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2022 Our Art Business Goals



Every year Bogdan and I make some extravagant plan to host our Goals & Objectives Retreat. We usually take some time off and travel somewhere nice, free from all the day to day pressures and distractions of our daily work schedule. The purpose of the retreat is to underscore the importance for us to have a clear plan and direction going forward, and strand ourselves in an environment where we can't escape until the job is done.

Crafting goals and objectives is a real pleasure for me. I've worked in corporate jobs, libraries, and school districts for so many years that the notion of this annual process is almost a comfort to me. I love it. I adore the chance to look at my business from a bird's-eye view, to fight with words and concepts until I wrangle them into an outline format. It's a great exercise, and one that does offer me a lot of clarity and vision moving forward.

The problem comes from the fact that I'm not working for a large organization, filled with scores of employees and disparate departments working collaboratively to achieve strategic aims that make the whole enterprise run smoothly. It's just us. We are just two people doing all the work, paying all the bills, and trying desperately to be noticed in a very big pond. Add to that scenario the fact that Bogdan comes from Romania. As an employee, he was never asked to participate in planning at his job, nor would he have been given even a cursory glance at the overall "big picture". The concept is not abhorrent to him, but I would dare to say that the whole process appears to confuse him. Why do you think I always schedule these weekends away at some holiday destination? This ain't my first rodeo. He gets to walk along the beach, eat at fancy restaurants, and I get to use markers on giant flip-chart paper. It works for us both.

Bogdan is a trooper though. I would say that he does see the reason and benefit of planning, but the disconnect seems to come when he tries to connect his daily activities to this larger framework. It seems to be an extravagant exercise that we attempt around New Year, and revisit the following Christmas. I'm sad to admit that he's largely correct. We haven't been good about tying our goals and objectives to our day to day activities. Perhaps if we did, the whole process would seem more relevant, not to mention more effective.

Business photo created by Waewkidja - www.freepik.com

We just met this week to plan our our Goals, and we came up with six. But before I jump into the list, I'd like to take a moment to define what we mean when we talk about goals and objectives. It's been my experience that if you ask 10 people what a goal is, you're likely to get 9 different answers. When we talk about goals, we're speaking of clear, simple, general statements that are not specific at all, and have no measurements or sub-parts associated with them. They are consistent with, and supportive of our Mission and Vision statements, and short in length. Objectives are then formed to achieve each goal. Objectives are specific and measurable, and treat only one action. So if I have a goal of improving followers on Instagram as a goal, then an objective might be: Post three times each day on the Instagram account. That's something I can measure, and I can compare my number of followers from the beginning to the end of the year. Below objectives come activities. An activity is a day-to-day task that must be done in order to complete the objective. These are the nitty-gritty things we do every day.

Now that you know our definitions, let's look at what we decided this year.

Goal 1: Incorporate our Goals into our Daily Work Life.

Goal 2: Sell More Art.

Goal 3: Increase Social Media Engagement.

Goal 4: Diversify Income Streams.

Goal 5: Address Home/Worklife Balance.

Goal 6: Expand Public Relations Campaigns.

Now comes the hard part. It's easy enough to come up with six target areas where we want to spend our time and energy, but the challenge is creating meaningful, measurable objectives that, if achieved, would actually complete the goal. Take goal 5 for example. Everyone wants to better the balance between work and home life, but how in the world do you measure that? Happiness? How do you measure happiness?

Cards photo created by rawpixel.com - www.freepik.com

Difficult or not, we have to come up with some objectives, so let's take a stab at it. All we have to do is insure that the objective is about one concept (not something with parts). We need to make sure it is meaningful in the sense that it actually addresses the goal, and measurable, so we can determine if we achieved it or not.

Goal 1: Incorporate our Goals into our daily work life.

               Objective 1: Post our goals in places where they will be seen.

               Objective 2: Incorporate goal review into every staff meeting.

Goal 2: Sell More Art.

               Objective 1: Host monthly studio exhibitions.

               Objective 2: Host quarterly online auctions.

               Objective 3: Attend one art fair.

Goal 3: Increase Social Media Engagement.

               Objective 1: Attend one art event per month.

               Objective 2: Network with other influencers, bloggers, vloggers, etc.

               Objective 3: Purchase some ad campaigns on different platforms.

Goal 4: Diversify Income Streams.

               Objective 1: Actively pursue Gallery representation.

               Objective 2: Teach in person classes in the studio.

               Objective 3: Sell prints of artwork.

               Objective 4: Promote Patreon page.

Goal 5: Address Home/Work-life Balance.

               Objective 1: Determine a measure for success.

               Objective 2: Keep a log of exercise, entertainment, and food consumed.

Goal 6: Expand Public Relations campaigns.

               Objective 1: Write two articles per month.

               Objective 2: Attend one art event per month.

               Objective 3: Appear as a guest on 4 other influencers' programming.

               Objective 4: Write one press release per month.

Please note that we have not included goals around posting on Instagram, or keeping up with our vlog, or podcast, or even this blog. That is not accidental. We figure that there are certain activities that used to be goals, but have now been normalized, or institutionalized into our daily art business practice. We don't need to have a goal to keep good business records, because we already do that. Can we do more with our recordkeeping? Sure, but that's not the point. We want our goals to be a tool to move us forward, not celebrate our successes. We want to highlight where we need growth, or change. So if we already are killing it on Facebook, we'll keep doing that... but now we can add something that's new. Perhaps it should also be something that completes or enhances the things we're already doing, taking us to the next level.

Finally, I want to say what I say every year. At the end of the day, these are our goals, our objectives. They're not a test. They're not a report card. We can change them at any time during the year, or throw them out completely. We had to do that during the Covid closures. We simply could not complete the goals we had established, and the world changed enough to make some of our goals irrelevant. Not meeting our goals does not mean we failed, or that we're crappy businessmen. They are a road map to guide us, and that's all. We're free to change course, or to change our minds completely. One of the warning signs for me is when, three months after the goals retreat, I no longer remember what we meant when we wrote a goal. If you find your goals are not working for you, change them. They're your goals, and are only in place to move you and your business forward. When I feel as though I'm working hard to meet a goal that I don't understand, or no longer seems relevant, I stop right then, and tweak or discard that goal and write another. Goals are working for me, and never the other way around.

“Art Life Blog with John & Bogdan” is a weekly blog/vlog/podcast that creates a community, a conversation, between creatives in all sorts of fields at all sorts of levels.  We want to discuss what we’re learning, what we’ve experienced, and whom we’ve met in our journey of running a freelance creative business. John Bishop is a visual artist living in Houston, Texas. His work is largely abstract, and explores how to turn mythic, archetypal symbols into individual experiences allowing us to see them in a new way, with fresh eyes. Bogdan is a videographer and fine art photographer who constantly seeks to stretch the boundaries of traditional photographic work, with the added flare of his artistic eye.  Both artists’ work can be seen online, or at their studios at Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards Street, in Houston.


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