Your 2019 Personal Branding Photography Checklist
2019 is just around the corner. While December can feel like a crazy lead up into Christmas, it is also time to reflect on the year and look towards your 2019 goals.
Have you invested in the branding visuals and photography behind your business? Photography, headshots and personal branding (yes – images of YOU) are a big step in communicating with your clients. You are a business, yes, but ultimately: people connect with people.
Have you told the world about you?
In my business my branding visuals are vital. As a service based business, I need to connect with my clients – especially as a photographer. It is important for me to communicate who I am. My headshots and photographs of myself allow my clients to get a feel for my personality, if I am trustworthy, if I look friendly, and if they will fit in with me.
My website would be very impersonal if it was just purely information: “This is what I do”. “This is what I charge”. “Here is my work”. I have seen websites that are like this. It is fine to have information about what you do, but who is behind it?
“We are a photography business located in x”. But who is ‘we‘? The absence of any information on who you are has your audience immediately disconnecting from you. You appear as just a business, not a person.
I have seen photography websites without even a name behind the contact number. No name at all, anywhere on the website. If I pick up the phone and call that contact number I don’t even know who I am requesting to speak to. The whole contact process starts with uncertainty. This goes for all service businesses really – people want to know who they will be talking too, booking, and ultimately giving their money to.
So have a think about how your business operated throughout 2018. How well did you communicate who you were? Did you tell the world about you, your story, your why? If not, then write it down for 2019: show the world who I am, as the face behind my business.
Prepare for 2019.
Creating your photography branding checklist.
Part A: Reflecting on 2018.
To complete your branding photography checklist we’ll break it down into sections. You’ll need a pen and paper, or a document to type your answers on as you go.
Starting with Part A, we’ll think about what your 2018 was like for you and your business. So what did 2018 give to you? Were you happy with how things turned out? Did you set and complete goals? Did you learn something? We start off the branding checklist by reflecting on your past year.
1 – Write down a list of the things you did well.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Flaunt your achievements. Little things like: ‘I was more active in local business groups in my Facebook community’. To big things like: ‘I landed a huge client that I’ve been dreaming about for years’.
2 – Next: write down a list of the things you could have done better:
Did you post quality, engaging content to social media as much as you would have liked? Were there things on your to-do list that you have avoided?
3 – Jot down how you think you portrayed yourself and your brand throughout your imagery, online presence, and face to face. Answer the following questions:
1- Did I portray myself in my imagery?
2- Do my clients know who I am, why I do what I do, and what my passions are?
3- In my imagery, I portrayed myself as (list some key words):
4- I would define my brand and personality as:
5- What visual imagery did I post regularly (social media, blog posts, websites, marketing materials etc)?
6- Were my images and marketing material consistent across the year?
7- Were my client interactions consistent across my visual images, my online presence, the language I used, over the phone, and face to face?
Part B: Setting your goals for 2019.
Now we get to look to the future so that in 2019 you can start with a solid idea of where you want your personal brand to go. You’ve had a chance to reflect on 2018, and we will use those notes for the basis of what we will do next. If you’ve written down your answers to part A, you should see in front of you exactly where you’ve been for the past year.
4 – To prepare for 2019, start by writing down a few of the things you want to achieve.
They can be anything. Look at your notes from 1 and 2 and see what areas you did well in and what areas you could improve in. Can you do even better at the things you did well in? Or is it a simple matter of maintaining the momentum? Your goals don’t need to be huge. They can be big or small. Some examples below:
– Attend more networking events.
– Increase the engagement on my social media posts.
– Approach more potential clients.
– Improve my Linkedin profile.
– Move from my home office into a co-working space.
– Making time for my family as well as my business – drawing that line.
Part C: Defining your brand.
“Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.”David McNally and Karl Speak, authors of ‘Be Your Own Brand’, 1999
It is important to understand what a personal brand actually is and the above quote accurately summarises it in a nice one-liner. It isn’t just your images. Not just the packaging of your products, or the design of your business card. It is all of these things, plus how you make impressions on others as an individual or business.
So the next step is to define your brand for yourself. Once you have a clear idea of what you think your brand is (or what you want it to become) then you can set yourself clear goals for your branding photography for 2019.
5 – Look the answers to the questions in 3 and answer these next questions to define a clear brand:
1- How do you want to portray yourself and your business to potential clients?
Summarise these things into key words.
2- How would your friends describe your personality as a business owner?
3- Write down a description of your ‘voice’*. That is, how you communicate via social media, in discussion forums, on your website, in your emails, over the phone and face to face. Ultimately: how do you want to come off?
4- Write down your visual branding rules: your colours; logo; fonts; the ‘feeling’ of your images; the design of your website; the flyers you hand out; your email signature; any packaging you have; your shop front or office; and the images of yourself. The more consistent you are with all of these things, the more recognisable your brand and business will be to others.
6 – Summarising your brand:
The answers to the questions in 5 should summarise your brand. Read over your answers and write some key words to summarise the following:
– The impression you want to make about your business.
– Your personality/traits as a business owner.
– A summary of voice* when you communicate with others.
– The visual guidelines** of your brand.
* and ** – I have some notes at the bottom of this page if you are unsure what these things are.
Part D: Planning your branding for 2019
The last step for your branding checklist is to think about how you want to approach 2019 in regards to your brand. It is at this stage that we’ll be able to look at the visuals more specifically and get some goals and ideas for the year ahead.
7 – Your 2019 Brand Plan: write down what visual images you want to include on your website and social media:
Such as photographs of you; behind the scenes images; shots of your office/workplace; or imagery of you and your team at work. These are just a few ideas.
Look at some other businesses to see how they approach their visuals. They don’t need to be in the same industry as you – but looking at businesses with similar ideal clients will be helpful too. Remember, you don’t want to copy someone else’s brand. You want to make sure you communicate your brand authentically. Evaluate what appeals to you as a consumer and start to think about how you can make your imagery appealing to your ideal clients.
– Find visual references and inspiration for your visuals. Google image searches and Pinterest are so helpful with this. Your references can be from lighting inspiration; the atmosphere in the photographs; the styling; the expressions and poses; if they are candid or engaged. Consider it all. Save your ideas to various Pinterest boards.
– Set out some ideas for where you want to use your images: A great headshot for Linkedin, your emails, social profiles, and guest blog posts. Suitable images for printed marketing material. A plan for your social media content. Images for your about and team pages. Content for your email marketing. Write it all down.
– Source your imagery: find a photographer that fits with your style. Look into stock imagery if you need to (although, I have written about how stock photography isn’t the best choice here). Take some behind the scenes imagery yourself if you can’t invest in a professional at this stage.
– Define some dates. Do you need to update your headshots for you and/or your staff? Set a timeline to get these done. Plan out what images are going up on your social media and in your newsletters.
Finalising Your Checklist:
There is a lot to think about when planning your 2019 personal branding. The seven sections above should have had you:
– Reflect on your triumphs and weaknesses of 2018.
– Reflect on your personal brand during 2018.
– Set your 2019 business goals.
– Define and summarise your personal brand.
– Set out clear goals and ideas for how to flaunt your brand in 2019.
If you need help with any of the above tasks, reach out to others. Ask your 2018 clients for feedback – either a quick comment or, even better, send them a short survey. You can also ask peers or other business owners what impressions they get from your online presence. Friends and family can be helpful, but be wary of their bias. Often they might ‘soften’ things and have you hear what you want to hear.
I’m always happy to have a chat with you about how photography can benefit your business. I operate these free consultations via Zoom, phone, or email. You can register for a complimentary consultation here.
Where to from here?
All that’s left to do is implement your actions next year (or now!). Grab your diary, write in some reminders and deadlines. Install an app to plan out and schedule your social media content in advance to stay on top of it all. For your visuals, you’re going to need to stay organised and think ahead of time.
If you’re not confident with a camera, or if you want images of yourself, consider hiring a professional photographer to create your content. This goes for your graphic design elements – get in touch with some designers with a killer folio, and have them work with you on your branding.
Things to think about when hiring a photographer:
I’ve written about choosing a photographer previously. It is something to be carefully considered. Price factors into things but shouldn’t necessarily be the sole consideration. Branding and visuals within your business are an investment too. They make considerable impressions on people and getting it right can go a long way.
1. Find someone who has work that you love. Look at their real portfolio! Read through their website.
2. Make sure that you are going to get along. Will they make the time to get to know you and your business? Give them a call or request a video meeting (or face to face meeting) if you want to get a feel for them. I offer free consultations via email/phone/skype/zoom – if you want to discuss your branding with me.
3. Understand any time limits they may have. You need to be comfortable that your chosen photographer will make it work for you, and so you don’t leave your session feeling like you didn’t get everything you wanted out of it.
4. Communicate your ideas, brand and requirements to make sure they can confidently achieve what you are after. Booking a photographer that specialises in what you’re after is going to go a long way. Find someone who masters their craft.
It is easy to think of ‘photographers’ as a generic group of professionals. While many branch out into multiple fields, make sure you see their work first. As with professions like engineering or medicine, photographers have their specialties too.
No matter how your 2018 was, head into 2019 with a positive outlook and an organised plan. Get your branding sorted and refined. If you’re yet to define your brand, start with that. Even if you haven’t actively planned your personal brand, we all have one in the way that we communicate and put ourselves out there to others. The good news is, you have the power to shape that brand into something positive for your business.
It is a myth that only big businesses need branding (or have a brand). Big businesses are a great example of personal branding though. Look at companies like Apple – their communication, design, shops, products – all communicate their brand. But your brand exists even if your business is small.
Remember: people connect with people. Don’t be afraid to be the face of your business.