In spite of the fact that I spent most of last winter in Florida, I still managed to photograph over 300 cats and kittens at Centre County PAWS! The best part of all of this is hearing how my photos attract folks to come in and adopt their new best friend. Making a difference for one animal makes my heart full. But helping hundreds, well, I only hope I can make as much a difference for them as they do for me. While I hope and believe that good photos help homeless animals find homes faster, honestly the most important work is done by the dozens of volunteers that work at the shelter day after day, week after week, month after month. From the foster families, to the dog walkers, adoption counselors, the kennel staff, the medical team, the committee members and on and on and on. It really does take a village to help those who cannot speak for themselves.
Januarys mean new beginnings. But it's also a great time to reflect on the past year and take note of all my accomplishments and failures. The year began with a bang when I took an extended trip to Florida. It was good for my soul (all that sun!) and my business as I was able to focus on tasks that needed to get done, but could never find the time. This included overhauling my website, getting back into blogging and shooting more that winter than ever before.
My return to Happy Valley brought in more clients than in 2016. And stretching myself out of my comfort zone I shot studio portraits in my clients home. Something I had shied away from for so many reasons, but ended up being more doable than I ever imagined.
I met and photographed several puppies (and had way too much fun!), consistently blogged twice a week and posted on social media on a regular basis, something that previously I had only done sporadically and with little intention behind what content I was sharing.
I made decisions that in 2018 I hope will move me toward focusing even more on my photography. Letting go of some things took time (years actually), but I'm excited to make some changes in my life and get closer to making my dreams come true.
While I achieved many of my goals for 2017, I fell short on some of them too. I only published one newsletter edition all year, didn't book as many clients as I had set in my goals and completely failed at some marketing plans I had started to put together, but never acted on. Some goals I achieved, like entering Professional Photographer's of America (PPA) International Print Competition, attending a PPA Certified Professional Photographer class and expanding on my photoshop skills, which were not part of my plan when the year began. So I'm proud of myself of taking advantage of opportunities I hadn't expected.
One thing is clear though, how much I've been enjoying my journey as a photographer. Reflecting on all of this has been part of the process as I work on setting goals for 2018. And let me tell you, I've got some pretty ambitious ones this year! It's always fun to look back and see how far I've come in just 12 months. And a great reminder that this journey isn't about getting there, where ever "there" is, but the experiences along the way. So whether something was an accomplishment or a failure, I'm grateful for all of it!
Now that the holidays are officially over, I'm ready to jump in and get 2018 started!
At the end of 2016, I wrote up a detailed business plan setting some goals for my photography business and myself for 2017. To keep myself on track, at the end of every month I also write monthly goals to focus on over the next 4 weeks. Doing this forces me to evaluate my plan and see where I am making progress and what I need to work on. Since we’re about ½ way through 2017 (can you believe it!), I thought I’d share what some of these aspirations are and tell you how it’s going.
One of my main goals for this year was to redo and update my website. If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know I worked on that while I was in Florida. I have a few more small changes to make, but overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out. While designing my new site, I also worked on my SEO. This has helped my page consistently show up on the first page in a search for pet photographers in State College as well as Southwest Florida.
Another goal of mine was to start offering coffee table albums for my clients. While I’m a big believer in creating wall art to showcase in my client’s homes, not everyone has the space nor the desire to hang a canvas or metal wall piece in their house. And some of my clients have a hard time narrowing their choice for which image to have framed. So a coffee table album is the perfect option for them. They are available in two sizes, 8x8 and 10x10. The smaller album includes up to 20 images in a 10 spread book, the larger album includes up to 35 images over 10 spreads. I am also offering a smaller companion album. Making a great gift, this cute 5x5 book includes 10 images in a five spread album. I ordered samples this winter and they are even better when seen in person.
Earlier this year, I donated two sessions for silent auctions at two wonderful charities. It was the first time I worked with either of these charities and I was a little nervous at how well my donation would be received. While I’ve been shooting for a while, I’m still getting word out about my business. But that was all for nothing. I’m super excited to share that both auction items sold, earning almost $1000 for the causes. I can’t wait to meet the families who won the bids and photograph their fur-kids!
One goal I haven’t done very well with is booking paid client sessions. I’ve had several inquiries, but since I’ve been back in PA, I haven’t photographed a single client session. I’ve been keeping busy with other projects including working on my marketing plan so hopefully I can turn things around for the second half of the year.
I wrote in my business plan that I wanted to blog 3x/week this year. While blogging takes a lot of time and energy, it’s something I find I really enjoy. I was pretty good about blogging during my mini sabbatical in Florida over the winter, but after my return home, I didn’t write anything for almost two months. At the end of April, I told myself it was time to stop slacking and start writing. Since then I’ve posted a blog twice a week and have found this is my happy place. Follow along with me! I'll be posting every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
And finally, I made it a goal to be more active on social media this year. I'm finding Facebook's reach so inconsistent these days, so I share more on Instagram. I've been posting regularly, but sometimes I'll go a few weeks and not post anything. So I've made a plan to post 5 times a week for the rest of the year. If you're not following me, click HERE and then click "follow". While I post on Facebook, I find the same thing, sometimes I'll post several days or weeks in a row, then go stretches where I don't share anything. My new goal is to post 4 times a week. Twice a week I'll be sharing my most recent blog post. If you want to follow along, be sure you "like" my page. If you haven't you can click HERE.
As always, thanks for reading!
Having been a business owner for over 25 years, one thing I've learned is how important it is to have a business plan. The more detailed, the better. So when I officially opened Trina Bauer photography last year, I wrote out a plan and was amazed at how much of my list I accomplished. I didn't meet all of my goals, but that's ok. It gave me some challenges to work toward in 2016.
As this year winds down and I reflect on where I was a year ago, in some ways I've exceeded my hopes and in other ways I don't feel like I made much progress. Ah, such is the journey of any young business.
Looking ahead to 2017, there's no doubt it's going to be an interesting year. My husband and I have had to face some tough challenges recently. This has forced us to think about making some big changes in our lives. We don't know where or how our future is going to shape up, but we know we're definitely in for quite an adventure! It all starts with an extended trip to Southwest Florida in early Jan. I'm really excited to be spending most of my winter in the sunshine state! If you missed my blog post explaining why, click HERE. It's more than just about escaping the cold and snow!
My trip to Florida will allow me to focus all of my time and attention on my photography business. I'm really looking forward to it! I've got lots of goals and plans I've been wanting to make happen, but sadly, I just haven't had enough time to follow up on them. So to make the most of this opportunity, over the last several weeks I've been busy writing out an extensive and detailed business plan. You'll see some new products offered, more blog posts (I'm planning on blogging 3x/week!) and a declaration to work toward earning my CPP (certified professional photographer) degree! Mostly though, I'm anxious to get my camera in front of your fur babies! The role pet sitting plays in my work life will be changing so I can get out and photograph more!
It's going to be an exciting time! Bring on 2017!!