I started this blog, Bulletin Board, at the start of this year as a space to collect and organise my thoughts about the creative industry and my position in it. I’d hoped that I’d be able to notice some patterns or common themes that might help guide my quest of discovery and help clarify who I am and what I really want to do with my life (other than raise a healthy and happy family of course).
Up until yesterday I was swimming in a sea of uncertainty. All the reading and research I’d been doing for this blog was slowly starting to overwhelm me. While I was searching for clarity and direction, I was getting over inspired and feeling even more disconnected from myself.
Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been completing an online course. This week, I missed the group zoom meeting so watched the recording the next day. I’d submitted my website for critique, knowing that I still hadn't really focused on a niche (which was Week 1s exercise see BB21). Needless to say the feedback wasn’t great. I lacked a focus and parts of my website I thought were cool, where just confusing people!
This feedback hit hard.
There was something about watching my work being critiqued, and not being there to explain myself that flicked a switch in my brain. I finally think I was ready to listen.
So this week, everything changes.
I have found my niche! It was there all along, I just needed to see it from a different perspective.
I want to help authors design, market and sell their own books.
There. Said it! No turning back now.
You may think I’m being dramatic in the revealing of my new focus - and I am - deliberately. Because there is a bigger story than this one moment at play here.
It starts with my first real job as a graphic designer. I worked for an educational publisher in Melbourne designing primary school books. I was in my early twenties and was a sponge for anything and everything that would make me a better designer.
I was there for 5 years and the first four were great. The fifth year didn’t quite go as I’d planned. I was a stubborn, know-it-all in my twenties. I started to clash with the senior design team when they wouldn’t make room for my opinions or ego.
At the end of the day it was an old school versus new school mentality. I was super keen to use the latest programs like InCopy (Adobe word processing software that links to Indesign) so editorial and design could work simultaneously on the same project. I was met with resistance, it was going to be harder to tear people away from the paper print out and manual markup than I thought - so I quit. 5 years to the day after I started.
That was 9 years ago and I have been freelance ever since. Up until a year ago (when I could no longer compete with overseas typesetters) I’d pretty much had done a 6 month contract every 18 months for that same publisher.
It was my bread and butter work and I earned enough to not stress too much about what I was charging my branding and web design clients the rest of the time. I didn’t advertise that I did this publishing work as I was still pissed and I wanted people to see me as an expert in brand strategy rather than typesetting! ‘Creative director’ sounds way more glamorous, right?
Just before the pandemic hit I got a call from an old friend, who happens to be the CEO of one of my favourite design agencies in Melbourne. He’s rang because they’d needed an InCopy expert. They had a massive government report they were designing and wanted to implement InCopy into the workflow to speed up the whole process.
So, my all time favourite design firm wanted MY expertise in something I’d been running from for the last 9 years! I was obviously chuffed and didn’t even have to think twice about how I could help them because this is my shit! I know this workflow inside out!
You’d think I’d make the decision to focus on publishing right then and there but even coming from a designer I really admire, I still didn’t think it worthy of all my attention.
It hit me yesterday, at 8.30 am to be precise, when I watched that zoom video of my website being critiqued. It dawned on me that I already have the dream client!
Des, is my self publishing author. Together we have branded a publishing company, designed three books for two different authors, designed a website and are about to launch his online store so he can sell books directly to his own audience! (buying books through amazon leaves the author with about $3 out of the $25 the customer paid!)
All of my years in publishing combined with my years launching small businesses make me pretty valuable to authors who are trying to publish their own books. I finally found my niche!
I’ve some full circle. As I sit on the edge of this epic overhaul I feel quite calm, and pretty freakin excited! Please stick around to see what happens!
This week, everything changes!