly what I mean across my business — from those UX components to correspondence with design clients to selling retail products.

Continue reading HOW-TO: employing plain language as a UX professional AND as a small business owner
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HOW-TO: Brainstorm the Perfect Custom Gift

Something I’ve really loved working on for the last few months is custom gifts. I’ve done a couple for other folks to give, but I’ve also made quite a few super different gifts that I got to give myself! When your options aren’t limited to stuff someone’s already manufactured, thinking up gifts is kind of fun. So I wanted to share my process with you. My questions and tips will help, whether you’re making something yourself, commissioning an artist, or just coming up with some new google terms to search.

The secret to giving a good gift is to ask yourself a few questions about your giftee — and then extrapolate. The first thing I think of is always relevant but boring, but a creative pivot will take you from a serviceable gift to a really thoughtful one.

Continue reading HOW-TO: Brainstorm the Perfect Custom Gift
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Making it Offish!

Hi friends! I’m super excited to share that I’m enrolled in a program at the University of Baltimore to get a Certificate in User Experience Design, or UX. My goals are to codify my many years of experience building websites for myself and to more effectively apply my understanding of customer and prospective member behavior to sites I’m working on for myself and my clients.

For the last little bit, I’ve been trying to firm up what exactly I want to offer, in terms of services, and after a couple months of offering every single thing I know how to do, I’ve narrowed it down to a specific slate of services and tools I can offer new and growing small businesses, nonprofits, and solo ventures — a cohesive web presence is a big part of that!

The other things that are a part of that – the things I’m excited about folding into my services are things like: logo design, cohesive branding design, product promotion, custom fonts, custom paper products, and multi-step planning.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be updating my hire page to better fit this vision.

If you want to be sure you don’t miss that – or anything – sign up for my newsletter here.

You can also help me keep making time to make art while I complete my program by supporting me on Patreon or making purchases from Managed Expectations on Etsy.