How to Break Down Your Big Goals into Milestones and Daily Tasks

blog how to break down your big goals and turn them into milestones and daily tasks

What are the big goals behind your creative business? Are you working towards them a little each week?

Or do you tend to work around them, unsure of how to reach your far-away dreams?

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, establishing overarching goals is essential for a thriving handmade shop, and your every move should lean towards attaining them.

But sometimes those big achievements seem so far away. How do you approach them when they loom over you like giant mountains? 

Today, I'm sharing a simple method to make those big dreams more approachable.

Get to work turning your goals into daily tasks, and grab the handy workbook I made. It's 5 pages long and includes guided questions and space to write your answers to help you through the process. Get your copy below!

How to Reach Your Goals

The key to reaching goals is to break them down into small steps and bite-sized pieces on a timeline. 

Goals are much less intimidating when written out into feasible tasks, which makes it easier to kick-off your venture and start working towards your big objectives. The work required is easier to grasp when you list all the steps, and you can chip away at them a little each day without wondering what to work on next.

Get my free workbook for a step-by-step guide, helpful questions, and room to write your goals and tasks. Be sure to grab it below.

Goals Reflection + Break-Down Workbook

1 | Reflect and identify your struggles and strengths

To begin, get to know your current goal-seeking tendencies by taking a little time to reflect. Where do you need to improve, and what do you already do well?

How are your goals for January and February coming along? Have you checked them all off yet? How about your top three? If you can't seem to reach them, try to figure out why.

Find ways to improve, and develop your strengths. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what you're good at and what's getting in the way, so I included a reflection section in the workbook for thought-provoking questions and space to write your answers.

Then, ask yourself why you started your creative business and what you hope to gain from it in 2017 and beyond. 

After you fill out the reflection section in the workbook, start setting distinct goals in the next step.

2 | List your overarching goals

What are your shop goals? Have you thought about them recently? 

Goals create the foundation of your business and should be the driving force of your daily tasks and decisions. Outlining them is essential to growing your creative handmade shop.

Think about where you want to take your business and what you'd like it to do for you. 

When you set goals, be mindful, and take your time; the best goals are formed alongside thoughtful decisions rather than hasty interests or your latest idea. Try to be realistic to avoid disappointment, but don't be afraid to go after your dreams if you're willing and able to do the work required.

Set complete goals by assigning a date to each. Deadlines set goals in stone, add a little pressure, and help keep you accountable. They also make it easier to gauge your progress. 

When you reach a goal, the hard work, planning, and dedication you put into the journey will reward you with a fulfilling sense of accomplishment--in addition to the benefits of the goal itself.

Once you’ve honed in on your goals, start making them more approachable with the next step.

3 | Break goals into milestones

Your big goals might be a bit intimidating, which makes breaking them into smaller milestones a crucial step. When your goals are broken down and spread out, you’ll know where to begin, and it's easier to carry out the steps necessary to tackle them. 

Look at your goals, and brainstorm effective steps that divide them into distinct checkpoints. Once again, include deadlines to help you stay on target.

These smaller milestones are more approachable. They're easier to organize, and they help plan a distinct and manageable path to your overarching goals. Milestones function as distinct landmarks along your journey to guide you, map your progress, and confirm that you're on the right track.

As you check milestones off, celebrate; it's encouraging to see your efforts pay off, and it helps motivate you to keep going. It's also beneficial to pause for a moment to evaluate how you're doing. Then, regroup and adjust as necessary.

Whether you choose to tackle one milestone at a time or work on several at once, conquering them still takes dedication, time, and focused work, so still it's easy to get discouraged along the way. 

That’s where the next step comes in handy.

4 | Determine action steps from milestones

The next step is to break your milestones into specific action steps with deadlines. This makes it easy to tackle a few each day. 

Actions should be small, stand-alone tasks rather than ongoing projects since the aim is to list a few on your daily or weekly to-do list; when you list an independent task, it’s easy to cross it off as you go since there won’t be other steps of the task keeping you from completing it.

Brainstorm and write out a list of every step needed to complete your milestone. Read it over, and add any steps you may have missed. Next, rewrite them chronologically. It's a good idea to assign deadlines to them, too.

Then, when you plan your day, copy the next few action steps onto your daily planner or to-do list.

It’s a breeze when you can simply copy them over to your planner, so be sure to create a complete and organized list of your action tasks beforehand. You’ll save time and to avoid the extra task of having to figure out the next step each day. There's a chart just for this in the workbook; it's on the last page and is the perfect place to write a tidy list after all the brainstorming.

Now, you’re off to a great start chipping away at your milestones! And as time goes by, you'll start to see progress towards your goals.

5 | Do the work

It's pointless to set goals if you aren’t going to take action and do the necessary work to achieve them. Following your action steps takes dedication, hard work, and focus, but the end result is worth it.

A few tips and key things to remember along the way . . .

  • Don't underestimate small tasks. Working a little each day--or a few times a week--adds up quickly. You'll start to see results as you diligently check off action tasks.
  • Action steps should always lead directly along your string of milestones and towards your overarching goals. 
  • Keep them Straight: it can get a little fuzzy when distinguishing between overarching goals, milestones, and actions. Here are some examples of each to help you keep them straight:
    • Overarching Goal: Make $200 selling bracelets by July 1st.
    • Milestones: Get 10 bracelet designs listed in shop for the spring line by March 20th. | Promote on social media 5 times before launching on March 21st.
    • Actions: March 10th: Design 3 bracelets. | Write their descriptions. | March 12th: Photograph them. | Create and save 2 of the social media posts. | Post one to Instagram. | (Etc.)

6 | Assess the outcome

Are you making headway on your goals? 

Analyzing your results doesn’t have to wait until the end. Checking in throughout your journey helps you focus and adjust as necessary. Try including it as an action step after each milestone so you don't forget.

The point of setting goals is to see results--not just to dream big. If you still can't seem to hit your mark, ask yourself why you’re getting stuck. Look back to the reflection worksheet for help.

How do you break down your overarching goals to make them approachable and easy to work on each day? I'd love to know! Leave a comment! Let me know if you enjoyed this post by liking it below. Feel free to share, too.


10 Ways to Improve Your Shop and Make Use of the Slow Months on Etsy

10 ways to improve your etsy shop during the slow months

When January rolls around, it’s easy to feel a bit discouraged after the exciting wave of holiday sales. But the slower season is a valuable time of year for your business, too. With fewer sales to keep up with, you can work on the heart of your business to make it stronger and more fruitful. 

So instead of staring at your stats and wondering where the eager shoppers went, take advantage of the extra time to tackle some important behind-the-scenes shop tasks.

Get a head-start on 2017 with 10 ways to improve your Etsy store after the holiday rush.

1 | Revisit your listings.

When we’re busy making and listing items as fast as we can, it’s easy to overlook or put off writing product details. The first quarter of the new year is the perfect time to make sure each listing is up to par. Think of it as dusting the corners and giving your shop a polished finish.

If you have a large shop, it can be a bit looming to check each listing in detail, so conquer the feat in smaller parts by addressing one shop section at a time.

Head over to your listings manager, and look over the following for each item: titles, tags, photos, description, variations, shipping, prices, and links . . .

  • Are your titles and tags accurate? 
  • Are your photos captivating? 
  • Do your descriptions need revising? 
  • If you have item variations, are they listed accurately? 
  • Is your shipping information correct? 
  • Are your prices where they should be?
  • If you’ve included links, are they all accurate?

Critique your listings to make sure they aren’t missing anything. Fix errors and update where necessary; it’s well worth the time to make sure your shop is at its full potential and doesn’t have major--or minor--mistakes.

Tip: When you analyze your listings, take note of what you love and dislike about them and your shop as a whole; it will help with branding decisions and other changes you may want to address.

2 | Update your shop photos.

Are any of your photos begging for a face-lift? Fewer orders make it easier to photograph items before sending them out.

Focus on capturing photos that stand out among the vast grid of other sellers' items. Photos should draw shoppers in so they click your item to see more, and once they do, captivate them further with amazing shots that showcase your products to encourage sales.

Highlight different angles of your items, and demonstrate how they look while in use. Consider including lifestyle shots; they're a wonderful way to help buyers visualize your product in their lives. Think of ways to “model” your products even if they aren’t accessories. Ask, how is your item used? Then brainstorm photo possibilities accordingly.

Since photography has the power to make your items shine or look shabby, it’s a crucial component of your online business. The good news is that you can easily create stunning images yourself with just a few simple and inexpensive tools.

I have a helpful photography resource if you want to know my method for modeling and shooting accessories at the same time. Get my free checklist to learn what 5 basic tools I use to create photos for my shop and social media. You'll also be the first to know about a photography course I'm working on when you sign up below.

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Product Photography Checklist

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3 | Create or change your shop's banner photo.

Take advantage of the space above your shop to showcase your brand and greet customers who visit. While you don’t have to use one, Etsy currently has two options to choose from: a cover photo or a banner.

Cover photos are borderless, statement-making headers that show up on computers as well as mobile devices. Banners, however, are a smaller block-style headers that center over your shop and are only visible on computers.

Keep them in theme with the rest of your brand for a cohesive look. Try one wide photo, or use your favorite collage app to feature several at once. Have a creative brainstorm to conjure up ideas. You could feature . . .

  • your new logo
  • a welcoming hello
  • an important shop message
  • your newest item(s)
  • a collage of several product photos
  • behind the scenes images
  • a dramatic photo of your product(s) in action/being used
  • the current holiday’s theme
  • a combination of your logo and product photos
  • a coupon code so shoppers won’t miss your sale

Consider making a few to have on hand so you can quickly change the look of your shop when needed. If you have seasonal or holiday items, you can create headers for them ahead of time so you’ll be prepared.

4 | Create or update your shop’s About section.

If your shop’s About page isn’t already set up, make it a priority on your to-do list. Display the quality and care you put into your products by following through all the steps of setting up your shop. When it’s clear that you have carefully tended to all parts of your store, buyers are more likely to trust you. 

Your About section is a crucial component of your shop, and if it’s missing, potential customers might wonder what else you are skipping or forgetting and may move on to the next shop.

Your About page is also one of the best ways to connect with customers and encourage sales because it gives them a chance to get to know the person and products they will be spending their hard-earned money on.

To get started, take a few behind the scenes photos of you and your process. Add a headline for each photo, and write an engaging paragraph or two about how you got started or what you love most about what you do. It’s that simple. Tip: horizontal photos work best.

If you already have your About section filled out, give it a read-through to see if it needs any edits. You can also consider changing it seasonally depending on what you offer.

If social media is your main source of sales, it can be tempting to put less importance on your About page. But go the extra mile to make your shop as professional as possible.

For a quick solution, re-purpose several photos from your Instagram or favorite social media. And if you've already written about your shop's story or your process, simply copy and paste it. Even simpler.

5 | Revisit your shop Policies

While it may be the most boring part of running an Etsy store, filling out your shop policies is one of the most important tasks you can do for you business.

Plus, it’s less painful than you might think: Etsy makes it easy and fast to input your policies. In past years, sellers had to write all the details out, but now you can add your information without having to write a single sentence. All you have to do is click check boxes and choose from drop-down menus. Not bad, eh? Note: You can still use your previous policies if you prefer.

Policy topics to cover include your . . .

  • Processing and shipping times
  • Payment options
  • Returns, exchanges, and cancellations 
  • Privacy policy

Take a bit of time and utilize this tool to set your rules ahead of time and prevent confused and unhappy customers. Then if a problem arises, you can refer customers to your shop policies, which they agreed to abide by when they purchased from you. Additionally, most customers are more comfortable buying from a shop when the policies are clearly stated. It’s a safety net for both shop owner and buyer alike. 

6 | Fill out your FAQ section

Are there certain questions that customers always seem to ask? Create a FAQ section for your shop. FAQ's currently show up under your shop Policies on Etsy, making it easy for customers to learn more details about your shop before they message you. AKA, a great time-saver. It helps make sure all your bases are covered in addition to what you included in your Policies. You can use the FAQ area to highlight policies that are extra important, too.

Etsy currently includes the following built-in categories:

  • Custom and personalized orders. Let customers know if you are open to creating customized or one-of-a-kind pieces.
  • Sizing details. Are you able to create custom sizes that might not be listed on your items?
  • Care instructions. Will your item fall apart in the washing machine, or is it indestructible? 
  • Gift wrapping and packaging. Do your items come gift-ready, or is fancy packaging only upon request?
  • Wholesale availability. Do you offer wholesale prices? Write a blurb to let retailers know how to get more details.

Etsy also allows custom questions. Is there any unique information to include about your shop or process? Consider adding them to your FAQ section.

7 | Stock up on inventory or create a Ready-to-Ship section.

Do you have fewer orders this month? Keep making items to stock your shop. It will help you transition into the busy season more easily, and you’ll feel more prepared. 

Make a list of items to stock up on. Be strategic, and start with your most popular pieces. Or focus on making more of your upcoming seasonal or holiday line if you already have a sense of which items will sell out faster.

Then, create a Ready to Ship section in your shop for customers who are in need of a quick gift. Include a note in your Shop Announcement to let shoppers know you have pre-made items so they know they won’t have to wait long.

8 | Streamline your packaging and shipping process.

Work on your packaging design or just get ahead of the game: complete your stamping, cutting, and labeling so when the orders start coming in, you’ll be set for speedy shipping. Customers always love a fast delivery.

Try utilizing these helpful tools . . .

  • Use Etsy shipping labels for discounted postage rates.
  • Consider investing in a scale; knowing how much items weigh prevents overestimated postage costs.
  • Pro tip: Utilize Etsy shipping sections for a faster process and more accurate rates. To create a shipping section, simply calculate and save packaging costs for each box size you use. Then, when you assign a listing to it, include the weight of the item plus the packaging, and Etsy will automatically calculate the cost depending on the buyer's destination. This is one of my favorite features!

When you streamline your packaging and shipping process, it saves so much time (and some money), giving you more time to create items and generate ideas.

9 | Experiment with new ideas.

Do you have new ideas you couldn’t get to during the busy holiday sales? Well, now is your chance to squeak them in. 

It’s the perfect time of year to set aside a few hours, or a day, to finally design that new accessory, write up that new pattern, or flesh out the details for that newest addition to your skirt line. Use the slower sales season to work on what you’ve been dreaming about. Get your make on, and add those new designs to your brand.

Don't forget: as creatives, we’re great at generating new ideas, which makes it easy to stray from the path at times. So first, take a look at your business goals and plans to be sure your newest ventures fit in. Going back to your goals periodically will help you stay on track throughout the creative process.

10 | Create stock images for social media.

Have you ever struggled to find time to nicely style your creations for a social media post? I've been there. Or have you ever wanted to take a photo for Instagram when it’s too cloudy or dark? Yeah, me, too, especially during the wintry month of January, February, and often times, March.

Solve these dilemmas with a social media photo shoot to stock up on photos. 

Brainstorm photos you want to capture to best represent your brand. Make a list of products to include and styles of photography to use. Will you share behind-the-scenes shots? Product photos? Do you have a neat workspace to share? Consider your audience and what they would enjoy seeing.

Then, set aside some time to photograph a bunch of planned shots from your list. Choose a day with some sun (avoid a dark, rainy day), gather any props, and figure out your setting for even-lighting to prevent bright spots.

Once you have a stock of images to use, posting to Instagram will be less time consuming, and you’ll be able to plan your photos better. You can also use them for shop updates on Etsy, Facebook, and Twitter. You name it.

Check out my photography resource here to learn what I use to create product photos. It’s a handy checklist to help you get started if you model and shoot products yourself. Get a copy below when you subscribe to TwigBerryStudio Insider: a creative Newsletter delivered each Monday to inspire your week.

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Product Photography Checklist

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Thanks so much for reading! I hope you found these 10 ideas helpful for making use of slower shopping months on Etsy. What ways do you make the most of extra time when you have less sales for your shop?

What other topics would you like to see me write about on the TwigBerryStudio Blog? Comment, Share, and Like the post below!