Since Spring is here, we’re sharing a series of Best Business Practice posts featuring the team of ACEs. Get to know them and learn how their tips and tricks will streamline your studio this season! As any ACE will tell you, the reality is you can’t do it all. Successful photographers understand this, which is why they begin with a clear vision for their business.

Start by asking “Why?”

The most valuable question you’ll ask throughout the lifetime of your business is “Why?” When you’ve established a clear purpose and goals for your business, frequently asking yourself why you do what you do will hold you accountable to your overall vision and keep your business on track for success!

So, why do you do what you do? First identify what your business “stands for.” List the top five things you want your business to stand for and edit your list until you have one statement that accurately represents the purpose of your business.

Here are a few questions to guide you:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your photography business?
  • What are the main differentiating points that you’re using to get business?
  • What unique strengths and attributes do you want to build your business around?

What do you want to accomplish? The goals you identify act as a roadmap as you move forward and develop business systems. Keep these tips in mind as you establish goals for your business.

1) Be Real: The best brands are authentic. These brands aren’t pretending to be something; they are genuinely what they claim to be. When you’re thinking about the goals you have for your business, keep it real. Make sure the goals you choose are actually in line with who you are and the purpose of your business.

2) Think Long Term: If you’re trying to build a sustainable business, your goals must be relevant for the long term. Set goals not only for the next few years, but also for the long term course of your career.

3) Dream Big: Don’t be afraid to have ambitious goals! Make sure these goals actually matter to you though, because the more ambitious your goals are, the more motivation you’ll need to achieve them!

4) Make Goals Measurable: Make sure you have a clear way to measure the progress you make in reaching your goals so that you ensure you stay on the path to success!

Here are a few questions to guide you in specifying your goals:

  • What specifically do you want to accomplish in the next year?
  • What specifically do you want to accomplish in the next 5, 10 and 15 years?
  • What goals do you have financially for your business?
  • What goals do you have for your technical abilities?
  • What is your ideal number of clients and events per year?

In the next post in this series we’ll dive into “how-to” build business systems! Get a head start with ACE Leann Marie, who shares her systematic business tips below.

Q. What’s your primary area of photography and when did you start shooting full-time?

Leann: Wedding photographer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. I started my business in 2009.

Q. What was your biggest challenge when starting your own business?

Leann: Weeding out the noise. It seemed like there were lots of options for every issue I ran into, and I really needed to sit down and figure out what was going to be the right solution for my business then, and in the future.

Q. What are your favorite five tips for keeping track of client communication? 

Leann: My favorite five tips are…

1) Email Templates – ShootQ is great for this as well as Text Expander and YesWare.
2) Labeling System in your Inbox – if you’re able to quickly label an email (if you need it for archives) and file it away, it keeps your inbox clean and your files quickly accessible.
3) Scheduling – relying on the abilities of applications such as ShootQ to schedule emails and send them when needed is key. I can communicate important information to my clients without having to actually be at the computer.
4) Answer ASAP – Decide if you can answer right away, need to add the task to your “To-Do” list, or whether the conversation is complete. Work toward providing and answer for your client as soon as you can.
5) Remember to BCC ShootQ! ShootQ has a handy BCC email address, and you can use it to send all client email from your inbox to their ShootQ client folder. Just BCC ShootQ when you reply and the email chain will be saved in their ShootQ Correspondence.

Q. What’s the most interesting or funny thing you’ve been doing while ShootQ booked a shoot for you?
Leeann: Sleep! This beats interesting and funny stories any day! 🙂

About Leeann Marie

Leeann is a Pittsburgh-based wedding, engagement, and boudoir photographer. An avid blogger, she loves connecting with her clients, friends, and other photographers around the world. She holds an engineering background from the University of Pittsburgh, which has led to a love of technology and teaching.

She loves Lady Gaga, champagne, and kettle-cooked chips. She has traveled the world to places such as Russia, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Panama, and believes in living the life you have dreamed.

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