1) House Cleaning Checklist
- Order new album samples
- Update your business cards
- Stock up on stickers, ribbon, boxes, mailers, tape, batteries, misc supplies so you’re not making runs to Target during busy season
- Send camera gear in for yearly cleaning and maintenance
- Buy new memory cards and chuck the oldest ones
- Make sure your bag and straps are working well, if not purchase better ones
- Update cover photo + profile photo
- Update about and contact info
- Schedule posts every other day, if not daily
- Update bio + profile photo
- Save time and plan out your grid - I plan using Later.com
- Update all portfolios and DELETE anything that isn’t vital to your brand
- Update the copy on your bio, contact info, links, etc
- Add new testimonials
- Blog at least once a week to keep traffic steady
- Revisit SEO keywords
- Hyperlink all phone numbers + email addresses on footers, contact page, etc
- Create a new email signature
- Get than inbox to ZERO and vow to reply to all client emails within 24 hours
- Make sure your copy and branding is up to date on any sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, Google+, etc.
- Send thank you notes and gifts to vendors if you didn't over the holidays
- Schedule some coffee dates with photographers and vendors in your area
2) Submit to wedding blogs
I use TwoBrightLights to submit to wedding publications in the winter. If you’re not familiar with TwoBrightLights, it’s magical - you upload ~100 photos to a wedding album, choose colors / themes / keywords, tag the vendors, then hit SEND to submit to a publication. Not a fit? No worries! Just press “resubmit” on that album to send it to a different publication. No more time wasted submitting all the information over and over again, resizing images, etc!
I take ~45 minutes to gather 100 photos from the day, input the vendor data on the TBL album, and research publications that would be a good fit for that wedding. By doing this, I’m marketing my work across 2-15 magazines and blogs AND building a reputation and a stronger press section on my website.
3) Review years expenses & make changes
It’s tax season anyway, so reviewing my profit and loss statements is key. I update spreadsheets with my final cost tallies for the year and analyze the data. Wow, I spent $594 on postage? How can I cut that cost by at last 10% by using different shipping materials? Looks like I was a little short on my projected portrait session income, why was that the case and how do I market my portraits as much as my weddings? Where did I overspend, and how can I cut costs? This is a great year to re-calculate your expenses, as running a business gets more expensive every year. From here, work to lower your operating expenses and raise your prices as needed.
4) Plan your goals
Tell me what you want, what you really really want... SORRY, that song seemed very appropriate to sing while making a goals list. Take a few minutes to write down your goal list for the year. Look at last year’s list, and see how many you accomplished. Why didn’t some happen? Were they based more off luck / the actions of others, or did you fall short in some area? If you’re achieving more than 80% of your goals, you need bigger ones!
5) Dig for inspiration
Stop digging snow and start digging for inspiration. I use this time to become better at shooting indoors with natural and studio lighting. I let the artistic side of my mind wander a bit more, and plan out either indoor winter shoots or outdoor spring shoots as the weather improves. Take a look at your portfolio and try to see what’s missing, and fill the gap.
6) Get schooled
I’m reading educational blogs all year round, but winter is a great time to make some cocoa and start taking notes on educational blog posts (like this one!). Sign up for webinars (there are many free ones!) and look at workshops for the upcoming year. Some of my current favorite educational blogs and email lists are Ashlyn Writes, Shanna Skidmore, Cat Coquilette, Psychology for Photographers, and Ben Sasso.
7) Make some passive $$!
Have great shots from your last road trip? Flowers in the garden? Outtakes from your last ocean session? Might as well capitalize! Set up a print shop on your own website, or if you want life to be even EASIER, just create a Society6 site! It's FREE! Take 1 hour to gather images, create an account, post your products (you simply upload the photo, tag it, then click all the products you want to sell from that image!) and make some passive income. If you’re into making your own presets, throw them up for sale!
Do you have more ideas to bring some life into your business in the dark winter months? Comment below!