All too often I hear other photographers (and ahem, me too) pushing so hard during the final months of the year that we are literally exhausted. We end up using the off season for far too much rest and not enough preparation. This lack of preparedness can lead photographers to burn out & giving up all together.
Today, I am sharing the 7 things I do that prepares my business for success, growth and efficiency during the peak season. Following these steps helps me balance career and family, establish boundaries for my "work-a-holic" self and offer my clients a level of service that is unparalleled! I firmly believe implementing some (or all) of these will excel your business to the next level too!
This actually is important, as long as we don't stay in this stage for too long. Being a photographer often means putting forth all of your efforts and energies into making people's weddings exceptional, and family sessions enjoyable! I use the first few weeks of the off-season to just be. Be still in my faith. Be present with my family. Be available for my friends. Just plain and simply be who I am outside of my business. I use this time to look into ways to recharge, rejuvenate and be re-inspired (ie...what workshops I would love to attend, maybe a weekend away, and locations I want to go in order to be re-energized for the 2018 season). Rest does not come easy for me, but I have learned I need it!
After a period of rest, and reflection it is time to put in some work! Take some time and think about the past season; most especially evaluating what things worked, and what didn't. This isn't always easy--it takes time and honest reflection. Do not get stuck in a rut of thinking you have just "failed forward" the whole year, or on the flip side, into the trap of thinking you accomplished everything with perfection. There are always areas we deserve a proverbial "pat on the back" for and some we can improve upon. So, which areas did you kill it? What are some things you wanted to implement, but didn't? What changes can be made to make you more efficient, effective and most of all how to enjoy your work more? Answers to these questions will help guide you in your 2018 planning. Set some big goals and then write down a step by step plan on how you are going to accomplish them!
"HIRE A GUN"
Remember those answers from above, ya, this is where they come into play. So if there are areas of your business you don't enjoy doing, then "hire a gun"! Outsource! Whether it be accounting, editing, blogging or album design, get someone to help in the areas that wear you down--freeing up your time and your stress level to make you MORE productive in the long run and avoid burn out. Worried about the cost? That's totally normal--but think about what could you be doing with the time you saved to further your business...maybe networking more or taking on more shoots? The world is your oyster my dear, and time is the most valuable gift we have.
WEBSITE & GALLERY UPDATING
Take some time and curate your best work form the previous season. Use images of the work you want to create more of in your online galleries, blogs and website updating. Only showcase work that you ENJOY and remove any images you no longer want to create. As an artist, you are entitle to evolve, and what better time than the new year to give your website a fresh clean make over.
The most under-utilized and easily overlooked tool in marketing. Other Vendors! Send your favorite venues, DJ's, makeup artists, florists, and coordinators links to your galleries. I am always happy to share image with other vendors--without them, our jobs wouldn't be nearly as beautiful and fun! So, SHARE, SHARE, SHARE! Give them content to update their websites and in exchange you receive more exposure by having them credit your images online and in social media posts.
SIX MONTHS OF CONTENT
Plan. Once the busy season hits, it is not always easy to think of new blog posts let alone to find the time to write them. Take some polls (Instagram Stories works great for this) to see what it is that your audience wants to learn about, and then plan at least 6 months worth of blog topics by scribbling out a simple summary of what you want to cover. For Instagram, you can download an app (I use Planoly) that allows you to schedule posts AND you get to see how they will look aesthetically on your grid. This way you will be ahead of the game and ready with inspiration and content to increase your online presence and offer valuable information to your clients.
GEAR TUNE UP & BACK UP
This! If you are not already signed up with Nikon or Canon Professional Services, get on it! I send in ALL of my gear for tune ups, cleaning and recalibration to ensure my equipment is in tip top shape for next year! Get on it---this is SOOOOOO important! Also, it is time to clean up your hard drives. Put all of your work into organized folders on your computer, back them up to external hard drives, and lock them in a safe deposit box. Go out and buy a few external hard drives for the 2018 and then you'll be all set and organzied!