By Sarah Petty
It happens to every single small business owner, no matter what business you’re in.
That icky feeling that before you know it has tackled you from behind.
The feeling of complete and total overwhelm that makes you want to run away screaming when you glance at your to do list.
For photographers like me, it starts with taxes to file, images to back up and retouch, orders to process, calls to return. Oh and that little task that never goes away – marketing to get my next client.
Everything on the list is important. So how do you know where to start? And more importantly, how do you avoid getting yourself in this position to begin with?
Today I’m going to share with you 3 tips to help you overcome the overwhelm in your photography business and avoid those run ins with it in the future.
1. Make a plan and stick to it.
I find that what gets me in trouble is when I jump around from task to task with no real plan for where I’m going. For example, checking email then jumping over to writing a note to a client, then jumping back into email before paying bills. Before I know it, I have 15 projects started but nothing has been finished!
To help me avoid the too many irons in the fire problem, I first identify 3 top priorities I want to accomplish TODAY on my to do list. Then I physically block the time on my calendar to focus ONLY on those 3 things.
For example: On today’s list I need to write a blog post, get my WPPI presentation 60% complete, and do a pre-session consultation at my studio. I assign the amount of time each should take me and don’t open email, answer the phone, check Facebook or allow myself other distractions in those chunks of time I have set aside for these three tasks.
Does it take discipline? Sure! But by committing the time to my calendar and getting realistic about what can really happen in the time I have available, I find that I’m more focused and productive and I actually COMPLETE things on my to do list instead of just starting them.
A quick note on how I choose the three things that need to be worked on each day. I always make sure at least one of my tasks is something that is most likely to help me meet my revenue goals – from writing notes to making calls, setting up appointments, creating new products and more. Those things take priority on my to do list most days. I’ll be talking more about how I prioritize those marketing tasks on my free webinar next week. You can grab a set here if you’re interested:
2.Keep a clean database.
You have one whether you realize it or not, it just probably isn’t as organized as it should be. It’s your little black book of contacts. It includes everyone from your friends, family, people you do business with and paying clients. But more than just that how to reach them, it includes valuable information about each contact that helps you create opportunities for business like:
· ages & names of their kids
· pet’s names
· family hobbies (boating, swimming, skiing, basketball)
· schools they attend or attended
· purchase history (baby #1 got a painted canvas at 6 months so be sure to follow up at 6 months with baby #2 for the same thing)
· home decorating style
The database I use is web-based, and I put time on my calendar every week (just 30 minutes) to update it with new information on my clients and prospects as well as scour it for opportunities. What this does is it ensures that when business slows down at my photography studio instead of panicking about how I can get the phone to ring, I have a pile of opportunities waiting for me to jump on in my database. For more on how I use my database, you can check out this free training here: https://joyofmarketing.leadpages.net/ss-webinar-march-2014-organize-your-marketing/
3. Be proactive, not reactive.
I’m always working on this and you should be, too. As creatives we get wrapped up in the excitement of the newest thing that lands in our lap. I’m guilty, too. But if you find yourself reacting to opportunities as they arise more often than planning for them, you need a better plan. Here’s why.
When you react to opportunities that fall in your lap, you’re behind the ball….scrambling to squeeze them in among the other things you’ve already indicated were a higher priority to building your business. Something has to give and you don’t want it to be time with your family.
The other downside to reacting is you’re not fully in control of the results of your efforts, unlike those activities you have planned for. You often don’t have time to truly assess the potential of the opportunity so you throw something together quickly and hope it fits. When you proactively plan your activities, you KNOW what your goals are and you are more likely to achieve them.
I’ve found the marketing opportunities that perform best for me are those that don’t just fall in my lap. They are things that I go out and orchestrate on my own. Activities like co-marketing, gifting my best clients at specific times of the year, speaking to small groups of my target audience and sampling my lobster a few times a year. I’ll be talking more about how I prioritize these opportunities next week on a free webinar. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check it out here:
What are your favorite tips for overcoming overwhelm?
About Sarah Petty
Sarah Petty was named one of the most profitable photography studio owners in the United States by Professional Photographers of America. She is a New York Times best-selling marketing author of Worth Every Penny: Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth, MBA and boutique marketing expert who has inspired thousands of boutique business owners to use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level. Sarah teaches marketing at her company Joy of Marketing. www.joyofmarketing.com