Annual Report: Year Two of Self-employment

My last day as someone else’s employee was two years ago – March 31, 2016.

You can read the long story about why I quit here.

A year ago, I reported on my first year of self-employment and I’m doing it again. I love numbers and metrics so you better believe I am keeping track of all this for my own nerdy enjoyment, but also, in an annual report-type way, I feel I owe this to you.

Every purchase you make is an investment in my dream. Your purchase conveys that art is a valuable component of our lives and that being an artist is a worthwhile vocation that deserves compensation. It tells me, emotionally, that I should keep going. That’s important because though I love painting and building a business, it’s not easy. But in addition to the touchy feel-y, this exchange of art for money allows me to keep going. I am fortunate that my husband has a great job, but I have always loved making money and not making money is not an option I give myself. If I don’t sell paintings, then I have to go back to working for someone else. Back to helping someone else build their dream. No thanks.

All numbers are April 2017-March 2018.

Business stats:

  • Art revenue growth over the previous year: 98.9%
  • Paintings sold: 105 or more than two per week. I sold 78 in my first year of self-employment and 18 during the year leading up to quitting my job.
  • Calendars sold: More than 100.
  • Calendars gifted: More than 20. These two stats make me especially happy because I worked with a local printer to design and produce them.
  • Cards and prints sold: Lots
  • Clients that bought more than one painting during the year: 9
  • Additional repeat customers from previous years: 6
  • Commissioned paintings completed: 34
  • Minutes spent looking for the end of the tape on a roll of packing tape: 43. I now only buy 3M. It's worth the extra dollars
  • Shows and events: 9
  • Events at which I definitely didn't cover the cost of my time: 3
  • Instagram follower growth: 360%
  • Website visitor growth: 213%
  • Front page features in the Enid News and Eagle: 2 (here and here)
  • Emails I sent to reporters and interior designers that went unacknowledged: Feels like dozens
  • TV appearances: 2
  • Solo gallery shows: 1 (my first!)
  • Five-day plein air painting workshops: 1 (it was amazing; read about it here)
  • Professional sports teams that commissioned a huge painting from me: 1 (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Original paintings donated to charitable organizations: 3
  • Additional donations: 3
  • Bad paintings that I painted over: At least 4
  • Words written about how to not be a starving artist (aka free advice for other artists and small business owners): 7,357 (start here with post one)
  • Weekly, hour-long, video status calls with my mom: Every week so far in 2018. She recently quit her job to focus on her multiple artistic interests.
  • Freelance/consulting hours worked: 78. I worked 428 in my first year of self-employment.

Life stats

I quit my job because I can’t not paint. But with a full-time job, I could only paint nights and weekends, which meant that other aspects of my life weren't getting the attention they deserved: my health (eating well, exercising, sleeping) and my relationships with my husband, family and friends. Without hesitation, I would say that my health and my relationships are more important than painting, but it was easier to ignore those than my easel. For that reason, these “life stats” are hugely important to me as a significant indicator of whether this is working.

  • Evenings spent not working: Almost all of them. My husband and I went on a lot of walks after work or after dinner during the last year and spent a lot of evenings in our inflatable hot tub. Yes, that’s a thing and it’s awesome. It allowed us to actually spend time outside in the summer in Oklahoma. Don’t heat it and you have a little pool!
  • Winter Olympics events watched: So many. I’ve never watched so much of the Olympics in my life and it was fantastic.
  • Players I can name on the Portland Trail Blazers' roster this year: 11 AKA I've never been such a good fan
  • Friends’ weddings attended: 3 (Portland, Milwaukee, Minneapolis)
  • Week-long trips home to see immediate and extended family: 2
  • Additional, short trips with friends: Santa Fe, Dallas, Monterey, Carlton Landing, OK, West Tennessee, Oklahoma City
  • Books read twice: 1 – I read and re-read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown because it was so good.
  • Five-workout weeks: This is my new thing and I’m loving it. I’ve been working out five days a week for the past 10-ish weeks. I haven’t worked out that much since the last day of high school track practice in 2005. (Between 2005 and 2017 I probably averaged 3 days per week.)
  • Hours meditated: 15
  • Meals cooked for friends because we like entertaining: Lots
  • Meals cooked for friends because they needed a helping hand: Lots

You guys. You are making this happen for me. I have replaced my income and my quality of life (and my husband's) has vastly improved. "Thank you" doesn't begin to cover it. XOXO