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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Time for '09 Business Plan!
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12/15/2008 05:46:05 PM · #1
Where do you want to be in a year? This time next year how much money, how many weddings, how many seniors would you like to have done?
Are you thinking of a new camera or lenses for '09?
What are you planning to do, marketing wise, for 2009?

Without a plan you have no goal, no road map to take you to where you want to go. Writing it down makes it real. Showing to others makes you more accountable.

Be specific! "make more money" isn't specific at all. "Shoot 5 weddings" is better. How you are going to book those 5 weddings would be better yet.

For instance this year I wanted to shoot 50 seniors. A random number. I said that in '07 but didn't do it, so I made plans to do things differently in '08, marketing wise, pricing and packaging wise, ambassador wise. I didn't hit 50 seniors but I did get more than half way. (I'd have not been able to handle 50!). As it was sales for seniors was over 300% above '07. Success! I wanted a higher wedding average and I did that, and shot as many weddings as I'd planned. Complete success. I got 3 sports leagues and almost had a fourth (wanted 5) but considering in '07 I didn't shoot any I'd call that a success too.

I don't have mine ready yet, at least not specifically.

I plan to go for those 50 seniors though. How? WOM and referrals will be way up, I did a poster this past year that worked well, website improvements, and I'm gonna give billboards a go. I'd like to try the local movie theatre too, but I don't have a clue on cost.
I want to sell bigger prints/framed items for everything. I need samples of them, but I have the proper display space and improved pricing (presentation wise) to do it.
I have a new booth in the works for bridal shows, new albums and samples to show that should bring in more brides, hopefully at a better pricepoint. Still working on the pricing. I will be getting a 5D2 and that will open up a lot more opportunities to shoot natural light (up to ISO 6400) so that will change things a bit in what I can do, sell.

So for 2009 what are you goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
12/15/2008 06:13:47 PM · #2
my yearly goal for the last 4 years has been a solo show ...
hmmm.. already met (found the next solo show in Sept09) have to make up another one or two ..
12/15/2008 06:17:10 PM · #3
Thanks for posting this you made me think about my goals for next year.

1. Book at least 10 Weddings
2. Do at least 4 Sessions per month
3. Upgrade my Equipment (New lights, Backgrounds, New body by the end of the year)

In order to get this done I will.....
Do 2 bridal shows this year (I have to get a set up planned)
Spend more time/money on advertising (Just figuring out what type is the hard part)

This plan needs a lot more work but at least you got me thinking about it more. I need to get it in writting rather then in my head.
12/15/2008 06:23:21 PM · #4
Originally posted by JenniferDavidGA:

New body by the end of the year...


You should be proud of the body you have......wait.....aum....you mean camera body huh?

Its a moments like this that I wish my delete key worked.
12/15/2008 06:26:03 PM · #5
Originally posted by vxpra:

Originally posted by JenniferDavidGA:

New body by the end of the year...


You should be proud of the body you have......wait.....aum....you mean camera body huh?

Its a moments like this that I wish my delete key worked.


LOL...I will take one of those too. 3 kids have taken a toll on my body.
12/16/2008 04:25:38 AM · #6
My goal this year was to pull in enough to support the studio while building my connections in the area and working on my portfolio, and for the most part I'm very happy with how things have went. Next year I'm going after the jobs. I'm spending the next 3 months getting my books ready and compiling a list of clients, ad agencies, editors, etc to aim for, and then it's all out with my first serious marketing campaign. We'll see how it goes =)

Message edited by author 2008-12-16 04:25:46.
12/16/2008 08:56:15 AM · #7
Time to initiate my goal of 100k a year.

Well to be realistic, thats my 3 years from now goal.
12/16/2008 09:57:40 AM · #8
Originally posted by ajdelaware:

Time to initiate my goal of 100k a year.

Well to be realistic, thats my 3 years from now goal.


I plan to hit 100K next year (09).

How is the big question.
Well...

Weddings - 17 at $2300 average is $39,000. Hitting that average is the challenge moreso than the count (shot 16 this year).
Sports leagues - 6. But there are small ones and big ones. 3 big, 3 small. Big is $9000 in sales, small is $500 or so. So say $30,000 here. Shot 3 in '08, almost had a 4th, and one I shot this fall might get me a big one for next fall as the same people are on the board
Seniors - shot 24 this year, want more like 40 next year. Average is about $600 to 650 range and I want that up nearer $800. So potentially $32,000.
I also did 2 reunions so I want to work for more of those via the web. No hard and fast plan on that.
Holiday pets is good for $4000, some yearbook work a grand and online sales $2500.
I had 8 paying family/baby client during the year. Now that I have a studio this is ripe for growth. My baby sesison average is $250 and they usually come 3 or 4 times in a year. 10 babies would be nice. If I advertise properly at the hospital I should get 30, based on how many book from the marketing i've done there and number of births.
Family average is less than 1/2 what I'd like it be but i've not had much in the way of samples or big canvases to show to aid in selling them. I see growth in this area as well.

That adds to around 125k and I think is quite doable. It's about double what I've done this year which seems a bit far fetched in some ways considering the economy, but even if I only make 80% of it that's still $99,600. And this year's not done, but so far I've hit 96% of my target so my planning/crystal ball works fairly well.

----------------
If you're doing a business plan what I just did above is step one. Step two is marketing specifics. Step three is what gear is needed to do these jobs, and it's cost, and how ot pay for it. Step 5 is costs/expenses for the office, computers, website, etc. Take the figures from step 1, deduct those in the other steps. Any money left over is your profit, from which you pay yourself.


12/16/2008 12:05:45 PM · #9
Have any of you seen a drop in sales based on current economic conditions?
12/16/2008 04:13:36 PM · #10
Originally posted by ajdelaware:

Have any of you seen a drop in sales based on current economic conditions?


Yes. My holiday pets sales, per sale, was off 25%. And the number of folks that paid with a credit card was double.
My senior business is up 300%, but the average is down 15%. I got comments like "your cheaper than X photographer" so price did matter to them to some extent, even thought most were referrals. As for payment I had to offer 1/2 now and 1/2 when it's in. And getting that second half is going SLOW. There will be some policy changes for 2009!
I've also seen some slacking in wedding bookings for '09, but I'll know more about that in 6 weeks. I'm still thinking on the packages/pricing for 2009 weddings.

Message edited by author 2008-12-16 16:14:27.
12/17/2008 11:13:57 AM · #11
Over the last year I have realized that my photographic interests are better suited to lower volumes of more specialized work. In order to make this a business, I'm going to need to drive up the revenue from each project I take on.

2009 Goals:
1. Get prints up in a local gallery or coffee shop. (exposure)
1. Get editorial work in a least 2 local publications (moving towards more commercial work)
2. 20 seniors through referrals (100% increase) and ensure they are a good match for me.
3. 20 Lifestyle/Creative portrait projects (100% increase)
4. 10 Couples projects (100% increase)
5. No family portraits
6. $600 average sale on portrait projects (low average allows for some lower prices on people I really want to shoot)

This is still a building year for me so $30K in part time revenue is acceptable.

Capabilities:
Black and White fine art inkjet prints (differentiator)
Upgrade to 5Dm2
Pocket wizards
12/17/2008 11:59:24 AM · #12
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

Over the last year I have realized that my photographic interests are better suited to lower volumes of more specialized work. In order to make this a business, I'm going to need to drive up the revenue from each project I take on.

2009 Goals:
1. Get prints up in a local gallery or coffee shop. (exposure)
1. Get editorial work in a least 2 local publications (moving towards more commercial work)
2. 20 seniors through referrals (100% increase) and ensure they are a good match for me.
3. 20 Lifestyle/Creative portrait projects (100% increase)
4. 10 Couples projects (100% increase)
5. No family portraits
6. $600 average sale on portrait projects (low average allows for some lower prices on people I really want to shoot)

This is still a building year for me so $30K in part time revenue is acceptable.

Capabilities:
Black and White fine art inkjet prints (differentiator)
Upgrade to 5Dm2
Pocket wizards


I have a question, and while it's directed at you, I'd like to get a response from people working as photographers.

Do you like shooting portraits? More specifically, how do goals 2-6 relate to goals 1 and 1? Most galleries and coffee shops are not going to want artwork that looks like portraits. While editorial work may entail portraiture as an element, it's much broader than that.

I guess my question really is, "What do you really want to shoot and, if that's not what you're shooting, why not and what are you doing about it?"

I know that for me, the thing that drove me from working as a pro was the endless parade of crap photos. In my case, it was shooting catalog shots. Not the fun fashion type shots with models and assistants, but the in-studio shots of one stack of sweaters (or whatever garment) after another that went on forever.
12/17/2008 01:05:23 PM · #13
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Originally posted by Nusbaum:

Over the last year I have realized that my photographic interests are better suited to lower volumes of more specialized work. In order to make this a business, I'm going to need to drive up the revenue from each project I take on.

2009 Goals:
1. Get prints up in a local gallery or coffee shop. (exposure)
1. Get editorial work in a least 2 local publications (moving towards more commercial work)
2. 20 seniors through referrals (100% increase) and ensure they are a good match for me.
3. 20 Lifestyle/Creative portrait projects (100% increase)
4. 10 Couples projects (100% increase)
5. No family portraits
6. $600 average sale on portrait projects (low average allows for some lower prices on people I really want to shoot)

This is still a building year for me so $30K in part time revenue is acceptable.

Capabilities:
Black and White fine art inkjet prints (differentiator)
Upgrade to 5Dm2
Pocket wizards


I have a question, and while it's directed at you, I'd like to get a response from people working as photographers.

Do you like shooting portraits? More specifically, how do goals 2-6 relate to goals 1 and 1? Most galleries and coffee shops are not going to want artwork that looks like portraits. While editorial work may entail portraiture as an element, it's much broader than that.

I guess my question really is, "What do you really want to shoot and, if that's not what you're shooting, why not and what are you doing about it?"

I know that for me, the thing that drove me from working as a pro was the endless parade of crap photos. In my case, it was shooting catalog shots. Not the fun fashion type shots with models and assistants, but the in-studio shots of one stack of sweaters (or whatever garment) after another that went on forever.


I love this question because it's actually something that keeps me up at night and that only another photographer could understand. I have never liked what I call traditional portraiture... well lit images of people wearing their best Sunday cloths and sitting in front of a faux background. These images can be very beautiful, but I still find them quite empty. On the other hand, many contemporary fashion and lifestyle magazines feature images of people that photographed in a style that is somewhere between fashion, portraiture and sometimes even a little documentary. I find these images very interesting and sometimes quite beautiful. I don't have the words to describe the difference between these flavors of portraiture and I don't know how to categorize these images when I'm trying to find potential clients. I do know that I have an increasing number of clients coming to me with magazine tears and saying "I want something like this" and these are the clients that I want. As too your question about goals 1 and 1, I would love to shoot the style of portraits that I have described for editorial and commercial work as well as private commissions. What I don't want is a line of people outside the studio waiting for their standard 30 minute shoot with the same standard lighting and same standard background, no matter much money I can make herding them through. And the scary part of this, I think I'll have to turn away some clients in search of traditional portraits in order to build a reputation for the type of image I want to create.

Does this make any sense or are you giving me the same strange look my wife does when I try to describe what I want to do?

As to getting there, I'm trying 1 and 1 as well as being careful to make sure my clients are a good match for the type of work I want to do.

Message edited by author 2008-12-17 13:06:28.
12/17/2008 01:35:42 PM · #14
NO, it makes sense. My sometime assistant/editor/second shooter wants to shot fashion an sports, and will do T&I type stuff but absolutely hates the standard stuff everone does on T*I. He's done some that is much more edgy and it takes time - which costs money. Not evreyone gets him either.

One rule of thumb for business is when the economy slows you need to diversify. When it's strong you can specialize.

I'd love to get into the fine art side of photography, selling the same print/image more than once has a certain appeal (more money for less work is one).

I like to do a variety of things, but I don't mind doing standard portraiture, T&I shots, that type of 'factory' photography. I hate factory/assembly line work so I'm really surprised I don't mind the photographic equivalent of it.
01/16/2009 01:15:31 PM · #15
I love this thread! Its so motivating! Please keep the discussion going. How has business been for the first couple weeks of '09?
01/16/2009 02:51:17 PM · #16

I've been too busy to find out LOL.

All the seniors picked up from 08 finally, shot a newborn last friday and booked 2 weddings this week including my biggest dollar value one yet, and am shooting a senior tomorrow. Did one bridal show and got one more to go. No time to follow up from the one I did though!

Still working at getting 09's files and accounting ready (i think i'm ready to start the year now)
Next is to get 08 finalized so I can meet with my tax guy in two weeks.

I've got my numbers, real numbers, for weddings and seniors from last year so hopefully I can price things to do better in '09. Wedding pricing is done, seniors is next.

You need to be able to answer questions like "what's my average senior actually make me, in profit?" So you need to have your books kept in such a way as to be able to answer that. Total senior income divided by number of seniors (including reps) give me an average of $596 a senior. Same deal for costs tells me they get $147 in product. I estimate I spend 7 hours on a senior, but it's almost certainly higher as I spent 6 hours shooting one instead of my estimated 2 hours, and my rep was a model for 8 hours. So per hour i'm grossing $64 or so. I want that to be $10 higher so I need to adjust me senior pricing or products or sales technique to change it.

If I want to shoot 40 seniors as per my plan, I need to figure out how to physically do that in teh time available - it's one a day, and if I only want to work 5 day weeks but still need to do accounting, shopping, etc I can really only shoot 4. If I have a wedding the weekend before then it's 3. Or I hire help to do the PP and framing, etc.

Figuring 4/week that's 10 solid weeks of seniors to hit my 40. Is that realistic? Will the clients cooperate, or will it get 8 the second week of september and if I say come back in 3 weeks will they? No wonder some photogs offer early season discounts!

My one lab has announced some really cool new products that I want to put into packages but I dont' have pricing yet. Metal photo dogtags - guess what my reps will be getting???? Yep, the new stuff to show off to their friends!

Lots of planning to do on the senior bit, that's for sure!
01/16/2009 05:21:29 PM · #17
That's awesome Prof! Good work! Ill be there someday.
01/16/2009 08:42:05 PM · #18
Originally posted by A4wheelin:

That's awesome Prof! Good work! Ill be there someday.


This is my 6th year. Started taking money in October '03. Didn't want to be full time for another 2 years when my youngest will be in school all day. It's tough to get any work done with kids in the house!

This past year things really started taking off. Same number of weddings, but seniors jumped over 300% and I got 3 sports leagues and 2 HS reunions, a college's yearbook and lots of misc babies, families and such.

My real goal for 09 is it to get some of my life back! I read a book that said any startup business requires 100 hours a week for at least the first 5 years - and that ain't no lie.

Persistence is the key to success. How many tries did it take for Edison to invent a working lightbulb? 300 or something like that? And Henry Ford's first car company failed and the management threw him out of his second company. The only way to fail is to quit trying!
03/25/2009 08:05:41 AM · #19
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How convenient for this spammer that the professor started a thread for him.

Message edited by author 2009-03-25 08:05:53.
03/25/2009 09:24:16 AM · #20
When you own a business you get two kinds of phone calls. The kind that want to give you money (customers) and those that want to take your money (like this guy, or web developers, insurance agents, local baseball or yearbook, etc).

Buy an ad in the local football program or yearbook and you are on a 'suckers list' (well..you know what I mean) and then every other org like that will call you. Yearbook companies will give talks to HS yearbook staffs on where to find advertisers - and the first place to look is programs (football, play, etc) cause those folks already are known to spend on advertising in such places. If such advertising worked it would be ok, but there are better places to advertise if results for dollars expended matter to you.
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