There is very little left to be said about 2020 that hasn’t already been covered so for the sake of my sanity and yours I’m going to gloss over everything that has happened this year in the world and focus on the little world I’ve created in What Sarah Inks, what I have learned, what I am proud of and what I am planning for next year. The main reason for writing this blog is to try and encourage you all to do the same, I think it’s really useful to reflect back on the year and pick out moments that you are proud of, lessons you have learned and what you want to take into 2021 and more importantly what you need to leave behind. It doesn’t have to be business or work related. I would say it’s actually more important to do this in your personal life, this year more than ever.
So grab a pen and paper (perfect excuse to crack open the new stationery set you got from Santa) or open the notes page on your phone or laptop and set aside at least 15 minutes to jot down what you have learned, what you are proud of and what you want to take into 2021. I’ve put some leading questions under each of those headings below my round up below to get you thinking about what is relevant to you.
What lessons have I learned this year?
There are lots of lessons I have learned this past year that range from practical skills, business management and how I work best but the stand out lesson for how I manage What Sarah Inks that only really hit home towards the end of 2020 is that it’s not all about Instagram. My attitude to the social media platform has shifted completely in the last couple of months, I would say up until about September 2020 (and going back to when I started WSI back in 2018) I used to spend so much time doing calligraphy and taking photos to create posts just for Instagram. But there was no substance or purpose behind them other than to gain likes and followers. Plus I don't feel like it left me with any time to experiment or develop my calligraphy skills.
Since launching my website and blog I started to realise what I was posting was not reflecting what I was doing or what I wanted my business to be so I gradually started changing that with messaging and reducing the number of posts I was doing. I wasn’t afraid to repeat a photo or show the same piece of calligraphy but from a different angle because despite what you think not everyone sees your posts. I also realised that unless you are a machine there is no way to keep on top of the ever-changing Instagram algorithms and new toys they constantly bring out so why break your neck and exhaust yourself trying.
For me Instagram has been a brilliant way to connect with the calligraphy and small business community, I love watching others develop, produce new ideas and share tips and ways of working. It’s also a great place to get inspiration from so I try and follow more accounts that are not stationery and calligraphy related, foodies and home interiors are my weakness. In short the lesson here is to make instagram and other social media platforms work for you and what you want to get out of it rather than have it feel like a game you have to keep up and compete in.
Questions for you to think about?
What have you learned about yourself?
Do you need to take more breaks from work?
Do you need to address the work life balance?
Have you learned something important about your friendships, relationships, your own happiness?
How you manage your time and what your priorities are, how have they shifted this year?
What am I most proud of this year?
For The Trussell Trust I used my time on furlough to learn how to design a notecard using a rainbow pattern I created in Adobe Illustrator, which I raised a total of £190 for the charity.
This was the first thing I ever designed and sold via What Sarah Inks aside from my bespoke calligraphy work.
For Our little Warrior I digitised my own handwritten calligraphy to create a pack of Christmas cards to sell, which raised a total of £236 for Owen.
As well as the fundraising I also learned several crucial designing and printing lessons when creating both of these products that will benefit me in the future. I’d love to do more charity work in 2021, I’ll put that on my long term plans list.
Questions for you to think about?
Did you learn a new skill?
Did you surprise yourself with how you handled a difficult situation?
Have you achieved something you didn’t think was possible?
The number of books you have read or zoom quizzes you have won?
New recipes you have tried?
What’s coming with me into 2021?
The key thing coming with me into 2021 for What Sarah Inks is a lot of the tools and tips I have learned from being a member of The Resilient Retail Club and The Stationery Sessions. The knowledge I have gained from being a part of both of these communities while running and starting out a business have been invaluable and a lot of it has been from other people asking questions that hadn’t even crossed my mind. There is definitely no such thing as a silly question. I’ve definitely learned in 2020 that we cannot do everything alone, even the most successful of small businesses have mentors and other communities that they rely on for support and to keep them on track.
I'd love to build up my own calligraphy community in 2021 providing tips and practise ideas for those wanting to learn how to do it or for those looking to keep their hobby going. It's a great way to switch off from the world and it was the main reason I started doing it over 4 years ago. Watch this space.
Questions for you to think about?
What would you like to do more of in 2021? Cooking, reading, DIY, taking time for yourself, making more effort with friends, continuing with that new hobby? Whatever it is write it down and carve out some time on a weekly basis to do just that. Also think about what you don’t want to take into 2021?
Looking ahead to 2021 and what’s in store for What Sarah Inks I am planning a few things but I would love your feedback to help shape my ideas. Whether you have bought from What Sarah Inks, read my blog posts, received my newsletters or follow me on social media I would love to pick your brains on all of that. I’ve linked below to a google form with a few questions in. If you have 5 minutes to answer my questions I would love it. I would also encourage you to be honest in your responses, don't worry about hurting my feelings or anything, all responses are anonymous for that reason too. Click the link below to go to the feedback form.
I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and here’s hoping for a lot more positive news and social interaction in 2021. I miss seeing people in real life and hugs!!