January 8, 2018

18 Goals Every Creative Should Think About Setting in 2018

Happy Monday! In our last post we talked about setting SMART goals in the new year, and today we’re back to give you some ideas for what those goals could be. If you’re stuck on setting good goals for the new year, this is a GREAT place to start. Read through them, pick a few that speak to you, make sure you make them SMART…and then get to work on making this your best year yet!

Here they are…18 Goals Every Creative Should Think About Setting in 2018:

1. Commit to finding an accountant who specializes in small business. This is a good goal for any year, but this year especially! There are a lot of changes coming to the tax code this year that specifically affect small businesses, and you’ll need someone to help you navigate the new waters and make sure you are making the most of your decisions. (Also, check out this post for 8 Things Creatives Should Look for in An Accountant)

2. Calculate the total costs of one of your goods or services and find a way to reduce them by at least 10%. A business rarely becomes unprofitable from one bad decision, but rather from a bunch of small bad decisions made over and over. So many businesses struggle over time simply because they were “$100 dollars-ed to death.” They spend $100 here and a $100 there without thinking about it and suddenly all of their margin is gone. Narrow in on just one product to start and brainstorm ways you can reduce your costs.

3. Do a FB LIVE once a month. I get it…video is scary. And LIVE video is even scarier than that. But nothing is getting more traction with audiences right now than video…especially when you’re using that time to pour into people with helpful content and ideas. Think about your customers and what they need help with…now hop on and film a quick 5-10 min FB LIVE with some ideas for them! Let them see your face, let them SEE you helping…and you’ll be amazed at how that comes back to you!

4. In the same way, make sure you are using IG Stories. This is such a powerful way to check in with your audience daily and share your life behind the scenes, beyond just trying to sell them something. Remember this: when a person sees your product, they become a customer….when they see your HEART, they become loyal for life. If you’ve never done an IG Story before, it can be a little awkward talking into the camera on your phone…but I promise, it DOES get easier & pretty soon it will be second nature!

5. Give up your bookkeeping. In the same way that I think you should have an accountant who specializes in small business, I think that bookkeeping should be one of the first things on your “what to outsource this year” list…preferably to an accountant who does BOTH. Our accountant does monthly bookkeeping for us and sends us monthly profit & loss statements so we know we’re on track. Because she does both, it also means our year end tax meeting takes about 30 minutes and is a total breeze. Before you say you can  I just learn Quickbooks, I want you to remember that is not a CEO move. Your time is SO much more valuable spent somewhere else- like being the visionary and steering the ship in your creative business.

6. Unfollow. If there is someone who pretty regularly makes you feel worse after seeing a post from them- whether that’s from your own comparison OR they just actually are one of these people who uses social media to impress not empower-do yourself the best favor in the world and just. stop. watching. Unfollow! You will be AMAZED at how much creative energy and freed up head space you’ll get back when you remove that toxic influence from your feed. Make the choice in 2018 to only follow people who make you feel inspired, uplifted and energized to go do GOOD things in your own life/business too.

7. Quit Something. In the wise words of Bob Goff, “It’s Thursday…quit something.” Every single one of us creative business owners has something in our business we’ve been holding on to just because we think we “should” do it…even if it’s not profitable, rewarding or joyful. It’s 2018…quit that.

8. Get a Faithful Five. We’ve all at this point probably heard the old adage, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This year, make it a top goal to find your five. The 5 people who will listen, remind you who you are & who you are becoming, that you can bounce ideas off of, get honest feedback, turn to when you’re facing criticism, and who will be the FIRST to jump up and down celebrating your wins. This year, surround yourself with quality not quantity. We all need a Faithful Five.

9. Take the time to understand FB Ads. The results are in, Facebook is here to stay. And Facebook ads, while not as affordable as they once were, are STILL one of the most powerful ways to advertise your business. Take the time to educate yourself on the basics of FB ads, and when you’re ready to jump in consider hiring someone who specializes in them to make sure you are getting the most return out of your investment.

10. Show up consistently. Whether that is on Instagram, a blog, your newsletter, Facebook, YouTube, or whatever it might be….pick a platform or two that you most enjoy and COMMIT to showing up there consistently this year. Very few things will build your business as quickly in someone’s mind than showing up weekly to show yourself doing what you love and to pour into your audience on a regular basis.

11. Craft a client experience. When we hired a contracting company to renovate our house when we first bought it, do you know what they did? They renovated our house. Do you know what we said they did? They renovated our house.” But if they had changed just one little thing and on the last day left us with a gift basket (let’s say of kitchen towels, candles, and wine) with a note that said “Welcome Home.”…do you know what we would have said then?? “Oh my gosh, our contractors are AMAZING! SO thoughtful and so, so good at what they do. They made everything so easy and just LISTEN to this gift they left us!!” It’s what we talk about in our J&M Ultimate Business Course as “moving from word of mouth that ends in a period to word of mouth with an exclamation point.” And it makes ALL the difference.

12. Write out your workflow. In the same way, pick a day and sit down to write out your entire workflow start to finish from client inquiry to a year after the final product is delivered (the perfect time to follow up for future jobs like anniversary sessions). Look for roadblocks, bottlenecks, or anything else that might contribute to a bad client experience. Set out a plan to fix it in this first quarter.

13. Create set times to create just for you. One of the biggest reasons that creatives burn out is because they take this thing that they used to do all the time because they LOVED it and now only do that thing because it’s work. It is absolutely critical that you keep carving out time to create just for you when there isn’t a customer involved. A great way to keep yourself accountable to that this year, is to create a 12 month project- an assignment you give yourself where you have to create something new (in the theme you choose) each month. Because what is a creative without the chance for creating.

14. Spend one day a month studying. In the same way, carve out one day a month that is your “education” day to be spent studying your craft. You can practice a new technique, head to the library to study a book on one of the greats (we’ve been studying Karsh and loving it!), or catch up on a course (photographers, we have lighting and posing courses if you need help in those!). If the sentence were true that “you are only as good as the last time you learned” ask yourself how GOOD you would be!

15. Plan Content in Advance. One of the BIGGEST reasons that people give for why they fall off on their blogging, social media, or just creating new content in general is because when they sit down to do it, they just don’t know what to say. A super simple fix for this is to just sit down quarterly and brainstorm a list of posts you want to write and then, in advance, assign them a week for when you’ll tackle them. It takes the guess work out of it, while still allowing room to be creative for when you actually write the post. If you plan to blog once a week for example, that’s only 12-13 ideas you have to brainstorm every three months when you sit down to plan. List them out by week and then when it comes time, you’ll know exactly what you are writing about.

16. Review your work for growth areas. Plan an afternoon to sit down and look through the best of your work from last year to celebrate what went right! But also, plan to take a look at those times you’d rather not remember. Like that dark barn where you really struggled or those large bridal parties that were really hard to pose. Identify some areas you want to work on so that this year looks different than last.

17. Thank a mentor, find a mentee. Chances are, you became the creative you are today because someone first poured into you. Someone gave you your first camera or paint brush, allowed you to shadow them, showed you some of their inside “secrets” to make sure you had an easier road than they did, and just generally believed in you. Take the time to reach out and thank them this year. To tell them and show them the impact they have had in your life. And then find someone that YOU can be that person to as well!

18. Find a new creative outlet. Like we mentioned above, running a creative business often means taking a hobby you used to LOVE and turning it into work (that you hopefully still love!) But that can also often mean that you are left without a hobby…something to do just for the pure fun and joy of it. Chances are, if someone is creative in one area, they have it in them to be creative in several ares. So this year, make it a priority to find a new creative outlet that you do just for you. For example, this past year Justin has taken up cooking and is even taking an online class to learn from Gordon Ramsey and he’s loving it. And as the official taste tester, I can tell you…so am I! :)

Be sure to comment below and let us know which goals you’re setting for your most creative year yet!!

Here’s to good goals in 2018!

PS: If you are looking for some CLEAR direction on where to take your creative business this year and to hit the ground running, be sure to check out our 6-week J&M Ultimate Business Course!!

  1. jamie delaine watson

    this advice is really, really great stuff, guys. thank you!

  2. Claudia

    Excellent advice! I’m enrolled in your business course, and I’ve learned so much that it’s really starting to help my business! Definitely bookmarking this post. ❤️

  3. Amber

    These are such great goals! I also want to tell everybody that J&M’s Ultimate Get Booked Business Course is amazing! It was one of the best educational courses I’ve every purchased. They break things down step by step, give you practical ideas and homework, and then continue to build on the work you’ve already done. If you’ve been thinking about getting the course – definitely do. :)

  4. Alison Jepp

    Thank you guys for sharing this…feeling inspired for 2018!

  5. Regina Marie

    I have a few of them…
    But after 20 years of chasing my husbands dreams (of living and traveling on a sailboat), this year starts me chasing MINE! My business is something I used to play at, this year is the year I actually get it started for real!! And I love this list!!

  6. Cheyenne Schultz

    Really loved this and am needing to do half of these ASAP! Hope your 2018 is off to a great start! xoxo.

  7. Deborah Fox

    Absolutely spot on advice and great reminder to let go of something I hate…taxes. Trying to make positive financial changes this year so finding an Accountant is 1, reading Dadve Ramseys Total Money Makover is 2 and a review of the Ultimate Get Booked Business Class is 3. That class was the BEST investment of 2017 or ever for that fact. If anyone is on the fence about that I highly encourage them to take the leap.

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