A quick update on the planning process:
- Planning is harder than it looks.
- But it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
- It’s also a lot more enjoyable than I anticipated.
- I’m making some amazing progress
- I’ve never before felt such excitement and confidence when planning ahead for my business. There are such exciting things ahead!
Planning ahead— whether short-term or long-term— can be quite overwhelming, even if one makes it a regular habit. I’m not stranger to that feeling. I’m a huge planner, and always have been. I do this kind of evaluation every year, so you would think that I would have a good system down by now. Right?
Well, yes and no. For some reason— perhaps because of my recently changed marital status, or because 2013 was such a challenging year, business-wise, or perhaps for other reasons altogether— evaluating, planning, and forecasting my life and business seemed particularly stressful this time around. But also more necessary than ever before. And that’s one reason that I decided to take the month “off” of most shooting and editing, so I could really hone in on the back-end work that’s been sitting on the… well, on the back burner for so many years. And that requires some intensive planning & evaluation
I don’t know what your yearly planning looks like, or if it’s something you’ve ever considered doing (if not, I would highly recommend it), but I thought it might be useful to some if I outlined what my process has looked like so far.
I’m using several tools to help with my planning this year. I’ve blogged before about the personal year-end evaluation questions that I work through each year. I started my “planning season” with those questions— because I needed to make sure that I had my personal priorities set in stone before moving onto my business priorities. A few other tools that have been helpful for me:
- Lara Casey‘s Powersheets. I was gifted these back in November, and I’ve found them to be a useful tool in thinking through my goals, both personal and business, considering the reason why behind the goal, and then breaking that goal down into achievable pieces spread out over a six-month time block. I’ve found Lara’s style a bit slow for me, but only because I’m so anxious to get to the doing part of the goal list! I’m grateful that she forced me to slow down! Note: this is for anyone, not just photographers!
- Stacy Reeves‘ Photographer’s Pricing Guide. I recommend this to other photographers alllll the time. It’s the best free pricing information out there— a .pdf with step-by-step help, as well as an Excel document with functions already in place. You literally just type in your numbers, and it tells you how you should be pricing. SO helpful.
- Liana Hall‘s PhotoBiz Boot Camp materials. I went through this workshop three years ago, and it left me with my head spinning out of control, but going back through all of her material and taking the time to use her Excel spreadsheets (along with Stacy Reeves’) gave me an accurate picture of my current business costs, and has helped me to take finances into consideration, resulting in more realistic plans for 2014.
- Branding materials. Yes, yes, I’m going through a rebrand, not just a website redesign (not saying too much about it yet! but get excited!!), so I did a quick search for good branding questions from design companies around the country, and made myself work through those. This was surprisingly insightful, and helped direct my plans to correspond with the goals that I already have in place.
- Pinterest!!! Seriously. What do I want 2014 to look like? Visual girl needs visuals. 🙂
What I’m Doing Next
I’ve spent 10 days on this process so far, and guess what? I’m not even close to being done. I have my goals outlined, and I’ve taken steps toward achieving them, but there are still several significant parts of planning work that I’m dedicating my time to over the next few weeks. A few of them:
- Even more website prep. I promise you, guys— when this new brand launches, it’s going to be worth every ounce of energy I’ve put into it. I’m SO EXCITED. (props to Jen, my dear friend who has been so patient with me throughout this eighteen-month process. seriously— who in their right mind spends 18 months working on one stupid website? oh yeah, that would be me).
- Portfolio review. This is the fun part! Or not. Gah. I’m SO emotionally-attached to my pictures. I’m excited to work through this using Zack Arias’ method.
- Studio management software. Organization is one of my biggest goals this year, and I plan to take time to think through all of my systems thoroughly, streamline where necessary, and set up better systems wherever possible.
- Projected income and expenses for 2014. I may have worked through
- “The Dream List”— this is a list of photo shoots that I want to make happen this year… for me. I haven’t pushed myself much, creatively, in the last few years, and I’m ready for a challenge. So I’m going to create some for myself. Big goal here: shoot to remind myself just how much I love it.
Oh, and a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the survey last week!! SO HELPFUL!! I wanted to share a few results with you. In 2014, you would prefer:
- Photography-rich posts to show more real weddings that I’ve shot, but mostly just more pictures!
- Wedding-related posts should be about my own wedding, since hello! I just got married!! After I exhaust you all with photos and stories from our wedding, you’d prefer more wedding-shooting tips, and inspiration from my portfolio.
- If it’s a personal post, you want to see more photos, and read more about what goes on in my head. 🙂
- Most of you prefer image-rich posts, but nearly everyone just wants me to write more.
- Three days a week seems to be a good number of days to post (and I think that’s realistic for me).
- And specific topics to cover in the upcoming year: more of my personal life, home decorating, photography tutorials, and business training.
What are some of your favorite planning tools? I (obviously) love planning, and could always stand to have more tools at my disposal!