Read The 5 Secrets I Can Share From My First Year Of Blogging To Improve The Way You Approach Obstacles

We’ve turned 1! Another year older, another year wiser… I wanted to celebrate with you by sharing the 5 most important lessons I’ve learned from my first year of blogging.

It’s hard to believe The Artist Journal is already a full year old. I’m so proud of the milestones met through the blog this past year—both personally and professionally. I’m taken aback by the mentors I’ve had the privilege to speak to and all the talented friends I have made through my work.

Everyone’s journey looks entirely different from each other.

This “blogging life” is far different than I thought it would be. I caught a lucky break and was hired onto an awesome team of amazing creators back in November of last year and have been working for their blog since May. It’s been a huge opportunity for professional growth and I always look forward to our Zoom calls. I never thought I’d be able to work as a good teammate, but I’ve never been a good fit anywhere I’ve worked—being around the right people makes all the difference.

Push yourself WAY past your comfort zone!

A thing I did this year that I never thought I would do is start my own artist community. This is something I have always needed to do and never knew how. I didn’t think I “knew the right people” for collaboration, organic engagement and skill swapping, bit it turned out that (thankfully) I was wrong.

I started A Zine Club up at the local Library back in January 2019, but after our third in-person meeting in early March, the world went into lock-down and we couldn’t meet anymore. Would that be the end?

After a few months of deliberation (and depression), I put together an online alternative for our club. Our Discord server is a safe-space I built to create together and facilitate skill-sharing and learning.

Our first official online meeting is in the Fall, but we’re constantly chatting and sending pictures and links to each other every day as I finish up our club charter. I’m very happy with our growing Zine Club Discord server and it’s been amazing for my mental health while still physically isolated.

Have 1 BIG GOAL that actually rewards you

A final BIG GOAL I met with my blog this year was publishing a minimum of 2 articles every month; my most important priority for my blog this past year was to build a body of work to find a writing job (check!).

An article every two weeks may not seem like much to a blogger, but as a visual artist writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Seeing I was able to make that commitment to myself and follow through with it has me overjoyed. Being able to write that much on top of my blog editor position and creative writing submissions is a huge success for me an a neurodivergent person.

Read About These 5 Secrets I Can Share From My First Year Of Blogging To Improve The Way You Approach Obstacles on TheArtistJournal.ca

Have a plan.

I can probably attribute most of my success this past year to committing to an effective self-care plan to follow every day. Since solidifying my workflow, it seems like I’ve gotten more done than ever, felt less stressed overall and finally have the extra energy to put back into working on myself and my relationships.

Roll with the punches!

This may seem contradictory to my last point, but this past year has been a rollercoaster! Things don’t always go according to plan. So how could you feel in control right now when the world is in such chaos?

Between my professional successes and personal losses—from having life-saving surgery to losing my spiritual mentor in the midst of a pandemic—the past 12 months have shown me how resilient people can be.

Learning to go with the flow and to be flexible will be critical as we continue to navigate through this new world. 

For now, I’ll leave you with this page of resources I’ve made as a place for you to start managing your life better and help plan for times ahead when things seem so uncertain. If this article resonated with you or helped you in any way, send it to a friend or to social media! If you You can subscribe to The Artist Journal’s Newsletter here!

Until next time,

J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

Slow Growth: Starting Your Craft Business With What You Already Have

Start your shop off right by offering something people actually want to pay for!

Read about the best ways to spend your time as a new business owner!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 4 years on Etsy, it’s that medium matters.

I’ve seen so many new online shop owners overlook this first and most important factor. They’re only interested in filling their shop with the art they love the most, without considering what people actually want.

Read about Starting Your Craft Business With What You Already Have here!

That means, your end product needs to be something people want to pay for. The sooner you choose correctly, the sooner you can reinvest and grow your budding business.

I’ve found it’s best to explore which ideas are worth running with before investing too much money in expensive apparel like enamel pins and crew-socks. If you’re a designer or illustrator, start small with RTP services and having your designs printed as stickers. 

Seeing your ideas come to life in your hands is truly exhilarating!

Final products are what keep me consistently going and my clients say similar things when they receive their buttons from me. Handing out free stickers and producing buttons for other makers in my circle has been my favourite way of building a community around my creative practice; this a great real-life example of “slow growth” in action!

I’m now going to share how I opened my Etsy shop and started my button-pressing and graphic design business with next to no money and no income:

Have More Time To Do The Things You Love
Have More Time To Do The Things You Love by reading TheArtistJounral.ca and sharing this on Pinterest!

Tips to start you craft business with next to no income:

  1. Work with what you have—this sounds so simple, but is possibly the most difficult step! I know so many crafty people with a plethora of supplies in their closet, just waiting to be cracked open. If you’re not one of those fortunate people, I found swapping on Depop and Varagesale, as well as just asking ambiguously on Facebook if anyone has any supplies they have laying around!
  2. Only invest as much as you’re making—it’s tempting to take your first few dollars to the store and “restock” your shop, but don’t invest in new stock until you sell out of something else.
  3. Look critically at your expenses. Do you really need a domain yet? Yes, but you don’t need about anything else. Your domain (or url) comes with a shiny new business email and those are the only 2 things you need to start growing (although an email list wouldn’t hurt, either).

The proof is in the pudding, so I also wanted to highlight for you the first stages of my own online business!

What the stages of my own business looked like:

  1. Painting patches from up cycled fashion scraps and selling them on Etsy ($10 fabric paint, $15 startup fee)
  2. Buying sticker paper and selling stickers (I started with a cheap, crappy printer I already had for printing college reports) ($20 sticker paper and $25 in shipping supplies from the dollar store)
  3. Buying my first products, which were hand-pressed buttons for another local “button-pusher” ($40 for 100 buttons)
  4. Expanding with higher quality products: I transitioned to higher-quality vinyl stickers produced out-of-house ($56)
  5. Bought a button press off Ebay to start my own “button-pressing” operation ($180)
  6. This allowed me to Upgrade my printer to produce my own high-quality prints and zines ($250)
  7. Invested in my first batch of enamel pins ($560USD ~$800)
  8. Reordered and Expanded my line of enamel pins with a new provider ($600)
Use workflows in Trello to improve your productivity! Read more at TheArtistJournal.ca

Now that I’ve established myself in selling enamel pins and vinyl stickers—after 4 years—I can expand my practice to hand-made OOAK and custom resin crafts. This new and exciting venture wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t dedicated myself to my own personal “slow growth” method to build my online business.

Now go rummage through your craft rooms, storage bins, sewing supplies and leftover DIY materials to see how your slow growth will begin!


Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

How To Prepare Yourself For Taking On New Design Clients

Taking on new clients can be a dream for fresh freelancers… or a dreaded endeavour for the inexperienced.

You don’t know your worth, your clients’ expectations or even what your edge on the competition is. It’s very easy to undervalue yourself when you’re first starting out!

But what if you knew what to ask these higher-paying clients? Would you still be intimidated by taking on higher-paying work—work that feeds you, while building your dream portfolio?

I’m going to share how I started asserting my worth as an artist and exactly what to cover with your new client to give them the best product possible!

Establish a budget upfront!

I ask for their budget in the same motion as about their idea, but that’ll take practice. Asking for their budget upfront establishes your worth and asserts that you expect proper compensation. You then showcase what you can provide for them based on this budget, not based on their expectations—that’s where you get into abusive territory.

Clients have grand visions, sometimes expecting way too much. You need to establish boundaries with who you’re working with right away—because ultimately you are working with them, not for them—ensuring your time isn’t abused. You don’t revise things half a dozen times for no extra compensation.

To avoid any future confusion or altercations with new clients, I religiously go through these questions to get a full picture of my clients needs and expectations, the scope of the project and how much time you’re devoting to the project. An individual or brand with a logo budget of $200 will not receive the same product as one with a budget of $1000, for example (and yes you can make that much for one licensing deal, just not on Fivver).

Why waste time doing this? Why can’t you just start getting paid right now on Upwork or Fivver?

Well, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that, but if you want a sustainable income that pays you what you’re worth as a craftsman you need a niche group of regular clientele that will be fanatical about everything you say (and sell)!

Viewing this intimate conversation about your clients passions (and ultimately their project) as a waste of time means you’re probably reading the wrong blog and should just go scavenge across abusive job-boards that undercut the value of every other freelance worker out there then just go on ahead and “make that bank”.

But if you want to get paid by people who value your work and will hire you over and over again—and recommend you for more even more dream projects—then you need to read this!

Establish A Budget With New Clients Upfront With These 8 Questions:

  1. What is the Company/Product/Service name to be used in the logo/branding?
    • This may seem silly, but you wouldn’t believe how often I’m brought onto a project thinking it was a rebranding job and found out it’s for a new/different/offshoot brand—wasting my notes and sketches, as well as their time.
  2. What is your Tag line (if any)?
    • Whether or not you need this for the design, it will give you a better picture of what your client’s message is
  3. What are you selling?
    • Get them to tell you as much about their product or service
    • What is the message they’re trying to convey with your work?
  4. Who are you selling to?
    • Describe the audience you’re targeting as best as possible.
    • Dig deeper (age, gender, interests, income, geography, etc. are only the basics)
  5. How do you want to be known in your industry and when compared to your competitors?
    • Competitors, fellow creatives or whatever you wish to call them, you are comparing both aesthetic and ethos as well as products and content.
    • Where are they at vs. where they want to be and how your work will get them there. Getting them to show you their “Dream Aesthetic” and favourite brands/pages from social media is usually the easiest way to involve clients in this part of the conversation.
  6. Do you have an idea of what you want? If so, describe your visions in as much or as little detail as you’d like.
    • Sometimes less is more here. Setting your boundaries early on is important and you have the right to know what you’re being hired for. In most cases, you’ll have already told them your niche or they have approached you because of your existing work (or even by recommendation from a fan!)
  7. Are you currently working with any time constraints? Ideally, how soon would you like to have your project completed?
    • This is another step where you need to set boundaries for yourself. If you’re having trouble keeping up, be transparent about your current work-load and be honest about how quickly you can complete a project.
  8. What is your budget?
    • The burning question that no artist has the answer for. I’m not going to pretend to know how much a human is worth, but I know how much money I need to make to pay these pesky bills: start there.
    • Talking about money is difficult for millennials. It’s okay to talk about money.
    • Feeling your skills should be compensated properly is not a crime. Don’t allow them to devalue your worth or make you feel you’re being unreasonable.
    • If you can’t justify the cost of your work by breaking it down for your client, you’re still too unclear on your self-worth and just might be over-selling yourself if you’re constantly being rejected at the “final sell”.

It can be a scary to take on new things. Just remember this for your next call on Zoom:

We didn’t become self-employed only to go broke.

We did it to become self-sustainable—to cope with chronic pain and illness, find employment as marginalized folks, to survive in tough times—while still doing something that breathes life back into us, rather than drain us.

If you produce a variety of content, you need to establish your niche and specialties for them right away—to set the boundaries in this new relationship at the beginning—not half-way through, when you realize you’re no longer working on what you signed up for. Unlike a romantic relationship, you’ve (hopefully) established some sort of written agreement via (at minimum) a paid invoice.

Whether you’re still navigating where you fit in within your field or are geared up to grab the new opportunity right now, you can download this unique and professional questionnaire I designed: print it off for your next new client here!

If you would like more coverage on drafting an invoice and red-flags freelancers should look out for on job-board websites, let me know by commenting on this post!

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

Questions To Ask Yourself When Trying To Nail Down Your Niche + Why You Need To Envision Your Success

Do you ever feel lost in what you’re doing?

Do you have trouble remembering the bigger picture?

As artists and creative people, it can be easy to forget why we began creating in the first place.

It can so easily feel like you’re talking into the vacuum of space, posting all your hard work into a black hole.

So how you do get noticed?

You need “a thing”, or a niche.

Something important to us as human beings is being good at something. We all like to feel like we have ‘our thing’. Not only does defining your niche make you more memorable as a creator, but it also makes your work feel more filling—your heart has to be in it for it to work.

For us to have ‘our thing’ we kind of have to make it up on our own. 

Whether that’s your middle school awards or that class in college that totally changed your life, you’ve found your thing.

When trying to compete in the rat-race of social media popularity, gaining commissions, and finding new clients—we often lose sight of ‘our thing’, and which work made us happy to begin with.

You work hard, but you don’t know where you want to go with your art or business.

Whenever I’m feeling this way (because we all do from time to time), I always go through the same exercise that I’m going to share with you right now!

  • What do you do and why? 
  • How do you do it? 
  • What’s your method and why do you do it that way? 

That’s it? Almost.

Envisioning your future can be the simplest exercise for self-discovery.

The importance of having a vision of your future:

  1. To keep you focused on a plan
  2. To keep you motivated towards your goals
  3. To master your skillset—narrowing down to one niche to build capitol to support your plan

What that might look like:

I wanted to share an expert of my Future Vision as an example of what measures you should focus on as a newbie, rather than looking at vanity metrics and low-ROI tasks.

So, here is part of my personal Future Vision from 2017—a pinnacle point in my life, when I was finishing school and planning to become self-employed:

At 28 I picture my life modern, but simple. With a dog and my own patch of grass, living in a smart home and tending a greenhouse. Where we live is only filled with what we need and love. I'm happy and healthy. 
My dreams of being a self-employed artist are a reality. I have a mildly successful blog I write and a podcast I do every month. I am finally thrilled to be living and have built better positive thinking techniques. I have healthy habits and meditate every day. I do yoga and jog to stay healthy and active. I eat the best foods for my body with lots of fresh greens and nuts. 
I feel great in the skin I'm in and only wear what is for me. I want to tread my own path in life and pursue my passions. I focus my energy on producing rather than consuming, being more conscious of whats going into my body, and making my body move more. To spend more time and effort on experiences than possessions- 
It has made me so humble and grateful to have kept this life.

14 Questions To Guide You Towards Your Niche + Vision

  1. What are my strengths? What am I good at?
  2. What do people come to me for advice or help with?
  3. What do I get excited or passionate about?
  4. Who are the most important people in my life and why?
  5. What do I need (to do) to feel my best?
  6. Where is the majority of my energy and attention been going lately?
  7. What lessons have I learned in the past 3 months? 6 months? Year?
  8. List my recent wins & failures.
  9. What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
  10. If I had all the money in the world, what would I do?
  11. How would I like to give back or help others?
  12. What drives me & what do I hunger for?
  13. What do I need more of in my life?
  14. What are my values & how do I live out those values in my own life?

I urge you to pull out your journal, day-planner, notes app, or whatever it is you use to record your ideas and get started on answering these questions! I promise you that this exercise will without a doubt help you refine your niche and overall vision for your life and art business.

If you need some extra reading, check out my other post on finding your niche, as well as advice on getting started as an online seller, and tips for marketing your creative business right now!

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

The Best Way To Spend Your Time As A Creative Business Owner

Before I started this project, I really had no clue what I did in a day.

If there’s no pictures, it didn’t happen as far as my memory is concerned

But when I recently had to write a piece on my experiences as a creative business owner and freelancer, I had to figure out what I actually did before I could start writing.


During this project I also came across a big problem…

It’s difficult to gauge your output in the early stages of being self-employed, and whether you’re working up to an industry standard. 

Am I doing enough, or am I slacking off?

It’s too easy to lose track of time, especially when working on one big project over the course of days or weeks. It can be even easier to fall behind on your progress, unnoticed.

When you first start out your milestones cannot be measured by the money you make—this can make tracking your progress a lot more difficult.

You won’t be making anything your first day working for yourself. Maybe not the first week, or even the first month, but that doesn’t mean you’re not working hard. 

I spent a lot of time feeling guilty whenever I wasn’t actively working on a paid project.

But a lot of what we do as self-employed people is unpaid labour—a lot of our time is devoted to unpaid tasks like social media marketing, promoting sales, applying to grants—leaving us with less time to look for more work, get commissions, and still finish passion projects…

There’s moments where it feels like all of your stress and hard work is for nothing. It gets hard, sometimes it will feel like it’s too hard. Comparing yourself too closely to others can leave you feeling shitty and dejected.

We get this way is because we often don’t have a clear overall vision of what we want to accomplish. 

You may have a vague idea of what you want your life to look like in 5 years, but could you write it out on paper; fill a page or two? 

This is an exercise I first started doing regularly because of Lavendaire, a successful content creator who focuses on minimalism and mindfulness. You write out your ‘Future Vision’, as she refers to it, which is basically everything you envision your life to be in a year; in 2 years; in 5 years. 

Envision every detail you can picture, smell, hear, and to totally immerse yourself in whatever you want your future to be.

It’s easy to put off doing the things that will give us the most returns—it’s a lot easier to paint a canvas than to sell it when you’re finished—but taking a look at my future needs and having an overall theme for my life has been a great way to be consistent in my efforts, both in my professional and my personal life. 


A huge part of creating compelling artwork is storytelling, or effectively content marketing.

It’s not enough to say “Buy my art!”, these days. It no longer speaks for itself; you need to breathe life into your work with refreshing words and flowing phrases.

You can have the most beautiful art in the world, but all people care about is a good story. If you’re not saying anything with your work, no one will resonate with it — and no one will buy it.

Social media is a content marketing goldmine, and now with shoppable posts it’s easier than ever to make money off Instagram and Facebook.

All you need is a clear vision of where you want to go with your creative business.

One of the many ways to clarify that looks like is with a social media marketing strategy.

For example, I use my content to show off my designs, get in touch with my audience, and promote my projects. In tandem with well-written captions, frequent posts are a great way to start a conversation or to get feedback on what your project while you’re still working on it!

What will you use your platform for?

I want you to download this FREE worksheet so you can get started with setting your goals to clearly see where you’re going with your creative business!

If you’re still feeling like you’re missing something, go read about how to build your confidence and business as well as advice on establishing your niche to gain some footing in your content marketing plan.


Until next time, look below for some of my other digital reading materials to keep you busy during quarantine!

Joey @ The A/J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

Why Instagram Stats Are Ruining Your Artwork

My best tips for dealing with “posting anxiety” as an artist on Instagram:

Creative and emotional people: Don’t look at your statistics!

There’s a new phrase I’ve heard recently, as I was speaking with a friend and colleague about social media management — and mainly the stress of constantly creating content. After a while, we arrived at a common major issue: posting anxiety.

Posting the right content for Instagram — to be picked up on the explore page and gain traction — can feel like the most important thing sometimes, especially in content marketing.

The truth is, “how to get famous on Instagram” is a mystery to most people trying to grow a following or business. I know this because too many other artists that have cried out to me, “I have no idea how Instagram works!”

Even worse, I know people who don’t post their artwork at all!

Why?

They’re scared! Rightfully so, the Internet can be a mean place. Someone who wants to casually show off their hard work doesn’t necessarily want to be subjected to the same scrutiny as a professional artist open to critique.

artist painting watercolours
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Brand new artists need to know — the internet doesn’t have to be a scary place!

Instagram is perfect for artists as a digital marketing platform! Filled with beautifully spaced and cropped photos, there’s so many creative ways to lay out your feed.

I’m not going to tell you how it works — no one truly knows how these social media algorithms work and I’m not going to pretend I do.


Today I’m going to talk about why you SHOULD NOT check your statistics on Instagram.

This article is intended for artists and crafters with a small following of less than one thousand. That being said, an account with less than 1000 followers can still get their art sold!

Do not obsess over your Instagram analytics yet, if:

  1. You have less than 1000 followers
  2. You have poor-quality engagement
  3. You’re still self-conscious or intimidated by posting

Why shouldn’t I care about my statistics?

As artists, it is our job to feel — don’t force it.

  1. Your following is too small to give an accurate picture of your target market, unless you already have high-quality engagement — people liking, commenting, and BUYING your stuff! You’re just going to unnecessarily bruise your ego if you pay too much attention to numbers too early — and you’re going to make less art.
  2. Your followers aren’t engaging with your posts, giving you poor-quality engagement. In most cases, it’s because your followers can’t see your posts! A caption with only a couple sentences and 4 hashtags doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to get creative with your posts and do some story-telling or you’re going to be drowned out by higher-quality posts. Try experimenting with different post layouts, emojis, and hashtags — Instagram allows up to 30 and I suggest using all of them.!
  3. You’re still scared to hit “post” on your work, even more-so when you care about it. This is where I want to help you — I’m going to share my tips on posting your work and growing your following without obsessing over statistics every day!

6 Tips On How To Grow A Strong Following, Organically, And Without Losing Confidence In Your Craft

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Top Tips For Free Marketing Online
  1. Comment on at least 10 posts a day. I’ve read social media gurus suggested leaving 50 comments, but I just devote an hour to Instagram every day and see how much I can do in that hour.
  2. Be genuine on the platformpost about yourself, show your face, and leave comments with 4 or more words and an emoji.
  3. Share to Instagram like you’re already “famous”. Carry that energy into your posts with consistent colour and lighting in your feed — it makes a huge difference you wouldn’t think. If you’re new to social media marketing, there are many feed-layout planning apps out there to get started, but I have not yet found one I would recommend.
  4. Spam your story and share your latest post there! Instagram’s story feature is great for flooding with content. Followers are more likely to see your IG story than your post, since it’s always at the very top when you first open the app. The feature is hard to ignore, so take advantage of it! I wouldn’t post more then a dozen times in a day, unless you’re actively engaging with people (via a Q&A, a poll, livestream, etc.)
  5. Have a master-list of all the hashtags you like to use — keep them in the notes on your phone. This way, you only have to pick those 30 hashtags one time, and then simply paste them into your posts later.
  6. Have a pod. You may have heard of Instagram-pods before, but if you have a small following you might not be in one yet. Start one with other artists on the platform, especially people your fans of — it can be a nice safety blanket to know a handful of people will engage with your posts. Feel free to follow me!

7 Big And Bad Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Instagram Reputation:

  1. NEVER BUY FOLLOWERS! Period. Apps that say they’ll boost your account’s numbers, or give you more “authentic followers” are feeding you BS.
  2. Never give anyone any of your personal information, account information, or money! This should go without saying, but seeing people’s readiness to login into an unknown app with their Facebook information (which is now also Instagram too, folx) scares me. If you’re at all serious about this, you’re putting the security and ownership of your business on the line by doing this.
  3. People might also pray upon you via direct messaging, saying they love your account and will feature it on their page… for a cost. DO NOT GIVE THESE PEOLE YOUR MONEY! (See #1 and #2)
  4. An app for instagram statistics reports is probably the worst thing you could do right now, for your self-esteem and content quality. It’s important to know who your target market is, but checking the numbers more often than once a week will leave you most likely disappointed. In my opinion, I have not found the best app to track Instagram statistics because I haven’t found a single one with terms of service that aren’t sketchy AF (See #2).
  5. Follow other artists with a similarly-sized following — they’ll probably be interested in your work too. I have also made so many friends this way! Some of which I now collaborate with. Don’t expect artists with over 5000 followers to follow you back.
  6. The internet is a democracy — you can delete rude comments and block whoever you want. I fully support this, especially when you’re first starting because the odds of receiving valuable criticism is so low.
  7. Turning off comments is a nuclear option that I only see huge accounts doing: models, adult content creators, public figures, and other people who receive inconceivable amounts of awful harassment. If you’re still very sensitive about your work you can do this, but don’t expect your following to growengaging with the people in your comments is probably the most fun, too.

How are you feeling? Inspired? Empowered? Overwhelmed?

I want you feeling equipped to take the next step. Whether you feel ready or not, I suggest working through my journalling prompt sheet for your best year yet! I feel like it will really help you find some confidence and clarity for what you envision this year looking like for you and your art.

I would also love it if you shared a time you experienced posting-anxiety in the comments. Starting conversations about these kinds of things is how we learn and grow with each other!

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

How To Keep Working On Your Art When You’re Burnt-Out

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

Let’s face it — we all get burnt out.

It can look like working over-time and living off take-out for a week, or for me it looks more like eating pizza in bed with my cats and not contacting another soul for days.

Winter is known to worsen our mental health (or “steal your spoons”, as I like to say) — between the pressure of holidays and the physical stress of the cold, it’s easy to lose track of ourselves. That’s why I want to talk about prioritizing self-care and self-compassion this time of year.


The most restorative thing I can do for myself is feed my body.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

I’m the worst for skipping meals, saying I’m “too busy” to tend to my physical self. So when I do, I fill my bod with soul food!

One of my go-to feel-good snacks is milk and cookies. When I was a kid it was 2% milk and chip-a-hoy — these days it’s unsweetened vanilla almond milk and homemade cookies of a much more nutritious and filling variety.


My second go-to for instant relief is a hot bath

Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Lush Bath Bombs are nice, but I make my own relaxing bath concoctions. I throw in a big dollop of coconut oil, my favourite essential oils, and epsom salt for days.

I’m always playing with different combinations of essential oils as well, but I have two favourites:

An unexpected duo I love is tea-tree and grapefruit essential oil! The tea-tree oil is an amazing natural anti-septic, which is great for when I feel like I need a deep-clean. The grapefruit oil is to overpower the scent of the tea-tree oil, as it‘s not the most pleasant.

aromatherapy, essential oils, diffusers

Thirdly, I recharge my soul by doing things for myself.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

― audre lorde
Photo by Analise Benevides on Unsplash

Here are 5 quick, restorative practices I’ve picked up that help manage burn-out:

  1. A short sun-salut yoga-routine forces me to focus on my breath and clear my head. This is usually when I get my best ideas (as well as the shower, of course). 
  2. A really intense work-out. If yoga isn’t your thing (and I totally get that, sometimes I can’t bear to be on the mat for more than 5 minutes), tire yourself out and take a nap. It’s another tool I use to clear my head. Be sure to eat properly before and after so you don’t end up feeling even worse!
  3. Spoil yourself with your favourite food — I told you food was my favourite! Bonus: order from Skip The Dishes to relieve yourself from any additional effort aside from putting on pants to open the front door. Although, I like to save a bit of money by getting pick up. It’s great to spoil yourself in moderation.
  4. Journal. Journalling my thoughts, goals, and roadblocks really helps me ease my cluttered mind. Maybe try doodling something to go with it. Even if you don’t think you can draw. You may be pleasantly surprised!
  5. Make something for yourself. I make things for a living, but I rarely make things for myself. If you’re in a similar position, taking the time to do a personal DIY can feel very rewarding.
5 minute journal

Working through burn-out is tough — if you’re truly having a hard time, take the day off. It’s the easiest and fastest way to relieve exhaustion. The world will keep turning.

How are you feeling? I hope you’re feeling equipped to work through my journalling prompt sheet for your best year yet! Feel free to let me know what you like to do to re-charge your soul in the comments.

Until next time,

-J

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Read about My Top 10 Free Apps I Actually Use For My Online Art Business

Why Artists Need To Consider Live-Streaming And Video Content for 2020

After all of the algorithmic changes across social media, content creators have been feeling the impact. With ‘the death of email’ amongst my generation, I needed a space to directly connect with my readers and followers. Somewhere the people who care about my work the most are guaranteed to see it.

If you’re feeling ignored, overlooked, or censored (which was my issue) — creating your own platform is the best way to fix this, but it’s difficult to get the traffic you once had on Instagram, Twitter, etc. You are looking to build more than a business or platform, but a community. If this sounds like you, online streaming is probably where you want to go next. 

So What Is Live-Streaming?

Well, It’s what it sounds like. You Stream video online of you doing something, live — rather than a pre-recorded video.

It’s great because you have a chance to engage with your viewers, live on stream! This makes people want to participate by chatting with you and other viewers.

Why Should I Live-Stream Online?

Start Livestreaming Blog title card
Read about what live-streaming is and how it boosted my art at The Artist Journal.ca + download a FREE printable to get your goals ready for 2020!

Live-streaming works as venue to promote yourself without feeling like you’re selling yourself constantly across social media.

My ultimate goal with live-streaming is to gain a more regular income while authentically connecting with people online who share my interests and enjoy my work. I also want my Twitch to be an online safe-space for other LGBTQ+ folx on the internet to hang out and listen to banging’ tunes.

You should make sure your reason for livestreaming is more than to just make money; it takes a while to build enough trust between you and your viewer to begin asking for donations and you need to offer them something worth it in return.

How Do I Start?

Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life — and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you.

Eckhart Tolle
By Paige Cody on Unsplash

There a few platforms for live-streaming online: Twitch, Youtube, and Picarto are the largest platforms right now. I’m personally on Twitch because of the content I stream.

You can start with, or without an existing following. I’ve only been streaming a few weeks and gained a few followers during my first stream, ever!

Having a loyal fan or two from the beginning is so helpful; keeping your view count up and engaging in chat are important when making a first impression online and  for engaging regularly with your audience.

Sign yourself up for a Twitch account and honestly, the rest is easy. If you would like a post about downloading and working with OBS and Streamlabs streaming software let me know!


What Do I Stream?

You should be providing value as well as entertainment — the easiest way for an artist to do this is to teach what you know! Being good company, personable, and active in chat can significantly enhance your experience streaming as well.

This is the kind of personal experience people who watch livestreams are expecting and enjoy most, whether they’re aware of it or not. I already have a regular chat to hang out with — this is also a great motivator to get back online and stream, you’re eager to see some regulars and catch up with them.

A lot of people don’t watch your live-stream — They’re listening. I’m definitely guilty of putting a livestream on for just the audio commentary.

Because of this, I don’t allow ‘dead air’ on stream. I always have music playing; I have an extension that posts the currently paying title in chat for me. Be sure to properly credit any music and media you use in your streams — don’t be that person. I also use my music visually on-screen, as album art is always a nice visual for those not reading the chat.

How to increase engagement Live-streaming - Pin title card
Read about what live-streaming is and how it boosted my art at The Artist Journal.ca + download a FREE printable to get your goals ready for 2020!

Many people will ‘lurk’ in chat the whole time and never say a word — they’re just around to observe, and that’s okay. Some stick around and watch for 20 minutes and leave, which is also normal.

You won’t always be talking about yourself on stream (because that would be boring), so having your most important information present at all times is important. That’s why I include my information across the bottom of my streaming screen as well as my Patreon page link at the top of the stream description.


Why I Started Live-Streaming Video Games Instead Of Art

One of my favourite Twitch live-streamers says he plays speed-runs of Mario64 to give himself a break from writing music. 

My favourite YouTube-streamer — and who ultimately inspired me to finally start streaming — does extremely casual playthroughs of vintage console and handheld games on a CRT in his “Valley”. He uses it as an scheduled break from working on his solo full-length animated film.

See where I’m going with this?

After trying live-streaming art on Instagram; presenting myself on my strongest platform didn’t yield the results I wanted, the video quality I expected, or the video access I was promised. YouTube is fine for streaming, but Twitch works better with my limited set-up.

If You’re not comfortable being live-on-camera, try video instead!

Video is great if you need to edit out mistakes and misinformation.

The biggest thing I hear from Folx who are camera-shy is they’re afraid of “messing up” or “looking stupid”. You won’t mess up or look stupid in front of anyone else, because you can edit it out later!

I warmed up to the camera by holding ‘test’ live-streams on my Instagram as well as recording videos for my Patreon subscribers.

You can also create extra video content by editing down your livestreams into concise lessons or ‘episodes’ for social media or a YouTube Channel. Transcripts and Closed Captions are very valuable if you’re producing educational content, but since I do casual, multi-hour streams I forgo this extra step.

Start Livestreaming Pinterest graphic
Read about what live-streaming is and how it boosted my art at The Artist Journal.ca + download a FREE printable to get your goals ready for 2020!

So, that’s why I’m now on Twitch! I’ve been live-streaming video games two nights a week. I do AMA (ask me anything) livestreams about mental health, queerness, and other topics of sensitivity — I want my Twitch to be an online safe-space for other LGBTQ+ folx on the internet to hang out and listen to banging’ tunes.

In the meantime, I urge you to read about how to make people care about your art and how to maximize your time creating in your studio in preparation for the New Year. You can also download this journalling prompt sheetabsolutely free, to get a head-start on 2020!

Until next time,

-J


My Top 10 Free Apps I Actually Use For My Online Art Business

These 10 apps will help you nail your next art project, keep on top of your clients, and build your social media presence!

I’ve been using an iPad Pro since I began working for myself, back in 2016. It was the first investment I had ever made in my business, ever. It was a big deal!

There were a lot of things I needed out out one device and couldn’t spend so much. I had limited experience with technology use and had an aversion to the big ol’ Apple Corp.

The iPad Pro has become my best artist tool and the most used technology in my office, even to this day.  

I’m here to help you get the most out of your Tablet experience, artist-to-artist, for free.

I’ve created a list of my favourite free iPad Pro apps to help artists and small creative online businesses.

These apps are easy to incorporate into your art, design, or online business practices. There is a learning curve, but they’re not too tricky to get a handle on. Once you get the hang of using these, you’ll be glad you did!

Here are my 10 favourite free apps I actually use for my online art business!

  • Adobe Draw (Art + Design) — A free vector-drawing app I have been using for years, all you need is a free account! I prefer using Adobe Draw over Fresco for certain projects because of its ability to import directly to Illustrator on my desktop.
  • Adobe Spark Post (Art + Design) — Perfect for quickly planning out design ideas for social media posts, blog covers, headings and footers, and much more!
  • Canva (Art + Design) — My absolute favourite design tool, Canva’s free tools and resources are more than enough to beef up your branding and get on your social media game! You can save pallets and fonts to your brand profile to keep your posts looking consistently beautiful and on-brand.
  • Sell on Etsy App (Business + Productivity) — If you haven’t already, check out my post about why I love Etsy as my e-commerce platform right here!
  • 2do (Business + Productivity) — The only to-do list you will ever need!
  • Hootsuite (Business + Productivity) — The best FREE social media scheduling tool out there, I’ve tried so many and now that Hoot covers Instagram, I’m all-in!
  • Photoshop Mix (Art + Design)Easy photo-editing on-the-go? Yes please! I also love using this for the photos I use in my Etsy shop listings.
  • Protonmail (Business + Productivity)You need to stop using Google, right now! I keep my clients’ information safe by using this encrypted email service for my business (and personal) emails. This means no one, not even Protonmail, can read my confidential emails!
  • Toggl (Business + Productivity)You need this for easy, detailed time-tracking! Toggl sends you a report at the end of each week, making invoicing clients accurately way easier.
  • Adobe Capture (Art + Design) — Quickly creates colour pallets, brushes, fonts, and shapes from real-life photographs!

As soon as you’re done reading this: download some of these apps, try them out, and tell me what you think. Comment which of these apps are your favourite, and why! I would love to know.

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Download your 6 free journal prompts printable for dominating your New Years’ resolutions at TheArtistJournal.ca

In the meantime, I urge you to read about how to make people care about your art and how to maximize your time creating in your studio in preparation for the New Year. You can also download this journalling prompt sheet, absolutely free, to get a head-start on 2020!

Until next time,

-J

How To Make People Care About Your Art

Connection = Caring

So I was perusing the Internet yesterday thinking up a new side-hustle, when I found someone else had already taken my idea!

This happens to me all the time, but this time was different.

The blog I came across was featuring an artist — the artist with my idea — and all they talked about was their childhood and how it’s affected their current work.

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
How to make people care about your art – Instagram Post

They neglected to give any contact info, despite saying they’re open (and desperate) for commissions numerous times.

This artist even neglected to list their subject matter, themes, or any mediums they used.

To top it off, the few pictures included were poorly lit snapshots of some comic sketches and sloppily edited photos of a few paintings. You could tell they were all taken in their poorly-lit NYC apartment.

They didn’t have a Website, Twitter, Instagram… nothing. All they had was a Tumblr page they posted to every week or so making it basically impossible for clients to reach them. There wasn’t even an email address listed, what a PR disaster!

I can’t imagine being a showcased artist in an article — the opportunity to meet hundreds, if not thousands of new clients at almost no cost — and not providing any contact information!

It’s artists like this that get stuck in that “starving artist” mentality, thinking you need to beg everyone to look at your work. They advertise themselves as a walking mess because they don’t take themselves seriously enough to be credited as anything else.

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Andy Warhol

Employers can smell this desperation, and will most often write you off as inexperienced, or try to talk down your rates.

Making art has never been about the money, money is merely what we use to obtain the things we need to survive (if you’re in the art world looking for money, let the rest of us know where you find any).

Making enough to survive as an artist is challenging, but not having a website is like shooting yourself in the foot with an arrow before your Olympic 100 m dash. You’re fucking yourself over.

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Top Tips For Free Marketing Online –
Pinterest Post

An artist website is incredibly important for gaining new clients. Someone who has never heard of you or what you do should be able to see all that on your site, preferably clicking through your about page, portfolio, and social media links. I’ve had almost all of my button-pressing inquiries via email, from my contact form on my site.

Most employers won’t spend the time clicking through your site; make sure to keep that in mind when setting up your home page.

Maybe you have a drop-down menu to access your archives? Perhaps you want everything on a single minimalist landing page?

Just as when making art, there’s more to consider than just “what looks good”.

What (or who) is your website for and what do you want out of it? It can be intimidating, but a little thing called Design Thinking can make answering these questions a bit easier.

This also opens up a dialogue to talk about your design process and how you make art! The more questions you ask, the more connections you can make between your work and your experiences.

Adding more real-world connections to your work makes for more opportunities to engage with your audience.

Our struggles define us as artists, but let’s face it nobody cares you were bullied in elementary school (who wasn’t) and are still bitter about it 20 years later. No one wants to read about your parents divorce or your father’s drinking problem.

I especially don’t care where you went to school, if at all. And you guessed it, neither does anyone else!

So what makes people care about art?

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
5 Easy Marketing Tips for Artists – Pinterest Post

You need a kick-ass story.

Your story needs to be compelling, original, and have substance. You’re not writing an essay about your life or a bland biography for your grade 12 History class.

You don’t start at the beginning.

You start when you first became unique. When you finally started making different art — art that stands out, has a style — is when you’re worth people’s attention, or even worth mentioning. Before that, you are just like everyone else who says they’re an artist on the internet.

Your art is beautiful, but words will always take your work to the next level.

Craft a dialogue for your work of art.

People love stories. Words have effect, emotionally impactful effects that can generate inquiries, discussions, and (most importantly) sales. You’re literally adding a new dimension to your piece by giving it the soul it deserves through written language.

Another effective way to communicate what you and your art is all about is through branding.

The idea of branding, or becoming a brand, is seen as a bad thing by many artists I talk to… but guess what? It is the most important thing. Period. You, as an artist, are a brand. You represent your art business and your art represents you in return.

Shying away from branding yourself is holding you back. Embracing it will make you flourish!

A simple social media strategy could be the breakthrough marketing plan you need. With a bit of creative discipline and vision, your social media feeds could look calm and compelling. This creates a great energy, putting your work in the spot-light.

Developing interpersonal relationships on social media is also another great way to receive free exposure from authentically engaged audiences. Hyperlinking to other people’s work is a great way to make connections with people whose work you admire. Make sure your links are all clickable, meaning none of them are broken links!

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Stop hurting yourself, start embracing your brand.

Here’s 5 things you can do right now to improve your artist branding and online presence:

  1. Have a website. Make sure your website acts as a tool for your viewers. Make everything clearly identified and easy to find. Be sure to include EVERYTHING! Bonus: Get your own domain to look like a total pro.
  2. Have a custom colour pallet to use for everything. Subtleties like custom colour themes across all your platforms can create a cohesive feel for all your online work.
  3. Display the same logo/profile photo everywhere! You want people to recognize you and your work and the best way to do that is with a killer logo or clear headshot. Whichever you choose is based on your audience and niche.
  4. Bump up your social media profiles right now! Use every word to mention the coolest things about what you do. Take the chance to make an impression. Convert a stranger into a follower simply by writing yourself a killer bio!
  5. Most importantly, keep it consistent; post content every day! Keep your content consistent in quality. As in, use similar lighting, fonts, editing presets, and filters on your photos. Bonus: If you can make your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and website all visually similar and still compelling… I forgive you for all your previous discretions because this is some next-level shit!

In the meantime you can keep up with my creations on Patreon, follow my artist travels on Instagram, and see me live-stream video games on Twitch!

Until next time,

-J

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About the author title card: Joey Dean
About Joey.