The new year brings me anticipation and hope. This past year had some ups and downs certainly, and from an economic view, it was indeed crappy. What it *did* do was force me to look into other products and skills to learn and offer. I'm not sure I would have done many of these things if not for searching for more sales, so I count it as a good thing. I've developed more items, and learned a number of techniques that I can continue to work on this coming year.
The most important thing I do for the start of the year is get several calendars. Actually, three. Why three? Each has it's own purpose, and I've found that they're cheap enough that I can just get them and use them for their own purpose rather than struggling with only one. The struggle is not worth the 10 bucks it costs for a different type. For me, anyways. If one works for you, I admire that!
First, I have a monthly calendar hanging on my wall, with a little sticky note on the current date. As soon as I walk into the studio, I can see what day and date it is and where I am in the week/month. It has a nice picture on it, so adds some beauty to my morning. I usually get this from Gladstone Media.
Next, I have a daily desk calendar - one of those little square ones. Each day, I reveal a new page. It gives me the current date and day, a place for any notes and a nice little image on my desk. I start the day off by taking the prior day's page, turning it over and making a To-Do list for today. I try to pick something I'd like to look at - pretty paintings, flowers or a daily chocolate confection. I choose NOT to have a cartoon, puzzle, word or something that doesn't make my day brighter. I would spend too much time on a puzzle and something snippy or cursey isn't good for all day. This year, I have a Kittens daily, although I was considering the cupcakes one. I also got this through Gladstone.
Now, the third calendar is the most important. I have a weekly engagement calendar. This is where the meat of my marketing happens. The other calendars are there to remind me of the day and date when I'm doing email or phone calls, but the engagement calendar is where I plot out future plans. I like to use the Audubon calendar, cause it gives me a nice picture to look at each week. Many of them have inspired watercolor or glass paintings.
I keep this on my desk while I am working and write down notes of appointments, followups, etc. that I need to do in upcoming days. I also mark in there future conferences and then backtrack notes to when I need to ship items, when I need to have the pre-publicity flyers or mailers done by, how many of each product I need to do in each of the previous weeks ahead of the show, etc.... I also mark when to start Valentine's production of hearts, etc. and when to start Christmas production of ornaments. I make a note on the days I want to remember to blog (like today's!) and note when I need to start the newsletter so that I can send at the beginning of each month (which is also marked). I can easily pick it up and take it with me to my worktable, or on a trip.
I also have blank sheets of paper attached to it that I can make project lists on. Headings could include "Internet updates" (adding testimonials, researching affiliate sites, looking for retail outlets), "Blog Topics" where I jot down ideas for future blog posts, "Current Projects" (upcoming list of shows, new products I am developing, ideas I want to try, etc..), "Future Ideas" where I write things I might try in the future if I get time ("lamps, fountains, wavy bowls") A lot of times things on my future ideas list have stayed there for years until finally moving over to my current projects list. A good idea may still be a good idea when you have time, so write it down so you don't forget it!
This engagement calendar goes with me when I travel, even if I'm only going for groceries. If I get an idea while out shopping, it can get written into one of the lists. Or if I remember that I should send an update to a client, I can write it on today's or this week's calendar page. I have tried the computer calendar programs, but they only work well for those who are at their computers all day, which I am not. The phone apps are alright, but I haven't found one that does well enough for me yet, so I hang on to the engagement calendar for now.
For a flighty artist, this system keeps me up to date and from missing appointments or being disappointed because I didn't plan for a show well enough. I don't as often lose track of time and have a due date sneak up on me. It's not perfect, but it helps tremendously.