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.

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

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

A Gift Guide for Artists: Top 10 Gifts For You or The Crafter You Love

A gift guide for people who have no idea how to buy art supplies — what do they even want anyway? 

Because gifts aren’t about what they need, it’s about what will light up their face and make them feel special — like it was picked just for them!

In this guide I’ve included the following, so you can find what that person is looking for with ease!

  • Who the gift is best suited for
  • The gifts’ suggested uses
  • A simple price-point guide [$-$$$]

*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.

For the avid illustrator:

KOBWA Professional 100% Log Anti-breaking Pen Charcoal Sketch Set is an excellent holiday gift for illustrators, students, and artists alike!
KOBWA Professional 100% Log Anti-breaking Pen Charcoal Sketch Set: Portable Multifunction 18 Pieces

Important for anyone who draws anything, keeping your tools safe is a must! Too many of my favourite pencils have been lost, stolen, snapped and broken — but ever since I got a “roll” for my pencils, it’s been great!

This set covers all the bases; including 18 sketch pencils, 3 charcoal pencils, 3 paper erasable pens, 1 pencil extender, 1 craft knife, 1 eraser & 1 rubber moldable eraser. With 18 sketch pencils ranging from 8B-2H, as well as the 3 charcoal pencils (Soft, Neutral, Hard) — this set of pencils has you covered, not needing to worry about what any of those numbers mean. [$]

The Togood 60 Sketch Twin Markers with Dual Tips (Broad/Fine) Professional Alcohol Marker Set is a great gift for calligraphy and manga artists this Christmas!
Togood 60 Sketch Twin Markers with Dual Tips (Broad/Fine) Professional Alcohol Marker Set

This impressive pack of markers is great for animation students, paper crafters (like scrapbooking and journalling), and professional artists alike. This gift will also be sure to make a large impression! These double-ended markers are ideal for character design, comic book drawing, fashion design, and for student and general use. [$$$]

There’s also a smaller 36-pack available if you were going for something more… subtle. [$$]

Prismacolor is where it’s at!

Every artist goes ga-ga when they see or hear “PRISMACOLOR”, and that’s because they’re worth that much attention. Prismacolor pencils are what I have used for years… But now they have these?! The Prismacolor Art Sticks pique my interest in particular because of how much time they would save me when I have to colour-in huge areas.

Art sticks have the quality of Prismacolor’s regular pencils — much like pastels, they work best on large areas, as foundations for layering, or quick turnaround projects. Because of their soft core, they can be used for superior blending and shading, endlessly.

As a pack of 48, this one is a steal! [$$]

For the portable painter:

Watercolor Brush Pen by Ohuhu are excellent for painting with water on the go and could be the perfect gift for the creative person in your life this holiday season.
Watercolor Brush Pens, Ohuhu 20 Colors Water Color Painting Markers With Water Coloring Brush

This gorgeous set of 20 watercolour brush pens is odourless, non-toxic, and washable! This set is great for adult colouring books, doodling in a journal, manga & comic illustration, and even calligraphy! [$]

I would recommend these for artists with only a limited workspace or for those who want a portable painting experience. 

Be sure to grab the right paper to go with it. If it’s a gift, you might as well make it beautiful. I personally love these watercolour paper Art Journals the most in the world (not exaggerating)! [$$]

Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

An adjustable aluminum painting easel is a staple for any painter, especially this one which is suitable for table-tops and floor display, making this perfect for travelling artists. The telescopic legs can be adjusted from 25 to 73 inches! Each leg can be adjusted individually to provide an even surface, even on uneven terrain. [$$]

A collection of brushes that offer a variety of sizes to choose from both Flat and Round. Whether you’re applying minor details or large strokes, our brushes are versatile enough to handle any task. Making these a perfect gift for painters this holiday season!
A lovely customer photo By Zoddo of Artify 38 Pcs Paint Brushes Art Set

This collection of brushes offer a variety of sizes to choose from both Flat and Round. Whether you’re applying minor details or large strokes, these brushes are versatile enough to handle any task. I haven’t used them personally (yet), but the reviews are very encouraging!

They come in a canvas wrap; you roll them out and you’re good to go! The wrap makes them easy to store in a bag or backpack, while also providing essential protection from unwanted damage. This design makes it ideal for students commuting to and from school, and hobbyists who regularly travel. [$$]

For the diligent designer:

Made from Hardened acrylic material, with ultra-thin design, and wear-resisting materials, it feels like a glass panel without chipping or cracking.
A4 Ultra-Thin LED Art Stencil Board Light Pad Tracing Drawing Pad Board Light Box for Artists, Drawing, Sketching, and Animation

This A4-size portable light box totally changes the game for stencilling, calligraphy, comics & animation, and design! You can now get these crazy things, light-pads for drawing anywhere you have a USB connection: using only 5 V, these babies can be run off of only a power bank! [$$]

A fresh Moleskin Art Pad is the accessory for any designer. Something simple and practical, yet beautiful. Even KonMari couldn’t turn this down. [$]

For the crazy crafter:

Ever art for “365 Days of Creativity” by Lorna Scobie

365 Days of Creativity is a thoughtful and inspiring book designed to help you carve out moments of self-expression and unlock your creative potential. Award-winning illustrator Lorna Scobie shows you that art does not have to be scary — it can be done with any materials, in any colour, in any style and, most importantly, it can be done anywhere! With themes that look at imagination, nature, memory, and pattern, this book is designed to encourage you to think outside the box and spark the artist within. Featuring a creative thought for every week, goal-setting, and mood-based activities, as well as plenty of supportive prompts and tips, this fun and inspiring book will make a perfect gift and keepsake as well as being a powerful tool for positive change. [$]

Item description of “365 Days of Creativity

For the babe busting their butt and rubbing elbows in the art scene, this ArtBin Express Tote is the best way to wheel around valuable creations, bulky displays, and hard-earned-dough from show — to show — to show… The priciest on my list, but still has huge savings and is a sure-fire way to become their “total life-saver”! [$$$$]

26 individual loops on inside cover for markers, brushes, etc, and large back pocket holds up to 12-Inch by 12-Inch books, papers, and projects! Perfect for your professional artist on the go, workshop leaders, and portaging your scrapbook club materials.

ArtBin is a great brand that I swear by and would honestly love one of these for myself… Like, really bad. To fan-boy a bit, this thing packs:

  • 26 individual loops on inside cover for markers, brushes, etc.
  • A large back pocket that holds up to 12-inch by 12-inch books, papers, and projects
  • A shoulder strap with shoulder pad to easily transport the top unit that is detachable
  • Double reinforced side handles for secure lifting
  • and sturdy double skate wheels!
3D Pen, Duoles 3D Doodler Drawing Printing Pen, Christmas Gifts/ Present and Toys for Boys & Girls - Modern Arts and Crafts Tool. CREATE IN 3D - Duoles 3D printing pen extrudes heated plastic which instantly hardens, allowing you to literally draw in 3 Dimensions, freehand or on paper.
This 3D Pen, Duoles 3D Doodler Drawing Printing Pen is perfect for wild imaginations!

3D drawing pens were a hot gift last year — and they still are! For kids and adults, it’s easy for a crafty mind to get their hands on this and make something it was very much not intended for… Give the gift of crafting in a new dimension!

Duoles claims their pen is light, slim, and easier to handle. It boots up in just 30 seconds to get you creating quickly. You can easily control extrusion speed for smoother operation and endless creation. The best part is it will auto-off if not used in over 5 minutes, making it safer than a hot glue gun! [$$]

That’s my Artist Gift Guide for 2019!

I’m always curious as to what you are curious about!

You can find me active on Facebook and Instagram as well as posting more blog content on my personal Patreon page. Reach out to me; I respond to all comments and questions!

Until next time,

-Joey @ The A/J

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,

Artist Journal Initials circle logo
The Artist Journal initials blog logo

-Joey @ The A/J

Develop A Workflow To Free Up More Time To Work On Your Art Business

What is a workflow?

The best way for me to describe a workflow, work map as you may have heard before, would be: it’s a checklist of everything you do. To elaborate, a workflow is the order of steps your work passes through from start to finish. It’s the method you set up for getting your stuff done.

You probably already have workflows you follow in your life. Your morning/night time routines, the recipes you know off by heart, and how you shop at the supermarket are all routine things we do all the time, without even thinking about the plan.

Why you need to develop a workflow

Save yourself stress and money by following the right work map

Simply put, when everything is laid out in front of you, you can’t miss anything. You don’t need to waste time thinking about the next step, saving you a lot of time and energy in the long-run. 

I have established workflows for my professional life I tweak every so often. In a business setting, it allows others to complete a task in the same way at the same quality because everything they need to know is laid out in a specific order.

How to create a workflow

Make more art in less time by learning how to use workflows in your art
Read about how I free up more time to create at TheArtistJournal.ca!

You need to start by sitting down and visualizing the task at hand. Think carefully through each step you take in your process and write all of it down. You especially want to include steps your usually forget or cut around.

I wanted to show you one of my processes as an example, hopefully as a blueprint to help you along.

What my shipping process looks like:

  • Review order in Etsy app and put aside stock.
  • Pin buttons and enamel pins to backing/business cards. I do this because A. It looks nice, and B. it keeps the pins from clumping together in the envelope, which makes shipping more difficult and expensive. I combined my backing cards and business cards to reduce waste in my packaging and to cut printing costs.
  • Pull out shipping supplies. All I have for my packages is paper envelopes, custom (paper) return labels, and promotional materials I already have made for live events. I have tissue paper and twine for gift wrapping. I used to use hot pink bubble mailers, but since Canada stopped recycling opaque plastics I switched to paper manilla envelopes and decorate them with washi tape.
  • Stuff orders; I always add a thank you note to my orders as well as a sticker (if I have extras on hand). Don’t try to make it too complicated. With a bit of washi tape you can easily individualize boring envelopes while keeping it eco-friendly.
  • Write out addresses on labels, not envelopes. It’s so much easier for me to write out address labels rather than the envelopes themselves because I often have shaky hands. The higher contrast also makes it much easier for the postal service to read and you don’t have to recycle the entire envelope if you make a mistake! You could print them as well, but unless you’re shipping out three dozen orders at a time it wouldn’t be worth the hassle. I also consider the cost of ink and power for something I can easily write by hand.
  • Apply address labels before closing the envelopes. I always double check my package contents before sealing them; I would sometimes mix up orders with the same contents, so I had to stop writing names in my letters. I also discontinued using names because many of my customers haven’t given me their preferred name. I would take this into consideration if you’re appealing to an LGBTQ+ market.
  • Fill out customs forms and save them to Notes app. If you can’t do this you can print them, but again I consider the resources for something that takes me 30 seconds on my phone.
  • Deliver packages to post office and mark complete in Etsy app. I mark my orders as sent before even leaving the post office parking lot. You don’t want overdue packages in your shop manager; they reflect poorly on your shop’s overall standing.
  • Follow up on your orders! Use those comments, reviews, and photos (with permission) to your social media. You want people to know that you’re great at what you do and this is factual proof!
Start making more money by learning how to use workflow
Read about how I free up more time to create at TheArtistJournal.ca!

Creating workflows drastically reduced my administrative work time and further freed me from my desk. I know adapting this workflow will benefit your small business practice and make you feel like the badass boss you are! 

I have been using Etsy as the marketplace to sell my handcrafted goods and artwork since October 2016. In the beginning, I was running everything from my phone and this was actually helping me make more money! The Etsy app is the perfect example of a workflow as it takes you through the process of posting a new listing.

You can go read more about running and Etsy shop and how I increased my shop performance just by switching to the Etsy Mobile App!

You can go read more about running and Etsy shop and how I increased my shop performance just by switching to the Etsy Mobile App!

I would love to hear how you’re applying what you’ve learned, or if you have tips to share about your workshop practices. Stay tuned for the next Artist Journal by following on Facebook or Instagram!

-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.

How I Accidentally Started A Brand And You Can Too!

Before writing more great advice about creating content, I wanted to give you a run-down of my background, what I make, and how I got started. I’ve been really excited to share this story, as I feel it’s a great learning experience to share with other creators, whether you’re just starting out, or stuck in a career-rut.

Toadstool Illustrates is the online apparel and print shop I run. I use it to facilitate creative conversation around LGBTQ+ and its’ expression. Toadstool has evolved with me as an artist, being the brand’s third iteration it has become exactly what I set out to do when I first officially opened up shop in October 2016.

But back when I started, that wasn’t my plan or even my intention. I actually had no idea of what I wanted other than “I want to make stuff and make an impact”. In the beginning I mistook that for something else…


How I got started.

The patches all started in 2015.

I was in college for Environmental Technology and found there weren’t any active environmentalists or other activists among my peers. I additionally found that even working for the government I couldn’t make in impact. It was extremely disheartening.

While in college I worked for a summer at a popular craft store, and was doing a lot of sewing and clothing alterations. I had piles of scraps piling up because I just couldn’t bear to throw it all in the trash. 

Table covered in scattered bobbins of thread, yarn, and other sewing supplies in a green cutting board.
Photo by Vladimir Proskurovskiy on Unsplash

Weeks go by and I’m still wondering what to do with all of these scraps. They appeared to be nothing but a pile of shredded denim and bleached t-shirt arms. I decided I would cut them into squares, as large as I could, and noticed they were all coming out at similar sizes. I still couldn’t figure out a use for them.

I am suddenly struck with these questions: can I make an impact by spreading messages? Can messages spread via the things you wear? Of course, that’s what brand logos and tattoos are for, but wouldn’t it be better if you could spread multiple messages at the same time? This and many similar thoughts led me to do some brainstorming.

After doing a little research, I decided hand-made punk patches were the perfect way to start. Even better, this idea allowed me to recycle over 90% of my scrap fabric that was piling up around my workspace! My patches are now all hand-painted on recycled scrap fabric.

I’m inspired by LGBTQ+ issues, and Transgender rights specifically, as well as other humanitarian ideals and sex-positive humour. I try not to take myself too seriously when it come to my patches and pins; they’re meant to be conscientious, but still fun.


About my pins.

I started collecting pins and buttons when I was a child. It was the early 2000’s, but my bags and lanyards were totally decked out like it was 1988. 

Fast-forward 15 years and I’m making my own buttons.

After the success of my patches in mid-2016, I was able to invest in new merchandise: buttons! I was so excited to take this next big step into new territory. 

I found the ideas and motivations behind my patches — that were too colourful and complex for fabric painting — easily translated into these tiny buttons. In the beginning I couldn’t afford a press and had to outsource production to other local makers.

After about 2 years I was finally able to buy my own button press!

Since then, I have been having fun helping other artists and creative businesses with custom button pressing and design services.

I include the first 20 buttons in the base fee to do my best to help out; I know starting off can be tough and buttons are great way to dabble into new merchandise.

I personally started with handing mine out for free at in-person events, which I feel really helped my online performance. I began working small craft fairs and art shows with them in about April 2017. By October people remembered me and were coming back to buy again!

Artists use them to experiment with turning their art into a physical medium. I’ve been told they’re also great when you want to expand your price range as a seller. 

My latest and biggest project so far would be my Sword & Shield Enamel pin set.

My LGBTQ enamel pin set was in the works for over a year. I still remember thinking — over 2 years ago at my first Hamilton Pride festival — about how I wanted to contribute to my community and how I didn’t think I could.

I definitely didn’t know at the time it would be with my designs. Giving people a unique way of showing their transgender identity was not the initial intention, but with a more neutral-masculine design and colour pallet my pin was a stark contrast to most of the other all-black geometric designs flooding the search results.

My main concern was that I love our flags’ colours, but didn’t feel comfortable being decked out in pastel garb (and got the consensus that other trans-masculine folx out there felt the same way). That’s what inspired me to begin sketching.

These enamel pins were meant to help bridge the gap between the Transgender pride flag colours and the use of original neutral/masculine design.


Text "DO MORE" on an iMac screen on top of a minimalist office desk.
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

So, that’s my Etsy shop story.

Don’t leave thinking this entire article a big flex. It’s not, it’s for you to know I speak from years of real experience and about a metric tonne of books. I will be creating a 2020 reading list to help you get in a more creative and productive mindset to start your year off right. Let me know if that’s something you would look forward to, or any book recommendations you may have for me!

Until then, I hope you read through my last article where I talk about How To Use Your Doubts and Fears To Build And Motivate Your Business Part 2. If you missed Part 1 of that series, it’s important you go there first!

If you want to read some Etsy Shop tips I’ve gained through my experience go read How To Run Your Etsy Shop From Only Your iPhone And Increase Your Sales! Stay tuned for the next Artist Journal by following on Facebook or Instagram.

-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.

How I Successfully Improved My Etsy Shop Performance: Love Setting Up As A New Shop Owner!

If you are:

  • Someone who has ever wanted to run a side hustle
  • A creator with too much physical merchandise
  • An artist with an overflowing archive
  • A crocheter or any other talented crafter with more creations than you can give away

My point is, if you make anything, one of my favourite ways for you to make an easy income is Etsy. I want to be transparent that this is not a sponsored post, I’m just a long-time user of their platform.

I use Etsy as my online business platform for the following reasons;

  • I found it the easiest to navigate; vs. Shopify, Ebay, Depop, or even Squarespace.
  • It guides you through filling out every attribute for a more thorough listing description, making it easier for people to find you in related purchases and Etsy searches.
  • Everything is there if you need it, you just have to look for it. The Etsy Seller Handbook is a good place to start.
  • I didn’t have reliable access to a computer until 2018. For 2 years I used my iPad to run my business, and website designers do not take kindly to them.
  • I find the fees reasonable for the service and customizability, as well as the legal protections your business receives as a seller. My shop was paying for itself within my first financial quarter.

I have been using Etsy as the marketplace to sell my handcrafted goods and artwork since October 2016. In the beginning, I didn’t have many resources at my disposal. At the time I was running the shop and making all of my work from my iPad and a $70 printer…

Increase Sales In Your Etsy Shop With This One Strategy
Increase Sales In Your Etsy Shop With This One Strategy!

My problems at the time were access to poor-quality cameras, rudimentary editing software, and having slower order turn-around times as a result. It would sometimes take me up to 5 business days to ship something out because using these poor quality tools took so long!

After switching to operating from my phone I was able to cut that time down to 1-2 business days, which is a huge advantage in regard to Etsy’s internal SEO.

The increase in quality lead to more sales, which I was able to use to buy a laser-printer for all my business printing needs!


Creating a listing using the Sell on Etsy mobile app is a breeze.

Esty’s app guides you through the first couple of tedious steps and then easily lays out all the other information your listing needs. You should be filling in as much as possible while also using all 13 hashtags. 

You must use the right hashtags. They should be more than one-word searches and not sweeping, broad categories. They should be as relevant and descriptive as possible. 

Try also using synonyms; buttons are to pins as paintings are to artwork. I use tags such as; punk patches, trans pride pins, pronoun enamel pins, etc. These are extremely specific to my niche market and relevant to my products.

I do all of my photography and editing on my phone.

vintage camera hanging from black strap against a white wall
Photo by Yoann Siloine on Unsplash

I use my iPhone 8 Plus to take all my photos. I only mention this because of the high quality camera with stabilization, so I don’t ever have to worry about my shaky artist hands. I’m sure many phones have this now, but I love the portrait function for taking photos of my apparel outdoors.

I edit my photos either using the in-camera editing function, or when I’m not happy with that I also use Photoshop Express. It’s a free Adobe mobile app; all you need is a Creative Cloud account!

After editing, they’re ready for uploading. I write up my item descriptions in either the Apple Pages or Notes app. Pages is great because it can give you a word count; you should be writing at least 250-500 words, this will additionally aid Etsy’s internal SEO.

Sales are clear and easy to manage.

After the listing is all set up, it’s time to address sales. When you make a sale, it will create an order for you in it’s own tab. Using the app I check the order contents and shipping info. This way I can pack my orders, still without touching another device.

Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

I write my shipping labels by hand. I have pre-printed business cards, return labels, and flyers to stuff in my orders. That way I don’t need to print things more often than once or twice a month. Since I designed these assets in Adobe Draw on my iPad, I can access all of my printing assets through Creative Cloud and print them from my phone! Thought there was a loophole, huh?

I have found the one thing the app is missing is you cannot mark multiple orders as shipped at the same time. You have to mark each listing as completed separately, but if you’re not shipping more than 5 orders per day it’s not a big deal.

I fill out my international customs forms from my phone, send the barcodes to my email, and save them as pictures to a new note on my phone.

All I have to do is present the barcodes at the post office counter and pay with tap using, you guessed it, my iPhone! I guess you could use your wallet for this step, but it’s not as futuristic and cool.

Increase Sales In Your Etsy Shop With This One Strategy
Increase Sales In Your Etsy Shop With This One Strategy!

And that’s how I increased my Etsy sales by reducing my administrative work and freeing me from my desk. I know adapting this workflow will benefit your small business practice and make you feel like the badass boss you are! 

I would love it if you let me know what your trends look like after fully filling out your listings, or if you have tips to share about your Etsy shop practices. Stay tuned for the next Artist Journal by following on Facebook or Instagram!

Until next time,

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.


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