Even though curling up with a good book and enjoying some R&R during the winter months is a tempting (and even productive!) way to recharge, there are some other key things that you can do now that will help prepare you for a great year. Here are four things you can start now (and work on through the winter) so that by the time the busy season rolls around, you will be ready for your best season yet!
Re-evaluate Your Product Offerings
Now is a great time to think about whether you want to adjust your pricing, package structure, or product offerings. Start by reviewing your previous year’s bookings and product sales. Did you book as many weddings as you were hoping to at your desired price point? Did your potential clients seem to want a la carte options or did you have better luck with package style pricing? Were there certain products that were specifically requested that you don’t offer? Or were there other products that you thought would be much more popular than they actually were? This information can be a big help when looking at ways you can optimize your sales process.
Think about your most profitable clients from last year. What services did they book and what products did they buy? Why didn’t more of your clients choose those same products and services? It’s possible that making minor changes to your product and service offerings will help guide your client through the sales process more effectively so that they land on these particular products and services you’re hoping to sell.
Audit Your Systems and Processes
There is always room for improving your business systems to increase your speed and efficiency. As technology and consumers change, even businesses that are running like well-oiled machines can use some system updates, especially when it comes to lead and client management, post-production, and product fulfillment.
To identify opportunities for improvement, take a look at your current systems and look for:
- Bottlenecks that can be removed to increase turnaround times
- Duplicate or redundant steps that when removed could make you more efficient
- Steps of your workflows that are complicated, that when simplified would improve the overall experience you’re able to offer your clients
After you pinpoint opportunities for improving your business systems, consider the ways an outside partner or software might help make you faster and more efficient in these areas. Since you’re less busy this season, NOW is the time to explore different options for bringing specialists into your business in the areas of studio management, image fulfillment, post production, or album design. This way you can evaluate different options and get the systems implemented before your busy season rolls around again.
Map out Your Vision this Year with Specific Goals
Whether last year was a great year or you didn’t hit all of your business goals, this year is an opportunity to start with a clean slate. Setting some specific goals, along with a big-picture vision of what you’re hoping to accomplish will help with getting you off on the right foot. Are you happy with your current business trajectory or would you like to shift to doing other types of photography? Are you hoping to make a big price jump or take on more or less weddings than you did last year? Once you’ve got a big picture vision for the year, here are some specific questions to think through:
What are your goals for this year?
- What do you want to profit (gross and net) in your business?
- How many shoots do you want to do? At what price point?
- What resources do you need to reach these goals?
- What are 3 changes you’ll make this year?
- Where do you want to be in your business at the end of the year?
Pursue Personal Projects
When your calendar is so packed with paid shoots, it’s tough to find times to shoot personal projects. But these projects are what will keep your creative juices flowing, and help you stay inspired so that you can do your best work for paying clients. Whether these personal projects are shooting out in nature, getting involved with photography for a charity, or doing a photo book for your family, these personal projects will help you bring your A game when it comes to your paid shoots. Plus, they’re fun!
It’s easy to get into a rut when you’re shooting so many weddings, but now is a great time to shoot things that you love, just for fun and not for a paycheck. One way to do this is to give yourself a new project or challenge each month to work on. This way you make sure to keep your creativity charged so it’s ready to go when shooting season rolls around again.
It’s also a great time to invest in improving your craft. Whether it’s practicing a new technique, taking a workshop or just getting in some more shooting time, the quieter months can provide this space to work on technical skills when you’re not under the pressure of constant shoots.
A final way for you to focus on nurturing your business is to utilize a wedding photography post processing company, such as ShootDotEdit, that takes care of your editing needs.
How are you preparing NOW for this year?
Photo by Flickr User jeffreymongrain