Though I know busy season is right around the corner (I can feel it especially well, thanks to these beautiful 70 degree days!!), it’s still off season for now. Busy season can be so, well, busy, that it’s important to really do our best to maximize our off season and get the most out of it that we can. In addition to meeting with lots of new and potential clients, I’ve been working on a lot of behind the scenes things. Here are a few of the projects I’ve been up to this off season!
Pre-prepping client gifts and packages
One of the things that I have struggled with over the past couple years is finding a really good system for my client gifts and packaging! It ends up being such a huge project when I’ve already got a million other things going on. I’ve been trying to come up with a good solution to make this process simpler and I think I’ve finally come up with something. Pre-packaging some of the items that I send seems to help a lot! I know I’ll be glad I took the time to do this when busy season rolls around again!
Watching free webinars and reading blog posts on topics of interest
The sudden influx of so many free webinars is for sure a sign of how the industry changes so quickly. A year or two ago, webinars weren’t really a thing in the creative/photography industry, but now they are EVERYWHERE. I don’t see that as a bad thing though…for the most part, they’re completely free education! Whether or not their content is actually helpful is another story, but if you seek out webinars on things you are interested in and devote an hour to it and learn one or two things, you still come out ahead! These are not a bad way to spend a lunch break or an hour out of the afternoon, depending on what you choose to check out.
Reading business books
Right now I’m working on a book called “Everybody Writes because I think writing is so essential to running a business. I write blog posts, of course, but I also write emails, social media updates, website copy, etc. Writing is a huge key to how I market the business! I feel that if this book helps me become a stronger writer, it will also help my brand presence become stronger as well!
Researching new social media strategies
It used to be that social media platforms were pretty simple to figure out. Before algorithms and the push to purchase advertising, things were so much easier! Now you have to figure out strategies to get the most out of each platform…what times are the best to post? What type of content is the most engaging? Do I post a link with a photo, or a photo with a link??
Optimizing for better SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is so SO important in my mind. People can’t find you and fall in love with your work unless you make it easy for them! How many times have you done a google search and looked past the first one or two items that pop up? I’m making SEO a huge part of my goals for the year because I think it’s incredibly important.
Preparing my taxes for 2016
This is forever one of my beginning of the year projects! It’s not the most fun, but oddly enough it’s not my least favorite thing to do either. I do really enjoy looking at the numbers and getting a very clear picture of how the business did in the last year!
Updating contracts, pricing, website, questionnaires, etc
What better way to start out a new year than by giving things a little bit of a refresh? I’ve been going through things like contracts and questionnaires looking for things to cut out or add and I’ve been trying to come up with ways to showcase the ways that we serve our clients and what sets us apart when it comes to my website and pricing guide. This slower time of year has been a great time to experiement with that!
Blogging my heart out
I used to be a 5 day a week blogger, but I really want to focus more on QUALITY vs QUANTITY, so I’ve dropped down to 2-3 posts a week in order to both still maintain a schedule, but also to not feel pressured to write just anything. It’s incredibly important to me to come up with my own unique content, so I have been using this time to write out a lot of ideas and pre-write some posts. The book I mentioned earlier, “Everybody Writes” says in order to get better as a writer, you’ve got to do it every day. Without as much on my plate right now, I’m able to commit more time to working on this and I think it’s been great so far!
Submitting my work from 2016
Last year, I did not make submitting my work a priority at all. I think I maybe submitted two things?!? In prior years I submitted almost everything I shot. It challenged me as a growing photographer to shoot with a submission in mind and it really did help boost my SEO results! Now that I have time, I’m hoping to get through all of the weddings I’d like to submit from last year before moving on to engagement sessions.
(I just want to note really quickly that while getting featured is fun and it’s always exciting, that’s not the real reason to keep submitting your work! I’m writing a blog post about why this is still such a good business move and I’ll share it soon!!)
Taking stock photos for future blog posts
I’ve been working on this because I KNOW it will make my life so much easier when the last thing I want to do is style office supplies, take photos, and edit them for a SINGLE blog post. It’s so much easier to do a bunch of different photos all in one day and have them waiting for the perfect post in a folder on my hard drive. Work smarter, not harder, yall.
Spending more time cultivating relationships around me
Networking is just not really my thing. I do love having industry friends, though….I love being able to bounce ideas off of them, being able to commiserate about some of the less glam parts of our jobs. These are my people, my coworkers! When it’s busy season it’s harder to get calendars aligned, so I’ve tried to really make it a point to get together with people now, while it’s a bit quieter.
Packing to move
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much publicly, but we are moving again! Instead of moving right in the middle of one of my busiest months like we did last year, we’re moving in March instead. I’m currently working on going through every room in our home looking for things to purge. I’m on a big “out with the old, in with the new” kick right now. My theory is, anything we don’t love should go so that it can be replaced at some point with something we actually do love. Moving is always such a big project, but I’m thankful to not have to do it during busy season…and to have a husband who is not recovering from surgery this year! (knock on wood…shhh!)
That’s not quite an exhaustive list of what I’ve been up to, but writing some of the things on my project list down has made me realize that maybe off season isn’t really that much of a slow season…it’s just a different type of season. At any rate, this year’s off season has been so productive and I’m looking forward to a great busy season!
If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been interested in working with me on a mentoring session, Skype mentoring sessions are currently $50 off til Valentine’s Day! Email me for details.