Behind-the-scenes: What I wish I had known before going "full-time"

As a solo-entrepreneur and artist, I have learned MANY lessons in the past 3 years of "full-time" working for myself.  Today I hope to shed some light on the real behind-the-scenes of the operation you know and love as Art by Megan.

Framed 8x10 prints / Frames courtesy of  Art to Frames  

Framed 8x10 prints / Frames courtesy of Art to Frames 

1. Make artist/creative/maker friends either online or in-person.  THIS is essential.  Working ALONE from home or my kitchen table has allowed me many freedoms such as motherhood multi-tasking like a champion, but it can also be a bit isolating at times.  Online friends, phone dates with friends, Facetime calls, and anything else I can get my hands on have saved my sanity.  Real life coffee dates are also my sanity-saver of choice!  I LOVE human interaction and when it is limited I can really feel drained, so I have had to learn to schedule this time into my work.  

2. Follow a schedule the best you can.  Hold yourself accountable to a schedule when you work alone.  Without one the days and nights can blur together and productivity can be completely lost.  I use a technique where I accomplish as much of a specific kind of task as I can in an hour and then move on the to the next thing on my checklist.  Which leads me to the world's best check-list technique...

3. Use a bullet journal.  I use a scheduling and brain-dump technique known as a bullet journal.  It's all over the internet and some people's journals are ridiculously beautiful.  But, the beauty of this type of note-taking and scheduling is that you can completely make it your own and tailor it to your needs as a mom/business owner, etc. 


4. Schedule time off.  YOU MUST be able to put down the business at night (sometimes!) and pay attention to your family or you will be burnt out and bitter over the long-haul.  BUT, I wish I had known how hard this would be.  The tricky part of owning a business is that you actually DO love what you do, even if it's some of the silly tasks or "boring" admin tasks.  I genuinely enjoy most aspects (most...I am looking at you financial planning and taxes!) of owning my business, so it's VERY HARD to turn it off.  Which leads me to...

5. Your business might take over your life sometimes.  I thought that I would be able to pursue many of my passions simultaneous to starting my own business and I think I was wrong.  I don't actually balance things well.  I am kind of an all-or-nothing kind of person.  So, that being said, I have learned that I love this enough to pour 100% of my energy into it on most days.  It's not a perfect balance, but I am ok with it because I love it and I have come to realize that things evolve over time.  

6. Be FLEXIBLE.  My scheduled time working on Art by Megan is often "migrated" (that's bullet journal lingo for rescheduled) to other days on my calendar as I am parent who does pick ups from school, after-school play dates, doctors appointments and all of the other fun last-minute stuff that comes with parenting.  My day really starts at 9 and ends at 2:30pm and resumes after bedtime if I have work to continue.  It's not a typical 9-5 and it changes rapidly on any given day, but this unique flexibility works for our family and you learn to do the best that you can.  

7. Celebrate the small victories.  Progress in any form (working out, parenthood, relationships, reaching goals, etc.) can feel so SLOW.  I often have to force myself to STOP, smell the roses and be grateful for how far I have come in the past couple of years.  I also think that being grateful for the ability to own a small business and pursue a dream is something that I need to tell myself at least once a week.  If you just keep going and going, you will lose the small moments in the process and that's just no fun at all. 

8. It won't always feel like "full-time".  Some weeks I work over 100 hours to make this business work and other times I have to travel FAR on weekends.  On different weeks, especially those in early 2018, I work only 20 hours a week and take naps on the couch to just survive.  There is not a hard and fast rule in regards to clocking hours when you are your own boss.  It's glamorous and awesome to be able to live like this, but it can also drive a person who loves structure and goals (me!) a little batty.  So sometimes I like to repeat the following after myself: "Be nice to yourself, Megan."

9. Tell people what you do all day.  Yesterday I was on a coffee date (yay! real human interaction!) with a friend and we talked about how there is a bit of mystery surrounding people who work from home or work for themselves - whether they be freelancers or creatives or what have you.  BUT, for me, I have found that I need to share what I do with those who might not understand or have context.  I want people to know that I am working hard, even if I am not at the studio.  It's not to prove how hard I am working, but instead to share what actually happens behind-the-scenes.  People are really just genuinely curious and don't mean to be offensive if they say things like, "so, what DO you do all day?".  It's a new type of job, relatively speaking, so SHARE SHARE SHARE what you do with the world!  Enter social media. :) 

10.  Being an artist is SO messy.  I love making a good mess as much as the next gal, but something I have come to realize is that I own literally 5 articles of clothing that are untouched by paint.  I am CONSTANTLY covered in paint.  I usually have some on either elbow, on my nails, and somewhere else on my body at all times.  If I have to do something formal like be in a wedding, go out in public with real life adults, or be even mildly presentable, I find that I have to do a full-body scan to make sure that I don't have giant paint blobs somewhere on my body.  Who knew the struggle would be so real to stay clean?  ;)

Art by Megan X Shop Denik notebooks

I hope this helps shed a bit of light on my journey as an artist working to build a dream. Thanks for reading and see you next week!