Creative Business Lessons Learned in My First Year

Dallas Skyline Block Print

As Wandering Paper Co. nears its first birthday, I’ve been doing lots of reflecting on the past year. When I launched in November 2015, I went against my nature and just dove in. The last twelve months have been SUCH a crazy fly-by-the-seat of your pants whirlwind, and I’ve learned so much by just starting and figuring things out as I went.

Here are a few thoughts and lessons I’ve learned this year.

Printing the Brooklyn Brownstones Block Print
Hand-pulling block prints


Be strategic and play the long game
I once read that it takes two years to know whether a creative business will be successful. For me, year one has meant laying the groundwork to enable me to run an efficient business in year two. Lots of time and energy has been spent researching and experimenting with different bookkeeping systems, web hosting platforms, marketing strategies, booth designs, pricing systems—you name it. This may have taken up a lot of my time this year, but it will save me time and money in the long run.
Small Creative Business Resources
Small Creative Business Resources
Celebrate the small victories
I’m very goal oriented, and often this means I’m so focused on what’s next that I don’t stop be be grateful for what has already been accomplished. I think psychologically it is important to feel like you’re moving forward, and a great way to do this is to take time recognize the minor accomplishments. They may not seem like much on their own, but together they equal big ground gained.
The Amsterdam, Moroccan Tile, Santorini, and Japanese Water Block Prints
The Amsterdam, Moroccan Tile, Santorini, and Japanese Water Block Prints
Avoid burnout
I know it’s easier said than done, but burnout is a business killer. I had to learn this lesson the hard way—there was a period last spring where I got really sick from overwork and it forced me to slow down because I literally could not get out of bed. This was back in April when my loving husband worked the Etsy Dallas Spring Bash without me. I was so disappointed to miss the event, and I felt like I was missing so many opportunities since I could not be there to sell in person. It was a tough lesson to learn, but a necessary one. Since then, I’ve had to be fiercely protective of my time, and I do my best to work in breaks where I can. It is still a huge struggle, though, and is sure to remain on my list of 2017 goals.
Carving a block for a Polish Folk Art flower print
Carving a block for a Polish Folk Art flower print
Be patient
Wandering Paper Co. had a great year, but I have lots of goals for the business that I still hope to accomplish. Starting a successful business requires a big time and energy commitment in a lot of different areas, and that means having to prioritize. Now that I’ve laid some of the groundwork, I’m excited to tackle some more creative and exciting goals in 2017! Stay tuned! 

Published by Alex Hughes

I am a graphic designer from Dallas who loves printmaking, travel, illustration, soccer, and psychology.

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