Sunday, February 3, 2008

Goals and Objectives, Part II

So yesterday, I laid out a few of my big picture goals. Noting too crazy, just replacing my overtime income, quitting my job, and total world domination. Wait, scratch that last part. I'll settle for North America. But the reality is that while these are great points on the horizon, I'm going to need a few intermediate steps, some things I can work on directly. They will build towards my long term plans, of course, but they're concrete, achievable things that I can plan for. No world domination today, instead, some nuts and bolts after the jump.
Okay, here comes some real-world, more meaningful, short term targets. The goals from here on out are also nowhere near sequential. Remember, stream of consciousness.

Goal #3 is to decide on a genre of photography in which I will focus my efforts. Yep, that's right, I don't even have a specialty yet. But I will. I have to. Being a "landscape and kids" guy isn't going to cut it. I'll recap a conversation I had with David Hobby, of Strobist. I had mentioned stock photography, asked about his thoughts on the future of stock as a business model, and mentioned that I had a hard drive full of images that look "just like the ones I see on all the stock websites" He answered simply "Then you're in trouble" I rant in detail about the subject in my earlier post here.

Goal #4 is to make Cycle 61 Photography a legal and legitimate entity, without breaking the bank. My taxes this year are agonizingly simple. One income, standard deductions, three kids an a wife. Bam. Done in about 15 minutes, literally. A quick look at what I've spent on and about my hobby in 2007 reveals that had I been able to deduct these expenses, I would have saved in taxes far more than the few hundred bucks it would have cost to go through the paperwork to launch a sole proprietorship here in California. Any significant financial outlay in pursuit of my business goals needs to be deductible, and soon. I've already spent several hundred $ this year that could all have been tax deductible. Also, I'm working on a business card, and I would feel really fake printing a business card when technically I don't have a business.

Goal #5 is simple. Draw clients by being very, very good at what I do, and relying on word of mouth and low level marketing. There won't be any billboards in my near future, but a window sign on the back of the van is a distinct possibility. Maybe one on the Jag, too. I drive that heap slowly enough that everybody could read it. A friend who does weddings and events gets almost all her customers through word of mouth, and maybe one or two a year through her ridiculously expensive 1/4 page ad in the Yellow Pages.

Goal #6 Build my photographic knowledge by taking a class, seminar, lesson, shooting with a pro, or just reading a good book or two every month. I've currently got on order from Amazon a copy of Joe McNally's "The moment it clicks" and Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book, Volume II" I've been meaning to check out Joe's book, but the review tonight on Strobist put me over the edge.

Goal #7 Network, network, network. This one is natural, but also very difficult, because it always looks to an outsider like "talking on the phone" or "checking my email" or worst of all "screwing around on the internet" I've been working on this diligently, building contacts with the photography groups in the area, helping to arrange and set up meetups, and taking any chance I can to rub shoulders with photographers in the area. There's a local Strobist group meeting in Santa Clara next weekend, details are here if you're interested.

Goal #8 Always have a job scheduled. This may be anything, from an upcoming shoot, to a day as an assistant, to a personal project that could yield paying stock images, anything. This is key for me, as it will force me to keep actively building my contacts, clients, and opportunities. Talk about stream of consciousness, that first line was on screen before I knew how it was going to end. Goal #8 is officially my favorite. My next job: Before the strobist meetup on 2/9, I will do some early morning street photography in San Jose with the purpose of developing a dozen or so "Urban" images for my stock portfolio.

Tomorrow: Baby steps


Paul Treacy said...

I've been a pro shooter since 1992. I'm currently in NYC but will be moving back to London in July. For most of the last few years I've been a stay at home dad to my two boys.

However, on my return to Europe I too will be putting together a business from the very start. I am switching from news / wire service to real estate and commercial assignments. I hope to gather in some of the new knowledge I'll need on complex lighting and what not in the next few months. So I guess you and I are in a similar situation.

Perhaps we can keep tabs on each other and provide each other with encouragement. What say you?

Your list is excellent, by the way. Clear thinking.

Best of luck to you.

Paul Treacy

StockPhotoJourney said...

If you are just looking at the tax deductibility issues you do not need to declare or become anything. No need to get a DBA or incorporate or anything like that. In fact, if you have not already filed your taxes you could most likely deduct all your gear in 2007. I do this for all my various online activities. For gear you are probably going to have to depreciate it over time.

I know a good tax person, drop me a line if you want the contact info.