Kent Sanders | Unlock Your Creative Potential

Unlock Your Creative Potential

4 Keys to Choosing the Right Creative Projects. I Completely Blew #4.

Being a blacksmith in medieval times was tricky business.

Each day a blacksmith would face the critical decision of how many irons to keep in the fire. Too few, and he wouldn’t stay busy enough. Too many, and he wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Do you ever feel like you have too many irons in the fire?


As an artist, you naturally have lots of creative ideas. This can be a blessing because it expands your possibilities. But it can also be a curse if you don’t invest your time and energy into the right ones.

We all know the importance of prioritizing your projects and focusing on the ones that make the biggest difference. But how do you decide? Here are four criteria that can help:

1. Choose projects that will help people.

You might have a great ideas for a book, website, course, podcast, or some other type of content. But if it doesn’t meet a practical need or provide some kind of value for your audience, it won’t get very far.

This is especially important if you’re trying to build an income through your creative work. Make sure your creative work brings value to people, whether it’s bringing joy and pleasure, or addressing a pain or problem of some kind.

2. Choose projects your audience is asking for.

Do you have a blog, an email list, or followers on social media? Then you have an audience. You may have already gotten feedback from people about something they would like you to do. If so, that’s a great clue to your future direction.

If not, put together a survey and ask a few questions about their interests, frustrations, and what type of products they would like to see. You might be surprised at the results.

Even if you don’t have an audience, you have a potential audience. Think about the type of person you’re trying to reach with your art. Start with a few people who fit that profile and ask them what their biggest problems are in the area of your creative work. You will likely get some great feedback.

If you’re working on a project that doesn’t meet all of these criteria, think about whether you should continue to invest time, money, and energy into it. Even if you enjoy it, it may not be helping you achieve your goals in this season of your journey.

3. Choose projects that will help you achieve your goals.

This is a good time to revisit your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? If you’re trying to build an audience and start a business, only focus on the things that will move you closer to the goal.

The nature of creative people is that they constantly have new ideas, and get easily bored with old ones. Don’t get distracted by “squirrels” that aren’t going to help you achieve your goals.

If you are struggling to get clarity on your goals and life purpose, check out a post I wrote to deal with this very issue:

10 Questions to Help You Discover Your Life Purpose

4. Choose projects you’re passionate about.

One time I invested a sizable amount of money into a side business I thought would give me a great return. I had friends who were making the equivalent of a full-time income within a year after joining the company.

But a few weeks after signing up, I realized I had made a huge mistake and the business was probably going to be a huge failure.

The reason? I wasn’t passionate about the company. I loved the products, but I didn’t want to be a salesman. I had only joined because I thought it would be a good way to quickly make a side income. I underestimated the time and skills it would require, and didn’t consider whether it meshed with my interests and personality. (Dumb mistake, I know. Lesson learned.)

Don’t pursue a creative project just because you think it will help you make money or give you a shortcut to success. It will only be a dead end. Spend your time on the projects that are closest to your heart.

Last year I wrote five guides that will help give you direction in your creative life, including How to Make Time for Your Art: 21 Ways to Be Productive & Make Every Day Count. Click the link below to get your free guides:

Sign me up! I want the 5 free guides for artists

What projects are you working on now, and how did you decide to focus on those (as opposed to something else)?

About Kent Sanders

I help people unlock their God-given creative potential. I live with my wife and son in St. Peters, MO. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube.

  • Fantastic points here, I’m still trying to get better at #2 I need to be more intentional about finding/listening to my audience and writing content they are asking for. Just recently I’m getting more specific about the audience I’m writing for (those who are young or in a new leadership position).

    ps. I was at Joe’s blog and saw you comment. I clicked the link on your profile thinking it would take me to your new site however, it took me to your old site/URL you should change your link information in your Disqus profile.

  • Dan, thanks for the reminder about Disqus. It never occurred to me to change my website info there. I appreciate you letting me know about it!

    My biggest struggle last year, by far, was getting involved in a couple of things that were helpful and enjoyable to a degree, but not really helping me advance my goals. I was just afraid to say “no” for a while. But when I did, it was a huge help and freed up some time and energy for other things.

    • Your welcome, you need to change 🙂 That’s great! “No” are powerful words. It allows us to say yes to what we really should be doing.