Guest Post: How to Set and Plan Your Goals for 2018

It's always fun having guest bloggers here at Live Snap Love, as it gives you a chance to learn something new, or just in a different way from me! So, today I've asked Nicolet from Picture & Space to come on the blog and give you some photography BUSINESS tips. In this guest post, Nicolet is going to walk you through how to set and plan goals for your photography business in 2018. Over to Nicolet!

When someone asks me if I do other forms of photography besides interiors and still life, I always respond, seemingly joking that I shoot interiors because I don't like people.

As an introvert, I could never have imagined that I would be someone that inspires and encourages people to start with interior photography and give them the directions to grow their business and brand.

But it turns out that I love it as long as I can keep my groups really small! (Like five students small, at the max!)

Probably not the best way to grow rich but I love the interaction, the personal approach and that is my strength.

Learn how to set and plan your goals for 2018 #photographytips

What does this have to do with goal setting? Well, everything! My business has a clear vision, guidelines, and values, and by knowing them, I can align my goals with those guidelines.

That does not mean that my business model cannot change; actually, it is always evolving. Otherwise, I will not grow, and without growth, I'd probably get bored, and boredom is killing, isn't it?

Step One: Write down your vision, guidelines and values.

So, the first step is to write down your vision, guidelines and values. 

Here's mine to give you some ideas: 

My vision statements and guidelines

  1. I help real estate agents to market their properties in the best possible way by creating realistic and honest photography that sells houses, reflects their brand and attract clients to choose the realtor business to sell their home.
  2. I help people with a personal and personalized approach.  
  3. I want to bring the "Real" back in real estate photography. No phony blue skies, no HDR, no flash, just natural light and therefore:
  4. I help others grow their business by adding interior photography with natural light to their services, teaching them how to change their mindset from being a photographer to being an entrepreneur that offers photography as a product and creating a strong brand with a unique voice.
  5. I create courses to intentionally help my students, that doesn't end when they finish the course. My students keep access to me because it is most likely that they need help when they start implementing what they have learned.

My business values

Curiosity - Knowledge - Challenge - Honesty - Strength - Innovation

So before you start planning the next year: Think about your vision, your guidelines, and your values. What is important to you?

Write them down in a notebook, planner, in Evernote or print it out and hang it on the wall.

I've also created a totally free workbook that you can print out and use as you work through planning your business objectives for 2018 - you can grab it here. 

Step Two: Create your 5 year's vision

All set? Now envision yourself and your business in five years. I know, it is kinda hard to see where you will be in one year, let alone in five years. But with that dream, you will be able to align your goals towards your vision and turn it into reality.

Again, let's take a look at mine to give you some ideas: 

Where am I in five years?

  1. I create interior photography, still life and lifestyle photography for magazines and brands.
  2. My husband and I live in Italy and organize retreats for photographers to grow their photography business with interior, lifestyle and still life photography.
  3. I create online photography and business courses with the same personal approach and attention as my off-line courses to intentionally help others.

Those are not easy goals, I don't even know if I will ever be able to reach all three of them, but at least I know where I am heading. When goals are easy you don't need to work towards them, you can just do it right now. A good goal needs to challenge you, even scare the hell out of you (like moving to Italy in 5 years!).

Step Three: Align long term goals with your current vision

As you have noticed, my long-term goals are not aligned with my current vision. Right now; I aim to help real estate agents, my marketing is aligned with that view. To reach my five-year goal, I need to change my marketing, my photography and I probably need to grow another skill set. That's fine. Business is not static, but my guidelines and values are, that is who I am and why people choose me!

The in-person courses I teach are for a Dutch speaking audience. It is hard to move to Italy and organize retreats in the Tuscany hills and still reach that Dutch audience in-person: I need to change my current courses to an online program but with the same approach as my off-line courses.

And to be honest: At this point, I have no idea of how to make that possible.

But I do know that I need to write, create video's and translate my books!

It is your turn: How will your life be different from in five years? What will you have accomplished? Who are you serving? Where do you live? Do you have employees? How much revenue will you create?

Write down your dreams but don't overthink and remember: It must be something challenging!

Step Four: Choose your Primary Goal

To work towards your long-term vision, you need to choose one Primary Goal to work on during the next year that will help you to achieve your dreams. Your long-term view is too far out, too tangible.

The Primary Goal gives you something right now that will direct your actions, something to focus on.

How do you know if it is the right goal?

First of all, it has to be aligned with your long-term vision. It has to take a lot of actions that need to fall into place to reach it.  It is highly unlikely that you will be able to reach it within 6 months and it certainly must excite you!

Again, let's carry on with my OWN business as an example: 

My Primary Goal

Even though it is tempting to pursue my goal to shoot for magazines, I did not choose it as next years main goal, as first I have to create a steady source of income: my online program.

I can't stop working for the majority of my real estate clients all of a sudden. Those clients provide a decent income for me and my family, but I don't see myself shooting real estate in 5 years from now. My online program will replace that revenue.

My Primary Goal for 2018: 80 enrolments in my course.

What's yours?

Step Five: Set your Quarterly Goals

Now that you have set your primary goal for the next 12 months, you need to break it down into Quarterly Goals. 

  • What changes can you make right now?
  • What do you need to accomplish to bring your Primary Goal to reality?
  • Do you need to create systems to automate your processes, build an email list, become an active member of a local network?
  • Perhaps you need to say no to clients or hire someone? 

I broke down my primary goals to these Quarterly Goals:

By the end of Q1 I have

  • 400 subscribers to my email list
  • Finished writing my course content

By the end of Q2 I have

  • 800 subscribers to my email list
  • Launched my online program in beta for 10 students
  • Translated 2 of my books

By the end of Q3 I have

  • 1400 subscribers to my email list
  • Launched my online program
  • Published my translated books

By the end of Q4 I have

  • 2000 subscribers to my list
  • 80 students in my online program
  • Sold 200 copies of my books

Of course I still need to shoot real estate, and I will teach in person students: First of all, I can't let my clients down, and second: I need to pay my bills!

Do you see where I am heading? Can you break down your primary goal into doable quarterly goals too? I think so!

Step Six: Plan your Quarterly Goals into Monthly Projects

Now we can actually start planning Quarterly Goals.

How do you reach them? What initiatives do you need to make?

Let's take my first goals as an example:

By the end of Q1 I have

  • 400 subscribers to my email list
  • Finished writing my course content

Projects I need to finish to build my list

  1. Create 2 opt-in incentives
  2. Create 2 landing pages for list-building
  3. Create opt-in forms for existing blog posts
  4. Optimize my social media profiles and add the landing page URLs

Projects to finish my course content

  1. Write course content of 4 modules
  2. Create instructional Videos
  3. Create graphics for my course

Recurring actions

  • Write weekly blog posts
  • Create social media graphics for my blog posts
  • Share my blogs on social media
  • Schedule 35-45 Pins and 1-2 Instagram image per day
  • Check analytics weekly and write the numbers on a spreadsheet to check my reach growth (By checking my numbers on a regular basis I know what works and what doesn't)

So, I have decided to focus on list building in January: The 4 projects that I need to do can be done in a month: One project each week. I also plan the recurring actions: Those will move over to each month because list building is most likely staying on my schedule forever!

In February and March, I will finish my course content.

What projects and recurring actions do you need to take in January to reach your Quarterly goals?

Where do I set my goals and how do I track them?

Last year, I bought a paper planner for the first time since I started my business 10 years ago.

This year, I have purchased the Goal Digger planner by MiGoals, an Australian company that ships around the globe. (The Desire Map planner by Danielle LaPorte and the Daily Greatness business planners are also good choices!) 

Every Sunday night, before I go to bed, I write down my appointments and schedule the actions that lead towards my goal.

It seems redundant, but I also plan every single step in Clickup, an Asana/Trello alternative.

Why? Because I carry my phone and iPad with me anywhere, Clickup gives me a clear overview over a more extended period, and the app sends me reminders when an action step or project is due.

For my daily appointments, I use Apple Calendar. I'll switch to Google Calendar from January because it integrates with most online planning and project management software.

Expect to fail in reaching your goals

My goal setting methods sounds easy, doesn't it? I wish it were! Last year, I did precisely this and boy, did I fail to use the system after a couple of months! What I never accomplish was my primary goal: launch my online course by the end of this year. Pure lack of focus and I ended up in the weeds. Just a couple of weeks ago I felt like a complete failure.

Until I decided to write down what I did accomplish; looking back to 2017, I  realized that I actually took some essential steps, because I managed to: 

  • Wrote and published my Interior Photography book in Dutch.
  • Launched 6 in-person courses that all sold out.
  • Wrote 50% of the content for my online program,
  • Designed and built  the Picture & Space website.
  • Shot 120 properties
  • Went to Florence for a Lifestyle Photography Course
  • Enrolled in an online Still life and lifestyle photography course
  • Changed being a Netflix binge-watching addict into becoming an online course junky ( I guess a am vulnerable to addictions, so it better be one that helps me grow towards my future goals!)

Remember: Life happens!

I probably would not have realized what I had accomplished this year if I hadn't set my goals in the first place. Those actions were made when I was most focused....which was during the period that I was using my planning system.

So don't be discouraged when you fail to reach your Primary Goal. Life happens!

But by setting your goals you will be able to see what you DID accomplish and that is worth the effort and will encourage you to set a new Primary Goal towards your 5-year Vision.

Share your accomplishments and Primary Goal for next year

Perhaps you should start with writing down all the things you have accomplished to grow your business before you start planning for 2018. I would love you to share them, even when they are small so we can celebrate them together and of course: Tell me about your Primary Goal!

Nicolet Groen is an interior & lifestyle photographer. She teaches interior photography with natural light and helps business owners to change their mindset from being a photographer to being an entrepreneur that offers photography as a product. You can find out more about Nicolet by visiting her website Picture & Space.