Badda bing, badda boom! It’s one of my absolute favorites times of the year! Aside from copious amounts of cookies, christmas music playing 24/7, lights everywhere, New Year goals and, this year, 2 weeks in tropical paradise…this is the time of year where I am able to get my geek on and make lists upon lists upon lists. And Lord knows I love lists. While in Costa Rica, Adam and I sat down and did what I have done every year since I started my business – make a list of what worked this year, what didn’t, and some goals for next year. I’m not gonna lie, this year was probably the hardest to do this. It was a year where business grew by 50-freaking-percent. And while that is incredible growth, and something to be proud of, it was also the most stressful year and one that flew by in a blur. Oh, and I got married. Add that craziness to the mix and you’ve got a concoction of “what the heck happened to this year?!?” The idea of making a list of what worked, what didn’t and what’s next is one that came from my buddies Justin & Mary and it’s one of those things that list-making people like me go gaga over. So without further ado…
1. Launching Alicia Ann Couture.
You guys. This project has long been on my heart but never, in a million years, could I have planned for it to take off like it did this year. The stories from these women were such an honor to be trusted with. Launching this brand was such an exciting thing for me this year and opened the doors wide for me to start dreaming like I used to, rather than just going through the motions of what I thought I should be doing in business. Holy moly. So excited for what 2014 has in store for AAC
2. Running a Living Social deal for Alicia Ann Couture.
I ran a Living Social deal to practice posing women and to give myself a little project through the winter months. I had no idea that one Living Social deal would result in a total of 179 glamour shoots this year.
3. Outsourcing editing.
Praise the sweet Lord Jesus for ShootDotEdit. They have been my heroes this year. Cue the angels singing because if it were not for SDE, none of my wedding clients would’ve received their images before their 10th anniversary. At least that’s what it felt like with all the other projects I had going on this year. I’ve been wanting to outsource editing for the last few years but never took the leap. I finally did this year and I have not regretted it for one single second.
4. Blogging weddings in a timely manner.
Early in the year I set a goal for myself to blog every wedding we shot the week after it took place. I am so thrilled to say that it happened with all but one wedding. I intend on following this same structure next year because it worked so well for me this year!
This was my first year having interns, so I was a bit nervous. Katrina and Madi were so amazing to work with. They were fast learners and soaked everything up like a sponge, on top of being a huge help for me in my busiest months!
This girl. I don’t think No Eye Has Seen Photography would be where it is without her. We’ve worked together for 3 seasons now and it has been AMAZING to watch her grow and develop her natural talent. She is super fun to work with, my partner in crime, and the best associate I ever could’ve asked for. And. People of the internet. She went to WALMART (!!!) for me on Black Friday to get an iPhone after I waited all morning and eventually had to leave for a wedding without it because their upgrading systems were “being slow”. Anyone who has ever stepped foot in Walmart on Black Friday knows how big of a deal this is. She is always willing to help and give of her time however she can, in addition to ordering me Shirley temple’s at weddings without me even having to ask. So excited for what the future brings for Rachel and working together with her!
What didn’t work…
1. Blog/magazine submissions.
Utter fail. The end.
2. Running a Living Social deal.
Yeah, so remember that time I said that running a Living Social deal was amazing for Alicia Ann Couture? It was. Kinda too amazing. As in I spent every waking second of 2013 scheduling sessions, shooting sessions, designing albums, packaging folios, etc. It sucked the time and life out of me. I love it. It was super fun. But for 2014, a huge scale back will be happening so that I can retain my sanity and give every client the experience they deserve. Quality over quantity.
3. My utilization of Adam.
We’ve been talking for as long as we’ve known each other about getting him involved in the business, and I just haven’t taken the time to utilize his brain and skills. He’s super smart (obviously. I wouldn’t have married a dimwit) and often has incredible insight to offer this business. We will be taking Jan-Mar to train him in some areas so that he can take on some tasks for the 2014 wedding season. Clients of the present and future, you will be thrilled he is joining the team in an expanded role beyond “just” shooting because all of the tasks we have assigned for him to take over are all ones that directly affect our current clients.
4. Marketing to Colorado.
Tagging along the lines of my time and life being sucked out of me with the glamour brand this year, I have not had any time for market to Colorado. I was really hoping to book 5 weddings there in 2014 and, while I have 1 that I am THRILLED about, I am definitely kicking myself in the behind for not being more proactive in this area.
I did great with weddings and engagements but there was very little personal blogging this year, and I know how much you all love to read about the nitty gritty details of my personal life. Kidding, kidding. But seriously, I’m always having people ask for updates on the house, my family, and images from my travels. I promise to do better in 2014.
6. Having a studio in my apartment.
This is totally a double edged sword. The space I have to meet clients and use for a studio is PERFECT for doing exactly that. But after I got married this year, the walls all felt like they were closing in on us. Every morning I had to make sure the trash was out and dishes washed, bed made and laundry folded, candles lit and toilet bowl bright white. I’d love to say it happened exactly that way, but it didn’t. So there were more times than I care to admit where I would be scurrying to shove clothes under the bed 5 minutes before a client came over. This setup won’t be changing any time soon, but I’m just putting it out there that it didn’t work well to be living in the same space I was shooting in. A solution is still TBD.
What’s next for 2014!!!
1. Coaching sessions!
I am SO super excited to be launching a coaching session extension of my brand. Having Katrina and Madi in as interns helped me realize how much I love to teach and mentor new photographers and photographers who are trying to develop a strong brand and business. Launch is next Monday, January 6 so check back here then for more details!
It’s going to happen. I’m committing to 3 times a week. Will you hold me to it? Weddings, engagements, tips & tricks for photographers, wedding planning advice for brides, DIY house updates, personal posts. In 2014, I will blog.
3. Finding my groove for AAC.
I haven’t decided yet exactly how I want to balance the glamour brand with my wedding brand but, for now, I’m going to try only scheduling 4 shoots a week. We are already booked solid through January and most of February, so this will go into effect in March. I also want to refine the luxury experience of the brand in order to give each client a better experience.
4. Better client relations with wedding clients.
This is an area that I feel can always use improvement. Until I get my brides to come over for game nights, have sleepovers in cozy pajamas, and talk about our dreams and fears over chocolate fondue, I will never be satisfied with client relationships. I promise I’m not a creeper. I just love people and I want to be so much more intentional about loving and serving others. So in 2014 I want to love my couples more, make my brides feel that much more special, and continue to be a sounding board for them as they plan their big day. And then maybe eventually I’ll coerce them to come over for a game night.
5. Game nights.
Speaking of which. I want to return to hosting at least 2 of these each month. I have an obscene obsession with board games. When we packed up some of our stuff to move to Colorado Adam begged me t get rid of half my board games. I told him that was like asking me to give up my firstborn child. Not gonna happen, buddy. So, please help me justify that by coming over to play games with us in 2014, ok?
A few personal goals for 2014…
6. Become certified as a Doula
Yup, you read that right. I’ve always had an interest in pregnancy and delivery and I’m constantly pouring over articles and books on the subject, so I decided to do something about it and get certified as a Doula. If you are in CT or CO and looking for a birth coach, I’d LOVE to be by your side when you deliver!
One of the very first “connections” Adam and I made early in our dating years was that we both geeked out over invention and innovation. It’s on our Bucket List to get on Shark Tank eventually, so this year I was to put actions to those words. I have 3 products that have been muddling around in my brain for a while now and I’d love to try taking one of them to market this year.
8. Start my life book.
I want to begin writing down every memory and story from my childhood to eventually put in a book for my future kids to read. I have a lot of memories and stories so my goal in 2014 is to write at least 1 a week.
9. Put _0k towards our mortgage.
Adam and I recently read “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and we have made some major budget cuts for 2014 in order to start hacking away at our mortgage. I am totally a goal driven person so I love the idea of having a crazy number to try to deduct off our current mortgage this year. My idea of fun!
10. Be an old fashioned wife.
No, but seriously. I’ve always wanted to be a wife and have long looked forward to the days where I get to cook for my hubby. In 2014 I want to be so much more intentional about being an old fashioned wife and serving Adam as best I can. I want to be the wife that cooks amazing dinners, bakes delicious pies, writes love notes in his lunchbox, greets him at the door with a kiss, and gives him shoulder rubs after work. And all the feminists just fell off their chairs. Seriously, people, if there is one thing I’ve learned in all my married time (7 months! I’m, basically, a pro at this marriage thing) it’s that you have to, have to, have to be willing and eager and excited to serve your spouse 100% of the time and with 110% of everything you have in you. I am human, and I know that’s not realistic. Adam will probably tell you that I only effectively do that 10% of the time, but I try. And I will try even harder in 2014. He could’ve chosen anyone, and he chose me. I owe it to him to be the best wife I can be. And, let’s be honest, I love me some pie as well, so it’s a win-win.
11. Be. Healthy.
Anyone who knows me would say that I am super health conscious and fit and, blah blah blah. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that I’m a roller coaster schizophrenic of a mess in this area. I put the yo-yo to shame. One week I’m all “KALE SMOOTHIES FOR THE WIN!!” and the next week I’m like “I just baked 4 dozen cookies. And ate them all. In one day” (see above goal). For the life of me and my ever growing thighs, I need to have better balance in this area. I am going to try my very hardest to meal plan every Sunday, grocery shop, and stick to it. Per goal #9, eating out as often as we do is no longer in the cards, so this Martha Stewart wannabe needs to step up her game with cooking nutritious meals. Yes. And Amen.
Ok! There ya have it! My 2013 and 2014 in a nutshell. I’d love to hear from YOU! What is ONE thing that worked and didn’t work for 2013, and what is one goal for 2014?
And since every post is better with and image, here’s is our VERY FIRST Christmas card!