Diversify Your Portfolio With More Than Pretty Pictures

March17_LargeBlog_BPhillips

Diversify Your Portfolio With More Than Pretty Pictures with Blair Phillips

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the March issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

If you find yourself having to stop for fuel late at night, you will normally look over your shoulder once or twice to be aware of your surroundings. We get so enthralled in our thoughts that we find ourselves going through life with blinders on. While I am not saying we should live in constant fear, we should live our lives with a sense of awareness. Most problems in life give us warning signs to make us aware of an upcoming problem. Think of an oil spot underneath your car in the garage. It may be very small when you first notice it, but if left alone, you could be facing huge problems down the road. We should treat our photography business the same way. Have constant awareness of where your business is, and if it’s meeting the goals you have set.

 

Goals are often put to the wayside as we put all our energy into simply getting through the day. We set goals to motivate ourselves and others. Setting the goal is the easy part. Actually putting the pieces in place to achieve that goal is another story.

 

We start off going after goals strongly, only to fall short due to our lack of awareness. It is not that we can’t accomplish goals, we just lack the awareness of our progress. Do you have weekly meetings with staff to evaluate your progress? Do you know what costs you the most revenue? If not, that should be one of your most important goals right now. You may be spinning your wheels chasing different avenues of business that do not yield the maximized profits you are capable of. Running your business with the sense of only surviving day to day will never allow you to grow toward the long-term goal of financial freedom and sanity. We should all be running our business with a goal-oriented mindset, while shaving time off the tasks we do each day.

 

Time is the most overlooked commodity in the photography industry. Photographers believe they are making good profit on a job, but forget that it took three times longer than it should. You must evaluate the amount of time you spend completing tasks.

 

If you perform a few of the same tasks each day, try this exercise. Write down each step of a task. Evaluate each step to ensure it adds value to your business or the end result. Dig deep to simplify and group together steps. Shave a little time off each task daily. You will be amazed by the amount of time you can gain by implementing this practice in your business and life. It is called lean management. Lean management is the concept of continuous improvement. It’s a way of making small changes to improve efficiency and quality. I guarantee that if you begin to work and live by a lean management standard, you will have more free time to focus on goals.

 

But be careful with your focus. If you focus on one thing too much, it is likely to turn into a disappointment. My studio has always been diverse. We noticed the importance of diversity about six years ago. There was a slight decline in the popularity of senior photography in our market. We began looking into other avenues that would allow us to photograph the same jobs year after year. This business would be so much easier if we had a guaranteed number of jobs. That is exactly what we have created with volume photography.

 

I never imagined I would be photographing entire schools, sports leagues, dance studios, preschools, cheer groups and volleyball leagues. When I saw the added security this provided my business, it was exciting and motivating. I now have a completely separate division under the same roof. Our volume school and sports division has become a large part of our business.

 

We still focus equally on the portrait side of our business, but the diversity gives us options. If you photograph only one genre, you need to broaden your skillset and offerings. Spread yourself around to ensure you do not become complacent in the marketplace. You can be thriving today and gone within a few moths if you are not making yourself constantly aware.

 

Businesses that thrive have the right people for the job. Obviously you do not want to pay someone $25 an hour to do something that is worth $10. There are companies you can outsource nearly anything to. For as much as I love keeping my dollars here in the United States, sometimes it is beneficial to outsource to a foreign country. You can hire individuals to do market research, book appointments, manage your schedule, help you find employees—anything you can imagine. These people are known as virtual assistants. You can hire qualified individuals for anywhere from $4 to $25 an hour. You pay them only when you need them.

 

Keep a few things in mind when outsourcing. When you send your detailed request, ask them to write you back and explain their interpretation of what you are asking for. This ensures you are both on the same page and not wasting money. Set a time constraint for every task you outsource. Use an outsourcing firm that has a team of qualified employees should your main contact fall ill. Know what your time is worth. This is the only way to know if outsourcing is worth it. Outsourcing sites include oDesk, Upwork and Fiverr (it is amazing what people are willing to do for five bucks).

 

Think about the measures you are putting into place to secure a prosperous future. Just when you feel like giving up, think of the number 242. That is the number of venture capitalists that Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz had to pitch his idea to before he was given the chance he needed.

 

Think of 212 degrees also. Water does nothing at 211 degrees. Once water reaches 212 degrees, it boils. In other words, never give up. There are tons of people with an overwhelming amount of knowledge all around you. There is so much free information on the Internet to help us stay in touch with what is going on in the world. If you find yourself lost, take off the blinders. Stay on top of not only where you are going, but how you are getting there.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the March issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.