Looking to start the year off right?

Great. We all feel a little bit of a spring in the step and some empowerment at the first of the year.

So let’s get a game plan going… something not as fleshed out as a marketing plan, and not as whimpy as a resolution.

A plan. Simple, concise and doable.

1. Drop all toxic friends and relatives like a hot stone that has needles on it. We don’t need the negativity, guys. We truly don’t. Things are crazy and moving fast, and we need teammates, not opposing sides.

You don’t have to be rude, or aggressive… just stop hanging with them. If the conversation starts to roll around to ‘those damn craigslistshooters’, change the subject. Or leave… isn’t there some bacon on the stove you forgot?

Be unavailable for whine sessions. Yeah – it’s tough out there. For everyone, not just photographers, and frankly no one gives a shit how down and out we be feelin’.

Truth be told, there are a lot of busy photographers out there. Lots. And more are getting gigs every day. If you are not one of them, I suggest very strongly, that you start to look inward and work on changing your game, not sit around with other shooters who are also in a world of hurts, licking wounds and ‘remembering when’.

And stop talking ‘smack’ about the competition, other photographers you don’t even know, the creeps you do know, and yourself. No more put-downs of anyone, including yourself. It is toxic, unattractive and terrible for the Karma thing.

Stop it. Now.

2. Redo your website. Look into a new design for the year, with some nice bigass images, some great bio copy, a new shot of a smiling, go-gettin’-em photographer with a glint of crazy in the eyes.

If you can’t redo it, I would bet you could add some new images and a gallery or two. I KNOW you can. Things were crazy last quarter, and there are some images that must be added. Do it today.

Then tell every one on the planet about the new images… (we call that marketing, but you can just call it showingthedamnphotographsyoumade… whatever works).

Oh, and if you are wondering how to know if your website needs a facelift, here are 6 questions. Answering yes to two, is a ‘probably’, three is a ‘for-sure’ and 4 and over is a ‘HELLYES’.

1. Is your website based in Flash?
2. Do you have a ‘splash page”?
3. Do you have to call your ‘webguy’ every time you need to add a photo or change a gallery name?
4. Do you use more than 3 fonts for the page?
5. When you built your blog, you did it in something called “Front Page”.
6. Did you do your own logo and use a piece of clip art, especially anything to do with a camera (shutter release, aperture, little guy with a view camera, tripod…)?

3. If you have a blog, create an editorial calendar and stick to it. I decided last summer to change up LE (well, now it is E4P, and begin to have more content than I had before. I wanted some short form posting available to me, so I changed it. If you are using WordPress, I recommend this plugin: Editorial Calendar

Wasn’t easy. Didn’t expect it to be. But it had to be done and we do what needs to be done. The new format of this site was chosen to feature how much content there is here, and not to be seen as a single entry ‘blog’ as the previous look implied.

If you don’t have a blog, start one. You do not have to post 10 times a day, or even once a day. Maybe once a week or 3 times a month… let your clients know what you are doing. Share your creative shoots with them. Keep them informed of new projects, travel, assignments you have. Everybody loves the busy person – be that busy person.

(Note: if you decide to build a blog to teach other photographers how to light stuff, make sure that is your market. If you are looking for work, make it a blog about your work and your clients. Not about how to use a light meter… there are plenty of old farts out there doing that.)

4. Do more creative. Start a project. Shoot a series. Try shooting something outside your comfort zone. Set a goal to make a couple of dozen images a month, and work them down to at least 5-6 images for the portfolio per edit.

Find the time. Make the time. Force the time. This IS the time to get on it… not next week, or after the holiday, or – heck, we humans can come up with a ton of great things to do instead of doing the work, but I would rather Do the Work. It pays off in dividends, and it is what we are supposed to do.

5. Eliminate time wasters. TV? It mostly sucks, right. Cut out all but two favorites. Love sports? Great, how about one game a week? Twitter? Sure, as long as it is now and then and you have something to say. Facebook games? Getouttahere with that crap.

Be shooting, be planning a shoot, or be editing. Done. (Yeah, that pesky 9-5 sometimes gets in the way, but it will be there until you make the jump, so do your best there as well, and cut out the un-freeking-necessary time wasters that are all the rage…)

Wait… am I saying that social media is not an important part of your marketing? Heck no, it is and it will be, but there are smart ways of doing it, right? And if you are not working them in a smart way, what are you doing?

6. Get OUT of your comfort zone and start doing the shit that has to be done without whining about it. (This one I have stapled to my forehead.) It is difficult to do stuff we are not good at. Calling for meetings. Showing the book to kids who are barely out of school and hoping that they give you a shot, or staying up super late to get that edit out the door for the client.

Comfort zone is treating it like a second class gig… something we do when we aren’t doing, you know, that other really important stuff.

There is no other really important stuff. (I am making a point here, so if your house is on fire, yeah… it goes to the top of the list. Good, you got me on that one. But only if it is your house and you are absolutely sure it is on fire… got it?)

7. Write it down. Make lists. Make plans. On paper.

Post them where you can see them. Post them where you can make notes on them and scribble in dates and make – the – plans.

When we write something down, it automatically becomes more important to us. (A little trick I learned a long time ago – before giving someone a business card, write something ‘important’ on it. Those cards are not so easily discarded. True… try it.)

Work out what you want to achieve this next quarter, and then break it into manageable chunks. Make the points something you can actually do. Make them realistic goals.

“I am going to show my book to 500 Art Directors this quarter” is a wonderful idea. Stupid, but wonderful. 500? Really?

Let’s work on ideas that are wonderful and NOT stupid.

“I am going to make one appointment per week to show my new portfolio” is a lot more feasible. Wonderful. Not stupid.

Having a plan is something that can make the difference between getting to where you want to go and wandering aimlessly like a snowbird in Scottsdale on a stormy Sunday morning. (Take it from me, lost lost lost lost… blinkers blazing…) Not a pretty sight.

The plans you make should be measurable, workable, doable and written down.

One last item.

Oh yeah, sorry…

8. One last item: Show Your Work. Show it to everyone. Get it on your iPad, your Kindle Fire, iPhone, Android, Black… nawww. Make up a small book of images at Blurb and put it in your camera bag. Tell everyone you meet how much you love being a photographer and, “oh – by the way, would you like to see some images” can come tumbling out in context.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Dump the negativity.
Work on your website (redo/fix/update.
Blog (or Photoblog) – refresh/create.
Shoot more creative.
Eliminate Time Wasters.
Get OUT of your comfort zone.
Write it down.
Show Your Work.

There it is.

It is what I am going to do. What are YOU going to do?

Share your plans in the comments.

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