When I first started this blog back in May 2011, I focused on my love of entertaining and beautiful party paper goods. At the time, I was teaching myself the basics of graphic design and trying to learn as much about blogging as possible. Over the years, the business has grown from just party goods to art prints and to now hand lettered paper goods.
Adding hand lettered items to my other designs was a natural fit because I have always been obsessed with fonts and words. In fact, my favorite part of designing invitations is picking font combinations and laying out all the words on the invitation. Being able to create my own “fonts” with my hand lettering has been so fun and a great boost to my graphic design business!
But, there are a few things I have learned over the last year that have really helped my hand lettering business. It wasn’t just as simple as deciding to hand letter and hoping people would like it. There were definitely a few things going on behind the scenes. So, here’s my story …
1. Practicing the Right Way
When I first attempted to letter, I thought just picking up some calligraphy pens would magically transform my handwriting into beautiful lettering. It didn’t happen that way, at all. Instead, my lettering didn’t really improve until I invested in a few lettering worksheets and good tools. Once I started using these worksheets to practice, my lettering began to almost immediately change for the better.
2. Not Waiting Until My Lettering was Perfect
One of the biggest hurdles of starting a hand lettering business is the desire to wait until you are better at hand lettering. I practiced and practiced, but was scared to put my hand lettering out into the world. I was afraid people might judge my lettering or not think it was good enough to ever buy anything, so I just didn’t put it out there. But, what I failed to realize is that I would never sell any of my art if I didn’t make it available to the world. At some point, I just had to take that leap. If I had waited to perfect my hand lettering, I still wouldn’t have any hand lettered items in my Shop. The mantra “Progress over Perfection” really drove me to continue adding hand-lettering to my designs. I still have so much to learn and will never stop practicing or trying to make my lettering better, but the hand lettered items I am adding to my Shop have done really well!
3. Soaking Up as Much Graphic Design as Possible
One thing that improved my art was my knowledge about graphic design. I am so far from a trained graphic designer – I actually taught myself everything I know about Photoshop and Illustrator. But, I have enough knowledge to make the art digitization process easier. I can also add other graphics and textures to my hand lettered art using Illustrator that I couldn’t do without that basic knowledge. Finally, my graphic design skills help me to improve my hand lettering by fixing little imperfections when I digitize my work. Learning as much as I can about graphic design and continuing to work at learning more about it has been a huge boost.
4. Blogging was a Great Skill to Have
Since I had already been blogging about 5 years when I decided to add hand lettering to my designs, I had a great base for getting my work out there. Unfortunately, I can’t just post one of my new designs onto Instagram and hope people flock to my Shop to purchase it. The process requires a little more knowledge. First, taking a quality picture of the hand lettered art is imperative. Through blogging, I had already soaked up so much about photography that really helped my hand-lettering look much better when photographed. Second, words like keywords and shop SEO were not foreign to me. Using these concepts helped potential buyers find my new hand lettered designs in my Etsy Shop. Finally, over the past 5 years, blogging has allowed me to practice writing. And, it’s virtually impossible to sell anything with writing some copy, whether it be for my Etsy Shop, Instagram or a blog post.
5. Social Media requires a Strategy
When I first started this blog, Facebook was social media. Pinterest and Instagram came along afterwards. So, at first, most of my social media marketing focused on Facebook, and it was great! I quickly built a decent following on Facebook, but then everything changed. Facebook started requiring business accounts to pay for more people to see posts and my post engagement and views dropped dramatically. And, even though hand lettering has really taken off thanks to Instagram, I don’t think that will always be the case. In fact, with new algorithm changes, I’ve already heard many business owners complain about the decrease in their engagement on Instagram. In order for social media to continue being a strong way to market my goods, I’ve had to figure out a way to spread my energy over several platforms and not just focus on one.
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