Our Off Season Check List
I have been asked a good 20 times “What are you doing now that you don’t have any work?” or I have heard “You probably aren’t very busy right now.” This is my craziest time, but in a different way! Shooting weddings is the Fun, easy part in my eyes. I want to share what off season looks like to maybe help other photographers be the MOST productive during this time.
1. MISSION STATEMENT
If you have not already written a vision and mission statement for your business.. do it now! If you have, this is a great time to go over and make sure it reflects your main goal and nothing has changed. This could also mean a change in what you shoot and what your business is focused around.
Write out all of your goals for 2015. This can be numbers ( bookings, financial, etc.), but also be sure to have educational goals, and BIG goals. I often set goals that I can reach, MAYBE reach, and IN MY DREAMS reach. It is so nice to make them plain as day and it is amazing to see that some of the dreams I thought were untouchable.. actually weren’t. This is great to look back on during the next off season and evaluate yourself. Mine often look like (Buy two more lenses, attend a workshop, get published in 10 blogs or magazines, create photography digital products, mentor more, find new ways to serve, etc.)
Oh my, the taxes. This time of year I am usually playing catch up on quickbooks from the BUSY season. After I am caught up, then I prepare everything to file our taxes, take care of quarterlies, etc. Another BIG part of looking at taxes is looking at the workflow and seeing if there can be new systems in place for 2015. How do you file receipts? How do you invoice? How do you look to see what your profit and loss is? Do you need quickbooks? Do you need an accountant?
4. BRANDING UPDATES
This probably keeps me the busiest. Website, blog, business cards, consult box, etc. We create our next years wedding and senior guide every year. THIS year I decided to completely redesign the magazine. I think that will only happen every 2-3 years for times sake. I update and reorder our business cards. I also think through our systems and see if I need to design anything else. For example, last year we created cards to sit at every table setting with the PASS info for the guests to look at wedding pictures later. We really liked how that went this year and will re-design and order those again.
5. EQUIPMENT CLEANED AND UPGRADED
This time of year is the best time to send your equipment off and get it cleaned. It is also a good time to evaluate your equipment for the following year. I have a list of things to order before our first wedding and that will all be taken care of during the off season. (more rechargeable batteries, new pocket wizards, a pelican case, card organizers, etc.)
6. Plan, Plan, PLAN!
Plan your year. Look through the calendar and see what free time you have and DO something with it. Plan a styled shoot, boost your senior model or newborn programs, meet with vendors or venues, etc. Make use of your time wisely and plan your year in advance as best as you can. Right now we are planning three styled shoots, and giving our senior model program a major boost. I am on the phone with vendors, models, volunteers, almost every day. Our goal is to plan things that help bring in our ideal client. Do not plan events or meetings you are not passionate about.
7. FRONT OF MIND
Touch base with your clients from last year, clients you haven’t talked to in a while, etc. Word of mouth is so powerful and it is important to try and stay in the front of their mind. Let them know you care and that you are thinking of them. This goes a long way!
8. GET MENTORED
If you have down time, get mentored. Usually this is downtime for other photographers and they would be happy to meet you with. Sharpen your skills for the next year and go into 2015 feeling confident!
Skype or meet with other photographers. You will learn so much by networking and making friends with others in the industry. Loose the competition mentality, and cross over all of the uneasy feelings, it is worth it. Sometimes it is so nice just to have someone who understands and can give you that recharge for the next year. This is lower on the list but something I find very important!
Clean your office, your props, your camera bags, your computer, hard drives, etc. This is a great time to move some of your files around, and just get yourself organized. Again, I am always looking at the systems we have in place in the off season and seeing what needs changed. This year we got a little out of hand in some areas and decided to pay for a studio manager, Shoot Q. It has been a process to switch over to it but it is going to keep us organized and keep our clients information all in the same place.
There is definitely more that I focus on but this is a GREAT start! This time of year is really what makes or breaks you in busy season. Get your self organized and charged up so that you not only just get through it, but excel! Do you want to see your business grow? Focus, get organized, and make use of this time of year! Thanks for reading.
Sharing, serving, and celebrating,
Andrew + Chrissy Photography