As I approach the end of the year, I love taking the time to reflect on my business. It’s a great time to slow down and see how things went. During this time I look at my goals – which ones I met and where I came up short. I looked at changes I made and what really worked and what did not. 2022 was my 3rd official year in business. It was definitely one of my best years to date and most fulfilling in many ways! Even though the year isn’t complete at the time I’m sharing this, I intentionally slow down in the month of December and have this little review session with myself each year. I’m sharing a little peek into how this year went!
The first place I start is my review is checking on how I did in relation to the goals I set for myself. For 2022, I had set a goal for myself to increase my revenue by 30% overall. This number felt more conservative than previous years as I felt like I was moving towards a plateau in my business.
As of now, I’m at 70% increase in revenue – which completely crushed the goal I set for myself and I’m more than thrilled with this type of growth!
When I look at the income overall, there are a few factors that contributed to this increase.
- I increased my prices by $100 for my family sessions and $50 for each of my mini sessions. I kept my newborn sessions at the same price because these are a great sessions to begin working with new families. I wanted to book more newborns this year.
- I switched to Pic Time and invested more effort into selling products and really maximizing my sessions and upsells. PS. Receive one month free when you use this code for Pic Time: 5L8RLE
- I invested more time into the education side of my business, building the foundation of my education platform to help other photographers grow their businesses.
When I look at my business and where my revenue came from, my income breakdown looks like this…
Family + Extended Family Photos – 32%
Family + Newborn Films – 8%
Newborn + Maternity – 19%
Mini Sessions – 29%
Prints + Products – 4%
Courses + Education – 8%
As a family photographer that specializes in films, I stayed focused this year in taking only the work I really wanted. I’m happy with the balance of ratios in how much of each type of work I did. For next year, I wouldn’t mind doing more newborns and will likely add that to my 2023 goals to increase my numbers for those sessions.
Inventory What Worked: What worked well in my business?
In business there is a constant drive and focus on making changes for improvement. As I reflect on my year, there were a few things I tried that were very successful and I will continue to employ in the new year.
Profit First Accounting
I read a book call Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. The idea in the book is to shift the mindset of how to look at income and prioritize profit over everything else. This shift helped me to get clarity in where my money was going and it gave me a seamless system for managing my money in an easy way.
Increased Focus on Product Sales
This year I turned a lot of my focus to increasing my print and product sales. My pricing structure does not include a heavy emphasis on print sales however I’ve found a way to incentivize sales after the session. By adding an after-session guide, early bird incentives, a more user-friendly/sales focused gallery system and early bird incentives – I was able to increase my print sales this year.
This was not a new concept in my business but its something I rely on to help me streamline my time. By stacking sessions, I am able to shoot more and leave my house less. This year I only spent 2-3 days a week shooting but in this time, there were multiple sessions each day. During busy season I was shooting up to 15 sessions a week and only leaving my house 3 times.
Black Friday Campaign
I launched a brand new Black Friday Campaign designed this year that was incredible successful. With sales still trickling in from a handful of extended sales due to gallery delivery timing, I have been able to bring in more than $4,000 in less than 2 weeks for products. I will be taking what I learned this first year with the new concept and improving upon it next year.
Invested in a Content Writer
As my business grows, especially on the education side of my business, my tasks are growing. I invested in a content writer to help me keep up with serving other photographers with great business and marketing tips. I am now able to draft my ideas and she is able to create blogs and emails that serve my audience. Writing and SEO are extremely time consuming for me so this has been a wonderful addition to my business – and I’m so grateful for her!
Started Offering Studio Sessions
Last year a good friend of mine opened some studios (East End Loft) which prompted me to begin offering indoor studio sessions as an option. This has been a wonderful addition for my clients that provide them with a different aesthetic look as well as comfortable indoor option and backup.
Re-Evaluate What Did Not Work Work Well
This is always a tough area to evaluate. As I complete my 3rd full year in business, there are certainly areas that have room for improvement.
Mini sessions are a very profitable and popular offering in my business. While it’s hard to categorize this as something that didn’t work well, this is an area I am always actively working on because of the potential. I changed my upgrade structure this year to try to incentivize more clients to upgrade prior to their sessions. The results were only so so but I believe there is more potential. This is an area I’m continuing to work on so that I can really maximize these popular sessions.
Another area I focused on was upselling albums. I added an album design step to my workflow but was unrealistic for me to upkeep with the workload it demanded. This is something I need to continue working on and testing in the new year.
What Did I Love Doing?
In this past year, my 3rd full year in business, I really feel that I’m hitting my stride in doing what I truly love when it comes to in the clients and type of work I’m doing. I love that my sessions were limited to the types of sessions I love doing the most: centered around families in the earlier years.
In the education side of my business, I began offering more advanced marketing courses for photographers. I love all things business and marketing and really love helping others in this area of their business. My Website Design for Photographers was my first advanced course offering. I loved delivering this course and coaching photographers through this process. I look forward to another season offering this course.
What Did I Not Love Doing?
Consistent with what I mentioned earlier – I’m really beginning to find balance in my business for what I truly love doing. This is a tough question to answer. Bookkeeping is slowly beginning to feel tedious and more and more like a burden as my business grows. I don’t think I’m ready to hire a full time bookkeeper, but I will try to find some ways to automate some of the recording in the new year.
Where Were My Bottlenecks?
Coming out of busy season, culling is definitely one of my least favorite tasks and one that I struggle with. I plan to invest some time into figuring out a better approach to help me make this process easier. I intend to invest more time trying out Photo Mechanic and will possibly consider outsourcing culling with Photographer’s Edit.
Changes or Ideas to Implement Moving Forward
Looking ahead into the new year, there are a few places I would like to work on to continue to grow my business.
With my business growing, I am working on finding more automated ways to help run my business. Zapier is a very hand tool that can help automate and connect data from system to system. Stuff like recording data, keeping my mailing list up to date and various other tasks are on my to do list this off season.
As my business and experience continue to grow, I will be implementing some price increases and structure changes in the new year. At this time my pricing is mid to high for my area but I definitively have some room to continue to increase without jeopardizing bookings.
Increase Free Trainings for Photographers
As my network of photographers continues to grow, I will work on creating more free trainings to continue to serve them and their business needs.
Improve Course Offerings
I will continue to refine and improve the two main courses I offer by adding more valuable resources to each. As the year develops, I also have a few new ideas that I would love to create to continue to help serve my network of photographers.
I hope you enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes dissection of my business and year. I love seeing how others organize their businesses as well as observe what works and what does not. My intention with sharing all this is to hopefully inspire and encourage you in your own business! Remember, we’re all different – and the stages we’re in will vary. But the idea is the same, no matter where you are in your business journey!