Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Staying Productive in the Studio During COVID

During COVID it is easy to get off track and if I am being honest, I have definitely not been as productive as I could be. With my first grade daughter learning virtually and homeschooling my PreK son, time is limited. In this blog I am sharing strategies that I am implementing to be more productive this year while juggling all the other responsibilities of being a business owner, mom, and homeowner. These principles can be applied to anyone's day to help find focus and get things done.

1. Set Specific Times to Accomplish Tasks
My time blocking is for studio time. Yours might be for computer work. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, set specific times in your day when you plan to work on that task. For me, I need to work uninterrupted and the best times to accomplish painting is early in the morning before my children wake up or at night after I put them to bed. I was in a groove of working in the studio until I finished my last artwork. I tried to start a new painting but then quickly fell into the "lazy nights" trap. I am fighting back with reintroducing specific studio times to work on my paintings.

2. Make a List and Stick To It
My best friend is my planner. I joke that my lists have lists (which is actually very accurate). But in all seriousness, make a list! I like to start my week by creating a complete list of things that I need to do: phone calls, emails, errands, blog posts, appointments, etc in my planner and then assign each task to a specific days that I know I can get those things completed. This is also a good strategy for accomplishing a big task throughout the week. Break it up into manageable steps and assign each step to a day of the week. By Sunday, you will be surprised by what you can accomplish!

3. Be Consistent and Find Accountability
This tip goes hand-in-hand with making a list. If you make a list and stick with it, you will create consistency. Even if you can only dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to your desired task everyday, it truly adds up when you are consistent. 

Another important aspect about being consistent is finding a way to stay accountable for your efforts. Some people use a friend or mentor to check in with and report their progress. But if you don't have that, hold yourself accountable. I usually use Instagram stories as a way to stay accountable and show progress.

I hope you have found this blog post helpful and applicable to some aspect in your life. Please leave a comment below with any questions you may have!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How I Use a Planner

Using a planner is a great way to stay on track and reach your goals. I have always used a planner for college and then continued utilizing a planner when I started my own business. In this blog post I want to share how I use one to plan and achieve my studio goals. I choose to use The Happy Planner and really enjoy the lined vertical layout. Below is a weekly page layout and what I write in each section. 

I like to start my week by creating a complete list of things I need to do: phone calls, emails, errands, blog posts, appointments, etc on the left side of the planner. I also plan out my social media posts for the week at the bottom of that same section. After I completed my entire to do list, I break it down and assign the tasks to specific days of the week. Some days I always do certain things. For example, on Tuesday I publish my new blog posts. However, some items on my list depends on the weather (I save grocery shopping for sunny days) or when I can complete similar tasks on the same day. I hope you find this helpful and please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Four Ways to Engage With Your Audience Without Using Facebook or Instagram

Have you noticed a lot of people leaving social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook? I know I personally have seen artists decide to leave social media to pursue other means of communicating with their audience. With all the censoring and privacy issues that have recently surfaced, I have also considered the big shift. However, I am also reluctant because so many people rely on those platforms to follow and communicate with me. In this blog post, I am going to explore four ways in which artists, such as myself, can reach and engage with their audience without sing Facebook or Instagram.

1. Email List
Having an email list of customers has and always will be king. It is something that you own no matter what. It's an excellent way to connect with your audience and also make them feel special. I personally use my email list every month to announce new workshops, artwork, and specials. They always hear about the latest news first before I ever put it on social media and I also like to reward them with free downloads as a special thank you.

2. Website Blog
Another great way to stay in touch and share information is to have a blog on your website. Even though I have been maintaining a blog for over 10 years, it is NOT on my website. I plan to change that this year when I move my website to a new platform. It is super beneficial to host your blog on your website because it will drive traffic to your site which will in turn help your SEO and search engine rating. 

3. Patreon
If you haven't heard of Patreon, it is a social media platform for creators. Patrons pay to support the creator with monthly/yearly subscriptions and in return receive special content in return. Although this is not a new platform, it has definitely been gaining momentum. I like the idea of using Patreon to reward my loyal followers with information and content that is exclusive to them. 

4. YouTube
YouTube is a great way to share videos of your work or process to educate and inspire your audience. I like YouTube because it is searchable content. There is always someone trying to learn something and using YouTube to learn about it. You can also include lots of information and links in the description of each video. There is also the potential to earn money when you reach a certain amount of subscribers.

Whether you are considering leaving social media all together or exploring new ways to reach your audience, there are many options! Instead of relying on Facebook or Instagram, get creative with the way you interact and reward your loyal followers. I know I am highly considering it and I hope you have found this blog post helpful as a starting point.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

2021 Studio Plans

I am hoping this year will be better than last year as I am sure most people do! The first five months of 2020, we spent finalizing construction details on our first home like trimming the entire house, refinishing hardwood floors, and repainting rooms. We also navigated selling it by owner with the perfect buyer while also settling into our new home, figuring out how to get everything done during the state lockdown, and our daughter completing her kindergarten year virtually. While I am proud of what I was able to accomplish last year, I hope 2021 will allow more focus. In this blog post I am going to share my top 3 goals for 2021 to make this a more productive year in the studio.

1. Sell Prints of My Photographs
After completing my 2020 top 9 Instagram post, I realized my most liked images were my photographs. I currently do not offer them for sale and I am looking into ways to offer them for sale besides my yearly calendar

2. Switch Website to Shopify
I spent a good portion of my year last year switching from the Weebly website platform to Squarespace. I had been with Weebly for over 10 years and loved everything about it. However, the two things I needed for my business were inventory management for in person sales (that will automatically update my website inventory totals) and links my product catalog to social media platforms. I had consider switching to Shopify then but for some reason it just did not click. Squarespace seemed like the best fit for me as an artist and I made the switch in August of 2020. Fast forward to current day, I am finally realizing the limitations that Squarespace has for eCommerce.

3. Research Patreon
This year I want to explore creating an exclusive community on Patreon. I love making content and making people feel special so this seems to be a good fit. I do not know if I will launch it this year but I will definitely be researching and planning ideas incase I do decide to take the plunge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

New Painting: Ollie

My new acrylic painting "Ollie" is a special thank you to the couple who sold us our farm, now known as Copper Knoll Farms. For those who do not know, we moved a little over a year and a half ago to the other side of our zip code. We had always hoped to remain in Aldine in our beloved first house that we spent years completely renovating. However, after almost 10 years, we sadly realized we would never be able to purchase more land around our home. 

While exploring options of privately purchasing land around us to stay where we were, we also began searching for a farm in the area. We casually began our search in 2016 when our son was just a few months old but then seriously ramped up our search in 2018. We considered many different farms throughout Salem County with the help of our realtor, Andrew Ware. However, when we found and toured our new property, we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity. 

Although the property is not the conventional, open field format that many people think of when they hear the word “farm”, it has endless possibilities for our out-of-the-box thinking and the lifestyle we have always wanted to live as a family. It has miles of trails, abundant wildlife, and so many possibilities for our future!

We were very lucky to find not only an amazing property but also wonderful people to buy from. We worked together to make both of our big life transitions as smooth as possible. We are forever grateful to Henry and Susan for their friendship and giving our family the opportunity to purchase such a unique estate and this painting serves as a token of our gratitude.

"Ollie" - Acrylics on Gessobord - 8" x 10" by Kimberly English
© 2020 All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Calendar Donation

Last week I met with the three Salem County FFA Advisors on Zoom to virtually present them with the donation from the 2021 Salem County Farmlands Calendar. I’m excited to announce that with your help I was able to make a total donation of $1,050! Each chapter will be receiving $350. 

The donations will be used to help fund future projects, jackets, and even a chicken coop! I’m so happy to be able to help them during this challenging year when their typical fundraising events were not possible. A big thank you to my customers for your support and making this year the biggest one yet!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Private Art Lesson Student Wins National Award

My private lesson student won Third Place in Bob Jones University’s National Virtual High School Festival with her acrylic painting. She won a half scholarship to a week long art camp in 2021. So proud of her!