I’ve always wanted to start an online business, but I never could figure out what business to start. I have certain skills but these skills, in my opinion, don’t translate well into businesses.
Robert Kiyosaki said, in not so many words, if it eats up too much of your time, it’s not a business, but a job. Eventually, of course, he says it can turn into a business, but the best businesses are always the ones that generate a lot of income for very little work required of you.
And I get that. At one point, I tried making writing for clients a business and I realised it wasn’t for me. I’m no quick writer and it just took so much of my time and energy. I’m still a writer, and I still got dreams in this side of town, but until then, there are other things that I still want to do and one of them is to build a business doing something I love to do. I’ve been asking God to give me the wisdom on how to utilise my skills for business.
At my age, which is not quite young, and with all that I have on my plate, I can’t simply get in and out of just anything. It has to be the right business and it has to be something I can do on my free time.
I tried my hand in selling bags but that didn’t fly. Perhaps it’s because I’m not really a fashionista, so I’m not authentic enough for bag enthusiasts to want to buy from me?
After months and months of mulling things over, it hit me. I have art! I love doing it and if it doesn’t sell, I’d still love doing it.
How it all started
When I started taking painting seriously, all I ever wanted was to create something of mine worthy of hanging on my wall. I’ve painted plenty, but most of them are just output from tutorials and studies of other artists’ styles and techniques, which I think is necessary when discovering and developing your own style. I was the same way when I sang professionally for 13 years. I learned to listen and observe other performers, and took what I could that would better me in my craft. I think it’s the same with any creative pursuit.
From time to time, I get asked by friends if I would sell the paintings I post on my Facebook wall, and I would tell them I don’t, but if they like a painting I’ve done so much, I would send it to them, framed, but unsigned, so they can hang them on their walls or put them. up on their desks.
I don’t feel that it’s right to take credit for the art works that I did not originally creatively conceive. But that’s just me.
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Some friends ask me if I still teach watercolour painting to kids and moms. I taught classes last year, but ended it in October because of burnout. I’m still thinking about teaching kids again, but I think that I should get back to my classes first.
I’m registered in two online watercolour painting workshops in Udemy and Domestika, a short course in Art History via Art for Introverts, and a short program in Modern Art with the Museum of Modern Art via Coursera. I would really love to resume my studies very soon.
One of the things I also wanted to do was to paint our family and hang it on our wall. But I’m not a realistic painter and still working on that skill, so I thought that dream had to wait for a while, until I came across a pea portrait painter named Rina Llamas on Instagram.
To be honest, I inquired first because I am a huge fan of her work and wondered if I could just pay her to paint us. But when she replied with a quote, I realised that I have to save up for it first. It’s still a dream of mine to have one of her works in the house we’re working on to build. I think her paintings are beautiful and it would be wonderful to own one of her pieces.
But with that option out for the meantime, I thought I’d try to paint us instead, using the idea of stylised characters. It’s now hanging on our wall. I think that I’m way better at stylised portraits now than when I painted our own family, haha!
In my defence, I was recovering from COVID when I painted our family, and I was on the floor of our very tiny room. It was slightly uncomfortable.
But if there was anything I can take from that exercise, it was that I was reminded that I could draw and that I can draw characters. And that knowledge gave me the confidence to paint my own pictures and even take on a commission piece for a friend!
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Drawing as a kid
As a kid, I used to draw a lot. I would use up all of my dad’s scratch papers on his desk and draw scenes, usually of a group of girls playing as a band at a local festival, or siblings going to school. But I grew up in a conventional family that sees employment as the end of all means, so a career in visual arts was not exactly explored nor encouraged.
But remembering that made me realise I got something. I know I have a lot to learn compared to those who’ve been painting for a long time, but selling myself short was also one of the things that held me back when I was younger. I’m in my mid-40’s, I’ve no time for dramatics, so if I was going to do this, I had to start working.
Launching my art biz
This month, I launched my art biz. I’m starting with selling my personal Christmas paintings printed on mugs and pillow cases under the pseudonym, Mangkukulay PH, and I’m happy to say that as of this writing, all pre-orders for the first batch have been paid and will be way on their way to the suppliers for printing by 5PM this afternoon.
Most of my first customers are friends and I’m grateful to them for all the support they’re giving me.
I changed my watercolour Instagram handle from Watercolour Hobbyist to @MangkukulayPH, and launched my biz’s Facebook page.
I also tried to fix my Shopee business account, but ran into a bit of a problem as my items are all on pre-orders because one, we are tiny living and we have no room to store unsold items, and two, having my items on pre-order minimises my possible losses. However, Shopee only allows 1 out of 10 items in your shop to be pre-ordered, so I’ll have to figure this one out first.
I have plans to release my art works printed in many ways in the coming year, so wait for it!
Business management isn’t exactly my strongest suit, but I can do this. I’ve run small businesses before, albeit, haplessly, haha! I’ve managed people, I’ve worked out financial debts, I’ve done administrative work, I’ve learned how to file and pay for my taxes on my own, I’m familiar with online marketing and there’s nothing you can’t learn from the internet. God can help me figure things out along the way.
I’m also aware that some businesses take a long time to establish credibility and market, so I think I’m mentally and emotionally prepared for lean seasons in this journey. Besides, as I said earlier, I love to paint and I’ll paint as much as I can, and develop my technique, regardless of the season I’ll be in. Consider it a passion project, sounds better that way, doesn’t it?
Please support my small business by following me on the following accounts:
MangkukulayPH on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MangkukulayPH
MangkukulayPH on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mangkukulayph/
MangkukulayPH on Shopee: https://shopee.ph/shop/11708755/
“If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today” Deuteronomy 8:18. (MSG)