#PjShopTalk No.1 - Start Somewhere
"When I was first starting out with calligraphy, one of my biggest frustrations was following talented people I admired, asking them questions, and never getting an answer. And while I totally get that life can get crazy busy and it can be hard to answer everyone, I want to try my best to help you! So I'm starting #PjShopTalk! Every Friday I will answer a common question I receive. So what do you want to know!?"
After lots of comments and great questions, the first topic I have chosen to write on is...
HOW I GOT STARTED WITH MY BUSINESS
This is one of the most common questions in my classes, especially when people find out that I've only been practicing calligraphy for a little over a year. But while I only picked up an oblique pen and ink in 2014, I have been writing and doodling for my whole life. As someone who was always obsessed with trying out new handwriting styles and admiring talented artists, calligraphy wasn't a stretch for me. I picked it up very naturally and the love affair was instant. Once I knew I had a knack for it, I hit the ground running!
For those of you wanting to start out, here's my best advice to you broken down to 5 steps:
1. FIND YOUR STYLE
Calligraphy at it's core is a style of handwriting and everyone has their own unique penmanship. I bet you can guess that birthday present is from your mom just by seeing your name written on the outside of the card...am I right? Remember that when you're first starting out. It's tempting to follow all of your favorite letterers on social media and want to duplicate what they're doing. But the truth is, that's all it's going to look like...a duplicate of someone else's. Find what you feel comfortable with and how you can inspire others. Your calligraphy is going to look and feel it's best when you are letting your hand flow freely.
2. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY AS CLIENTS
When I started out, It happened to be a time in my life where a ton of my close friends were getting married. So I began offering my services for envelopes, placecards, signs...anything to get some formal practice in. I started out simply charging supply costs and while many of my friends were generous on top of that, I used these unpaid opportunities to grow my confidence as well as my portfolio.
3. GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA
POPPYjack Shop would not be where it is without social media. If you're serious about starting a business, get on all platforms. Not only to save the handle you want on all channels (that's the full-time social media marketer in me) but to reach all types of audiences. Instagram is my number one traffic source as well as a huge percentage of where my sales come from. Post consistently and purposefully keeping in mind that your social media pages are just as (if not more) important as your website.
Connect with people you admire and start working together! Not everything is going to be a paid opportunity when you're first starting out. If you have the time and resources, I encourage you to offer your services and start becoming visible to your desired audience through working with other creatives.
5. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Just like with anything, calligraphy takes practice. And it's probably something you will never perfect! It's crazy to look back, even in just the short amount of time I have been officially doing this, and see how much I have improved. If you're a perfectionist who tends to compare yourself to others who have years of experience on you (guilty), this is a great way to keep your confidence up.
Did that help? Do you have any additional questions on this topic that I missed? Leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them. You can also leave a comment with ideas for future #PjShopTalk topics!