At the start of every new quarter, I highly recommend that you assess what’s working and what isn’t working in your photography business.
Quarterly reviews allow you to be more strategic about how you move forward and can help you become more successful and profitable.
Want to know more? Keep reading…
To get started, I suggest that you begin by viewing the calendar year as four blocks of three months or 90-days.
Why 90 days?
90-day sprints are a popular way to plan out your year.
Each time one rolls around, it’s a chance to review the progress you are making in your business and to make exciting new plans for the coming quarter.
Are things on track and going well? Is everything headed in the right direction?
- Has your marketing been generating sufficient leads and sales?
- Are you working for the kind of clients that you want to work with?
- And if not, what can you change for the three months ahead?
Benefits of conducting quarterly reviews
There are many benefits to taking this 90-day planning approach to your business:
A greater sense of control
Working in 90-day chunks helps to prevent that inevitable sense of ‘where did the year go?’ by the time Christmas rolls around again.
By working in this way, you’ll feel more in control of your business as a result of checking-in with yourself at regular periods throughout the year.
You’ll be less susceptible to distractions and ‘shiny new object syndrome’. These pull you in many different directions but leave you feeling overwhelmed, unproductive and frustrated, wondering why you didn’t achieve more.
You can take back control of how you are spending your precious time and money on marketing your business, and avoid tactics that aren’t directly or positively impacting your bottom line.
Greater clarity on what’s working and what isn’t
With the insights you’ll gain from quarterly reviews, you can refocus your mind on what will move your business forward in the direction you want it to go.
You’ll be able to enter the next quarter with a clearer vision and set ideas about what you plan to do to grow your photography business.
Without trying new things and then regularly reviewing how well they work, you may fall into the trap of sticking with something even if it isn’t really helping you grow your photography business.
If you don’t test and measure as part of a quarterly review, you won’t be gaining the important insights that will tell you if those tactics are working or not.
By conducting quarterly reviews every 90 days, you’ll be better informed about what’s working in your business right now.
90 days is a long enough time for you to review the impact of any new efforts you’ve been making in a particular aspect of your business.
For example, perhaps you’ve tried Facebook Ads for the first time or have introduced a new client referral scheme. By reviewing the impact of these after 90 days, you can see whether the change is impacting your bottom line.
If it is, great, stick with it! But if not, then tweak what you’re doing and review again in another 90 days.
Ninety days is a short enough time frame for you to be able to tweak and adapt your strategy if things aren’t working out as you’d hoped, without you spending too much time, money or effort on them.
So, if the Facebook Ads aren’t converting enough prospects into paying customers, then you’ll be in a better place to make the decision about whether to cull the ads and try something else.
Content planning becomes easier
Broken down into smaller, manageable chunks of 90 days, the year becomes easier to plan for and to tackle.
At the start of a new 90-day sprint, you can get clarity and focus on what you want to achieve in those three months, month by month.
So, when it comes to marketing content planning, coming up with ideas for your blog for the next three-month sprint is so much less overwhelming than trying to come up with the full years’ worth of content.
Three months is just 12 weeks, after all.
For three months, you’ll just need 12 blog topics. Or just six if you blog every fortnight.
It sounds a lot easier when it’s put like that, doesn’t it?
And if your super-organised, you can also then batch produce that content to get it ready and scheduled ahead of time, leaving you free to focus on the aspects of your photography business that you love far more than quarterly reviews!
Related reading: The fundamentals of successful photography marketing
90-day planning tips from success coach, Clare Farthing
Managing your business in three months, or 90-day, chunks is an approach that success coach Clare Farthing is also a huge advocate of.
She works with female entrepreneurs, helping them to achieve success in their lives and businesses by providing them with support and on-going accountability.
She agrees that doing quarterly business reviews is an important part of running a successful and satisfying business, and encourages all her clients to adopt the 90-day goal-setting approach.
And since Clare knows her stuff when it comes to business reviews and goal setting, I’ve asked her to contribute some suggestions for this blog about the kind of things you should do as part of your review at the end of each 90-day sprint.
Clare’s top planning tips
Review your content and marketing communications
Clare says, “We spend so much time crafting our content and social media posts. Reviewing performance every three months is so important. After all, how else would you know if it’s working?”
She suggests reviewing who your ideal client is – have they changed as your business has grown and evolved over the past three months?
And how you are talking to your ideal clients/customers – does your marketing communication reflect the business you are trying to grow? Does it appeal to your ideal client?
Is your content hitting the right note? Is your blog attracting readers, and which blogs are most popular?
Also, in regard to social media, she suggests looking at the following;
Are you getting likes, comments and shares? Is engagement improving?
What time of day is working best?
Are you gaining clients/customers as a result of your social media activity?
And, are you hanging out in the online places where your ideal clients/customers are? If not, it may be time to try other platforms.
Review financial goals
Keeping an eye on the numbers in your business is also important, Clare says:
“When you sat down and mapped out your financial goals at the beginning of the year, you had a figure in mind based on the number of clients/customer and/or product sales you wanted to achieve.
Three/six/nine/twelve months in, are you on track? Have you exceeded them or fallen short?”
She continues: “If you need to make more money in your business to keep in line with your financial targets, think about how you can improve things.
Are you visible enough? Are you regularly showing up? Are you being consistent with your marketing?
What value are you giving your prospective clients? Do you need to give more value and if so, think about how you can do this.”
3. Adjust your next 90-Day Goals
The third step in your quarterly review is to re-evaluate your next 90-day goals, based on your performance in the previous three months.
In some areas, it may be that you’ve achieved more than you anticipated. Perhaps in others, less so.
Clare says, “Sometimes, our goals can change and become irrelevant and that’s okay. We and our businesses evolve over time and our focus, naturally, has to change. Goals can become irrelevant. Or they simply need to be put on hold due to other priorities.”
So, Clare suggests that the key thing is to recognise the need for adjusting your goals and to check in with yourself every three months to readjust your focus, as necessary.
4. Celebrate your wins!
Finally (and Clare told me this is her favourite tip), we should practice 90-day goal setting and quarterly reviews because it encourages us to celebrate our successes.
Clare says, “As a small business owner, YOU are your business so it’s important that you take the time to stop and smell the roses and celebrate your wins, no matter how small they may seem.”
“Celebrating not only makes us feel good, it’s important for self-care. By recognising our successes we acknowledge our learnings, feel a sense of achievement and reinforce the belief in ourselves that we are following our passion and doing what lights us up!”
Will you adopt the 90-day approach and commit to quarterly reviews?
I truly believe that there is so much to be gained from looking at the year in four blocks of three months, or 90 days.
For a while now, I’ve been taking time out to regularly review what’s been working and what hasn’t been working in my business. Every three months I document what has worked well, what hasn’t worked so well, and what I’d like to change.
Working like this too will allow you to get clarity on what’s really happening in your photography business, rather than you moving forward based on your gut-feel alone or without any kind of a plan for growth.
I get it, the thought of quarterly reviews, goal setting and planning probably leaves you cold.
But, thinking about how you want your photography business to evolve, and then committing pen to paper about how you can make that happen, I believe is crucial to success.
Resist it you might, but making a commitment to conducting quarterly reviews certainly is a great step towards developing a more successful photography business.
Those photographers I know who have a clear vision, who know what they want to achieve and who have a plan of action are so much more likely to achieve their goal those who don’t.
Make quarterly reviews non-negotiable and reap the rewards
I’d urge you to make time at the start of every new quarter to conduct a quarterly review.
Look at your business’ performance over the last three months, understand what’s really happening then set some goals for the coming 90-days and make this your best year yet!
If you are a photographer and could do with some help to get your marketing strategy and plan organised for the next quarter, let’s talk.