Welcome to my 2022 business review! Unlike last year I am actually getting to write my business review close to the start of the year woo!
Business reviews usually start with reflecting on your goals and what was achieved. Ummm, so my main goals for 2022 were to licence 20 designs and set up a print shop for my art and photography.
Full transparency: the total number of designs I licensed was ZERO. And I didn’t get anywhere close to setting up a print shop.
Why Anna why?? I hear you ask
I have a few theories as to why I struggled to licence any designs last year. Firstly, many small businesses, who are my target market for licensing, were more cautious with their spending due to the uncertain economic climate.
Additionally, I only created 10 new designs that I was happy with, which isn’t that much when you are pitching new designs. I did have grand plans to regularly conduct trend research and design to trends, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.
But my main issue was lack of time (cue small violin) – I lost two big chunks of time during the year for two very different reasons:
- early in the year I had a second surgery to remove the rest of my thyroid gland, and for the first few weeks afterwards I felt like a zombie and struggled to do very much – which was mostly due to my medication dose being too low (now it’s too high woo!).
- a much more fun experience was finally travelling back to Italy to see my partner’s family – we were away for seven weeks in total. It was a fantastic trip and I was organised enough before I left to have pre-planned blog posts and social media but I only did a tiny bit of work while I was away.
So the year felt a bit disjointed and obviously I did not achieve the goals I had originally set out.
However, all was not lost! I did achieve two very cool things that have now changed my business focus for 2023!
- the first thing was taking part in the Incognito Art Show. The application was sent to me by an artist friend, and I made it my goal following my thyroid surgery to complete artworks for this. This experience opened up my mind to creating illustrations (not just patterns) and also creating artwork to support not-for-profit organisations.
- I got asked to do commissioned patterns and illustrations for the first time and over the year had three very different projects. Through these experiences I have discovered I love love love the world of commissioned art – being able to take someone’s idea and create the artwork they are imagining is just so fulfilling for me. I like the challenge of coming up with the ideas, creating moodboards and artwork ideas, and then completing the actual artwork. Swoon!
So what did I stick with in 2022?
I was pretty good at allocating two days each month to social media analysis and planning. I would review all of my previous month’s social media posts and see what worked and what didn’t. Overall I found the most popular posts were anything personal about me or stories of how I run my business, and also anything that showed completed art or the artistic process.
Obviously Reels became ‘the thing to do’ in 2022 and I did make an effort to do about half my content as Reels – honestly they are so hit and miss. My best performing Reel I almost didn’t post as I thought the video quality was a bit rubbish and I didn’t like it that much. Apparently Instagram thought otherwise. Meanwhile Reels that I spent literally an hour or more creating, to make them look pretty and seamless and with trending audio… well I would be lucky to get a handful of views.
I also was much more organised with blogging, and drafted a heap of blog posts at once so that I could publish a new blog post every couple of weeks or so. I did see slightly higher website visits following a blog post but nothing dramatic. However I do get consistent website traffic to my blog posts long after they have been published, the most popular ones last year were about nudibranchs and travelling to New Caledonia.
I did make sure to create images in each blog post that I could share to Pinterest – and I have seen constant growth in my Pinterest account. If you are interested, most of the visitors to my website came from google searches, followed by Instagram, and then as referrals from Pinterest.
Speaking of my website
I did do a bit of an overhaul and SEO review last year. The main reason was to really refine what I am offering (illustration and surface pattern design) so I removed my photographic portfolio and spent time on the layout and wording of my website. I am hoping my website is more user-friendly and easy to understand! I also spent a good day or so reviewing my SEO and brainstorming what words to use. Hmm clearly I may need to look at this again based on my most popular blog posts of last year 😂
While I had a fantasy of spending a bit of time each evening playing in an art journal, the reality was that most of my free time was spent going to bed early (thank you small child plus thyroid medication). My artwork creation was a bit sporadic and less structured than I had planned.
Thanks to a gift from my partner, I discovered the joy of pastels, and when I felt awake enough would give myself about 20 minutes to do a quick shell drawing. These beautiful Art Spectrum pastels are perfect for shell drawings especially on toned paper.
I also did a handful of illustrations through the year, these two I am most in love with:
One surprise was discovering what I could achieve using Procreate on the iPad – I made a few pattern designs purely using Procreate and now I consider it to be another ‘art material’ when I am thinking about how to achieve the look I am after.
Looking back over my favourite art created during 2022, I realised that I used a lot of pink!
Our trip to Italy gave me so much illustration inspiration which I have carefully kept a note of ready for when I have time to create some new artworks.
So although my goals of 2022 were not realised, I am more than happy with what I did achieve and the new direction I am wanting to take my business in. I have realised that in business (and life) plans and goals are fantastic and essential to give you direction. However you also need to be open-minded and adaptable to change, as things can happen that challenge your goals but also lead to you to new and amazing things.
I hope you enjoyed reading my 2022 business review and it has inspired you in your own creative business!