After this month’s 31 Days to a Better Photography Business workshop I had a little realization about creating goals for your photography business. Here I am telling my workshop attendees to create goals and to make them challenging, but not too challenging. They should be something you can easily attain with a little hard work. Maybe I didn’t explain myself so well. The ladies in the workshop have been working hard this month and many of them came back with goals I didn’t expect to see. I figured I must have not explained myself very well at all or maybe it’s our human nature to plan to take on way more than we actually feasibly can.
In helping these ladies write their business plans I wanted them to truly focus on their goals. We’ve been talking a lot in classes and occasionally on the blog about measuring your success. As a small business owner we can only measure our success against the goals we create for ourselves. Everyone who is starting their photography business and trying to build it has different limitations in their lives, kids, families, dogs, full time jobs, part time jobs and more. This means that it’s easy as photographers when we’re still working that day job to not see ourselves as successful with our photography when we aren’t booking as much as the full time photographer down the street. But, how can you really compare yourself to them? Their life, background, experience, and situation is completely different than yours. I think that’s why setting goals for your business will help you define what is success for YOU and help you feel successful when you accomplish the things on your goal list a year later.
So here I am telling these photographers to write a business plan and focus on their goals. These workshop ladies are very talented and driven and many of them have only started their business within the last couple months. They’re a lot farther than I was in my first couple months! Their business plans came back to me with goals of doing one or more sessions per week and it was then I realized how much we as an industry truly do compare ourselves and create expectations for ourselves based on how ‘busy’ we think other photographers are.
The truth is that our industry has months that are insanely busy and months that are dull, boring, and have nothing. Eventually you may get to a point in your business where you can expect a certain amount of clients every year. However, it’s difficult to expect them on a regular basis. I think sometimes it’s hard for us to let go of that regular job where you learn to expect pay, work, and all of that on a schedule. Unfortunately photography is one of those things that doesn’t work on a schedule. It’s all over the place and I don’t want anyone who is starting their business or revamping it to have unrealistic expectations of getting one session or more per week. What’s going to happen if you create a goal for yourself like that and then you have a couple weeks with no sessions? You’re going to feel like a failure and you are not a failure simply because you have a couple free weeks.
That being said, I think we should still create goals, but we need to strive for them to be a perfect balance between realistic and challenging. We definitely want to challenge ourselves to work hard as business owners, but we also don’t want to set goals that are so unattainable we’re going to give up our passion for photography. If you’re in your first year or you’re further along and are still looking to build your business set your goals annually. After going over this with many of my workshop attendees I wanted to share it with everyone because I think it’s important and I think these goals are a huge part of your motivation, success, and confidence as a business owner. A great goal for your first year is to do 25 portrait sessions for the year. That averages out to approximately 2 a month, but don’t expect to do 2 a month. Expect to have some months where you do 5 or 6 and some months where you do 0. 25 sessions will require some hard work to get them in the door, but once you’ve done them you’re going to feel so accomplished for reaching that goal! And trust me, even some of the busiest photographers in the world, even some celebrity photographers don’t get 1 to 3 sessions per week.
It also goes without saying that some won’t reach their goals and that’s okay. I don’t always reach my goals, but usually with hard work I get darn close. 20 sessions out of 25…that’s still amazing and so close to your goal! This is what I mean by you measuring your own success. No one can tell you in this industry what success looks like, you’re the only one that can define it for you.
If you are interested in doing October’s 31 Days to a Better Photography Business workshop you can sign up >here<. If you’d like to do one-on-one mentoring with me sign up >here< and if you’d like some frozen yogurt I highly recommend Yogurtland.