2019 in Review + Planning for 2020

Take it Personally Podcast with Maddie Peschong - 2019 in Review + Planning for 2020

#14: 2019 in Review + Planning for 2020

Sabrina is a lifestyle photographer located in Texas. She’s been in business for 11 years, and for the past 6 years she has been diving into the education side of her business. This has involved mentoring, creating a course, speaking at conferences, starting a mastermind, and more, all of which focus on the business of photography.

I saw a meme a while ago that said, “There’s nothing magical about January 1st.” And I get that coaches and motivational speakers often say things like that because it’s true, you can start any day. BUT, I still think there’s something magical about January first! It’s a blank page, a fresh start, and there’s something so exciting about that. 

As an extremely goal-oriented and motivated person, I love this time of year. I love looking back on what’s happened in 2019 and using that to figure out where I want to be at this time next year. Every year I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished and then also have to laugh at all the things I thought would matter so much that ended up just being a blip on the radar. 

Reflecting on 2019

To really be able to plan well for 2020, it makes the most sense to first look back at 2019 and do a bit of a recap to figure out what worked and what didn’t, so that’s where I’m starting today. In January of 2019, I was about 6 months in to working for myself with no other day job. I had just committed to a mastermind without honestly knowing anything about what I was signing up for, which is hilarious in retrospect because of how much it’s totally changed my business (you can go back to episode 5 “Why I Joined a Mastermind” for more about that). 

Everything looked good on paper, but honestly, I was really floundering to understand my “why” and the bigger purpose of my business. I was still thinking I needed to be focused on weddings because that’s where the money was, but to be honest, that just didn’t feel right. It’s not that I didn’t love weddings; I did and still do. But I would talk to my friends who also shot weddings and how they lit up when they talked about it. They said they could do it every weekend and it would still never be enough, and I just could not relate. I was really wanting to find not only that purpose that I mentioned but also a way to build a sustainable business that worked with my life. My life being raising two little people, prioritizing my marriage, not being gone every weekend, and again feeling that purpose and that deeper meaning in what I do. 

2019 High Points

Now at the same time, I was about ready to do my first big commercial shoot, which again is insane because if you look at my calendar now, it’s mostly branding and commercial. In fact, in prepping for 2020 planning and this episode, I went back and looked and in 2019 my commercial and branding projects made more money than weddings did. This is a huge relief because anyone in the photography industry will tell you that weddings are where the money is. And so feeling like that wasn’t the thing for me – it was a part of my business but not my whole business – felt like suicide in a lot of ways because I would be losing that income. So to see that commercial projects brought in more than weddings in 2019 is a huge win. 

I also had the goal of reaching six figures in my business in 2019, which I actually accomplished in September. Another big win, although to be honest, this is an area where I wasn’t probably making goals from a place of much knowledge because I should have been able to tell that I was going to exceed this goal earlier than expected. However, so dang much has changed this year, much in part to the coaching I’ve done, so…live and learn. 

Another win schedule wise was that I took the summer off of weddings. This wasn’t really intentional; 2019 was just a goofy year for me and I ended up booking weddings in the spring and fall first, and since I only book about 10 a year, I basically closed my books before the summer weddings started coming in. I did have a super busy June, with two weddings of my own and one that I associate shot for a friend who had a baby, but after that I was done shooting weddings until September. This was amazing. I cannot tell you how incredible it is to not be shooting a 10-hour wedding in 95* July heat. The summer is already so busy with other projects so I was easily able to make the income up, and I actually enjoyed my summer weekends! It was amazing. 

2019 Low Points

Now that we’ve hit on the big wins of 2019, let’s talk about the things that didn’t go as well. Aside from having a great summer schedule, from about September on I felt like I was in a perpetual state of burn out. I had a ton of large commercial projects, personal branding sessions were selling like hot cakes, I was simultaneously trying to launch this podcast, I was starting to think about my course, InstaBranding, which launched in November, and my mastermind, which is still enrolling and kicks off in January. Plus, I was back to shooting weddings, Simon was starting preschool, I was traveling a bit…it was way too much. I was starting to fall behind in email, gallery delivery, and just a lot of back end stuff that needed to get done. Thankfully, I have my assistant Kensi to help with a LOT of this, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was just in a burnout cycle that honestly, only recently ended. 

2020 Planning

This is a HUGE area I need to address in 2020. In fact, it’s probably the biggest thing because it affects everything. Not just my happiness, but the way my business is able to function. For a business that still mostly gets new clients from referrals, I need to be serving the crap out of my current clients or that model is useless. So every late email, every late gallery, every miss (and I had plenty this year), can be detrimental to my business. I think sometimes we forget that, but it’s so true, so this is really the main thing I’m addressing in 2020 planning. 

Now for the fun part – let’s talk 2020 planning. Full disclosure, I recently did a full-day planning session with my business coach where we literally mapped out ALL of 2020 in a lot more detail than what I have time to get into today, and there are some things I just can’t share quite yet, because where’s the fun in that!? But this is a really good high-level look at everything that is to come in 2020 and what changes need to be made to get me there. 

Photography

The first thing that I needed to address in 2020 is the issue of time and burn out. Yes, making six figures is great, but not at the expense of my sanity. I need a way to, hopefully, make the same amount of money (more, if everything goes according to plan) without wanting to die by July. The first way that I know to make this happen is to seriously scale back on the amount that I’m shooting. For 2020, I am currently planning on 5 weddings. These are already on my books, and I likely will not take any more. I’m shooting these in February, June, September and October. I’m also raising my prices for the 2021 weddings that I’m booking so I can continue to take a small amount of weddings but still make it worth the time that I spend. This actually makes me excited because I have some really cool ideas for how I can better serve these people, and being at a slightly higher price point will really help with that. 

As far as other types of photography, I am taking about 12 branding sessions (which is about 1/month), and 6 larger commercial shoots (about every other month). I know that I need to get better about protecting my calendar – we’ve talked about this! If this year taught me anything, it’s that there is SO much business out there, and I do not need to be in a constant state of feast or famine. Even though it’s hard, I do need to say no sometimes. I’ll really be paying attention to making sure that jobs totally align with what I want from my business and that they’re placed on the calendar in a way that doesn’t completely run me down. 

As far as shooting – that’s it. Now I’ll be honest, there will undoubtedly be things that pop up. For example, I have a few companies that I regularly work with on new hire headshots, and I really enjoy doing that, even though it is a much smaller one-off project. I also have clients who have been with me for 6+ years who I still do family photos for even though I’m not actively taking new clients. There are exceptions for sure, but having these parameters feels so good and so freeing and I’m just holding on to that feeling knowing that as soon as inquiries start coming in, it’ll be really challenging to stick to my guns, but I know I have to do it!

Mastermind and Group Coaching

The main thing I’m really focusing on in 2020 is my Mastermind and group coaching. I’ve found such a love for connecting with other women in the beginning stages of their business and helping them in whatever way I can and in whatever they may need. I’m really excited to focus on this really heavily next year.

InstaBranding Course

I’ll also be continuing on with InstaBranding which is my course currently in its first round. I’m taking some time off after this first round wraps in late January to go through how everything went and make any tweaks that I need, and then it will launch again at a higher price point in April. 

Presets

I’m still planning on selling presets in 2020, but I’m only offering the Essentials mobile pack, and the desktop pack. I felt like I had too many preset options and it was more confusing then helpful, so I’ve scaled back there. I may still do seasonal preset releases for limited times, but in general, it just needed to be simplified. This is something that is more passive for me at this point, so I have some monetary goals around how much I want it to be bringing in each month. I’ll need to spend some time working on those funnels so that actually happens. This is really my first time working on a true, passive income funnel so I’m excited but definitely nervous to see how it goes.

Podcast

So we’ve talked about all the current revenue streams in my business, which are photography, education and courses, and presets. But in 2020 I’m wanting to add to those streams a bit. There are a few things in the works that I won’t be talking about quite yet, but one of the things I can mention is monetizing the podcast. I’ve mentioned mostly on Instagram and in the Take It Personally Facebook group that this is a goal of mine because I love creating these episodes and would love to get paid for the time that I’m putting in. Podcasting is not a super lucrative business up front; for many it’s not super lucrative ever and I know that, and that’s not why I’m podcasting. I’m truly doing it because I enjoy it and because it gives me another platform to reach people and grow my business. However, if I could also get paid and therefore have the time to create more episodes or better episodes, that would be amazing. 

Because of this, one of my goals for 2020 was that I wanted one podcast sponsor at a certain dollar amount every month, and I’m so excited to say that that partnership is in the works and will be announced January 2. I’m still looking for more sponsors at different levels throughout the year but having this already accomplished before 2019 is even over is a huge win and honestly makes me feel so good about what I’m creating. 

Client Goals

Lastly, since I’m coaching this year on a more ongoing basis as opposed to the individual coaching sessions I did in 2019, I actually have goals set for clients as well. This gets me really excited because certainly while there are a million factors, a big goal that I have for most of the women in the mastermind is to be able to make a consistent income in their business that gives them more freedom – whether that’s to save money, to quit their day jobs, whatever it may be. That said, I want to coach several clients in 2020 who hit consistent $5,000 months with a couple $10,000 peaks, AND have at least two clients who hit the $10,000/month mark. This is obviously important not just because I already care so much about these women and their businesses and I see the potential, but also because this is the first round of the mastermind so I want it to make a really big impact for these people so they continue working with me and refer others to the group. There’s SO much more to what we’re doing than money, but I also think the money side does need to be talked about because money creates freedom, and that’s really what we all want. 

Ready for the New Year

Whew! This got a little long winded and honestly there is so much more that I could say about what 2020 has in store, but honestly these are the high points and the things that get me really excited when I think about next year. Even though this sounds like a lot, it’s a different kind of a lot and in a lot of ways, it’s substantially less than a typical year – specifically shooting wise. While it feels strange to pull back from that part of my business, I’m excited to hopefully reach more people through the education side of my business and just set better boundaries in general. That way I can make sure that when I am shooting, I am all in and I’m providing a top-notch, high-quality service that I can be really proud of and not burnout on. Are you ready for 2020?!

This episode of Take it Personally is sponsored by the MP Mastermind, which is now enrolling. This is a mastermind and group coaching program all rolled into one, which means that not only do you get high-touch coaching with me, you also join a group of incredible women who are in a similar place in their business, where they are ready to massively grow their businesses and their impact. The MP Mastermind is a 6 month program beginning January 20 for women who want to build a brand that easily attracts dream clients. 

As a member, you get access to a Facebook community with monthly guest experts and member show and tell; bi-monthly group coaching calls that you can easily attend from the comfort of your couch; monthly private coaching with me; and a group retreat in April. 

You guys, the Mastermind I joined exactly a year ago has changed my business for the better. I’m confident that I would have been able to do a lot of the things I’ve done this year with or without group coaching, but NEVER in a million years would I have done it all in one calendar year. NEVER. There is something so magical about a group of women that you can build community and connection with to hold you accountable. If you’re ready to head into 2020 with a group like this, we’d love to have you in the MP Mastermind. You can head to maddiepeschong.com/mastermind to learn more and apply.

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