2014 is right around the corner and wedding season starts sooner than you think! Have you thought about what you want to do and where you want to go with your wedding photography business? It’s not too late! Act now!

Here are five things to do THIS WEEK to help grow your wedding photography business in 2014:

Mantra Monday

First things first: Write down what excites you about your wedding photography business. This is going to be your personal mantra and the statement that motivates and reminds you for the next 365 plus days of why you’re getting out of bed and taking this journey.

Now, share this with your spouse, partner, best friend or whomever you trust! Keep copies everywhere from your bathroom mirror to the plastic sleeve in your camera roller bag.


Tuesday – Know your numbers

On Monday you got yourself motivated, now its time to get to the dirty… Pull out all the data you can and get to know your numbers inside and out. In order to improve in 2014 you need to know about 2013:

  • Number of weddings shot
  • Gross revenue — The total amount of money you brought in.
  • Net revenue — The amount of money left after all the expenses of running your business.
  • Sales margins — The amount you paid for a product versus the amount you sold a product for.
  • Average sale amount — The average spend by your client.
  • Where money was spent

You also need to know where you spent your time and energy:

  • Average amount of time spent on a wedding project
  • Average amount of time spent marketing each wedding
  • Where you marketed and resulting business
  • Amount of time spent on other items
  • Where your clients came from
  • Your biggest daily time wasters

As you work through the data, more questions will come up! When this happens you’ll know you’re on the right track! Working through those numbers and you’ll also quickly see holes that could easily be filled.

If pulling your numbers was a daunting, frustrating task, then its time to get yourself organized with a management suite. Take a look at ShootQ, StudioCloud and StudioPlus.


Getting Over the Hump on Wednesday

You either found yesterday really exciting or really depressing. Either way you should have learned something about your business. Let’s take that newly found knowledge and get SMART!

Google “setting goals” and the concept of SMART goals goes on for pages. Meaningful goals need to be: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant and Time Bound. But what does this mean for wedding photographers? Well, take a look at yesterday’s numbers and your goals for 2014 should jump right off of the page! Did you shoot enough weddings? Make enough money? Waste too much time? This is where we can make a change for the better!

Now let’s write down our SMART goals:

  • Example of a BAD goal: This coming wedding season I want to shoot more weddings.

  • Example of a GOOD goal: I will book, photograph and complete twelve weddings by December 15, 2014.

Now, go and bug that spouse, partner, best friend or whomever from Monday and share your SMART goals. This important step will help you on your path, make you accountable and give you a fighting chance to improve in 2014!


Thursday is a Good Day for Some Action

So, how you feeling? Don’t worry, we’re almost there. Today we’re taking a look at the last three days and putting our money where our mouth is. Let’s make an action plan!

Let’s assume you’ve decided to book, photograph and complete twelve weddings by December 15, 2014. How are you going to do this? Again, we have to break it down.

Twelve weddings: Okay, it’s reasonable that nine of those weddings will happen in wedding season, June through September, four months. That’s two weddings per month, plus one. That’s doable! The remaining three weddings will occur in the other eight months. Now we’ve got ourselves a really attainable number!

Next, where are those weddings going to come from?  Do you have referrals? Are you in a wedding show? Where did 2013’s weddings come from? Remember, this goal is to book and complete twelve weddings. You need to do whatever it takes to get those weddings done! Take a look at the resources you have from 2013. Do you have contacts you can email? Do you have a decent social network? Can you grow that network? Can you get yourself into a wedding show? Work with partner vendors? And again, break down the numbers. Set yourself quotas like calling ten people per week. Remember, stay motivated, stay focused, recite your mantra!


Face the Facts on Friday

We’ve made it! Day Five! But this is the day we have to look back at all of our work and have a little heart-to-heart with ourselves and then with our spouse, partner or best friend. It’s time to ask the tough questions: Can I reasonably do this? Do I love this enough to stay motivated? Is it worth it? The wedding photography gig isn’t easy and is getting harder every year. But, it can also be very personally rewarding and very lucrative. Making a few assumptions, what other part time job can you work only about twelve weeks per year and make around $30,000? And, almost everything involved in this career is fun!

Seriously, this is important reflection time. I highly recommend getting out of your office — home or studio. If it’s in the budget, take a spa day. Getting out of your normal environment should help you gain perspective. Have a drink with a friend and ask them about their job and career goals, not to compare or compete, but to gain insight. Remember, us photographers are a unique breed. Many are “lone wolves” who absolutely detest the idea of having a boss. Your final decision, whatever it is, needs to sit right and empower you!

[REWIND: Zack Arias’s Tips on Starting Off a Photography Business]

Some Final Thoughts

There is nothing better than, at the end of the year to think about your life and career. The documents you created are the new foundation of your business. They are also working documents that can be tweaked. Be honest, be tough, but don’t be unreasonable. Growing your business is a multi-year process. Know and respect your limitations and find trustworthy help wherever and whenever you can. Now, go forth and conquer!