There is not really a cute way to introduce this topic so I will just jump right in. A few things come with the passing of a new year, for most people its a hangover, followed by new years resolutions, and in my case, reflection. I want to lay out what went well this year and what did not go well this year so I have an organized list of accomplishments and “What the hell was I thinking’s” Let’s start the year out on a positive note and talk about what went well.
1.) If you have been with me on this journey since the beginning you probably remember my first website. You know that one that didn’t work? The one with big blocks of white for typing and all the pictures of my dog and flowers? Ya that one. This year I devoted a TON of time to creating a new one with a new server. This one is sleek, up to date, and FUNCTIONAL, which it turns out is a very good thing for your website to be. I love working on this one and have paid a lot of attention to it so I hope everyone likes it. I would probably prefer that all my clients go through my contact me page on my website if at all possible. I think it starts out the interaction on a good note and it keeps me from scrolling through Facebook all day trying to find contacts.
2.) Most of you know that political science was my JimmyJam in undergrad. I took history classes for fun and french because I had to, but nothing else. I never took a business class, a marketing class, and economy classes made my chest tight. So I had never given much thought to how to market my business. I mean why would I when I could spend my time shopping for more camera stuff? I think in 2017 I got a really good grasp on how to start marketing myself and I became acquainted with my brand. I voluntarily listen to marketing podcasts now and I spend genuine time on creating new ideas with intention. Its one of the things I never thought I could love.
3.) Pricing. This is a category that I feel could be both. One the one hand I still don’t feel like I have done all the research I can on how to price myself for my area, skill level, and for profit. On the other hand, however, I feel like I am priced closer to what I am worth and I am so happy that I made the decision to publish my prices. It means that my ideal clients can find me faster and know that I am there perfect photographer quicker.
4.) Community is a big thing that I have struggled with in 2017 but I feel like its a positive because I am on the right track. I see a bunch of entrepreneurs that say things like “I am so supportive of my competition because we all rise together” and “I am not bothered by this person or that thing” and while that is good and all, I sit and wonder WTF most of the time. I have always been an athlete so I am overtly competitive in situations that usually don't call for them. For example, I raced a lady to the gym doors this morning and won. I have a very hard time being supportive before I am jealous or threatened and I am working SO hard on this part. One way I am doing it is creating relationships with other entrepreneurs in different areas and industries that are fun. Thus far I have collated with another photographer (my photography sister Elizabeth) my media production team (Aaron and Brett at Intrepid Creative) and the amazing Leah Rutliff on my style guide. These things fill me up with so much passion that I can’t stand it! I have some super exciting things in store for 2018 so stick around :)
5.) Education is a big thing for me. I think it can solve almost all of life's problems. Famine? Education. War? Education. Why we should never repeat the fashion found on Jersey Shore? EDUCATION. This year I decided to educate myself on off camera flash, shooting in manual, shooting in raw, editing on Adobe programs like a big girl, and all the business and marketing info I could get my hands on. I have already decided to invest in education in a large way in 2018 and everyone will lose their minds when they find out what I have in store.
Now for the big learning curves that I had to ride this year without falling off and killing myself.
1.) Learning to separate work time from normal time. I am SO bad about doing this, since my marketing and client interactions happen almost exclusively on social media and on my phone I feel like I am never off of it. Trevor has gotten very good at “reminding” me to put it away, but it usually comes in the form of a passive aggressive ninja. I hope in 2018 I can be better about sticking to office hours, not living in my inbox, and not refreshing Instagram every 20 minutes. I have already planned vacations to spend time with Trev and my family and I am so excited to unplug and not be afraid that my business will fall off the planet.
2.) Marathons. This was a big one this year. My first marathon literally felt like I had done just as the name suggested, run an actual marathon. Everyone who knows me, knows that these days I am not running unless something is chasing me, so they better run too. It was too much too fast, I had no time to sit and relax, and I found that I don’t really like a broad marathon very much. To me, my time with my clients is the most important thing. I found that I didn't like ushering someone through the door so fast I barely caught their name. I know that I will continue to do them because it offers a price point that some of my clients really need, and I totally get that, but I will never do them the same way that I did my first one.
3.) This one is a tough one. I am so conflicted on the topics of families. Again, on the one hand, I want to be my couples only photographer. I want to build on the relationships with my clients because to me, I don’t just love you for a day when you're paying me to love you. I sit at my desk and “like” (and sometimes, honest to God, “re-like” some posts of my clients) because I think they are bad ass. I snap my fingers in the air and scream “yaaaaaaaas” when you announce that you are pregnant or that you got a new job, because you guys rock. So I want to continue to be your photographer. But, on the other hand, families overwhelm me. Its just not my strongest area of photography which I realize is perfectly fine, but there is a part of me that wishes I had done better with this type in 2017. Both of the times that I had a remotely “bad” experience with a client its been with a family session and that bums me out so bad. So here’s to getting better at corralling kiddos and posing more than just two people.
4.) Communication. This one KILLED me in 2017. There were times that I would have clients message me and say, “hey remember 6 months ago you wanted to tell me this or do that?” and I would literally lay on the floor and wait for death to take me. I am just seriously bad at communicating sometimes. Especially when I am not sitting directly at my desk with my tools in front of me, I have a hard time completing tasks right then and there. So I will start being better at the inbox thing and I hope that my current clients understand how much I love them even if it takes me a little bit to get to their emails.
That’s it folks, I am so so blessed to have some of these problems, and to live the life that I do. I never once imagined loving my job so much and I have all of you to thank for that. 2018 filled up fast and I am coming to a close on the amount of weddings that I am taking, which again takes my breath away. I stay tuned friends, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Until next time,