New Year, New Goals!

Happy [belated] New Year everyone! Last year was a rough one all around but I'm going to try and turn it around in 2017 and thought I'd share my work related goals with you, since sharing something can be motivation to stick to it, plus they may help some of you as well.

1- Blog! I've been blogging here on Fabulous Doodles nearly 8 years now! Its unbelievable how time flies. When I started it was only meant to be a marketing tool for my then "new" side business selling prints of my fashion illustrations on Etsy when not working my corporate 9-to-5 as a designer for Hearst Magazines. Well, the recession happened, one custom illustration turned to many, as did one live-illustrating gig and now I'm a full-time fashion illustrator with a blog going on 8 years. A few days ago I was looking for an old post and couldn't believe what I saw on the blog sidebar archive. All my posts are listed there by year and for 2016 I only posted 19 times compared to the early years of posting 80+! So that being said, my first goal is to blog more! Blogging is tough, and time consuming but I need to make it more of a priority. My issue has been its permanence and my perfectionist tendencies. Due to this, posts often take hours of photo editing, photoshopping the layout, and writing and rewriting. Often times I work on posts for hours only to never hit the daunting publish button! (In full disclosure here this post is one of them! I originally wrote it just after New Years and only now finishing and publishing it 2 weeks later.) I have to stop getting in my own way and just do it already! The problem is in recent years social media has become so prevalent and easy that posting to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter have almost replaced the blog. But I have so many client projects and events I've worked on over the past few years that I wish I shared and were here to reference. Blog posts also serve as a powerful marketing tool and expose my work to readers and potential clients who possibly wouldn't have found me otherwise. For example the last post I wrote was about live sketching a bat-mitzvah and I've had countless inquiries since posting it and even booked two new ones for coming weeks. My blogging laziness has to stop and in 2017 I'm going to turn it around and just do it!

2- Take more classes and workshops. I recently took a calligraphy workshop and it was wonderful. (Check out the fancy new calligraphy pen I learned to use above on the left!) I love learning new creative things and improving upon my skills. This year I want to delve into learning by taking workshops and classes in more areas that interest and possibly scare me. I often receive emails asking how to become a fashion illustrator or how to improve their sketches and I always tell people that taking a class, even if only related, like figure drawing or portraits, will only help you and improve your work! Speaking of, I want to take a portrait class to better my ability to capture peoples faces when I'm live-sketching parties and brand events. I also want to improve my digital drawing abilities, take a cooking class or two and maybe even a business or communication course. A few weeks ago I decorated a cookie monster themed cake for a friends 2 year old son's birthday and shared it on social media. I was reminded that back in high school my best friend and I enrolled in a series of cake decorating workshops and loved them! We used to make ourselves cakes that simply said Happy Tuesday to practice our icing techniques. I miss that. Being creative in other areas than what is now my job.

3- Hire experts to help me in areas I don't excel. Being a freelance artist is hard and building my business is challenging. As a freelancer your income is not set and you never really know what your income will be form month to month that it makes it hard to invest and spend on something that could seem like a luxury. There are so many areas I've wanted to improve upon though, and I although I try and figure things out on my own and try to do everything myself its time I took steps and hired people who actually do these things for a living. It's an investment in my business and well worth the cost. Its time! A few examples I've been considering and need to hop on in 2017: hiring a graphic designer and web developer to build a website because although the blog has been wonderful I need to expand and have needed to for some time now. Also a financial manager to help me organize my finances, and possibly a public relations person to try and get me onto some of those "best illustrator" lists I see often but sadly have yet to appear on even though I continually work with top publications.

4- Go after the gigs! Thus far in my freelance fashion illustration career nearly all the work I've had found me, not visa versa. Clients, collaborations, licensing deals, etc, almost all have come about because they approached me. I need to focus on where I want to be and who I want to work with more moving forward. I know many other bloggers who pitch potential clients and press and I need to not be afraid and start doing the same. I need to compile a client list and start reaching out to previous clients to check in, see if they have any potential collaboration opportunities on the horizon and even pitch concepts on how we can work together. I also want to start a newsletter with monthly, or at least seasonal updates to all my clients and customers.
5- Grow my social following. This is an eye roller, I know. Everyone who blogs and uses Instagram for business purposes wants to grow their numbers. I'm currently at 21k Instagram followers which may seem huge, but when compared to fellow fashion illustrators, some of whom started blogging the same time as I, it's seriously small potatoes. I haven't been "featured" by Instagram which is the main problem and since they changed their algorithm and everyones views and engagement has dropped I fear its too late now. That being said I look at my Instagram feed and my top posts of last year (shown above) and I'm proud of my work and photos. I'm also proud that I have never bought followers, sold out, or gained likes because of nearly naked photos of myself. All 21k+ followers are real people who follow me for my talent and not a paid for illusion, as I've learned over and over again many others have done. All I can do here is continue to try my best and post what I'm proud of. Last year one of my posts went semi-viral (image on top left) with over 142k views, so maybe this year instead of one post, my whole following will blow up! (Fingers crossed;)

These are just a few of my goals and of couse if I were to get personal the list would be at least double in size, but it's a start and I'm proud of myself for not only writing it down but posting it! (Check mark next to number 1!) The world seems to be going a little nuts these days and who knows whats ahead in the coming year but at least I have control over where I want to focus my attention and business. How about you, what are you business goals? And anyone in the NY area have any amazing classes or workshops to recommend because I would love to hear about them!

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Will said...

Loved seeing Fabulous Doodles pop up in my Feedly feed! Really great post and I think your goals for 2017 are so good - your newsletter idea is GREAT! xo

Brooke Hagel said...

@Will thanks! I've wanted to do one for years now!! Hoping writing this post will be a catalyst to take action on it.