At any time, you might feel stuck with your wedding photography business. That you just don’t know what will reignite your passion or set you back on the right track. It happens to everyone at some point. Instead of remaining stuck, let’s dive into these 10 Steps That could Reboot Your Wedding Photography Business. Do them all or pick and chose the ones that suit you.
Revisit Your Roots
No tree can grow if the roots are restricted so a new year is always a good time to shake up your roots and re-examine the foundations of your business. Your fundamentals may well have changed significantly since this time last year, for instance, your market.
Many wedding photographers were focused on the destination market but with all the travel restrictions, these weddings are happening much less and so there are fewer couples looking to fly in a photographer to their wedding abroad. Even if you are solely focused on the UK market perhaps the geography has shifted for you in response to weddings becoming smaller. Not many of us would want to travel a great distance to do minimal coverage so your market might currently be based closer to home than before.
Similarly, the profile of your Ideal Clients may also have altered significantly. Revisit what you consider to be an attractive list of attributes for a couple and their wedding – If this is greatly changed then you know that you need to make some shifts in how you are planning to market yourself this year. At this point last year your Ideal Client might have been planning a grand wedding with several guests but the 2021 version might be more scaled back and focused on emotion rather than the decor.
Redefine Your Position
Taking on board what might have changed for you, this is a terrific time to review your Mission Statement. When I mentor photographers, we start by examining their foundations. Part of that is defining their Ideal Clients and the next stage is writing a Mission Statement that identifies your target audience, your service, and what is unique about what you offer. You might create one of these and feel that year on year it stays the same or you might make changes to yours at times when you are conscious of major changes in your foundations. Right now could be one of those times. Mission statements can be a great navigational tool, helping you to set goals and move forward with structure.
Let Go Of Expectations
Perhaps the biggest lesson of last year is to expect the unexpected – That whatever plans you make, always be prepared to bend and shift. Trees that sway in the wind develop extra resilience and can withstand more force. Be that tree. The photographers that I see waiting for things to just ‘return to normal’ are the ones that might be struggling most right now. The photographers that thrive are the ones that have adapted and altered their direction with each change.
So weddings almost completely disappeared in 2020 and many of us had to add other strings to our bows in order to survive. As weddings pick back up, the temptation might be to now ditch those new income sources. However, they may be worth holding on to for additional security and because we now know that putting all your eggs in one basket can leave you in a vulnerable position. It was fascinating to see wedding photographers pushing more into the portrait, lifestyle, and brand photography market. While you might suddenly get an increase in business with weddings, they will always be largely clustered into the summer months and that leaves plenty of space in your calendar for other photography.
Prepare and Preplan
We do also know that there should be certain events over this year – We can easily plan ahead for those and set some marketing in place. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day (yes that is a thing), Halloween, and Christmas, etc. These can all be fantastic times for seasonal promotions and offers.
For instance, I predict that pumpkin patch photoshoots will be huge in the Autumn this year. Some Farmers here in the UK have cottoned on to the success of pumpkin fields in the US and they are now creating their own. Why just pop to your local supermarket to pick up your pumpkins to carve for Halloween when you can go to a cute field full of them and make it an Instagram moment? Or better still book a pro photographer. You could reach out to a business local to you that sold pumpkins last year to see if they might even be up for letting you host mini sessions there on set dates.
I recommend sitting down with either a wall planner, a calendar app, or a spreadsheet and mapping out your marketing year. Using key dates as anchors and then working backwards so that you know when to start marketing or pushing offers.
I hear you, sitting there thinking this all sounds a bit manic. Maybe you secretly enjoyed the change of pace that 2020 brought and the thought of shooting your weddings plus other genres might be stressing you out. Listen to me, the only time that you are making money as a photographer is when you are shooting. Almost everything else can be outsourced from your admin to your social media to your editing. There is a freelancer or a company out there that can take care of so many of the other parts of running your business, freeing you up to make the money, OK?
Do a SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Threat, and Opportunity. It’s a simple business tool to help you develop your business strategies. The best way to create one is to make a two-way grid with a section for each category. Fill out each section with a list of your strengths, weaknesses, then the threats that you might be facing and the opportunities are available to you. Strengths and weaknesses are within you and threats and opportunities are external market factors. This is another exercise that we do in my mentoring programme to help us get a good perspective on how strengths can advance us and weaknesses can be overcome. It also helps you feel more prepared for adversity.
Set a Goal List
The start of any year is the perfect time to create a set of goals. I like to arrange them into three categories.
Year Goals – this is where you get to dream big. It might be winning an award, speaking at a conference, booking a wedding in an incredible destination. Just imagine if there were no blocks in your way what would you love to achieve this year?
Monthly Goals – for me this might be booking a set amount of weddings or getting featured somewhere exciting. These will change on a monthly basis.
Weekly Goals – this is usually just a rolling to-do list of tasks that I need to get done from week to week. I’ve tried apps and calendars but I keep going back to good old lists in a book. There is something so satisfying about crossing things off a list. I sometimes even add things on that I’ve already done just for that feeling! It’s important to chart your progression and sometimes reflect on what you have got done instead of always focusing on what’s left to do, that can feel oppressive. Also bear in mind that goals can be rolled over, never beat yourself up for not accomplishing them all. Having them just gives you a place to aim towards rather than stumbling around without direction.
Almost every company will carry out some form of customer research, usually through surveys. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t also access this very useful business tool. The point being that by harvesting data from your current or past clients, you will be better equipped to attract future clients. You could identify unmet needs and be able to fulfil them. I say this time and time again – Photography is a service industry and we all need to work on our customer service and meeting client needs. There are some brilliant tools that can assist you to set up a nice-looking survey such as Typeform or Survey Monkey. It’s a good idea to push the data into a spreadsheet so you can see it all in one place. We should never assume that we know best what our customers want. They are also a terrific way to ask for testimonials from past clients. Peppering your marketing material with these can reassure future bookers that they are making a good decision in securing you.
Look At The Big Picture
January is a perfect time for an annual audit. Your accounts are in and you can get an overview of your entire business. What works well, what needs improving, what can go altogether? Armed with your Mission Statement, Your Ideal Customer Profile and Your SWOT Analysis, you can profile your business, increase your efficiency and increased profits will naturally follow. I’m predicting that this year will be a Renaissance for many. So prepare now to succeed, I’m excited for you and I hope that you are feeling inspired and fired up for the year ahead.