Setting Measurable Goals To Foster Growth: Part 1
Have you ever felt your passion for photography grow stagnant? I certainly have, and let me tell you, its not a pleasant feeling. You wonder what the purpose is of snapping photos; youre not completely satisfied with your interactions with your clients ; you sense a lack of growth with the quality of your photos, and your income begins to suffer.
I have had to pick myself up from face-planting into this wall more often than I would like to admit. So much, in fact, that writing about it will take two full posts! Let’s consider this post part 1 of 2.
If you have hit this proverbial wall, don’t despair. Id venture to say that everyone experiences it at one time or another. However, there are strategies to work through it. Here are some tips Ive found to be helpful.
The Step-By-Step Process
Grow Your Weak, Insecure Areas One By One
We all have those areas where we are historically weak. This could be learning how to use external lighting, getting comfortable in a studio or simply learning how to shoot people that aren’t friends or family. Maybe you need to polish your stylistic editing skills to really kick your photography up to the next level. Or perhaps there are business obstacles you need to tackle, such as getting your website up and running. Or maybe its learning the skill of outsourcing so that you can find someone else to get your website up and running.
A simple online search will yield a plethora of online videos, courses and reading material to help you improve any skill. Since you will be pushing past your comfort zone, it is important to make this process a priority in your schedule. Set a date or clear out a week on your calendar that you will dedicate to learning these new skills. Its a process that happens over years, but you would be surprised at how far you can get in one simple week if you focus on tackling one area at a time. Just think, in a given month, if you tackled one weak area each week, you would be kickin so much more butt by the end of the month.
Write Out Your Dream Client List
I love this one, because its a ton of fun. It should get you excited and laser focused on who your ideal clients are. Instead of waiting to see what type of client comes to you, take control of the situation and select the type of client most suitable to your type of work. This includes their demographic, what type of photography is most valuable to them, and how much they spend. Then, get super specific with your research and write down (or type out) the ideal clients for your business. The sky is the limit on this one: families, schools, local magazines, national magazines, publishing companies, art consultants, interior designersdont limit yourself! Have fun and get excited during this stage.
Be sure to include a few long shots on your list. These are the potential clients you think would never hire you for a job or gig, but you would just love to work with. Sometimes these long shots become a reality. An important part of this process is being willing to stretch yourself, sometimes to the point of being slightly uncomfortable. Thats where growth happens.
Next, write out a detailed communication plan. A friend of mine even does a flowchart, where he outlines the first call he plans to make, and then draws different paths on the chart, based on if potential client gives a positive reply, a negative reply, or none at all. He plans out how, when, and how often in a given 6-month period hes going to reach out to them. Creating a written plan gives you a logical path to follow, so that when you get discouraged or intimidated (which is inevitable), you will know what your next step will be, and can stay the course. Its based on the premise that your potential client will not say yes to you the first time. If they do, thats great, but if not, then its just one step that leads to your next action on the plan.
Finally, I challenge you do to something scary: actually reach out to this list and follow your communication plan. This should be by the medium that your target audience best communicates, be it phone, email, or even social media.
Plot Your Goals On A Calendar
This is crucial: assign hard, unsexy deadlines to your goals in the form of written dates on your calendar. Otherwise, your goals won’t happen in a timely fashion. At worst, life will get busy and you will forget about what you set out to do. At best, what could have taken you one year to reach with focused effort could take you long, painful years instead.
For me personally, I use both physical and electronic calendars. I have my trusty coil-bound wall flip calendar that hangs on the back of my office door, as well as the Calendar app that came with my Mac. Additionally, I sync it with the calendar on my phone. On these calendars, I plot my goals for the week, month, quarter, and also the year. It helps keep my wandering, bohemian mind on track.
Tune In For Part 2!
Tune in to part 2, where I discuss setting goals with your income, seeking accountability with other photographers, and rewarding yourself.