Since February the SCU Diner has served up thirty-nine new blue-plate specials. The project started because there are too many of you who ignore the operational side of your business. You need a quick reminder now and then about operational components outside your gear. It's not because you don't care, but that you're artists, and more focused on capturing and creating the ultimate image than worrying about the business.
So, we started a series of relatively short tips to help you build a better biz, reach more clients and build lasting relationships rather than just purchases.
I've written about playing offense many times in the past, and since this is an active month for wrapping up the football season, it's a great way to look at the new year. Playing offense is always easier than fighting to build your livelihood as a photographer on defense. Even in business, we'd all rather carry the ball than chase it!
Today's special is a list of seven key things to think about in the year ahead. And, while you're hopefully buried in holiday orders right now, there's no excuse not to be ready to kick the year off right in January.
Building a Stronger Business
1) Marketing: Many of you already have ideas for 2019, but you haven't turned those mind's eye visions into reality. You should plan at least one consumer promotion a quarter. Start to think about things you could be doing to create some excitement for your business in the form of consumer/client-based promotions.
2) Conferences: What programs or workshops are you going to attend next year? Not every conference requires you to hit the road for a week of hotels, air travel, etc. Should you be at one of the big convention/trade shows? The year kicks off with IUSA in Atlanta, WPPI in Vegas, ShutterFest in St. Louis, Photoshop World in Orlando and Las Vegas, ClickCon in Chicago and PPE in NYC in the Fall. These are all big conferences - but don't forget a lot going on closer to home you should know about. Check on the dates for your own state or regional conference.
3) Credit Line: Establish a credit line with a leasing company - even if you're not buying anything right now! Here's where you can utilize somebody else's assets without depleting yours! You need the credit line in your back pocket so when you do need new gear; you're ready to obtain it without hitting the panic button because you don't have the funding. Your camera is your lifeline along with lenses, lights, printers, and your computer! Most of you are always flying without a net - having the ability to obtain gear on a lease will give you a little extra security when you need it most without tying up cash flow.
4) Insurance: Fifty percent of the wedding and event photographers in this country list themselves as part-time. That means many of you are playing Russian roulette with your home insurance policies, which generally don't cover equipment used for business purposes. Check with your insurance agent and make sure your gear is covered under your policy. Also, do you have indemnification insurance? Are you covered if you shoot a wedding and you lose the images before they're downloaded? PPA's insurance policy covering you in this area is outstanding.
5) Backup: Everyone talks about backing up their images and backup gear, but what about you? I wrote about it a few years ago - when I battled it out with the gallbladder from hell. I lost two solid weeks in my own business and had never thought about backup. Fortunately my good buddy, Scott Bourne stepped in to help.
There's a great line I read about safe driving on a billboard once: "Accidents only happen to other people. So, all you other people, watch out!" You need a person or two you trust to know the critical aspects of your business just in case you're caught in a bind.
6) Diversity in your skill set: What's your specialty? Are you a one trick pony or do you have a couple of other tricks up your sleeve? If business disappeared in the specialty you're strongest in, what's your game plan to still have a company?
7) Your Network: If you got a call to shoot the biggest wedding of the year and needed help, who's on your list to call? The same would go for all you commercial photographers - if you had a job more significant than anything you've ever done how would you do it?
I started this Fast Food Friday post talking about offense versus defense. It's also called being proactive rather than reactive. In a successful business you've got to cover both, but then Murphy jumps in with Murphy's Law, "If anything can go wrong it will!" Well, I'm a big fan of Murphy's second law - "Murphy was an optimist!"
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.