Three steps to take to succeed in starting a business.
If you would have told this girl two years ago that she would build a successful photography business from nothing, I am not sure what she would have said. She would probably have laughed at first.
Three years ago I didn’t know how to put my left foot in front of my right. I knew that I loved photography and I knew that I loved photographing couples! I did not know that I would be head over heels for weddings!
In all honesty, owning a photography business is about 10 percent being a photographer and 90 percent being the CEO, Manager, Marketer, Web Designer, Educator, Student, Sales Rep, Author, Publisher and Artist all at the same time. Sound exhausting? Let's just say I have become very accustom to large cups of coffee and mid day naps.
It’s funny that wedding photography is such a glamours art, but as the artist, I spend most of my days with a messy bun, smeared off eye liner and sweatpants, oh and of course fuzzy socks, because no one likes cold feet.
My point is, do not let the world's perception and social media blind you from the reality. Starting and running a business is hard work. And every single person, no matter what their field of work, is going to have those days where they question; What did I do to myself? Am I even good enough? I will never be as good as them. Heck, I have more of those days than the ones where I feel like I am winning. That is normal! Sometimes I think I am just going to quit now. But then that small little flame that started burning in the very beginning, the flame that made me start this crazy idea in the first place, shines through again. I call that passion.
When you are truly passionate about something, I believe you will always succeed. As long as you put in the work. I can say that I want to walk one mile today, but if I don’t get up and start walking, I will never finish a mile.
So where do you start?
I failed before I even started. Why? Because I was 100% uneducated in my field. I did not have a clue who I even was as a photographer, what I offered, what I wanted to sell, and why I wanted to do it. If I couldn't answer those questions about my own business, how could I possibly expect others to, let alone want to invest their money with me. The first step is to figure out what attracts you to the field. Start fangirling. I have so many other photographers who I fangirl over. I love their work and I look to them for my inspiration.
Ask yourself what do you love about their work? Is it their style or their content? I always find myself being attracted to photographers with bright and airy work. Pick one style and stick with it. You do not have to be all things for everyone. It is okay to limit yourself to what you like. People are investing in what they know they are going to get. If I went to the apple store for the brand new IPhone and they delivered me an Android, I would be confused and disappointed. I deliver clean and bright images. That is what all my clients see when they view my work and why they are booking me. If they received a dark, moody image from me, I would being doing them a disservice, because they have never seen that work from me before.
I relate this to musicians. They all have a genre of music that they are classified under. They produce songs for that one specific genre. I’m just saying I’ve never heard Tim McGraw release a rap song and I don’t think I ever will, although that might be something worth watching.
There are many famous actors and musicians who were mentored by their idols. Of course, I am going to mention the country musicians, because I love everything country. Country singer Raelynn entered into the competition on “The Voice.” She didn’t win. She was eliminated. But that didn't mean she stopped singing. Blake Shelton took her under his wing even after she was eliminated and gave her the tools she needed to succeed. She might not have won a singing competition, but she just released her seventh single and a brand new album.
I found two photographers who were also educators. And one step at a time, I started to invest in their online classes. I learned everything I was doing wrong in one video after the other and also what I could do right! I took classes on shooting, editing, posing, client experience, and business ins and outs. I also found a community of photographers to share my experience with. They were there to cheer me on every step of the way. And please know that you are going to make mistakes. You are going to fail, everyone does. There are still certain things in my business that I struggle with . The idea is to learn from it and grow from it. Learn, fail, grow and fail again.
Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I think I might have found 10,001, just saying.
Manage Your Time.
You are going to spend a lot of time branding your business, building your portfolio, creating a website, etc. I am a night person. I would rather stay up really late to get my work done rather than wake up really early. Do what works for you. I also am overly obsessed with creating lists. I love feeling accomplished when I get to cross an assignment off of my to do list. One thing I am going to mention in this section could make you say, oh no, and possibly suffer from a small panic attack. I know I did at first. So you go on instagram, post a new photo that you are excited about, ding someone liked your image, ding another and another. Now we are clicking on your page to see who liked it and hoping they liked it as much as you do. Now your scrolling through your feed and you see a cute video of a dog eating peanut butter, so you watch it. Oh and that really adorable baby announcement, wait look at what this photographer just posted, I love that …. 10, 15, 20 minutes later. Sound familiar? In that 20 minutes you could have edited an entire page on your website. So here it is. I turned off all notifications on every single app on my phone except for my email. While I am actually working, I turn my phone on airplane mode, because we all know how easily distracted we are when the group message is having a Giff battle and all we want to do is win. Trust me, this was a huge part of taking back my time.
Don’t Quit Before Your Ahead.
“Fall in like with your day job.” - Jon Acuff
Author Jon Acuff, has this saying, that you have to learn to fall in like with your day job. Which means you do not have to love your day job, but you have to like it. Because without that day job, there would not be a dream job. Let’s be honest, you cannot start a business from nothing with nothing. It takes money and time. Learn to love your day job, because that job is supporting your family, paying the bills, buying your education, investing in your equipment, insurance, starter fees, etc. Without that day job, there wouldn’t be a dream job for you to work on after hours. Most of my clients and followers do not know that I still have two day jobs. That’s right, on top of everything that I listed above for my business I also work two day jobs. I used to feel ashamed to let my clients know that. But for what? I just started my business a little over a year ago and every month I invest a little more into it, whether it is education or equipment. Photography equipment is expensive and I am still investing in everything that I need. I also have college debt, rent, and bills to pay. If I tried to quit my two day jobs before I am ready to, I might as well just quit my dream now, because it will inevitably fail. Now is not the right time and when the time is right, that will be a whole other post.
What I hope that you take away from this today is that your dream is not impossible. All you have to do is start. Take the leap of faith. Someone somewhere is living their dream, and that is why the job even exists. If it wasn't possible to reach success then how are other people successfully living it right now? Do not hold yourself back. Work hard, work smart, and share your dream with the world.
Hustle and keep filling that coffee mug. You’ve got this.