This is the third part in our three-part blog post series about building a more profitable photography business so you can be a full-time business owner (WHOOHOO!).
In Part 1 we discussed pricing, and went over all the numbers and goals you need to hit to make sure you can make your goal a reality. We left it up to you as to whether you'd like to increase your prices all at once or do it gradually over a period of time. So keep in mind when you read through this, you may have to add some extra steps for raising your prices.
In Part 2 we gave you 6 ideas for how you can increase the number of clients you have.
Now, in Part 3, we're going to give you your roadmap to success and a detailed game plan of how we would approach the goal and how we would make it happen.
Remember though, every business is different - you will probably need to adjust the timeline to suit you and your business - and that's ok. The important part is that you keep moving forward!
Let's dig in. Pull out your Lights. Camera. Take Action planner, open it up to the Monthly calendar and schedule out each task to get this accomplished. You can schedule 1 task per day for the next 60 days or use the 14 week format we have as the example. Either way, SCHEDULE IT so you know you complete what is necessary.
Week 1 - Research
Day 1 - 8am-10am: Research In-Person Sales
Day 2 - 8am-10am: Research In-Person Sales
Day 3 - 8am-10am: Research Newsletter Options *Remember, we talked a little bit about newsletters in Part 2, and mentioned a few options like MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, etc. Take some time to look over the various systems and features to find which one works for you.
Week 2 - The Planning Phase
Day 4 - 8am-9am: Put together and install a newsletter signup form on your website.
Day 5 - 8am-10am: Start writing out the things you want to say during your IPS session. Write out a script for what you want to say to your clients, and make a list of some of the things you want to show them (albums, canvases, etc.: the more they hold and see the product, the better chances they have of purchasing them). You can also use your Lights. Camera. Take Action planner to document this script & list of products to show them so you don't forget.
Day 6 - 8am-9am: Put together orders and purchase sample products you want to use during your IPS (albums, canvases, prints, print boxes, etc.)
Week 3 - Implementation
Day 7 - 8am-9am: Find someone you would feel comfortable doing a practice IPS session with. This could be a model that you work with for a fun shoot, a friend you do some quick headshot for, etc. Schedule a time to do a session with this person, as well as a time to do an IPS (keep in mind you'll want to make sure it's for a date after you receive your sample products).
Day 8 - 8am-9am: Put together a list of SEO phrases you want to use for your website for things you want to rank for. For example, it could be Vintage Los Angeles Wedding Photographer, Modern Boston Family Portraits, etc.
Day 9 - 8am-9am: Put together a blog post. Make sure to:
- Name each of the images with one of your SEO keywords and any variation of those keywords you can think of. So for example: Vintage Los Angeles Wedding Photographer, Los Angeles Wedding Photography, Los Angeles Vintage Wedding Photographer, Los Angeles Vintage Wedding Photography, etc.
- Have your blog post permalink matches the keyword you're trying to rank for.
- Write at least 300 words of text for the blog post
- Include any links to vendors that are relevant (flowers, cake, clothing/dresses, etc.)
- Resize the images for web so they load quickly.
- Have a call-to-action at the bottom of the post like 'Get in touch with me to start planning your dream wedding!' or 'Sign up for my newsletter for more info!'
- Add an alt tag to every photo that includes your keywords and exact phrases you would like people to use in a Pin description
Day 10 - 8am-9am: Make a list of vendors in your area where you think your ideal client frequently shops or spends time. Keep this list close to your workspace so you can add to it over the next week or so as you think of new places.
Week 4 - Connecting With Vendors
Day 11 - 8am-9am: Reach out to Vendor #1 and #2 on your list and see if you can partner with them somehow.
Day 12 - 8am-9am: Reach out to Vendor #3 and #4 on your list and see if you can partner with them somehow.
Day 13 - 8am-9am: Reach out to Vendor #5 on your list and see if you can partner with them somehow. Don't feel too bad if not everyone wants to work with you. It's nothing personal, they just may not feel it's a good fit for their business, or they may just be too busy. Expect at least a couple of these vendors to say no. Make sure that in communicating with them that you are expressing how this could benefit them.
Week 5 - Advertising
Day 14 - 8am-10am: Research Facebook Advertising.
Day 15 - 8am-10am: Research Facebook Advertising.
Day 16 - 8am-9am: Research Facebook Advertising. *We dedicated a whole week to this because there's lots of info out there and it can be a bit difficult. There are resources out there that can help you, so don't hesitate to look elsewhere.
Week 6 - Dotting The I's
Day 17 - 8am-9am: Put together everything you need to start implementing Facebook Advertising. Images, text, target audience notes, etc.
Day 18 - 8am-10am: Put together your Facebook advertising and make it live.
Day 19 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post with relative keywords you would like to be found with when a prospective is searching the Internet. Hint: this does not need to just be about photography. You can also rank high for anything relative to your niche. For instance: a wedding photographer could rank high for "How To Have A Stress-free Wedding Day" IF you write a blog post about it. This drives traffic to your site and gets you in front of a new audience.
Day 20 - 8am-9am: Now that you've had your newsletter signup on your site for a bit, you should have collected a few emails. So it's time to draft your first newsletter. You could write about anything as long as it has value to your potential clients. It could be something like a style guide/what to wear guide, your favorite wedding vendors in the area, etc. Don't be discouraged if you only have a few people signed up! It will grow with time.
Day 21 - 10am-12pm: Do your trade with one of the vendors that agreed to do a cross-promotion with.
Week 7 - Gathering The Tools
Day 22 - 8am-9:30am: Research IPS sales and viewing systems. You could use things like ShootProof, Preveal, Animoto if you want to do slideshows, etc. There's lots of systems out there that are built for IPS, and many that even allow you to take orders right within the system itself.
Day 23 - 8am-9am: Purchase and set up an IPS system.
Day 24 - 8am-9am: Put together and publish another blog post with relative keywords you would like to be found with on Google.
Day 25 - 2pm-3pm: Do your model shoot!
Day 26 - 1:30pm-3:30pm: Set up your IPS sales area, or gather everything you need to do one if you're going to do it somewhere public like a coffee shop. or even in your client's home. Do your practice IPS session with your model. (Hopefully you get some sales too!)
Week 8: Re-assessment
Day 27 - 8am-9am: Now that you've been blogging for a bit now and are getting the hang of it, put together a list of blog post ideas that you can refer back to in the future when you're drawing a blank.
Day 28 - 2pm-4pm: Do your second trade/cross-promotion with your second vendor that you decided to partner with.
Day 29 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 30 - 8am-10am: Re-assess your Facebook advertising. Is it helping you get leads or newsletter signups? If yes, you're good to go! If not, adjust something in your advertising and try something a little bit different.
Day 31 - 8am-10am: Re-assess your goals and marketing. Are you getting more leads? What area of marketing seems to be getting you the most leads? *By this time, we'll assume that you're averaging 1-2 more clients per month more than you were doing before.
Week 9: Adjusting for Profit
Day 32 - 8am-10am: Adjust your packages and times to include a 1-hour IPS session for any new sessions you book going forward.
Day 33 - 8am-9am: Write up another newsletter for next month and schedule it ahead of time.
Day 34 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 35 - 8am-9am: Research trade shows in your area that may have a large percentage of your ideal clients. Reach out to the ones you think would be a good fit for you.
Day 36 - Take a break! You've been working hard. Enjoy a martini (or 3) and give yourself some time to chill.
Week 10: Researching Referral Programs
Day 37 - 8am-9am: Research referral programs and ideas.
Day 38 - 8am-9am: Research referral programs and ideas.
Day 39 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 40 - 8am-9am: Research Sticky Albums. See if it's something you'd like to make part of your referral program.
Day 41 - 8am-9:30am: Put together the supplies you need to start a referral program. Write the text/copy for your website, order client gifts, write/design brochures/pamphlets that explain what your referral program is, etc.
Week 11: Starting In-Person Sales
Day 42 - 2pm-3pm: Do your first client session for an IPS client!
Day 43 - 2pm-3pm: Do your first real IPS session!
Day 44 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 45 - 8am-9:30am: Analyze your IPS session. How did it go? What were your weak points? What did you do really well? How far off were you from your sales goal? Adjust your script where you feel necessary, and make any other changes you think will help future sessions.
Day 46 - 8am-10am: Re-assess your Facebook advertising again, and make changes as needed.
Week 12: Implement Your Referral Program
Day 47 - 8am-10am: Order any printables you need to finish putting together your referral program (like brochures). Finish gathering any supplies you need and writing copy, including writing a newsletter that explains your referral program to your past clients and newsletter list.
Day 48 - 2pm-3pm: Do your second client session for an IPS client!
Day 49 - 2pm-3pm: Do your second real IPS session!
Day 50 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 51 - 8am-9:30am: Schedule the newsletter announcing your referral program. Make sure you have everything together so that any new clients you book get information about your referral program when they book.
Week 13: Follow-through
Day 52 - 8am-10am: Re-assess your Facebook advertising. How is it going? Are you still getting leads? Make any adjustments you may need, if any at all.
Day 53 - 2pm-3pm: Do your third client session for an IPS client! (Make sure they get info about your referral program if you haven't given it to them already!)
Day 54 - 2pm-3pm: Do your third real IPS session!
Day 55 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post.
Day 56 - 8am-9am: Write and schedule another newsletter.
Week 14: SUCCESS
Day 57 - 8am-10am: Re-assess your IPS sessions. How is it going? Is it starting to feel more natural? Make any adjustments you may need, if any at all.
Day 58 - 2pm-3pm: Do your fourth client session for an IPS client! (Make sure they get info about your referral program if you haven't given it to them already!)
Day 59 - 2pm-3pm: Do your fourth real IPS session!
Day 60 - 8am-9am: Do another blog post. ** Repeat this week's schedule as many times as necessary (just don't forget newsletters!) until you get the desired client load, or until you're making enough $$ via in-person sales that you don't need to bring on any additional clients. And then, once you get there - go ahead and quit your other job!
Ok, this was a really really super big goal, since we had to break it into three parts. But let's take a moment to talk about why this is a good goal.
1. We wrote them down. Ok, this is something you couldn't see happen since this is digital, but you'll just have to take our word for it that it was part of the process.
2. We broke them up into actionable tasks. Everything from researching referral programs and IPS information to setting aside time to work on Facebook ads, etc. Everything that got us to Point B from Point A was broken up into smaller subtasks.
3. When we did #2, we also put together a timeline of when we were going to accomplish all of our subtasks. That way, we weren't just saying what we were going to do, we were also making a plan of action for how to get it done.
4. We didn't go goal crazy (even though this is a big goal). We stuck to one goal - make enough money via photography to quit the full-time job - and followed it through until completion.
5. We made the goal quantifiable. This is what we did in Part 1 of this goal when we sat down and calculated out how much we needed to make to make our goal a success. We didn't just say 'make more money;' that doesn't cut it. It doesn't give clear expectations or definable benchmarks, which makes it almost impossible to track results and progress. Instead, we calculated out to the penny how much exactly we needed to make so that we knew what the 'finish line' of our goal looked like, and so we could track our progress along the way.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT!
This started out as a really big, intimidating goal with a lot of moving parts. But by breaking it up into its pieces and subtasks, and then creating a plan, we were able to lay out a plan for actually making it happen.
In the process, we hope we showed you that it is not insurmountable! It just takes continuous work, some critical thinking, and a plan for getting it done.