Business

Just Say ‘No’: Why Extreme Focus is Important

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Why do your clients hire you? To be a Lightroom master? A software guru? Probably not. Your clients hire you for your vision – and that vision enables you to create beautiful photos and provide a great client experience. So, that’s exactly what you should focus on if you want to stay in business.

Saying yes to prioritizing these two areas – shooting and client experience – means saying no to other areas. You have a finite amount of time; if you want to do a great job with your primary roles, you must find ways to minimize tasks that detract from the tasks that truly matter.

1. Why is extreme focus so important?

• Focusing on the right areas can make or break your business. You can’t do everything perfectly by yourself, and remain profitable.

• Focusing on key areas of your business (called core competencies) allows you to excel at the things you love. You won’t be burned out, so you will stay creatively energized and remain passionate about what you’re doing.

2. So, what should you focus on?

• Profit-generating activities: shooting, marketing, creating relationships.

• If you want to stay profitable (i.e., have a sustainable business), you must find ways to do more of the activities that increase your bottom line and minimize the things that aren’t making you money.

• Focus on the things you’re great at and that make you unique. Likely, this is shooting and giving your clients an experience that’s unique to you.

3. Minimize tasks that suck up your time and profitability.

Find the most cost-effective way to get help with non-revenue-generating tasks. These are tasks such as bookkeeping, studio management, post-production and general studio administration. Start by outsourcing your photography post processing services to ShootDotEdit and watch your images come back as fast as 48 hours! Seek services and trusted partners to help streamline your operations and keep you organized.

• Don’t wait to take steps to streamline. Wedding photographers experience swings in income between peak season and off-season. Swings in income aren’t just frustrating financially – they’re also pitfalls to scalability. Don’t fall into the trap of “waiting until you get busy” to take steps to streamline your operations. Waiting will leave you in a last-minute state of panic. So, seek solutions that streamline your production BEFORE you get busy! The behind-the-scenes work you do during “slow times” will benefit you when you get busy again. Get systems in place while you’ve got time to implement them.

• Document streamlined systems that allow you to maximize your efficiency. Yes, write them down in detail! Whether that’s in your post-production process (for example, having a trusted partner do the majority of the heavy lifting) or a systematic way of getting your financial info over to your bookkeeper, find systems that are user friendly for you and will be easy to use.

Learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you and your business when you download our free guide, How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow.

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Systems and Strategies for Catching Up on Blogging During the Busy Season

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Staring at a blinking cursor can feel like torture. You know you need to blog regularly, but churning out fresh content isn’t an easy undertaking for any small business owner. With everything else you’ve got on your plate, creating blog posts can fall through the task-list cracks, or simply seem too daunting to tackle efficiently.

But what’s so difficult about blogging, anyway? As a professional photographer, you’re faced with a conundrum: once you receive your images back from a wedding photo editing company like ShootDotEdit, you’ve got boatloads of content – beautiful images – generated from your shoots, but you can’t possibly process them all and get them published on a regular basis. It’s like sifting through sand to find a single shell that tells the story of an entire beach vacation!

And it gets exponentially harder to keep up with your blog during the busy wedding season. You’re creating content – all those stunning images – faster than you can cull, curate and post the “decisive moments” on your blog.

So, to keep you on track, here’s how to put systems in place to make blogging easier during busy season:

Know what you need for blog posts upfront.

What are the key pieces of information or images you include in every blog post? For example, maybe you always include a series of “first look” images, and a paragraph about the couple’s love story? Knowing what you need before you shoot a wedding will allow you to take time to ask clients about their story, or shoot images specifically for your blog.

Include processing images for your blog into your post-production workflow.

Know what you need to do to prepare images for your blog after they’re done being processed — and how that fits into your workflow for delivering images. That will give you the structure you need to keep the process streamlined. For example, things you might need to do to prep images for blogging include naming them for SEO, creating blog layouts, and adding watermarks. All of these tasks can be done using actions in Lightroom or Aperture.

Set deadlines. And stick to them!

The hardest part about creating a blog post is the actual writing –  unless you’re a professional writer! For those of us who aren’t writers, churning out text takes time and creative energy, two things that are hard to come by in a small business. To carve out that time and space, set deadlines for creating blog content. For example, decide you’ll post something every Tuesday morning. You’ll be surprised what your brain can do (and how fast it can do it) on a deadline!

Systems will help you stay on track, but since busy season is already in full swing, it’s possible that your blog is off track and backed up. If you’re already behind, here are some strategies for catching up:

Combine multiple shoots into one post.

There’s no rule saying every shoot needs its own blog post (unless of course, that’s what you’ve promised your clients). If you need to publish lots of content, but don’t have time to schedule them individually without flooding your blog feed, find creative ways to combine shoots into one post. For example, maybe multiple shoots had outdoor, picnic-style receptions; consider combining them using text about what it feels like to be at an outdoor wedding.

Create content in batches.

Dedicate time to creating text for your blog posts, inputting them into your blog platform (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.), scheduling them to publish over time, and scheduling corresponding social media updates. You’ll actually become faster by batch-creating content.

Consider enlisting the help of a specialist.

If blogging is something you can’t find time or talents for in your business, consider partnering with a specialist. Collaborating with a specialist to set clear goals for your blog – and then handing it over them to execute – lets you reap the benefits without so much struggle. You’ll still need to help, by gathering information and photos, but if you struggle with writing, then you’ll avoid the pain while still getting all the benefits.

Want to learn more about blogging for your photography business?

Here are some great resources:

To learn how ShootDotEdit can help you with your wedding photography business, download our free guide, How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow.

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How Small Businesses Can Think Like an Enterprise

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When was the last time you referred to your business as an enterprise? Probably never. After all, when we think of an enterprise, we think of household names like Apple and Google–worldwide corporations that are grossing billions and employing thousands.

But, your business is an enterprise if it’s a systematic, purposeful activity.

Consider these two tips for running a systematic, purposeful business:

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Purpose

The obvious goal of any for-profit business is to make money. But there’s also something powerful (and profitable) about a business that stands for something bigger than the product they’re selling.

Your company’s purpose, or mission, is powerful because it’s something that leads can buy into and clients can share with their networks that goes beyond your products and services.

A unique purpose also helps you stand out in a saturated market. While everyone else is focusing on details like their wedding coverage, you’re messaging the way your business aims to change the world (or at least a small portion of it).

Why are we so infatuated with Apple? Because the company consistently improves our lives by transforming technology. Not because it created the iPod.

The purpose for your photography business might not be to change the world. But it doesn’t need to be, in order to be effective in your business. It just needs to be something that both you and your client care about and can genuinely buy into. For example, you might stand for simplifying weddings and bringing focus back to the people. Or you might stand for documenting family history for future generations.

Whatever it is, your purpose is a way to stand out in a crowd, connect with leads over a common ideal, and give client evangelists something to talk about. All of these benefits will eventually lead to the growth and sustainability of your photography business.

Invest in Systems to Make Ideas Happen

Identifying what you stand for as a business is a big step, but following through on that pledge in all areas of your business is a whole other challenge. It takes a lot of time and creative space to take such a big ideal and integrate it into even the smallest of details in your business.

The best way to do it is to establish systems throughout your tasks and activities. When you invest the time upfront to develop systems that stay true to your purpose, those systems will provide the consistency you need to gain momentum from that message.

What are systems? Systems are set methods for getting things done in your business. Think of the way you communicate with leads, edit images, and design physical products. Is there a method to the madness? Or, is there just madness? Establishing systems for these tasks means creating a list of steps for how you’ll execute this task every time. Partnering with a photo editing company to work on your images will begin to ensure consistency and increase efficiency throughout your business.

Here are some areas of your business that need systems and some ways you can use those systems to remain consistent in your purpose (using the same examples as above):

  • Lead management Keep your pitches simple, just like the weddings you want to simplify.
  • Client correspondence Include messaging throughout client correspondence that reinforces the importance of sharing memories. Creating template emails using an app like TextExpander will ensure consistency.
  • Post-production – When you partner with ShootDotEdit, you can lean on us for expertise and efficiency. We’re here to help you improve your post-shoot workflow – to ensure that it’s consistent with the overall purpose of your enterprise. After all, your client bought into (and is excited about) your commitment to fast turnaround times!

The underlying systems that create consistency and efficiency in your business are what set you apart from your competitors. In fact, systems set the stage for businesses to grow steadily – and steady, sustainable growth is the hallmark of a successful enterprise. Download our How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow Guide to find out what else we can do for you and your business!

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How to Integrate ShootDotEdit into Your Workflow

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You know the familiar feeling. You’ve just finished shooting an amazing wedding. After celebrating over late-night dinner with your second shooter, you start backing up cards and scrolling through images. And that’s when excitement and anxiety start dancing the tango in your tummy!

Even though you’re on a post-shoot high, you’re starting to think, “ugh, this is going to be a long edit!” The images look great – but there are A LOT of them!

All professional photographers face this situation. But handing over your images to a specialist can still feel daunting. That’s exactly why we created this simple guide for integrating ShootDotEdit into your wedding workflow. Think of it as an anti-anxiety remedy for Monday mornings after weddings.

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Learn the insider tips to getting the results you want from a partnership with ShootDotEdit, including how to:
– Receive consistently awesome images using the 90/10 model
– Use DotPreview to guarantee our editing matches your style
– Utilize the Color Wizard to set up custom color profiles for your images
– Maximize your experience with Lightroom workflows
– Make more money from every wedding with Extra

 

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