I’ve never been big on New Years Resolutions, mostly because I feel that people go into it all enthusiastic making grandiose resolutions that never get fulfilled. But, as I’ve set ‘goals’ for myself in the coming year, I think I might be kidding myself with semantics.

Any good goal setting starts with reflection. 2011 was a very tough year for me on a personal level and a very slow year on a professional level. While I am always ready to beat myself up for not doing as much as I should, I’m going to try something new– give myself a break and forget about self-recrimination. There was a lot of moping about and wandering aimlessly for me for most of the year but I am happy to say that I ended the year on an upswing with a little momentum coming into 2012.

Discipline

Part of what I love about freelance is the free part. There is a lot of freedom and flexibility in being self-employed. But, lately, it has become glaringly apparent to me that I need some structure within my free lifestyle - even so far as putting myself on a schedule. As an example, I started this post on New Years day (2 weeks ago). I’ve been wanting to finish it ever since but something always came up.

It’s time for me to get organized and get structured. I am going to set some short-term goals and identify what I need to do to make them happen. Then I will divide my day and week into time slots to work on certain things.

Less Social Media and More Social

As a marketing professional who spent a lot of time doing social media and online branding for other companies, it was very easy for me to fall into the attitude that the key to establishing myself was a strong online brand. Add to that being in a new city where I knew no one, and it turned into me relating to the world through my laptop. What I’ve discovered is that the industry is full of internet-famous photographers who make more of their living being on the internet than they do shooting. Then there’s those photographers who are barely online at all but are constantly working on great and exciting photoshoots. That’s the guy I want to be.

It’s time for me to leave the comforts of home and get out to meet people. Some people call it networking but I don’t want to be as strategic as that in the beginning. I just want to build relationships with people that interest me and look for any opportunities to shoot. Which brings me to my next goal.

Ana and I testing the Leica S2 on a recent shoot at Pier 59 Studios West.

Shoot, Shoot, SHOOT

I don’t think there is any way I can stress this enough. I have 3125 images in my 2011 Lightroom catalog–pathetic. I expect to have over 20,000 images for 2012. It’s ambitious, even during the kontaktmag years I topped out at just under 9000, but that’s the minimum I will accept from myself this year.

Who cares about an online presence when you don’t have the body of work to support it. Right now, my quality work is 3 or 4 years old. I need to spend some serious time and effort building a new portfolio.

I have made friends with a local photographer, Ana Gibert, who is very active in the APA-LA and goes to portfolio reviews often. She has advised me not to throw out my past work and has offered to help me go through my library to see what can be salvaged. But, since I am heading in a new direction with my work, I still need to develop a body of work that will speak to the type of clients I want to attract.

Financial

I wrote about not getting into debt with equipment purchases and I’ve recently had an idea on that subject. I am carrying a pretty high balance on my credit card, which I would like to obliterate (the balance, not the card).  I plan on being debt-free within the next 6 months. I’ve been proud of the fact that my recent computer and camera purchases were cash purchases from jobs I was doing. But, as long as I am carrying a balance on my credit card, I am essentially still buying things on credit in spirit, if not in fact. Had I put the money towards my credit card, I would be debt-free.

I’ve made the decision to only buy new gear with money made directly from photoshoots. All my design and assisting earnings will go to my living expenses, paying off debt and saving. This will give me extra incentive to book shoots instead of sitting back and getting complacent assisting.

I am also going to finally get my bookkeeping squared away. I’m tired of having that hang over my head. I’m going to get on top of it and stay on top of it. Then I’m going to get enough work so I can pay someone else to do it for me. One thing I’ve learned as a entrepreneur is that we all have weak points. Bookkeeping is mine.

Personal

I have more goals that I am working to define including some personal goals such as getting consistent with my Tai Chi practice, getting in better cardio shape, continuing to learn Spanish, etc. I have a very good feeling about how things are going and the coming year. I know it’s only a calendar, but I am very happy to leave last year behind and concentrate on creating the life I want in 2012.