I’ll admit it. There was a time in my wedding photography career when I’d be fully booked for the year at least a year in advance – and I thought that was success. I prided myself on that fact. In my mind, I had “made it”. Over the years, as I’ve grown my business and increased my prices, I’ve learned that being booked over a year in advance can actually be detrimental to your business’ growth. Yup – you read that right. It’s not always a good thing!
We’re just over two full weeks into the new year and I already see a TON of photographers posting “fully booked for 2022” and “halfway booked for 2023”. That used to be me. And while it’s comforting to know that you have work scheduled for the next year+, the thing you don’t realize is that you are definitely limiting your business’ growth by saying “yes” too often and too early.
Take this from me – someone who sat at a “comfortable” price for YEARS and never raised her pricing. I was booking out years in advance, I was busy with all of the weddings I could handle, I was hitting my financial goals, I was comfortable in that zone. After all, I thought this is what success looked like at the time.
But, if I’ve learned one thing as an entrepreneur, it is that greatness doesn’t come from being comfortable. In late 2019, I realized I had been at the same price point since 2016. That’s right – I went 3 years without raising my prices. No wonder I was feeling the impact of burnout – and my competitors were racing past me, raising their prices, and shooting the kinds of weddings I was DYING to photograph. I had done myself a major disservice by being complacent and by keeping myself booked up years in advance. I had absolutely no room for growth.
Fast forward to 2020 and 2021. I’ve learned SO MUCH in the past two years – and one of the things I’ve learned is that booking up years in advance is not necessarily “good” for your business – at least in terms of growth. Yes, it’s extremely uncomfortable to go into a year without knowing if you’ll hit your financial goals. Yes, it’s super uncomfortable going from being booked out years in advance to having a lot of open dates on your calendar.
But it’s also exciting that while plenty of photographers are “fully booked for 2022” or locking in 2023 bookings right now, you still have the room to book DREAM clients in 2022. You still have the opportunity to network with new creative teams, reach out into new markets, charge premium prices, and grow your business way faster than those booked up photographers can! That is an incredible advantage and something you should be excited about.
Growth is inherently uncomfortable. Last year, at this same exact time, I had started looking for a full-time job in Corporate America. I was convinced that 2021 was the year that I would have to shut down my business because I just wasn’t booking up like I used to. But guess what? 2021 was a HUGE year of growth for my business – and one of my best years ever, financially! Was it scary not knowing what the year would bring? Absolutely. But I was able to book dream venues, dream destinations, and dream clients because I had the availability to say “yes” instead of having to say “no”. So next time you doubt yourself, just think about all of the opportunities that lie ahead of you this year – all because you have the time and availability to grow and say “yes”!