“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”
― Thomas Jefferson
I‘d have to agree with Jefferson on that one.
It seems to me that the most successful and profitable years of my business just happened to coincide with the times that I put the most effort into marketing, education, my workflows and follow up with clients.
Those weren’t years that I was just ”lucky” enough to get more business. Clients didn’t call by chance and spend more because of some mystical alignment of the planets.
The best financial years are due to the solid implementation of business systems and the methodical use of a preconceived marketing calendar.
Of course some years can fluctuate based on overall economic conditions but the time to market is always. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you’re desperate for business revenues to market. It’s likely too late by then. Marketing is as much a necessity to success as having a service or product to market.
Let’s assume you’re a wedding/portrait photographer for a minute. When are you likely busiest? Most likely from May to December with weddings and portrait appointments going week to week. Chances are you are a bit slower in January, February and March. January right after the busy Christmas rush is an ideal time to sit down and plan the year out.
An overall marketing plan is especially effective for the slower months when it’s less likely to be steadily busy:
- January could be a great month for a business portrait or headshot special.
- February has Valentines, so why not a glamour portrait, boudoir special or even a couples special portrait event.
- March could be a time for a print sale for all weddings from the previous year.
- April is Easter, so encourage portraits of children.
- May is Mother’s Day and you can give a special for portraits of all ladies young and old. Grandmas with granddaughters, of course moms and their kids and maybe even portraits of just sisters.
- June is Father’s day and that can mean portraits of just the guys.
Of course all the days in-between special holidays we can expect to have a normal flow of business for everyday work from individual portraits to engagement portraits and families.
I recommend putting out a regular newsletter showing recent work and featuring a client’s family. Why not also feature in your newsletter some local vendors that you work with as a special referral for them. Vendor referrals are often reciprocated and a great source of future clients.
When you create a marketing calendar I’d also suggest you plan for education getaways such as WPPI, Inspire, ImagingUSA, etc.
In addition to marking down continuing education in your calendar also be sure to block in regular time for rest and relaxation. Hard work always leads to fatigue and burnout unless you plan for times of rest. You’ll find that some of your best ideas come during down time and you can make them a reality when you go back to work.
I have personally found a kind of cycle that fuels my business:
Work hard > Rest and recreation > Stimulates creativity that I bring back to work > Improves my photography and business > Leads to better clients who spend more > Makes me want to exceed expectations > Leads to better client experience > More referrals
I‘ve often heard people say it’s better to work smarter than work harder.
I agree it does make sense to work smarter but if that means not working hard, I just don’t buy it.
There are too many that promise a quicker, easier way to success, but I’m not going to tell you that. I’m going to tell you that to be successful you have to work for it.
You have to work hard for success. Sometimes you even have to be patient too. It can take a while for all that effort, sweat and perseverance to pay off. But take it from me, when you’ve built up a business from nothing and you are creating your own income from photography all by yourself, it produces an immense satisfaction that only entrepreneurs can understand.
Take it from Thomas Jefferson; work hard and you’d be amazed at how lucky you become!
Estee Lauder had this to say about it; “I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”