It wasn't until I sat down to write this blog, that I actually realized how much goes on when I am not out with clients.
This is the time of year when I do an inventory of items I have, so I know what I have to order or stock up on. Bags, tissue paper, print packaging, labels, business cards, ribbon, thank you cards, you name it--I need to make sure there are plenty of these items in stock during the month of September.
You might think that in between processing photos for clients, I would want to take a break from--well--processing more photos.
You would be wrong.
There are several different print competitions I take part in during the year for the various professional associations of which I am a member. Some are coming up right now, and some I have already entered.
These competitions aren't really "competitions," because you don't compete against anyone but yourself. They work on a point or "merit" system, and let you know how you are doing in terms of applying 12 elements to your photographic work. You can read about the 12 elements of a merit image here.
Taking part in print competition keeps me on my toes in terms of using my PhotoShop and other skill sets. Since I am only competing with myself, I am receiving feedback on technical excellence, composition and other elements needed every single day in my work. I, personally, have improved my photographic skills by taking part in competition, and I've also received some acknowledgements for my hard work.
All of this comes RIGHT BACK AROUND to my client work. I often compete a client image, and if it merits, I give the client the 16x20 physical print FREE, plus the ability to tell others their pet's photo went into competition and received a blue ribbon.
Setting Goals, Education, Reviewing the Business Plan, Marketing
Finally, I am always thinking about and setting my next series of goals. Some may be short term. Some are long term. Some are held off due to COVID constraints and need to come back around when community factors allow.
Part of my goal setting includes equipment needs. Photographic equipment is expensive. A percentage of profit goes into an equipment and studio fund, which also helps fuel marketing efforts. Profits also pay for my continuing education activities, such as professional photographic conferencing, professional memberships, and webinars.
The studio location was one of my very first big goals. That came to fruition in 2017, thanks to my husband's skill set.
Reviewing my business plan on an annual basis, has helped me to see what I have accomplished, and more importantly, what I have not yet done. My marketing plan ties directly to the business plan, but I review marketing efforts quarterly. I use direct mail, pet-oriented events, and rescue events to help my marketing along.
There Is One More Thing
There is one more thing I do in the down time. I help deaf puppies find home placement, drive rescue transport, and also open the studio free of charge to anyone fostering an animal that needs placement.
Often the puppy parents will stay in touch and send me regular photos of their family additions on a regular basis. It's a great reward, and one that always makes me smile.
As you can see, down time is not really down time in the in-between moments. It's filled with things to do. As a small business owner, and sole proprietor, I wear all of the hats, and most of them are pure fun!
Click Into the Circle
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about this week on the topic of "in between," start here with Tammy from Tammy Snyder Photography in southeastern Pennsylvania as she lets you see those in-between moments through her lens. Then find the link at the end of each blog to click to the next photographer. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!