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.
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.
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.
*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.
What does an Artist actually do?
You might think that being an artist means sleeping in every day, sketching strangers in Starbucks while sipping over-priced lattes, leisuring around local galleries, and shopping in boutique art-supply stores.
You would be right!
There’s a lot more to it than that, but these are all some of my favourite things to do that are technically considered a part of my job.
But, I also get to do these things because I make time for them.
I worked in a lab, wrote and carried out reports, mixed solvents, tested pH levels, distillated liquids… the works.
When I was in College and had to write up a term-paper, preform a lab, or begin a test, I would always know where to start. I would glance around a few questions in, and a lot of the class was struggling — unable to find where to begin.
I also see this phenomenon bleeding over into my adult life during networking events, workshops, seminars, and problem solving situations in general.
So what make some of us more productive than others?
People who get more done, don’t have more time than you. Beyonce has 24 hours in her day, just like everyone else on this planet.
I wasn’t finishing my tests first and handing in my assignments early because I was smarter than anyone else, it’s because I was focusing my time on the right things; the material we were actually being marked on!
That means I would spend most of my time ONLY working on the tasks that got me the most marks.
Only if there was extra time would I go answer every question and flesh out every answer, but in my experience the farther you get into education the more you have to complete in less allotted time.
This strategy got me Deans’ Honours every year I was in college, so it might work for you too.
Back then, I used to describe it as “being picky with my time”.
Now it looks more like declining events outside of my niche to cut losses, only working with people who value my work to the benefit of my mental health, and namely; no longer trying to please everyone who looks at my artwork, reads my writing, or otherwise has an opinion on what I make.
By “being picky with my time”, I was actually accidentally applying the 80/20 Principle by spending 80% of my study/prep time on the most impossible 20% of the material.
There were times where I would not do tests and quizzes entirely and willingly, and severely stressing out my peers — to increase my efforts on something worth much more, and was lacking the resources for.
Saving time allowed me to put spend my extra time refining every detail for more marks, or to move onto the next thing sooner than anticipated.
What if I told you that saving time allows me to make more merchandise, shop locally for my supplies, and now even have an office outside of my home — that my business can actually pay for?
All because I have the extra time to dedicate to marketing and diversifying my income. I even have the free time to make all of my own foods from scratch!
I’ve been talking about the 80/20 rule for a while now, but what’ is it and how can we use it to our advantage?
Originally known as The Pareto Principle, The 80/20 rule demonstrates that in most things you do, 20% of your results come from 80% of your efforts. But, that can also mean that 80% of your results can come from 20% of your efforts!
You might be wondering now, how to make this happen for you. How can you apply this to your own work-life?
It starts with knowing what you do with your time.
You will need to spend a week or two tracking everything you do with your time. Everything! Binging on YouTube, reading a magazine, riding the bus to the grocery store… all of it!
Here are some of the best free productivity time-tracking apps on the internet:
My absolute favourite is Toggl. I’ve been using it for a long time and works across all of my iOS devices — it’s great for individuals, but can also be used for teams as well! It send PDF reports to my inbox every Monday telling me what I accomplished (or didn’t) the past last week.
MyHours is another free app that provides free time-tracking for freelancers and teams as well as project tracking, time-editing for Admins, and generating reports that can be exported in PDF or CSV format (for Excel).
Harvest is a time-tracking app available for iOS, Android, and Mac and advertises to both individuals and large teams. Individuals are supported for free with a limit of up to two projects, and paid per person for employees. It seems like a limited free resource and expensive option, but if you’re a big enough company I’m sure the built-in invoicing, discounts for larger teams, and other interesting features are worth it.
Clockify claims it’s “The only truly free time tracker for teams” and is “free forever”. It appears to have all the usual features (a.k.a. a timer, organizing by project, and exportable reports), but also has a separate feature to mark you time as billable for invoicing purposes twitting the app. With the ability to invite an entire team, it gives you the ability to set your employees hourly rates, see their activity (which is probably how it’s free), and who worked on what (and where, also contributing to the nature of being a free app). It’s compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux; as well as iOS and Android.
Go download one of these apps right now!
Start using it to track you time for the next few days until part 2 of this article is published. Yes, there will be a part 2!
Today we talked about some of the big responsibilities as an art business owner, how the 80/20 rule can be used to your advantage when managing your time, and the importance of time-tracking with a list of the best apps I could gather — just for you!
My 5 Best Tips To Start Time-Tracking Better Now:
Your first week of time-tracking I suggest going about your daily life as you normally would and not being too self-aware of your time use.
Be as descriptive as possible with your entries.
Track what you’re doing as you’re doing it, not at the end of the day. You will vastly overestimate the amount of time you spent on working and assume less for your leisure time.
Your second week of time-tracking is when you should be mindful of what your doing by tracking in real-time.
Have your weekly reports sent to your email inbox and read them — print them out if necessary, but you have to read them.
Our minds tend to segment things — to break them off into smaller chunks, so they’re easier for our brains to digest. This can naturally make it difficult to accurately track your time. That’s why I stress tracking your time in-the-momentand not after you’re finished, or even worse, guessing at the end of the day.
Because we sit down and draw for thirty minutes and feels like it’s been an hour. Or in more extreme cases, you’ll be at work checking your emails for an hour and suddenly it’s almost time to go home.
Tracking my time gave me a feeling of more control over my life. It’s forced me to make more deliberate choices.
It’s shown me what I have the ability to accomplish and has pushed me to work harder and smarter.
Come back next week for Part 2 of this post where I talk about using time-tracking in tandem with time-blocking actions in your day planner to get the most out of your time — the method that made me more productive than ever!