By Katie Elzer-Peters
How did THIS happen? And by THIS, I mean the fact that it is already December. Another year gone.
How do you feel about your year? Was it awesome? Stagnant? Are you exhausted? (I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a busy year. I’m a little exhausted.)
Tired or not, if, in between gift wrapping and running through airports, pretending you enjoy your partner’s boss’s jokes and moving the frickin’ frackin’ elf every night, you can spend a quiet few minutes working on your business, future you will thank you a lot.
Don’t try to crank out another blog post. Ease up on the Instagram. Pick up a pencil and get ready to plan next year. It’s time to start on the first with some goals.
Pencil & Paper: How Delightfully Old Fashioned
Listen, I live for the CW Pencil Enterprise emails even though 98.7% of my work is done on the computer. Goal setting is one time I actually get to use my fancy Caran d’Ache pencils instead of just looking at them in my pencil cup.
Research (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614524581) indicates a deeper engagement with material when it is hand-written. If you write out your goals by hand you’re less likely to get distracted (https://www.wired.com/2010/05/ff_nicholas_carr/all/1/) while working on them. Hand writing activates more of your brain than typing on a keyboard. You’ll literally be using more resources while you shape your next year if you hand write. You can also sit by a sunny window or out in the garden (if you live in Florida) and have some mental space from your current to-do lists.
The reason to slow down, think, and write is so that you’re physically committing to something.
Seeing those goals on paper will make you want to reach them.
Goal Setting Areas to Consider
Income & Finances: Specifically, look at how you’re making money. Do you like what you’re doing? Which activities provide a high return on investment? Which activities are low? What did you make this year? What do you want to make next year? What activities/ income streams can you beef up to meet next year’s goals? Are you saving for your quarterly taxes?
Be specific: I want XX number of monthly writing gigs. I want XX additional speaking engagements within 2 hours from home.
Technology: What are you really good at? Can you squeeze more out of your email list by segmenting it? Can you do more with Instagram to engage your followers and generate leads (inquiries for writing, speaking, or photograph sales)? Where are you lacking? Does MailChimp confuse you? Have you lost all of your website passwords? Do you want to grow your audience using Facebook Live video but you don’t know how? What do you need to do in order to make sure you are comfortable and confident managing the technological aspects of your business? Are there classes you can take to help you be more efficient? What might you hire out?
Be specific. I want to create a digital product to sell. I want to learn how to use instagram stories to fill my speaking engagement calendar. I want to learn how to use MailChimp to sell more books.
Paperwork & Processes: UGH the boring part. Look at your contracts. Do you have contracts? Do they do what you need them to do? How is your bookkeeping situation? Is tax time a nightmare or is everything ship shape? How do welcome new clients into the fold? Do you have an onboarding process? When you write a blog post what do you do after you hit publish? What’s your process? Determine how you can iron out everyday tasks so they take less time and effort. Identify if there’s anything you can hire out. (I have a bookkeeper or I would be in jail by now for failing to file my taxes and sending out 1099s.)
Be specific: I want to make sure my books are reconciled at the end of each month or every two weeks. I’m going to hire a bookkeeper so I don’t have to worry about that. I’m going to draft a welcome packet for new clients so they have all of my contact information and working hours handy.
Marketing: For someone who does marketing for a LIVING I am THE WORST at marketing my services. However, if you don’t tell people what you can offer them, they can’t buy from you. Period. End. In fact, I have gotten better in 2017 at marketing my services, mainly through my website, and GUESS WHAT? As soon as I started saying, “I can help you do XYZ,” I started getting people hiring me to do XYZ. Funny how that works. How can you market yourself better in 2018?
Be specific: I want to design a one-sheet to send to venues so that I can get speaking gigs. I want to reach out to XX number of businesses to inquire about helping them with writing. I want to query XX publications about feature writing.
Leisure time: oh HO HO! Leisure time IS part of your business. If you work all of the time you will be burnt out and you’ll produce crap. Evaluate your leisure time in 2017. Did you get some concentrated hours off? A vacation during which you did not check email? If you can’t remember the last holiday when you didn’t have to answer client emails, make some goals.
Be specific: I will take at least one weekend day off per week. I will shut off the computer by 6pm at least 2 nights per week. I will exercise/drink beer/ read a book at least XX times per week.
If you tackle one area per week, by the time January is half gone, you’ll be halfway to a more productive 2018. After all, well begun is half done.
Meet the Author
Katie Elzer-Peters is the owner of The Garden of Words, LLC, www.thegardenofwords.com) through which she helps authors self-publish books, creates marketing materials for green-industry businesses, and assists speakers & writers with personal branding strategies. She also runs makemeafreelancer.com, a source of business tips and advice for solo-preneurs. (She hates that word. But she loves running.) Katie gardens in Wilmington, NC (zone 8) with her two dogs and her husband Joe, the Chief Watering Officer.