Before I jump into this post, I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who commented or emailed me after I published my previous post! I can’t say it enough how much your support fuels my work and lifts me up – thank you thank you thank you!!!
Over the past few weeks, as my work has gotten more visible (and especially after being featured on Buzzfeed), I’ve started getting tons of emails. Asking all kinds of questions about graphic design, picking my college major, starting my own business, etc. I do my best to get back to every person, but sometimes it’s really challenging to balance inquires, emails, and blog comments with the everyday work involved in my business. I decided to answer my most frequently asked questions here, and also post it in my navigation bar for future visitors :) Now let’s jump in!
What was your major in college? How did you pick it?
I graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May 2014 with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing, University Honors in my major (for completing research on social media engagement), and a minor in Leadership Studies. When I first started at UNCW I was a pre-pharm major thinking I wanted to do Pharmaceutical sales (no clue why), I then realized I hated it and switched to Art History, a subject I absolutely ADORE. My parents laughed at me and said I would never get a job, so I switched to education so I could TEACH art history (take that parents!). I quickly realized I was way too competitive for education so I changed majors yet again to Business Admin with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Business Development… aka the longest named major ever. Again, my heart told me that I didn’t want to be a serial business starter, I wanted to start ONE (maybe two) that kicked ass. So I switched to Marketing, joined the Cameron Executive Network where I was paired with the most influential and incredible marketing mentor, and the rest just fell into place.
Where did you learn graphic and web design?
I’m 100% “self taught” in the sense that I learned from Google, Pinterest, and my dad (who is a developer). I never took any graphic design courses, I just practiced and googled things until it looked the way I wanted. I was fortunate enough to have an internship my Junior year that gave me the Adobe Creative Suite, and I am SO thankful for that company’s gift and kindness to me!!
What do you use for your designs?
I use the Adobe Creative Suite, a tablet, and a good old fashioned pen/brush and paper!
How do you manage your business and multiple social media accounts?
I’ve already shared that this is nowhere even close to a 40 hour/week job. I spend quite a few nights scheduling tweets, taking photos, developing products, and writing emails. I also am so lucky to have Meredith help with social media, and Suzanna to bounce design ideas off. I use Buffer to schedule things for social media as well – it’s a lifesaver!
I want to start a graphic design business! Do you have any tips for someone starting out?
Prepare for the hardest, most broke years of your life. Not kidding. If you’re working as hard as you should be, and investing properly, you’ll be poor and exhausted. Yes I do have some disposable income, but I’m also saving or investing as much of it as I can. The harsh reality is that starting a business is not a get rich quick scheme, and according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail in the first 18 months of operation (Cheers to 21 months, y’all!). I read Fast Co instead of Cosmo, have files of business ideas, am constantly dreaming up my next new products, have a strange love of spreadsheets and income/expense projections, and I’m always looking ahead to the next big thing.
My advice to those thinking about taking this route is to do some soul searching and figure out if you honestly DO have what it takes to do it all. Can you be the accountant, research & development team, tough boss, innovative marketer, secretary, and customer service team? Can you work 60 hours a week and still be polite to your clients, even when you’re exhausted and they’re rude? Can you anticipate needs in the market that your target customers may not even realize yet? If you aren’t confident that you can do all of these things then you will join the 80%. It’s easy to start a business, but it takes hard work and hustle to make it last.
I’ll be updating this post periodically as more questions come up!