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.

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

Artist Journal Initials circle logo
The Artist Journal initials blog logo

A Minimalist Tidying Up With Mari Kondo

*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.

Despite reading similar or related information from many other sources, reading the life-changing magic of tidying up first hand was a whole new experience. 

The night before this project began, I had cracked open the life-changing magic of tidying up by Mari Kondo. 

After reading the first 55 pages that Friday night — like all the cool kids do — I knew I had to start then and there.

That, and I had gotten an email indicating the book was due back to the library on the Tuesday and I couldn’t renew it…

I decided to embark on the challenge: to apply the KonMari method of tidying to my entire space in a single weekend.

If you’re not familiar with the KonMari method, it is the Japanese style of tidying up. The idea is to tidy everything in your home, in totality, and your mess will never relapse. It’s become more widely read thanks to the popular Netflix show, Tidying Up With Mari Kondo.

Starting off as someone who already considered themselves a minimalist, I wasn’t sure there was much for me to take away from this book that I hadn’t read somewhere else already. Everyone in the community references Kondo and I figured I knew it all by proxy.

I have been down-sizing since 2015 and I was at first apprehensive about whether this idea was a good one. Was this project even worth my time?

Does the KonMari method actually work? Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash
Does the KonMari method actually work? Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

I was open to learning more about the lifestyle I had adopted, but I didn’t think there was anything left for me to get rid of… I was very much wrong.

Clothes are always first in the KonMari method, and the most fun in the tidying process.

30-day minimalist wardrobe challenges are the most popular minimalist content in mainstream media (other than this book). As fun as those are, they’re ineffective and contrary to the KonMari method.

I spend much of my time taking care of my house, entertaining friends weekly, and host clubs and workshops out of my home. After establishing this vision, I awoke that Saturday morning feeling far more excited than I anticipated.

My first goal was to fit all my off-season wardrobe into a single carry-on bag to free up my closet space to create more breathing room in my closets. I was sick of struggling to find properly-fitting linens and hanging guests’ coats on the armchair because the closet is overflowing with the households’ Canadian winter gear. My hats, scarves, flip-flops, swim trunks… Everything scattering amongst 2 closets, as well as a full-size suitcase and 2 carry-on bags. My partner seemed unconvinced when I first revealed my plan, but they were then bewildered when I met my first goal.

Transform your home in only one weekend using this method!
Learn the top tips I used to transform my home in a single weekend!

My second goal was to fit my entire wardrobe (underwear, socks, hats — everything) onto a rolling clothing rack. I’ve had this goal for more than 3 years.

During my first big clothing-cull in 2016 I got rid of over 6 113L [24 Gal.] garbage bags of clothes. In 2017 I let go of about three more. Each time, this task took me over 2 days and I never accomplished my goal to only have one clothing rack of items to choose from every day.

This year, following the KonMari method outlined in her book, I still filled an entire 113L [24 Gal.] garbage bag — I had clothes I loved that were three sizes too big for me, and a size I never wanted to be again! The amount of baggage that went with those clothes lifted a weight I didn’t know was there, thanks to following this book.

This time around, it only took me 5 hours to fully sort my entire wardrobe and I finally met my first minimalist goal ever!

Saturday night, I went through my books. 

The next day I didn’t get to start working on my KonMari project until about 3pm, which was a huge set back. How could I finish the rest of my project in only 7 hours?!

On top of that, I still had the most difficult categories left to organize: papers, komono, and sentimental items. Kondo defines komono as miscellaneous items Pg 106.

As someone who takes great pride in their home — especially my office-space — I gazed bewildered by my desk overflowing with papers. I watched as they spilled onto the floor in a comical fashion.

Papers spilling off my desk, onto the floor in a comical fashion.

My desk with all of my papers, before sorting (and my dog). I would of been too embarrassed if anyone knew how many more filing systems I thought I needed for all this meaningless “stuff”.

Where I determined to keep my papers.

It took all day Sunday to go through my papers. I ended up with another garbage bag in the hall, 4 vacant storage devices, and a half-dozen empty folders. I now finally have 3 portfolios filled with work I’m proud of rather than a pile of binders and folders of sketches and prints I “have to go through one day”.

My desk with all of my papers, after sorting. 4 full portfolios and an empty filing box sit under my desk (until sorting them away).

Despite my many successes and visual results with this project I’m disappointed I didn’t finish in the time-line I set, even if I felt I had completed it.

I asked ,“Does this spark joy?”, throughout the entirety of cleaning out my late-grandmother’s house in spring 2017. This question helped me only keep valuable essentials I would use throughout my life. It turned a burden into a process of closure and acceptance. The things I ended up keeping out of guilt left shortly after they arrived.

A minimalist in 1 weekend Pinterest card
Click to see more pins like this one!

After going through all my miscellaneous items in summer 2018, we ended up moving only about a third of our belongings to our new home.

I’m sure Kondo would think going through the same process again with the same items would be redundant — especially timeless, important things after already deciding they “spark joy”. I will consider it for the future, but I’m more than satisfied with the single Rubbermaid tote of photo albums, scrapbooks, and other komono that still bring me joy as I flip through them. I’m curious, do you think this counts? 

Click to follow me on Pinterest!

10 Key things I took away from the life-changing magic of tidying up by Mari Kondo:

  1. We should be choosing what we wish to keep, not what we want to be rid of. Pg 41
  2. Vertical storage is key; stacking is a spell for clutter . Kondo mentions this throughout the book (folding shirts, storing papers, etc.)
  3. Do not over-categorize as this complicates things and results in keeping more than you need. Simplicity is key. Pg 84
  4. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. Pg 95
  5. Presents are not things, but convey someone’s feelings at the time the gift was given. If you don’t use or enjoy what they picked out for you, the gift-giver wouldn’t want to burden you with it and it has served its’ purpose (of being received and conveying one’s feelings).
  6. Have a defined location for everything you own. I’m already a master at this, but it’s information you must know!
  7. Pursue ultimate simplicity in storage and do not scatter storage spaces. I was guilty of this one, but it was an easy fix.
  8. Don’t underestimate the “noise” of written information, especially in your native language. It can feel like some is whispering cleaning instructions to you whenever you open a closet.
  9. Letting go is more important that adding healthy habits. Letting go, in itself, is a healthy habit of its’ own.
  10. At last, thank your belongings. They support you in some way, sometimes the entire day. Practicing gratitude for your possessions will help reinforce what is important to you. You might also see what is unessential to you.

Overjoyed Sunday evening, I was rid of the two dozen sketchbooks I had been standing knee-deep in. I was taken aback at my car trunk full of baggage I didn’t know I had.

The most important thing to me was shaking off my minimalist Imposter syndrome. I did what I set out to do in only a single weekend, accomplished many of my personal goals, and am eager to see the ongoing impact of tidying up. I’ve also just finished reading through and practicing Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, another fantastic book I plan on covering soon.

Finding Minimalism in one weekend
Transform your space into a peaceful place in only 2 days!

If you’re interested in how I manage my artwork archives or even my wardrobe, let me know. I’m always curious about what you’re curious about!

Whether you’re new to minimalism or you think it’s a dumb trend, let me know that as well! I’m always open to interesting dialogue from different backgrounds. You can find me active on Facebook and posting more blog content on my personal Patreon page, I respond to all comments and questions!

Until next time,

-Joey @ The A/J

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joey Dean, painter & Designer
About Joey.

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.