This last year has been quite a journey of discovery for me in my photography business. After being ready to give everything up a couple of years ago because I couldn’t see where it was all going I discovered several things that have changed my life.
- You don’t need to know where it is all going
I’m a planner, I can’t help it, I’m always looking at elements of my life in terms of anywhere from 6 months to 10 years ahead. Every time I make a decision it’s with a clear path in my mind which helps enormously BUT I also have to be open to change. Setting goals for your life and business is essential but a willingness to accept that the course or even the goal might change is just as important and most vital of all is that you are moving towards your goals. If you’ve got millions of ideas running round in your head, listen to them, write them down, give them some space to grow into something. Then work out which you can do now, plan them out and you’ll be on the right path in no time. Also, you don’t need to offer every kind of session and every kind of product, choose your core group and leave the rest until later.
2. Stop procrastinating
This is a big one for soooo many photographers that I talk to. I’ll let you in on a secret, there’s no secret to success. It will only come with hard work and moving forward everyday. Even if you only have an hour to yourself, make that hour count. If you can spend only five hours a week on the business side of your business, you need to hit the ground running in the first 30 seconds of that hour. In that week you could: write a blog post, schedule the next week of social media posts, tidy up your website portfolio, nail your pricing and map out your marketing plan. How amazing would that feel? Oh and turn off those pesky notifications, better still turn off your phone and put a sign on the door so you can focus.
3. You don’t need to do all the things
Overwhelm is a motivation killer. In any small business there are SO many hats you need to wear and most of the time it can feel impossible to know which one is the most important. One thing is for certain though, you can’t wear them ALL at the same time. Let’s break it down; there’s taking photos, editing photos, client liaison, business workflow, documentation (contracts, forms, price lists, guides), accounts, marketing (social media, emails, advertising, collaboration, networking, blog posts), creating and ordering printed products, packaging and posting orders…and that’s without seasonal events and promotions, model calls and bringing new ideas to life. I don’t mean to make you feel overwhelmed just reading this, I want you to know that you are not failing if you aren’t on top of everything. So don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do all the things right now. Your world will not implode if you don’t post on Instagram for two days. Start small and plan ahead for the next season.
If your overwhelm is caused by needing to earn money but not knowing the fastest way to get there, try a day of mini sessions. Have the confidence to give them styling advice and bingo! You’ve earned some money, gained a ton of experience and images for your portfolio which you can use to advertise your full sessions.
4. Know what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for.
If you spend enough time on the internet you’ll hear every piece of advice from ‘niche it down, specialise!’ to ‘diversify, do everything!’. Confusingly, both are true in a photography business. Working out what you do, who your clients are and how you can best serve them. How can you give them the very best experience and an exceptional product? Where does you own heart lie? Knowing these things are the very foundation of your business, it forms your branding, your voice, your pricing and you entire business model.
5. Do less, achieve more
Now I’ve always been bit sceptical of this attitude, that was until I tried putting it into practice. I used to spend 10+ hours a day in front of the computer doing ‘all the things’ (see above) and if I’m truly honest, quite a lot of procrastinating (also above). Over the last year I have learned to be a bit kinder to myself by increasing my goals but lowering my expectations. That might seem counter productive but by clearly setting out my goals I spent less time procrastinating about what to do so could expect a little less from myself on a daily basis. I started by tweaking my daily routine to include a few new things at the beginning the day, taking time for a better breakfast or to enjoy a coffee rather than slurp it on the go. Moving away from my desk for half an hour for lunch, sit in the sunshine, go for a walk, I’m still thinking about work but being detached from the computer for that time allows me to go back to it fresh and motivated to get things done.
Starting the day feeling in control and ending the day having accomplished the things I set for myself with enough time and energy left over to enjoy my family feels like the best kind of success.
Hal Elrod in his book ‘The Morning Miracle’ shares how he turned his life around by using an hour a day to get back in the driving seat of life, definitely worth a read.
Prioritise, set your goals and take action, step by step. Here’s some things you can do today.
- List all goals each you’d like achieve in your photography business, in the next week, month, six months, year and how long each one will take.
- Look at your diary and work out where you can have scheduled ‘focus’ time. Allocate a time and date to each goal.
- Turn off those notifications!
- Write out in simple sentences, who you want to photograph, where/how/what style (what makes your heart sing?), what you want to offer them (what makes their heart sing?)
- List a few little luxuries that would make you feel a indulgent, then go do them and not just once, I know you 😉
Let me know how you get on in the comments below, or add a helpful tip! If you’re ready to kick start your photography business have you thought about booking a mentoring day with me? Find out more here.