The start of a new year is a great time to review the state of your creative studio. Your accountant probably has a list of things to do to get ready for tax time. But it’s also a good idea to check in with various areas of your business that are easy to forget when you’re busy. Use the following tips to get your studio in great shape for the new year.
Protecting Your Data
Creativity may be the basis for a studio, but every digital studio depends on data. As right-brained as we might be, it’s still important to stay on top of data safety and security.
Update your backups. If your computers aren’t already set up to back up automatically, and especially if you haven’t backed up your computers in a while…make a backup now, and then make a New Year’s resolution to back up everything regularly. Need more backup space? The post-holiday clearance season can be a good time to find deals on storage drives. Or consider signing up with a cloud backup service.
Verify your backups. Whatever backup method you use, test it to make sure a backup can be successfully restored. When a drive fails, you don’t want to find out the backup doesn’t work either.
When I tested restoring from my backups, I realized that I couldn’t get into my encrypted backup drives because the password I tried didn’t work. I eventually found the current password in my password manager software. I’m glad I figured it out when I had the time, instead of after data loss with a deadline looming.
Archive the year’s projects. Move any projects you’re done with to your archive storage. This is especially helpful if you need to free up space on a computer has limited storage, such as a laptop or tablet.
Check the archives. Got any old hard drives in the closet that you haven’t turned on in a while? You might power them up for a minute or two just to make sure they still work. With storage media getting more affordable for larger capacities every year, consider consolidating many old archive drives into fewer new ones, which also saves space on your shelves.
Protecting Your Online Data
If your studio relies on a strong online presence and web-based services, a few quick tasks can help maintain control over your online properties and data.
Check your domain names. If you have one or more custom domain names, sign into your domain name provider and check the registration expiration dates. Add them to your calendar as a reminder. If you forget to renew a domain name and it expires, someone else could take it over, throwing your online presence into chaos.
Also, type your domain name into WHOIS and see what it says. If it lists your actual name and address and you don’t want that info to be public, add privacy protection to your domain name.
Export your own copy of your online data. When you use an online service to manage email, contacts, and calendars, you risk losing access to that information if there’s an outage, data corruption, or a service is shut down. Google, Microsoft, and Apple all provide a way for you to export email, contacts, and calendars to your own computer:
A reason to do this every year is to keep your copy of this information current as it changes, such as when clients update their street addresses and telephone numbers.
Updating Copyright and Document Metadata
Update the copyright statement on your websites. If your website, blog, and online store have a copyright statement, remember to update the year on it.
Update metadata templates. If you include a copyright line in metadata templates in applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, or Media Encoder, remember to update those templates so that the correct year is included in files you export. Remember that in the United States, the copyright year should be the year of publication, not the year of creation.
For example, in Adobe Bridge and Lightroom, you can manage metadata templates in the Metadata panel menu. The metadata templates you create in Bridge are also available in the File > File Info dialog boxes in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.
Submit work to the US Copyright Office. If you operate in the United States, it’s a good habit to register your creative work with the US Copyright Office. While your work is automatically copyrighted at the moment you create it, registration makes it possible to recover higher financial damages in the event someone infringes on your copyright. It’s best to register work every 90 days, but if you keep forgetting, now is a good time to send in the work you created last year.
Maintaining Social Media Accounts
Social media platforms come and go. We sometimes forget to manage the profiles that have slipped from our daily routine as we pour data into today’s popular platforms.
Check your profiles. When was the last time you looked at your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook business profile in a web browser? If a potential client finds your profile, does it look the way you want it to, or do you need to bring it up to date?
Export your profile data. For some studios, their social media posting history on sites such as Instagram is a visual body of work as descriptive and impressive as a portfolio. You might want to keep “snapshots” of how your online presence looked each year, as well as having your own copy of the content you’ve created up there. (Also consider saving annual snapshots of your website and blog home pages.) The major social media platforms let you download your data:
Some services let you download your account visitor statistics. If you like to analyze visitor patterns to your profile, the beginning of the year is a good time to download the data for the previous year.
Profile data is not always easy to read in its raw form, but is typically provided in a standard format. However, you may need a programmer’s help to read some of those formats.
Prune old profiles. Do you still have an account on a dying network like MySpace? Consider updating or trimming the amount of content you keep there, or deleting your account entirely.
Keeping Your Gear Current
Are you running out of space in your studio? In that case, open your closet and get a head start on spring cleaning.
Recycle what you no longer need. Is there old gear that’s still worth something? Sell it now. If you need replacement gear, shop while post-holiday clearance sales and rebates are in effect. If you find boxes for gear that’s past its warranty or no longer has much resale value, recycle the boxes.
Check for leaky disposable batteries. Do you have devices you haven’t used for a while, and they use disposable batteries? Make sure the batteries haven’t started leaking into the device. If they have, you can often clean up the mess with vinegar on a cotton swab. If they haven’t leaked yet, consider taking out the disposable batteries until you actually need to use the device.
Cycle rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries work better and last longer when used regularly. The instructions for many devices recommend exercising the rechargeable battery at least every three months. But it’s not unusual for some devices to be left on a shelf and unused for longer than that. Look for these devices and put them through a few discharge/charge cycles.
Checking Your Cameras
Examine metadata settings. Make sure your cameras are set to the correct time and date. A camera clock can drift, and it might still be set to Daylight Saving Time or the time zone of your last trip. If your camera lets you apply creator and copyright information, verify that it’s correct.
Maintain camera flashes.If you own a strobe (camera flash), the capacitors can deteriorate if not used regularly. Fire all flashes at least once a year to keep them healthy, following the steps in this guide by David Hobby: How To Keep Your Old Flash From Exploding
And one more tip that doesn’t fall into the other categories:
Record your auto mileage. If you use a vehicle for your business, record the odometer reading every January 1 to simplify keeping track of your annual mileage.
Got any more new year’s housekeeping ideas for a studio? Post them in the comments.
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