Friday 28 October 2016

Doing what is right for you and your business

Happy Friday! As promised, I've been planning a few blog posts related to my new freelance life and how I've been experiencing it so far. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about my favourite sites for design inspiration, but today, I'd like to get more personal and share my thoughts on all the messages and advice you hear and read when you start a freelance career and looking for some help.

Before going full-time, I decided to be safe and try and get a few freelance jobs that I would work on during evenings and weekends as side projects. It went quite well and I felt very confident that I could leave my day job by June, knowing that I had a few projects lined-up. It all worked out really well in the end and I was finding regular work even though I was still searching for new clients as I wasn't busy enough and didn't quite earn enough money to live comfortably. The thing is, in August/September, I hit a wall and realised that I wasn't earning enough at all and I didn't know what to do anymore to gain more clients and engagement. So I started seeking advice from other designers and bloggers through social media.

Now don't get me wrong, I found some really good advice but overall, I felt completely overwhelmed by all the messages I was getting through listening to podcasts, watching webinars and reading too many blog posts about how to get more clients and basically be a super successful freelance designer. At one point, I started to doubt myself and felt like I wasn't doing enough, which really knocked my confidence down as a creative. I was told that I needed to be on all social media platforms all the time, that I should set up a newsletter and get a massive mailing list, that I should use my blog as a tool to get more clients, use various tools to schedule tweets in advance... and the list goes on. It was all about telling me what I should do and what I should be.

And then it clicked. Maybe it worked for some other people, but I didn't think it will work for me. For example, I always felt that my blog was a reflection of my life in general, and even if I've slightly changed the content here and there, it always stayed true to its goal. I started my blog because I wanted people to know me better and discover my work outside of my website, not to continuously try and sell my skills and services. Also, I didn't feel right about the idea to start a newsletter. And what would it be about anyway? This idea doesn't appeal to me and there's nothing wrong about it. Maybe one day I'll feel like I have enough knowledge to share, but at the moment, I'm quite happy to let the pros do it. Also, I completely understand why some people find that scheduling tweets is the best thing ever, but I really don't think that's for me. The essence of Twitter to me is to be a platform that works on spontaneity.

The issue was that I was getting so obsessed about learning the tricks that I didn't get the chance in the end to properly practice them, and I felt a bit lost about my goals and what felt right for me and my business. So I stopped reading too many blog posts about how to succeed in a freelance career, stepped back from all the overwhelming advice and decided to reset my goals. And that's been the best decision I made in the past few months: concentrating on what I really wanted to do.

I did find a bit of useful advice and tools to help me get where I am now and I'm so grateful for that (list below!) but I've learnt my lesson and try to only select things that feel right for me and the way I want my business to grow. If you're at the same stage as me, I hope this post has helped you :)

Here are some amazing links that I couldn't wait to share with you!
- I did the chalkboard method from Being Boss and it changed everything. I've already mentioned it, but if you haven't done it yet, then you're definitely missing out!
- I found Being Boss through their Facebook group along with Savvy Business Owners and so far I'm loving it! Being on two groups is way enough for me and it allows me to really concentrate on them.
- Pretty obvious but until I read this post by Nesha Woolery, I never thought about updating my About page!
- I read this book by Aimee Song, and there are loads of very useful Instagram tips that helped me realise what was wrong with my 'strategy'. I also switched to a professional account on Instagram which is great as I can see all the stats from my account.
- As part of my chalkboard method, one of my goals was to attend at least 5 networking events in the next couple of months. So I found f2n business network and it's been a great experience so far (you need to have a look at it if you're based in North Wales!). Jason and I have also been to two really cool and inspiring events in Manchester, YENA networking and Glug.
- And last but not least, I religiously follow Rowan Made's blog, full of useful tips that really speak to me.

Friday 21 October 2016

Port Sunlight

I came across the story of Port Sunlight in a local magazine and since then I've wanted to visit it. It's a small village just a few miles away from Liverpool, founded by the 'Soap King', William Lever. He was notorious for being passionate about the Sunlight Soap he was selling and in the end of the 19th century, he decided that soap shouldn't be an expensive product and everybody should have the right to be clean. He then went on to build his factory in the then empty marshland that became Port Sunlight, and asked no less than 30 different architects to build top quality homes for his employees.

The first thing we did was visit the museum to learn a little bit more about the village, its history and the century it was founded in. I'm particularly interested about the living conditions around Britain during the end of the 19th Century. Lever's priority was to make sure that every house had a bath and running hot water, which was quite amazing for that time. Toilets weren't shared and all his employees had a garden to look after. Very far from the slums in the big cities! There were rules, but at the time, with a shop, theatre and many activities available in the village, people were quite happy to follow the rules for better living conditions.

The village is now home to a massive Unilever factory (result of Lever Brothers merging with a Dutch company later on) but it's not an issue as the houses and streets haven't changed and we really enjoyed walking around and looking at the beautiful details of each house. It definitely inspired us for our future home! We also visited the church and I had to keep Jason away from the local pub ;)

Although we were a bit late visiting the Lady Lever gallery, I would definitely recommend it because the few rooms that we saw were great (and it's free!). The gallery contains the art that William Lever and his wife collected over the years as well as some small rooms here and there that display the luxurious furniture and decorations a rich family would have in their house in the late 19th Century.

It was a great relaxing afternoon and although you feel like a right tourist taking photos of people's houses, I loved learning about the history of it and how avant-garde it all was at the time. Fascinating!

Have a look at their website right here :)

Friday 14 October 2016


The Llawn art festival is one of our favourite events happening in Llandudno every year. Performances and exhibitions are dotted around the whole town, which gives a really nice arty and festive feel during the entire weekend.

We went on Sunday afternoon, lucky to have the sun with us, and just arrived when a hoard of bikers were leaving the prom. It was quite scenic with the Great Orme as the background! What I absolutely love though are the multiple beach huts on the promenade that you can spot miles away thanks to their crazy colours. Plus, they're great on Instagram ;)

We couldn't miss the Llandada exhibition at the Freehaus, where our friend and ex-colleague Sarah Bowker-Jones was exhibiting her colourful sculptures! We loved the atmosphere and the way they were all laid out around the empty room. We really enjoyed going around the house to have a look at the other exhibitors too, but Sarah's was our favourite ;). Make sure to follow her on Instagram right here for regular updates on her work!

There was loads happening at Mostyn too as they started the Glitch festival. There was a long queue to enter Kris Martin's massive hot air balloon so we gave it a miss unfortunately. Our favourite was the robot following us everywhere though, I loved how Paul Granjon thought about every detail, even up to adding brown cables to give it hair.

The Tabernacle was our last destination during the festival. The place itself is full of history and I've always liked the layout of the room with the organ right at the end, placed in the centre. This year they had a very interesting music instrument placed in front of the organ, plus some exhibitions taking place in different rooms. I liked how each exhibition had a link to the building. It's a shame I didn't pick up some flyers to let you know a bit more about them!

I'm in the process of selecting the photos from our weekend in Port Sunlight so look out for the next post!

Have a great weekend guys :)

Monday 10 October 2016

Design Inspiration - My Favourite Sites

Hey guys! So after following the Chalkboard Method by the amazing gals at Being Boss (definitely recommend it!), I realised that one thing I didn't do enough on this blog is actually talking about what I do and how I do it. So I put together a little list of topics that you might be interested in and if you're a newbie in the creative world, then these posts will be perfect for you.

Today I'd like to share with you my favourite sites when it comes to finding inspiration and developing moodboards for various projects. I didn't include Pinterest in this list because I felt it was pretty obvious and it's also not made exclusively for design inspiration.

OK, here we go!

I have to say, if you don't know Behance, then shame on you. But we all need to start somewhere and this one is a really good start. Behance is a platform where creatives share their projects and designs in the form of a portfolio. So you can create your profile and add projects as and when. The great thing about it, is that you can literally see everything that everyone has been sharing and it's the perfect source of inspiration if you're stuck with a brief or in need of examples for your moodboards. I find the search tool very helpful when I'm searching something quite specific. I'm on Behance actually, so feel free to have a look at my profile right here.

Yep, pretty good isn't it? It's close to Pinterest in the layout, and it's full of design related inspiration. I quite like sometimes to not search for anything specific and just scroll down to see a good mix of visuals that might spark an idea in my little brain. It's also great for logotypes and typography. Oh and talking about search tools, they actually have one where you can select the colour you're after. So cool.

I discovered this one thanks to Jason a while back now, and the website has been through quite a few changes, but it's always been great for inspiration and I love the categories that they organise the visuals into. They now have handy resources that you can purchase and you can submit your artworks to be featured in their next articles!

This one is orientated towards branding and packaging and I love it. Richard Braid, who's behind the whole website, gives a real insight in the designs he's sharing and I always find his opinion really valuable. Plus, rather than seeing just one image of the project featured, you always see multiple examples, which is really important to me. If I see a new brand design I find interesting, I like to see the collaterals to have a good idea of how the whole brand was produced.

This is Mr Cup design's blog and every time I need to look for luxurious stationery and intricate illustrations, I immediately have a look at it. It's pretty much eye candy all the way for any designer out there. A designer himself, Fabien has put together a letterpress calendar for the past couple of years and I'm always drooling over it. Also, the 'Excellence' section (in the Topics menu) is one of my favourites.

On the rare occasion that I have to work on some web design, this is my go to website. I only wish they would update it more often! The filter system is great and I always find loads of inspiration. However, I also found this one very recently called The Best Designs and it really helped me with one of my projects. Again, easy to use and very practical! 

I guess this one is a bit like Behance, who doesn't know it? But it's a great source of inspiration so I had to add it! I seem to be checking it more often when I'm working on branding but then again, I find it great for illustrations too. I know you only see a snippet but sometimes that's just enough. The whole website is made as a community of designers that are sharing their work. If you sign up, you can also appear in the list of designers to hire. Handy!

Very different, but oh so inspiring! Danielle's blog brings me back to my source: art. I started my journey into design as an art student and sometimes I do miss it a bit. But it's not just great for finding amazingly talented artists. I find that inspiration should come from various sources and when I venture on The Jealous Curator, I get a break from the typical design inspiration I'm usually looking for and it's a bit like I'm escaping and letting my imagination wander as I scroll down the blog.

I hope you found this list really helpful and keep you eyes peeled for the next posts!

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Exploring Conwy Castle

Now, you might know by now that we have a thing with castles in general. We actually live a few minutes away from Conwy Castle and although I visited it very soon after arriving in North Wales 5 years ago, Jason has NEVER gone inside it. Can you believe it?!

As part of the open doors event happening all over Wales in September, we thought we could take this opportunity to visit the castle before we move to France. However, with me being me, I didn't read the tiny line on their website saying that even though the entry was free, we needed to register as there was a limited amount of spaces. Bummer. So we had to pay a whooping £16 for the both of us and we weren't really happy about that. BUT, after a couple of minutes fuming, I thought 'life's too short to be annoyed at something like this' and I quickly forgot the whole thing to enjoy the whole experience. We enjoyed strolling around the old walls and going up and down the towers, burning loads of calories on the way! Even though I'm afraid of heights, I didn't mind climbing to the top of the towers to snap some photos of the view. Impressive isn't it?

I've never shared photos from the castle on this blog so I knew that now was the time! Also, I have to mention the fact that we were really lucky not to have felt ONE DROP of rain during the whole time.

Have a great day guys!