We have all found ourselves in an extremely difficult year, with health concerns and the inability to provide your photography services while social distancing or struggling to even make it through with your small business. You are not alone; it’s been hard for all of us in the industry. So, before we begin with this guide, don’t feel pressured to set all of the goals mentioned. Take your time to choose what suits you best and take it as inspiration to do even better in the upcoming year! To make it a little bit easier on you, I have to confess: I am mixing up some of my personal goals into the guide because I still haven’t managed to complete them in the past year.
Today, we’ll cover:
- Three goals to focus on your mindfulness
- Three goals to focus on your management
- Three goals to focus on your marketing
- Three goals to focus on your creativity
- Three goals to focus on knowing your finances
1. Practice Mindfulness and Love for Your Work
Before we start with technicalities, make a promise to yourself that you’ll be more grateful for the hobby (or the job) that you have. Your photos bring so much joy to people all around you! To boost your work productivity, you need small doses of dopamine to get you through and to remind you that you’re getting better each day. Here are some ideas on how to stay proud and happy about what you’re doing, especially in these isolated times:
Share Your Work
And I don’t only mean on your social media account! Outside of it. Find friendly photography communities on Facebook where you can get constructive criticism and kind words from others in the field. Apart from your photos, you can also share your feelings and any questions you might have. It will feel much better to know that whatever you’re feeling about your work, there is someone on the other side of the world wondering the same thing! Make it a habit to share your photos within the community after each photo shoot.
Print Messages or Reviews
Have you ever photographed a client? Maybe just a close friend? We all know the feeling of relief receiving a “thank you” message after the edited photos were sent. Create a folder with these wonderful screenshots – it never gets old to look at them! When you have enough, print them and pin them right on your noticeboard. I promise you that even though it’s challenging to find motivation within yourself, kind words from people that you photographed will do magic! Make it a habit to collect positive feedback.
Find Other Photographers
Our own creativity often comes from someone else’s work. And I’m not talking about copying the ideas. Many times, on the road to finding your own unique style, you need to open your eyes and see what you like in the work of others. Get an accountability buddy and work on your photography together! Whether you build your online community on Instagram or you find a close friend in your hometown, it doesn’t matter. They will encourage you to work harder. Make it a habit to seek inspiration in other people’s work.
I’ve seen this building in many photographers’ portraits and decided to try it out my way for my photoshoot. Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová
Important Note: Did you know Photzy has an online community to help you meet other photographers and improve your photography? Click here or search Facebook for “Weekly Photography Challenges”
2. Get Better in Management
How would you describe a photographer? Probably as an artist. A creative. A skilled individual with talent and vision. Well, yes. But to get better at photography (and one day even profitable), you need to be – first of all – a small business owner. I know, it sounds overwhelming – even for me, getting a master’s degree in management! I would like to share the top three things you can improve in your management for the next year.
Have a Functioning To-Do List
To set your mind free next year, create one complex system for your to-do list. Say goodbye to random post-its, iPhone notes, computer folders, and the mess you are probably making. Pick one of the methods that suit you best and have it all in one space. To keep me organized, I like to use the GTD (Get Things Done) method. First, I capture everything that needs to be done. I free the tasks from my brain to one dedicated spot each time they come to my mind. Second, when I have more time, I clarify what it really is. You can use labels such as “editing” or “marketing” or “invoice” to keep similar tasks together. After that, you organize. Set clear deadlines and dates when you want to complete your task (this may vary). Make sure to review your captures frequently to know exactly what needs to be done. It will be easier to take the right steps and engage every day when you are 100% sure you are doing the important thing right now. Make it a habit to collect your tasks in one place and use a to-do list in addition to your calendar.
Work on the Legal Aspects
Have you been a hobby photographer for too long? Would you like to take it to the next step? Even if you’re considering a part-time career, you need to look at all the legislative aspects of your small business. Create a place dedicated to all accounting and tax problems you might face when starting a business. Make it a habit to collect relevant information – it will save you a lot of time in the future!
Even if you can’t afford a lawyer right now, there are so many free templates on the internet that you can get inspiration from. This year, you can create contracts for the types of photoshoots that you focus on the most. If you’re already profiting from photography, make sure that your work is fully protected. Get the legal aspects done and free your mind!
Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová
3. Get the Word Out There
Aside from small business owners, we are also expected to be professional marketers. On the positive side, you are gaining so much cross-field experience! Here are some ideas on what you can improve in your marketing next year.
Create or Modernize Your Website
Don’t have one yet? There’s no need to feel bad about that. Even though it’s a complex task, it’s quite rewarding and a great channel to get new clients. Sometimes, social media isn’t enough to promote your work professionally. If you have a website already, it doesn’t hurt to do a yearly review and check whether all of the information is up to date and user friendly. Ask a few of your friends for feedback and see what the websites of your favorite photographers look like! Dedicate a few evenings in your month to create content for your new website.
Promote Yourself Through Ads
If you’re already set with the legal requirements, start learning all of the marketing techniques. Trust me, this is an ideal time to improve all of the back-end processes of your photography! Even though we might still be social distancing next year, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn new things that will help you in the future. There are so many ways to get yourself on the market, and you can start with social media ads, PPC* and building your SEO**. Choose one advertising channel, work on your messaging, and experiment to find what works for you.
*PPC = pay per click – with this advertising technique, you’ll be paying a fee each time someone clicks on your ad in the search engine.
**SEO = search engine optimization – these target unpaid search engine traffic, mostly by creating relevant content with keywords, leading to more organic results.
Start a Blog
Blogging is a great way to boost your SEO! I know that it might be overwhelming to start, and you feel like it’s a great commitment, but treat it as a hobby in the beginning. Set yourself a measurable goal! Make it a habit to write at least two articles per month.
Make your way through!
4. Work on Your Creativity
Don’t get too caught up in the serious part of the business. Give your mind a break! Next year should be all about pushing your creative limits, and it’s only up to you what kind of art you decide to make.
Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová
Make Time for Creativity
It’s easy to get stuck in the same spot, shooting the same type of pictures all over again. Whether it’s because you are getting similar clients, or because you don’t like getting out of your comfort zone, you should dedicate some time to help your creativity bloom. Why? This will simply make you fall in love with photography like it’s your newfound passion. Whatever crazy idea you have, you should pursue it! You can use your friends as models or join your local TFP groups to find one. Make it a habit to squeeze creative photoshoots into your calendar.
Write a Creativity Journal
The best ideas come to us in the most unexpected places. And if you don’t take proper care of them, they will easily be forgotten. Dedicate a place where they are all safe: a journal, your phone notes, or just a piece of paper. The important thing is to always have them accessible! Make it a habit to analyze them once in a while and put some of the ideas into your calendar to make them real.
Find New People to Collaborate With
Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová
It’s more fun when you are not alone in your process of learning! Creativity often comes from inspiration. And what’s better than getting inspired by other photographers, make-up artists, hairstylists, and fashion designers? Find someone who you can trust long term in perfect synergy. Make it a habit to include other people in your creative work.
You can also get creative with self-portraits! This one was taken on a self-timer. I splashed some water drops on the glass to create the effect!
5. Know Your Finances
And last but not least, create an overview of your finances! It’s good to know what goes into and out of your small business. Even if you’re only using photography as a hobby, you can keep records about how much you’ve already spent on your gear and how you will fulfill your future.
Update Your Pricing
Do you have your pricing ready? If you’re just starting out, it shouldn’t be something you have to worry about. But once you know your camera better, you might consider doing your first paid shoots. If you’re already a professional, is your current pricing relevant depending on the competition and your ideal clients? Are you undervaluing your work? Update your packages to make them fresh!
Make Passive Income
One of the examples is uploading to photo banks or selling your photos for designs. It’s going to be a long run for you to be making passive income as a photographer, but it’s a great time to start doing it this year! Even if you earn just a few extra bucks doing this, it’s a good experience to have, and you can use them to buy cool props for your photoshoots! Keep your eyes open for opportunities.
Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová
Save to Become Independent
Are you confident in switching to photography as your part-time or full-time job? Your emergency fund for this step should be around six months of your average expenses. Know your finances before you make the transition. You don’t need to become fully independent next year; this is a step-by-step process. Identify your dream and work towards it!
I hope that I have inspired you today to choose at least one of the photography resolutions to keep for the upcoming year. Remember, it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing at all. Just choose what you’re comfortable with and never stop dreaming!
- What is the name of the famous to-do list method?
- Is it bad or encouraged to seek inspiration from other photographers?
- How can you make sure that you’re legally protected?
- Is social media enough to promote your work?
- What is the difference between SEO and PPC?
- What is the best way to improve your SEO?
- Who can help you to enhance your creativity?
- Where can you keep your creative ideas?
- How can you build passive income as a photographer?
- How much money is recommended to have saved before becoming independent?
- Evaluate your last year. What was your biggest achievement?
- Look at the first photo shoot you ever did and compare it to the latest one. How does it feel seeing the incredible progress?
- Choose a goal from this list you would like to keep next year and make it your top priority.
- Divide the goal into smaller goals so that you can stay motivated by doing your work in chunks along the way!
- Create a roadmap for your goal: assign deadlines to these smaller goals. Keep it doable! If you expect your task to take a week, assign two weeks instead. It’s not good to raise expectations in case you don’t fulfill them and you might lose your motivation.