Before jumping into making goals for the year ahead, it's so important to take a step back and look at the year that's past, first. Join me for an honest look at what worked and what didn't in my wedding photography business in 2022, and get a little sneak peek at some of my goals for 2023!
***SHOWNOTES + TRANSCRIPT COMING SOON***
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Welcome back to a new year on the podcast friends! It's officially 2023. And I don't know about you, but I am so excited for the year ahead.
I'm totally one of those annoying people who thrives on the vibe of the new year. I'm not all about that new year new me bullshit. And I know that logically, nothing has changed. But still, when I wake up on January 1, it just feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and like the possibilities are endless for the next 365 days. So I really just can't help but look forward to that every year.
I think it's so important, though, to review the year that's passed to get a fresh perspective before I just dive right in. So today on the podcast, I'm going to be looking back at 2022 talking all about what worked and what didn't and giving you a little peek into my goals for 2023, and what I have planned for this year.
This is episode 21 of Keeping It Candid!
Welcome to Keeping It Candid! I'm your host Sandra Henderson, an international wedding and family photographer and business coach. I help wedding photographers use systems to build out the back end of their businesses to gain control and continue to thrive no matter what life throws their way. And on a more personal note, I'm a strong Enneagram 3 wing 2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for traveling combined with navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner.
Join me every week for a candid, behind the scenes look at what it's really like working as a wedding photographer, where I'll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Join me every week for a candid behind the scenes look at what it's really like working as a wedding photographer, where I'll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here friends! So go grab your favorite notebook and pen and let's dive into this week's episode!
Okay, the curtains are pulled back and I'm going to take you along on an honest, behind the scenes look at my wedding photography business over the last year.
From a client perspective, some things that worked really well in 2023 were sticking with my boundaries around scheduling and office hours, and having my systems built up in such a way that I was able to answer questions and solve problems for my clients before they even knew to ask. There were even times when I panicked thinking that I forgot to send an email only to rush over to my computer and realize that it had actually been done a while ago and I just forgot because my system had handled most of the work for me.
Now, from the business perspective, staying on track with my editing schedule for about three quarters of the year was a huge win.
Now there are going to be two ways that that piece of information is received: there are going to be people who are shocked that it's not 100%. And then there are going to be people who are relieved to hear someone openly talking about returning photos late.
Let's be real, none of us want that. And it's never our intention. But sometimes shit happens and it just can't be avoided. It doesn't make you a bad business owner! So I'm definitely celebrating that I stayed organized the majority of the year because that's a huge improvement from previous years.
Another area that I think worked really well in 2022 was prioritizing generating additional revenue through print and album sales. Now this one is going to pop up again under things that didn't work so well, but here's why I decided to include it here too:
This is something that I had been wanting to do for a while. I dipped my toes in the water in 2021 and it brought in an additional $2,500 in print sales that I had never done before. But I knew that there was so much potential so I carved out some time I took a course and I revamped my entire post wedding and post session process. I was so happy with it and so proud of myself once it was done! Once I started to implement it, though, I definitely ran into a few hurdles...
... And that's why this is the perfect lead in to talking about some of the things that didn't work so well last year!
The gallery service I was using to deliver photos to my clients had a storefront built in, but the full range of features wasn't available to Canadian users. I could either have an empty, generic storefront and process the orders myself, and charge Canadian currency. Or I could have a robust, aesthetically pleasing storefront with product previews and customizations, and charge US currency. There was no way to have that aesthetically pleasing storefront and charge Canadian.
My sales plummeted because of it and I had several clients tell me that the cost to pay that conversion and shipping on top of their product order just wasn't worth it. And I honestly can't blame them. So I made the decision to move over to Pic-Time, a gallery service that has a fully integrated storefront with features available that I had been waiting years for at my last provider. And let me tell you, I literally couldn't be happier!
I'm going to be doing a whole episode about this later this season, but if you're eager to check out something new, make sure you head over to https://simplysandrayvonne.ca/resources for a code that will give you a free month of Pic-Time!
Now my sales It instantly improved when I made this switch and I've been able to create so many automated sales campaigns that are the hands off income generators that I have been waiting for! And let me tell you, you have to believe me when I say I have no regrets for making this switch!
Now on the album side of things, the system I implemented came directly from a course I took and at first it worked perfectly. I had a client purchase a $350 upgrade for their album for the first time ever, and it was such a relief to see that hard work that I had put into building this new sales system was starting to pay off. That is - until I went to use it for a second time... And basically every time since then.
Clients have either not responded or they've been entirely confused by the process. So that was disappointing to say the least, but I'm not giving up yet. This off-season, I'm going to be collaborating with some photographer friends to figure out exactly what went wrong and hopefully start to create a system that works both for the financial end and just serving my clients a more user friendly experience.
Okay, so some other areas that I don't think worked out so well last year were with my associate team. Not them, specifically, they are all fantastic! But in the bigger picture, booking more than one wedding in a day is more of a workload than I can handle at this point in my life.
I feel like there's always one couple that's getting less of an experience because I can't edit two sets of photos at once. And I can't communicate with two people at once. One couple always has to come second, and I just don't love that.
I have no intentions of getting rid of my associate team, but I'm going to be adjusting how I schedule things and I plan on taking on less weddings myself, which is becoming more and more important for my health as time goes on. I also plan on putting more thought into who I am teaming up to work together on a wedding day. The amount of extra time that I spent last year colour-correcting photos because I had one photographer with a Nikon camera and one photographer with a Canon camera was higher than ever before, and I hated every second of it! Going forward, I will definitely be making sure that I'm teaming up two Nikon shooters together and two Canon shooters together to avoid that issue as much as possible.
Now flipping over to talk about my clients this year, I want to find new ways to educate them about things like what to wear for their engagement session, because I'm finding that the majority of my couples are showing up in jeans and a T shirt and no change of outfit. I do send out emails that suggest things like what to wear and to bring more than one thing, but it's just not resonating. So that definitely needs some adjusting. If it were to happen with one or two clients, it's realistic to put it on them that maybe they missed the email or missed that detail. But when it's happening with almost every single client, that 100% lands on me. I'm almost finished making a new wedding experience guide to give my couples so hopefully that is a step in the right direction and giving all of that information to them a little bit sooner in their experience.
So as you can see, I am giving myself a little bit of homework when I'm thinking about the things that didn't work so well last year. I need to fix my album sales system. I want to adjust the way that I scheduled my team. And I want to finish that wedding experience guide. Those are just a few of the things that I have planned!
On a more exciting note, something else that's coming up pretty soon in 2023... Make sure you're following me over on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, because I'm going to be opening up a waitlist in a couple of weeks for a brand new boot camp for wedding photographers that's launching this spring! If you're ready to confidently step into the CEO role of your business and take control of your systems and client experience, you're definitely going to want to get in on this. So more to come on that soon!
I also want to book a wedding in a new country that I've never been to before. I want to photograph an elopement in the mountains. I want to start dancing again, even if it's just me in my living room. And, I want to travel and continue strengthening my relationships.
I want 2023 to be a year of calm. I want it to feel fun to be easy, and for us as a team to feel creative and to serve with purpose and intention. I want my clients to have a fun, luxurious experience filled with happiness. And I want them to be appreciative of their time working with us.
And if there's one takeaway I want you to get from this episode, it's to take some time this week, or better yet today, and take an honest look at what worked and what didn't work for your business last year. The only way that you can continue to grow and improve is if you know exactly what it is that your clients need! And that's so, so important.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to remind you that Keeping It Candid is now officially a weekly podcast! That's right - a new episode will be dropping every Tuesday until the end of the season!
I'll be back next week to talk about three common mistakes that every wedding photographer makes and, of course, how to fix them.
Thank you so much for listening! You can find full show notes from today's episode at https://simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime, let's connect! You can find me on Instagram and TikTok - just search @simplysandrayvonne. And if you're loving this podcast I'd be so honored if you'd go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave a review!
Until next time!