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.

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

Journalling Ideas To Guide You Through 2020 + A Free Journal Prompt List

One of my favourite things to do at the end of each year is to reflect on the previous 12 months and make “goals that build” for the next year — relevant goals that align to an overall vision.

This time of year really forces me to reflect on the past year and determine how close I am to my future vision as the previous one. Here’s a bit more on developing your future vision.

Set effective goals for the new year - Pinterest Graphic
Download your 6 free journal prompts printable for dominating your New Years’ resolutions at TheArtistJournal.ca

*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 don’t ordinarily journal my thoughts — especially if I’m trying to solve a problem — because I’m often frustrated by the delay from my brain to my shaky hands. I usually finish a multiple-sentence thought in less time than it takes me to write about 12 words by hand.

This time of year is when I make an exception to that rule, and actually find myself valuing what I’m frantically jotting down. What I’m writing is the type of thing I will look back on in the new year, when putting together my next goals that build — a topic I would love to cover more another time!

I’ll be referring to my goals every month when I plan out my milestones for the upcoming weeks, and again at the end of the next year! Because of this, I keep them as neat as possible.

I generally tend to use the iOS Notes.app for my basic drafts and brainstorming; but since I’m routinely adding, editing, revising, and referring to these reflective journal entries, I keep them all in one place: Notability. This app on my iPad Pro is essential, especially with the apple pencil. I’ve been using it since I got my iPad over 3 years ago and it’s gotten me through college lectures, work seminars, and years of project planning.

How I set new year goals - Pinterest Graphic
Download your 6 free journal prompts printable for dominating your New Years’ resolutions at TheArtistJournal.ca

The types of things I find myself reflecting on are always: work, finances, hobbies, and home. 

I worked hard this year, really hard. Constantly strung-out, flaking on plans, and sleeping for 12 hours every day kind-of-tired. I don’t regret any of it, though. I feel better than ever: I feel alive. I’ve also learned how to push my limits, set boundaries, and treat myself with compassion.

One of my goals for this year is to be more composed and diligent, and have been embodying that over the past few weeks. I’ve already crushed a couple milestones before the year even started! Talk about the power of intention…

Think about what kind of wins you want to make this year.

What have you accomplished this year that you would like to bring with you into 2020?

Journalling our best year yet for artist New Years' goal setting - Pinterest Graphic
Download your 6 free journal prompts printable for dominating your New Years’ resolutions at TheArtistJournal.ca

Obviously work and finances are deeply co-related, but when you have more than one source of income, things get complicated. Between licensing more of my artwork, finding distributors to work with in 2020, and selling my painting archives; I already have a slew of financial goals I want to meet this year with some new side-hustles planned as well! 

To accomplish my financial goals I’ve been working through the “Master Your Money” bundle by Ultimate bundles and boy, it’s a treat! Even if there wasn’t over a dozen video lessons, the workbooks, ebooks, and printable materials provided are more than worth it!

I’ve already gotten a leg-up on meal-planning (my ultimate weakness) and keeping better track of my monthly purchases; now would be a great time of year to get started mastering your money and a great way to start off a new decade right! (If you purchase your bundle through my link, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you!*)

 I’ve improved my confidence so much this year, in a way I would have never expected!

How?

By learning how to cook.

Not just food, either. I have some favourite recipes to share to make your household more self-sustainable. And because making things yourself is Punk AF.

I’ve not only perfected by bread-making skills, but learned a ton of bulk-cooking recipes (thanks to Cheap Lazy Vegan), and make ALL of my own household cleaners. I even DIY some of my own skincare products now and my skin looks better than ever! All of these recipes I use can also be found on my Pinterest boards, where I’m constantly active!

I would love to share some of my tips and recipes for saving over $50 a month in your home! If this is something you would be interested, please let me know in the comments or via email! I’d love to cover things such as the many money-saving uses of Castile soap, as well as safe and practical uses for essential oils in your home.

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

I wanted to leave you with some of my favourite journal prompts to get you thinking about how you want 2020 to look for you:

  • Write down 10 things you need more of in your life — pick three to focus on for the next three months.
  • Write down three actions you can take to embody these things throughout the new year.
  • List 5 things you can do to make yourself happy — right now.
  • Make a list of 25 things you’re grateful for from the past year.
  • List 100 things — big or small — that you would like to accomplish in the 2020’s.
  • Envision and record your perfect day. Think about what it would contain and write it down in as much detail as possible.
  • Make a list of your passions. Next, make a list next to it (a table) and list your priorities: where your time goes. Are you satisfied with how they match up? Is there anything you want to change?

Tip: Keep a copy with your weekly planner to keep you on track throughout the year while planning your day-to-day. Download that freebie!

So what will you accomplish in the new decade?

Photo by Alex Nemo Hanse on Unsplash

Now that I’m 14 weeks post-surgery and have gotten the O-K from my surgeon, I plan on running again. Between chronic illness and gender dysphoria, it’s something I haven’t been able to do for myself in years. Once it’s above 40 degrees Fahrenheit I can hit the trail behind my house with my new trainers!

Leave me a comment responding to one of these prompts, or what you want to accomplish by the end of 2020! In the meantime, also check out my latest piece on making a bigger impact with your art in 2020!

Until next time,

-J

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How To Find Your Art Niche And Why You Need One To Rock Your Business This Year

Why You Need The Right Niche Pinterest Title Card
Finding a niche is easier said than done. I’m going to give you some tips on where to look for your niche interests and talents, as well as some journalling (or deep thinking) prompts to help you get in the right mindsetFinding a niche is easier said than done. I’m going to give you some tips on where to look for your niche interests and talents, as well as some journalling (or deep thinking) prompts to help you get in the right mindset. @ The Artist Journal (DOT) CA

Starting out — whether you’re an artist, writer, or any creator — having the right niche is the most important thing to think about. Once you find your niche everything will begin to fall into place and you’ll have a reference point for consistent decision making for your art business.

Picking a niche is no small task. If you pick the wrong one, no matter how hard you work in the future it isn’t likely you’ll be successful.

Finding a niche is easier said than done. I’m going to give you some tips on where to look for your niche interests and talents, as well as some journalling (or deep thinking) prompts to help you get in the right mindset.

Choosing the wrong niche in the beginning can kill your project before you even start.

The easiest place to start looking is your social media accounts.

  • Look at your mutuals and favourites on social media; they can often help narrow down your field of expertise.
  • Look at who is commenting on your stuff; they’re your quality, engaged audience you want to keep around.
  • Create similar, but interesting content to get people to scroll, click through, or read longer.
  • Look at social media selling platforms (like facebook marketplace, fivver, and kijiji) to start looking for what other people are looking for if you can’t define your own work.
Easy Ways To Find Your Niche Pinterest Title Card

Look especially at your mutuals, most popular posts, favourite brands/artists, and general popularity of what you have done in the past. This can help narrow down your interests and even your style if that’s something you’re struggling with.

Don’t forget about your comments sections! Every platform has a place for people to leave comments. Read every one and actually listen to them. Try to respond to them all in quality. These are your most engaged audience and they’re actively looking at your stuff and want to support you!

Where is the need for you?

What do people come to you for? What do they need your advice on? This indicates what people think you’re knowledgable in; odds are you’ve given them helpful advice in the past and you may actually know what you’re talking about.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

What do you offer that every other artist can’t?

This could be something as simple as your style, something that makes you memorable, or something that helps people: combining these would be ideal.

Look at your favourite reading materials and genres of writing and dig deeper into your interests:

  • If all you read are life-hacks on Pinterest, odds are you have an interest in creative problem solving and enrichment.
  • If you scroll through facebook fuming about the fake news, then maybe you’re passionate about social commentary.

The beauty of the Internet is there’s a niche market for everything, and if you can focus on it, you can build a sustainable and viable business of it.

Michelle Phan, pioneering Beauty YouTuber and Makeup Entrepreneur

Answer the Three W’s

Who are you?

What are you trying to accomplish?

Why do you want this?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’ll need to put some more effort into finding what people need that you can offer. Remember, who is paying you is who comes first. Think of how you can best help or satisfy those people that support you most without losing your integrity.

Start-Making-Life-Work-for-You Title Card
Read more at The Artist Journal .CA

I hope all of this was enough to set you on the right path to finding your specialty. Confused about what I wanted for so long, I had never found my specialty.

I didn’t figure out my niche and my work suffered for it, for much longer than I would like to admit. I didn’t think I needed one and it was leading to a string of disappointing work.

If you can relate, go read about my creative journey and how I got here. I talk about where I’m coming from and why I’m here for you. I also want to hear how opening your Etsy shop has been going in the comments!

Until next time,

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-Joey @ The A/J

Use Your Doubts And Fears To Find Future Success: 2 of 2 articles

In my previous post: How To Use Your Doubts And Fears To Build Your Business, I brought up something that makes us all a little uncomfortable: our biggest doubts and fears.

More specifically, insecurities that have you stuck in your situation, or are hurting your ability to set effective goals for yourself.

I covered how improving your mindset will improve your productivity;

How to build the confidence to believe in your business, and the questions you need to ask to get better at what you do.

I introduced the idea that quality thought creates quality work.

Pretty deep stuff, but it’s just another way of saying that your thoughts combined with a healthy growth mindset can shape and improve your output.

Last time we also began to address our jealousy and insecurities. If you made the time for some deep thought on the topic, I’m glad you’re back. If not, you can still follow along!

Coffee mug reading "hustle" sitting on a desk with an iPad and Apple Pencil.
Build your confidence as a new entrepreneur by asking all the right questions.

Now thinking back on it (or if you’re anything like me you wrote it down and you’re looking at it right now), what were you thinking about?

What stood out to you the most, or what struck a chord for you? Use these to get back into a deep thinking state. I highly suggest recording your thinking process to refer to as your company grows.

In other words, what pissed you off the most? If the jealous feelings you were having before are more complex, odds are they’re not vain, and valid. The causes or solutions just might be too hard to see at first glance.

It must be 2005, because you may now pull out your burn book. You’re going to write why you hate that witch so much. Everything, don’t hold back.

Now that you’re left with some unbiased observations of your insecurities, you can now use this new information for good!

You’ve boiled this list down to the point where you can now clearly see your doubts and fears laid in-front of you. It’s daunting.

If you’re not a chaotic personality like me, I’m sure this can even be a bit scary. Our primitive monkey brains are programmed to do the easiest thing every time. To avoid confrontation and change, but that gets you nowhere really fast.

Using your simplified list of descriptive words, expand upon those words and state the real problem. Then you can create constructive solutions on how to tackle your problem.

An example would be if you’re jealous of how someone is better at you than something, you’re probably just not confident in your ability. A constructive alternative though would be that your skills maybe aren’t up to snuff. A constructive solution would be to enrol in a class or workshop to improve your abilities and confidence in what you’re doing.

For instance, when I’m having trouble getting started on a painting, I watch someone else paint for a while because it inspires elements of new ideas for me. If I’m feeling bad about my drawing abilities, I’ll visit the @IARTHAMONT private studio for Monday night life-drawing and get more practice in.

Reinforcing your knowledge can be the confidence-builder you need to keep moving forward, whether in your career or life or personal life.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

I’ve done many revisions of my list and so you will need as well, as nothing in life is static. Skills grow while not being measured, there’s a human need for gradual change, and our values and emotions evolve with age.

This entire exercise was a big one in helping me start out when I decided to “make things work for me“ almost 4 years ago. It clearly helped.

You’re never too young to plan, or too old to dream.

But more specifically, this kind of thinking helped me first start to envision where I wanted to go in life and what I needed out of it, at 20 years old. I only mention my age because you’re never too young to plan, or too old to dream.

The points I listed in my own exercise also led me to look toward more positive role models in what I refer to broadly as my field in “content creation”. Whenever I have self-doubt or feel like my work is going nowhere I will put on one of their videos/podcasts/songs and remember why I started “making things work for me” in the first place.

You may not think spending the time with your thoughts helpful, but I hope after this two part series I have convinced you otherwise. What I call, deep thought or deep thinking, is such a useful tool that we should be making more time for and I will be mentioning continually going forward.

I think you can do it. If you apply what you’ve read today, you #canhaveitall just like every social media influencer you admire, youtuber you respect, or even another artist you envy.

Having your cake and eating it too may sound too good to be true, but I’ve been eating my cake for over a year. And that’s why I believe in you, because I’m doing it to!

Out of fear of not sounding gimmicky enough, just do it! 

Joey @ The A/J

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