How to Plan to Grow Your Photography Business in the New Year

How to Plan to Grow Your Photography Business in the New Year

How to Plan to Grow Your Photography Business in the New YearThe holiday season is flying by and before you know it, that big ball will be dropping in Times Square and we will find ourselves face-to-face with a brand new year. Will you be making plans for what type of year you would like to create in 2016, or will you simply cross your fingers and hope for the best?

At Hobby to Pro Photo, we believe in the old saying “failing to plan is planning to fail.” So, here are some tips to help you get a positive kickstart to growing your business in 2016.

New Year’s Resolutions

One of the most popular resolutions every year is always getting in shape or losing a few pounds. Soon, we will be bombarded by ads for fitness centers, weight loss pills and diet plans, all promising to make us healthy.  Most people will use that new gym membership or have a salad instead of a sandwich for a few weeks or so, but before you know it they’re back to their old habits.

This unfortunately goes for not only weight loss, but all resolutions, including those we make for business. Why do most people fail to stick with their goals?

30 Days to a new habit

Anthony Robbins used to say that it takes repetition of a new activity to ingrain it into us as a habit. He stated that it actually took about 30 days of continuously doing something to make it a part of our daily routine.

Others have said 21 days and some as much as 66 days, but the main point is that it takes time and repetition to incorporate a new goal or habit into our busy daily routines.

Failing to Plan…

Could it be that those who set resolutions are simply failing to plan for how they are actually going to reach those goals? It takes more than good intentions to accomplish anything in life. Of course, want all want to be fit, look better and feel healthy, yet we don’t always do what it takes to make that a reality.

I know I’ve been saying I’m going to start working out again for the last couple months, but I always find a good excuse of why I can’t, like I have to work late.

Are you making excuses about starting your business or taking your business to the next level? Do you have a plan or list of goals that you are going to accomplish this year?

If not, get out a pad and pencil; it’s time to put some real plans into writing! Believe it or not, putting your goals down in writing is a very simple but effective step to help make them concrete and achievable.

A Fresh Start

Let’s use the New Year as the perfect excuse to plan what we want to accomplish in 2016 rather than just hoping for the best.

Here is my process: In a notebook, I write down an overall series of goals for my business and my personal life. This is a brainstorm of “big picture” goals – I don’t worry about how or when I will achieve them yet.

Once I feel that I have everything down that I hope to achieve, I will rank them in order of importance. I determine the importance by asking myself, what goals will make the biggest positive impact on my business and life?

After that, I will look at each goal and begin to formulate the how. Working backwards, I will list actionable steps that if followed, will make this goal a reality.

Here’s an example: Let’s take the goal “Bring in 15 new clients for the first quarter of 2016.”

I could leave the goal at this, but just hoping for 15 new clients isn’t going to make them appear at my doorstep. So, what do I need to do to make this a reality?

Working backwards, here’s the steps I envision that I can then write into my calendar as “to-do’s:”

  • RESULT: Bring in 15/30 calls as new clients
  • Set up phone calls with 30/45 who emailed (Note: knowing the percentage of potential clients that convert into actual clients is important to know. This means that if I can secure 30 calls, I can turn half into bookings)
  • Run promotions to get 45/1000 potential clients to send email inquiries
  • Schedule promotions to get in front of 1,000 potential clients
  • Brainstorm promotion ideas: direct mail postcards, mini sessions promoted with Facebook Ads

As you can see, I can now flip this list to get a logical order of steps to take to make my vision a reality!

At this point, I will assign a completion date for each step of each goal. This helps me to get started and to follow through on each step- otherwise it is too easy to push off starting on a goal- especially the more difficult or less fun ones. I can then plot these action items directly into my calendar so that they are written in stone.

Note: Not every goal will come to fruition. Some may not work out for one reason or another or once started you may realize you need to head in a different direction- that’s fine. Without having the goal stated in writing, it will simply be forgotten and not even tested in the first place. The good ideas will rise to the top, and if you achieve the majority of those you will be way ahead of the majority of people that do not plan at all.

Here’s a jumpstart…

When I was first trying to get my business started, my goal list would look something like this:

  • Have X number of clients per month by ___.
  • Achieve $X in sales by ______
  • Partner with the following businesses by ________.
  • Get my portraits displayed in the following venues ______.
  • Plan the years’ promotions by January 31

Once I was more established I would have items on my list that would build on past successes:

  • Increase clients per month from _______ to __________.
  • Increase sales 20% this year
  • Test out and add two products to my client offerings
  • Increase High School senior clients by 10%
  • Book two new daycares by June 1st

Feel free to use any of these ideas that apply to your current status or just use them to brainstorm where you would like to take your business to by the end of 2016. Don’t forget to then flesh out these goals into action steps, as we did in the example above.

Making Use of  the Quiet Months

Most portrait photographers would agree that the months of January and February tend to be pretty quiet. Truth be told, after the usual hectic pace of the Christmas portrait season, it is a bit of a welcome reprieve to allow some down time to recharge the batteries.

This quieter time of the year is also the perfect time to plan your promotions for the rest of the  year. I have found in the past when I don’t plan ideas ahead for promotions when I have this downtime, that when I’m in the heat of the busy season I end up skipping a promotion only to find that I missed out on many possible clients by not having something in que to advertise to them.

Make a Yearly Marketing Calendar

Get yourself a yearly calendar for 2016 and breakdown each month by the monthly holidays. Holidays don’t have to be just the big ones like Christmas and Independence day; it can be Presidents Day or Ground Hog Day. Just like the car dealers always do, holidays are just an excuse to offer your clients or potential clients a reason to visit you.

Sometimes I’ll offer a special that is themed based (ex. Easter Eggs and Basket props for Easter photos,) and other times I will offer a regular studio or outdoor session, but with a discounted session fee or bonus gift tied to the “holiday” theme.

Keep your eyes open for other businesses offering inventive holiday specials that you can modify and adapt to your studio.

In the upcoming month, we will be offering a turnkey holiday-based promotion kit for each quarter of the year with everything you need to quickly roll out a successful offering to your clients.

Keep your eyes peeled – we’ll also be offering a brand new free webinar to help you get started!

Your Homework

Go through the exercise outlined about to list out your top priority goals for the year, and then break them down into action steps to plot into your calendar. Let us know in the comments what your biggest goals are!