DIARY OF AN ARTIST: Keeping It Real

 

Today I wanted to share something a little different on the blog. I’m a huge advocate of always being honest in life and just generally keeping it real. So last Sunday I shared something on my Instagram story that provoked an incredibly warm and positive response from the designer-maker community around me that I never expected to get. The post that’s prompted me to write this blog entry is the image below about a bad market day I’d had that day. In fact, although it was the first time I’d ever sold nothing, it wasn’t the first bad market I’d done for sure and I’m sure there will be more bad market days to come too. But the response I had from people showing such surprise that I might not have sold anything made me think how being honest like that has so much more value than even I realised.

 

 

I’ve heard many fellow designer-makers say to me recently how social media can be a real struggle for them sometimes and how hard it becomes not to constantly compare yourself. To see how hard everyone else appears to be working and think ‘I’m not as good as them’ or ‘I should be doing what they’re doing’, etc. As much we all love to see a snapshot into each-other’s worlds and find inspiration from one another, there is unfortunately also an uglier side to Instagram and social media and I really hate to hear that it gets people down the way it does sometimes.

Sharing that very simple truth that day really made me realise how much we all need to hear about the bad days as much as the good! I’m not saying we should begin complaining about all the shit that goes on in life every single day, but sometimes maybe it’s ok and actually a really good thing to show each-other that we’re not perfect and that bad stuff happens to us all no matter how hard we try.

That market was an especially bad one for me but actually, I’d also had a pretty poor market only the weekend before that, and before that I’d had a very disappointing day only a month ago. Between those bad days I’d also had great days though and in fact the evening that I’d posted my truthful story, I received a large online order which really helped to lift my spirits and turned the day completely on it’s head!

I have to admit though, I do find myself thinking whenever I share a post on social media that I mustn’t make my business look unsuccessful or appear unprofessional by complaining so I consciously try to only share the positives. But last Sunday made me realise that whilst we are all probably thinking that way, we all believe that everybody else in the world is doing better than us and everyone else’s life is peachy perfect! And my gosh of course NOBODY’S life is peachy perfect but we all somehow find ourselves comparing and believing it. SO I wanted to write this post if anything just to put some awareness out there and to encourage anyone reading this to be honest… To not feel afraid to share the truth if you’ve had a tough day… and to know that we all have bad days even if we act like we don’t. SO BE REAL ALWAYS!

Sky x

 

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HOW TO… Use apps to help business – PART 1

Time for the next instalment of my new business savvy ‘How To’ posts for 2017! Something that has helped me so much in keeping up my habits and staying productive the majority of the time is helpful apps and websites. There are so so many out there and I know it can be incredibly daunting when you google what you want and it seems like there are a bazillion options out there. So I thought I would just share with you the ones that I use. I haven’t tried them all so I wouldn’t like to tell you that these are 100% the absolute best options out there but they are all free at least and very user friendly. They’ve helped me a lot so with any luck they might help a few of you out too. As I’ve wrote this I’ve realised just how much there is to say so I’m going to break it down into two parts, so stay tuned for Part 2!

1. 30/30 App

My latest discovery and currently my favourite thing! This app is a task manager you can use on your phone or tablet. I just got an iPad mini and so I’ve been using it on that always propped up beside me on my desk. If you read my recent post How To… Be A Go-Getter you will have read how I’ve found timing my tasks a really great way to stay productive. Well I decided to take that to the next level this month and discovered the perfect app for the job. It’s very simple and straight forward which is what I love. You basically create a list of tasks which you can re-order, colour code, and most importantly assign a time limit to complete each task within. Tasks can be auto-looped, so say it’s a task you need to do everyday such as ‘Post on Instagram’ it will always be pushed back to the end of the list unless you choose to delete it. There is always a ‘break task’ which cannot be removed as the idea is if you are working solidly on each task you should take short breaks too to remain focused. I use it for my food and drink breaks and just move it around throughout the day. I love the colours and large scale interface too. Try it out, I can’t recommend it enough!

 

2. Tweetdeck

This one is for scheduling tweets on Twitter. I’ve been using it for some time now and it’s yet to let me down. There are loads of platforms out there for scheduling tweets on and although some have more complex features, I prefer the simplicity of Tweetdeck. I often find when something’s more complex it takes longer to use and isn’t always efficient. For example, I think another platform I trialled first would never actually post my images properly when I scheduled a post, but would rather post a link to it which for me makes a big impact as my business is obviously very visually based.

What I like to do is schedule every morning straight after my breakfast break on 30/30 to go to Tweetdeck and plan a few posts for that day. It means that I can make sure to post regularly, at optimum times and post during certain Twitter hashtag hours too which are usually in the evening when I know I’ll be too busy to be posting live. You can also choose which of these vertical menus shown above appear in your homepage so retweeting and replying is made easy all from one page.

 

3. IFTTT

AKA If This Then That. Following on from what I said about it being important that my images are posted visibly on Twitter in order to gain attention I used to find it so frustrating that sharing my Instagram posts to Twitter would only share a link and not the actual image! I don’t know about you, but if a post doesn’t have a picture attached to it, it’s unlikely I’ll bother reading it. I’m very visually minded, that’s why I love the colours and little symbols that come attached to the tasks on 30/30. (Sorry I’ll try to stop confessing my undying love for 30/30.)

If This Then That has ‘Applets’ which are basically little formulas that automatically integrate different social media platforms for you in simple ways so you don’t even have to think about it. So I love that with the middle Applet shown below, now every Instagram post will automatically be posted as a photo to my Twitter! I love IFTTT so much purely just for the fact it can do this and think that EVERYONE should be implementing this feature because it just makes so much sense.

 

4. Mailchimp

You may have heard of this one, they’re pretty well known but they have good reason to be. As they put it, Mailchimp helps you “Send better email. Sell more stuff.” It’s a platform for sending out email campaigns with multiple features all the while remaining very straight forward to use. I send out a monthly newsletter and occasionally the odd special offer or festive greetings email which I honestly have no idea how I would go about doing without Mailchimp.

You can save different mailing lists on it and create limitless html email campaigns without really needing to have any technical knowledge. The email builder lets you add images, text and buttons and rearrange them all just by dragging and dropping. You can schedule when your email will be sent out and send yourself a test version first to check it looks right. Once sent you can then see reports of how many people have opened and clicked your email and all the rest of it. There is an option for a paid account but the free version gives you a great deal of capabilities that you really don’t need the paid features if you’re just starting out.

That’s it for Part 1! Follow my blog or join my mailing list via the links on the right-hand side of the page to keep updated with future posts and of course, Part 2 of this feature! Next time I’m going to delve a bit more into how I’ve built my websites as this is something people often ask me about.

HOW TO… be a go-getter!

After sharing my best year planner for 2017 on Instagram last week and getting a wonderful response I suddenly realised perhaps I have a lot more tips and advice to give then I thought. I’ve learnt an awful lot since starting up Sky Siouki and, although I’m most definitely still learning all the time, I guess it might be helpful to some of you out there to hear what I’ve learnt in case you can learn from it too. I’ve definitely learnt a lot of things the hard way so if I can prevent anyone from having to learn it the hard way too then that in itself would be achieving something! So I’m going to be trying to do a few ‘How To…’ posts like this now and then this year and we’ll see how it goes down. Please go ahead and comment if you have any questions or a suggestion for my next topic even!

So in this post I just wanted to highlight some of the best practices and tips that I’ve learnt through workbook and business planner ‘Your Best Year’ by Lisa Jacobs which I bought half way through 2016 and am now starting a whole year afresh with for 2017. It’s a really brilliant book that I can’t recommend enough.Your Best Year 2017 BookTime Your Tasks!

Running your own business is challenging and one the biggest challenges is being your own boss and motivating yourself. Everyone has jobs they like doing and jobs they don’t. When you’re your own boss it’s all too easy to just avoid the ones you dislike or to let yourself get ever-so sidetracked when before you know it the whole day is gone and the only one suffering from your lack of productivity is yourself. So something Lisa suggests in order to stay on task and get things done is to time each task. Estimate how long something ought to take, set a timer and then do nothing but that task during that time – no emails, no Instagram, no snacking, just a solid 20 minutes filing loose paperwork or scheduling social media posts for example. I’ve taken this a stage further by making a to do list at the start of each day, allocating a time limit per task, putting them in order and then setting to it! This way I know if my day’s tasks realistically fill the amount of time I have available and feel the need to complete each task within the limit so that the later tasks don’t have to get dropped.

Timed Tasks

Measure Your Goals

I must have set myself so many vague intangible goals in the past such as ‘By June next year I need to be doing substantially better in my business if I want to continue on this path.’ That’s just crazy. For one thing, WRITE IT DOWN! But secondly, how the hell was I going to compare if I was doing ‘better’ if I didn’t even know exactly where I was at the time of setting the goal… whenever that even was, I couldn’t tell you! I actually feel like a full-blown moron even admitting to the nonsense of a goal I just wrote above, but that’s the truth, I honestly said that to myself. Now with Lisa Jacob’s planner I have a place to write my goals and track them. I can look back at how many Instagram followers I had last month for example and see that I’ve gained 100 since. In the new book she has included a monthly ‘abundance tracker’ where you set yourself a monthly income target and ideas to attain it which is so great because it is so undeniably measurable!

Create New Habits

Something from the 2016 planner which doesn’t seem to be in the 2017 book but I plan to add in to mine. Each month give yourself a new habit to adopt. Maybe the first month you won’t manage to keep it up very well, in which case when you come to review the month work out why you didn’t and revise your method for adopting it instead of starting a new one. Then once you’ve got it down you can move on to a new habit. Making something habitual is super useful for me. I’ve used this to become consistent with my Instagram posts and it’s really worked. I seldom miss a day now. The key is that when you decide on the habit to also decide on a strategy to implement it into your routine. So for my Instagram posts I decided I would always post at lunchtime, but sometimes I forgot so I changed it to mornings first things when I have my tea and that worked! I then got an app to make adding my hashtags quicker, and started keeping up a good stock of photos available so I’d rarely be short of material to post.

Instagram Posts

Plan Week by Week

I’m all about lists and I know I’m not alone in that as a small business owner. This is something Lisa’s book is really great for. Each month there are sections to fill in with what the key goals for the month are and then sections to break down tasks for each week in order to reach those main goals. Sometimes I have so much I know I need to do that it’s really overwhelming so by putting it into a timescale I feel so much better for having worked out what needs doing now and what can wait. I then refer to this page most days when creating my daily task list so I can tick off the week’s tasks as I go and see if there’s any little jobs I’d forgotten about which can often happen.

Treat Yourself!

This is obviously the best one! Lisa’s idea, not mine I promise! As part of the monthly abundance tracker page she suggests that when you set yourself your monetary target that you also set yourself a treat that you can have IF you reach the target. So simple but I just love this because having written down my treat and seeing it there whenever I turn back to this page really does make me want to get the target all the more. It makes achieving it feel more real and without it I think it’d seem less significant. So if I reach my goal this month I’m going to apply for Top Drawer September AND get a big fruity flapjack from my favourite bakery… because my tummy needs treat just as much as my business does.

I think I’ve blabbed on enough for now. I really hope some of these tips are handy to some of you! A lot of things I’ve touched on are expanded on much more in the book. I’m not an affiliate or anything just to be clear, I genuinely just think it’s a brilliant planner. Comment below if you’d like to ask anything!