Getting a Jumpstart on the Calendar Season as a Creator

Getting a Jumpstart on the Calendar Season as a Creator

Tanned and oiled bodies glistening on exotic beaches. The comforting smell of freshly mowed grass. The inevitable end of summer. While these may define the very essence of August, we should also acknowledge the fact that August is the start of the holiday calendar season.

Wait. Calendars? In August?

If you’re planning on shooting all-new photos, nailing down your theme and budget is paramount. Only after you’ve reached those milestones can you start thinking about your wardrobe and location.

If you think it’s too early to start thinking about releasing a 2024 calendar, think again. Planning, executing and marketing your calendar involves several important steps. For optimal results, you would do well to follow along with these tips.

Decide on a Theme — Or No Theme

Your calendar could be based on various themes and concepts, such as recreating famous photos, reflecting your various moods, having every shot just be you in a bikini or any other niche that aligns with your interests and your audience’s. Likewise, you could opt to simply build your calendar around your favorite social media photos. Either option works and there is no hard and fast rule regarding concepts or themes. Do what feels good!

Choosing the Best Images

High-quality images are paramount to a successful calendar. If you’re shooting new content, talk to your photographer before your shoot to make sure they understand your concept and that you will ultimately have the rights to use the content in your calendar. If you are using photos you already have, make sure you get the hi-res versions from the original photographer — and again, be sure you have the rights to use the photos in your calendar.

Consider the Size and Orientation

The most popular sizes are 12-by-12 square and the 12-by-18 centerfold style. These days, 98% of all photo shoots concentrate on social-media-friendly image sizes, which are vertically oriented. The 12-by-12 calendars require square photos, which most photographers don’t shoot unless specifically requested. Based on our experience and sales data from the past three years, the 12-by-12 calendar is the more popular size. It should also be noted that the 12-by-18 variation comes with a slightly higher printing cost.

Include Important Dates

Identify and include important dates, holidays or events relevant to you and your audience. This will make your calendar more engaging and definitely more personal.

Proofread and Finalize

Review the entire calendar for any errors or inconsistencies. Double-check dates, captions, spellings and other details.

Print and Production

Determine the quantity of calendars you wish to produce and don’t let your ego assist in that decision. It’s better to start small and reorder than to overorder up front.

Marketing and Distribution

Develop a marketing strategy to promote your calendar. Utilize online platforms, social media, email marketing and other online outlets to reach your target audience. Consider offering discounts, bundling options or partnering with other relevant influencers for cross-promotion to boost sales.

Fulfilling Orders

Delivery to your buyers is not nearly as simple as you might think. Over the past few years, shipping has become a virtual nightmare full of lost shipments and damaged goods. Finding the right fulfillment partner will make your life 137 times easier and in most cases, the fulfillment partner will handle customer service issues. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you followed this little tidbit of advice.

Now, if you’re planning on shooting new content for your calendar, there are quite a few moving parts and logistics you’ll need to account for:

1• Calendars go on sale long before January 1: You want your calendar to hit the shelves no later than October 15. You need to give your buyers time. You should also consider that international orders can take a while to process.

2• Theme, budget, wardrobe and location: In a perfect world, every model planning a calendar would have unlimited resources, but we know that’s just not the case. If you’re planning on shooting all-new photos, nailing down your theme and budget is paramount. Only after you’ve figured them out, can you start thinking about your wardrobe and location. These steps may sound pretty straightforward, but I’ve seen many a calendar go off the rails because they weren’t properly attended to.

3• Give your photographer at least two to three weeks for photo editing: There’s a lot more to shooting a calendar than just showing up to a location and getting your photos taken. Photo editing can be, and usually is, a painstaking process requiring a sharp eye, a deft touch and ample time to massage the photos into the best versions of themselves. Two to three weeks is about average for 15 to 20 photos, but I’ve seen it take a lot longer. Be sure to talk about timelines with your photographer so that neither of you gets a surprise once the editing process gets started.

But Wait! It Doesn’t Have to Be All New Content

Who doesn’t want to save time and money? There’s an easy way to come up with images without shooting new content.

For every photo you’ve posted on social media over the past year, odds are you have five to 50 additional photos from that same set that you didn’t post. Use them! The set has already proven to be well-liked and chances are you need only pay to get them edited or retouched; that’s a far cry from having to go through the pain and expense of shooting all-new calendar content. You only need 15 photos for a premium calendar, accounting for the front and back covers, centerfold spread and one photo for each month. Surely you have 15 great photos in your library from this year that you haven’t posted yet?

By following these steps, you can plan and create a calendar that appeals to your target audience while maximizing its sales potential.

Danny Ferretti has over 25 years in the marketing industry and is the co-founder of GFE Model Services and FanGear.vip, a company that specializes in collectible calendars, branded merchandise and other model-centric printed products. For more information, contact sales@gfemodelservices.com or visit GFEModelServices.com.

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