8 Lessons in 8 Years of Paper Raven Co.

Paper Raven Co.
ūüď£¬† It's Officially my 8th Year in Business today!¬† ūüď£
We've been celebrating all week, but today is THE day. 8 Years Ago - Woo! 

In honor of my 8th Year in Business, I wanted to take a moment to share 8 Lessons I've learned while running Paper Raven Co. I could expound on these further (this girl can CHAT), but I figured I'd keep these nuggets short and sweet! Do some of these resonate with you?

Paper Raven Co.
          I look back on this and chuckle. I learned this my first year in business, when I made holiday greeting cards with the year "2015" on them. I was not pleased when I realized that I could not sell those cards the next year, had to recycle my remaining stock, and reprint (without adding a year to the design). A costly lesson!

Paper Raven Co.
          Even though there are things that (at the time) may seem really important, urgent or costly... at the end of the day, mistakes happen, and everything is learning. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. I try to approach my low moments and mistakes this way now, and extract all of the information I can out of them, rather than wallowing and allowing setbacks to tank my creative flow. Nothing in stationery is so critical that I won't see the light of another day, and a new opportunity to try again. Keeping this in mind, I can give myself grace.

Paper Raven Co.
          One thing I learned early on was to label my Photoshop/Illustrator/Procreate layers as I created them. Waiting until the file prep was due to go back through and find/label every single layer was an arduous task, and took me double the time. I have tried to apply that to all of my processes, and have found that a small amount of organization from the beginning will save me a lot of hours in the long-run.

Paper Raven Co.
          When I started my business, I was in my 20s and I hustled a lot. I worked non-stop, never took time off, etc... all for the sake of becoming "successful" in the fastest way possible. There is a lot of pressure to do this in our society! It was not until I had a health setback that I realized that I AM my business. And if I am not well enough to work, the business stops. (Now, I have built a big part of my business on passive income, so it would keep going for awhile, but you get my meaning). My business would not be here if I wasn't... so I have learned in my 30s to care for myself first and foremost. Cultivating my own sense of physical and mental wellness IS taking care of my business.

Paper Raven Co.

          Maybe it is because I have experienced so much art theft over the years, but I have learned to keep integrity at the heart of my process. I want to lay my head down and be at peace with what I've made, knowing that it came from a place that was truly mine. Gut checks are vulnerable but powerful. Even if we've made mistakes in the past, the ability to make different choices in the present is always within our control.

Paper Raven Co.          This took several years to learn, and a lot of discipline. But I encourage everyone to approach money with a sense of curiosity and possibility. I encourage everyone to invite money in and think of it as a friend: the more you interface with it (even when it's hard!), the deeper your connection is, and the more understanding you gain. Being intimately familiar with my numbers, and the ebb and flow of cashflow in my business has been one of my most valuable assets.

Paper Raven Co.
          This should probably be at the top of my list! Diversification in your revenue streams is the absolute secret sauce to building a sustainable business. Layering income so that you have flexibility and diversity in your cashflow is such a valuable place to be. For this reason, I have built 4 Core Revenue Streams into my business: Retail, Wholesale, Licensing, and Freelance. That way, when one ebbs, another will flow. For example, when the Pandemic hit, all events halted almost overnight. So all of my designs for Weddings, Baby Showers, Birthday Parties pretty much tanked. However, because I had diversified my client list and revenue streams, suddenly digital greeting cards and virtual events took off. So while some types of designs and products failed, others flourished and I was able to maintain the same (and even increase!) my income in 2020.

Paper Raven Co.
          The most successful things in history have been so because they've been different from what has come before. There is no winning strategy in trying to emulate what someone else has already done. Being yourself, breathing deeply and trusting your intuition and originality will always pay off.

ūüíē I hope this was helpful. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I would narrow down¬†everything I've learned from running my business for¬†almost a decade. Hopefully I will learn so¬†much more in the next¬†8 years. Now, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you¬†had the same experience? Different?

Thanks for being with me on this journey,
Happy August! It's my birthday month! *confetti*

Happy August! It's my birthday month! *confetti*

Hey, Happy August 1st! I'm particularly excited about this month because it's my birthday month yasssss! For this month's Desktop Wallpaper, I drew inspiration from all of the wonderfully overgrown plants on my balcony. It's been one of those great summers where it thunderstorms every afternoon (my favorite, not my dog's), perpetually smells like rain, and the plants have just been exploding. It's awesome. I sketched this in our sunroom with the door open and the smell of basil flooding in, while my sweet Patty was sunbathing in her corner of the balcony - it's a peaceful memory,  I hope that comes through in the final illustration. Click the image below to download it!

Paper Raven Co. August Illustrated Desktop Wallpaper

Paper Raven Co. August Desktop Illustrated Wallpaper

I would love to see your desktop or studio space if you use the wallpaper, so feel free to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram so I can see and give you high-fives. Bonus points if you hoard plants like I do. I really need to make a "Plant Lady is the New Cat Lady" Art Print, yea?

Thank you guys so much!
xoxo, Erin


Paper Raven Co. August Illustrated Desktop Download - www.ShopPaperRavenCo.com


My Biggest Motivation Secret

My Biggest Motivation Secret

A few days ago on Instagram, I asked y'all to throw some good questions at me so I could connect with you! One of the biggest questions I get asked is how to stay motivated. Let's tackle this one. Because this is a doozie and keeping yourself on track - especially as an artist - is really tough sometimes. 

Here are 3 things I do on a daily basis to keep myself motivated and on-task.

This is by far my biggest secret weapon to staying motivated. My brain wakes up at night, so I typically do this after dinner or before bedtime. If you're more of a morning person, grab a cup of coffee or tea and start your day this way!

Before I go to bed, I make a plan. I have a Paper Raven Notebook that I keep on my desk at all times. Every night, I flip to a new page and add the next day's date. I take a look at my Google Calendar and my emails and I prioritize and plan my day. Here's a snip of my day today (for real, this is actually what it says): 

  • Create little check boxes and start with a time slot.
  • 9:30-10:30: Answer and follow-up on all emails.
  • 10:30-11: Email 3 new stores from Instagram.
  • 11-12: Photograph Coloring Book for Giveaway posts.
  • 12-12:30: Eat lunch.

Make sure each step starts with an actionable verb; this allows you to take action immediately - you already know that to do and there is no guess-work! It's important to me to feel satisfied by checking off the box when tasks are completed - the more you mentally reward yourself, the more motivated you are to stay on track. If you're more of a highlighter person, grab your neons and go for it! Lastly, I add timeslots because it's motivating for me to section out my tasks into time chunks. If I just make a list, it's easy for my brain to say, "Oh, I'll get to that." But if I schedule a task from 2-3pm, it will happen from 2-3pm and then it will be done!

Don't forget to add in real time chunks for breaks (15 minutes long) and lunch time ;) I often schedule breaks after big tasks or tasks that aren't my favorite thing to do. Then, if I finish my task, I get a nice little break!

Creating social accountability means creating a post where you publicly share with your audience that you are going to do something, by a certain date, and that they can expect something from you at that time. 

When you create social accountability for yourself, you're more motivated to get it done because other people are expecting something from you. If you find it difficult to assign tasks to yourself and complete them, try making a post on Instagram or Facebook about an upcoming product launch, new series or blog post. Give your audience a date. Put it on your calendar. And when you finish it, reward yourself. 

Spend a little time gathering some great playlists. I'm definitely responsive to dramatic movie and television scores - when I feel like Daenerys riding her dragon into battle or like Batman throttling some thugs, I am in the zone (I'm being totally serious guys). Whatever your music choice is, turn it up, close the Facebook tab and get to it!! You do you, boo.

Remember, motivation is a muscle and a habit. You just have to have that moment of clarity where you realize you have a choice to make - and just make it! The more you make that choice, the easier it is to make it again and again until it becomes a habit and a lifestyle.

I hope this blog post was helpful for you! Always feel free to reply and let me know your thoughts. And if you try these strategies out and love them, please let me know :)