Jan 5, 2011

Slow Season 2 : Making your efforts count

Today, let’s talk about where to focus. I understand that working on your business can be completely overwhelming. Knowing where to even begin your efforts may feel like a chore in itself and once you’ve finally put your finger on where to begin you have to do just that — begin. You may be ready to hang up the apron before you even stepped into the kitchen. My hope is that after today’s post you will be able to mark a clear path on where your efforts should be headed.  If you made the BEST & WORST breakdown then you probably have a good idea where to begin already!

But let’s strategize out a plan for someone who is just starting their photography business. Even if you’ve been around for a while, you should still be able to identify areas that you have neglected and hopefully get some ideas on where you can work to improve.

You are a small business owner and this means you wear a lot of different hats. When looking at the big picture, it’s easy to feel completely and utterly overwhelmed and for good reason! You probably have not been trained as a Marketing Specialist, PR Rep, Accountant, Sales Associate, Manager, Entrepreneur, Photographer, IT Tech, Graphic Designer, Social Media Expert, Professional Writer, Web Designer,  and more…. so much more… If you’ve got two or three on that list you might want to give yourself a jumping high five. The worst thing you can do for yourself is expect to be able to do it all and than try to it all. If you really think about it, it’s pure stupidity to assume you could. Now before you go yelling at me for calling you stupid, just know that I was stupid first. So the idea is to break it all down. Take the garden and divide it into categories (we’re talking lists here, in case I lost you). Once you have garden boxes you can pull what you need to break it down into salad size (more lists) and from the salad portion which is much more reasonable and far less intimidating, you can now portion your salad into bite size pieces. Now you’re ready to take down one rewarding and fulFILLing bite at a time. Oh yes, my pun was totally intended.

P.S. When you run into something that you really just don’t know how to do or know that it would take you an absurd and laughable amount of time to accomplish it yourself, it’s okay to outsource! I give you (and me) permission to excuse yourself from thinking and believing that you have to do it all. If you can’t or won’t remember to keep numbers – higher a bookkeeper. If you can spend 12 hours editing one session – hire a Photoshop retoucher.  If you feel lost at designing your brand – hire me! 🙂 The point is we can push important (really important) tasks to back burners because we’re intimidated or unsure how to begin… If you know what I’m talking about it’s okay to find someone who can solve your problems for you. It truly is the most joyous and liberating decision is retrospect!

I’m going to write out a diagram of where I would suggest focusing energy.

Garden Stage — The three top priority categories are: 1. Portfolio  2. Branding  3. Business Plans

Now lets breakdown each of these priority categories into beautiful servings of “Salad”.

PORTFOLIO

–> Photography Portfolios

–> Website

–> Blog

BRANDING

–> Determine your clientele/market and message you want to be sending

–> Logo. The logo is the face of your business. Keep it clean, crisp and professional. I would suggest getting help creating something that you truly love.

–> Creating the Brand. This is the look, feel, colors, message, identity of your business. It should be well though out and send a clear message. Your brand and logo should work flawlessly with one another.

Business Strategies

–> Marketing Plans

–> Sales Procedures

–> Referral Programs

–> Client Interaction

–> Short Term Goals

–> Long Term Goals

–> And on and on and on….

Lastly I want to show you one example of breaking down the salad into bite sized portions. I’m not going to break them all down because this would become a real novel (not the fake ones that I get teased for but are really just long winded blog posts).

I’m going to use ‘BRAND —> Creating the Brand’ as my bite sized example.

“–> Creating the Brand. This is the look, feel, colors, message, identity of your business. It should be well though out and send a clear message. Your brand and logo should work flawlessly with one another.”

The BITE SIZED list for creating the brand.

1) Determine Colors –> Symbol/Icon –> Style (creating a Photoshop art board from clippings of images, logos, fashion designs that you like can really help!)

2) Choose a Digital Paper Pack for Branding Integration

3) Have Logo & Marketing Kit Designed by Go{4}Pro

4) Integrate Branding through Website and Blog (using logo, digital paper pack, etc.)

5) Design and Price out Client Packaging (see Example of branding from logo to packaging here).

6) Put Together Welcome Kits, Samples and Literature. (see an example of the ultimate marketing kit put to print here)

And you just might want to cut the tomato on your fork in half and  break it down into a more dainty bite (#6 would definitely be broken down smaller). So start by creating a notebook just for your business. This notebook will become your business plan and strategy. You will refer back to check goals, priorities, progress, etc.  After writing out the “garden” and “salad” lists, look over each one and determine which “salad list” would benefit the profiting of your business most and which “salad” list would benefit the organization and efficiency of your business most. Now you have your first two projects to work on.

I really hope today’s post was helpful to you! I’d love to hear your feed back and know what you think of this series. What aspects of your business are you going to start with? I’m really curious to know where people feel they need to work on their business most as this will give me ideas on what I can elaborate on.

  1. Kalli says:

    I love these posts, and I was so happy to open up formspring and see some very helpful questions answered!

    My problem now is that I spent almost ALL of my money on December 31 getting things I needed for my business. Now that I have some time to work on things, I don’t have the money! Do you not recommend loading up on necessary items right before January?

    • Leah Remillet says:

      I think ‘necessary’ is a loosely used term sometimes. Often we get over eager for equipment, props – you know the fun stuff but the clients are not there to back up the need. I see all to often people investing all their money in these types of things when what they really should invest in is their “store front” (brand and image) and education on how to get more clients and to create smoother better client experiences. The things that will actually bring in business and keep business coming back so that new camera’s, lenses, props, backgrounds, templates, etc are truly needed.

      I think this might actually turn into a post… Great question Kalli! 🙂

  2. Kathy says:

    I love this post. So much. It’s so helpful, especially since we have time now, especially with stuff that doesn’t necessarily take any money out of our pocket AND brings in more money in the future.

  3. Erin says:

    I’m loving this series, thank you so much!!

  4. Great list Leah. I have thought about this a lot this week and now I have guidelines! I’m so excited to finalize everything and hope to have it all in order soon- January 31. (I know I keep saying that, but I can’t make a decision) And I know with your help I can. I just need to make up my mind and stick to one thing. It is hard for me to make a decision about what my favorite “look” is. I like too many things. Now I just have to stick with one thing I love and keep loving it.
    As always, thanks for the wonderful post!

  5. Happy Astorga says:

    I’ve been struggling with getting my logo put together, my blog looking the way I want it to (I’m stuck b/c I don’t know how to fix the things I’m having problems with), and figuring out how to make my images look sharp and clear on my blog. I’ve read several sharpening and resizing for the web tutorials, but nothing seems to be helping. I’m wondering if blogger itself is the problem?

    • Leah Remillet says:

      When I switched away from blogger and went to word press it was because I could see a noticeable difference in the quality of the images so there is a very good chance that that is what it could be. As for making changes to logos and your site. This is your store front, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a GREAT looking storefront. Just like when you’re browsing downtown boutique shops – the store front is going to be what helps you decide how far in you want to go. You website is essentially the same so investing in others expertise is more important than you might think.

  6. Adrienne says:

    Thanks Leah! You’ve really got my rethinking a lot of things especially outsourcing. I get so stressed trying to do everything myself. I just have this control problem that I just need to let go of. lol 😉

  7. Alison says:

    Oh you have no idea how happy this series makes me Leah… One of the biggest lessons I learned last year is that if I don’t enjoy doing something, then it needs to go out to someone who does (and who is good at it!!!). My husband likes numbers and the behind the scenes stuff. In 2011, he is doing the books. (I still have to clean up my mess from ignoring them in 2010 though) I am hiring an accountant for tax time. I am going to be hiring you for branding/marketing stuff, cause honestly, I am so not a designer!! I am working on determining if I want to overhaul my blog for smaller cost for right now or go ahead an hire someone for a full webdesign. I can clearly say now I cannot do everything! I appreciate your honesty and putting yourself out there with these posts, it makes a huge difference to read the comments and your posts and realize I am not the only one in this spot!

  8. Brandi says:

    Leah, this post is perfect timing! And thank you for making the example for newbies like me. I feel like I have everything to figure out at once and it’s all very overwhelming. I just need to keep in mind that one bite at a time will get me further than staring at the garden wondering how I’m going to eat all that food! Great analagy by the way. Thanks again!

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