I’ve been blogging for a whole year, say what?!

I honestly can’t quite believe that I’ve managed to stick to it, and I’ve completed a full year of posting at least three times a week. I’ve tried to blog and share my illustrations a few times before, but I’ve always fallen out of the habit pretty quickly and given up within a month or two. So it feels particularly sweet to have broken the cycle and invested this time in developing my creative skills.

It’s not always been easy, and I’ve not always been sure it’s been “worth it” but I am so glad I’ve done it. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this first year of putting myself out there on the internet recently so I thought I’d share a few things that I would love to tell 2016 Natalie before she embarked on this journey – maybe it will be helpful for you, maybe it won’t, but I hope it’s at least interesting.



Okay I want to cover this one right off the bat. It’s okay to care about the numbers. I feel like it’s become this dirty thing to care about your traffic or how many followers you have, that you become branded a high school mean girl consumed by your own popularity. But you’re not. Everyone cares about the numbers to some extent. These days larger numbers lead to greater opportunities. Plus it’s always nice to think people are engaging with something you’ve made. You should care about the numbers. But you shouldn’t just care about the numbers. They aren’t the only way to tell if you’re making good work – the ultimate judgement of that is down to you and how you feel about what you’re producing. It’s also not healthy to focus in on something you ultimately don’t have any control over to bring you happiness. Don’t worry about caring about the numbers, but don’t worry too much about what they are either.



Before I started blogging I wouldn’t have put Pinterest as my favourite or most lead generating social media. But after a year of using it, it really is. I think it’s worth trying out a load of platforms at the beginning and seeing which ones you enjoy the most and get the best return for effort with. For example, I don’t have a lot of Twitter followers but I enjoy it the most in terms of interaction so it’s one I spend a lot of time on actively. Whereas I know Instagram is important for having a public profile as an “artist” but I don’t like using it that much and it can leave me feeling quite negative, so I focusing on queueing good content rather than having to scroll for hours. I also really wanted, nostalgically, to get back into using Tumblr but it just didn’t fit my schedule in the way I’d hoped so I left it to one side so I could focus on different channels – but who knows now might be the time to revive it.



One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about getting into blogging is getting to meet (digitally) and speak to so many like-minded people. I wish I’d had a bit more of a push to do it at the start. The creative blogging community is so lovely and inclusive, and it’s something I really want to become a bigger part of in the future. So I wish I could tell myself to reach out and say hi a bit more!



I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to be completely yourself in your blog and find your niche before you start whilst being bombarded by tips and hack on how to grow as a blogger that largely homogenise your content. At the start, I spent a fair bit of time worrying about not having a niche. I still spend a bit of time thinking about it now, But I feel like through writing about what I wanted and not worrying about it too much, sure I have an overarching theme but I’m not as specific as a beauty blog or a DIY blog I’ve kind of found my own like patch of the internet (design, creativity, and professional productivity). In a similar way it’s taken me a little while to develop a visual style that ties my posts together, and that came from imitating and trying out different styles I liked and keeping the bits that worked for me until slowly something that was my own emerged to the extent that I hope you can recognise one of my drawings as mine.


I’ve received quite a few exciting emails through my blog. But very very few of them have actually manifested. Getting those exciting emails is really lovely, but don’t expect anything more from them until you get further down the line, until it’s a real conversation or a contract. Appreciate them for what they are and don’t feel disappointed if they don’t amount to something, because you’ve not lost anything at all.



I feel like this is blog advice 101 and it’s something that I’ve done naturally but it’s still something I’d want to remind myself of before I started. But consistency has been absolutely key for me in terms of keeping my blog going but also in terms of shaping my work. Starting with a schedule helped me create a habit around writing and illustrating for the blog, which has ultimately made it easier to be consistent and stick to blogging. Make it, and that means all of it,  part of your routine as soon as you can.



As much as I love it, this blog has been a major source of anxiety for me. I wish I could tell myself when I started not to worry so much. What will happen will happen. How people respond to your work once you’ve put it out there is completely out of your hands, so don’t worry about it. That’s still something I need to remind myself of now. Missing a post isn’t the end of the world. Not scheduling a day’s social media isn’t the end of the world. Having no comments on something you’ve written isn’t the end of the world. Getting no engagement on a social post isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a blog.



This is something I’ve only just started doing recently, now that I’ve hit that year mark. But taking the time to actually appreciate how much work I’ve put into this blog has been really lovely and made me feel really proud. I don’t think it’s something you can do every day but taking the time to pause every once in a while and reflect on how much you’ve put into your blog is so worth it and I wish it was something I’d started earlier.

I have some very VERY exciting news to share. After months of work behind the scenes, I have redesigned my portfolio, and more excitingly, I’ve opened a store!

That’s right you can now buy my illustrations on greeting cards, postcards, in a zine, on stickers and, if you’re feeling extra fancy as originals!

Check it out

This is a huge step for me, and a bit of a big gamble on myself. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and after proving to myself I could stick to blogging for a year and build a little audience, it felt like time. I’m super proud of how it’s turned out, and I’m hoping it’s the start of a new chapter in my creative work.

I want this to be a much better platform for people to learn more about my work, and hopefully allow me to indulge the idea that making things could be a feasible part of my career.

It feels super indulgent to have just designed the cards I would want to send, the zine I would want to read, the originals I would want to hang on my wall, but I felt like there was no point in doing this unless it truly felt like it was mine. And it does.

I love everything I’ve made. Each piece has a story behind it and a lot of love in it.

I’m going to be doing a series of behind the scenes posts in the next week or so, so you can see in a little more depth how they came together and where my inspiration came from. I might also do a post on my switch to Squarespace and redesign, if you’re interested?

In the meanwhile, head on over to my new site and maybes pick up a greeting card or five while you’re there!    

If you want to keep up to date with new products, and get some exclusive discounts (as well as free downloads and some ace reading recommendations) sign up to my newsletter in the side bar!

One of the major things I’ve learned over the course of my grad scheme so far is how big of a difference one person can make in your career development. Whether that’s the one person who champions you at an interview, the one person who invites you to lunch and makes you feel welcome, or the one person who takes it upon themselves to show you the ropes. Today I want to talk a little bit about finding the last person on that list, a mentor.

A mentor is a completely invaluable resource when you’re just starting, and throughout your career. Having someone you can go to for guidance, and who will help steer you in the right direction can give you so much confidence and really help you develop. You will never know everything, especially if you’ve just started, which is why having a mentor who can either share their experience or act as a sounding board to help you find an answer is so so important.

I’ve had a few mentors through my rotations, some have worked better for me than others. I’ve learned that a good mentor has to be someone you can trust and speak openly with, who you get on with, who actively wants to be involved in helping you develop, and who has enough life and business experience that they can help you grow in more than one way. Now what that person looks like for everyone will be different, and perhaps some of the mentors I’ve loved wouldn’t be right for you and vice versa. It might take a little bit of time, and maybes finding what doesn’t work, until you find someone to guide you, but that’s pretty normal.

So how do you find this mentor?

In some cases, you might be assigned a mentor, which can be a great thing. But even if you’re assigned a mentor, you’re not limited to only turning to that person for advice. What has worked for me is looking to the people who are a few rungs higher than me in jobs I would like to be doing. If you’ve worked with them on a project, and like their style, even better. Then I’ve asked to pick their brains on something, often over coffee, and seen how we get on. I will say that this has been made much easy by the fact that I’m on a grad scheme and I’m kind of expected to reach out to people and try and learn about what they do. The best mentors I’ve had this discussion has happened pretty much unprompted though, once we’ve got chatting, and I’ve asked a few questions, they’ve been more than happy to share their wisdom. Look for people who want to get you involved in projects (or lunch) and are excited about their job and you can’t go far wrong.

Once you’ve found your mentor, here are a few ideas of things you should be working with them on or asking about:

  • Most importantly, how can you improve? What does good look like in your industry?
  • Where can you skill up?
  • Where do they see your business going (if they’re high up enough) or where they see the industry going? It’s useful to know what the future might hold so you can be ready for it
  • What projects can you get involved in?
  • How should you approach salaries and negotiations?
  • How did they deal with any problems you’re facing now when they were starting?
  • How to branch out and make yourself more employable and rounded
  • Any advice they have for dealing with certain people, or ways of working in your office
  • What has their career path been like?
  • Help with working on your soft skills like people management
  • Ask them to take you along to meetings that are a little above your grade where possible to see what those higher-level conversations sound like
  • How can you help them? Make sure you’re giving back too

So, in short, find yourself a mentor and make the most of them by asking all of the questions. Do you have any mentorship advice? Have you had any great mentors? Awful ones?

The time is almost here, I am almost ready to finish my time being on a grad scheme and get a proper job. This year has been filled with learning, mainly through trial and error. The big thing I’ve learned, through the process of 4 placements, is how to get the most out of a grad scheme. Unfortunately for me, as I don’t intend to be a grad for the rest of my life, this isn’t so useful. Fortunately for you, I’m sharing all the things I learned the hard way so you don’t have to and so some of the stuff I went through this year doesn’t go to waste. It’s also a bit of a bumper edition of my internships post, so it’s probably worth a read if you’re a grad, an intern, an apprentice, or just a new starter. This list is a mixture of things I did and that really helped and things that I wish I had done now that I’m looking back over the year.


You’ll get told this one endlessly by whoever is running your grad scheme, but it’s the biggy. Ask questions when you don’t understand something, you are in the wonderful position where there truly are no stupid questions. Ask questions about the future, about people’s opinions, about the work, about the business. Ask loads of questions.


People love feeling admired, fact. So, make some people feel admired by reaching out and asking them to tell you about themselves and what they do. As a grad, you have a bit of extra license to get in touch with anyone, and I mean anyone, I’ve had this kind of chat with everyone from new starters to CEOs and I have learned so much.


There are some fundamental skills you need in any job, don’t skip them, even if you’re given the chance to do so. Knowing how to book a meeting room, whoever/wherever you are will come in handy at some point.


Something new starters are told to do is network, and network hard. This is undoubtedly useful. But what’s way better is to make friends rather than just contacts. Putting the effort in to get to know people a little better will pay off dividends, whether that’s just in having a friendly face about, getting the latest business news, or having contacts you can still talk to if you, or they, move on.


As well as making friends, you also need to find the helpers. These might be the same people. But make sure you know who you can turn to for advice, or for help if you’re in a sticky situation, and stay close to those people. For me, these ranged from colleagues to HR managers, to my fellow grads.


There are going to be times (maybes lots of them) where you feel invisible, where no one is giving you work. This when you need to get a little bit pushy and start asking to get involved. Walk over to someone you like and see if there’s anything you can help them with, even if there isn’t I guarantee one of the five people who overheard will be happy to have an extra pair of hands. I wish I had done this more.


When you do get that work add some value. Put a little bit extra into whatever you do. Whether that’s colour coding your excel, adding a summary in the front of the doc or in the email you send, or adding your own opinion and recommendation at the end. Add some value, and people will start to see yours way more.


This one is tough, especially when you’re in your third placement doing something you don’t like so much and you’re fed up with being new (okay maybes that was just me). But you need to fake it if you aren’t feeling super enthused. As a grad, everyone expects a baseline of excitement from you just at the prospect of learning, and you need to live up to that standard if not exceed it. As much as it sometimes pains me, the more enthusiastic about the work you are, the more engaged you’ll be, and the more you’ll end up enjoying it, even if you were faking it at the start.


Or stay late – I’m just a get in early person. Show you’re willing to put the hours in.


This is something else I wish I had done more at the start. Double check what people want whenever they set you a task, and check how they’d like it sent over – do they just want an email, or it putting in a folder, would they rather talk it through? This is the best way to make sure you’re doing useful work and that you don’t have to do things twice.


For a lot of my placements, I didn’t have objectives. This was a mistake. Even if you don’t get some handed to you, you should sort out some objectives. Those can be learning or doing (or both) things you want to achieve over your time. They give you something to work for, and they can also shape your time. So, get some objectives, then share them with your line manager/mentor so they can help you achieve them.


If any of your placements are anything like mine, you’ll be asked what you want to get out of your placement and what you’d like to do (no guarantee you get to do it but it’s nice to ask). There’s always the obvious of you want to learn and try out as much as you can – highly recommended. But it’s also useful to have an idea of what the company does and what you’re interested in. That could be working with a certain client, shadowing a certain person, learning a certain skill, or just trying out a new role.


This is pretty obvious, but you’re in a grad scheme to learn so try out as much as you possibly can. I’m talking different roles, different ways of working, different skills, different groups. Just pack in as many experiences as you can, even if you have to learn how to play softball.


This one has two parts. First, write everything down when you’re working so you can provide good meeting summaries and just do good work. Second, write down everything you do and everything you feel about the job as you go. This will be absolutely invaluable in the future. It’s easy to look back on things with rose tinted glasses or to focus on that one thing that went wrong on your last day rather than the overall experience. Having those records to refer to will help give you a truer picture of your own experience, so you know what works for you. Plus, having a record of everything you did and learned is so useful when you’re applying for more jobs and you need to give examples in interviews or on application forms.


Write down every word or acronym you don’t know, then ask (or google) what it means. By the end of if you’ll have a work glossary that means you are more likely to have some semblance of an idea as to what is going on.


By the way the world is going, you are going to be working at a desk until you’re 102. So, make sure you set up your desk properly wherever you are. Setting my seat to the right height has changed my life. If you’re moving around a lot, get yourself a little tray to keep your papers in. It will make it so much easier to gather up your stuff and carry it over to wherever you’re going next. They’re also great for storing the fruit you accumulate from the canteen.


If you’re coming into a business as a graduate, more likely than not you’ll be coming in with a little gang. In mine, there were four of us. Stick together. Share what you’ve learned. Bitch about your problems as a group. Stay close to those people because they know what you’re going through, and they’re probably going to be super useful at some point – especially if you don’t manage to get around to learning how to book a meeting room (seriously, don’t be that person).


Have you got five minutes? Yes. Could you help me out on this project? Yes. Do you want to grab a coffee? Yes. Do you want to be involved in some new business? Yes. Do you want me to show you how to write SQL code? Yes. Would you like a drink? Yes please.


As much as you should say yes to as much as you can, don’t forget you can say no. If you have loads on and you can’t complete a piece of work well, say so at the start. Also, if you don’t want to go to drinks, you don’t have to.


There are going to be quiet moments in your job. Use those to research your industry, or things that are tangentially linked to what you’re doing or clients you have. Then share what you’ve found if it’s useful. This is the second best way (the first is cake) to make friends with colleagues.


You’re on whatever grad scheme you’re on for a reason. You have a unique set of skills and experiences. Don’t be afraid to make them a part of your work, and to put your own spin on things as long as you’re still ticking the major points you need to.


On that point, make sure your opinions (or just questions) are heard in meetings. You are just as bright and able to come up with ideas as anyone else.


No grad scheme lives up to the hype, not one. That’s not to say they’re bad. But they’re jobs. Sometimes they’re boring. Sometimes they’re stressful. Sometimes they don’t feature the things you want. Sometimes you’ll meet people you don’t much like. It’s not going to be the wonderful world you imagined, but it is going to be filled with opportunities. Don’t be disheartened, just make the most of it.


There are going to be times when you have to blag it. In these moments, its useful to know that everyone, no matter how senior, has to make it up as they go along at some point (probably more often than you think). So, don’t worry about it. You’re learning. They’re learning. Ask for help if you need it, you’re allowed to not know!


You are not going to be paid much (it’s like a working masters) so it just makes sense.

In my quest to share everything I’ve learned in recent months, I thought I’d do a little (this ended up being not quite so little) piece on making a creative CV. One of the few things I am remembered for in my office building is my CV, and it’s something that has been mentioned in every interview I’ve taken it to. So, I know first-hand the power of a well-designed CV to make you memorable, and more specifically memorable for the right reasons. This has been in advertising agencies, data analytics firms, PR companies, art festivals, and even temping jobs – before you think that creative CVs are only for “creative” jobs.

Whatever you’re applying to do, you want to stand out, and a creative CV is a great way to do that.

There are a whole load of examples out there, some good, some bad, but there aren’t many tutorials on how to do it. So, I thought I’d share an outline of my process, which is super-duper simple. If you’d like more of a tutorial of how I practically put mine together – let me know and I’ll be sure to make one soon. I’m also thinking of sharing a bit of a guide to creative job applications too.

So, without further ado, here’s my process in the form of a few questions I asked myself.



Start with what you want to say. What are your main selling points or your most impressive experiences? How can you show them off? This is the key to a great CV. I started by writing out all of my information, curating it, then trying to make it compelling in a regular CV format. If you can make yourself look good in plain Times New Roman, anything else you add will just be a bonus.


Once you know what to say, you can then think about the best way to visually present it. First off have a sketch of what you think you can do or any ideas you have. Then have a look on Pinterest (I have a whole board of ideas here) and see what other people have done with similar information, see what works and what doesn’t, then adapt it to make something that suits you.


Get your ideas together, then ask yourself one question: can I make it simpler? This is the point where you want to cut out anything unnecessary, whether that’s content (do recruiters really care if you like long walks on the beach?) or a visual element (does that 6th graph really add anything to what you’re trying to say). The simpler and easier to access it is the better.


If you’ve simplified really well, you’ll probably have this sorted. But you want your CV to be able to flex and change as you apply to different jobs. Going through this process every time would be so frustrating. What this basically means is don’t lock content that will have to change a lot – your who you are statement, or past experiences into a format you can’t edit or that will only suit one job.


Put it all together. I made mine in Affinity Designer. While I would highly recommend you try it out, or use a design programme for the best results, you can still make some really great, visually compelling stuff in word processing programmes. Just make sure you export it as a pdf before you send it to anyone to avoid elements moving around or not rendering properly.


Give it to a friend or colleague and see what they think. An extra pair of eyes will help you find out if what you’re saying is clear, and help fish out any sneaky typos. NB: if you’re too embarrassed to share your CV with a friend, you need to do some more work on it – if it’s not good enough for someone who already likes you, why would it be good enough to sell you to someone who doesn’t?




It’s easy to get over-excited by the visual stuff, but when it comes to CVs less is definitely more. Any graphic elements you use should make getting to the information easier, not harder. So, don’t overwhelm whoever has to read your CV, instead look to help them to see the best in you.


I see a lot of creative CVs on Pinterest that look absolutely stunning but have absolutely no substance, or even space to add it in. Content is king in all things, but especially your CV. Sure having a really cool infographic is going to catch a recruiter’s eye, but if you don’t have anything that actually tells them who you are, what you’ve done, and why you’d be a good fit there’s no way they’re going to hire you. Start with making the content relevant then get creative about showing it off, not the other way around.


I have honestly seen 5 pages CVs at work. No one, and I really mean this, no one needs a 5-page CV. You should be able to fit everything you need to say on one, double-sided, page. Curate your best bits, and don’t waffle. If your CV is the same size as a small novel, it’s not going to be read.


As I said earlier, your CV is there to show you off. So, it’s vital that if you’re going to get creative with your layout or use some more visual elements, they have to fit with who you are and what you want to say. If you’re a serious management consultant you might not want fun hand-drawn illustrations down the side, but some graphs might work better. Equally, if you’re going to work in social media, it might not make sense to have something that feels more old-fashioned and features beautiful calligraphy, instead, you might want to play with colour and emojis. Again, start with who you are then look to present that, don’t start with a style you like the look of then try to fit into it.


I started this off by talking about my own CV, so I thought I should share it with you. This is really quite old now (2014, I was 18), I couldn’t find a more modern version, but I have used this format for every CV since.

Why does it work?

  • It fits on a single side of A4 so it’s easy to skim
  • I used it to apply to a grad scheme with a number of different businesses (from events to creative agencies, to data) so it isn’t geared towards a specific industry
  • The layout is unusual but still easy to navigate
  • The top section adds character and is memorable, without detracting from the content
  • The pop of colour makes it eye catching
  • It’s all about the content inside the boxes (which I have edited out in some instances for privacy)