Month-in-Review: January

 
 
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Living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

As you know, this year I’m transitioning the studio in a slightly new direction. Believe me, nothing is more exciting than the idea of change. I typically race into the new year on a goal-setting high. But this time, I can feel major resistance.

I’m not sure whether it’s the fear of the unknown or the discomfort that comes at the start of forming a new habit, but it hasn’t been as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. Regardless, I’m pushing through because I do believe in where we are going. And I want to use this blog as a way to document the shift so you can see what it looks like in real life and understand the struggle that’s not often shown on Instagram highlights. Which is why I’m introducing a new month-in-review series.

January in Review

Relaunching the Drop Cap Website

A few weeks ago, I relaunched our website (wow, it seems like a whole year ago! January has felt endless.)

I didn’t consider this a rebrand, but more of a digital refresh to reflect the changes that we’ll be going through as a a studio. You’ve probably noticed a stronger emphasis on the blog content, but what you may not realize is that our digital shop is going to be receiving some major love. I wanted to make a few updates to our site’s structure so that it was easier to navigate to new content and products.

As we accept a smaller clientele, I didn’t necessarily want our design services to be front and center.

Similar to our clients, launching a website takes much more time than anyone anticipates. And it all comes down to one thing - content creation.

I certainly took much longer than I had budgeted and spent many late nights at home cranking out illustrations and copy. Here are a few lessons I learned in the process:

  • It doesn’t hurt to brainstorm each page and make a list of what you want to feature / what needs to get done. I’ve made so many websites that I decided to skip this step and ended up with a task list much longer than I realized. If you do this step first, you can pick away at small tasks behind-the-scenes (case studies, blog post updates, copywriting, photography) before throwing up a cover page and beginning the restructuring process. Once you start messing with the pages and pre-announcing a new site, there’s no turning back!

  • I would make a priority list and a nice-to-have list. This is something I not only learned myself, but have also noticed with the clients we’ve worked with. It’s not always appropriate to pursue every idea for the initial launch. There are certainly features and functions that will make a bigger impact and pave the way towards long-term goals.

  • Just go live. Once you’re pretty close, I’d go ahead and publish the site. You don’t have to do major announcements, but taking it live will at least allow you to open shop and check for bugs as you finish those last few pieces of copy. I did this (I still haven’t finished my case studies!) but I needed a break and it felt very rewarding to launch the site, knowing it would be a part of my business I updated several times a week.

Ski Weekends

Now that we’re living in Montana, we’ve taken advantage of ski weekends. I fell in love with Montana’s active lifestyle and gorgeous views. What better way to appreciate those two features than to join the ski crowd?

Earlier this month, I bought my first pair of skis and have since gone to Loveland and Steamboat to see friends and enjoy being outside. Now that our travel schedule is over (at least for the next few weeks) and I’m back in Montana, I’m eager to join our friends here in Montana to keep breaking in the new skis. It’s important to make time to be outside and do something that lifts your soul. The to-do list (and new website) can wait!

Client Launches

We had a few exciting client “launches” this month! Since we primarily do brand design (and often our clients go to a web studio directly after) it’s not usually a full launch when we wrap up a project. Nevertheless, we’ve completed some exciting new looks I want to share:

Colleen Mauer - brand design (web launch coming soon - the new branding isn’t up yet, so you’ll have to wait!)

Brigade Events - brand design

Michelle Larmand - pricing guide updates

Secretary Studio - social media illustrations (our favorite!!)

Life Proper - Shopify website design and development

Yellow Co. Blog Feature

I had the honor of guest posting for Yellow in January to share some of my work with the Enneagram. The Enneagram continues to be one of our most-requested topics to explore, and I’m gearing up to do another series this spring! For the past few years, the Enneagram has been very important to me personally, and ever since it’s hit the internet, I’ve seen it misused as a way to stereotype and damage relationships. I’ve committed to getting my Enneagram coaching certification this year and work towards spreading the healing components of the tool and continue to talk about how it can best be used as an entrepreneur and within the dynamic of business.

January Challenges

Blogging Schedule

My first quarter priority for this year was to make and stick to an editorial schedule - including blog posts, emails, and social media. This was my only priority this month, letting other commitments and tasks fall around it. However, I still experienced so much resistance and difficulty sticking to a schedule. I’ve loved the idea of getting back into blogging, but not necessarily the routine and commitment to making it happen on time every week.

Instead of letting the resistance win, I’m going to keep digging deep to understand where my resistance is coming from and develop habits and routines to make it easy to stick to this goal. If I start falling behind, feel free to call me out! I’d love the accountability.

Travel Routines

After traveling for 4 weeks in November and again for 3 weeks in January, I’ve realized that while I LOVE having travel as a major component in my life, I don’t do well on trips longer than 10 days. I wish I could be the nomadic designer that jumps from location to location, but I’ve finally understood the importance of resting in between those trips.

It’s exhausting to live out of a suitcase, maintain healthy habits, surrender your own schedule and agenda, and feel constantly “on.” I’m a social introvert, which means that when I’m traveling, I feel compelled to go to every event, see every friend, and be an engaged and entertaining guest - all of which drains my energy and clouds my ability to think clearly and strategically in my business.

For those of you who travel often for work, how do you stick to habits and routines on the road? Asking for a friend…

Websites

Early last year, we completely abandoned the idea of offering web services. In the spirit of Marie Kondo, websites just do not bring me joy. However, I’ve also understood that building a website is a crucial part to the branding process, and by removing it from our list of services, we were only providing a piece to the puzzle for our clients (and one that could mistranslate on the website!)

Over the summer, we assembled an amazing web team, and spent the rest of the year creating beautiful custom sites for Shopify, Squarespace, and Wordpress.

However, we were not prepared for the overwhelming amount of inquiries we received to build websites. It turned into a huge part of the business that no one was prepared for, and we came upon the holiday season burned out and over it.

So we’re taking another break for a few months to reassess, add in some new processes and procedures, and add to our team of web designers and developers.

If you’re interested in joining our studio as a web designer or developer, please send an email to hello@dropcapdesign.com!

February Goals

Brand Therapy

An idea for a series started about a year ago while working with the lovely Krysta Masciale on my brand strategy. Initially I wanted to start a podcast called Brand Therapy that explored the world of design and entrepreneurship, while taking a strong self-care and self-help approach. I wanted an outlet to interview my friends in the industry and show how we relate to the world as creatives and grow as entrepreneurs.

Because I know that waiting on this idea until it becomes a podcast means more waiting, I’m going to switch gears and turn it into an email series.

Each Wednesday, I’ll deliver a new installment of Brand Therapy right in the middle of your week when you need that boost of encouragement most. We’ll be exploring topics like:

  • Navigating Failure & Uncertainty

  • Being in Online Community

  • Getting in Alignment with Your Brand & Business

  • & many, many more!

I'll be sharing exactly what this means and what you can expect in this week’s first installment and introduction.

Not on the list? We can fix that! Let’s start by getting you our free Brand Scratch Pad before we begin the Brand Therapy series.

Pinterest Strategy

I have felt a renewed connection to Instagram over the past few weeks, and am excited to take that burst of inspiration to my other love - Pinterest - this month! With all of our new blog illustrations, it’s time that I implement the Pinterest strategy that I worked out last summer.

I know, I know, I really need to just do it! I’ve felt the same resistance here that I have with blogging, and it’s time to bite the bullet and do it anyways.

Studio Renovation

Part of the reason we took the long road trip to Dallas and back this month was to clear out our Dallas studio and storage unit to come back to Montana! We’re not ready to leave this glorious place, and so we’re setting up camp semi-permanently.

While I’m excited for this new season (and feeling like I have both feet in one place) I am a little nervous about going back to the routine of working from home.

So I’ve started the studio renovation in one of the upstairs spare bedrooms to turn it into the studio getaway I need in order to feel some separation between life and work. This past weekend I finished removing the old wallpaper, sanding down the rough spots, and filling in the holes with plaster. While I want to get straight into the paint (don’t we all?) I’m not quite sure what I want to do yet. So in the meantime, I’m going to clean up the mess from phase one, move in the furniture, and sit with some swatches this week before making a decision. I’ll be sharing progress over on Instagram!


Want to be first in line for our new Brand Therapy email series? Go ahead and grab the Brand Scratch Pad below, and check your inbox for the first installment this Wednesday.