It’s the fourth and final week of our life audit. By this time your home, your habits and your mind should be a little less cluttered.
Not the whole way, I’m sure. It’s a process, becoming who we want to be. Every day we make progress. And anytime you want to revisit the questions or prompts, you can do so. I made a pretty printable of the whole life audit. It’s available now on Patreon.
Today’s post is different. It’s for those of you, like me, who have a creative business.
Mind you, this isn’t a business plan. There are so many creative business plans available online. I’ve pinned a few on my Pinterest board if you’re interested.
No, this is a check-in. An in-depth look at what’s working and what’s not. I do this audit at the end of each quarter since creative businesses change so much faster than traditional ones. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let’s take a look at some cold, hard, creative numbers.
Question one. What products or services do you have available right now?
Let’s start easy. What are you currently selling? Books, courses, jade carvings? Make a list of everything you have available for sale.
Now that you’ve got it all down, you should be able to see a few things. Are some of your products or services outdated? Have you forgotten about one product and just not talked about it for a while? (I did this.) Was there a product you meant to have a follow-up to and just never got around to it? Write it all down.
Question two. Where do I make money?
Start by writing down all of the platforms you make money on. Amazon, Smash words, Etsy, directly from clients. Wherever it is people pay you, get it down.
Now, take a look at your income for the last twelve months. Write down how much money you made on every platform.
What ones are doing well, and what ones aren’t? For the ones that aren’t are they not doing well because they’re not a good fit or because they need more effort?
This can be eye-opening. I realized that I made more money from this little blog than I did from sales of Station 86 books in the last twelve months. I don’t know how to feel about that. But at least now I know.
Question three. Where do I spend money?
Every business costs money. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Write down all the money you spent on your business in the last twelve months, and where it went.
This is crucial information to have. Are you spending your money in smart ways? Are you getting things for your business that you don’t need, or could be bought cheaper? Are you subscribed to any services that aren’t serving you anymore? These are questions only you can answer. And you can’t answer them without the raw data.
Question four. What are my three highest sources of income?
Do you sell just a ton of bangle bracelets off Etsy? Are you killing it with clients?
Knowing where you shine helps you work to your strengths. It also helps you see what’s not working, and what might be best to cut loose.
Question five. What projects are you going to be working on for the next 3/6/12 months?
This is where the fun starts. At least I think it’s fun.
Take a look at your schedule, and make a rough list of what projects you’ll be working on for the next three months. Then, the next six months. And finally, the next twelve.
Mind you, this is not set in stone, so don’t get too freaked out by this. The point of this exercise is just to get an idea of what you’ll be working on. And the farther away it is, the less set in stone it will be.
Question six. What are you putting out in the next 3/6/12 months?
Take a look at your project list, and see what might reasonably ready in the next year. Because hear me, you need to start advertising ASAP. I mean, I have a true-crime podcast coming out on February first, and I’ve been making ads and talking it up on social media for weeks now. As soon as you know something is going to be ready and can reasonably set a launch date, do it. Then, you can start working backward from that and make a launch plan.
Question seven. What are your financial goals for the next 3/6/12 months?
I know, money. We creatives don’t like to talk about money. But we have to. If we want to have more time to create, we need to make money on our creations.
Everyone has different goals, but here are some things to consider.
How much money did you make last year?
Are you coming out with anything new?
How much money are you going to need to spend?
Here’s the trick to set money goals. You need to be reasonable without being pessimistic. If you set a goal too high, you’ll not reach it and get discouraged. If it’s too low, then you’re not going to feel as challenged. It’s a tight line to walk, and it’s personal. But if you take the time to understand what you’ve done so far, you’ll be able to figure it out.
Question eight. What platforms am I on?
Spoiler: You’re probably on too many. Think about it. If you’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitch and Youtube, when do you have time to create content for each of those platforms? If you’re creating consistent content for each of those platforms, when are you creating your work? When are you sleeping, eating, hanging out with your loved ones, taking a shower?
I used to be on a lot more platforms than I am now. I’ve got it paired down to ones that I genuinely use, enjoy, and would be on even if I wasn’t an indie writer.
Let’s look beyond social media when we consider your platform, though. Let’s consider everywhere you show up online. For example, when I make this list it includes Ko-fi, Patreon, Amazon, Smashwords, and right here on this humble little blog.
Question nine. How can you show up better on each platform?
Here’s where we get to the real auditing part of the audit comes in.
Look at each platform you work with. How are you showing up there? What can you do to make it better? Can you make some nifty graphics to share on Twitter? Take more pictures? Comment on other people’s posts more?
Make a list. Then, get started making these changes, big or small. Do just one at a time, and track your results.
Alright, that was a lot. But I hope it helps you have a better understanding of where you are in your creative business. And what you can do to get to the next level.
There’s one more thing I’d like to suggest. When you’re done with the business audit, mark it in your calendar the next time you’ll be doing one. Make a work date with yourself that you’ll keep like it was a date with your best friend.