Happy New Year! Last week I had the idea to create a series of blog posts called “The Annual Report”. I don’t have shareholders, or a board, or anything fancy like that. So in the traditional sense of the term, there’s not much to report. But I thought it’d be cool to do a review of the year with you guys, and base it around several topics.
What you’ll see below are various topics about me, photography, the business, etc… I dive in to each one a little here. But during the week, I’m going to go deeper into each one. Here goes:
My Top Photos of 2016
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’m going to post my top photos of 2016. Personally, it was a great year. Professionally it was a great year. And while I enjoyed my photography (probably more than ever) this past year, I don’t think I made my best photography ever – but I’m still really happy with it. Why you ask? Partly because I didn’t travel like crazy – like I used to.
Staying home doesn’t lend itself to photography much. Especially for a guy who lives in Florida and loves to photograph big waterfalls, mountains, lakes and big grand scenery. But, I did manage to squeeze a few trips in this past year. Last February my wife and I took a photo trip with friends to Iceland. No workshops, no teaching, just photography and enjoying each other’s company.
I also taught a workshop at Glacier National Park in July and had the chance to spend 5 days in Costa Rica doing some research and scouting for an upcoming workshop there.
But being at home more let me find some spots near the house too, and some of my favorite photos of the year come from places just 20 minutes away. Again though, stop back tomorrow for my top photos from 2016.
The Year of Instagram (Yeah, I’m like 7 years late!)
I also started posting to Instagram more this year. It’s always intrigued me a little, and I really didn’t get it. It’s a mobile photography sharing platform, that actually WILL NOT let you post anything from your desktop. Yet it’s riddled with professional DSLR photos. So you actually have take a photo with your DSLR, edit it on your computer, and then get those photos on to your phone to post them.
Anyway, I figured out a good workflow in Lightroom Mobile to make it easier to get my “big boy camera” photos on to my phone to share (so I’m not emailing them to myself), and decided to jump into the IG pool (that’s cool kids speak for Instagram). My verdict? Well, I’ll do a full run-down of my experience over the year in that blog post. But I can tell you that by posting a few times a week, and hash-tagging the crap out of them, I was able to grow from around 1000 followers on IG to over 17,000 today.
And here’s what’s interesting. I didn’t stack the deck. Meaning I didn’t send out emails to my email list, or posts to my Facebook or Twitter accounts and try to get those people to come follow me on IG. That follower growth came mostly from posting photos (and it didn’t hurt to start with over 1000 followers to begin with). But, when I posted, it grew – when I didn’t post, it didn’t grow. Kinda interesting though. Stop back on Wednesday to read a little more about it and to see what Instagrammers thought my top photos were.
My Wife and I Started Our Own Business!
If you missed the news back in June, I left my job to start my own photography/photo editing training business with my wife Diana. Whew! It’s been one wild ride, but a great one.
Diana handles the accounting, scheduling, marketing, ads, email list, customers, video and blog post editing, and I do the easy stuff behind the microphone/camera I wrote a lot more about it here if you want to go back and read more.
Anyway… on Thursday, I have a post called “5 Things I Learned About Running a Business”. Not really anything to do with photography, but I figure you might as well hear a little about the business side of things while we’re at it. Plus, if you’re a customer, it’ll give you some insight to what’s coming up.
But as for the business itself, it’s running great. Back in September we launched our first training course called The Ultimate Lightroom Course. Looking back, I guess I was pretty cocky in calling it the “best Lightroom training on the planet”, but I honestly do believe there’s nothing as good as it out there. I think the way most (not everyone) people teach Lightroom is wrong. Including some of the ways I’d done it in the past. So I set out to make the best, most comprehensive course, with lots of personal attention if you purchased the course during the launch week. I’m really proud of it and from the feedback I got, it was a huge help to everyone who purchased it.
As for sales… Luckily, I have a great group of people following me, and the course surpassed our expectations. Either that, or my mom really likes me and wants me to feel good, and paid some of her friends to buy the course. As you can imagine, going out on your own is stressful. I’ve always worked for someone else, so I’d get a paycheck no matter what. And when you’ve really never had to “sell” anything to your audience before, that first day when you launch the product is… well… an interesting feeling.
Even better news is that we’re on a great track for the business in 2017. We have a solid web person working on the back end of things. That’s something we really got burned on, so if there’s one thing we invested in that was it. We’ve moved to our own dedicated web server. We have more ideas for training courses than I have time to do.
We have no hopes and plans to be a big company with lots of employees, office space, etc… We plan on keeping our business a lean, small, personalized, company with only key people in place where it makes sense to have them. If I can’t serve hundreds of thousands of people so be it. But the people we do serve will get a great personal experience from a husband/wife team where every single sale counts.
Top Blog Posts of 2016
On to the blog… It’s changed a bit this year. This Friday, I’m going to post a list of the top blog posts and articles of 2016. I went through my blog and didn’t just pick the ones with the most traffic. There are various reasons why a certain post may get more traffic than others. So I also included comments and interactions in the equation to come up with the list.
But one thing you’ll notice about my blog, and something that I made a more concerted attempt at this year, is that I answer almost every comment/question. In fact, I make it very easy to get a hold of me. I put a contact form out there and answer every question that comes in best I can.
We’re very aggressive about building our email community, because we want to make sure we reward people who stop in often and make it easier for you to follow articles without always coming back to the site. If you’re part of that email community, the emails are sent from an actual real address that I respond to.
And we’ve added a Forum. So now you can stop in and ask questions there. If I don’t answer, someone else usually jumps in and does.
So… why the big change? Well, over the years I think my career got the best of me. It’s not an excuse though, and I’ll write more about that change and what’s happened in the post on Friday.