Eye on Business | Congratulations Class of 2013!

By the end of the spring season, I feel as if I have earned a diploma with my name, Jodee Ball, beautifully scrolled across the front. I’ve graduated from my own academy, JP Ball Photography. I have worked myself to exhaustion trying to meet my senior client’s graduation deadlines.

I see you nodding your head in agreement. You must be in my graduating class.

So, what are you going to do once you complete your 2013 graduate orders? I say have a party and eat some cake. And while you’re enjoying your cake, think on these ideas that will keep your senior photography business moving along through the summer months.

1) Rest. Review. Restore.

Ahhh…rest up. Take a few days to unplug and unwind. You don’t have to travel to a beach to disconnect from the world. Set up your voicemail and email to automatically let others know you are out of the office for a few days. Do something you love. Or do nothing at all. Just rest.

Then, take some time to go through your 2013 graduate orders and galleries and review your year. Ask yourself the following questions:

What were the most popular products you offered?

What types of poses did most clients tend to choose?

Did you turn the profit you had planned for based on your pricing and your actual COGS?

When did you shoot the majority of your senior sessions?

Did clients opt for studio sessions, location session or a combination of both?

Did your clients refer people to you? If so, why did they make a referral? What are you doing right in their eyes?

What do you see as your weakness? Is it technical, posing, design, pricing, turn around and/or selling your work?

What types of marketing strategies did you use? Were they successful? Did their cost yield the business you had hoped?

Finally, restore yourself. Be ready to start at the beginning of your year long process. Organize your files, samples, business cards, emails, etc. Clean out old and make room for new.

2) Focus.

You’re ready for a fresh start. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? That’s one thing I love about being a teacher. Even though I am sad to pass my students to the next grade level, I love a fresh start in the early fall. New ideas, new kids, and newly found energy.

This is where the action happens. You have a small window for #1. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is, friends.

Now, it’s time to get focused!

Grab some caffeine on a warm summer morning and get busy.

a) Set your goals for 2014 seniors. This is a great blog post about setting goals written by fellow SSG Eye on Business blogger, Suzanne Mellott.

b) If necessary, change your pricing structure. You may need to adjust it to reach financial goals. Your labs may have increased their prices. Maybe you are adding new product options. And maybe you just needed an entirely new pricing structure. Just be ready for those inquiries when they hit!

c) Create samples for any new products you are going to offer. Update old samples of existing products.

d) Market yourself. (Next week’s blog post!)

e) Book sessions. Summer is a great time to offer incentives for scheduling during the summer months. Some ideas are reduced session fees, complimentary family portrait, complimentary makeup/styling, etc.

3) Practice

“Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.” — Lauren Bacall.

The beauty of art is that it is never mastered. There is always something to learn. Always. A new technique, using a new piece of equipment, studio lighting, OCF… the list can go on and on AND on.

Maybe you’ve offered a modeling incentive. Use that time with the seniors to practice your new techniques and strategies so when busy season hits, you are ready!

4) Collaborate.

My favorite! I love talking business with other photographers. One of my dearest friends is a local photographer who lives about 15 minutes away. So, yes, we can co-exist in the same market, share ideas and be great friends!

Set up a get together with local photographers or seek out an established group. Get together just to share ideas or even plan an event together. You will only benefit from the enthusiasm and passion fellow photographers possess.

 

So, to the graduating photographer’s class of 2013, your future is bright and in focus. As the wise Doctor once said…

“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.

You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.

Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.” – Dr. Seuss

Insert Pomp and Circumstance here.  Happy Graduation, photographers!

Now share with us! What will you be doing this summer to prepare for 2014 seniors? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Here’s a sample image from a new technique I’m working on! 🙂