It will come around
The 2016 booking season hasn’t been anything like what I expected it to be.
The wedding season here in Maine won’t begin until late April or May, and starts to taper off in early November. Outside of those months, are booking months and overhaul months. This year however, I started to wonder if I would come out of those months with enough weddings booked to keep it all going. It was quiet for a while, really quiet, and in those times we tend to second guess ourselves the most.
There is a bit of the ‘curse of knowledge’ in every job.
I often don’t realize how a typical person sees the business. I was a bit shocked when an older businessman, talking to me with his wife nodding in agreement at a wedding last July, noted that it must be nice to have the winter off every year.
I don’t get offended easily, and certainly didn’t take his assumption to heart. A gentle response stating that it was a full time, full year job might have left him confused, but it seemed to quell the thought that I had a half year of a vacation ahead of me.
Winter months are spent upgrading systems, workflows, gear, contracts and websites. My tax procedures even got an overhaul recently, as I have tried to get everything out of the way before the ‘on season’. It is a full winter with just the upgrades, but the most demanding job is keeping up with inquiries, tracking progress, and trying to bring in enough bookings to satisfy the next year’s income needs.
I have found in my business that it most often takes me a month to go from an initial inquiry with a client to the point where we have a contract and deposit to lock in their date. At its shortest, 3 days; at its longest, I had one take 9 months.
In that time are a lot of emails, scheduling a pre-consultation, getting three of us together for a full consultation, looking through Heirloom Albums, answering questions, looking over contracts and even some budgeting for the couple. Add to that the blogging and portfolio building that brings those inquiries in, and some part of this process requires my time for every single inquiry that contacts me.
This year has been different
I found the slew of inquiries in my first two years to be consolidated into a few heavy booking months, and to be rather predictable. 2016 however, has been completely unpredictable.
One of those heavy months had been March, with a wave of fresh inquiries. Multiple new leads came in per day for a short while, and I spent the next month working with each of them until I had booked those that decided to work with me, and closed out the others as they found their perfect fit with other great photographers in the area. But after a slow winter, I was left counting on a March surge that didn’t look like it was going to come.
This year, that final wave didn’t arrive until the last few days of March, and I have a half dozen couples that are making their final decisions on what they want for their photography. Before that, it was unusually quiet for months, and I had more than a few moments when I began to wonder what the year would turn out to be.
While it has been a little nerve wracking, it has certainly started to come back around. When they say that starting a business isn’t easy, I can relate. I can’t say yet that the season is saved, but I would encourage anyone who has the same dream that I have, to push through those slow times and just keep getting better.
That’s what has mattered the most to me
Other photographers and people in the business, have constantly encouraged me. And I couldn’t be more thankful.
Surround yourself with great people who encourage you, ask them for feedback often, and show everyone what you can do. So long as you keep growing in your craft and in your business, it will come around.