We’ve compiled our favorite tips to make 2023 YOUR YEAR—even if you’re not really into the whole New Year’s resolution thing.
Is your business…messy? Is your marketing…clumsy? Is your stress level…reaching atomic levels? It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s barrel head first into 2023, and leave our bad business habits in the past!
#1: Raise your prices. STAT.
I know you’re looking at that and thinking, “But Jesi, my area is so oversaturated! If I charge more than $150, no one will book me. I’m struggling to get clients as it is!”
The thing is, if you charge on average $150 for a photography session with no upselling, you would need to have one client a day, Monday through Friday every week of the year, to bring in a whopping $39,000 gross income. No day’s off, no vacations, nada.
Let’s say you miraculously kept your expenses low: maybe you got lucky and didn’t have any equipment break or need upgrading, didn’t buy props, don’t have a studio space, and somehow managed to get all those clients without spending a dime on advertising.
You’d still probably have to spend SOME of that $39,000 on expenses (insurance, gas, accounting services, outsourcing edits, website hosting, gallery delivery service like ShootProof, cellphone, etc.) but just for the sake of argument, let’s estimate your expenses for the year are $2,000.
Assuming you’re filing as a single person with no dependents, that leaves you $37,000 in taxable income, of which about $2,700 would go to the IRS, leaving you with $34,300, or $2,858/month. That sounds pretty good! If the average American is paying $1,300/month in rent, you’ll have $1,558 to spend on things like your car payment, health insurance, utilities, and food…suddenly that $39,000 a year isn’t looking so good.
And don’t forget: photography is a SKILL, an artisanal skill that is in high demand. What is the benefit of running your own business if you’re only bringing in barely more than minimum wage, get no days off, and can’t afford to take a vacation? Make it make sense!
Even if you’re running your business super part-time, you deserve a living wage. You deserve to be able to fund a retirement account, invest in your education, update your equipment, take vacations, and enjoy photography rather than treating it like a “side hustle.”
#2: Be intentional about your marketing and make a marketing plan
Throwing social media posts into the void and hoping someone notices you is not a marketing plan. Leaving business cards at the local deli is not a marketing plan. Aggressively saying “You forgot to tag me” on the posts of client’s who forgot to tag you…also not a marketing plan!
In 2023, make a resolution to create a real marketing plan for your business that is realistic, effective, and speaks to your ideal client. A good marketing plan will have multiple strategies with measurable goals, such as email marketing, content marketing, personal brand building, paid advertising, Search Engine Optimization, etc.
Relying on word of mouth alone is great until an unexpected life event forces you to move to a new area, or business slows down right when you need it to spike up. Having a multi-pronged approach to your marketing means you’ll be able to work consistently.
#3: Get organized
If the way to name and store files, deliver images, or track your memory cards looks more like a horror film than a thoughtful system, 2023 is the year you need to change that!
# ShootProof PRO Tip
Spend some time at the beginning of the year working out a consistent way to name files and making sure your hard drives are backed up to a cloud storage service.
Be sure you’re using a simple file delivery service, like ShootProof, so that your clients don’t get frustrated when it’s time to download their images. And consider labeling memory cards or having a couple of bowls on your desk for CLEARED and UNCLEARED memory cards.
#4: Outsource something you hate doing
The first thing I outsourced for my business was my accounting and bookkeeping. My accountant does everything from reconciling my accounts to filing my taxes, and it’s worth the couple thousand dollars a year I spend to not have to do the tasks I hate the most.
Save yourself some headache in the new year by making a resolution to outsource some part of your business. Get your time back! You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.
# ShootProof PRO Tip
Consider outsourcing editing, SEO, Google ads, blog writing, social media management, or whatever task it is that’s getting in the way of you doing what you do best: making amazing photos for your clients.
#5: Unfollow other photographers on social media
This one might be controversial, but one of the best things I did for my mental health last year was only following photographers who I am friends with IN REAL LIFE. I stopped following educators, influencers, and just people whose work I admired unless we had actually met (or if I had been a student of theirs and actually found their education useful.)
Because when I look at other people’s work, I tend to fall into the dreaded comparison trap – where I can’t help but compare their work, their business, and their life to my own. That makes me start doubting myself and THERE IS NO ROOM FOR THAT NONSENSE IN MY BUSINESS! So if you find yourself in the comparison trap, unfollow and focus on yourself.
#6: Take more self-portraits or hire a photographer to create portraits for you
Some of you will hate this idea. But I’d be remiss as a personal branding photographer if I didn’t remind you that people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. And if they don’t know what the heck you look like, that can put people on edge.
Hiding behind your logo or a phone camera selfie isn’t helping your business connect with people on a human level. I also believe many of us forget how much anxiety our clients feel when they have a camera pointed at them – so put yourself in their shoes so you can better relate to them and help put them at ease the next time they’re in front of your camera!
#7: Invest in your education and learn a new skill
It can be easy once you’ve run a successful business for a few years to think “I know it all!” But this industry is constantly changing and we have to evolve right along with it. Make a goal in 2023 to take a class, hire a mentor, or just scour YouTube tutorials to try something in photography you’ve never done before.
Last summer, I decided to try infrared photography for the first time and it was challenging, it tested my patience, and it resulted in one of my favorite photos I created for the whole year!
#8: Get a little recognition
Take a chance and enter into a photo contest, or throw your hat in the ring of a local competition to see if you might be recognized as a leader in your field. Awards are a great way to build social capital and brand authority, and you know what? You deserve to get a little applause now and then!
#9: Take a real vacation
Remember when we talked about making a resolution to raise your prices? If you price yourself profitably, you can plan to take a couple weeks (or more) off for a vacation! And you should.
The best way to prevent burn out is to take purposeful breaks and treat yourself. Whether you use that time to relax on your own or spend quality time with family and friends, put the camera down and get away for a while.
#10: Find a way to give back to your community
My hero, Fred Rogers, once said: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.” I am a big believer in actively engaging with and giving back to my community – and you can do that in so many ways!
Sponsoring an event for a non-profit cause that aligns with your brand values, find an organization that serves families in need and donate a family portrait session, volunteer in your spare time on a board or with a charity, or donate a percentage of your profits for the year to a worthy cause.
Let’s make 2023 the year we all resolve to make our businesses, and our communities, better!
Written by Jesi Cason | Photos by Jesi Cason Photography