Quarterly planning is such an important way to set your photography business up for success. One thing that CEOs are really great at is planning and projecting for their business. And as the CEO of your photography business, you need to be prepared with a clear plan. If you are feeling a little bit scattered when it comes to planning, this episode is for you.
By the end of this post, you’re going to feel so excited about your business, because you’re going to have the game plan and confidence to actually take more specific intentional action in 2023. So, if you are ready, let’s get started.
Step #1: Brainstorm all of Your Goals
The first thing I want you to do is brainstorm all of your goals. I know this can feel a little bit overwhelming especially if you have so many ideas. Or maybe you’re totally stuck and don’t know what your ideas should be. If that’s you, by the end of this episode, you’re going to have an awesome guide to help you with this.
Make sure your goals eventually make it into a digital format.
I want you to take out a sheet of paper, or better yet, open up a blank Google Doc. The reason why I say that’s better is because when we get to step three, you’re going to input all of this into a task management system. So it will save you time in the long run. This brain dump is all the things that are on your mind that you want to do in your business this upcoming year. If you’re like me and you have a really hard time looking at your business from a year perspective, maybe just focus on six months.
These goals can be very vague, like I want to get more clients, or I want to meet some complementary vendors that I can network with. Or maybe you want to redo your website or maybe you want to raise your prices in the coming year. Whatever the case may be, just start to write down all of these ideas.
So, when you are thinking about some of these goals that you have for your business, I want you to think about these key areas of marketing that I’m about to share with you. They are visibility, relationship marketing, nurturing your audience, inviting them and then giving them an epic client experience. Each one of these goals will contribute to your business growth and should be part of your business plan.
I like to think of this as the handshake, the introduction. The very first impression that somebody gets of you. Visibility is so important as a photographer, because often clients will hire someone that just maybe appears at the right time. We want to make sure that we are always top of mind, which we will talk about in a bit, when we get to the nurture part. But it’s really important that we are visible, that people know who we are, what we do and who we serve.
There are a number of different ways that you can do this. I think the first one that comes to mind for most people is social media, which seems to be a fan favorite when it comes to the photography industry. In addition to social media, you could be looking for meetup events to be a part of in your local community. Possibly setting up a booth at a local event or looking for events that you can sponsor as their photographer, that could get you in front of a ton of your ideal clients. It’s really important that you broaden your horizons, and that you’re not just putting all of your visibility efforts into social media, because there’s so many other avenues that work as well.
Relationship marketing is not only making connections with complimentary vendors and people that you can refer to them and them to you, but also growing deeper connections with other photographers in your industry. A lot of my referrals actually come from other photographers and so it’s really important not to miss that incredibly important group of people. So instead of viewing them as competition, view them as a way to collaborate and help enhance your community. It’s important that you network with people who are in your same niche of your industry.
For me, I focus on brand photography and I want to connect with other brand photographers in case they are not available, they can send clients to me and vice versa. I also want to be networking with other photographers that do not serve the brand community so that we can share back and forth different clients who might need different types of photography. Don’t discount the ability to network with other photographers. It’s also important that you build connections with your audience in your community. What I recommend instead is to create those genuine relationships with people. Again, this might feel uncomfortable and it might be out of your comfort zone to kind of put yourself out there with these people. But this is a huge area of growth for anyone’s business when they’re able to create deeper relationships.
Nurturing Your Audience
Let’s talk about the third area here, which is the nurture portion. If you do not already have a blog, I’m going to recommend that you get one as a photographer. I feel like this is the easiest place to start, not only showcasing your work, but weaving in content marketing, which basically means that you are going to teach someone something when they come to your blog instead of just showcase your work. In other words, nurture your audience with content that they want and need. It is so key that you have a place where your content lives. You’ve heard this a million times and I’m going to be cliche and say it again, Instagram owns your followers, and they own your content.
So, if they decide to shut down tomorrow, you lose everything. It is absolutely crucial that you do not have your content only live on Instagram. 100%, post your content on Instagram, show up and be visible on Instagram, but don’t let that be where your content lives. Choose a platform like a blog in order to do this and I recommend focusing on learning SEO, and how that can actually drive more traffic to your business in a faster way than Instagram ever will.
A lot of people think that they have an attract problem. They think they just don’t have enough visibility; they don’t think that enough people are seeing their work. But I personally believe it’s a little bit more of a conversion problem, meaning you might not ever be inviting people to actually work with you. You may have heard the term call to action a lot: it’s really important that you give your audience a next step of how they can work with you.
Whether they need to fill out a contact form or to book a call with you, join your email list. Are you going to send them a proposal of some sort that they can choose from or suggest what package would be best for them. I mean there are so many different calls to action, but if you are not giving those to your potential clients, they don’t know exactly what the next step is.
We all know that if someone doesn’t know what the next step is, they’re probably going to move on very quickly, because people do not like to be frustrated and they do not like to think when they’re trying to make a decision. They just want someone to say, here’s what you need, if you’re interested, this is the next step. They want to know what’s the next step, so give it to them straight.
And finally, let’s talk about client experience, it’s really important that some of these goals that you write down are around the idea of client experience. So it could be that you want to create better workflows. It could be that you want to streamline your editing process or maybe you want to hire and outsource your editing. It could be that you don’t even have a CRM, like Honeybook or Cloud Spot, or any other software that is going to help you manage your clients, manage your leads, and help you book and invoice your clients faster. So maybe that is an area of growth for this upcoming year.
Step #2: Plan Your Schedule + Create Your Ideal Week
Now that you have some of these goals already mapped out, I want you to start to plan your schedule. For me, I like to think in a bi-annual view and I want to think like six months, I’m thinking January through the end of June, what are the things that I want to accomplish in my business over those next six months? I’m going to plan out my schedule and I’m going to decide what time off I’m going to take now. I also want you to pull out your kids school calendar and map out all of the holidays that they have. Any of the days that they are not at school, because I can’t tell you how many times that has thrown me off. You need to plan ahead and know when that’s going to happen.
I also want you to add in some margin in that schedule. There are going to be some days where you’re like, I want to take a few days off here, a few days off there. Whatever the case may be, think it through now and put it on your calendar now, because if you don’t, it’s much harder later to carve out that time. This is key, because you will get to a point in your business where you are like, gosh, I am so overwhelmed! I never have time off. I never feel like I can get ahead and this is why. Go ahead and plan that margin in right now and try to honor that margin. By creating this margin it’s giving you a buffer to make up the difference when things go unexpected.
When are you actually going to work??
It’s important to map out what are your time blocks going to look like. I showed this on my Instagram, probably a month or so ago and I can’t tell you how many comments and messages I got about this calendar. What I did was I went through and I created an ideal calendar. I said okay, Monday through Friday, what does my ideal week look like? Now, of course, things are going to change a little bit, but I wrote down everything that I do in the week in my personal life and in my business and I created a master kind of week.
Now when I go to schedule something I can look at that week, and I can say I actually have this time block earmarked for work, so I’m not going to be able to make that work. Or I have this time block earmarked for work, but I can swap it with this time block for this week.
Step # 3: Narrow it Down to Three Goals
The last step, after you have brain dumped and brainstormed all of the different goals and things that you want in your business, I want you to narrow it down to three goals. This would be if you are doing this bi-annually. If you’re doing it for the whole year, pick five to six, but I would say choose three big goals over the next six months. If you go into 2023, or any year, with a huge list of goals, you will fail.
It is proven, research based, that if you have too many things on your list to do, you will end up getting overwhelmed, you will give up and you will not finish the goals that you have set out for yourself. I want to set you up for success and so start with those three goals. Figure out what the action steps are that you need to take in order to hit that goal.
Say for instance, I want to redo my website, that is a huge undertaking. You’re going to need to break that out into checkoffable tasks because redoing your website is not just a one, check off task and there’s probably like 50 sub tasks underneath that. There’s so many different steps that go into one big goal, so you have to break down all of those into sub goals. Once you have those sub goals, you can start to actually assign those goals. Once I have my goals for six months, I then break them down into quarters.
Break down each quarter into weeks.
Quarter one will be January, February, March. Quarter two will be April, May, and June. I break down each of those steps and I’m going to realistically look at each week of the month and say okay, about how many of these tasks can I accomplish in one week? I’m going to recommend that you choose three tasks a week. Just pick three things that you’re going to accomplish each week and what you’re going to do is you’re going to start to build out your task list for the quarter.
Choose a Task Management System
It’s very important that you have a task management system and this is where that Google Doc I mentioned earlier is going to come into play. The task management system is something like Asana or Trello, Click Up, Notion. There are so many different ones out there and a lot of these have free plans that you can start with and this is just a really excellent way to keep track of your tasks. Essentially what I do is I create a section or a board for each month of the quarter and then I break each of those months into weeks. I pull out my calendar and I look, week one of January is January whatever the dates are. Then I go to week two, what are the dates for week two, week three and so on.
You’ve got all of your tasks that you just listed out, those top three goals, then you’re going to break it down into sub goals and now each of those sub goal tasks are going to be moved over to the appropriate week. It’s tedious, but I have never been more productive in my business until I started doing this. You’re listening to this right now and you’re like, oh, my gosh Ashley! I don’t have time for this. Girl, you do not have time not to do this. I’m telling you, it will change everything for you.
Book a strategy session where I’ll help you create your 2023 Action Plan and make this your best year ever!!
That is why I’m offering these one on one coaching sessions because it is so crucial to have someone helping you with this. If it’s not me, get your spouse or get your business bestie to help you. Get a trusted friend or someone who you can bounce those ideas off of and be like okay, what are the tasks that I need? What am I missing here? It is so crucial and imperative that you have this. This outline for your quarter is going to be gold. It’s going to be what allows you to grow in that role as the CEO in your business, where you no longer are just flying by the seat of your pants and only focusing on client fulfillment, posting on Instagram, and all the mom things. I want you to really step into this role and this is how.
Make quarter 1 your most successful quarter yet!!
I know that your next quarter is going to be the most successful quarter that you’ve ever had, because you are going to take the time to make a plan. If you need more guidance and more support, I would love to come alongside you and support you as you create your business plan for 2023. We’ll brainstorm all of your goals and go through all of this step by step. By the end of our session you will have a week-by -week action plan. How would it feel to head into 2023 and you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing? For more details and to book your deep dive session, head on over to thepurposegathering.com/deepdive.
I can’t wait to connect with you soon. I am always here rooting for you, Mama. And you are not alone on this journey.
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