Happy March and welcome to Spring! It's been a challenging few months for the world, but nothing can stop the Easter egg munching, bunny hopping and flower growing already taking place this month.
It's also the tenth newsletter since I started the project back in July last year. To celebrate, I'm going to be looking back on the ten months and chatting about what I've learnt along the way. Perhaps I'll even convince you to start a newsletter of your own?
Coming up this month: the journey of newsletter writing
Please read to the end for an update on the Ginabakershop Etsy store as of March 2020
Why write a newsletter?
To figure out why on earth I started to write a monthly newsletter, we must first go back to the scariest period in any university student’s life. Graduation. No matter what you studied and how long for, only one thing is certain: at some point it will come to an end. You’re not thinking about this much as a baby fresher, but towards the beginning of third year it starts to hit you. There will come a day without student finance, tutors to guide you and pastoral support. You enter what I call... The Void.
Now, there’s a couple of things you can do when you first enter this Void. If you’re part of the super-organised 10%, you would have started job hunting six months ago and may already have a job offer. So your Void is more of an imposter syndrome crisis, as you navigate the working world.
If you’re in the other 90%, you might have applied for a few things but you’re still new to the whole employment malarkey, so you’re going to be job hunting for a few months at least. That’s when the waves of uncertainty come in - closely followed by self-doubt and a general reluctance to do anything.
The only solution I could find to get myself out of this Void was to essentially hire myself. I gave myself some work hours and started to dedicate my full attention to building an online shop and web presence. I thought it would be useful as far as 'marketing' goes to do an email newsletter to promote my products, maybe talking about some artist-related topics along the way. That’s where the newsletter you're reading comes in!
It wasn’t at all certain where I was going when I started the project, of course. I knew I wanted to document my work process for anyone who bought my posters online, but I had no idea where it would lead. It’s turned out to be a really useful place for me to document my progress as an artist, forming a sort of professional journal. Has it been the marketing tool I thought it would be? Not really, but it’s proved useful in lots of other ways which I’ll be exploring in this post.
Holding yourself to account
If you run a form of creative business or side project, a newsletter can be an excellent way to set goals (and actually stick to them). Even if you’re not launching new projects in every post, the simple deadline of having to write a newsletter every week or month works well to remind you of that thing you should be working on. It’s also a great motivational tool if you’re in a period of unemployment. Maybe you don’t feel like making any new artwork, but there’s still a side project you can focus on.
It can be great for bigger projects too. There’s something about announcing a long-term project I’m working on that makes me more interested in completing it. (If only because it’s so satisfying to release shiny new things.)
It doesn’t always work out, of course - sometimes a project just isn’t practical to complete, especially if your art is a hobby you work on outside of a full-time job. But that’s ok - sometimes the process is just an interesting as the final product.
Exploring your own mind
Whilst I try to keep my newsletter based around working in the creative industry, I've really enjoyed expanding into talking about the more intricate aspects of being a working artist.
In the early newsletters, I was really struggling with finding the motivation to generate ideas. Writing a blog post about it really pushed me to explore my artistic process and left me feeling much more aware of how I work. I now have a handy archive of my various art meltdowns, converted into structured posts that I can use to help me in future projects.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend turning your blog into a public diary, but I always find reading the thought processes of other artists really helpful in developing my own relationship with art.
Follow your aspirations
I'd be lying if I said I thought this newsletter would be the next viral hit of 2020, but the process of writing and publishing it every month has been beneficial enough that the clicks don't really matter.
I set my mind to starting the newsletter, so I did it. I’ve never worried about whether people are listening, but I know at least a few people have read a post and been inspired, so that’s good enough for me!
Ultimately, if you’re going to start a newsletter or blog it’s got to be useful for you. I’ve found it really beneficial to keep myself present in my business’ progress. I’ve now got a ten part chronology of when I completed certain pieces, the events I’ve done and the media I’ve consumed. It’s milestones which could easily have been swept under the rug if I hadn’t written them down, and it can give my customers an insight into the workings of my shop, should they choose to get involved.
Even if the idea of writing a public newsletter doesn’t spark joy for you, maybe there's another way you can document your progress? Sketchbooks and journals are popular ways of keeping present in long-term projects, and never have to be shared with anyone.
A shop update - March 2020
If you've been following me over on Etsy or Instagram, you may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet the past month -especially compared to the flurry of activity the shop saw in February! The main reason for this is that I started a full-time job at the end of February, so my time to work on the shop/social media sort of...vanished. Going into March we then hit the rather large disruptor of a global pandemic. So in short there's been a lot of readjusting to do!
The shop remains open for the moment, as there's currently no disruption from my suppliers. However, dispatch times have increased from 1-3 business days to 3-5 business days so I can limit my Post Office trips in line with the Government advice in the UK. As for new product releases, I'm taking a pause for the moment but I do hope to have some new lines later in the year when there's less uncertainty. Thanks for bearing with me, and to the lovely reviews you've left me in 2020 so far. The shop is at over 925 sales at the time this is written, so I will probably hit 1000 sales in April, which is very exciting!
I'll be back with any new updates in next month's newsletter. But for now, stay safe and all the best for social isolating!
Some stuff I’ve been enjoying this month (#StayHome edition)
See you next month!
- Georgina :)
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