End of year number crunching

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get into photography because I love business management. The whole idea of pouring over spreadsheets and sales reports really is one of my least favorite activities associated with running the business. But this is a business, and we do what we must.

One thing I’ve been able to glean from my years in business is to know when things are slow, and when they’re not. I know that starting Thanksgiving, and ending when the kids go back to school – we’re pretty much dead here. We’ll have a few jobs but it’s generally a good time to do the management tasks that goes with having your own Federal ID number. I choose to do this now, less because it’s year end (our corporate year is the calendar year) but rather since it’s slow right now.

One of those tasks is segment reporting. It’s a fairly simple process that I use to determine where my work came from in the past year. With that information in hand, I can then evaluate what I need to do differently in the coming year in order to shift things towards the more profitable.

  • Step 1 I print a list of all my jobs from the past year. This year it’s about 4 pages.
  • Step 2 Each job is pigeonholed into a specific category. Since most of my business is commercial my categories are corporate, agency, editorial and stock. Your specific categories will vary depending on the type of work you do.
  • Step 3 Add “˜em up. Not only do I count dollar amounts, but also number of jobs.
  • Step 4 Take it further and count average number of days per job by category.

Now with this information I know how many jobs from each section, which I made the most money on, which I did the most of and therefore, which segments I need to market to more heavily. For example, after crunching the numbers I know that I shoot more editorial jobs than any other type.

I also know that of my four segments, editorial has the lowest price/job and the lowest number of days/job. So that tells me I need to pursue more advertising and corporate jobs, both of which have much better price/job and days/job ratios. I also know that in terms of raw dollars, I make more money from the corporate work than anything else. Again, this tells me who I should spend most of my marketing efforts on.

As I’ve said here in the past, being a good photographer is only the beginning. Those photographers who work on the business side, as well as the creative and technical side of things will come out ahead.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Isn’t a low number of days/job a good thing? Seems to me you should look at price/day to optimize your income.

  2. Lars,
    To a certain extent you’re correct, earning more and working less is the ultimate goal. But earning more is the dominant part of that equation. If I need to work more in order to earn more – so be it. As far as having low number of days/job being good… my problem with that is there is a fixed amount of administrative work that has to happen for each job. Things like getting the job and selling the job, archiving, invoicing, tracking, and registering all have to happen whether it’s a one day job or a 10 day job. I’d rather work one job for three days than six jobs for a half day each.
    The bottom line is to know your business. Read the numbers, determine what’s important for you to know and mine for that info.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu