Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Develop your Personal Plan for Success!

Develop Your Personal Plan for Success

By Annie Strack 2006 © (First published: Art Calendar magazine, October 2006)

In business, success is seldom an accident.  It is something that must be carefully planned with defined goals, and a strategy mapped out to achieve those goals.  

Ask five different artists what the definition of success is, and you’ll get five different answers.  We all have different ideas as to what constitutes artistic success.  Some artists believe it is when sales reach a certain level.  Some believe it is the quantity or prestige of awards, while others may measure success by attaining educational degrees or teaching positions.  The common definition of success is, quite simply “achieving a goal.”  But before you can attain success, you must first define what success means to you.  In other words, you need to define what your ultimate goals are. 

Once you have determined what your ultimate goals are, you can then identify the steps needed to attain those goals.  You can then break these steps down into smaller goals, and develop a time frame for achieving each of them.  As you determine what your goals and steps are, assign them to spaces on a timetable.  Start this by creating a table of columns, and in the last column list your ultimate goals.  Once you’ve created that list, think about the things you need to do before you can achieve those goals, and list those items in the preceding column.  Now think about the things you need to accomplish before you can reach those goals, and list them in the next preceding column.  In other words, work backwards from your pinnacle goals.  Keep going in this manner, filling in the columns from right to left, until you reach the point where the things you need to do are things that you’ve already done.  

Now that you’ve filled in your table with your goals and the steps needed to achieve them, you need to assign a time frame to each of the columns.  You can assign any time increments that you want.  You can use biannually, yearly, skip some of the years, whatever.  You can also move goals into different columns if you think that those goals will take more or less time to achieve.  When you are finished, your plan will resemble a chart with all of the steps you need to achieve your goals clearly spelled out in chronological order.
Let’s say that your ultimate goal is to be a rich and famous artist.  Your business plan chart might look like this:

Year one goals
Year two goals
Year three goals
Year five goals
Year ten goals
Local solo show
 solo show in important gallery
solo shows in other states
Museum show
Major museum show
Set standard prices
Increase prices 20%
Increase prices 30%
Double prices
Triple prices
Produce posters for local sales
Produce S/N L/E prints
sell prints in multiple markets
License images for other products
Licensed images in national markets
Develop workshop teaching plan
Teach local workshops
Teach regional workshops
Teach national workshops
Teach workshops in Tahiti and Paris
Write bio, resume, statement
Design a brochure
Create a catalog of work
Featured in magazine articles
Publish art book
Sell at local festivals
Sell at juried festivals
Sell at regional festivals
sell at national festivals
Sell at national art expo
Enter local juried shows for awards
Enter regional juried shows
Enter national juried shows
Begin judging art shows
Judge national art shows

This is just a brief sample to give you an idea of how to create your own plan to achieve your goals.  Your business plan will contain different goals and steps from this one, depending entirely on what your specific ultimate goal is. For instance if your goal is to teach art at the university level, you would have to add a series of steps that included teaching experience and advanced degrees, but you may want to leave out steps that include items like art festivals which could take you off course.  However if your goal is to open your own gallery, you may find that teaching experience or advanced art degrees may not be among the necessary steps to achieving your goal.  As you develop your own business plan, you may need to add more spaces and years to your chart, and define and break down the steps even further.  For instance, if an opportunity pops up for to do something that sounds like a good idea, you can look at your business plan chart and see whether or not it fits in to your goals.  If it does, fine, you can add it in.  If it doesn’t, it could end up being a distraction that is not necessary to help you achieve your goals. 

 Remember, this is your business, your goals.  You need to set it up in a way that you can manage it.  If you need to make changes along the way, do it.  You want to write a plan that motivates and inspires you, but you also want to keep it realistic with goals that you can achieve in the time frame that you’ve allotted for yourself.

For example, my art business plan is written on a large dry erase board that hangs in my studio.  Next to it is another board that has “to do” lists on it.  The “to do” board reminds me to focus on things related to the plan that I need to work on now, either this week or this month.  Hanging on the walls of my studio, they serve as a daily reminder of what I’m working towards, and help to keep me focused and on track.  The dry erase board works best because as the business grows, the goals tend to evolve.  New ideas can be added, other ideas can be erased.  Goals and steps can be moved to different columns, and additional time can be worked in as needed.   
All too often, we artists find ourselves jumping around from idea to idea, getting distracted by other artists and trying to measure our own successes against the successes of other artists.  In doing so, we often end up spending enormous amounts of time and energy while accomplishing very little.  There is no generic business plan for you to follow; you have to develop your own.  Goals and steps that result in success for other artists may not necessarily work for you.  Those other artists probably have different ideas of what constitutes success, so trying to do everything that everyone else is doing may not help you to achieve your goals.  

One of the advantages of having this kind of business plan is that it will keep you on track for achieving your goals, and help to keep you from getting distracted by other things.  It will also help to remind you to work on your goals in a chronological order.  You can’t just wake up tomorrow morning and say to yourself, “Gee, I think I wanna be a rich and famous artist today.  I’ll start by having a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”  It just doesn’t work that way.  Major museums only want artists that possess proven track records of showing at plenty of galleries and other museums.  By the same token, you don’t want to start your art career by publishing an expensive coffee table book of your art.  If you haven’t acquired a list of galleries that are selling your art to eager clients, then you probably won’t have anyone eager to buy your book, either.  There are actions that you must take before you can achieve those goals, and by following a course of action that will take you through your steps in an orderly fashion, you will have a better chance of achieving those goals, whatever they may be.  

When finished, your plan will be a customized roadmap showing you all the steps that you need to follow in order to achieve your success, starting from where you are now.  It will serve as a guide to allow you to monitor your progress, and help you to identify any areas of your business that need additional planning.  Your plan is your guideline for the future of your business.  Once you create it, all you have to do is follow it to success. 


Annie Strack earned Signature Membership from 8 artist societies and she’s an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard. Her art has received hundreds of awards and hangs in collections worldwide. She’s a popular juror for art competitions, and is a much sought after lecturer and workshop instructor. Annie draws experience from her former career in corporate management to build a successful art career, and she shares her knowledge of business and marketing in her articles for Professional Artist magazine. Visit her at

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:46 AM   3 Comments

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Classes Starting this Week!

My online art course, "Watercolor for the Beginner" starts this week at Artists Network University! This is a great class for beginners, and also for artists who want to take a refresher course to brush up on techniques. Students in my online classes receive individual attention and personal feedback, just like the students taking private lessons in my studio! Sign up now to kearn how to paint luminous watercolors from an award winning, professional Master Artist! 

Speaking of which, I currently have a couple of openings in my weekly studio classes on Tuesdays -- email me if you want to sign up. My studio is in the south east corner of Pennsylvania, near the border of  Delaware and Maryland. Half-day classes meet weekly in my studio for four weeks, beginning on the 1st Tuesday of each month. Students work individually and receive personal attention and guidance on their paintings and exercises.

As a classically trained artist with decades of professional experience, I am able to offer my students real instruction that is concise and easy to follow. My students learn how to use and manipulate their mediums and materials, and they leave my classes armed with new skills and the knowledge to use them successfully. My students learn to create -- not just copy! 

(Seagulls, 9x12 watercolor, sold)
I've got lots of new classes, demonstrations, studio events, and workshops coming up in the new year -- be sure to check out my Calendar Page often to keep up! New events are added continuously!

posted by Annie Strack @ 8:00 AM   0 Comments

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All images and content copyright Annie Strack 2018 Although I occasionally receive compensation for some posts, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.