It’s December. Can you believe it? Same thing happens to me every year: the year starts out slow and steady, picks up some speed going into summer and then next thing I know the year goes into Hyperdrive and BAM! it’s December. For people who work traditional jobs December is adequately stressful just with work, the holidays, family, travel, parties, etc. For the freelancer we get to do all of that PLUS start sowing the seeds for the coming year. Every year at around this time as work is still coming, but definitely slowing down, I take stock of how the current year went and start prepping for the new year. It’s both an act of setting an intention and an act of starting to do the WORK necessary for the intention to manifest itself. Here is my plan for getting ready for 2015.
1 – What’s the Plan for 2015?
For me, the first thing I’ve got to do is plan what the heck I want for the coming year. Note my choice of words: I want to PLAN what I want for the coming year, not daydream about it. Planning is more than “I want XYZ”, planning is plotting what steps will be necessary to GET XYZ. If you want to go from counter or bridal to freelancing for media what will that entail? If you want to move to a new city, what resources do you have and what resources will you have in your new, desired location? If you want to approach agencies, what do you need to do to make your presentation on point so that an agent might be interested in working with you? Whatever my given goal might be, I like to take each action point and break down step by step how I will actually make it happen. I then like to take my list to a calendar and give myself timeframes and deadlines. Sort of like an Editorial Calendar that a magazine might use to plan their issues (or that I need to start doing for this blog 😐 ).
A few things have come from this approach: A ) It makes the work more approachable. Instead of one, big overwhelming project I now have a series of small actionable steps. B ) I tend to actually make things happen.
The MUA Planner (by famed Film/TV artist Marietta Carter Narcisse) – It’s easier to plan your Calendar if you know when things are happening. From Awards Shows to Trade Shows to educational opportunities, you name it, The MUA Planner is a fantastic resource. NOTE: The website has not yet been updated, but I emailed and the 2015 edition is in production as we speak.
2 – How Are Your Skills Looking?
Several years ago I was particularly slow over the Holidays and into the start of the new year so I went Sally Beauty Supply, got a practice head (I have miss Suzie pictured here), and just sat down with every hair tutorial video I could find. I am a makeup artist who has been basically forced into doing hair due to market demands, so hair had always been an area where I lacked confidence. Relative to my skills as a makeup artist I am still less confident about hair, but hey – I’m not losing a $1K/day job because I was too scared to do some beachwaves.
Whether you have a specific weakness as I did, or you want to add to your skill set, improve your business skills, or just learn something new, education is – in my opinion – VITAL to staying fresh and relevant in your profession. You can get fantastic education for as little as the price of admission at your local tradeshow, or you can go more in-depth by availing yourself of any of the myriad of workshops offered by artists and industry professionals (myself included). And it’s FUN! I find continuing education stokes the fire and keeps me excited about being a makeup artist. I do recommend creating an education fund so that when the Workshop Of The Millennium comes up, you won’t have to pass it over because you could not afford to attend. Even saving $50/mo will land you $600 by years end.
Watch this page to see when my workshops will take place in 2015. Most of my workshops happen in both LA and SF.
3 – How Tired Is Your Portfolio, Anyway?
I always try to do some testing and general portfolio “freshening” this time of the year. Particularly if – as has been the case for me in 2014 – I have not done a lot of Portfolio Enhancing jobs. What do I mean by that? Well, I did my magazine work and that was great HOWEVER most of what I did this year was e-commerce / catalog, motion advertising, private clients and teaching. Neither private clients nor teaching – while I love doing both – yield anything for one’s portfolio, motion is great if and when I can get the production company to send me the finished work (or if I can find it and rip it from somewhere), and e-commerce?
Yeah… That’s fine in small amounts if that’s part of the type of work you do – which I do – but no client looking through your portfolio wants to see endless pages of e-commerce. Since work is generally slower for everyone at the beginning of the year I try to shoot some beauty and if I get lucky some editorial so my book stays fresh and compelling. Newer makeup artists should be testing all the time anyway because you have to, but if you’re a Vet who has been resting on your Existing Portfolio laurels, it’s probably time to tighten and brighten.
4 – What Is This Social Media of Which You Speak?
I’m amazed at how many artists are so bad at Social Media in 2014. Y’all – it’s not even “new” anymore, so that excuse is over. This is FREE marketing and promotions at your fingertips, folks! I’m not saying that you’ll necessarily get hired from a Social Media post (although some artists have) but it is a way to build a presence and build your brand so that decision makers and potential clients of all kinds know who you are. It’s also great for building community with other artists. You never know who might see your work. So whatever your issue is with Social Media, let it go and get to posting. At least get on Instagram. Instagram is visual so it’s perfect for visual creatives – hence we’re all on there – and it rocks.
I’ll be doing an entire series on Social Media usage in the coming year. I will say that if you use Social Media – particularly if you have multiple accounts or use multiple platforms – you’ll want to know what you’re wanting to say on each one. It’s boring and you’ll lose followers if your multiple Twitters, multiple Instagrams and your Pinterest all say basically the same thing (I know this from personal experience).
5 – It’s Decemeber 5th. Have You Sent Your Client Gifts Out Yet?
I had the realization on my last work trip in San Francisco;
“Oh wait. When I get back home it will be the week of Thanksgiving and my Birthday and then it will be DECEMBER. OMG!!!!”
And I make my client gifts so… yeah.. I had to get on that. Quite frankly, you should really be sending out those gifts today or tomorrow at the latest. Your contacts will start peeling out for the Holidays/vacation soon AND delivery (USPS, UPS and even FedEx to some extent) gets slower at this time of year due to increased volume. You’ll want to give adequate time for your client to receive and appreciate your gift. Coffee cards will do in a pinch, but never forget to acknowledge those who have hired you. My gifts are going out today…
Rock Scissor Paper Stationary – Owned by my friend Heidi (and her biz partner and sister, Suzie), this groovy little company based in LA makes cards for all occasions, personalized stationary (click to see mine), gift tags, wrapping paper, coasters, mugs, tote bags, you name it! I am one of those people who keeps cards and gift tags on hand at all time so I’m ready to go.
So how are you getting ready for 2015? Do you have any particular methods/routines/rituals? Leave me a comment about how you get ready for the New Year.
Here’s to a joyous Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!