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A Planning Guide for New Zealand Artists: Plan your year, reach your goals, download our calendar.

Get ready to be ready!

In this blog post we go over a planning guide for New Zealand Artists so you can make this year better than your last. We have also included a free planning calendar with key dates to make it easy for you. We have all heard that quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Sounds harsh, but it is true. Assuming you’re here to do better than last year, even if it’s 1% better, this blog post will help you plan and plan clearly so you will be able to reach your 2024 goals. Since it’s already February (oh no), let’s jump to the good sauce.

We will cover these main things.

- Make planning a routine and make it fun.

- Outline the whole year, be realistic.

- Plans change, don’t worry, don’t forget number one.

- Review your plan, tweak your plan.

Plus we cover a few of tips & tricks that we actually do at Artist Services when we plan the year.

<Download our Planning Calendar for New Zealand Artists >

1 - Make planning a routine and make it fun

This is the most important step. If you’re only going to do one of the four things in this guide, this is it. If you’re already 10 years into it, cool, then get better at it, check in daily, max out how much you can achieve by being really efficient with your planning (and decision making).

If you’re new to planning, or only sometimes plan, like towards the busier Christmas period, then this is the year you stay on top of your planning. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the year, promise. Monthly planning is good, or seasonally at the least, but aim for weekly. It’s like cleaning your studio, it’s easier to stay on top of it by cleaning a little each week, rather than the big end of year wholly molly my studio is a pig-sty kind of clean.

At Artist Services we like planning on Tuesdays. Leaves Monday to empty the inbox, do any life admin or get over any lingering hangover. Then Tuesday is check what you did the week previous, get the satisfaction of crossing things off a to do list (oh I can feel that dopamine now), and prioritise next weeks list. This is a really good one, because you won’t have that “what do I do today” feeling at the start of the week. It’s best to keep it dead simple too, like just 5 things - 3 if they are quite big things. If you’re getting through it, take a day off, balance is key.

Make planning fun too, then you will look forward to it. It can help if you do it offsite, or at least away from your daily distractions of social media, your pet, the fridge etc. Turning your phone off can be a super power for productivity and clearer thinking.

2- Outline Your Entire Year

January - February: Explore New Horizons As the year begins, it's time to review the year before. Answer these questions:

How many paintings did I sell?

What was my total sales?

What worked? (marketing, exhibitions, feedback) - Take note and do this again but more and better.

What did not work? (and of course don’t do this again)

What did you want to get done last year but didn’t? Why not, what will you change to make sure you do?

Good things to plan and do at this time of year include:

- refresh your website or brand identity.

- explore new creative avenues like collaborative projects, mediums you haven’t tried, new technology or embark on a fresh series that resonates with your audience.

- fill your calendar, sales dates, exhibition dates, plus the dates when you want some goals completed.

TIP - if you want to sell 20 paintings this year, you need to paint 2 per month, what day do they need to be completed by, put that on the calendar. (yes 2 x 12 is 24, but you don’t sell 100% of your work each year, sometimes only 50%, so always aim to make 20-30% above your sales target) December and January are often less productive so it may be better to aim for 3 per month for 10 months.

March - June: Maintain MomentumBy now you should have a good routine, be ticking things off your to do list but you also might be feeling a bit puffed. Push on through and don’t slow down. Use the change in season to get ready for winter. Eat lots of Feijoas and pumpkin soup (but not together). March is a good month for exhibitions and sales because people are back from holiday, the cities are full again and people have recovered a bit from summer spending. 

July - September: Half Way, The Calm Before the Storm As the year progresses, take stock of what you achieved in the first half. Do you need to change anything in your plan? Know exactly what you need to have ready before the busier summer time. Things like your collections, product mix and prices, social media content, key marketing dates. When is Black Friday again? August can drag on, re-charge by walking in the rain, or cold swims, just move your body, you want to be feeling ace when spring hits. 

October - December: Sell, Sell, Sell As the holiday season approaches, it's time to intensify your promotional efforts. Communicate with your galleries and stores. Showcase gift-worthy pieces, and communicate effectively with your audience. October is last chance to add anything to your plan. Do you have clear Christmas shipping dates on your website? Is every painting and print listed online ready to sell? Is your marketing plan in place? November and December is sales time (Black Friday and other Christmas sales). Only check out and turn on your auto-reply when you’ve reviewed this year’s plan and roughly made one for next year.

3 - Plans change, do the doing

Also known as Get Shit Done, hit your plans, goals, remember number one and be hard on yourself, but not too hard. How hard you are on yourself will change as you get better at reaching/nailing your plan. As you get better, step it up a notch, and again, and again. If you don’t you will be in February 2025 wondering what happened.

The key here is not to stress if things don’t go according to plan. We do stuff, we learn, we tweak our plans accordingly. We didn’t know AI was going to be so normal already, is it in your plan to be as good at using AI as you are with Photoshop? You might not have planned to be part of a group show, but you get invited to one. Tweak your plan as needed, as long as it helps you achieve the things you wanted to do.

Back to number one, if you’re checking your plan regularly, it’s easier to manage changes. These changes are less stressful if you’re all over them when they pop up. Then you get really good at dealing with change, and it almost fuels you to be completely unafraid of it.

4 - Review Your Plan, you’re awesome, 5 stars.

So how did you go? You need to find what worked and what didn’t so you can improve your plan each year. Take a look at each month, did you achieve each thing you had in your plan? You can begin answering those January - February questions again. This end of year process is really important and overlaps with Number 1. It makes starting the next year easier because you already have something to build on. 

So, to quickly summarise our Planning Guide For New Zealand Artists…

- Make planning a routine and make it fun. You are your own boss so check in with your boss-self and get the dopamine ;-)

- Outline the whole year, including downtime and fun-time but be realistic. It’s better to nail 3 things, than fluff through 83 unachievable things.

- Plans change, don’t worry. Definitely don’t forget number one. Do the Doing.

- Review your plan, pat yourself on the back, rinse and repeat.

So what are you waiting for?  Do number one by < Downloading our Planning Calendar for New Zealand Artists >

Read our other handy guides for Artists:

What can I do as an independent artist to grow my revenue?

How Using Artist Services can help you grow your art business.

Tips for Approaching Art Galleries

The Artistic Guide to Planning and Nailing Your Art Exhibition: From Vision to Opening Day