For the last episode of 2022, I am discussing everything that I’m doing in the off-season to set up my business for the new year. From claiming ownership over all of my time, focusing on personal growth, and making strategic developments in my business, I’m sharing an overview of what 2023 will look like for my life and business. I’m also diving into the results from when I asked nearly 115 other photographers, ‘where are you putting your energy in 2023?’
The Focused Photographers Podcast was created based on the idea that the most incredible tool for learning is a deep dive into any given topic from multiple perspectives. Join us every other week as we explore important topics, with host Daniel Moyer and a variety of guests offering different perspectives! Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!
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REVIEW THE SHOW NOTES:
Where are photographers putting their energy in 2023? (2:37)
The two main categories I’m focusing on this year (6:57)
All of your time is yours (7:45)
Two weekends off per month (10:06)
Putting the focus on personal growth (13:34)
Switching CRMs and other business priorities (18:33)
Financial assessment and goals (21:03)
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Review the Transcript:
Hey photographer friends. I’m Dan Moyer. And thank you for joining me on the focus photographers podcast where photographers gather. This episode is brought to you by focus five, the weekly business newsletter written specifically for you wedding photographers, you’re already in your email all day every day. So why not add a little weekly business tip to put a little more pep in your step? Check it out at Focus photographers.com/newsletter It is free. It’s purely educational, and you can unsubscribe at any time with that either way, welcome to the last episode of 2022.
In this episode, I’m trying to keep it pretty simple and going through everything that I’m doing in my offseason. This is not going to be a New Year’s resolution episode. But I’m sharing I decided I’m going to take this opportunity to share everything that I learned in 2022. During my work life balance, experiment, and share how I’m implementing it this year, while still working on building momentum in my business and building back after the sort of COVID fatigue. I talk a lot about personal goals and how if you’re growing the individual, you will grow the business. We’ll talk about the Japanese concept of Muskogee, for personal growth, we’ll talk about defining your personal values, owning your calendar, I’m gonna talk about some business stuff like switching CRMs that I’m currently doing ironing out my client experience and a whole bunch more, it’s gonna be a good episode, stick around, hope you enjoy it. Let’s do it.
So it’s that time of year again, when everybody’s talking about New Year’s resolutions and all that stuff. And I’m sort of loath to talk about New Year’s resolutions,not because I don’t think that they work, I actually do think they work. And I think there’s some best practices around it. It’s just that there’s a lot of content that’s released right now, this time of year. And it’s really easy to get resolution fatigue, because everybody’s saying, This is how you do it. This is what you should do. This is how you should focus on everything. It’s easy to get paralysis by analysis, trying to figure out what your you know, resolution is going to be and how to stick with it.
I do think though, that the conversation around bettering yourself is worth having. We all have things we want to do in areas of our business and our personal lives that we want to better and just and do better, right? It’s worth asking the question, hey, I do this, you know, all the time, or this is something I do, maybe I can be doing it better? That’s a great question to ask. And I know that if you’re listening to this episode, that there are things that are floating around in your brain that you want to do better. And I wanted to understand what some other photographers were working on and where they’re putting their energy so recently pulled about 115 photographers and asked them just this one single question. Where are you putting your energy in? 2023? I was not surprised but also surprised by the answers, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.
The top two answers are neck and neck but they are far above the rest. 34% of photographers responded saying that advertising and marketing is where they’re putting their energy and 30% of car for said that work life balance is where they’re putting the energy coming in third with just a percent photographer said that they wanted to become a better photographer. Other answers were all over the place and really took between one and 4% of the responses. They ranged from lead generation two systemization and automation, adding associates and expanding their business increasing client spend. And then my one friend Colin wrote that he was spending all his energy in 2023 Making reels so good on him. But I did a similar poll to this at the end of 2020 heading into 2021, and marketing and advertising took 26% and work life balance took just 18% and lead generation took 15% Here’s what that tells me. 2021 was a rebuilding year for a lot of people after the pandemic. And apparently 2022 had the most weddings in a single year since 1984. If you have talked with other photographers, you’ll know then maybe you’re in the same boat, you’ll know that a lot of us were forced to accept work to get caught up from two sort of lacking years.
I know a lot of photographers who really threw caution to the wind and took way more weddings than they reasonably could accept, just to try to get ahead and get back to where they normally felt like they were. And I think this resulted in a collective fatigue that we are all still dealing with from a incredible year that’s for sure. In trauma psychology, what they say is the big ugly event is not what usually gets people it’s the aftermath and how they handled it’s dealing with it and thinking about how they went through it that usually gets people and I’m actually really encouraged to see a lot of folks putting their mental health first and putting their families first and trying to figure out this work life balance thing, because I’m in the same boat in 2022.
I took a very light year because 20 and 2021 The pendulum had swung so far towards the burnout and frustration and being tired and angry all the time that I needed to see what it felt like when the pendulum swung in the other other direction in 2022. And I’m glad that so many photographers are taking a moment to say, Okay, let me reevaluate here, there’s more than just like making a crapload of money, there’s more than just six figures. And I’m in the same way, my family needed to see a better side of me. And I learned a lot in 2022, I put a lot of boundaries in place. But I’m feeling a lot more hopeful now. And I’m getting energized as I’m heading into next year. So that’s where this whole episode comes from. It comes from this place of, you know, I got to take a big step back from my business in 22. And I learned a lot, I put a lot of boundaries in place. And I’m not ready to sort of give all that stuff up.
And I think that there’s a, I’m trying to share this framework of how I’m getting energized again. And putting everything I learned about work life harmony, in practice, while still increasing the momentum. And what my wedding photography business does this year, is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. And if you haven’t listened to Episode 22, go back. It’s called my 2022 work life balance experiment. There’s some big fields and some big boundaries that I put in place that if you want to really understand the nitty gritty of, of how I worked out this past year, and how I feel like I’m in such a better place, heading into 2023, than I was, you know, in coming into this year, then go back and listen to that episode. But it’s such a big topic that I’m, I’m saving, like this whole idea of building a happy, joyful, thriving photography business, for a different format that’s a little bit longer. But everything that I’m doing fits into really two categories of building back momentum.
Well, everything I should say, everything I’m doing this year, fits into two categories of building momentum back in my business, and continuing down this work life balance path that I got really serious about in 2022. So I’m just I’ve sort of created like a rapid fire list of these things, and how I’m putting them all together. And I’m just gonna go through them really, in no particular I’m gonna jump around, I’m gonna try to keep it a little bit on the shorter side, and then go through some things coming up in a few different episodes to really break them apart. But I hope that some of these things, I’m going to talk about sort of Jolt a sense of something in your mind, or help you become the best version of yourself and help you level up in your business as you head into 23. So this first one, it was a boundary that I put in place in 2022.
And it was really, really helpful. It was a big mindset shift that I had. And most of us photographers, we operate from this place of, we have no work boundaries, we’re constantly going 90 miles an hour. And everything that’s left over is what our family gets, our business takes over everything. You know, I see a million different memes and stuff and stories from photographers and say, you know, I left my nine to five job, you know, in search of a better schedule A now I work 24/7, right. And that’s the life it’s a tongue in cheek kind of silly way to look at it. But it’s true. So many of us are way tired way overworked, and our schedules are backwards. So if I can offer this perspective shift that really served me very, very well. It’s that all of your time is yours operate from this point of every moment of the day is yours every morning, every afternoon, every evening, every weekend, every minute while you’re sleeping, all of it, every single moment is yours. And you get to choose how you want to handle it.
And occasionally, you get to choose if you want to rent it out to somebody for a very handsome fee. Outside of that time, it’s yours. And you might go and photograph a wedding, and then come back. And you have to calculate that you’re photographing this wedding time. And then you also schedule the time to edit your pictures. operating from this perspective of all your time as yours is going to be very freeing, and scheduling everything in your calendar, owning your calendar and saying you know what, all of this time is mine. I’m going to put all my date nights in there. I’m going to put all of my you know, enjoying the life outside of my photography, business things in there. This is this is what I did this past year right like my wife and I scheduled all of our date nights that are reoccurring every opposite Wednesday.
And then we decided halfway through the year that we were going to input a house cleaning night on the opposite weekend I put in you know another boundary I had was that I was gonna have two weeks off per month and it just really opened my calendar and said you know what, all this time is mine. This is the time And then I’m blocking out, this is the time that I’m working. And that’s it. Try that and go from there. One thing that I did this year underneath that same idea that was really helpful was also saying, You know what, I’m gonna set this boundary of I need two weekends off per month. Now this was actually really good. But it didn’t serve me as well as I was expecting. Because there are some months that I don’t care about working a lot in right like April, May, June, beginning of the year, PacMan. But once we get into those summer months, and and even some fall dates, there’s some really important things. So I decided to make a shift this year. And say, rather than operating from a place of let’s look at each month as its kind of own thing, I’m going to look at the entire year, and I’m going to schedule out everything for my entire year.
I already know how many weddings I have, with the exception that I’ll probably get, you know a handful more as we head into the beginning of the year. But I already know how many weddings I’m going to have for the year. So I already know when I’m going to need to do editing. So I blocked out obviously all the dates that I’m photographing weddings, I also blocked out all the time that I’m going to need two days for each wedding right after the wedding to edit that wedding so I can stay right on top of it. Right wedding is Saturday, I call on Monday edit on Tuesday, and then the wedding is done. And then my friend Colin, who’s episode was number 39. He’s he was doing that all this year. And he has this really great idea. And we recorded an episode called full time salary on part time work. I’m appropriating that idea from him of blocking all these things out and getting them put in right away. But also, I went through the year and blocked out all the time that I want off. We have you know, my daughter’s birthday and our wedding anniversary in June, I blocked off those weekends. Regardless of where the birthday or anniversary falls, even if it falls on a Tuesday or Thursday or Wednesday, I’m still blocking off a weekend for those things that I can spend time with my wife spend time with my daughter and our birthday party, you know, my twins, their birthdays at the end of July. So I’m blocking off a weekend for that we blocked off two weeks for our whole vacation. And then at the end of the year is my birthday.
So I just passed my birthday as the time of recording this, it’s really important to me that December is open. And I put in some boundaries. Like I said, like I’m talking about that this year would be the first year that I don’t have a wedding to edit over Christmas. And in 12 wedding seasons, I have had something to edit over the the Christmas season. And I love this time of year. I love time and my family is even more important now, you know, between my birthday and Christmas and New Year’s, which we always have a party for and all that stuff. And then Thanksgiving and everything I just decided, you know, last year is gonna put some boundaries in place. But this year, I just said you know what, the weekend before Thanksgiving is the last weekend that I’ll accept anything because that will give me time almost a month to get anything that I have off of my plate before my birthday, which is December 9. So I just started blocking out like I said all of these things throughout the year. So that way as I’m booking weddings, I don’t have to worry so much about am I actually going to book something it’s already in there, it’s already put in place, I see that little red flag pop up whenever I am, you know receiving a new lead and I know you know what, I’m not accepting this, I’m sending it to one of my friends and moving on. So outside of this calendar and owning my calendar and really putting everything in there first.
Another area that I’m working on is I’m putting a massive focus on personal growth. My business coach told me in the middle of the year when you grow the individual, you grow the business. And that idea has fascinated me. And I was looking into it and there’s terms all throughout the world for this idea of you know, purpose for being or purpose for waking up and I’m gonna butcher these these terms but the Japanese call it iki guy and I believe in Costa Rica they have this idea or they call it plan de vida, which loosely terms like like I said this idea of just reason for being reason for waking up. And I started thinking like what, what is that? What does that look like? And I had a really great episode with Nathan hole Ritz episode 40. And he started talking about his values and how he has this like list of values that he’ll you know, exercise in the morning and then I’ll sort of sit down in a massage chair, sit down for a couple minutes and review his list of values and that sort of, you know, like hones him in like zooms in on like, what’s important for that day. And I’ve always operated on in the space of just feet like going from feel, you know, like I sort of know what’s important and I just do the best I can but that leaves a lot up to chance because if I’m feeling sad or I’m feeling, you know, not motivated or not inspired.
That’s not a great way to live. You’re very open to just you know, the ebbs and flows of motivation. And so that’s one of the things I’m working on. I’m sort of halfway through creating this list. But it’s been really beautiful and really helpful to have this Northstar, this set of values that I can look at and say, Okay, on a daily basis, just look at them and get reoriented for where I’m working. So so far I have transparency is a value, health, relationships, frugality, and simplicity. Transparency is is really important to me. Because anytime I’m transparent, anytime that I just, I have nothing to hide, it’s the most freeing way to live, like I’m an open book, I share everything with my wife, I don’t have any secrets. And it’s just allows me to be more free health, you know, I’m trying to make sure that that is on top of my list, because I want to be here for my children, I want to be able to one day when I’m, you know, on my deathbed, I want my family to be surrounding me. And if I want them to be surrounding me and have this sort of like beautiful end to my life, then I got to put that work in right now. Right? You know, same with relationships. And that sort of goes hand in hand that not just with my family, but with other people, the more that I sort of hone in and and be real with people and make a phone call and, and send an email, I’m building these relationships that will last forever. And I think relationships are important. frugality is really important to me, for all the reasons I’ve listed in every other episode.
It’s just very freeing to me to not be pulled to things that aren’t important to me. And simplicity, just trying to keep things as simple as possible. But along this line of personal growth is something that I’ve realized that I can I tend to lean towards being very comfortable. And I think a lot of us would feel similar in, in this like, same idea of saying like, we live pretty comfortable lives. And I heard this term called Muskogee, and it’s a it describes the Shinto practice of a water cleansing where you stand underneath this cold waterfall. And I think some form of a priest or or some kind of celebration, officiant, you know, says prayers over you, and all this kind of stuff. And in recent years, it’s it’s been this term Muskogee, has been used to describe a tough challenge or like doing hard stuff. And the idea is that you put this really hard thing on your schedule, and it’s so hard, you’re not even sure that you’re gonna be able to finish it. But this one thing that’s really hard, you put on your schedule, and the idea is that it will have an impact on the other 364 days of the year, there’s sort of unspoken rules about it like that you don’t share anything about it.
It’s not something that’s social media worthy, it’s just for you to get out of your comfort zone. And I I’ve got a business Muskogee planned and then a personal one planned that I’m fully terrified of both, but just this idea of, of getting out of your comfort zone and really pushing yourself to see what you’re capable of, I think that’s where growth is going to come from, right when we just stay in these like, these comfortable situations when you when you’re not challenged everything your mind doesn’t open. And I think once you once you come up against that wall and come up against that edge, your mind opens and you really get to see what you’re capable of when you come out on the other side of this hard challenge.
I feel like a lot of that is sort of not so tangible. But those are some of like the big personal things that I was doing. But on the business side of things, there’s there’s a handful of small tasks that I’m working on that I tend to do every year and some big things like some of the simple things that I’m doing some of the small things I’m doing like I launched a new website for my photography, business Dannemora photography in the middle of the year, but a bunch of stuff didn’t come over. So I need to go back, I need to dial that in work on my SEO and just adjust some of the copy and all that kind of stuff. One of the big things that I’m doing those, I’m in the midst of switching CRMs. I’m moving to dubsado. And I’m working through Colie James’s course, for how to set it up and how to be more organized and automated and all that stuff.
And it’s really awesome, because I’m actually getting to do something that I haven’t done in years. And one of the modules in the course is that you have to write out and and put sort of a visualization to your client experience from beginning to end, all the touch points, all the emails that you write, you have to put it in a visual format, from the moment somebody inquires with you all the way through till you deliver their products. And I’m using this free website called draw.io to write out and visualize it. And what’s really awesome about it is that I’ve added in move so much over the years that like it’s pretty dialed in, but I’ve also had pages and pages of notes and ideas that I’ve wanted to implement for a long time. And when everything’s up in your mind, and you know when you just get like an automated e Email for like, hey, send out that gift basket, you don’t really think about it. So starting from this fresh slate, and being able to really look at it in a visual manner, and then say, You know what, here’s this valley, in the couple’s planning experience, I need to fill that a really great book is the power of moments by Chip and Dan Heath. And in it, they talk about, you know how businesses can do two things, they can fill valleys and elevate peaks. And that idea is really permeated through the client experience that I provide. And now that I’m looking at it from this visual perspective, I can look at all the spots that there’s like these low points, where I can hopefully elevate it or or fill that valley for a couple. And then there’s these high points of how can I elevate that experience for a couple.
So if you haven’t done this, if you’ve never really drawn out your experience, I highly encourage you to go to draw.io and write it out and visualize it, every touchpoint every email, they’re gonna send to them and look for ways to fill those valleys and elevate the peaks. The other area, that’s sort of a really big one that my wife and I do every single year is, at the end of the year, we look at what’s coming up. And in terms of finances, we know what my wife salary is, we know how much she brings in. And we look at how many weddings I currently have, how many weddings I need to get to sort of meet meet our financial goals. And we look at what we spent throughout the year. There are some really interesting times of the year that, that we spend more, there’s some months that tend to be a little bit leaner. So we look at how we did in those months, and how much we spent compared to what we wanted to spend in our budget. And we just block it out for the whole entire year to say, Okay, I’m going to need this many weddings to make sure we get to this point, I’m gonna need to photograph you know, try to photograph this many houses to make sure we have enough money and all that stuff. This year is a little bit tricky, because I’m starting some new ventures that I don’t know how to project for, but I know some money will come in from them.
So I’m operating from the place of my weddings, and real estate photography is going to support our family, and then anything else I get is gravy. So with that sort of refreshed foundation and goals for the year, our focus still for this coming year is just annihilating the last of our debt. I’m not a CPA, so I can’t tell you what to do with your money. But being so close to being out of debt is one of the most freeing feelings that I have we in early 2018, we were at like 108,000 in debt. And now we’re down to I think just under 39,000. And most of that is my my student loans and my wife’s car, I do have a bit on my business credit card, because I spent, you know a lot on education this year. So the focus really becomes financially still, like becoming crystal clear on where we’re at financially, what I can pay off how I can hammer on my business credit card. And the goal really becomes to be totally out of debt except for my student loans and our house by the end of 2023. if not sooner, if you’re somebody who has debt, I can tell you that the freedom you will feel from putting that as like the pinnacle and getting out of debt. It there is no other feeling it is it’s quite lovely.
So the last thing that I’m doing is actually, you know, I didn’t really talk too much about how I’m going to really build momentum and get more leads in my business and all that stuff. That’s because I thought that that was a very helpful, very tangible thing that I really wanted to dive into. If you’re on my newsletter, you’ve already read some of this stuff, it’s about three things to do when leads dry up. And that’s exactly what the episode that’s going to come out on January 3 is all about. It’s about how to leverage the relationships that you have and build them. So that way you have more leads and more revenue sources and more referral streams coming into your business. So write a alarm on your calendar, because I know you’re going to own it after this podcast.
Right? Set up a notification, whatever it is that January 3, a new podcast is going to come out. And it’s going to really set up some actionable things for you to take advantage of when you head into 2023 to bring some new streams into your business of revenue and leads and all that kind of stuff. And you’re not gonna want to miss it. So I feel like I’m just hammering on a bunch of things throughout this this entire episode, and it’s just feel like I’m throwing a whole bunch at you. But this is where it’s uh, Matt and these are the things that I’m doing and I’m hoping that some little nugget came out for you in this episode, put it into action and make a great year. You’re not gonna want to miss this episode coming up. Thanks so much for tuning in. Make it a good one. Talk to you guys later.