getting started.

I get emails almost daily from young aspiring designers or entrepreneurs asking me how I got started, and if I have any tips for them as they walk down the same path I followed.  I wanted to make a blog post to share some tips publicly, because repeating myself via email is a little daunting sometimes!

The first question is how I came about what I do.  I honestly don’t have much of an answer for this one, because I feel like I always somewhat knew what I wanted to do.  Growing up, I always wanted my own business. There was no question about that. I wanted to be in charge and didn’t want anyone else telling me what to do.  I’ve also always been artistic and the whole online design concept just came naturally over the years, with technology and all. Drawing transformed from a pencil into a mouse. Once I found myself in a niche that I liked, I stuck with it and learned all I needed to know. So, there was never really a drastic “EUREKA!” moment when I found what I wanted to do… it all just kind of happened.

My advice to you, if you are planning on becoming your own boss, is to make sure you absolutely love what you do.  It should almost come naturally to you. If you force it, you’re not being true to yourself and your future will suffer.  Just because someone owns their own business doing something they love, does not mean that you will have success in the same field. You have to want it, and you have to work for it.

Getting to where you want to be does not come easily… well, unless you’re famous and all you have to do it mention an idea and a team of professionals appear by your side and make it happen.  It takes a lot of sacrifice, and can be mentally taxing sometimes.  When I decided to take my design business full time, I was non-stop working around the clock.  My regular bed time was 3:30am.  I missed out on friend hangouts.  I did jobs for little to no pay just to build up my portfolio.  I had bad clients.. I still do occasionally… the only difference is that I now know how to deal with them.

If you are dedicated to this idea of working for yourself, then do everything you can to learn as much as you can. Read tutorials and articles online. You have all of the information you need right here in this computer box. Use it for good instead of playing Farmville.


People will tell you you’re crazy and that maybe you should look for another job. Prove those people wrong. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing with your own life.

Come up with a good, unique idea. This is what launched my design career. I came up with an idea that at the time was non-existent but I saw a huge demand for it.

Another question I am asked is this… “I want to be a web designer but I don’t know much about HTML or Photoshop, what do I do?”.  This is just silly talk.  LEARN. What is stopping you from learning right now? As I said above, the internet is full of every resource you could possibly need. Google is your BFF.  I’m not going to throw tutorials together for you because there are already plenty out there.  If you want to succeed, you need to stop looking for simple answers and actually put the time into learning how to do things yourself.  When you own a business, no one is going to tell you how to run that business but youFigure it out.  That sounded a little harsh, but tough love, baby!

I can’t tell you how to run your business or how to get into a field of work that you love. Search inside yourself for answers and start putting things into action.  Somewhere inside of you, you already know what you love to do. You already know what you need to do. So what’s stopping you from just doing it already???

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By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.

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