Setting SMART Goals

Setting SMART Goals as a Photographer


I’m sitting down to write this on the 31st of December so you might think I was going to trot out some New Year’s resolutions, but I’m not.

I may make a resolution or two but those are personal goals/commitments. For my business I’m taking some time to lay out some specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time restricted goals.

Perhaps you have heard of the SMART system for goal setting before, I’ve been using it for the last few years and I find it to be really helpful in creating goals that drive my business forward.

The SMART system, goals that are - 

 • Specific

 • Measurable

 • Achievable

 • Relevant

 • Time restricted

So a specific goal for me might be to pick up at least one more branded hotel client this year. 

The goal is measurable, I either succeed in creating that new relationship or I don’t. It is achievable as I already have some branded hotel clients so I have a realistic hope of bringing in another. Adding a new high-profile client could hardly be more relevant to my business. And I have put a time restriction on the goal, this year, hopefully in the first half but I won’t get down on myself if it takes a bit of time.


That is an ‘outcome’ goal. A goal that is measured by a specific outcome that I hope to achieve. Another type of goal would be a ‘process’ goal. 

One of the process goals that I have already been working on and plan to continue in 2020 is posting on social media every weekday this year, excluding time when I’m on holiday with my family. 

Again, it’s a specific goal - post - social media - every weekday. I can measure whether or not I have posted every weekday by putting marks on a calendar or whatever.

It is definitely possible to post on social media every weekday, with a little planning ahead to ease the process along and giving myself some breaks throughout the year for holiday downtime. I have had inbound inquiries from social media connections so I consider it to be a relevant marketing effort for my business. I can put a time restriction on the goal to set a point at which I will evaluate whether the time spent doing this task has produced the desired results but I’m not setting a particular outcome as the measurement. It’s the process of posting every weekday that is the goal at this point.

Another goal that I’m looking at has process and outcome elements.

Over the last month or so I have been working on my Search Engine Optimization.

Improving your ranking on search engines takes time and it is difficult to achieve some of the specific outcomes I may desire. I may want to appear in the ‘3-Pack’ of local photographers shown on page one of a Google search for ‘Commercial Photographer Bristol’ but as I actually live a few miles outside of Bristol this is proving to be a bit tricky.

I have managed to get to the number 1 spot in the 3-pack for ‘Commercial Photographer Somerset’, yea! That’s a great result and I hope to break into the 3-pack for Bristol as well. I live close to Bristol and that’s where most of my work comes from but as my physical address is in ‘Somerset’ but not in ‘Bristol’ I will just have to plug away and hope for the best.

With that in mind I’m setting a goal that focuses on the process. 

Specifically, I will add a blog post every week, again excluding some holidays and spend an hour a week on SEO monitoring and making improvements. Again I could use a Google calendar entry to measure my progress. Two hours a week writing a blog post and another hour monitoring my position is a fairly hefty chunk of time but if I write blog posts when I have time available it should be achievable. Clients do sometimes find me by doing a Google search so it’s another relevant marketing effort. After a few months of concerted effort I’m hoping to see my name in the 3-Pack for ‘Commercial Photographer Bristol’ and/or ‘Advertising Photographer Bristol’ but I won’t get too discouraged if it takes longer than that and I’ll have a look at what I have achieved at the end of the year. 

Returning to specific photographic goals I am also going to work on my personal portraits project. Let’s see, perhaps one day a month? That sounds about right. 

Over the last 20 years I have adding to a series of portraits based on a cinematic style I developed while traveling around Southeast Asia. Using a 2 wide to 1 high ratio I compose fairly tightly on a subject and consciously use the background to tell a bit of a story.

Getting out to do these takes a little will power as it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to ask strangers if I can photograph them. So, the specific goal is to go out for a couple of hours one day per month over the next year to work on this project. Measured by whether or not I create the time to do it. Nothing to stop me but nerves, should be achievable. Working on personal photographic projects is relevant to a well rounded business as a creative photographer. And again, the whole of 2020 is my time restriction.

My ‘new’ project for 2020 is to formalize a new way of helping photographers who want to develop their careers.

I would like to have at least three students join me in 2020. The plan that I have developed is based on a set of ‘Photographic Assignments’ based on the kinds of jobs I’ve worked on over the past 25 years as a Professional Photographer. The assignments are designed to teach a wide range of photographic skills while also creating portfolios of images that the students will be proud of. The twist is that the assignments can also be used as marketing exercises. By approaching local businesses to ask if they would be happy to help a student get their start as a photographer new relationships will be created and some will inevitably lead to paid work. 

The particulars of how to negotiate that transition and how to get over the ‘Impostor Syndrome’ is the specific focus on the Apprenticeship Programme. 

Once a student has successfully completed the series of assignments they will become an ‘Associate Photographer’ and I will continue to help them develop their new career with ongoing sales and marketing mentoring. 

What are your goals as a photographer for 2020?

Perhaps you would like to get a certain number of new images for your portfolio. And you might want to get your website up to a good standard including laying the ground work for SEO. Another good goal for a photographer getting started would be to develop their business plan.

Would you like to have some help creating SMART goals and working on your photographic skills? If so please get in touch using the contact form found here -