Hello friends! How the heck are you?
Thank you all so much for stopping by. Now, today’s topic tells me that you are here for a reason. But why? Is your 2019 going not as you planned? Or is it rocking your world in every way? Either way, we are going to cover both sides of the coin.
From my own experience, I know what it feels like to have a year that is not so great. But let me start by saying, there are a lot of people in that same boat, and you WILL get out of it. What would this journey be without struggle, right? Well, I know that is easier said than done but I can assure you that if you consistently move a step forward every day, you will be just fine.
So let’s start from the beginning. The first thing we have to do is go back to the year before. Did you have a great year? I can tell you the normal trend of how this goes (and what I did that led me to the massive decline of my 2018 year.) In the midst of a wild and crazy wedding season, we have a tendency to let things slip through the cracks that are imperative to growth. Let’s break those down.
Networking || This is a HUGE part of our business Y'all…HUGE. This, I know, is where I feel through the cracks and made some really big errors. Vendor to vendor relationships can be just as important as client relationships. Truly. I know that being a creative entrepreneur is like juggling with 20 balls in your hand at one time but you must take the time to do things that are inevitably going to put MONEY in your pocket. As big as this industry is, it is also very small. We all know each other and we are all connected through the not so little platform of social media. During your wedding season, it is crucial to assure that you are caring for your vendor team throughout the entire process. Communication is going to be the best way to do so. Communication before, during, and after your big day is going to land you on the good side of that team. IF you can make that happen 90% of the time, you should be in good shape.
Client Experience || So, this is a topic that gets brought up to me all the time. Hints why I created a course specifically for this topic. Your client experience will determine if that person is going to give your name to 5 of their friends who just got engaged. So, what is a good client experience? Every brand is going to do this a little bit different but I can share what I feel works best for me. First, communication is KEY (you will see this trend quite a bit) to having a happy couple. From the moment they email you asking for pricing to the moment you send them their final handwritten note. This is an opportunity for you not only gain brownie points but to also showcase your knowledge that you have worked so hard to acquire. In my Booking Blueprint course, we talk all about how to handle inquiries, pricing, etc. but this blog post would be about 100 pages long if I went into all the details, but the best way to gain good client referrals is keeping your clients in the know and managing their expectations of you. I also am a BIG gifter. I love taking time to send clients welcome gifts, personalized notes, prints from their sessions, and just making them feel like I truly care. That is the biggest goal, making them feel cared for. As we all know, there are so many photographers and this is a great way to stick out in their minds. Take care of them and they will take care of you!
Shooting got YOU || Again, I know the struggles and hardships that come along with a crazy wedding season. BUT, I can assure you that the best thing I did for myself was I continued to shoot personal work. “How can I stand out from a sea of photographers?” This is the best way. There is no sense if following that pack…none. You will just file into the line of a long list go creatives who all look the same. Why do that to yourself? You want to showcase your talents and what you can do and there is no better way to do so then shoot work that inspires you and keeps your creative mind happy. Mindset is such a big contender in this industry, like really big, so you need to be sure that you are feeling your best to create for your actual clients and give them the best of yourself. How can you create amazing work for clients if you can’t do it for yourself?
Pricing || Okay, I saved the best last. I know from personal experience that this is a tough topic to talk about and come to terms with. When I was in the best year of my career I decided that my time was worth more than I had been charging. So, I decided to make a BIG jump on my pricing and it was pretty much my downfall. I think we as artists can get a little too big for our britches and think we are a little “untouchable” when we are riding the high of a great year. It also makes it even more of a challenge when you see others on social “making it” and you get a little jelly. I know, it’s ok! But what we have to keep in mind is that we do not know what’s going on behind the scenes, just like no one knows what is really going on with you and your business. You are free to do whatever you like with your pricing and how you structure it, but just let me tell you to be careful and stay humble. This is all about the LONG game Y'all, this is not a race. Yes, you always want to push for bigger and better but you also have to eat and pay your bills. If you have a great year, take it as a win and go celebrate with a nice dinner. Don't jack up your prices to the point that your clients in your market can no longer afford you. Do it at a gradual pace, slow and steady wins the race.
So, there ya have it! Those were the four things that attributed to my crappy year. BUT, I will say that I learned a hell of a lot and now I am in the best position I have ever been in in my career. Learn from my mistakes and try your best to keep a strong hold on things when times are good, don’t wait till you are in a bad spot to start working on these things. I hope this helps you guys who are struggling and even those who are rocking it in 2019, either way, these four points will make your business stronger and more profitable.