hand-565588_1280Writing is more than a hobby to me. It’s a business.

Like any product-based business, I dream up and create something, find a company to produce it, design attractive packaging, locate my ideal customer, target marketing to let them know about my product, and handle the financial recordkeeping and taxes all while still learning how to make each step of the process better and better. Unlike most businesses, mine revolves around imaginary people. I just wish I could spend my limited work hours daydreaming up adventures!

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a glimpse into my writing space. Today, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the other things I do to help turn this writing dream into a profitable business. The bottom line is that running a business (writing or otherwise) is a juggling act that requires clear goals and organization. Through the memorable voice of experience, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way (usually the hard way!) and am beginning to put together an “Author’s Toolbox” in order to help other authors build their businesses.

[Tweet “Organization and goal setting tools to make life easier via @CandeeFick”]

Since organization and goal setting tools can make anyone’s life easier whether they are running a business or not, I wanted to share a few of the keys that have kept my sanity intact.

First, big picture. I’ve blogged about this before, but my personal mission statement is “Faith, Family, and Fiction” in that order. This is the standard where I measure any activity to see if it helps advance my overall life goals. I also strive to keep a balance in my daily life by periodically evaluating how I’m doing and making a plan to get back on track when I’ve wandered into misplaced priorities.

With the big picture in mind, I schedule dedicated time to each category. Then it’s time for my lists. My new-favorite tool is a synchronized mobile/desktop list app called WorkFlowy where I can keep a master list of my lists. I have a “To-Do This Week” list in addition to Personal, Writing, and a few more small lists for my volunteer work, day job, and a side business I’ve thought about starting. The master To-Do section has subheadings for each day with additional subheadings for tasks I hope to get done that day and appointments. My Writing section has various manuscripts listed by title with subheadings for Launch and further subheadings for the blog tour, event, giveaways, budget and even deeper bullet points as needed. I can zoom in and out of various levels for a big picture view or to drill down into details while being able to easily drag items from spot to spot, mark them as completed, or even search for certain things by adding hashtag labels. I can easily add and edit items while on the go with my iPad and then be right on track when I fire up the laptop. I never have to wonder what I should be working on next and use Sunday evenings to plot out the week ahead. (And if I wash my hands, the list doesn’t disappear like it would in the picture above!)

While I use the electronic list program to keep track of the overall tasks and steps toward getting a project done, I’m still a visual paper list or calendar kind of girl and that’s where my notebooks come into play. I have one notebook for business records like hole-punched bank account statements or receipts in addition to an Excel spreadsheet to track income and expenses without having to do the math myself. I have another notebook for marketing things which includes calendar pages to record blog tour and book signing dates as well as deadlines, lists of my launch team contact information, print-out copies of endorsements, back cover copy, and my official bio, and even a list of all my social media or other business related accounts with log-in information. I also have folders in a rack to collect those random scraps of paper with blog post topics or story ideas so they don’t get lost and I know exactly where to look when I need inspiration.

Organization helps me find certain information quickly while prioritizing the steps to reaching my goals keeps me moving toward my dream. And my dream is to continue creating stories of faith, hope, and love that touch readers’ hearts while earning enough money to keep the lights on.

What about you? Are you in business for yourself? What’s one goal that you are working toward and how do you track your progress? Are you organized or could use help in that area?




Behind the Scenes: Running a Business
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