It’s happening. The temperatures are warming up, the days are getting longer, the clocks have changed, and spring is upon us. For shooters in the Northern hemisphere, that means our season is about to begin. Soon every day will be filled with shoots, meetings, and processing. Now is the time to get yourself prepared.
An organized business is a happy business, and an organized shooter is a happy shooter.So how should you prepare? Well, here is a list of projects to tackle to ensure your upcoming season is fun and succesful!
1. Clean and Check All Gear
Your business relies on your gear, so take care of it. Use this downtime to carefully check everything. Is the focus accurate? Do all the functions work? Are there any scratches on your lenses?
Check all your batteries to see if they are still holding their charge. Check to see if all your memory cards are still working well.
And then clean everything. Clean it well. If you want, take everything in to your local Canon/Nikon service and have them give everything a check up.
Take an updated inventory of everything, both for your own and your insurance purposes.
Do you need more memory cards? Batteries? To replace a lens? Now is the time to sort that out.
2. Sell Off Unused Gear
Once you’ve taken your inventory you can decide what gear you didn’t use the previous season, and sell it.
See, if the gear isn’t making you money, it’s simply holding money. Don’t get attached. Don’t think “Oh well I might need it”. If you really need it, you’ll rent, borrow, or buy again.
But, if you didn’t profit from that piece of gear in the previous season, and don’t have a booked job that requires it, think about selling it. Keep your kit lean.
You can sell the gear on Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay, Fredmiranda.com, photography-on-the.net, Facebook, or organize a Gear Sale/Swap with your local photo friends.
3. Clean Your Office
Having a clean and organized office is important for productivity and a happy state of mind. Trust me. As someone who is notoriously messy, every time I clean up my desk I feel oodles better about getting down to work.
So first, clean everything. Spick and span.
Then organize. Get rid of clutter. File loose papers. Take a look at how you arrange all your important tools, and see if anything can be improved upon.
Take inventory of your office supplies. Is there anything that needs to be restocked? Do it now.
4. Clean Your Computers
Over the course of a year your computer can become a disaster zone. Take this chance to clean it up so it’s running at peak performance for the season ahead.
Organize all your files, and get rid of anything you don’t need. Make sure all your important stuff has been properly backed up.
Archive any drives that you no longer use. Install new harddrives if you need the space for the new year. You really don’t want to be switching drives right in the middle of a season. Ideally you’ll want an entire season on one drive for organizational purposes.
Then, reformat your computer. Start with a fresh install, and get rid of the programs you don’t use. You’ll have the best performance, and the best peace of mind.
5. Review Your Workflow
Hindsight is 20/20, so take this opportunity to review your workflow from the previous season. Did anything work really well? Did anything cause problems? Be honest. You don’t need to feel bad about issues, you simply need to identify them so you can improve this year.
How was your client workflow? Did every client go through it properly? Did every step show them how much you appreciate their business? Were there any issues that popped up? Miscommunications? How you can avoid that this season?
How was your processing workflow? Did you get through your work quickly? Efficiently? With great final results? Did you find yourself struggling to keep up? Did your system break down during the busy times? How you can speed things up, while making sure you produce great quality?
Now is the perfect time to brush up on your skills. What do you want to improve on this year? Go learn about it.
You don’t want to be trying to learn a new system, a new program, or a new technique in the middle of your busy season. Take advantage of the calm before the storm to brush up, and get the knowledge you need to rock it.
7. Tie Up Loose Ends
You might have some loose ends from the previous season; outstanding orders that still need to be confirmed, albums that still need to have edits completed, or print credits that are still unused.
Try to get all of these dealt with, and off your mind. You’ll feel better going forward with a clean slate!
8. Update Your Portfolio
The work you created last year is likely the best you’ve ever done. We are all learning and improving with every shoot! So take this time to update your portfolio with your top images, and show the world the awesome work you’re doing!
Your recent work is also more consistent with what your new clients will receive, so making sure your portfolio is current will better communicate what you will create for them.
9. Update Your Samples
You can’t sell what you don’t show. It’s practically a law of photography sales. So now is the time to update your samples!
You might want to offer new products this year, or have an amazing session that will help you sell something.
Or maybe you just need to add a bigger size (bigger sells bigger!). Whatever it is, now is the time to update your samples and make sure you can show everything you want to sell!
10. Update Your Pricing and Products
How were your sales last year? Did certain products do really well? Did others just not move?
How were your profits? Did you make a lot on a certain item with relatively low effort? Or did you have to bust your butt to make your margin?
Were your clients asking for something that you didn’t offer? Or did you find something really nifty that you think they’ll love?
Now is the time to ask yourself all these questions, and make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to change your prices, at the very least you’ll learn something from the results.
If you never change anything, you’ll never know what more you could have accomplished.
11. Refresh Your Branding
If you’re like me, you learn more about your personal style every year. You come closer and closer to understanding the “why” of your work.
And the more you know about your style, the more you can adjust your branding to reflect that.
Take the time now to refresh your branding. Maybe choose a new colour, a different logo, or just an updated typeface. It doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul, but you might find an update gives you a
When you’re starting out, your branding will be an evolution. Keep some consistency, especially if you have an established name, but don’t be afraid to make small tweaks to make it more you.
12. Order New Marketing & Packaging Materials
With your new branding you’ll want to update your marketing and packaging materials: business cards, letterhead, pamphlets, envelopes, stickers, tissue paper, ribbons, etc.
This is where slight changes to branding are good, so you don’t have to buy everything new. That can get really pricey.
It can be a good idea, especially when you’re starting, to buy your marketing materials in small quantities. I can’t tell you how many old stickers and pamphlets we have that we’ll never be able to use again because we changed our branding. A big waste of money and materials.
If you aren’t updating your branding, you’ll at least need to check your stock of these materials, and order whatever you’re running low on. Don’t go dry on business cards half way through the season. You don’t want to deal with that headache when you’re busiest!
13. Map Out Promotions For the Year
If you have sales and promotions, map them out. Will you have a Mother’s Day sale? Maybe a contest mid-way through your season to keep momentum up?
Take this opportunity to plan these out so you don’t get caught off guard, and are scrambling to come up with something.
14. Schedule Vacations
Before you start booking up every last moment, schedule a couple vacations for yourself. Even if they are simple stay-cations, or just a weekend off of work, plan them now.
You’ll be able to get ready for them in advance, and ensure that you don’t book yourself solid without any time to recharge.
To get through an entire busy season you’ll need time to catch your breath, and prepare yourself to finish strong.
15. Choose A Personal Project
Shooting for yourself is critical. Not just important, but critical.
However, when things get busy it’s easy to forget to make time for your own work. Pick a personal project that you want to accomplish this year, and schedule time dedicated to it.
It will refresh you, your work, and show your clients that you are truly passionate about photography.
16. Connect With Your Audience
Once you have everything in place, it’s time to connect with your audience. Let your past clients know what you have in store for them this year, and why you’re excited about the new season!
The best way to do this is with a newsletter list that you add past clients and fans to. MailChimp is a fantastic free option, if you don’t have something together already!
Keep yourself at the forefront of your customer’s minds, and show them that you are on top of things, and ready to rock your season!
Is there anything you do to prepare yourself for the new season? Share it in the comments!