Are you still in the early stages of trying to grow your photography business? Below you will find 8 things you can do in 2016 that will grow your photography business.
1) Update Your Photography Portfolio - Joel Grimes is one of my favorite photographers. On a video that I watched recently, Joel said that he tries to shoot ONE personal project per week. That surprised me because ONE per week is 52 in a year. He gave the impression that he is able to make that happen most weeks. Joel is likely far busier and far more financially successful than most photographers reading this post. My point is that he makes time to do personal projects to build his portfolio. What would your portfolio look like at the end of 2016 if you worked on making it better with personal projects even every other week?
2) Actively Market Your Photography Business On Social Media - It is the easiest way to promote what you are up to. Post images and updates on your Facebook Personal & Business Page, get active with LinkedIn updates (it's super easy and quick to do - updates not the full blown writing part) and find one other social media platform that you can stay committed to (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc.). Tip: I don't agree with those that say you should post all your ups and downs about your business on Social Media. It doesn't really help your brand and your business to say "This was a slow week. I wish the phone would ring more." Whether that is on your personal page or your business page, what message are you sending out about your business? Keep things positive not woe is me. Who wants to do business with woe is me?
3) Stop Worrying About Other Photographers - If you know of another photographer that's has been doing photography for a shorter time than you, that has less impressive work than you and appears (things are not always what they seem) to be busier than you, don't let it drag you down. Find a way to stay motivated and stop worrying about other photographers. Follow the ones you like, stay motivated and skip the ones that are bringing you down.
4) Write A 300-350 Word Weekly Photography Blog Post - In case you don't know how long that is, it is actually about the length of this blog post to this point. So look above and ask yourself, can I write this many words once per week? If the answer is no, then you are lying to yourself. It only takes about 30 minutes or so to crank out 300-350 words once per week. I started writing this post at 6 a.m. (+/-) on a Saturday. You need to make CONTENT a priority in 2016: Blogging, Social Media, etc. Google loves fresh content.
5) Do Some Networking For Your Photography Business - There are multiple ways to network to build your brand and stay motivated about what you are doing in your business. It doesn't have to be joining a BNI group for $500 (or so). You can find FREE or Low Cost groups by using Meetup.com or find some strategic connections. What do I mean about strategic connections? Find 1, 2 or 3 people that you can meet with on a regular basis that may have the kind of connections that you need. For example, Steven David Elliot (the guy behind North Hills Networking in Raleigh) might be a good guy to buy a cup of coffee for to ask how to approach Real Estate Photography. Speaking of North Hills Networking, it's FREE and once per month. Yes, it's in the evening, but it's once per month. There are plenty of ways to get out and network without paying for a membership that may not be in your budget.
6) Find A Photography Mentor - If you are having trouble staying motivated, seem to be in a rut or just don't know what you should do next, you should consider finding someone you know, like and trust that you can sit down with to discuss what you are doing or what you are NOT doing that you should be. Don't waste a mentors time if you are not willing to take action on the advice he/she provides. Be upfront if you don't have money to spend on your business. Have the mentor not only provide advice but to hold you accountable by asking you questions like "Tell me what you have done this week to grow your business?" Accountabity makes a difference and it's often better to have someone other than your spouse ask the tough questions and hold you accountable. Sadly, you are more likely to snap at your spouse than a mentor.
7) Learn Something New About Photography Every Week - It's easy to learn new things in photography with all the FREE You Tube Videos, Blogs and Social Media right at your fingertips. If you are not learning new things on a regular basis, it's easy to get stuck doing the same old thing.
8) Put A Minimum Of 40 Hours In Every Week In 2016 Into Your Photography Business - There are only 7 things listed above. They are not the only 7 things you should be doing, but it's a start. The 8th thing is to actually put a minimum of 40 hours per week average into your business in 2016 for all 52 weeks and see what happens. It will be almost impossible to not be better off than you are at this very moment.
Some of the things above will yield faster results than others, so if you want two things that you should likely put the most initial effort into, here you go: 1) Build Your Portfolio and 2) Network - If you put 70% ( 28 hours of your 40 ) into those two things, you will likely see a difference in your business and in your motivation in a matter of 6 to 8 weeks. Notice that I left 12 hours in there which could be spent on the other 5 things. The weekly blog post is an hour maximum. You are likely already on social media most everyday anyway, so just maximize that for your business.
If you are putting 40 hours in every week building your business, when will there be time to do real projects? Well the goal is that you replace some of the time with paying projects, but initially it may be more getting ready to get paid than getting paid. Remember This: No Effort = No Money.
Hey, if you know someone that is self employed, still in the building phase and only working 40 hours per week, please let me know because I'd like to meet them. The reality is that you likely need to be doing 5 to 6 days per week of 10 to 12 hour days which is 50 to 72 hours per week. WOW! 72 hours per week - "I cannot and will not do that." FYI, don't complain about other photographers who seem to stay busy that are putting 50+ hours per week into their business. It's hard to build a business on 40 hours of effort. 40 hours is just the starting point. Oh and by no means am I saying sacrifice your marriage and family, you have to find the balance. The reality is that should be between 40 to 72 hours per week.
I have one final question for you: Have you seriously put 40+ hours per week minimum for all of 2015 in your business? If you did and have truly, 100% without a doubt put 1,000+ hours into building your business in 2015 and are still not busy enough, then I would agree with you that maybe you should find another career. On the other hand, if you can honestly admit that you have put far less than 1,000 hours into your 2015 efforts, now's the time to change that. 2016 is fast approaching. Put 1,000+ hours into your 2016 efforts and then tell me this time next you that you wasted your time. I doubt that will happen. Effort = Reward.
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