New Year’s Day, is the MOST infamous, guilt-inducing days of the year. I am not talking about hangovers, one night stands, and delicious champagne-fueled scandals. NO.
It’s the day we proclaim we will make drastic and positive changes to our lives, only to find we abandon them by … well, Groundhog Day. (Another interesting phenom in itself! … What day is it today??).
What is this strange thing about New Year’s Resolutions?
For many of us, it’s because our resolutions are not real.
They are “wishes” rather than “plans”. There’s a difference. Wishes are imaginative, cerebral, and in essence, a a process of massive “longing”. The beauty of longing (and boy, WE “shoot” that word everyday) is in the “anticipation” for things to happen.
Plans on the other hand, are REAL. They are aggressively attainable, totally tangible, adaptive. They are in writing. (And, as your lawyer will agree, nothing is actually real until it’s in writing).
By simply imagining awesomeness, you will be left unfulfilled and overdue. But, if you make a binding, consequential pact with yourself, you’ll find yourself doing something incredibly REAL this year.
You will soar.
I am not going to preach here. I am just as guilty of unfulfilled resolutions from 2014 as everyone else.
Hot Yoga! 15 pound
s melted away! New awesome studio space! (NOT.)
Why? There was not a solid enough blueprint.
Everyone’s strategic plan will look a little different. But, if you have trouble even getting out of the gate, here are some pre-emptive questions (and action plans) to help you create down your best plan yet.
Use the answers to each of these questions to create the main headlines of your strategic plan. Keep in mind, you’ll need dollar figures next to these bullets too, to help you build a 2015 planning budget.
Boudoir Photographers Resolutions
1. Things I am passionate about in my photography but not doing enough of
- Ex. = Stylized shoots, creative edits, commercial photography
2. The biggest area that I fell short vs goal in 2014. Now write down the reverse of it
- Ex. = I did not achieve 100 appointments in 2014. Will change to: “I WILL ACHIEVE 100 appointments in 2015”
3. Specific administrative things I will improve about my business
- Ex. = I will improve follow up on qualified leads and inquries. I achieve this by doing _____.
4. Two things I am willing to outsource this year
OK control freaks, it’s time to make like Frozen and “Let it Go” a little. Keep in mind, she had magical powers.
5. The specific revenue figure I will meet this year
Be aggressive, optimistic, but also realistic. Plan to hold regular financial check-ins.
6. The ideal client I will target this year will be …
This is an opportunity to get specific. If you need some help on this one, click here.
7. Two key things that will drastically improve my current boudoir photography
This could range from the technical, the educational, or the interpersonal.
8. One key educational investment I will take on in 2015
Name a specific one and what it will cost you in time/money/travel. Weigh all options. Not all workshops, seminars, videos, or mentorships are worth your time and money. Research them heavily, talk to people who have both good and bad experiences with anything, so you can make a great investment decision.
9. One fear or “scary” thing I will take on in 2015
Name a fear to conquer as a goal. Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the fastest ways to grow. Identify that thing that petrifies you to death and map out how you will conquer it … be it emotional, financial, or practical.
10. One person I will reach out to in 2015 to improve my business
They say “It takes a village *(to raise a child). If your photography business is your Baby, find a good “wet nurse” to help you gain new perspective or skills. Keep in mind most people don’t have time to take on “FREE” mentees, so it may require investment or barter on your part. And don’t be greedy about what you’re asking. .. otherwise known as an “ASKhole”. (A whole other fun post to come!)
11. Two charitable things I will do this year
Bad Karma is a massive bitch. But her cousin, “Good Karma”… ahhh she is gorgeous, giving and infinite. Whether you are offering time, money or talent, make your charitable offerings a goal. The universe really does give back to you the positivity you put out there. Good Karma works only when you do good for the sake of paying it forward, not simply for personal gain. Because, in some way, they are going to benefit your life and your business later on, when you least expect it.
12. One marketing experiment/idea I will innovate this year
Think it. Name it. Do it.
To be brutally honest, one thing that bothers me about our industry is that there are a few key shepherds and many, many sheep that follow them. What your photography idols have done or created is no less magnificent than what you could think up or innovate yourself. They are just bolder and more outspoken about their ideas. Put your wildest, most creative ideas that have never been done before down on paper. Then, DO IT. Experiment and tweak. You may not become one of the industry’s annointed stars, but you will be a star in your own sky… which is … STELLAR. Rather being one among the photographer flock, instead clients and opportunities will flock to you.
13. One or two large purchases I need to make this year
Name the things that will make the most dramatic impact to your business and determine what they’ll cost. For some, this will be mega investments like a studio, staff or new camera body. For others who are in the early stages, it could be as simple as a new software program.
14. Three mid-small things I will invest in this year
What are the things that may not be profound, but they are definitely gravy to your business’s success. It could be new software, a PS Action set, a new wardrobe item(s). Things that will improve your creativity and workflow, but won’t break the bank. Set a figure.
15. Two vendors/products I plan to add to my business model this year
Do the research, name names, and budget accordingly. If WPPI, PPA and Expo tell you anything, it’s that our industry is constantly trying to innovate itself. Are you doing yourself and your clients a disservice by sticking with the tried and true? In 2014, I opened my eyes to new vendors and products. I began carrying new Queensberry albums and switched my Studio management to 17Hats. While it was scary to make a switch at all, the rewards have exceeded any inconveniences.
(Disclosure: I am not financially compensated by either of these companies in any way to endorse them).
16. Three things I will do to improve my client experience
What kids of awesomeness can you infuse? This is where you have a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself. Be imaginative, study your market. Changes in this area can also drastically improve your bottom by strengthening your referral system (thereby less investments in marketing!). BOOM.
17. One thing I will do with my editing skills this year
Do you have a signature style? Don’t go “get one”. NO, YOU have to “create” it. A signature style cannot be bought, copied or emulated or else you are a fraud. Being different and unique means being successful, in every sense of the word.
18. One thing I will improve with my lighting this year
Find a shortfall in your lighting skills and determine what you need to do and put a cost behind it (strobe maybe? diffusers? Ice Light? A Seminar?).
19. Two things I will commit to, to take better care of myself this year
Let’s face it. We are all guilty of working harder than we play. This takes its toll on many of us, mentally and physically. Make your well being part of your business plan. Find the time and money, figure it out.
20. One aesthetic thing I will do to improve my brand or marketing
You might be pretty, but in need of some marketing Botox. Figure out where you need to tighten up and do it, or enlist help of someone who can. Your aesthetic and text needs to be very tied into your strategy.
21. One thing I will do to outshine the competitive alternatives to my studio this year
I hate the word “competitor”. After all, we are artists. BUT … If a client has a choice between you and others in your market, how do you influence that choice? See tips #6, #11, #12 #15, #16 #20… if you need subtle hints.
22. This year my pricing will … (be specific)
Want to increase your pricing? Determine why. Just because others are does not justify yourself. What impact will pricing changes have on you? Sometimes increases are great, and sometimes, you need to do more work to justify pricing… Do some soul searching here about what you need to earn, both practically and emotionally.
Trust me when I say that strategic planning isn’t easy for anyone. Even inside world’s largest companies, there are entire teams in place trying to attack relatively similar challenges (on a way grander scale). But, New Year’s Day is a great time to stop the dreaming and start the doing.