In part 1 of this post, I discussed growing your weak areas and developing a dream client communication plan. Here in part 2, were going to take a look at additional ways you can set goals in order to foster growth for your photography and your business.
Lets start with the scary subject first: numbers.
Creating Measurable Goals: The Step-By-Step Process Continued
Understanding Your Numbers
As a photographer, have you thought about how much money you want to make in a given year? Have you thought about how much you need to make in order to cover your business and living expenses? Many of us start booking clients, charge what we think they will pay, and then hope and pray well be profitable. That’s exactly how I started. Its a hard lesson when you discover youre not making enough to cover your business insurance, much less groceries.
It is vital to be very purposeful with your income planning. Calculate all of your expenses for the year, including your equipment, software, insurance, and marketing budget. Also factor in your experience, what you uniquely bring to the table, who your demographic is, and how many shoots you want to do over the year. Finally, ask how much you want to make in a year, and break that down to income per month, or per shoot.
This process provides a solid basic framework of what your income needs to be. Its worth repeating this process at least once a year. According to successful photographer and business coach Joy Vertz, this process also applies to those who are still in the portfolio building stages. Decide from the very beginning how much you want to eventually make. Simply assuming that you should charge the least simply because you are just “starting out” is a race to the bottom. Its practically a guaranteed path to not paying your bills, as well as the regular consumption of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Instead, make a methodical analysis of what your pricing should be. It’s one of the earliest, most important steps you can take. Even if you are conducting sessions at a heavy discount in order to build your body of work, you can still attach value to your services: In your written contract with your early clients, record what you would normally charge, along with the exact percentage of the discount they are receiving from you. This drastically reduces the chance that they will automatically attached the pesky term “free” to your services when they think of you in the future, or recommend you to a friend.
As humans, we are social creatures, and so we should never operate in a vacuum. Seek like-minded people who are also on a journey of growth, and team up with them to hold each other accountable.
There are many forms of this, and I recommend selecting more than one. You could join photography Facebook groups, go on photo walks with other photographers, join a photography Meet Up group, or even join a mastermind group. Mastermind groups can be local, national, or even international depending on what you are looking to gain. Im part of multiple groups that give me a good kick in the pants when I need it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In addition to accountability, quality mastermind groups can also give you ideas that you may not have thought of otherwise.
Its worth mentioning that you can get wonderful value from small mastermind groups that have a mix of professions, as opposed to being comprised of all photographers. You all can benefit from the various skill sets present in the group, especially if they complement each other.
The key to all these groups is that you all are committed to being honest and to push each other when needed.
Celebrating your progress is critical to this process. For some odd reason, humans have a habit of overlooking the positive. Instead, we tend to laser-focus on the negative. Giving yourself a tangible reward will force you to focus on the positive steps you are taking in your photography business. This could be small, weekly rewards, like ice cream or a trip to the movies. It could be larger rewards for larger goals, such as taking a much-needed, lengthy vacation. Its up to you, but make sure its something you are excited about so that you will stay motivated.
Full disclosure: for me, its sushi. Lots and lots of sushi.
Conclusion: Focus On The Future
In all of this, remember to focus on how much awesome-er (yes, I made up that word) the future version of yourself will be as you complete your goals. Experience the positive rush of having conquered obstacles that formerly intimidated you. This will inevitably help keep you motivated, closing that mental distance between the current version of yourself, and where you see yourself in the future.
How do you achieve your personal and professional goals? Feel free to share in the comments.