Benefits / Resources / Articles
February 09, 2021

4 Tips to Setting SMART Goals for Your Photography Business in 2021

Did you know that 64% of New Year's resolutions are abandoned after just 4 weeks? That means as we enter the second week of February, many people have already abandoned their resolutions. You might even be one of them... and that's okay! Trying to force yourself to change habits is no small task. Add in the pressure of the holidays, the on-going pandemic, and uncertainty about the future, and it might even feel like it's impossible to fulfill those resolutions. 

What makes resolutions so scary starts with the term itself. It's a big one! It sounds like a word you'd find in a very formal government or legal document, not one used to describe your personal, professional, and creative life. In the real world, we set goals for ourselves. This simple change in the way you talk about growing as a photographer and small business owner is a great way to shift your thinking away from making resolutions and more towards setting goals that well-defined, reasonable, and (most importantly) obtainable. 

Keep scrolling for 4 tips on setting smart goals for you and your professional photography business.     

1 Get Specific 

When setting goals, the more specific you are the easier it is to lay out the steps to achieve that goal. Instead of saying, “I want to learn something new in 2021,” try something more along these lines: “I want to take one local photography class in off-camera lighting." See the difference? Now, the steps to achieving the goal are clear. Try researching local photography classes, find one on the subject you are interested in, and sign up! If you can’t find a hands-on class in your area or don't feel comfortable attending an in-person event, check out online options! PPA offers photography workshops all over the country and online twice a year in the spring and fall, so be sure to check them out if you are interested in finding something near you.

2 Be Measurable & Achievable 

If you set vague goals such as “I’m going to focus more on marketing & branding in 2021,” it can be difficult to find concrete ways to measure your progress and success. In what ways are you going to focus on marketing? For example, if you want to work your branding, what about it needs to be changed? A new logo? Updated website? New marketing materials? Paid advertising? Pick one or two elements to focus on and take steps towards making them a reality. In order words: start with small, achievable goals that are easy to check off as you go.

Some examples of measurable and achievable goals are: 

  • “This year I am going to work with a graphic designer to create a new logo collection that I can then use to update my website and marketing materials.” 
  • “This year I am going to take at least two classes on Google advertising to see if they are a good fit for my business.” 
  • “This year I am going to invest in a professional re-design of my website."

It’s easy to measure your overall success as you work towards these smaller, more specific goals. Each step towards the goal will allow you to check the boxes:

  • I’ve reached out to a few graphic designers to set up consultations on logos/website design (check!)
  • I have my new logos ready to go and am starting to design my new marketing materials (check!)
  • My new business cards are ordered (check!)
  • I found a great online class on Google Ads that I’ve scheduled myself to take next month (check!) 

See? We all like checking things off of our to-do lists; it allows us to feel productive and easily track our progress towards reaching our original, broader “resolution” of focusing more on marketing & branding in 2021. And that great feeling you get when you check those items off your list is what propels you to achieve even more. 


3 Be Relevant

When creating goals for you and your business be sure to remember who the goals are for… YOU and YOUR business. Just because you find a blog called “10 New Year’s Resolutions for Photographers” doesn’t mean that those resolutions and goals will fit with your true professional and creative needs. When setting personal and professional goals, it’s crucial to take the time to ask yourself if they fit the values and principles that you use to run your business (and to live your life). Goals that you connect with on a personal level are much easier to keep because you’re setting them for the right reasons—not because another photographer told you they’re what you need to do to be successful. It is great to get inspired by others, but be sure that you take time to make your goals your own!


4 Be Time-Based

You need to give yourself enough time to realistically reach your goals, but you can’t leave it open-ended either. As you break your larger goals into smaller steps, be sure to assign a deadline to each of these tasks to help keep you on track. You might organize your tasks into short- and long-term goals so that you can envision the days, weeks, and months ahead. Consider how you'll keep these goals fresh in your mind... do you prefer to hang a calendar with the deadlines marked on it? Or perhaps you like to use a whiteboard that you can easily mark on, erase, and update as needed. And, of course, there are apps, email notifications, and computer calendar reminders to help you stay on track. 

Now that we have gone over how to set SMART(er) goals for you and your business in 2020, here are some sample goals that you can use as inspiration! Remember to look at these through your own lens (see what we did there?) and personalize them to fit your professional and creative needs:

  1. Start a passion project in your community
  2. Get constructive feedback on your work by ordering a $10 image critique now through February 26.
  3. Enter your work into a photographic competition. Participating in competitions is a guaranteed way to challenge yourself and hone your technical skills. And who knows... maybe you'll even win an award! 
  4. Research consumer behavior and attitudes about photography with the new Consumer Research Report from PPA. Filled with easy-to-understand graphs, this report can help you understand what your clients look for when hiring a professional photographer. 
  5. Take a photography workshop. PPA offers in-person and online Photography Workshops in the spring and fall, plus you also have a HUGE online learning library that you can peruse at your leisure. Why not give yourself the goal of watching at least one new instructional video a month?

As always, PPA is here to help you have the best 2021 possible. Be sure to follow us on social media, engage, and connect with us. We love getting to hear your stories, progress, and inspiring moments as well as your challenges! You inspire us, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish this year!