I’m kicking off a new series that gives you the behind the scenes of my business and my life!
Read on to learn how I get started with calligraphy and my three tips to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Prefer watching over reading? Feel free to skip right to the video and see these in real-time! 👇🏻
So, how did I get started?
Back in 2015, I had a full-time job on a construction team creating floor plans for the construction of new stores and renovations of old ones.
I really enjoyed the work and the people and it’s what I went to school for (Interior Design). But I was craving a more creative outlet.
I happened to stumble upon the Instagram account of an Ottawa calligrapher and artist, Joanne T. Lauzon, who taught in-person classes out of her home.
Instantly excited, I dragged a bunch of my friends with me to a workshop at her place one night, and I’m not even kidding—after her three-hour workshop, on working with a pointed pen, I went home and dreamt about it.
I was so excited, obsessing over this new hobby I’d learned in just three hours. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that!
After that night, I became obsessed and kept practicing and practicing. Pretty much every night after work, I would come home and doodle calligraphy letters in front of the TV while I watched.
After a little while, I decided to start sharing my work on a new Instagram account.
At the time, I thought I’d use my skills to create wedding seating charts or place cards, so that was the inspiration for the name The Happy Ever Crafter – kind of a play on words on happily ever after, but crafter because I was going to be doing crafts for weddings.
So I started my account and assumed that I would share to chirping crickets for a while… but it just took off!
People enjoyed my writing time-lapses and the audience kept growing until I started having people ask me questions about the tools I was using, or if I could actually teach them with little mini-tutorials.
The shift to teaching calligraphy…
Joanne actually noticed my Instagram account and saw my lettering progress, so she invited me to co-teach a workshop with her. By the end of that workshop together, I discovered just how much I enjoyed teaching. Joanne ended up persuading me to do give it a go on my own and I did!
I’m so thankful for Joanne’s guidance and support and selflessness… and I could go on and on about how much her support and encouragement changed my path.
(Years later we partnered up again to bring you Panic-Free Pricing, our course all about how to price your work as a new calligrapher.)
Once my in-person workshops started selling out, my online following started asking about learning virtually. I was still working full time at this point and posting on Instagram every day in my spare time.
This routine started to get a little bit overwhelming, but with so many people asking me to teach, I used my knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator to create a basic strokes workbook which later became Show Me Your Drills.
For the first semester, I decided to start a challenge on Instagram. I had noticed that a lot of people were skipping the basics and just trying to write the alphabet. I really wanted to bring awareness to that, so teaching the basic strokes became my free thing.
Obviously, it took off because that is the center of my business now! Everything I do revolves pretty much around Show Me Your Drills – my main program.
So that’s how that started.
A little ways down the road…
After the free calligraphy basics workbook, students started asking me for the next steps. So I began making new workbooks as people requested them.
I had an audience of people who were really, really into the journey, and if you’re one of those people and you’re reading this, and you remember all of this unfolding, and I love that you’re still here in my community!
My first paid workbook was my minuscules lowercase letters download. I actually took the day off of work to be home to run the sale and make sure my website didn’t crash… but long story short, the website did crash and there were many hiccups.
I didn’t know what I was doing. Nothing was set up properly, and I was just kind of flying by the seat of my pants trying to get this out for people, no matter what I had to do. It ended up doing so well that I knew my life had fully changed.
Once I started getting wedding and event clients from people who saw me teaching, my hobby began turning into a business. I realized that I couldn’t sustain my full time job AND this business on the side anymore.
I had been waking up at five in the morning to work before work. I’d work on my lunch break, and then work some more after work, and it was just getting to be too much.
So, I decided to set a goal for myself to match my salary and get my ducks in a row to leave my day job. Leaving was really terrifying, and I think that’ll be the topic of another one of these posts someday, but I did leave my job to pursue doing this full time, and I’ve been doing it full time ever since!
That’s my story and I think that a lot of people can probably relate to it.
Are you starting to do calligraphy and have people asking you to do it for work, maybe not even teaching it and just doing it for clients?
Are you starting to get a lot of clients and realizing that this might be something that you want to take full time and something that you really enjoy?
Well, I just have a couple pieces of advice…
Tip #1: Do it as a side hustle for as long as you can
Going about this way takes the pressure off having you side hustle making your full-time living and also helps in discovering whether or not it’s something that you would want to do as a full-time job.
When you first learn a new skill, like let’s say calligraphy, it’s a hobby that you’re passionate about it because there’s no pressure on it. But things sort of change when you’re making money off of it and it’s for clients, and people are relying on you – it’s not necessarily something that you’re just sitting down to enjoy anymore. Now there’s pressure.
You need time to understand if this is something that you would be willing to put on the line or if you want to just keep it for yourself. It doesn’t have to ever make you money. It can just be something that you enjoy.
Tip #2: Share your progress early and often
If you scroll back all the way on my Instagram to the beginning, you’ll find some pretty old pictures and videos that are not very good. And that’s how I started.
I wasn’t trying to impress anybody right off the bat. I was trying to just hold myself accountable and share my work. When I go back and look at it now, I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.
So, don’t stop yourself from posting your work just because you’re not perfect yet. You’re always going to feel like your work could be better before you post it. But if you do that, you’ll never post it and you’ll never start. The ball won’t start rolling. It’s just a matter of gaining that momentum, and you have to start somewhere!
So, start posting your progress, even if it’s not perfect.
Tip # 3: Practice and learn as much as you can!
Become a sponge in the industry. Follow lots of people that are doing similar things AND follow lots of people that are doing different things. Read the blogs, listen to the podcasts and watch the YouTube videos. Take in as much as you can, and really just start to absorb everything.
When I was still side hustling, I was listening to podcasts on my way into work. I was watching YouTube tutorials at lunch or even just listening to them while I worked. Take in as much information as you can and really start to understand new concepts. They’ll start to translate into your work.
Well, those are my three top tips! But if there’s one thing you take away from this, it’s to just start before you’re ready. My favorite quote is:
“Done is better than perfect.”
And that’s a wrap!
Start posting your work. Start doing more. Even if it’s not going to be perfect, it will gradually get better and better, and if you wait until it’s perfect, it’s never going to be.
Just like this video series that I’m creating right now. This is definitely going to get better, but I had to start somewhere! Hopefully this all makes sense and you enjoyed reading a little bit about my story. Maybe you learned a thing or two about how I got to where I am, and I look forward to telling you more of my business tips and how I grew this thing!
Again, this is going to become a series, so make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel and you’ll get notified whenever I put new videos out. I’ll see you next time!