Mr. Farnsworth was a terrific music teacher. Affable, yet stern. He would tell me each time I would return to take drum lessons, “Seshu, failing to practice is practicing to fail.”
It’s taken me nearly 30 years to absorb that. Sometimes, it would be obvious that getting my stuff done in time was beneficial and sometimes procrastination would get the better of me and I paid dearly. Still, creating a plan or a workflow and being organized simply has not come naturally to me.
Is that how you feel at least a few times a year? Do you feel that being organized would create at least a semblance of efficiency? Have you struggled to keep track of your client contact information or sales tax deadlines? Are you sometimes delivering your client orders later than when you promised them?
My friend Eric O’Connor, a wedding photographer in Chicago, tried to get me to think in about workflow. Several times. I remain in awe at how his allows him to photograph 30 weddings a year and be a father and a husband.
“Creating a system,” he told me once, was the ticket to being stress-free and happy.
I have a short stack of scratch paper filled with workflow ideas and what I would do the minute a potential client rang me. I had steps that I would follow after the portrait session was booked. But what would come after the shoot and in what order? Sadly, I had too many ideas and no action. This is mostly because having and maintaining a system requires clarity of thought and the “D” word … discipline.
Thankfully, Design Aglow is the photographer’s friend. I lean on the team there to provide me with ideas and templates. Just in time for the start of the new year, they launched a photographers’ studio planner called The Big Picture.
Like all their templates, The Big Picture, does not disappoint when it comes to how it is presented. Minimalistic design meets elegance. The introductory section says, “it’s a repository for your hopes and dreams.” So true.
The Big Picture guides you through a short writing exercise where you enunciate your goals. Then you are gently coaxed into breaking down your goals into actionable tasks. Huge win for me.
There are templates for daily, weekly and monthly activities surrounding your studio. The exercise is in writing it all down and being able to refer back to it constantly. I think this is brilliant because it instills that sense of discipline and accountability to oneself that I mentioned above.
Keeping track of clients, venues and vendors (mostly for wedding photographers) is now easy as 1-2-3. There is a questionnaire and a time table that helps you through your online and off-line (local) marketing.
Want to track your website and blog statistics? Yes, there is a rather intricate table for that too. The Big Picture also includes income and expense reports that you fill out and also a mileage tracker (which I have usually forgot to log in the past).
The Big Picture ends with a long list of recommended business books one should read to stay informed and inspired. There were quite a few in this list that I hadn’t even heard of before. So, Design Aglow, thanks for that too!
I don’t think this team has missed any detail when it comes to putting this studio planner together. I know as I launch my new website and business this month, The Big Picture is going to help me stay focused and remain efficient through the year. It’ll be a binder that I take with me to client meetings and I’ll refer to it when I am trying to assess my business. It promises to provide me a macroscopic view of my business and will tell me about its health from month-to-month. I no longer have to fret about keeping tabs on my workflow or if my quarterly sales tax payments are late.
Now, there are a couple of things I would have liked to have seen in The Big Picture download: 1)
InDesign files to further customize the templates and 2) perhaps down the road, an electronic version that we can refer to while we are in the field, say an iPad application that could display all of these bits of information?
That said, The Big Picture is a remarkable achievement because it so neatly brings so many elements of one’s business in an easily accessible folder or binder. I know there are several other options in the market but as a die-hard Design Aglow fan, I have to urge you to take a look at this product first.
On January 15th (that’s tomorrow), the introductory pricing of $69 ends. Make this the first business expense you enter into The Big Picture for 2014!
In other words, buy it now.