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Smart Success Stories: Dawn Nicole

Smart Success Stories: Dawn Nicole

SMART~ This article may contain affiliate links. I only suggest product or services I believe 
will benefit my readers. All opinions are 100% mine!~ 
Welcome to Smart Success Stories! I want to introduce you to Dawn Nicole of Dawn Nicole Designs. I found her work on Pinterest when I was trying to write calligraphy for a baby shower I was throwing for my sister-in-law. Dawn’s work is beautiful! I fell in love with the process of writing brush calligraphy and joined Dawn’s Facebook group. She has created a unique online business selling adult coloring books, teaching calligraphy, and sharing beautiful artwork. Some of her designs have been featured on Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Valentine’s Box and Hobby Lobby stores!

NewsletterSignature1. Please give us a little background on yourself, how you started Dawn Nicole Designs (what gave you the courage to start your own business), and how it’s going for you right now.

Hi everyone! I’m Dawn and I’m a full-time lettering artist, author, and creative blogger at Dawn Nicole Designs.

Prior to blogging I spent my days as an HR Manager at a pretty Charleston, SC resort. But then I met and married a military man and we started a family fairly soon after getting married. Moving all the time and having kids changed everything, so I happily did the SAHM thing for a few years and then started blogging in 2011 when we were stationed in a small Oklahoma town. I was at home with 3 babies under 4 and needed a creative outlet.

I went back to school in 2013 for a Graphic Design Certificate with a concentration in branding at Sessions College for Professional Design. (Because many people ask me this, I didn’t do a “full” degree because I already have a BA in English and a MBA in HR Management.) 

During design school, I discovered I have a passion for typography and hand lettering, and began to change the direction of my blog.

It’s gone gradually from a hobby to a part-time business to a full-time-and-then-some six figure business over the past 5 years, so I’m mostly taking it day by day to navigate the waters of “accidental” entrepreneurship. I feel so incredibly blessed to call being creative a career! I love, love, love what I do. I hope people are inspired by my career change over 30. I truly believe it’s never too late to change your career path and follow your creative passions!

2. What exactly do you offer with Dawn Nicole Designs? Can you explain this more for those who are unfamiliar with the product/services?

As far as my blog readers go, everything I offer on the blog is free. My vision for my site is to be an Online Art School, where people come to find inspiration and learn or develop their creative skills.

But a girl still has to make a living, right? So, for readers who want to learn certain things in more detail, I have a selection of eBooks in my Etsy shop. I also write Art + Lettering Books for two publishers and do freelance design work. In 2016, my art and lettering work has appeared in stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, TJ Maxx, and on a Valentine’s Day Krispy Kreme Doughnuts box.

Society6-FB3. What stage would you say your business is at and how long did it take you to get to this point?

It’s at the point where I can no longer do it all myself! And letting go of control over the little things is something I find especially challenging, but I’m learning it’s a very necessary part of growing a business. I currently have a Creative Team of talented ladies who help me create blog content and a Virtual Assistant who helps me create round-up based content. I also just hired a blog assistant who I’ve been training to take over a good deal of my social media (except Instagram, that’s my baby!) and to help manage my emails. I also use lawyers and a CPA to help me stay legal, because the legal side of business is not my area of expertise, yet so important to get right!

It took me 3ish years to go from a hobby blogger to a full-time blogger, so it definitely doesn’t happen overnight and it’s a ton of work, but for the most part, it’s work I love to do!

4. How does social media & blogging play a role in your business?

They play a massive role in my business. They ARE my business, really. Every opportunity I’ve had is a direct result of starting a blog and sharing my work on social media. Social media is where I’m able to engage with my readers and build a community of like-minded creatives!

5. What is your favorite part of owning your own business?

I can work in my PJs. I can work from home with my kids (which is a blessing and a curse depending on the moment, ha!). And perhaps most importantly, it’s mobile. We move every 1-3 years and this is a business I can (and do) pick up and move right along with us each time.

WTLB-IG6. What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about starting a business? 

Start a blog and share your knowledge generously. I think nearly every business can benefit from blogging these days! I share tips on everything I’ve learned over the past 5 years regarding blogging as a business here: Blogging Resources

7. Give us your favorite place to go for business advice books/websites/podcasts.

Three books I consider must reads for Creative Business Owners:

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The combination of these books really helped me combat burnout and find ways to increase my productivity by doing less.

Additionally, starting or joining a “mastermind” group of other business owners is incredibly helpful, because you all have different strengths and weaknesses but also share many of the same struggles! Those people will be your tribe and they really help me get through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

Thank you so much for having me today!


Connect with Dawn:

Mailing List // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest // Shop

I love Dawn’s advice about being generous with your knowledge. I have heard this before from other successful bloggers, and when I think about my favorite bloggers they all have one thing in common: sharing value. My favorite bloggers are always giving me valuable and useful information. I hope to model my blog the same way!

What part of Dawn’s story did you connect with? Share with us in the comments or join our Facebook Group Smart Cents Mom!

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