September brings with it a strange mix of chaos and calm for us photographers. With summer winding down, I am feeling a deep longing for structure and order…. To get the kids back into a routine, to get myself back into a routine. I’m anxious for that to begin!
But it’s also the start of the busy season! Today I just wanted to talk to you.
So… just imagine that you and I are sitting at Starbucks together. I’ll have scooted back into one of the oversized chairs and tucked my legs up under me, while I sip my salted hot chocolate, and you’ll be across from me.
Let’s just talk about what has and hasn’t worked in planning for the holidays. You’ll have to continue our conversation in the comments or on the Facebook page.
In my first year as a photographer, I made the mistake of not planning early for the busy season, and there I was – shooting sessions into December and missing everything, because I had to work like a mad-woman to get orders completed and rushed and delivered. And it was craziness! I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again! Next year I would start in March. Okay – probably not March, but at least September.
It no longer mattered if I wanted some downtime in the Fall; the kind of chaos that ensued in December was not worth my “downtime” in September. I just kept thinking that If I could plan more effectively, I was sure I could make the whole thing feel manageable! And year one was not manageable.
In year two, I learned that you need to find out what special events are going to be happening for your family, and that it’s imperative to do this before anything else. The year after my ‘crazy shooting into December’ year, I was way better (or so I thought)! I planned far in advance and had my mini session days scheduled and booked, ensuring that I would have time to enjoy the festivities leading up to the holidays.
Only – it just so happened that I managed to schedule mini shoots over the best activities of the year. I was so mad at myself, because now we had to miss really fun things! Turns out… I had over-achieved on the whole ‘being prepared’ thing! I learned a new valuable lesson that year. From that point on, I would call the host of any annual parties or events and find out the date before I planned mini sessions or shoot days.
I also made sure I knew the dates of any holiday festivities scheduled by the kids’ school and our church. And lastly, I scheduled the fun family holiday outings (like riding the “Polar Express” and going into the city to see the lights) into my calendar. Only then would I schedule my mini session dates!
It was in year three that it finally all came together! I got everything into my schedule and planned the dates for my Christmas mini sessions. Then I designed the Christmas Mini Campaign with the idea that it could just be pulled and used year after year, making the preparation easier and easier with each passing year!
In year four I learned to automate and really focused on tracking my efforts. I got the emails pre-written, and the steps needed to make the promotion were pre-scheduled. For example, “Order Christmas Mini Campaign Post Card” may have been marked for Monday 9/14, and “Mail Post Cards” would have been scheduled for Friday 9/21.
The holidays should be joyful! And just because it’s our busy season… that really isn’t a good reason to want to chuck Santa from the rooftop! With a little pre-planning, the holidays can be a great time of year – not only for our profit projections, but also for the family memories that we, ourselves, are able to create!
So what do you think? I’m still wondering why they never put enough whipped cream in here for me? 😉