Annual Report: Year Three of Self-Employment

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

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

I reported in after the first year and again last year. I’m doing it again for year three because, well, I need to know whether this being an artist thing is working. And a lot of you want to know whether it’s working and artists a few steps behind me want to know whether they can do it.

It’s working. You can do it. And it’s not easy.

I am thankful every day for each one of you – whether you simply take a few seconds to comment on an Instagram post, show up at one of my events, hang my postcards on your fridge or buy multiple paintings per year, I couldn’t do it without you. So, in a shareholder-type way, I feel I owe you this annual report.

Here’s what’s up…

All numbers are April 2018-March 2019.

Business stats

  • Revenue growth: 8%. In year two my year-over-year growth was almost 100% -- I feel like I was still getting up to speed then, so perhaps maintaining and then some is something to be happy about for this past year.

  • Paintings sold: 91 + 30 daily paintings on paper. Last year I sold 104; I sold 78 in my first year of self-employment and 18 during the year leading up to quitting my job.

  • Clients that bought more than one painting during the year: 10

  • Repeat customers from previous years: 10

  • Commissions completed: 13 (I did more than 30 the year before, which wore me out. I decided to not take commissions for much of last year.)

  • Shows and events: 10

  • Studio visits hosted: 9

  • Employee’s names I know at my closest USPS: 5

  • Hours I’ve spent loading paintings in and out of the truck: Wait, this isn’t all I do?

  • Wholesale accounts: 2

  • Additional stores carrying my work in Wichita: 1

  • Instagram follower growth: Um, lots – I think close to 400%

  • Months-long professional development classes taken: 2

  • Website visitor growth: 45%

  • Email list growth: 47%

  • TV appearances: 2, both on Wichita’s ABC affiliate’s morning show; here and here.

  • Speaking engagement at the Wichita Art Museum: 1 (!!!!)

  • Solo gallery shows and residencies: 1 (my second!) Read about it here.

  • Donations to charitable organizations: 3

  • Classes taught pro-bono to children: 2

  • Freelance/consulting hours worked: 22. I worked 78 in my second year of self-employment and 428 in my first year; my original plan was to freelance half-time, but being an artist has gone better than forecasted.

Life stats

If you read the long story of why I quit my job, you know that quality of life was a big reason. Success on all the business metrics is what enables all of the following, which are much more important.

  • Evenings spent not working: Almost all of them. While I love working and could probably work all the time, this is a very intentional decision to support the health and longevity of my marriage.

  • Bunnies and fireflies counted on my evening walks with my husband in the summer: 143

  • Days spent not working and not traveling over Christmas: 7? 10? I don’t know but it was amazing.

  • Week-long trips home to see immediate and extended family: 3. We have to live in Wichita for my husband’s job, so me having flexibility to travel home is significant.

  • Family birthdays I was actually home for: My dad’s, my mom’s, my aunt’s and my nephew’s

  • Duck blinds built with my dad: 2

  • International trips: 1, Spain

  • Additional, short trips with friends: Kansas City, Washington DC area

  • Times we have been to Elderslie Farm (our favorite restaurant in our new home of Wichita) for their monthly tasting menu, a three-hour affair: 4

  • Times I want to go back: Every month (every new menu)

  • Workouts: I haven’t been working out as much as last year, but I work out every other day and more often add a workout than skip one. I’d like to be slightly more active.

  • Meals cooked for friends because we like entertaining: Lots

  • Meals cooked for friends because they needed a helping hand: Lots

  • Times I made this cobbler: Too many. It really is the easiest and absurdly delicious. I add cinnamon and ginger, depending on the fruit.