Photographers: how your accountability determines your success

In Build A Photography Business Show, Real estate photography - business management by Build A Photography Business

If you're a photographer do you get more stuff done if you know someone is going to be checking in with you? Most of us do far better when we're kept accountable for our actions, so let's look at:

  • Why accountability is important for photographers.
  • An example of an accountability session ... and how you can try it for yourself.
  • The 6-step process to improve your level of self-accountability.
  • The $44,000 impact from a tiny change any photographer can make.

Here's what we covered in this episode (you can jump to the different sections in the video timeline):
0:00 - Intro
0:59 - Why accountability matters
3:00 - An example of an accountability session
4:28 - The 3 levels of accountability
6:49 - Improve your self-accountability
9:23 - Is it worth investing in accountability?
12:01 - Q&A

Note: If you'd like to request a coaching session with me to see if I'm a good fit for you as an accountability partner, go to:

Video transcript:
How your accountability determines  your success

When you have a high level of accountability you are significantly more likely to be successful as a photographer.

Do you agree with that? Do you think accountability can make a big difference? I’d love to hear your thoughts, but I think it’s hugely important and here’s why:

When we talk about accountability we’re talking about whether you’re making a commitment to complete certain tasks and are other people, or you, checking in with you by a certain date to make sure you did it.

For a lot of photographers having someone else who can keep them accountable ensures they get a lot more done, and as you know, the money is in the execution. If you’re talking about doing things for your business, but you’re not actually doing them, then your business isn’t going anywhere.

So it comes down to executing a plan, but what I see more often than not is that photographers say they’re going to do all of these great things, but they never get around to doing it. But when they know that someone will be checking in with them, when there are consequences for not completing those tasks, then they feel compelled to do it and they get more stuff done and that’s when businesses grow.

So as a photographer running your own business, first of all, you need direction so you know what to do.

Secondly, you need to know how to do it.

And thirdly, you’re going to need time to get stuff done.

Then once you know what to do and how to do it, then you actually need to execute it and get that stuff done, so that sits above direction, knowing how to do it, and time. But then above getting stuff done you need accountability, because often times without accountability you’re just not going to do the things you need to do.

So this is why accountability is so important and why I think it can have a big role to play in your success as a photographer.

An example of an accountability session

Now I want to show you what that looks like in the real world. In my role as a business coach I do these one-to-one coaching calls with photographers where we’ll talk about what they’re doing and where things are at with their business, and during that session I’ll help them identify three or four tasks that they need to work on in the next 2 weeks.

Then after the call I send them an email with a list of those 3 or 4 tasks, together with details on what they need to do and maybe some training on exactly how to do it because I want to give them as much support and guidance as I can, and then we chat again about 2 weeks later and I check in with them to see what they’ve done.

That way the photographers know what to do, they know how to do it, and they have accountability because they know I’ll be speaking with them again and I’ll be asking them if they made progress on those 3 tasks or not.

And what I find again and again is that this mix of accountability with direction and knowing how to do it helps photographers get more stuff done, and that’s when their business grows.

Now I just want to put this out there that if you want to see what that’s like for yourself then you can request a free mini coaching session with me, they are free, and you can kind of see if having someone keep you accountable is a good fit for you or not. If you’d like to do that then go to:

The 3 levels of accountability

So when we think about accountability for a business owner, I think we've basically got 3 levels:

If you're at level 3 then there’s no accountability for you.

So maybe you’re saying that you’re going to complete certain tasks, but instead of working on building your business things get in the way and you don’t get around to doing it because no-one is checking in on you. That’s the story for a LOT of photographers, and they get stuck at level 3 and they’re missing out on the money because they’re not executing their plans. There’s no accountability and stuff doesn’t happen.

The next level up is where you've got someone who is keeping you accountable, they’re actively pushing you to get stuff done, and they’re checking in with you to see if you did what you said you’d do.

So that could be your partner or a family member, or perhaps a business coach or a mentor. I don't know if you've got someone who comes to mind that you could speak with about keeping you accountable for building your business, but whoever it is, just make sure they can schedule regular meetings with you so you can talk through what you’ve done and what you need to do next.

The next level is self-accountability, and this is where people get everything done without being monitored by an external party.

Now it’s quite rare for someone to get to 100% when it comes to self-accountability, which is where they always check in with themselves to make sure they’re doing absolutely everything they said they’d do. So maybe you’re at 50% or 75% when it comes to self-accountability, and that’s great, but there’s still that gap where you’re not always checking in and getting stuff done, and you know there are things that are falling through the cracks and it’s because you don’t have a boss to report to ... because you are the boss. And that's where it can really help to have someone else who can keep you accountable.

So if you do self-accountability pretty well, but you know that you’re not at 100%, then think about bringing in someone else to keep you accountable and bridge that gap between where you are and 100%.

How to improve your self-accountability

Having said that, what can you do to improve your own levels of self-accountability?

The first step is to identify what you want to do in your business and where you want to go with it. It’s no good having accountability but you don’t know which direction you’re going in, so get that sorted out first.

The second thing is to know how to move your business forward in that journey. For example, if you want to, say, get an extra 10 real estate clients before the end of the year, then you need to know how you’re going to do that.

The third thing you need is set a deadline for completing tasks, and even set deadlines for completing subtasks within the broader task. For example, your deadline to build your new website might be 2 months from now, but then you might set other deadlines for completing certain pages on your site. So maybe you finish your homepage within 2 weeks from now, then you finish your about page within 4 weeks from now. So those are your subtasks within the overall task.

Now so far you’ve defined what to do, you’ve defined how you’ll do it and when you’ll do it, but the next task is to open up time in your schedule to do those tasks. So it’s no good to set a deadline for a task for 2 weeks from now, but you’ve got no time to actually work on it so you never even get started. So if you want to increase your self-accountability you need to make time to do everything, and exactly how you do that will vary, but it’s important that you make time or you’ll never get these things done.

The fifth thing is to actually do the things you need to do. So we’re talking about setting time aside for certain tasks, then knuckling down and getting stuff done, and that flows into the sixth and final thing on our list – set regular self-accountability sessions to see if you are actually doing what you said you would do.

So if you say you’re going to create a new homepage for your website by the end of the month, then put an entry into your calendar to check in with yourself at that time to see if you did all that you needed to do. If you did, great, you can move onto the next task. If you didn’t then set another date to check in and go through this process again.

So that’s what you need to do to keep yourself accountable, but if you know that you’re never going to be that great at doing all of that then look for someone who can keep you accountable and help you with knowing where you’re going with your business and what you need to do.

Is it worth investing in accountability?

Now the next question you might be thinking is, is it worth investing in an accountability partner or coach, and I think it comes back to the numbers.

Let's say this is your business revenue if you're doing everything on your own and you’re growing by 5% each month:

So in January you earn $1000, then in February you do that plus 5%. Then in March you grow again by another 5%, and you keep doing that each month so over a two year period you earn a total of $44,500.

Now let’s pretend this is your revenue when you have an accountability partner who gives you direction, accountability and support:

And what I’ve assumed here is that this accountability means you’re growing by 10% each month instead of 5% - so with just an extra 5% growth you do $88,500 over two years.

So that gives you an extra $44,000 and as you can see it’s just about doing a little bit better every month, and the numbers accumulate. But that change only happens when you execute your plans, and you execute your plans when you have someone to keep you accountable.

Now I can’t guarantee those same results for you – your numbers may be very different. They may be less, they may be more.

But what I hope you can see is that an investment in accountability is a smart move if you aren’t at 100% when it comes to self-accountability, and from what I’ve seen I think that applies to most photographers out there. Most of you have the best of intentions, you want to be doing more, but staying accountable is hard when you’re trying to do it on your own. I get that.

But what’s important here is that you can choose to do something about it, and as we’ve just seen, even if there is a cost involved it’s likely that the financial benefits for you will far outweigh the costs.

So what I would encourage you to do is to go and do something about it right now or maybe put something in your diary and block out some time to either make yourself accountable for all the things you need to do to build your photography business, or find someone who can keep you accountable and guide you on what to do, how to do it and help you with the time to get it all done.

And again, maybe you’re not sure if that’s really what you need, and that’s totally understandable, so if you want to give it a try and see if an accountability coach will help you then you’re welcome to do a session with me, it’s all free, and you can find out more at