There are a lot of mornings when whatever I decide to write about is based on something I've read. While it's the start of the new year, that doesn't mean a fresh start just magically happens. In fact, I'm hearing about a lot of photographers who are taking a serious look at 2014 and fine tuning for a better new year.
Looking through one of my favorite books (click on the cover to find out more about it) of quotes, " Don't forget to sing in the Lifeboats", this one by Albert Camus really hit home.
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer."
Most of the country is feeling the "depth of winter" this week with a national cold snap. Mother Nature obviously didn't get the message about global warming. But, let's take the depth of winter analogy and think about it in business terms.
For many of you 2014 wasn't as good a year as you wanted it to be. You worked hard, but maybe not as smart as you could have. You wanted to raise your prices, but were afraid of the negative impact they might have on sales. A few of you have even thought about getting out of photography, but something keeps pulling you back.
Let's see if we can come up with a few things to consider with one universal goal - to make 2015 the best year yet, in growing your business, your skills and your relationships. If you're thinking about giving up, consider what's kept you in the game this long...
"Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success.
They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
So, it's Friday, closing out the first week of the new year. For just about everybody, this is officially the slow season. How about kicking back for a couple of hours and let's come up with some areas to analyze and work on to make 2015 a stronger year?
Let's start by buying yourself a small spiral notebook - anything will work, as long as you can write down your thoughts. You don't need to be at your computer - just find that one spot at home, maybe your favorite chair, and just be comfortable without interruptions.
What's your goal for each of the next three years? Let's start with this year and write them down. Most of you started your business, but never really thought about what you wanted it to look like. Many of you are trying to hit too broad a target with clients in weddings, family, children, seniors, boudoir etc. You've got to build each business element one step at a time and make sure you have the skill set to meet the demands of each group.
Who is your target audience? Women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer. Does your website have feminine appeal? Are you hitting the right points in your marketing to appeal to Mom?
Do you really have the skill set? Okay, this is the toughest...you know when you look at an image if it truly represents professional talent or could anybody's Uncle Harry have gotten the same shot? Look at your galleries and then dump those images that aren't spectacular.
Are you signed up for every convention and workshop you can hit in the next few months? The benefit is not in what you'll learn in workshops or walking the trade show floor - it's in the networking. Nothing can help you more than spending time with other photographers and building a network of associates who are dealing with the same challenges.
When you look at the past year, if you're a little disappointed is the problem in revenue or what you're shooting? So often I've met photographers who hate what they're shooting, because it's so far from the passion and glamour of what they wanted to originally spend their time photographing. Look, the challenge is to build your revenue stream with whatever is going to pay the bills - but here's the best part of being an artist. Special projects can help you stay focused on the passion and give you a way to vent a little of that frustration when you're shooting subjects you're not crazy about.
Whatever pays the bills can often feel like the "depth of winter", but that's why I love that first quote. It's that "invincible summer" we all have inside us that gets us through the challenges.
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.