15 Things to Do in January to Start 2015 Off Right

There are two ways you can start the New Year. The first way is to keep doing what you did during the previous 365 days as if the counter didn’t reset to zero. The second way, and the one I highly suggest, is for you to take some time analyzing your activity this past year and come up with a solid strategy for 2015.

In this article you’ll find 15 photography business and productivity tips to jump start 2015.

1. Update Your Copyrights

The beginning of every year is the time for your to update your copyright information on your images and website.

You can easily update the copyright information on your camera using your camera’s settings menu. If you’re a Canon camera owner, use the EOS Utility to access your camera remotely via your computer. From there you’ll easily be able to update your copyright information and it will be automatically embedded into every photo you take.

Also, don’t forget about updating your copyright settings in Lightroom or any other editing program you use.

Photo by marceau rouvre
Photo by marceau rouvre

2. Join the Community

Photographing and promoting your business often leaves no time for anything else. At least that’s what you might believe. However, there’s a huge source of inspiration, motivation and knowledge around you at all times. It’s called community.

By joining some active photography forums and attending photography events, you can meet a lot of interesting people who will be happy to collaborate with you. You can even contribute into developing photography related products and services – for instance, the guys at Defrozo are looking for photographers’ feedback as they develop their free photography business platform.

Sharing your knowledge and helping others is an extremely refreshing and beneficial activity. You should try it. Besides being a proactive community member, you’ll be helping to turn good ideas into real products.

3. Clean Up Your Email Inbox

Whether it’s a New Year’s greeting you’ve been postponing again and again, or an email you just didn’t find time to reply to, review your incoming messages and get back to as many of them as you can.

Communication and networking is essential to any photographer’s referral marketing, so instead of flat out ignoring old unread emails because it feels awkward to reply to them so late, just reply to them now! It might be a wiser solution in the long run.

4. Update Social Media Profiles

Make your social media profiles look fresh and lively by updating your bio, changing image covers, and cleaning up the mess in your photos (untagging yourself from the pictures on other pages can make a whole lot difference in the way your profile looks). Revising your friend list by organizing them into lists, removing some inactive contacts and adding new ones is also a good investment in your social marketing activity.

5. Clean Up Your Queue and Free Your Mind

Just as you can’t shoot if your camera’s memory card is full, you’ll also find it difficult to tackle new challenges if you have stacks of incomplete stuff to deal with. If you have projects which you’ve been putting off for later, finish them as soon as you can or just refuse them. Get these projects and tasks completed so that you are free to take on the new things coming your way this year.

Photo by RYAN MCGUIRE
Photo by RYAN MCGUIRE

Also, try your best to free your mind. Write down all the ideas, plans, and concerns in your head. This list is way easier to handle when it’s on paper and not in your mind. Ideas love uncluttered, roomy environments, so stop using your brain as a closet and rather keep a written list of all your creative ideas.

6. Set Your Business and Creative Goals for the Year

Before you create your game plan for 2015, understand where you are now. Without knowing and understanding your current state, you won’t be able to move forward. Analyze your performance in 2014 and summarize your current position. Don’t forget to do some accounting and plan your budget based on last year’s metrics.

Make sure your goals are specific and measurable. For example, come up with exact figures of how much you want to make in 2015, rather than formulating your goal as “I want to earn more this year”.

Just as with your business strategy for the new year, create a to-do list for all things creative. To make it actually work and not just be a list for the sake of it, set a goal of fulfilling a certain number of ideas during the year.

7. Learn Something New

In the beginning of a new year many people always wish to do something they have never done before, such as skydiving, or learning how to sculpt clay pots. You might even want to attend some new classes available in your area. First of all, it will help you to meet new people and potential clients. Second of all, doing something out of the ordinary can be very inspiring. And who knows, maybe you will discover your hidden talents. As a photographer, get out of your comfort zone and try a new photographic genre or new gear. A new experience will help you to expand your horizons.

The less you shoot for fun and the more you shoot for work, the faster you can get burned out. Shooting personal projects can help you to get back to your creative side and embrace the reasons you started photography. Search for subjects you love and capture them at least once a week just for yourself. Learn some new Photoshop techniques or try to experience some crazy tricks you’ve seen on Youtube. Follow your desires and become inspired!

8. Update Your Portfolio Site and Blog

Keeping your portfolio and / or blog fresh, beautiful and useful to your current and potential clients is a good way to increase natural search traffic and return visits to your website.

Make sure your site is in line with modern trends in design and be sure it looks excellent on mobile screens. The expectation of modern Internet users are very high, so invest into upgrading your site for faster loading and a smoother user experience.

Pay attention to the content you post on your blog. Don’t limit your posts to your photo session reports with a batch of pictures and a few words. Treat your audience to the information that is exciting and useful for them. It will reinforce your relationships with clients and attract new ones to your brand.

9. Organize Your Workspace

Creativity is often restricted by your feeling uncomfortable or insecure. If you want to use your full creative potential this year, make sure to create an environment that allows you to do that. Re-organize your packaging area, tidy up books, label your camera chargers, and so on. After refreshing your working space you will feel great and inspired to work.

Image by Jeff Sheldon
Image by Jeff Sheldon

10. Photograph Your Loved Ones More

One of the weirdest things about photographers is that we tend to have far more photos of strangers than of those who we love. The vast majority of your family photos are taken with an iPhone, are they not? And they’re not all that great are they? This year you should find some time and shoot professional images of your family to add to your albums and keep. There is no need for special preparations – just photograph your family during their everyday lives. This way you’ll be able to remember them forever.

11. Use Your Photography to Make the World a Better Place

There is a well-known saying: “Love what you do, and you never work a day in your life.” You chose photography because you enjoy what you do. So why not to use your knowledge and experience to help other people? I mean volunteer work. Shoot for charity: some local events, startup businesses, animals, military families, or homeless people.

Image by Jeff Sheldon
Image by Jeff Sheldon

For example, celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart created a charity organization Help Portrait which is a community of photographers who gather all across the globe to take portraits for people in need. Start the year off with some good vibes. It will make you feel better.

12. Learn to Say “No”

As Warren Buffet said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Saying “yes” to every request with low or no results only takes your precious time you could be spending on achieving your goals.

Learn to prioritise your tasks and say “no” to clients. Decline offers that are outside of what you can reasonably do or are likely to give you the workload you can’t carry.

13. Set Three Specific Goals

There are plenty of things you can do to improve your business. The problem, however, is that if you set out trying to implement everything at the same time you’ll end of achieving very little. Prioritize your tasks. A good practice to increase your productivity is setting up three main goals for each week and for each month. Try not to get distracted by something else. Every time ask yourself: “Is the task I’m doing right now helping me to reach my three goals?”. If not, stop doing it.

14. Form Productive Habits

The best way to become more productive in what you do is to form good habits. According to the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, 45% of your daily activities are automatic habits. Of course, forming habits is not that easy as it may seem, and sometimes it takes a few months to integrate a good habit into your life but it’s totally worth it.

Waking up earlier, responding to all your emails within one day, post-processing your images within a week after the photo session – are all good habits to implement. It may be difficult to convert productive behavior into habits, but things get progressively easier when you start doing them.

15. Take Care of Your Health

The oldest and probably the most boring secret of staying productive is taking care of your health. Stay active, eat healthier food, and sleep well. By following these classic principles on a regular basis, you’ll ensure a consistent flow of energy to power up your daily life.

By the way, an early morning run can be a good chance to spot some new cool locations you can return to with your camera.

Over to You

Use the beginning of the year as an opportunity to refresh your mind and start your photography work with new, revitalized energy and enthusiasm. What tips do you like most and what tactics do you use to re-charge yourself for an exciting and productive year?

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