Goal Setting for Artists in 2021

Did you know that most people underestimate what they can do in a month but overestimate what they can do in a year? How do we set the right goals? I am here to help!

Mindset is the most important and often most challenging aspect of being a creative entrepreneur. Starting and running your own art business can be overwhelming and there may be times when it doesn’t feel as lavish as you once thought. Setting benchmarks can help you maintain positivity and determination when the going gets tough.


Where Are You Now?

Before attempting to set any goals, it is important to understand where you are now. I began last year by writing down my number of Instagram followers, my email open rate, and my gross out of state sales, to name a few. I evaluated those numbers at the beginning of this year and determined where I could improve and areas where I needed to grow. 
 
Tangible numbers are great (analytics, statistics, and profits), but include intangible items as well (emotions, little wins, etc.). I often ask artists how they are feeling about their art career and where their anxieties lie. These feelings are just as important as the numbers. 
 
Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Instagram following
  • Number of emails sent
  • Income from selling artwork
  • Number of commissions
  • Number of shows you participated in
  • Anxiety towards career
  • Business tasks that scare you vs. ones that you feel comfortable with
 

Determine Your Why

After you figure out where you are, you need to determine where you want to go. To do this, you need to define success for yourself. Are you trying to reach a certain income? Do you want to make the jump to full-time so you can be at home and spend more time with your kids? What does success mean to YOU?
 
Brain dump all of your ideas onto a sheet of paper and then take a few days to compile this information. Clean it up into one succinct sentence. This is your “Why”. This is the reason you do what you do. The reason you want to be a successful artist. The reason you stay up late for your "side-gig." It is was success means to you.

Tape this up. Have it somewhere you can see it every day and use it to build your goals.


 

Create SMART Goals

Once you determine what you want, you can start brainstorming the goals to get you there. I like to set five big goals for the year. Then, I use those goals to determine the benchmarks I need each quarter, month and week to stay on track.
 
For example if I want 2000 new followers by the end of the year, then I know that I need to add 500 new people each quarter, 167 each month, and about 5-6 new followers a day. Not every goal will be this easy to back plan, but this exercise will help you to be realistic and to stay on track.
 
Don’t roll your eyes, but I use SMART goals. I know this is a cliché, but the acronym is easy to remember and creates attainable goals versus what I call cloudy goals (A.K.A. not weighed down, realistic, or attainable. Your head is a little in the clouds when creating them.)
 
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. When creating your goals ask yourself if they fit into each category. I will continue with my Instagram example below.
 
Specific: I want 2000 followers. It is a specific number that I can track.
Measurable: 2000 is a measurable number, I can see clearly if I reached it or not by a certain date.
Attainable: I grew my following by 1,500 last year so 2000 seems attainable if I work hard.
Realistic: Adding 5-6 followers a day seems lofty, but it is potentially reasonable if I work hard, host giveaways and devote a lot of time to my marketing.
Time bound: I need to reach this goal by December 31st2021.
 
Complete this exercise for your 5 year-long goals then determine your short-term benchmarks to get you there. Below is an example table you can use.

  Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time Bound
Goal 1          
           
Goal 2          
           
Goal 3          
           
Goal 4          
           
Goal 5          

This process shouldn't be rushed or written down in one sitting. It is important to allow flexibility with your goals. We have no way of knowing what the future holds, so give yourself the freedom to understand that goals might need to change over time. Enjoy the journey, use goals to grow, and ultimately learn what works for you this year!  

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