Illustration by Sharon Armstrong Creative celebrating 2nd year in business
Happy business birthday to me! 
2 years of self employed life has absolutely flown by and it’s easy to forget how far I’ve come when I’m bogged down in the day to day running of my business.
I recently filled out my first ever awards application and although I didn’t win (boo) I did find it really helped me to look back and see what I’ve actually achieved since I set out on my freelance adventure.
So, I thought with it being a bit of a milestone I’d share with you some of my stand out wins.

Client gains
Back in April 2020 when we were all getting used to working from home and social distancing was a new concept, I started out with my one and only very lovely client, a business I'd worked with in the past, who were based locally in the North East.
It was pretty terrifying initially, knowing where to start and how to get more clients. One valuable lesson I quickly learnt was that if you don't ask you'll never know, so whenever I got the opportunity I did just that. I also found online networking really daunting at first, but I knew this was my only way at the time of getting my name out there and I ended up actually enjoying it. Like many other businesses I used this time to focus on getting my online presence right which I think has definitely paid off in the long run.
This new way of everyone working remotely because of the pandemic, was actually a benefit to my business and took away the barriers of location. Fast forward 2 years later I have around 15 clients I work with regularly who are based all over the UK - in London, Yorkshire and the West Midlands as well as the North East.

New services
I’d always had a flair for illustration as part of my job as a graphic designer, and when I started my business, I wanted to offer this as an additional service to clients. 
I knew that by creating bespoke illustrations I could add value and bring clients content to life. Everyone knows illustrations can be sourced from online stock imagery sites, but they aren’t unique to the client, a competitor can easily use the same design. This is where I knew my skills could make a difference to client projects.
It was challenging at first breaking into this market as I didn't have any previous contacts in this area. Through heavily promoting illustration on my social media accounts and sending out examples of my work to prospective businesses I started gaining clients in this area.
I've now worked with around 10 businesses who I've produced illustration work for, with others in the pipeline. I’m also proud to say my illustrations have appeared in two children’s books which is something that’s always been a dream of mine.

When client work was quiet, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I channelled my creative skills into finding new, passive income streams. I tried loads of different ways to license my designs: bespoke products for the home, greetings cards and image royalty websites to name a few.
My main success was through Thortful, an online greetings card company. Initially my monthly income was barely enough for a couple of bottles of rose wine. But through research and testing, I honed my collection to the most popular and this now brings me a decent amount each month, more than enough for a night out on the town with the lasses - hooray! You can check out my latest designs here

For me the biggest achievement has been, that despite everything the last two years has thrown at me, I've kept going. It hasn't been easy, there's been a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but it's definitely been worth it, I love being my own boss. And although I still feel like a total newbie, putting this all down in words totally makes me realise I'm actually doing this! Now I'm off to celebrate with a some cake and fizz, happy days!
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