As we approach the end of the calendar year I am coming to the end of a busy three months. Normally in the week before Christmas things start to slow down. Prints and products have all been delivered well in time for Christmas, and my wedding work takes a break for a few weeks.
This year I’m shooting a wedding on Christmas Eve, which is unusual, but with all of my client Christmas orders delivered I am starting to unwind and expecting to have a quieter few weeks. This time of year is ideal for assessing what your business has achieved for the year, and to plan for next year. To help with this, here are four year end ideas to make your photography business stronger.
Is your first move of the new year to renegotiate with suppliers and immediately boost profitability?
Business Improvement Idea #1 – Analyse and Negotiate with Suppliers
In the majority of photography business tips I read there is a never ending debate about photographers needing to raise their prices. Then there is the inevitable push back from some photographers who fear their work is not worth the higher prices, or that their clients will suddenly vanish. In 20+ years in the business world, I’ve learnt that the quickest and most effective way to increase business profitability is to reduce expenses.
Looking at my own expenses this year I see I have ordered 65 canvas prints for the year from 3 different suppliers. I’m currently paying the same price per canvas print as someone who only orders only 1. In January I will be speaking to my preferred supplier (of the 3) to see if they can offer me a special rate, fixed for the year, to reflect the volume of canvas prints I plan to do with them. The savings will be an immediate benefit to the profitability of my business.
Have you looked at your expenses and found areas for savings? Can you negotiate with a supplier for a better deal?
Business Improvement Idea #2 – Invite a Trusted Friend to Review Your Business Operations
One challenge in running a photography business is that you can be so close to the operations that you can no longer see the strengths and weaknesses. By inviting a trusted friend to review your business operations you have the potential to see things more objectively than you can on your own.
Don’t ask them to review the quality of your work – just ask them to look at the business operations and offer feedback for improvement. It could be as simple as them saying – “I see expenses have increased 8% while you revenues have only increased 2%” to focus you on addressing issues you couldn’t see yourself.
A trusted friend can help see your business in a new way
Business Improvement Idea #3 – Killers not Fillers
There are only 2 key criteria your potential clients will assess you on when considering which photographer to hire. The first is your reputation, and the second is your portfolio.
It is the portfolio which is easiest to influence and is worth continually assessing. We all like to include work in our portfolios which is meaningful to us or comes attached to special memories. But a potential client is not aware of this. They are only assessing what they see. Make sure your portfolio is the strongest it can be. Display only your strongest images. Ensure your portfolio is full of killers not fillers.
(If you are reading this and expecting to see price as a key consideration from a client – price is an important consideration, but not as important as reputation and portfolio. If it was, the cheapest photographer would get all the work.)
Showing only your best work is very important. Please see this post on Doctrine of a Successful Pro Photographer.
A potential client’s decision will be driven by your reputation and the quality of your portfolio
Business Improvement Idea #4 – Streamline Paperwork Which Slows You Down
It seems incredible in today’s digital world that there can still be any paperwork! My business still has plenty and it has the potential to distract you from your main purpose – meeting the needs of your clients.
As we come to the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one – consider, are there any paper based processes which you can streamline? The objective is to create more time for client related activities, and to spend less time on administration.
Thanks for reading four year end ideas to make your photography business stronger. I hope they have been useful to you, and will give you something to consider over the holiday period. Merry Christmas!