2015: Year in Review
Oof! 2015. What was 2015 like for my design career? Totally different than I ever expected.
This post is a bit late, but late is better than never. I think as a boss lady, it's good not only to look back but to give yourself a high-five here and there, but also the ability to go back to this post years in the future and have a journal entry of sorts.
Now, this is year recap #1, only because this year is barely a year old!?! WHAT? Yeah, well you might have followed me over at Summerfield Delight previously, but it wasn't until Jan 2015 that I had the time for a full branding and site design. A year later I grew out of that design, am working on another new site for myself and taking a good hard look at my business to better serve my clients.
PART ONE: The Beginning Days
Aww, the early years of this site, I really thought I could blog about all "design and blogging" things without needing a niche further than that. In reality it's not ideal. I have a few blogging topics and it's important to stick to them. First, blogging about my own work and process. It's important on my own portfolio site. And the second one is to talk about the elements I use in my design to give a few nuggets of business/coding advice, however that even needs a bigger more robust platform. Keep reading for more info on that.
PART TWO: Squarespace Days
After a few years on squarespace, I have found myself to be pretty creative to jump over some design hurdles. I brushed off the old CSS from grad school - oof, remember CSS Zen Garden? It still exists :) It took me a bit to remember how to accomplish some things, but with the resources out there plus some hours looking over squarespace files and checking tags constantly I find myself better than when I was in graduate school.
PART THREE: Pinegate Road Beginnings
I remember sitting in St. Croix in July (my mom's childhood home) and thinking, I need to prove my design cojones by working with another designer. I need to exercise my skills, beyond working for myself. It was seriously at that moment a notification came through from Kelsey C. designer at Pinegate Road. A fellow MFA in Graphic Design Grad from Savannah College of Art and Design, I knew OF her and her studio, but we had never met. She was a Savannah Student, and I was working remotely, we JUST missed each other in taking the same classes at the same time, and had very similar thesis topics. Plus our palette of colors is legitimately very similar. It was an easy design match to work for her.
Since starting to work for Kelsey, we have tackled designing a monthly magazine since September, a client squarespace site (details soon), as well as working on a new branding... which is what the rest of my day will be spent doing.
PART FOUR: Food Blogging with Squarespace Expertise
Let's look back a little bit further to when I started my original Summerfield Delight blog. Oh, yeah those terrible recipe posts back in 2012/13. It's all about learning folks, and let's say I had a long way to go. Turn to Spring 2015 and I decided to get serious. By June I was getting offers to teach people my methods, do guest blogging, had a few recipes go "viral" well for an unknown blogger a few thousand is viral, had my photos featured in the top fold of food gawker and on sites such as Once Wed. I truly attribute these successes to a) figuring out the light in my apartment, and realizing that I needed some serious white bounce... hence the typical marble slab. It's incredible for a soft white light bounce, esp, for someone who shoots 90% all natural light.
Mix together my new photography skills, actually using Lightroom to its fullest potential combined with the right design for recipes using menu blocks, I found moderate success. At least the blog looked great, I might not have a huge audience, but my free time was being spent designing and working full time. I know now I can succeed at it given a bit more time, and possible schedule changes so I can cook mid-day or morning to capture the best light in my apartment.
PART FIVE: Putting My Skills to Work
By September I was in full design mode. Working on the magazine, and taking on clients of my own, which I hadn't done much of in the previous few months. I had small freelance clients, but previously working for Style Me Pretty, and re-constructing and re-learning coding I wasn't taking on larger clients. I had actually turned quite a few away knowing I wasn't ready. By the end of summer I was taking on a full design schedule of my own on top of Pinegate Road and work. Marginally crazy, but there was a plan. Work my ass off so I could build up my freelance portfolio. Not my design portfolio, but a reputation working as an individual. The parts of the puzzle were starting to come together.
PART SIX: A Plan in Action
The fall was crazy, I have to admit - but so rewarding. I made sure to find a weekend to spend time with my best friend (whose schedule is just as crazy read: Johns Hopkins 3rd year Resident). As well as start to figure out how I wanted to make this a viable full time job. Could I? Was I priced correctly for that? How should I be organizing my business to get me there? All questions you ask yourself before making a business plan. Now. My business plan isn't fully fledged out because a few pieces are still in the works, but it's a good start.
PART SEVEN: Rest and ReInvigoration
Ok, that's not a word (I hear you Liz), but Christmas break was really for me to step away from the computer and say, is this what I want? Do I want to work for myself? The answer... HELL YES. I am such an introvert, that thrives off of being in charge creatively that I know I can not only succeed but be really happy. The things that make me truly a happy person, designing, recipe development, farmer's markets, taking advantage of being outside when it's warm, these are all possible with my business plan. My hours are not going to be set at 9-5 in fact I have different ones set, because I'm not actually at my best during those hours. I have started to learn this fact, and have learned a lot from Kelsey at Pinegate, and will reveal more when she releases her new workshop/class to embrace your best design working self.
PART EIGHT: Looking Forward
Now, it's almost a month into 2016 and my "theme" of the year is COURAGE. Perfect right? Courage to work long hours, courage to step out even more on my own, courage to call up health insurance companies and figure it out for myself, and courage to ask for help when needed.
While it's cold and snowy outside (not a fan) it's time to buckle down and work on client project, figuring out some personal projects as well as expanding my services while staying in my niche, saving dough for being freelance full-time as well as making sure passive income is part of the equation. On top of those things I need to find time to food blog again, since I have rarely had time lately and then also be able to showcase my own food blog work - how I find a lot of clients.
CHEERS TO A GREAT 2016. What are your goals for the year? Did you do a full year re-cap? What did you find? Tune in next time for more details on looking ahead to 2016.