In with the new.

newyear

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions.  But my business fiscal year ends in December, so it is a great time to evaluate the past 12 months and see where I can make improvements in the new year.  There is also a dead zone for work in the December 15-January 1 timeframe, so I spent time updating my portfolio and website, and thinking about what “in with the new” means for me and my business.

But let’s start with “out with the old…”

My 2014 Accomplishments and Struggles:

  • It was my first year of running the business full time, without any income from other jobs.  I was 100% Hitchcock Creative and it was GREAT!
  • I said NO.  NO to clients who needed everything yesterday.  NO to projects that weren’t financially viable.  NO to self doubts.
  • I said YES.  YES to projects out of my comfort zone.  YES to professional development.  YES to spending money on equipment upgrades.  YES to focusing on specific work hours so I could spend more time with the family.
  • I struggled with the decision to end a relationship with a pro-bono client.  I loved working with them, but with a toddler at home, my other workload increasing, and some other personal matters, I felt I couldn’t give them the attention they deserved.  It was a tough decision, but a necessary one.
  • I increased my business income by about 40%.  This was a huge leap, but also not an unexpected one since I did go from part-time to full-time (and spent 3 months of 2013 on maternity leave).

My Goals for 2015:

  • To say NO to wasting time on the internet during work hours.  NO to constant breaks during the day to see my daughter downstairs.  NO to distractions.
  • To say YES to being more productive, more creative, and more attentive.  YES to setting a specific work schedule (and sticking to it).  YES to getting my taxes done early.
  • To increase my overall business income by 5-10% by cutting expenses, using my hours more wisely, and pricing my services more consistently (and raising prices a small amount for the first time in 5 years).
  • To answer my emails more quickly.  I can’t explain why this is such a weakness for me, but it is.  I read a message, process it, and promptly forget to reply.  I think my phone is partly to blame – I like reading email on it, but hate responding with my thumbs.

So, we’ll see how I do.  Notice that I didn’t put “Blog more” or “Increase my social media presence” on the 2015 list.  I’ll talk more about this conscience choice in a future post.

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The Brand Market DC

This weekend I was privileged to experience The Brand Market’s workshop in Washington, DC.  On my goodness.  I met some amazing women entrepreneurs and learned a lot about what I’m doing right (and what I need to work on) for my small business.

The Brand Market DC giveaway with items from Rifle Paper Co., Sapling Press, and Dotted Design!

We each received an amazing swag bag with gifts from Rifle Paper Co., Sapling Press, Design Dotted and more!

The Brand Market in Washington, DC.  Rebecca from A Daily Something talking about social media and branding.

And learned tips on social media, branding, photo styling from Rebecca at A Daily Something.  (How amazing is the studio space at Sweet Root Village?!)

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.  By coco and mingo.

Inspiring words by coco and mingo.

2014 USPS Stamp Increases

Don't forget - stamps prices increase on January 24, 2014!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that every January I write about the increases in postage and what the new stamp options are (mostly specific to event and wedding invitation mailings).  I’ll still write that post in a month or so, but to pre-empt that I wanted to write this as a bit of a warning for folks who are sending out invitations in the next 30 days.

Effective January 24, 2014, the following increases will take place:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

Overall, if you’re sending 200 invitations you will pay an extra $6-8 on postage (plus an extra $6 if you plan to stamp your RSVP envelopes).

Not the end of the world, right?  But you do want to be careful not to have the wrong postage on RSVP envelopes.  If you’re sending out your invites between now and the end of January, just be sure to not just use this years postage.  Some guests will wait a few weeks to return the card.  And if they wait until after Jan. 24, the card may not get back to you because of insufficient postage.  Whatever shall you do?!  Well…

  • Wait and send them on January 20 (if it’s feasible based on your wedding date and RSVP date).  You can save on using the OLD postage on the carrier envelopes, but use the NEW postage on the RSVP envelopes.
  • If you’re opting not to include stamps on your RSVP envelopes or postcards, use that opportunity to have your designer add a small box that includes the postage cost.  I use something simple like “place $0.49 stamp here” on certain projects and it works well.
  • If you want to get witty about it (this suggestion won’t be fitting for most people), add a line on your RSVP card that says “Your response is appreciated by January 24.  After that date, the cost of your RSVP will go up by 3 cents.”

That last one is really only a half suggestion and should only be used if you’re really funny people to begin with and can reword it in a more humorous way that your grandmother won’t be appalled by.

Hello out there! (back to blogging…sort of)

Yep, I got busy and stopped blogging.  Again.  For the twelve-zillionth time.  During my maternity leave (when I was completely off from job #2 and only working on one project for job #1), I had a plethora of time to blog.  The baby would sleep and I would write or find photos for inspiration boards.  I was determined to make it stick this time.  I was going to blog!  That lasted about 10 weeks (the exact length of my maternity leave).

Then I realized something.

I have been trying to post daily because I felt that was what I needed to do as the owner of a small, creative business.  Never mind that I have enough projects to keep me busy 40 hours a week, a newborn to take care of, and (up until last week) ANOTHER job that also required my attention for 40 hours a week.  I still felt that I wasn’t running my business correctly if I wasn’t posting something creative at least 3 times a week and keeping my viewers engaged.  And posting on Facebook.  And Twitter.  AND Pinterest.  AND Instagram.  Whoa.  Who has time for all this?!

Then I realized something else.

Blogging (and to an extent, social media) doesn’t have to be my priority and it really shouldn’t be right now.  I don’t need to live up to the other creative’s who blog 5 + times a week and post the perfect number of status updates and instagram pic’s.  If it’s taking up X hours of my week, that’s X hours I’m NOT spending with my daughter/husband or working with a client.  Sure there are arguments for the free exposure and building a brand and I don’t dismiss those.  But for now, I’m going to leave the full time blogging up to the real bloggers.

You’ll still see things from me, of course.  But for now I’m going to accept my fate as an inconsistent blogger.

http://www.awarenesshub.com

Infographic by Awareness

Pinterest Addiction

If you’re on the internet (which you obviously are if you’re reading this…), then you at least know what Pinterest is at this point.  If you haven’t joined and have an addictive personality, then by all means stop reading right now.

Addiction is imminent.  Resistance is futile.

pinterest

A friend of mine introduced me into Pinterest two and half years ago when she asked me to design her wedding invitations.  She and her fiance put together some great concept boards and it made it so easy for me to understand what they were looking for.  I was immediately hooked.  I now have 45 boards and over 670 followers!  I pin a lot of wedding related items and have boards specific to themes and color combo’s I like.  You will also find boards for personal things like home items, baby stuff, and things I want in my closet.

Writing this post got me thinking about my very first pin.  The honor goes to these adorable cake toppers by emiliefriday on Etsy!

birdies

So what are you waiting for?  Jump on board and start pinning!  Once I get to 700 followers, I’ll be putting up an awesome surprise giveaway on the blog.  Woohoo!