Posts in Small Business
Tips on planning for a New Year

Hey,

I hope you’re all settling in to January by now and the post-Christmas lull is almost over. January is a great time to plan and prepare for the year ahead. If you are not ready to plan yet or it’s not for you, that’s cool. You do whatever you feel is best for you, i’m not here to tell you when and what you have to do. There isn’t a right way to do something, everything is different depending on the person. But if you’re looking for some tips on how I like to plan for a new year, then you’re in the right place. Take what serves you and leave the rest.

Plan Quarterly
I’m trying to break time down into quarters and plan for every quarter. I used to try and plan everything for the whole year and whilst it’s useful to have a general overview of the most important goals for the year, your priorities will probably change throughout the year. That way if you plan each quarter, you give yourself flexibility to change your goals to reflect your change in priorities. It also means it’s not as overwhelming for you when you sit down to plan. It breaks it down into more manageable and easier to digest chunks.

Key Dates
I try to write down key events, dates first then I can plan projects around them depending on how much time I have and when deadlines would be. This is particularly handy for me when i’m trying to work out when designs need to be done by and especially with uni work now, it’s helpful to see when essays need to be due and what can be slotted in in my spare time. It also allows you to not overload yourself, which is something I can be guilty of when i’m too excited about lots of ideas. By visually seeing what time you have available to you, you can make better plans around them and not get carried away.

SMART Goals
I always try to set “SMART” goals, which means (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound). I find that adding measurable attributes to my goals really helps me visualise what needs to be done. Measurable attributes mean specific numbers or ways in which you can determine whether the goal has been met. For example, one of my goals for this year is to hit 200 sales on Etsy by the end of 2019. By specifically selecting 200 as my target number, the goal is measurable. If I was to just say I want more sales by the end of 2019, it wouldn’t be measurable and I wouldn’t know if i’d explicitly met my target or not.

Done Lists
I like to create “done” lists as well as “to-do” lists. This stems back from writing out long to-do lists of everything I could think of doing and then not achieving all of them because life gets in the way and unplanned tasks crop up. This then would mean that I hadn’t achieved all of the goals i’d set at the beginning of the day and I would then feel like I hadn’t achieved anything. So I decided to write done lists at the end of the day of everything I had actually got done, including household chores or errands and it made me realise that I had had a productive day, just not the one I planned.

This really sums up my main tip and vibe about planning and that’s that you can’t plan everything. Life happens and all you can do is try to adapt and be flexible enough to try and do what you can. There’s no foolproof way of planning and what works for one person, might not work for you. All you can do is try, try and try again until you find what works for you.

Elle x

New Years Resolutions 2019

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful celebratory time and you’re ready to kick start this fresh, new year. I’m always unsure about New Year’s resolutions as they get such a bad rep for being extravagant, often unachievable changes that try to change who you are as a person, as if you aren’t enough as you are. Although at the same time, they can be great for making small changes in your habits and routines to try and improve your practice.

So with that in mind, here are some of my small New Year’s resolutions that I’m going to try and implement this year in order to make 2019 the best it can be.

1.To be more organised and efficient with my time
In 2018, especially with the introduction of university work, I found that I struggled to make time for my business. The time was there, but I struggled to organise it efficiently which meant that my business suffered and I wasn’t able to do everything that I wanted for it. So in 2019, I want to be more organised, work more efficiently and plan my time better in order to work smarter, not harder.

2. To not spend as much time on my phone
This stems back to the previous point, I want to try and spend less time on my phone this year. Part of the reason why I struggled to organise my time and get as much done as I wanted to last year was because I spent way too much time on my phone, either claiming it was for business or aimlessly scrolling. Whilst I do have to use my phone for business, I’m going to try and give myself dedicated time to use my phone and try and use apps for  periods of focus. I’ve used the Forest app before but only halfheartedly, so I’m determined to try and have more productive, phone free work blocks next year and have less phone screen time.

3. To pre-plan and prepare as much content as possible ahead of time
This is the key one for me. As I’m now so busy with uni work, my plan is to pre-plan and have blocks of content for my blog and social media planned and written or photos taken in advance as much as possible. I’m not going to plan every single thing on socials but having photoshoot days when i’m free so that I have nice photos to post will be helpful to avoid long, dry spells. For the blog though, I have planned the majority of my blog posts for the year and will try and write and schedule big batches of them, when I have the time. This is so there is always something ready so that I feel more organised and am still focusing on my business. See, that working smarter not harder thing is coming in again!

4. To try and get out of the house to work more
I love being at home, i’m a real homebody so I do most of my work from home. This year i’d really like to take my work to some coffee shops and work in different environments. After the break in, I feel like it’d be very easy for me to become a bit reclusive in my habits and i’d like to change that this year. Plus working in different environments is supposed to help mix things up and fire up that elusive creativity bug, so i’d like to experiment and see what that does! It’d also just be nice to people watch and be surrounded by chatter and buzz.

5. To try and go on a long walk at least once a week
Again with the getting out of the house thing and doing most of my work indoors, I haven’t been getting out as much as I would have liked to last year. So, this year I’m going to try and get out of the house and go on nice long walk in nature somewhere at least once a week. This will probably end up being maybe once a fortnight, but if I can’t get out to a forest somewhere each week, then at least a nice walk around the seafront will do. I don’t appreciate the seafront as much as I should do, considering how close we live to it. That’s another sub resolution for this year. Spend more time by the sea.

6. To spend more of my money in independent and local places
Since becoming a small business owner, I’ve been trying to shop mindfully and spend the majority of my money in local and independent places as much as I can. I try and buy all my cards from indie designers and eat in independent local businesses but this year I want to try and increase that amount even more. I want to do all of my gift giving this year from indie businesses and make more of my purchases from local businesses too.

7. To continue doing yoga each day
This is a relatively new one for me and at the risk of sounding like one of those people who have their shit together and do yoga at 5am everyday, I never thought I would enjoy yoga. (If you do have your shit together and do yoga at 5am, good for you btw).  I’ve tried to start yoga a few times in the past but i’ve never really stuck to it long enough to really get into it. However, over the Christmas break i’ve had from uni, I started a 30 days to yoga video practice and i’m really getting into it. I realised I was getting into it when I stopped checking how long was left of the video and actually started to be sad when it was over so quickly!! It’s quiet time with myself and i’m finding it’s actually helping with relaxation and inner calm. Fingers crossed I can continue it in 2019.

8. To try and express more gratitude and thankfulness
I am generally an optimistic person anyway, at least I try to be as much as I can but there is always room to try and do better, so that’s what I want to do this year! Consistently try and spin even the worst of times so that I can be thankful. Of course it doesn’t just apply to bad times, I want to try and practice being thankful at the end of each day for things that have happened that day. Perhaps I should get a gratitude journal. If you know of any, please comment them down below!

9. To try and help more charities and people in any way I can
I try to be as charitable as I can. For my birthday last year, I had friends and family donate to Chester Zoo’s Elephant virus research foundation to try and find a cure for a deadly virus that kills young elephants. I try to donate small amounts whenever I can, mainly to animal charities but sometimes to others. This year I really want to try and donate either through money or time to more charities and campaigns. I think if you’re in a position to do so, even the smallest of donations can mean the world to these charities and it always feels good to give something back to the less fortunate in the world.

10.  To practice more self-care
I know this phrase gets bounded about a lot but it really is important and it’s something I don’t do enough of. I realised this over Christmas when I found it so hard to just sit and watch films or actually relax. I find passive activities really hard to do, I always feel the need to be doing something. I’m really going to try harder this year to take more time for myself, yoga will help with that, and give myself time to do the things I enjoy and aren’t for uni or work.

So, there are my ten resolutions for 2019! Although it would be nice to achieve them, i’m not going to worry too much or beat myself up if I don’t complete them all. Nobody is perfect a human being and all we can ever do is try to improve, learn from our mistakes and create better habits. These things take time though, so go easy on yourself.

Have you made any resolutions this year? What are they? Let me know in the comments below and i’ll see you soon!

Elle x


Bumper End Of Year Art Sale

Hey everybody, IT’S SALE TIME!
I thought I’d drop by to let you know exactly what is going to included in the bumper sale. It’s going to be the biggest sale I’ve ever done, with lots of items included and some items at 50% off.

I’ve made the decision to discontinue certain prints, including all of my A3 ones. Honestly, the A3 prints were never my biggest sellers anyway and I think they may be too big for people to spontaneously decide to buy. Also, all of my plans for my business in 2019 and beyond, place less of a focus on prints, especially A3 size. So, I have made the decision to discontinue a large number of my prints for now. Some of my most popular A4 prints may still come back at some point if people want them, but i’m going to focus most of my time on new things.

So without further ado here are all of my prints that are going to be in the bumper sale!

A3 Heart Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Brain Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Ribcage Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Pelvis Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Moon Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Skull Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Alice In Wonderland Print Version 1 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Alice In Wonderland Print Version 2 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Moon Phase Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A4 Turtle Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Butterfly Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Hand Print 30% OFF WAS £!4.99 NOW £10

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A4 Allosaurus Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Space Mountains Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Dragonfly Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Bee Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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So that’s the round up of sale items! I’m going to let newsletter subscribers be the first to know when the sale goes live so if you want to get first dibs, sign up on the homepage.

Happy shopping!

Elle x

August 2018 Round Up
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Hello,
So, September is here which means Autumn is upon us! I thought it would be the perfect time to round up what happened in August both in my personal life and for Dots and Ink Pots.

1. Bye Bye Full Time Job!
At the end of the month, I left my full time day job in order to start university in September to study Digital Marketing. It also means that I have more time to focus on my business and do the things that I want to do. Since starting my business, I have enjoyed the creative world of business so much that I knew this lifestyle was for me. I know that I work more efficiently and I am happier when I am working on my own schedule on things that I am actually passionate about. I always thought I would be able to work for other people’s dreams when I was younger, but since opening the business, I now know that if I’m going to work my ass off, I want it to be for my own dreams rather than for a big company that doesn’t appreciate you or can drop you if it needs to the put business’ needs over yours. Basically, I want to work and make myself indispensable by cultivating digital skills, business experience and putting my creative talents to use. I am so excited to get started!

2. Christmas Card Designs
My Christmas card designs are in full swing! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you would have seen my work in progress snaps and hopefully be getting excited! To give you a clue, they are fluffy, have toe beans and woof. Any ideas?! You’ll have to head over to Insta to see if you’re right! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to drawing these magnificent creatures and I can’t stop! There’s so many I want to do, that I’m definitely going to have to add more each year. I didn’t manage to make any Christmas designs last year as I had only just opened so I am really excited to release these upon the world.

3. 1st Business Birthday
As I’m sure you would have seen Dots and Ink Pots celebrated it’s first business birthday on the 1st of August this year. I can’t believe it’s been a year already but what a first year it’s been! I have 3 product ranges out (prints, cards and notebooks), I’ve been interviewed for the lovely Confessions of a Small Bis Owner podcast, had a few commissions and nearly hit 50 sales!
I am so excited to continue this business journey and see what the next year brings! I already have so many plans for next year that I can’t wait to delve into.
HOLD ON TO YOUR METAPHORICAL HATS PEOPLE!

4. The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon
This is technically September but I’m going to include it here. This book is amazing. I highly recommend reading it if you are a creative, indie business owner, a person who is unsatisfied with their job or the working world. It busts all the archaic myths and oddities about the working world and how it is so behind with the changes in society. If you feel that you need a change with your working habits, want to take the plunge on your own business, work on your own terms and be more open with money, this book has it all. I really can’t recommend it enough. Everything Emma says is truth and left me fist pumping the air, wanting to jump off of the sofa and get crafting my own empire.

Thanks for reading this teeny August round up, I didn’t want it to be too long but I still wanted to capture what happened in August for me on the blog. Did you like this round up? Would you like me to do them for each month? I really enjoyed looking back on the month and seeing how it has been for me.

See you in the next one!
Elle x
 

DIY Workspace Makeover

Hello! 
If you follow me on Instagram @dotsandinkpots, you will know that I like to share photos of my workspace quite often. It's bright, colourful and reflects my tastes and personality. It also normally receives quite a lot of engagement, with comments stating how much people like my workspace, even stretching to workspace envy and admiration. I know Instagram can make it seem like everything is perfect and idyllic, but my workspace hasn't always been that way! 
So I thought I would go back in the photo archives and take you on a history tour through the different stages of my workspace.

I started my Instagram account back in March 2017 and this was the look of my desk. Dark wood corner desk, with bare walls and limited items on the desk top. It was simple and minimalist and it would be nice in other people's homes but I just wasn't happy with it. The corner where my desk is means that it doesn't get too much light and the dark wood wasn't doing any favours.

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Here in this photo, you can see how I tried to add colour to the space with a huge wall calendar for 2017 and some business cards. Although I tried, the area was just looking like a big light vacuum and all I could see was a dark, dingy workspace shoved in a dark corner.

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Now the excitement kicks in! I could only last a month with my desk like that before I had to do something. I searched online to find something cheap and easy that would transform the desk and the whole area. I was on the B&Q website for all of 5 minutes before I found these gorgeous marble self-adhesive vinyl rolls. PERFECT!

I ended up buying way too much but better safe than sorry! The peel and stick application process was really easy and although I could have done it on my own, my boyfriend was around so was able to help. Again a normal sized desk would have been easier, but of course my desk was a funky shape so it took some logistics to make sure we didn't waste too much vinyl. Ensuring you smooth the vinyl down and pop any air bubbles was crucial as once the vinyl was applied, it took a little while to fully set. 

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This photo was taken directly after we'd applied the adhesive and you can see that it really made such a difference! The light colour of the self-adhesive really helped to lift the desk from dark and drab to a bright work space. It also meant that adding pops of colour would now accentuate the space and not get lost in the dark wood. 

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Here was where the fun began! Once I saw what a dramatic change the self-adhesive had on the space, I ran with it! The colourful bunting was from Flying Tiger, the elephant light was from Primark, the copper lamp with marble base was from Marks and Spencer, the Pen Den was from We Are Paper Plane and my walls are covered in art from indie businesses! This was from later last year and it's updated more since then.

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Finally, here is the most recent picture I have taken of my workspace. I don't normally have that many flowers or pancakes on my desk but it was taken on my first day working from home on my business after leaving my job! I've included my Pingame banner from Nikki McWilliams to put all my indie pins on, prints from Indie Roller boxes, In Colourful Company walks and more prints from indie businesses. I also have my mac propped up on a vintage Scrabble box, as you do.

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So that's it! That's my workspace tour through the ages. I hope it shows you how one simple DIY can change the whole look and vibe of an area and how it can snowball into wonderful things.
I also hope it shows you that any workspace is a valid workspace and just because someone else's looks nice, it doesn't mean yours is any less beautiful and can't be what you want it to be.

Elle x

Why Genuine and Organic Instagram Growth Is Best For Your Business

Hello!

I've recently seen a rise in article and posts advocating that people buy followers and even poach their competitors followers. Personally, I think buying followers is an instant no no as it's quite easy to tell when people have. If your audience find out that you have, it can be a turn off as people will think that you're shallow or all about the money/numbers. As for poaching your competitors followers, there is a clear line. Using it as a way to connect to artists and small businesses can be useful but just going down someone's follower list and following everyone is not the right way. I had this recently where I noticed a follower of mine, who does similar things to me had followed a large portion of my followers. This is the thing, not only the artists and businesses as just mentioned but my own personal friends. Personally, I think this is crossing the line, although maybe I shouldn't be so precious in this day and age with the accessibility of social media. Each person's moral compass is different to your own. Stepping beyond that line is something I would never do but again it harks back to the point I am about to make about being genuine online.  So, here are 5 reasons why I think obtaining Instagram growth organically and authentically is the best option for growing your business.

1.  Engagement

Chances are if you're in it for the numbers and you poach other people's followers, randomly follow people in the hopes that they will follow back, you won't get the engagement you're after. Simple.  At first look, Instagram appears to be all about the number of followers you have, with this determining how successful and "big" you are. However, Instagram's algorithm is mainly based on engagement. It's not enough to have thousands of followers anymore, people actually have to engage with your post in order for your posts to be more visible to them. Chances are if you've poached a load of followers and you haven't bothered to genuinely connect with them and establish them as friends, they're not going to bother to engage with your post. This also applies to buying followers from certain companies. You may get promised anything from hundreds to thousands of followers "overnight" but the truth is most of those are bots that are rarely going to engage with your posts. For me, a massive benefit of curating an genuine, engaged community is cultivating feedback and insight. For example, I often use Instagram to ask for people's opinions on a certain product idea or colour way or design. This is a huge advantage that you would massively miss out on if a large portion of your followers were bought or didn't connect with you.  

2. Authenticity

One reason someone might decide to follow you besides liking your work, is because they like your personality, your brand vibe, your feed or your lifestyle. Another big reason would be because they feel that you're an authentic, genuine person that they can trust. Being authentic in your business and you're approach to marketing has more of an impact on your audience than you might think. For example, you might like a person's Instagram because they seem to genuinely care about how their business effects the environment but if you found out that they had bought thousands of followers, you would think that all they care about is popularity or money. 

People don't want you to be "salesy" all the time. So you need to create content that you like and is genuine but that also reflects what your followers are interested in. If you have the majority of bought or poached followers, they are not going to give you that feedback on what they like. They'll just like everything or randomly. You need to use this wonderful engaged community to your advantage and help them, help you.

3. Traffic

If you pay for followers or follow someone else's followers without checking if they are your target audience, that's a huge chunk of your audience that won't be likely to ever head to your website or buy your products. A recent study by Fohr Card found that 8% of the estimated 600 million Instagram accounts were fake, which equals 48 million potential bots! That's a large percentage of accounts that don't have a human being behind them. Yes you will have loads of followers but you have to ask yourself - what's the point? If they are bots, you're essentially  standing up on your soap box, speaking to no one.  All that time and effort that you put into your content and for what? For it to look like it's well liked but actually not many people have clicked through to read your blog post because most of the people that liked the post are "AI".

Back to the engagement point real quick, if you create genuine connections with your organic followers, they have the potential to pass on your work via word of mouth or on their own social media platforms. Bots and people who you haven't connected with won't do that.  One of the biggest benefits of creating an engaged community is that you can build mutual respect and admiration for people. Again, you shouldn't create those friendships with the intention to exploit them, but genuine friendships can often lead to connection and shows of support in multiple ways. Be it a purchase from your shop, a motivational support boost, a share on their page, a mention on their blog or a lovely comment on your post. These sorts of relationships can't be created with bots and people that don't have a connected interest in you. Marketing is the biggest part of running a business and most marketing is off putting as it is done in an aggressive way. Unexpected, genuine marketing can be the loveliest and have the most impact. Besides, everyone is more likely to trust a brand and purchase from them if they have good reviews, right? 

4. Focus on your own lane

Constantly searching through your competitors followers and scouting out what they are doing, leaves you with less time to concentrate on your own work. You know the saying, stay in your own lane? This very much applies to that. Work on developing your own brand, your style, your portfolio and creating a place where people will want to be.
"If you build it they will come." 
"Your vibe attracts your tribe."
These phrases are popular for a reason. Because they're true. By trying to copy someone else, you lose some of your authenticity and what the people who followed you originally liked about you. You will probably end up doing things you think other people will like and less of what you and your original followers like. If you're not enthusiastic and love what what you're creating, other people won't love it either.

5. Brand Integrity

Just as with most things, good things take time. Building trust with your followers and consumers is something that can't happen over night. No matter how many bots you buy or how many of someone else's followers you try and steal for yourself. It's not just a case of they follow my competitor so they're going to follow me. They might follow your competitor for a whole host of reasons and I'd bet that one of them is because of their authenticity and integrity. Quality content takes time, expertise and a real effort to obtain an organic social community.

So, that is why I think being genuine and growing your following organically is the best approach for your marketing strategy. It may be slower and as we live in a society that is all about instant gratification, it is easy to get lost in the numbers and focus and obsess about looking good online. In honesty, looking good online comes from being genuine. Building that genuine connection with your followers and providing them with interesting, tailored content that they love and want to engage with. At the end of the day, that is where the progress and trust lies. It's like the lesson you learn after school - "I would rather have a small group of close friends than thousands of friends who don't talk to me." You can have thousands of friends and still feel lonely. The world around us and our new and constantly changing online business world revolves around engagement.  

Community over competition.
Communication is key.

Elle x

1 Year of Dots and Ink Pots

Hello! 
So, the 1st August marks a very special date! It's my 1 year business anniversary! *dance party*
It's snuck up on me so quickly that it doesn't even feel like a whole year yet. I have a giveaway planned over on my Instagram page, so head over to that to enter to win a space bundle! There is also a 20% off coupon for my Etsy shop in order to celebrate the occasion. Finally, I thought I would write a post on my blog to sum up my first year in business. Everything I've learnt so far, my honest feelings, business milestones and hopes for the future. 

Things I've Learnt:

Do the things that you're obsessed with. Create the things you love, not just what you think will be popular.
This lesson happened fairly recently, thanks to Tiffany Han's opening keynote at Blogtacular. When I first opened I sold just prints of hand drawn pointillism pieces such as anatomy and animals. In the space of a year I have evolved so much and gone into digital pointillism illustration and created things that were out of my comfort zone but that I am passionate about. I am taking this motivation and new outlook on the things that I make for all of my future projects. I'm already using it to create a Vegan collection, something that I wouldn't have done a year ago, because I was still thinking that I had to be less experimental with what I was creating in order to appeal to people.

Take risks in what you're doing.
Following on from the last point, taking risks is something I have started doing more recently. Prints were my comfort zone, they sold relatively well but they weren't my best seller. I started to want to expand my product range within 5 months of opening up shop, the urge was just too strong! First came cards (which are now my best seller), I've just launched notebooks and I am already looking to expand even further before the end of the year. Once you start taking risks and step outside of your comfort zone, it's super addictive. 

The creative community will be so important to you. 
One thing I found out as soon as I set up my Instagram page back in March  2017 was that the creative community is the best thing on Earth. Once you start cultivating a strong community on any social media platforms, it literally changes your business life in so many ways. I go to them for advice, support, help, inspiration and motivation. Being able to talk to other creatives and small business owners was something I didn't truly understand the power of before. Genuine connection with real people is all I care about when it comes to social media. I'm not here to obsess over numbers and how many followers I have. Obviously when I hit milestones, I am thankful and I will celebrate, but genuine connection and engagement is what i'm about.

Don't overestimate your stock.
This was something I found out relatively quickly after opening my business. After initially worrying about how many of each print to order, my boyfriend made me realise that I had planned to print too many and that it would be a big expense and investment in a lot of stock. I had planned 75 of each of my starting 6 prints, which would have been 450! I can't believe that I had even considered that straight off the bat! I settled on 20 of each print in the end and i'm very glad I did. Buying in bulk is often the way to go to save a bit of money, however it can be a lot of money to invest, especially for new items or when you're starting out.  I've found it's better to buy a smaller test amount, see how that goes and if it sells well you can always buy in slightly larger, bulk numbers when the initial stock gets low.

Don't underestimate your worth, your time or your value. 
I feel like every artist, creative and small business owner will struggle with pricing and valuing the time they spent on their work. It's something I struggle with daily. I often think that I am underpricing my work, especially with commissions. After a year of working on my business, I feel that it is something that we will never truly be content with, we'll just get better at improving it step by step. That's okay too. As long as we are always taking steps to better value ourselves, we should never feel that we are ripping ourselves off. Stemming on from that, we must be paid for all work we undertake. I know full well how easy it can be to work for free. This can be through free competitions for exposure, speculative work, payment in exposure or anything but money. Whilst some opportunities might be good for your business, you need to make sure you research the company, their terms and conditions, if their audience is the same as your target market and if their reach makes it worth it for. Otherwise, you'll be making a potential loss for your business, your time and it devalues the worth of other illustrators, artists and creatives in your field that refused to work for free. 

MIlestones:

Now I've talked about all the things i've learnt thus far, I thought for the interest of documentation and for me to read back in a few years time, I would detail all the milestones I've managed to hit this year!

-I was interviewed as part of Ashleigh from Bert Shop's "Confessions of a Small Business Owner Podcast". In my episode we discussed starting your own business, overcoming imposter syndrome, just going for it and working out the minefield of manufacturers. I never dreamt that I would be interviewed for a podcast, especially within my first year and alongside super amazing business babes.

-I managed to hit over 40 Etsy sales and bag my first 2 commissions. I am planning to open up my commission books again by the end of the year, after the launch of my Vegan Collection coming in November.

-Although the numbers aren't that essential to me, I am proud of the community i'm cultivating on Instagram, I'm currently approaching 900 Instagram followers and I love the help and encouragement they give me. 

-As of writing, I've entered into 3 product areas - prints, cards and notebooks. I've got plans to enter more by the end of the year and 2019 is going to be a big year for me! Watch this space.

So, that's it! That is my round of my first year in business. Did you like this post? Let me know in the comments below if you did and if you would like me to talk more about my business advice. if there's anything in particular you would like my advice on, just let me know. I'm more than happy to share my advice, tips and tricks with you. Sharing is caring and community is better than competition.

Speak soon!
Elle x
 

My Small Business Goals For 2018

Ello again! I hope you all enjoyed my past post on my small business round up. I thought I would continue on with that theme and document some of my small business goals and ambitions for 2018. I like to be as open as I can on my blog, but for obvious reasons I won't be telling you them all! Most but not ones I feel embarrassed to say!

2017 has been a great year for me in terms of my business. I launched in August after spending months and months planning and researching absolutely everything possible. I have made 7 sales since August and have accepted my first commission with another one planned shortly after I finish this one. I have reached 500 followers on Instagram, which although a small number for most, I am extremely proud of. It still baffles me that 500 people want to watch my journey and see my artwork. God knows what I'm going to be like when I hit 1000!!

I know I've made the first leap into the world of small business now and I'm incredibly excited to keep on going. So without further ado, here are my small business goals and ambitions for 2018!

1. Reach 1500 followers on Instagram
I did think about reducing that number slightly so it's easier and if I exceed it then everything will be amazing. However, I'm going in to this year with so much new found confidence and better planning. To be honest, you've got to listen to the laws of attraction. If you're going to be negative and diminish your potential, you're only going to get negative results back. So i'm hoping if I go into 2018 with a positive mind and attitude, that I will get positive result back if i work for them. 

2. Add new products
I have SO many new ideas for products and I know realistically that they can't all be made and not just yet anyway. I have narrowed my list down to two maybe three new product releases this year. This doesn't mean only two new things though! I'm going to be branching into new product areas generally this year, aside from prints. However, I have many plans for different designs within those areas. I'm incredibly excited to add more products to my shop and to take on different challenges, so stay tuned for those!

3. Make 50-75 sales.
I'm currently at 7 sales since August 2017, which I don't think is too bad! Especially considering my only products are £15 and £25 a pop! I'm hopeful that with the addition of some new, slightly lower in price products, my sales will go up! I think 50 sales is a good target for 2018 and I am determined and more organised with a solid plan in order to make that happen. 

4. Do more creative networking.
Starting my Instagram page in March 2017 was a wonderful opportunity to grow my creative network and to get better at tons of things. Product photography, selling myself, marketing etc. Over the past year I have been able to meet so many lovely people through Instagram that I never would have been able to become friends with otherwise. People that have proven invaluable to me already, either through advice, support or just pure loveliness. I have bought my ticket to Blogtacular this year and I'm looking forward to attending my first one and getting to meet lots of lovely people!

5. Sell at my first market
I really want to sell at some markets this year even if they're small, local ones. With my new products in the pipeline, I feel like I will have enough stock and variety to be able to sell at some markets and have the potential to at least make my money back. I feel that markets are a great way to put yourself out there and I just want to feel the buzz of selling something in person and seeing people's reactions to my work.

6. SELF CARE
As well as being really ambitious and motivated to grow my business and do so much creatively, I need to be better at taking time to relax and do things for myself. I'm terrible at sitting and doing nothing i.e. watching a film or something on TV longer than half an hour, without having a pen and paper in my hand. It's physically a struggle for me to not be doing my artwork for long periods. Quite often things that I need to do like take long baths or exercise or read, get pushed to the side to make time for my art. This I plan to do less of this year. This is the year for me. Both career wise and personally.

That's it! Let me know if you have any goals for 2018 and what they are. I'd love to see what you plan to get up to this year!

Elle

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Dots And Ink Pots Round Up

Now that Christmas has been and gone, the end of the year is right upon us! So I thought it would be fitting to write a little re-cap of my personal and business events that have happened so far. I only opened my business on the 1st August this year, so not quite a year review, more like a 5 month one. However, I thought it would be nice to look back on in a couple of years time as my business grows.

First Sale
In August, one of my moon prints made my first ever sale, something which I didn't even think was possible. It's always daunting to start big ventures like this, let alone put your previously private work out in the open for people to look at and buy. I'm sure that I will have down days at some point, where I feel that my work is not good enough and that I should just give it all up. This is when I'm hoping I can look back at this blog post and show myself the things I've achieved. Someone does think that my work is worth purchasing and I am worthy of doing the things that I love.

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7 sales and 15 prints.
By the end of 2017, I increased my stock of prints to 15, from starting at 5. This may only seem like a small jump up, but I get my artwork professionally printed and so stocking up with 20 copies per piece can be fairly costly. Then you have to have actually finished all the pieces, which for a pointillism artist can be quite time consuming! Not that I'm complaining or asking for sympathy,  but I am simply proving to myself that I have actually done a lot of work this past half a year. It's easy to constantly pressure yourself into working and feeling as though you could have always done more. This is something that I am particularly bad at and I always begrudge having time off, so this is me telling myself that I actually did a great job this year.

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Two pieces auctioned for charity
I created two original Alice In Wonderland themed pointillism pieces that were to be auctioned off in a charity fundraising night for The Beau Halo Trust. I personally didn't expect them to raise too much, however I later found out that they raised almost £300! I was flabbergasted and as well as being thrilled that this wonderful charity had received a generous donation for my work, it was also a personal victory to me.  I took it as a sign that what I am doing and the style and path I am taking is the right one.

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First Creatives Meet
Back in September, I attended my first creatives meet up in Cambridge as part of the Cambridge Creatives Photowalk organised by ClaireAbelleMakes and Sunshine Jo. I did blog about the experience if you want to read about in more detail; the blog is a couple of posts back. Despite being incredibly nervous, I had the most wonderful time and really enjoyed meeting other creatives and taking in the beautiful sights of Cambridge. I also got to finally meet Claire and Jo after being friends on Instagram for a good while. Being accepted by other established creatives also really helped improve my confidence in my self and my work. 

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First Commission
Just this month, I have taken on my first commission! Yay! I am hoping to take on more commissions next year so this is an exciting time for Dots HQ! This first commission is of a family cat, with another commission in the works to follow it! Commissioned work is hard to price for pointillism pieces, as the time taken depends on colourings of the piece etc. I am hoping with these first commissions to be able to work out time and pricing relatively quickly, so stay tuned for updates on commission availability!

Ticked off three countries, three counties and one state
Lastly, I have been able to tick off 3 countries (England, Wales, USA), 3 UK counties (Kent, Norfolk, Hampshire) and 1 state (Texas). I got bought a scratch map for Christmas which I am going to use to scratch off each country I send a piece of my work to. I am excited to start ticking off some more countries in 2018 and see how far I can go!


Thank you for supporting my business in any way, shape or form this year.
I am so excited to see what 2018 brings for me and my business.

See you in 2018!
Elle x
 

 

 

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Indie Christmas Challenge 2017
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Hello everyone!
Christmas is just around the corner! Yes, I said it! 
Now, I don't know about you but I love thinking of presents for people WAY in advance. I guess I'm a big present giver. I just love thinking of and finding the perfect presents for people, something that they may not have seen or thought of before and seeing their face light up when they open it. 

I always try to shop small where I can as I think the gifts are more unique and personal than those you find in high street stores. So this year, I am making it my goal to shop ENTIRELY from small independent businesses. Whether they are from the business' own websites or sites like NOTHS or Etsy, I am aiming to source everything from presents to wrapping paper to cards and decorative extras from them.

This will be the first time I have done something like this and to this extent before and I am quite excited. I am confident that I will be able to source wonderful and unique gifts that will help to fund small independent businesses and their owners. Being a small business owner myself, I now understand the importance of valuing a person's work and how much those sales actually mean to them. This is why I am encouraging as many people as possible to do the same as I am and shop small this Christmas. After Christmas, I will make a follow up blog post showing you everything I bought, where I bought it from, pricing and the reactions and comments from the recipients of the gifts. I will also be sharing my own put together gift guides for the prompts which I am about to share! In order to encourage other people to shop small this Christmas, I have created a social media photo prompt challenge to spread festive cheer and inspiration.

The Challenge:
Every Friday from the 17th November to the 15th December will be prompt day!
On each Friday, write a blog post or share an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter post or story, that highlights your #FestiveFridayFinds for that day's prompt.

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Friday 17th November: Personalised Gifts
Friday 24th November: Wrapping and Cards
Friday 1st December: Gifts for the Home
Friday 8th December: Unusual Gifts
Friday 15th December: Last Minute Stocking Fillers

You can either share your own products that fit the prompt or choose to share other indie business owners and their products, or both! It's entirely up to you. Don't just post for these prompts, it's important to go through the hashtag and find new businesses and get your own inspo for Christmas shopping. Like posts, leave comments on new found gifts you love and even get tagging friends and family members in the comments for not so subtle present hints!

I am hoping that this challenge will encourage people who don't think that they'll be able to find good handmade gifts for their friends and family or that it'll be more expensive to shop small, to actually explore the depths of handmade websites and shop small this Christmas. I hope that it will also allow small businesses to see what other small businesses have to offer and to bring their products to a wider range of people this Christmas.

If you want to join the challenge too, use the hashtags #FestiveFridayFinds and #IndieChristmas2017 share about it on social media and see how much variety there is available to freshen up and personalise your gifts this festive season. If you want to tag me, please do as I would love to see what treasures you all find and how the challenge goes for you all! I am @dotsandinkpots on all social media.

Elle x