13 Goals for 2013

I have never been one for resolutions. To be honest, I believe that the Marketing Guru’s of the world have duped us with New Years Resolutions even more than Hallmark has schemed us with Valentine’s Day. Every January gyms roll out their 2-year membership specials that will probably only be used for two months and stores make grand displays of their latest and greatest organization tools, and us suckers who have romanticized the idea of resolutions pour ourselves into the idea that “THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR!!!” only to be disappointed on February 1st when our homes are still a cluttered mess and the number on the scale hasn’t shrunk at all.

I apologize if that’s a little harsh. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, really. If you’ve set a goal in this new year, I hope and pray that you are successful in your plans! I am just a firm believer in the idea that goal setting shouldn’t be restricted to the time of year that you have to buy a new calendar.

That said, I’m going to completely eat my words, and share with you my business goals for 2013. The fact is, setting goals creates a certain level of accountability to your dreams. What adds a heaping spoonful of even more accountability is sharing those goals with others. It’s terrifying. It’s potentially embarrassing. And it’s one of the best things we can do to make sure that our goals aren’t dropped completely when a little bit of adversity hits. Below I have 13 goals for the year 2013. It is absolutely frightening to share these with you and all that races through my mind as I click the “Publish” button is the fear that none of these will be accomplished by December 31, 2013. But if I don’t click that button, they instantly become all the less likely. So here we go, my 13 goals for the year 2013:

1.) Share my monthly goals on the blog at the start of each month.
I’ve toyed with the idea sharing my short-term goals on blog for the past few months. Instead of providing myself the challenge to do more, I worried about feelings of copycatted-ness (totally a word) whenever I thought about blogging goals. Many of the photographers that I’ve followed and admired over the years blog their goals, and though I do want for my business to grow and prosper in similar ways to theirs, I don’t want to be a carbon-copy of my favorite photographers. But why should I let those feeling keep me from a source of accountability in accomplishing the big plans that I have for this business? I shouldn’t. I’ll have someone call me an unoriginal copycat every day of the week if it means at the end of the day that more of my dreams are realities.
(Disclaimer: I am 100% counting this post as my January goals. Baby steps, folks!) 

2.) Double the number of weddings that I shoot in 2013.
In 2012 as a recent college graduate, I worked full time and shot a slate of seven weddings. Sometimes it sounds small when I say it out loud, but those seven weddings mean everything to me. They represent the amazing couples who trusted me first—friends who allowed me to share in their day while living my dream. They represent the mounds of lessons learned and knowledge gained in the midst of the battle. Lessons that I will remember until the day I shoot my very last wedding. They also represent a starting point—the diving board that will catapult me into the deep end, and in 2013, I want that deep end to hold at least 14 weddings.

3.) Create and maintain a blogging calendar.
Oh, the blogging calendar! No amount of good intention can make a person a consistent blogger, that much I know. I need a plan and a schedule to keep me on-track and accountable.

4.) Implement a system to track workflow!
Even something as simple as a timeline checklist. A place that I can easily look and see what I have and have not accomplished for each of my couples to ensure that absolutely nothing falls through the cracks.

5.) Create an office environment that I enjoy working in.
2013 is already blessed in that I’ve just moved into a townhouse with three other incredible women. This means that I finally have a designated office space! Though it is definitely cozy, I’m excited to design an organized space that energizes me as I work in it.

6.) Equipment!
I was blessed in 2012 to be able to invest in all of the equipment that I need to shoot a wedding well. But now it is time to upgrade, and so this is a big one. This year a top priority is to purchase a full-frame body, the D800. Other must-have equipment purchases that will be worked into the budget are the SB-900 Speedlight and the 28mm 1.4 lens. 

7.) Refine branding.
I found that one of the hardest things for me to do at the start of my business was to refine my branding. There were SO many different directions that I wanted to go and a million different ideas that I would have liked to implement. I’m glad that I kept everything simple and didn’t invest too much in any one element, because a year later I have a much better idea of what I want my brand to portray.

8.) Make 2013 the year of the website.
In the infamous words of Rafiki, “It is time.” (Nerd alert: Lion King is still one of my favorite movies.) I love my blog. It has served me well over the past year and it certainly isn’t going anywhere, but I need a more professional space to really present an online portfolio to potential clients. I am excited for this to happen!

9.) Continue to invest in photography education.
It can be hard when all I want is to dump my budget into new equipment, but I know this is important! Last September I attended Justin and Mary’s Lighting Intensive and it was worth every penny. In just a few weeks I’ll be joining them again to get a kick in the pants for business planning in 2013. I know that I still have so much to learn about this industry, business, and even photography itself, and I am so excited to seek opportunities to learn from the best.

10.) Order sample albums, prints, and canvases to show clients the real value of their images.
This has been a huge fail in 2012! Of course I didn’t set a goal for this last year, but how can I expect clients to understand the value of the products I offer them when I can’t even give them a product to hold in their hands, see, and feel? 

11.) Begin faithfully using off-camera lighting during receptions. 
I’m proud of how much my reception lighting has improved over the past year, but it’s an unavoidable fact: there is still so much room for improvement. Utilizing off-camera lighting will help me start to bridge that gap, and I will never learn to be comfortable using it if I don’t just start using it!

12.) Create a budget and stick to it/keep track of monthly expenses and accounting.
This would seem like an obvious need for any business, but as my first full year of business, 2013 is an especially important year for a goal like this.  

13.) Maintain a balance between work, work, and life.
I consider myself a full-time wedding photographer. I also have a real-world job that I really enjoy. I also would like to have a life outside of my two work lives. This will probably be the hardest goal to measure or track, but it is certainly one of the most important on this list in terms of personal health (and sanity). I don’t want to lose track of the very real fact that faith, family and friends are the absolute most important things in my life, and I will have to set boundaries in my time to be sure that I am not lacking investment into those areas.

It’s a lot. It’s ambitious. But one thought keeps me from holding back: Why not? Why not challenge myself to do more than I think I can? Why not dream Everest-sized goals? If I come up short, won’t I still be somewhere on the tallest mountain in the world?


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