Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Focused Finisher: 10 Things to Get for 2018

I gave up Resolutions a long time ago.  Too much pressure.  Instead I like to select one idea (my power word) and a few specific realistic things that will make my life and business run more smoothly.  Here is my list for 2018!

1. Get a Power Word.  This is the word that will guide you in 2018. I started this practice 4 years ago with the word "Focused" and I still use it as my moniker.  Since then I've selected words I wanted at the time:  "Resilience" in 2016 or words that  I needed: "Resourcefulness" in 2017.  This year I struggled to decide on my word and it turned out my feeling of unease was the answer.

My 2018 word is "Settled." To resolve and fix. To take up residence and furnish. To quite, calm and bring to rest.  To conclude and make stable. I am a restless creature by nature but the last few years have been too chaotic-this is the perfect word for me!
What is your word for 2018?

2.  Get Organized.  This is coming from someone who saves every teaspoon of product and pulls cheesecloth out of the trash. I "feed" my glazes for years.  But there comes a time to clean out, let things go and get the studio in order.  Now I am a Magpie meaning I get easily distracted by shiny objects..."Oh a magazine"..."Look at this sample" get the idea. If you are like me, then enlist the help of your bossy friend (this would be my sister Sally) and your cleaning machine friend (this would be my friend Jeannette).  Having help makes it easier to throw things away, clean tools, and consolidate product.  A fresh studio equals a fresh start. What will you do to organize your creative space?

3.  Get Office Hours.  It is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day operations of a creative business especially one like decorative painting where you are working off-site and under tight budgets and deadlines.  Many of us take phone calls while we are working. Check our social media during the day.  Fit in the bidding and billing whenever we can.  And ignore things like our web-sites.  I suggest setting up a specific time to do these things. For example:

Monday 3pm-5pm:  Weekly tasks such as checking web-site, writing blog or newsletter. Following up with clients. Writing bids and billing.  Product Inventory. 

Weekdays 7pm-8pm.  Consultation phone calls or emails.  This gives you dedicated time to really talk (and listen) to clients.  Check social media-if you do this in the am you will find yourself wasting the morning (trust me, I know).

Sunday 7pm-9pm. Mix products and pack bins with supplies and tools for the work week.
What will be your Office Hours?

4.  Get Social.  There is no way around it. Social marketing is here to stay.  There are many choices: Facebook (personal pages, business pages, and groups), Instagram (personal and business), Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Web-sites.  It's tempting to do them all but just repeating what you put on each site is not effective. And it takes a lot of time. While you may participate in many social networks, research the different platforms and find two that match your goals where you will focus your energies. I will go more in-depth on this during our business series blog posts. For now, examine the sites where you are putting your time. Are you getting the results you want? Connecting with new customers? Maintaining productive relationships with current clients and colleagues? Do you have time for a blog? Or would a newsletter work better?
What two platforms will you focus on this year?

5.  Get a Camera.  I love my cell phone camera. It's convenient. It links to my social media. There is video capabilities and filters. While the pictures are perfect for things like Facebook and Instagram, they are not great for web-site and magazine publications. We find this is a problem when publishing our on-line magazine Faux Effects World.  Get a small digital camera (most are under $150) with a memory card.  I just pop out the card and download it directly to my computer.  Stage your pictures like a magazine: Turn on all the lights. Use natural light. Get close-up. Take out items such as cups, clutter and personal objects-pets are fine and add charm.  Move your ladders and drop cloths. Remember before & after.  What camera will you use this year?

6.  Get Published. We are always looking for quality pictures of projects using Faux Effects products and want to share your work through our blog, social media sites and Faux Effects World Magazine.  Guess what? You don't have to write the article (that's part of my job), you just need to submit content.  There are contest, like the current APC Top Job, where you get recognition nationally and locally.  And local magazines are always looking for stories. Stop being shy! What projects will you share this year?  Where will you be published? 

7.  Get Connected.  " I send out information to prospective clients and designers with no results, what am I doing wrong?"  I get this question or a variation of it all the time.  We get so much information-just think of the emails, updates, push notifications and junk snail mail you get daily. It's easier to ignore what we don't feel connected to. Never forget that the main thing you are selling is YOU! You have to get out there and meet people face-to-face. Let them know the person behind the product. 

If you are looking to add more business, attend one event that puts you in front of an audience. This may be a home show, a parade of homes or a holiday event. Where are the networking opportunities in your community? Start researching 2018 events now to find the best fit for audience, costs and location.  What event and/or group will I attend this year?

8.  Get A Class Account. How many times does this happen? When you have the money, you have no time for classes. When you have the time for classes, you have no money. I wrote in my last blog post about the benefit of taking classes and how the benefits extend beyond the new samples. I suggest adding on a fixed amount to your bids, even if it's just $50-$100, and setting this aside for an educational fund. Look at your calendar. What months are slower for you? Studios offer classes all year round while organizations have set conference dates.  There are many options.  If you start planning now, you will be better prepared when a class catches your eye.  How much will you save each month in a class account? 

9.  Get Out of Your Comfort Zone. This is related to number 8 since we take classes to build a portfolio to (hopefully) get jobs. But the challenge here is to learn something that expands your wheelhouse.  It may not get you a specific job but it helps you grown as an artist-and maybe as a person! Last year I went by myself  to Craftcation, which was a conference for "makers."  I was the only finisher there but I learned so much about social marketing from people who make jewelry or scarves or write cooking blogs.  This year I want to take a portrait class because I agonize over painting people or pets.  Maybe you're interested in canvas art, furniture or home decorative items? Have you been thinking of writing? Are you looking to expand your offerings into design services? Stop wishing and start doing! What new skill will you try this year?

10. Get Stocked on Product! OK. This one is totally self-serving. But hey, it's our blog and a good sale! Since you're going to be so successful from implementing suggestions 1-9, you will need product to get going! And the time is limited.

I'm interested to hear what your plans are for 2018! Please share your power words and things you would like to GET this new year.

Thanks for being here during 2017. Have a safe & happy New Year's Eve,


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