Ella Goodwin Interview: Setting Up Your Own Online Creative Business

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with our friends across the pond, we’re thrilled to announce the launch our series of IDI tutor interviews.

The web team here at IDI are busy working away to revamp and redesign the tutor profile pages on our website, but we thought we’d get a head start and let you get to know our tutors a little better in the meantime.

This month, IDI tutor Ella Goodwin reveals the secret to setting up your own creative business.

Ella has created an online world inspired by fairytales and folklore, craft and nature, where you can purchase items such as homewares, DIY kits and her newly published illustrated graphic novella.

We join her to talk about the highs and lows of going solo and to find out her tips and tricks for staying inspired when developing your passion into a career

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IDI tutor Ella Goodwin, aka Miss Ella. Photo by Emily Faulder

1. When and why did you first decide to set up on your own?

Having freelanced during my BA (Hons) and Masters degree, my freelance work had grown quite organically. By the time I graduated in 2006, I had built up quite a body of work.

In 2012 I quit my 9-5 job and started selling my own illustration regularly online. As this grew I incorporated more products.

My background is mainly in illustration, but is also partly in costume design, so I was always keen to transfer my work into different products such as textiles and kits.

Origami Bubbles illustration © Miss Ella

2. What has been the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is having time to create new work when there are so many other elements to running a business such as marketing, admin and sales. All of which don’t come naturally to many creatives!

[Read more about what’s involved in setting up a design business]

3. Having learned from the process, is there anything you would do differently if you were to do it all again?

If I were to do anything differently, I would just have done it much sooner!

Also, having a business grow organically can be brilliant, but I sometimes wish I had made a stronger plan at the beginning.

Sewing Up Daisies illustration © Miss Ella

4. Any tips for someone hoping to become their own boss?

To become your own boss, all you need is determination. But a good business plan and thorough market research at the outset is incredibly important.

[ How to write a business plan is included in IDI’s free Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide: ]

5. A problem a lot of people encounter is time management, how do you personally organise your time?

I am an early bird, I am often up at 5am as I find that peaceful part of the day is the most productive and will leave me feeling more relaxed in the evening.

It’s important to give yourself a cut off point to make time for family or other commitments, so I stop working no later than 7.30pm.

I aim to have admin and online tasks complete quite early on in the day – this leaves time for product photography and new ideas.

In terms of juggling time, I write a lot of lists!

6. What would you say are the biggest benefits of working for yourself?

The best part about working for myself is the flexibility and control over when and where you will be working. And of course there’s the pleasure of doing something you love!

Also, I have met so many wonderful people as a result of being so immersed in the creative industries.

Dolls House Room for the V&A’s travelling exhibition: “Small Stories” at The Castle Museum Norwich © Miss Ella

7. Is there anything you didn’t expect, or that came as a surprise?

I was surprised at just how much you can fit into your day!

If you prioritise your tasks well, that is… like I say, I aim to have all my admin tasks finished in the morning so that I can focus on more fun, creative tasks in the afternoon. And the lists always help!

8. Earning a living in the creative industries, how do you stay inspired and avoid it becoming ‘just a job’?

I am constantly evolving my range of products.

I find that social networks are an absolute boon to keep you going as they’re a great source of feedback and interaction. It can be a great way to stay informed of what your customers want and what will work in the marketplace.

A set of three dioramas used in a paper kit book © Miss Ella

9. You have personally studied animation and graphic design up to Masters level. How has higher education informed and shaped you as a professional creative?

My Masters degree has absolutely enabled me to really shape and focus the areas I was most interested in and deepen my research to work out my ambitions.

10. Has running your own business informed your teaching at IDI at all? If so, how?

Yes – both inform each other!

My teaching enriches my practice through the need to keep myself constantly immersed in the industry.

IDI having such a wide reach globally means that different cultures and approaches regularly surprise me in such positive ways.

My own practice has an impact on my teaching as it gives me the opportunity to impart my ever-evolving skills and knowledge to students who often are following similar pathways.

We hope you enjoyed this article and feel inspired. Let us know what you think in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share:

4 thoughts on “Ella Goodwin Interview: Setting Up Your Own Online Creative Business

    1. Hi Stefanie! Thank you, I use a mixture of hand drawn, watercolours and digitally scanned textures and patterns as overlays such as old papers, fabrics and patterns I’ve drawn. The images in this article are all digital but I always start by exploring hand drawn sketches which are then inked and scanned into Illustrator and Photoshop to add colour.

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