Welcome to my 10 Step Photography Business MOT! At the time of writing this, it’s the start of September. If you’re anything like me, you’re dragging yourself towards the finishing line of the Summer holidays on your hands and knees. Whether your kids have been off school for a few weeks, and/or you’ve been hit by the wedding season tornado and/or you’ve taken time off for a well-earned holiday and have come back to work buried under a monstrous backlog… I hear you, and I send a massive hug of solidarity!
The summer can be wonderful for many reasons, but it can also be a time when our routines go completely out of the window, our working hours become unpredictable and unsociable, and our time and energy is massively depleted. It’s often all we can do to keep our heads above water with the essentials, let alone attempting any kind of business growth.
I always loved the Autumn term at school – being a big dork I love that feeling of a fresh start, chucking out broken old pens, getting a shiny new pencil case and working from a new desk in a new classroom. So this time of year, I always feel the urge to do similar things in my business – have a bit of a clear out, create some shiny new systems, start as I mean to go on. Personally I try to allow the first week properly back in work (for me this is the first week my kids are back at school) for this MOT – a chance to take stock of my business, identify areas that need fixing and do a little ‘tidy up’ so I feel positive, organised and ready for the term ahead.
So, I thought it would be helpful to share with you my quick 10 step business MOT to help you re-assess everything in your business ready for this new term (although of course this MOT can be done at any time!) The questions underneath each one will help you to identify any problem areas to work on in the weeks/months ahead, but I’ve also for each suggested a ‘quick fix’ that you can easily implement in your first week ‘back’ that will instantly help you in that particular area. I hope they help!
Have you set long term (1-3 year) and medium term (6-12 week) goals? These are essential to do if you want to move your business forward – if you don’t know where you’re heading, you’ll find it much harder to get there! Figure out where you want to be so you can reverse-engineer it.
QUICK FIX: Set simple long term and medium term goals
Ask yourself – if I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I be doing / what would be happening in X weeks/months/years?
How is your mental wellbeing right now? What are your stress levels like, how is your self-care, sleep, diet, exercise etc? Do you feel positive, energised and confident or are you feeling negative, depleted and worried?
QUICK FIX: Set up a healthy morning and evening routine to stick to moving forward.
You can read all about mine here if that helps but of course you don’t have to do these same things. Some good things to consider incorporating (just pick a small handful of them, even just one or two) are drinking water, a good breakfast, exercise, breathwork, meditation, journalling, mindfulness, being outdoors, reading, writing, walking the dog, stretching, vitamins, music – whatever makes you feel calm and happy. I also have heaps of free mindset resources to help you here.
How well do you feel you use the time that’s available to you? Do you plan your time effectively? Do you spend enough time on the right things and/or too much time on the wrong things?
QUICK FIX: Map your energy
How confident do you feel about the strength of your brand? Do you understand what differentiates you from other photographers? Do you understand your own special ‘magic’ / USPs and do you understand your ideal clients?
QUICK FIX: Get clear on your USPs
5) OFFERS & PRICING
Are you happy with all the services / products you’re currently selling? Are there any that particularly make your heart sing and/or any that you really don’t enjoy and hope that people won’t buy? Are you happy with your pricing?
QUICK FIX: Choose one key service/product to focus on
Many of us offer multiple types of services – weddings / families / pets / personal branding etc, and it can be really hard to sell many different things at the same time. First ask yourself – are there any of these services/products that you don’t enjoy? Any where you inwardly groan when people book them? Just remove them! If you don’t like delivering that service/product, it shouldn’t be on offer. Focus only on what brings you joy. Pick ONE key service/product and focus only on selling that in the coming weeks – simplicity not only feels good but is effective in terms of marketing and sales. You can always switch your focus to a different service later on, but for now, pick one key service/product as your main focus for the weeks ahead.
How organised do you feel? Are you on top of your admin processes? Are there clear and professional systems in place to lead your clients through from enquiry to booking and beyond? Do you have fixed workflows to follow?
QUICK FIX: Set up three simple client workflow checklists
Break down the process step by step for each of these 3 stages (including both what you need to do and what they need to do):
1) Enquiries – from first enquiry through to booking
2) Bookings – from booking to the shoot
3) Post-shoot – from the shoot to final delivery and beyond
Document all of these stages as a checklist for you to follow. I advise setting up workflows like this within a CRM if you can (I highly recommend Studio Ninja – use the code ANNAHARDY50 to get 50% off your first year) but you can also easily set these up within an Excel spreadsheet if you prefer and/or a paper checklist – so for each enquiry / client, you can just tick off tasks as you complete them and know exactly what you need to tackle next.
7) AUDIENCE GROWTH
Are you happy with the size of your audience? Are there enough people visiting your website and/or subscribing to your email list and/or following you on social media? You could have the most amazing business but to sustain it, enough people need to know it exists in the first place!
QUICK FIX: Put some irons in the fire for future collaborations
Collaborations are one of the best ways to grow your audience. Find 5 local businesses who serve the same ideal clients as you but with a different service, who you personally really like and rate, and who you feel are aligned with your own brand and ethos/approach. Commit to following and interacting with them and their business on a regular basis – don’t be disingenuous, but when you see something of theirs you genuinely like, show your appreciation with a like or comment, and engage in conversations with them and their followers. In itself this will help to grow your audience as you will be being seen by their audiences, but it also starts to develop relationships with these businesses so that you could potentially collaborate in future. If you’d like more tips for how to grow your audience, I have a free resource here, and I also have heaps more free marketing resources here.
8) LEAD GENERATION
How well do you nurture your audience once they are following you? Do you entertain and engage your social media followers and/or email subscribers with useful and interesting content? Do you help them to get to know, like and trust you?
QUICK FIX: Create one piece of content for each of the SOCIAL types of content
I explain these 6 different types of content here – S(olve), O(ffer), C(onnect), I(dentity), A(ask), L(eisure). Create one short piece of content for each – it doesn’t have to be long – it could be anything from a couple of short sentences to a full blog post, whatever you have the time and inclination for. You can then share these on your social media, on your blog and to your email list. If you want further help creating content, I have the Social Media Content Generator, which will save you heaps of time and brainpower – a huge bank of done-for-you prompts and a simple, organised system to consistently generate compelling content your ideal client will love.
Are you getting enough actual clients? Are you confident in your processes to turn enquiries into bookings?
QUICK FIX: Decide on your own favourite conversion event and put this everywhere as a CTA (Call To Action)
A conversion event is simply the best way you have found to convert enquiries into clients. There is no right or wrong with this – it should simply be what feels most comfortable and effective for you. For some people this will be downloading a brochure, for others choosing a date on a calendar, for others having a Zoom call or phone call. The important thing is just to be clear about what yours is, and then ensure that all roads lead to that. Ensure it’s clear as a CTA on all pages on your website, in your emails, in your social media posts, everywhere. Let people know what that next step is that you want them to take, and make it as easy as possible for them to do it. If you’d like more help getting more clients, I have a free pdf containing 25 ways to do this.
10) CLIENT EXPERIENCE
How strong do you feel your customer service is? How well do you look after clients both before and after their shoot? Do you deliver images on time and give them all the information they need to feel prepared and excited for the shoot? Do you ever try to overdeliver?
QUICK FIX: Think of one simple way you can surprise and delight your clients
This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – it could just be something like a personalised video message, some next day previews, a hand-written thank you card, or a small gift. The main thing is that it’s something they won’t expect.
I really hope these little 10-step MOT prompts have been helpful to you and make this new ‘term’ all the more enjoyable! Do let me know if you’re going to implement any of the Quick Fixes – I’d love to know!
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