When the busy season hits, a photographer’s inquiries, bookings and workload can increase substantially. While this could be great for business and the numbers, it can wreak havoc on your time and sanity. No matter what else you’ve got going on outside of our business, the goal of this busy season is to maximize our time (and profits) while sustaining a healthy balance of work and life. Today I’m sharing the secret technique I use to not only survive the busy season, but thrive in it.
While it’s not top secret, or really fancy, in any way… this secret will help you maximize your time in the most efficient way. It’s a technique that allows me to:
– Limit the times I’m away from home shooting sessions
– Allows me to keep control of my time
– Double and triple my average monthly income
So what is it, you ask?
I stack sessions during the busy season. It’s as simple as that.
Remember, efficient doesn’t have to mean complicated.
What does it mean to stack sessions?
Stacked sessions simply mean back to back. I refer to these as piggyback sessions. These are exactly what they sound like. When I don’t have any availability left, I will share with any new inquiring family the dates and locations of where I will be. If one of the options works well for them, I will hold their session in the time slot before (or after) the other one. This works well in the busy fall season when sessions are in high demand.
How to stack sessions:
Wondering how to start stacking your sessions? I have three steps to this process every year!
1. Create your ideal calendar
Determine when YOU want to be out doing sessions, and when you want to be at home. Remember, you built your business for flexibility and freedom. So give yourself that. If you want tips on how to plan and keep your boundaries, check out a post here.
2. Fill your ideal time spots first.
On that calendar, you’ve picked dates – next, think about the ideal time spots for those days. When people go to book, those are the spots you want to fill first. Again, this helps reinforce the fact that you are in control and you’re creating portraits at a time of day that works for you both as an artist and as a human with a life.
3. Create a secondary calendar with your available piggyback session offerings.
Not every time, date or location will work well for piggy back sessions. Draft your availability for each date. While some dates may work well for adding extra sessions, others may not. Map this out prior to offering them. This makes sure that you’re not overbooking yourself or providing times that really don’t help anyone out.
While most of my life is digital, I resort to using a pencil and paper for managing these because they tend to fill quickly in the rush of busy season.
4. Create a new email template to share with inquiries.
When my full calendar is booked, I respond to inquiries with a few options. I thank them for their interest, tell them my calendar is full but offer 3 options from there. At that point, they can be added to a list to find out when new spots are available. Or, I let them know about my piggy back sessions and how they work. If they’re interested, then I provide options. If neither of those work, then I’ll provide a list of referrals! I’m all about community over competition, always. I have many connections with other local photographers that I’m more than happy to refer work to.
How to handle the workload of stacked sessions
I shared with you how I maximize my busy season but left out one of the most important requirements in order to do so: managing the workload. For me, I couldn’t stack my sessions the way that I do if I didn’t outsource my editing. There would be an undeniable bottleneck that would be impossible to manage and it’s something you need to consider when booking sessions back to back..
For me, I use Photographers Edit! By outsourcing my editing, this allows me to confidently take on more sessions. When I first started outsourcing editing, I was hesitant. But it’s truly changed my life and my client process. I was able to grow because I wasn’t spending my time on something I could let someone else do for me.
That’s it! That’s my secret: stacking sessions in the height of busy season is a great way to maximize my time and control my calendar. I don’t want to run around every night with sessions to capture when I could make the most of being somewhere already. Sit down and plan out how you want to approach your own calendar and stacking options – but trust me when I say, it’s well worth it!