Top 10 Year-End Checklist Items for Photographers
Before you break out the bubbly on New Year’s Eve, here are some last minute things professional photographers should do before the end of the year:
1. Go Shopping
If there are any business expenses that you are anticipating for December or January (or even February!), take them in December and get the tax deduction. This includes:
– New camera gear
– New office equipment
– Office supplies
– Advertising and marketing expenses
– Insurance payments
– Travel expenses
– Website updates
– Contest entries
2. Pay Your State Estimated Taxes Early
Consult your tax advisor, but most US businesses will benefit by paying your January estimated state income tax payment in December. Don’t wait until January 15, that payment would not be deductible until you file your 2014 taxes.
3. Give to Your Favorite Charity
You get the tax benefit and you get to help others. It’s a win-win!
Other Ideas for the Slow Season
The rest of these suggestions are not as time-sensitive as the first 3 points, but they are still good to check these off at least once a year:
4. Clean Up Your File System (computers AND paper)
Admit it, during the crazy busy season you took a few shortcuts or didn’t strictly keep to your file organization strategy. No worries, take some time to clean up your files, and rethink your file storage system. And that goes for both your computer files and your paper files in that over-stuffed file cabinet in the corner.
5. Update Your Contract
When was the last time you read your own contract, line by line? Check to make sure it still reflects your business practices and while you’re at it, have a lawyer check it over.
6. Check Your Backup System
There are a million different systems and companies to help you back up your data. If you have one you like, great! Just make sure it’s backing things up the way you expect and that you know how to recover from a disaster. If you are not happy with your backup solution, or (gasp!) don’t have one yet, ask some of your photographer friends for recommendations or spend time with Google to research your options.
7. Update Your Website and Blog
Still showing 3 year old weddings in your website portfolio? Need a new headshot? Time for some updating and housecleaning. Get your website ready to shine for 2014.
8. Clean Up Your Social Media
Does your Facebook page need a facelift? When was the last time you checked all of your privacy settings? Need to clean up your friends list? Perhaps you have always wanted to customize your Twitter page? Want to get going with Google Plus? Now’s the time.
9. Review Your Insurance Coverage
You were smart and proud of yourself to get proper business coverage when you started your business 5 years ago, but do the coverages reflect your current business profile? Look it over and contact your insurance provider for tweaks and updates to your policy.
10. Set Ambitious Goals for 2014
Don’t wait until the busy season hits and you put this off for another year. Set aside some time in early January to set some concrete goals for your business in 2014, and write them down! Do you have a target number for weddings? Gross revenue? A new marketing idea you want to pursue? Perhaps your goal is to speak at a major conference, or to grow your business into other areas of photography. You know what they say: “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
Happy New Year from the ISPWP!