As I gear up to have a baby in less than a month, I’ve been focusing a lot on my “first baby” — The Postman’s Knock. I started TPK in 2012, and, since then, it’s been a passion, a hobby, and a profession all at once! Even though I’ll have a human little one, I am determined that TPK will continue to flourish — both literally and figuratively. In this post, I’d like to share some behind-the-scenes things with you that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. It’s fun for me to get to write about this type of stuff, so I hope that you enjoy reading it!
1. The Seed Idea for TPK Originated at an Office Job
I originally started The Postman’s Knock to offer my custom calligraphy and design services. The idea originated from an offhand remark made by a coworker at an office job I had … she said that she sometimes calligraphed addresses on wedding envelopes for some extra income.
My initial reaction was, “Wait a minute — people will pay you to do something that fun?” My next step was to just go for it. Within the next week, I had set up an Etsy shop, taken some rudimentary photos, and I was in business. The Etsy shop wasn’t necessarily profitable at first, but it operated like a paid internship … I had lots of clients who compensated me for my designs or services, and I learned a lot with every project that I took on!
2. I Had to Stop Taking on Custom Work in 2015
I never could have imagined that TPK would grow into the vibrant website/blog that it is today. That’s why I found myself conflicted in mid-2015. At that point, The Postman’s Knock was at a crossroads: I could either keep offering custom calligraphy and design services, or I could pour my concentration into the blog and making learning resources.
It was a tough call to make because some of my most fun and challenging projects were a result of collaborating with clients. While I hit the occasional snafu, the vast majority of the projects — and the relationships I formed with clients while making them — were incredibly rewarding. At the same time, I so enjoyed writing articles for this website and designing worksheets, eCourses, and other printables.
I decided that I could always go back to custom work if need be, and I shifted my full attention to the website. Now, I do take on a custom project here or there, but it’s usually done as a gift for family or friends. Occasionally, I’ll also accept work from a publisher provided that I like the publication and the project!
Cool fact: Every three minutes, someone somewhere in the world downloads a freebie TPK printable.
3. TPK Embraces DIY Photography
Before I started TPK, I scoffed at photography as an art form. Write out something beautiful, draw something beautiful — that takes time and skill! But taking a photo of something? How difficult is that? Turns out … pretty difficult. When I first began selling things on Etsy, my number one source of frustration was not having great photos that sold my work.
After years of experimentation and good old internet sleuthing, I’ve figured out what works for me as a “photographer” (I use the term loosely). I switched to a DSLR camera, a Nikon D3300, and I have a tripod with a horizontal arm. A couple of studio lights help me to ensure that the subject is nice and illuminated! I have to admit that I usually use auto settings that I don’t completely understand, but the photos have a way of turning out just fine once I edit them in Photoshop.
Cool fact: I bought the desk pictured above from the Goodwill for a $1. It was going to start raining, they were packed with furniture drop-offs, and they wanted to get rid of things fast! Hernán refinished the desk for me, and it turned out to be the perfect desk for my photography space.
4. To Do Lists Keep The Postman’s Knock Going
Most mornings, I pull out my notebook, jot down the date, and write a few tasks for myself. Each task gets a blank box beside it, and when that task is complete, the box gets checked. As I go about my day, I may jot down some notes to remind myself about a photo I want to post to social media or non-TPK-related things I need to do.
Each box that gets checked gives me happiness and satisfaction. If I end the day with a list full of checked boxes, it was a great day! I have learned, however, that not every day has to be a “checked boxes” day. If I can’t check all the boxes, that’s okay — I just try to finish them up the next day!
5. There is a Method to the Madness
You may not have noticed, but TPK follows a routine like clockwork. On Sunday evenings, I write the TPK Monday newsletter, which only goes out to subscribers. On Mondays, I write the Tuesday blog post, which typically focuses on lists or information. On Thursdays, I write the Friday blog post, which is usually a tutorial blog post — I guess I’ve made an exception today!
The rest of my days are spent making social media posts and working on at least one big project. My current project is re-vamping The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource, which I hope to finish next month. Such a predictable schedule may not work for everyone, but it helps me to feel like I’m on top of things!
6. Time Management Has Been a Learning Process
When I first started The Postman’s Knock, nothing could stop me from working all day and night! I developed wedding invitation designs in a frenzy, stayed up until the wee hours making calligraphy, and posted to social media as much as I could. If I had to choose between eating a meal and working on a project, I’d always choose working on the project. My classic American reasoning was that successful people are busy, and of course I wanted to be successful.
Today, I realize that one of the benefits of having your own business is getting to choose what to do with your time. I could easily find things to do to fill my day to the brim now, but what’s the rush? Instead, I’ve slowed down a lot. I make sure I sit down to eat three meals per day, get out of the house to exercise at least an hour a day, and I try to maximize my time working on projects and blog posts. Before, a task like writing a blog post used to take me hours because I allowed myself to take frequent breaks to check social media, text a friend, or write emails. Now, I keep social media and email tabs closed and my phone out of sight if I’m working on a project. That really helps me to focus on — and thoroughly enjoy making — whatever I’m working on!
7. Inspiration Never Ceases
There are times when I wonder if I’ll ever simply run out of things to write about. As of right now, the TPK blog has over 500 posts on it. Five hundred! And yet, sources of inspiration like books, Pinterest, and Instagram continue to prompt and fuel blog post ideas. Readers have also provided a plethora of topics! Every so often, I may ask for topic requests in a newsletter or on social media, and people always have such great ideas.
Maybe the day will come when the well of content has dried up — who knows? But for now, I still very much enjoy writing and getting to feed off of others’ creative energy!
8. Creativity is Still My Hobby
I think that people often fear turning their hobby into a business because the hobby will no longer be pleasurable. I’ve been working on The Postman’s Knock for 6+ years, and that never happened to me. If I have spare time, I usually seize it to work on some sort of personal artistic project!
Right now, for example, I’m making a hybrid bullet journal. My checklist notebook is just about to run out of pages, so I’ve started to make some pretty pages in a new notebook. I started two days ago, and this is what I’ve got so far! I thought I’d break the brand-new notebook in with things that make me happy: eye-catching lettering, an inspirational quote, some illustrations, and … cheesily, I know … photos of my husband and me.
My hope is that you garnered some inspiration from this blog post, or at least learned some interesting things about TPK that you may not have known before! If you have any questions, I’m always glad to answer. In the meantime, I hope that you have a fantastic weekend, and I thank you very much for reading! If you’re a subscriber, we’ll reconvene on Monday (look for a giveaway announcement in the newsletter), and if not, you can check back here on Tuesday for another blog post!