In the first post we talked about why having a purpose behind your work is important. I also mentioned briefly that there are two types of purpose we can use in creative projects, this post shows how to create both of them.
In order to succeed, wildly, you’ll need:
In order for your project to ‘work’ to the best of its ability you need two different types of purpose. Rather than belabouring the point at this stage, lets dive in and take a look at how to make them.
Creative Type Definition
Creative purpose gives life and soul to your projects; it deals with the higher meaning, why you want to do it, and what change you’re trying to make in the world (or whatever social group you’re comfortable with). Without this, even if you have an amazing business purpose the idea itself will be a shell, possibly uninspired and definitely lack spark.
Creating the Creative Purpose
Look at your life and what matters to you. Think about what you believe, feel the things that tug on your heart, and start from there. The creative purpose is the most personal part of any project; I couldn’t and probably wouldn’t tell you how to find it.
There aren’t any road maps to defining what’s right or what you want to say and it’s different for every person. In my opinion this is why we’re able to have so many different art forms and artists; not one of us thinks in exactly the same way as another, and we all have different messages and things we want to talk about. This part can take a long time to find, and to get ‘right’. You’ll know it when you have, sometimes you have to start work before it’s fully formed (that’s another issue entirely) however I’d urge you to wait until you have at least a rough idea before beginning.
Creative Purpose is your cornerstone after all, it’s worth taking the time to do this part properly.
Structuring your Creative Purpose
The beauty of the creative purpose is that there’s no iron-clad structure. Often a simple statement is enough.
That is, as long as the statement conveys the following points to you (and those you work with!) whenever you read it:
- The change you want to make
- The circumstance you want to improve
- The emotion you want others to feel
- The message you want to send
- It has an emotional connection with you; you should feel it in your gut
Example: Creative Purpose for July’s Themed Posts
My creative purpose for this month’s feature series reads something like this:
Provide clarity to creators so we can see more awesomely cool stuff.
Ulterior motives aside, that works for me. My logic follows that we can’t make our absolute best projects without having a reason for doing so, and sometimes we can start with one and lose it along the way (or without one, which is scary but we’ve all done it). By defining both types of purpose there’s a clear direction for us to travel in, since I believe this is really important and I want to be around to see some really well written games, animations, scenes, stories, etc… This theme was born.
Business Type Definition
On the other hand the business purpose gives structure to the idea. What you’re making, what targets you’re trying to reach, who will use the finished product, and so on through all the more practical concerns. This determines how successful your project will be at getting the message out and/or making money.
Building your Business Purpose
Before you can write your business purpose you’ll need to make three main choices. First you’ll have to decide what you’re making; can’t go far wrong here and your creative purpose might point you in the right direction.
Second, what you’re trying to achieve. This is a little trickier and speaks to your motives more than anything else. Maybe you have a product and you’re trying to generate more sales. Or you have a website / blog and you’d like more visits and views. Possibly you want to win a competition, or get your message out to the greatest amount of people possible. Aim high, but not cripplingly so here, and be specific. Instead of saying something like ‘I want more people to visit my site’, go for something like ‘I want 50 people to visit my site per day by 1st January 2011’. Constrain your goal. Make it achievable, but not too easy. Really go for it!
The third and potentially most important decision is about who you’re trying to reach. Do you have a specific target audience (if not, why not?)? Who would you most like to connect with? How do they spend their time? Are they students, working, not working, within your industry, in a specific age range, location, gender… There are a lot of questions you could be asking here. As with your ‘goal’, your target audience has to be specific.
Structuring your Business Purpose
Unlike the creative purpose your business purpose has a generally accepted format. It takes the form of a short sentence covering each of the three areas we just discussed. You can almost copy/paste each section into the structure below:
A [what you’re making] for [target audience] in order to [business target/goal].
Example: Business Purpose for July’s Themed Posts
Continuing our example from before, the business purpose for this month’s themed features looks a bit like this:
Create a series of blog posts for creative professionals looking to make their own, successful, projects in order to revive my blog and bring visitors per day up to 45 by August 15th 2011.
Since it’s a blog project I’m running my first section was a given (I actually cheated and had the form before my creative purpose because I had a specific slot to fill per week). My target audience was defined in a fairly broad sense because this particular set of blog posts can be applied by multiple disciplines, since I have a few creative avenues myself it makes no sense to over specify at this stage.
However, I did pin-point it to creative professionals (people working within creative industries, or wish to, with the skills required) and a mindset (looking to make their own, successful, projects). The mindset it key at this point because it focuses the direction of each post back to an ultimate goal – partially defined in my creative purpose.
As for my target – I’m a blog owner that’s had a semi-dead blog for the last year due to time constraints. I needed to come back out with a bang though traffic doesn’t grow overnight. 45 people seemed a fair goal, and by placing the deadline half way through next month each post should have time to gather a little momentum.
This week we’ve gone through the process of creating our own creative and business purposes in order to define our projects and give ourselves definite goals. In the next post we’ll be taking a closer look at finding these purposes in existing projects; both client defined and personal.
Right now though I’d like you to choose one of your projects (or things you do) and come up with both a creative purpose and a business one. Comment below and let me know how you got on.