09 January 2012

Hello 2012 - New Years Resolutions

One of my New Year card designs sold on my online shops on Etsy and Folksy

The new year seems to traditionally be a chance to reflect on the past year. But more often than not, we focus on the year ahead.

If you are interested in doing a bit of life reflection, a great article to read is a recent blog post called Future Letter 2012 by Jess Constable from Make Under My Life. It's about writing a letter to yourself from the viewpoint of one year in the future as if you have completed all the goals you hope to achieve. You then reread it every now and then throughout the year to keep on track. At the end of the year, you can surprise yourself by seeing how much you have done.

At the end of last year, I was already putting a bit of thought for what may lay in store for 2012. But the past week or so, I have been gathering my scraps of lists from here and there to form my master plan. Oooh ha haa!! (evil genius style laughter)

I then read a great article on Design Sponge called BIZ LADIES: PLANNING A BLUEPRINT FOR THE YEAR. It outlined how to set your goals, breaking the goals into achievable actions that you then set rough deadlines for throughout the year.

I have started working through this process and have started my list of goals and thinking how they can be achieved. The post suggests doing the planning in stages and returning to review it a few times.

I will share with you my list of goals so far, but first I would like to look back to 2011 and celebrate some of my milestones and achievements. And why not? It's always so easy to focus and remember the negative things that have happened or what you didn't achieve.

My 2011 Highlights
January: Finished designing and printed Philippa's thank you cards for her wedding to James in October 2010. It featured a beautiful picture of the couple from their big day.

February: Being bridesmaid to my sister-in-law who got married to Jon in Dubai. I designed all of their stationery - from their invites, table stuff, to their thank you cards. They were so pleased with the result and it's one of my favourite wedding designs so far.

May: I started this blog!

June: Launched the full Lovely Designs website.

July: Created lovely flyers to be handed out at an Open Day at Oaks Farm in Surrey hosted by Tierneys Catering.

August: Completed the logo, letterhead template and business card for Jules Fluer, an office management and services company in partnership with Bickerstaff Accountancy Services Limited.

September: Joined Pinterest and finally had a way of keeping all my inspirational pictures in one place.

October: Was contacted to be a sponsor of the new brochure for Addington Palace, a wedding venue in Surrey. I agreed to the 2 year advertising package which launches January 2012. Hopefully the investment pays off!

October: Represented Lovely Designs with my mum at a Tasting Evening hosted by Tierneys Catering, held at Oaks Farm, Surrey. We met some prospective clients, displayed my lovely work and at some delicious food.

November: Went to an Etsy Selling Seminar and met some great people. I then went on to opening my first online store with Etsy and selling my printable Christmas cards.

November: Attended the Business Startup Show at Earls Court and beefed up on information and tools for growing my lovely business.

December: I was recommended to get myself onto Folksy, which is a UK based version similar to Etsy, and have sold a couple of designs and received a couple of messages of interest.

December: I joined the Twitter community and now tweet under the name @LoveDesignGirl. So far my experience has been positive and tentatively getting to grips with it, making friends and connections.

Lovely Goals for 2012 
1. Diversify range of designs and services 
When we started Lovely Designs a couple of years ago, the service focused on weddings. After testing the market a little and opening the online shops, I realised that I like to design a variety of stuff, not just for weddings. I have now tried out Christmas cards and over the coming year will design for Valentines Day, birthdays, christenings, and other occasions.

I will also be developing the Tailored to Fit range with the Peacock, Ribbon, Damask and Butterflies designs. And I hope to do some more branding projects, creating logos, designing the letterheads and business cards

2. Improve / redesign website
My current website www.lovelydesigns.co.uk is built using Google Sites. It's a free template based editor where you can change the colours, backgrounds and layout. It's a bit basic and can be frustrating at times as a designer trying to make it look half decent. I think it has done the job and was miles better than the single page site that was there before.

Now it's time for a spring clean and a new look. I think the weakest page is the galleries showing the work. I would like it to be a lot wizzier and user friendly. I am happy with the text overall and hopefully it gives enough information without overwhelming and has a welcoming tone of voice.

I would really appreciate some constructive criticism and feedback on the site in it's current format, with particular emphasise on the content. Please get in touch if you have something useful to say.

3. Earn a profit 
This might seem obvious to some but up till now really hasn't been a priority. Lovely Designs has been a labour of love, my baby and a side project. It seemed almost rude of me to ask for money even when I had earned it. Now it's time to get tough and act like the professional that I am.

I have a few things in the pipeline that will hopefully pay off and bring some work in. I mentioned a two year sponsorship with a venue in Surrey that starts this month. I am hoping to advertise or supply work to some other great blogs such as Rock My Wedding and Oh Beautiful Paper. And there are a couple of small wedding fairs in February that I will have flyers to hand out to brides to be.

Basically, I will be contacting people, networking on blogs and twitter in a bid to get Lovely Designs noticed. And maybe a few people will like my work enough to hire me. Fingers crossed!