Five Keys to Success in 2015

The beginning of each year Suzy and I set aside a few days to look back at all the “Big Picture” goals we have made in the past and see how far we’ve come. Then we spend some time DREAMING BIG for the future! Years ago I bought a nice bound sketchpad, and we named it our “Dream Book”. This morning I pulled it out and was paging through it and was amazed how many things we put on paper that ended up happening.


Way back in February of 2012 we had set some goals for 2014. The list included:

Shoot 24 weddings
12 in California
10 out of State
2 International
Teach 7 Workshops
Sell $25,000 in online media.

That was three years ago we set those goals. But now that 2014 is over, looking back we ended up shooting thirty-nine weddings, seven of them were destination and two of them international (Ireland & London). We didn’t do seven workshops (probably because of so many weddings). But we did teach one big one in Kentucky, and one smaller soapbox one at WPPI. We also sold well over $25,000 online.

Another page in the “Dream Book” from early 2012 is entitled “Infusing our Brides”. The idea was to love all our brides so much that we wouldn’t need to do any advertising because they wouldn’t be able to help but tell other people about us. Looking back at 2014 I think it worked.

So what are some things you can do to hit your own goals?

1. WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN. I can’t stress this one enough. Almost every time we write goals down they happen. Be as specific as possible. How many weddings or sessions do you want to shoot? Where do you want to shoot them? How much do you want to charge for each? How much of that is a base price, and how much is markup on albums sales or add-ons? Write them down in a place you won’t lose them and can refer back on a regular basis. For us the expensive bound sketchpad that we keep on the office shelf has worked amazing!

2. WRITE DOWN YOUR NEXT ACTION STEPS. Once you have your goals write down the specific “next steps” to get there. Are you going to do a bride infusion program? Do it 100% and write down the steps. For us that one page in our book had every step… 1. Bring brides & grooms favorite Starbucks to first meeting. 2. Send moving tickets and thank you note as soon as the couple books, 3. Send Locket as soon as engagement session is edited, 4. Send Starbucks card 2 weeks before the wedding. Then we wrote down where we were going to get the movie tickets (Costco), the Lockets (Etsy at the time, but now Chasing Lockets), the Starbucks Cards, and what we were going to use for thank you cards (WHCC).

If your goal is to teach a workshop the first step might be to write out all your material and practice it, the second step might be to do a blog post and gauge an interest level, the third step might be to decide on a date. These are just two examples of some of our goals, but whatever you dreams might be, take some time to write down the steps to get there!

3. DECIDE ON THE BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ TO MEET THOSE GOALS. I rarely meet someone successful who doesn’t read a lot of books. If you don’t like reading, try audio books. If you don’t know what to read, find someone you admire and ask them. Over the years I’ve often asked people I admire what to read, and those handful of books have been life changing for our business and life. This isn’t optional.

4. MAKE A SHORT LIST OF THE PEOPLE YOU NEED TO MEET. Don’t go at it alone. There are a lot of people out there that would love to help you. Decide who you want to meet to help you get to your next goal. It might be a wedding planner, it might be a venue coordinator, it might be another photographer slightly ahead of you in his or her business, or maybe it’s someone in a completely different industry that can offer you an outside perspective. Find ways to meet those people and establish win/win relationships with them. We recently had a freshman college girl make herself available to carry Suzy’s bag and camera the whole day for a wedding we photographed when Suzy was 7 months pregnant. She didn’t ask to shoot, or do anything else; she just stood there for eleven hours and held the bag. It was so helpful that later when she needed some editing advice Suzy spent a few hours on the phone with her going over her workflow, and I was more than happy to help her when she called with some client related questions. Another time we noticed a wedding planner who needed some new website shots for her team. We offered to do them for free and she ended up booking us over seven weddings last year.

5. REVIEW AND REVISE. As you write out your steps, read your books, and meet people you’re going to learn. Sometimes your goals will change; sometimes they will stay the same. At one point Suzy and I had considered doing a national workshop tour. One of our first steps was to find a few photographers who had done it successfully. We found them, and took them out to dinner and asked them all about it. In the end once we weighed all their advice, we decided that a tour wasn’t right for us at the time.

That’s it! Five things you can do this week to get you on track for some amazing success this year! Happy New Year Everyone!

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