So here we are at the end of 2009. How did you do? I know some photographers who did very well — and others who spent most of the year living on ramen noodles.
Obviously, the recession took its toll on all of us. But from my experience, the photographers who enjoyed the best 2009 had one thing in common: they had a plan.
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
You need to have a plan so that when life’s winds blow, you aren’t blown off course. Think ahead, create a plan and as time goes on, look back and check your progress.
Write out your vision for who you want to be as a photographer in 2010. Write down what you want to be shooting, who you want to be shooting for, and how you’re going to make this happen.
Write it down by hand, with a pen and paper. Read it. Read it again — out loud. Only then should you type it into your computer and print it out.
I do this every year about this time. I call it my Vision and Marketing Statement.
By articulating your goals on paper, you will be creating a document that you can refer to regularly to ensure you are going in the right direction.
“But I’m not a good writer,” you might protest. Or, “I hate to write.”
Don’t worry. This isn’t for publication (unless you want it to be). Your Vision and Marketing Statement is for your eyes only — so don’t worry about the rules of capitalization, punctuation or grammar.
Just get your thoughts written down. If you commit to it, it can be your roadmap for a successful 2010.
My Vision and Marketing Statement
To help you get started, I’m including my Vision and Marketing Statement as an example. Here’s what I’ve written for the upcoming year:
Tony Blei is a creative person who loves photographing people.
Whether with studio strobe or available light, Tony uses his photographic experience to capture life’s unguarded moments for national, regional and local clients in the editorial, commercial and corporate arenas.
Tony’s relaxed attitude and sense of humor allows his subjects to relax and reveal their inner selves. His photographs are typically of real people in real-life situations that are created in camera, not on the computer.
Throughout 2010, Tony will continue to meet potential clients, send out marketing pieces (e-blasts and postcards), and follow up with phone calls.
Tony will do more cold calling in 2010.
A budget of 10 percent of his desired annual billing will be spent on marketing.
No later than August, Tony will upgrade his photography equipment.
Tony is deadline oriented and tends to deliver ahead of schedule. He considers his work serious, creative fun.
As you can see, it’s fairly broad in its scope — yet it defines who I am, how I work (with lights and/or available light) and who my clients (and potential clients) are. It also includes a brief budget line for marketing. When you write your statement, keep it simple and don’t complicate it.
As I sat down to write this year’s statement, I reflected on 2009, what worked and what didn’t. Some things, like changes in the economy, were out of my control. But having a plan empowered me to make it through — and to continue to invest in marketing, for example. So now I’m poised for a stronger 2010.
To paraphrase Proverbs 29:18, “When there is no vision, the people perish.” You know what you want to achieve, and you know you have the talent to achieve it. Writing that vision down is the first step to making it reality.
I wish you peace and prosperity in the coming year.