It’s a brand new year and with busy season behind us, there’s no better time than now to do a few simple things to get your ducks in a row for the new year. Use the following list to get your business off to a great start in 2024!
Get Organized – All Those Little Details
- Change the date on your website to 2024.
- Update the year of your copyright info in your camera. While you’re at it, update the year in your Lightroom metadata preset to apply the correct year to each image upon import.
- Set up new physical file folders for receipts, invoices, etc for the new year. Then set up new digital files for client images, expense tracking, etc.
- Archive and backup 2023 images and files.
- Get a new calendar for monthly planning, blogging, weekly planning, yearly events/sessions, etc.
- Update client welcome packets, contracts, and policies.
- Inventory current equipment with serial numbers for your records and potential insurance claims.
Legal Compliance Check:
- Review Contracts and Agreements: Ensure all legal documents are up-to-date and in compliance with laws.
- Renew Licenses and Permits: Check the expiration dates of your business licenses and permits, and renew them as needed.
- Check that your business insurance is up to date.
- If you haven’t done so yet, take the time now to register your business name according to your local state/province laws. Do the same with sales tax licenses and business insurance (according to your local law).
Get your bookkeeping in order:
Collect last year’s tax information to get ready for this year. Before tax season arrives, go through and organize your expenses, receipts, and payments. Have everything ready to go for your accountant and avoid stress in the spring.
- Plan time to keep financial and tax records up to date this year. Schedule in time to tend to these items each quarter. Keeping on top it will not only decrease your workload next year, but will also help you keep on track with your financial goals.
- Check on your bank accounts – if you don’t already have a business bank account and credit card, get one now.
- Expense and mileage tracking – take a photo of your car odometer to start 2024!
Reflect on the Previous Year’s Successes and Challenges
Where did you have the most fun at work and really feel like you come alive? Was it a type of session, event, or client? Or perhaps behind the scenes when you’re creating, either physically in creating sets, or in photoshop with your clients final products?
Now think about it from the opposite end. What areas did you most dread, the things that sucked your energy from you? You’ll use this information to determine what your next steps are.
- Can you outsource those tasks in order to make room for more of what you love?
- Determine what is no longer serving you well and cut it out. Instead of digging in to do those dreaded jobs, remove them to make more room for what you love. “Do more of what you love!” Marggie Duncan… check out her inspirational quick tip in the video to the right (or below on mobile).
- Examine last year’s goals
- Were your goals achieved? Why or why not?
- If they were achieved, why? How?
- If they fell short, why? How?
Set Your Financial Goals for 2024
Next, look at your financials. Write down your financial goals for this year.
- Where did you spend your money in 2023? Where did you make the most money?
- What successes will you plan to repeat? Which areas need improvement and what changes will you implement?
- Do you need to increase sales? Cut on spending?
- Will you Invest more in marketing or perhaps on your own professional development?
- Map out a plan that will help you achieve your financial goals.
Ready to go deeper? To learn more on how to really dig in and get an excellent grasp on your financials and numbers, tap into Joanna Booth’s How to Set Financial Goals and Achieve The Income You Want.
Set Personal, Professional, and Creative Goals for 2024
Figure out what you really want to accomplish in 2024 and make a set of choices next year that lead you to your goals. Your review of previous goals will give you a direction toward setting at least some of your new year goals.
- Did circumstances change this past year? Do you need to consider taking a loan? Are you in a position to put down more aggressive payments on existent debt?
- Consider your professional goals for the year – perhaps this is the year to build out your credentials or push yourself to participate in competitions. Maybe it’s time to connect with a mentor, or you may be ready to offer your expertise and become a mentor.
- Don’t forget to make room for personal and creative goals too.
Review and Update Your Pricelists for 2024
Evaluate your pricing and make any needed adjustments. Update your website (don’t forget any printed materials you may have) to reflect new prices.
Feeling nervous about updating your pricing? Keep in mind, the new year is a good time to make changes and you’ll be in good company with many other service based business such as physiotherapists who regularly update their pricing lists in January.
Want to soften the timeline? Set a date such as Feb 1st or March 1st for pricing changes, and post the notice on your website and social media. You can also create a last chance promo that both new and old clients will love.
Review and Update Your Business Plan
Are you happy with your progress, goal achievement, and income? Now is the time to redefine your business plan and review your pricing strategies.
- Re-define your target market. This can stay the same, or you may choose to shift your audience in order to align with your goals.
- Will you be targeting any new audiences in the new year?
- Do you need to drop any audiences that aren’t panning out?
- Define your products and services. Consider whether you will you continue offering the same types of sessions and/or products, and identify where you’ll make changes and/or cuts.
- Focus on where you find your joy, and what produces the most bang for your buck. Check out Marggie Duncan – “Only do what makes you happy!”
- Check out Mike Michalowicz’s book “The Pumpkin Plan” – A simple strategy to grow a remarkable business in any field.
- Another helpful read: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller.
- Plan out your finances, and set your new goals.
- Has the vision or mission of your business changed?
- Has your competition changed?
As you re-evaluate, be sure to stay true to your core values, mission, and long-term strategies.
Assess and Re-Create Your Marketing Plans
Now is a great time to plan your marketing campaigns for the year. Take a look at what you did last year and evaluate how satisfied you are with it.
- Do you have any data on what worked well for you last year? Where did you get the most client engagement?
- What areas of marketing will you focus on this year? Will it be social media? Can you expand your community contacts? Will you focus on more video or content production?
- Is there a specific area you’d like to focus on and will that involve your same or a new demographic?
- Plan out your yearly promo events. Put them on the calendar.
In Your Community:
Identify vendors you want to work with in 2024. Make a list and include both vendors that you already work with and would like to continue with, and then add new partnerships you would like to build this year. Reach out and discuss potential collaborations with them to create win-win situations.
Be sure to add mentions of your partners on your website where appropriate and in blog posts, including links to their sites. This will create a backlink to their site, not only helping them with SEO but will enhance the relationship between you both. Many vendors will also share backlinks to your site in their own online content. See more on enhancing your SEO with backlinks in this article.
Online Publications/Platforms You Want To Be Featured In
Consider having your work published in leading magazines and other online platforms.
- Make a list of publications/platforms you’d like to be featured in.
- Reach out and find out what opportunities might be waiting for you, and then send them your work!
- Be persistent.
- APNPI members – we love to publish and feature our members! Go to the Get Featured page and send us your newest fav gallery that you’re in love with. We’ll feature your work and pop in backlinks to your website.
Update Your Website and Online Presence
Scan your website and identify out of date images to replace. Use the lens of ensuring all your content is relevant and cohesive with your style and brand.
- If you are showcasing examples of work you no longer want to offer, remove those images.
- Freshen up your website with new content, photos, and updated headshots so you can showcase the most current look in your brand.
- Be sure your branding is cohesive and attracts the type of client you want to work with in your target audience.
- Audit your website’s performance, evaluating factors like page speed, mobile responsiveness, and user experience.
- Analyze your website analytics to identify your most popular content, traffic sources, and areas to improve.
- Check your links & contact form(s). As your content evolves, it’s always good practice to do a quick check on your links and to ensure your contact forms are working correctly. Consider trying a tool like Broken Link Checker.
Enhance your customer experience
Building trust and providing a smooth client experience is ultimately one of the more important parts to running a successful newborn photography studio.
- Reflect on where you’re nailing it in the smooth client experience department, and then take a honest look at where you could improve. Write it down and make a plan to change those parts of your client experience workflow.
- At the end of the day, you want your clients to trust you at each step, and to have them feel cared for.
- Optimize your client’s journey starting right at the beginning on your website, and examine their journey each step of the way, all the way to them giving you a glowing review.
Collect Reviews & Testimonials
This is easier than you might think, and for those of you who cringe and feel shy… press on through those feelings because the pay-off here is worth it! You may even find the experience to be rewarding!!
Keep it simple
- Make a list of clients you know have been happy with your services.
- Reach out and ask them to leave you a review. Provide them with a link to the platform you want them to use.
- or add in an email to your workflow in your CRM so that it goes out them automatically after their session.
- Be sure to thank them, and reply to them on their review.
That’s it. Many people are more than happy to support small business owners and this is a lovely, quick and easy way for them to feel good about helping make a difference for you.
For more encouragement, listen to Tara Graham’s quick business tip on collecting client reviews in the video to the right (or below on your mobile!)
Schedule Time for Yourself
Plan a vacation! Map out the timing for you and your business. Many small business entrepreneurs find the best time to take their vacations is during the less busy periods. The bonus for photographers, is that Jan and Feb are often less expensive times to travel too. However, if you are not inclined to take your children out of school for vacation, take the time now to plan out your summer schedule so that you have time to spend with your family but are also able to get in the summer sessions you like to run in addition to bringing in newborns.
Always remember the importance of taking time for self-care, so that your business can continue to thrive and you can keep doing what you love. Check out APNPI Judge Jennifer Gilbert’s video below for her quick tip on self-care.