If you've ever quit your day job, given up a regular pay check, and ventured out to start a business, you get a big high five from me right now! Because you're braver than most. And although I didn't exactly call myself brave when I decided to start my own business, I can look back and see it now. I was scared. I remember calculating the numbers and seeing if we could financially survive on just my husband's income. I did my research-I didn't just go into this blind. I don't recall if I prayed about the decision to quit my job. That's something that has completely changed in this past 2 years or so. Every decision that I make, I take it to the Lord. Sometimes I hear an answer, and sometimes it's unclear and I move forward in faith. But gone are the days of just making a decision without much thought or prayer and just asking God to bless me in the decision that I already made. We make things harder on ourselves when we try to do it our way.
Ever since I can remember, I've had a camera in my hand. It was always my dream to have my own studio and dark room (gone are the days of dark rooms now). But once I got into the working world and realized that I needed to support myself financially, I put that dream (mostly) out of my mind. In 2012 when I did some calculations and determined that we could survive on my husband's income, I decided to leave my day job. It wasn't initially to start a photography business; in fact, it took me several years to actually make that decision. I first decided to finish my college degree (Bachelor Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies completed in December, 2013) and then I said what in the world should I do now?
After some thought I came up with two ides:
Start a photography business
Start an event planning business.
Not sure where I came up with that second one-probably because most of my previous jobs included event planning in some form-but it seemed like something I could do at the time. So, I decided to go after my first passion: photography! It was a slow start and I remember one of my first newborn sessions I did with my friend's daughter...it was seriously such a joke! We used a pair of her hubby's black sweats to wrap around her to create the illusion that she had floating feet with their rings on her toes. We all have to start somewhere, right? Actually that makes me think back to when I babysat my young cousins when I was in High School, and set up a backdrop for photos in their home. I'm telling you, I've had a camera in my hand as long as I can remember.
That unorganized newborn session got some creative juices flowing, and I offered to do a few family sessions for a couple of friends to see if they liked my photos. They did, of course (or I wouldn't be writing this blog right now). I started charging for sessions at that point; if you can call it that. I think I was charging $50 for the session and all digital images which is absolutely not any way to make any sort of profit. Essentially, if I had run the numbers on how much time I put into a session, I was paying my clients to take photos of them. I raised my prices within that next year-but not by much. Then I realized that I never saw any of these beautiful photos anywhere in print-they would only get lost in a sea of social media posts. After taking business courses and lots of research, I decided to change my business model to IPS (In Person Sales) and focused on giving the client what they want (digitals) when they purchase what they need (prints, albums, or products).
I've struggled so much over the past 3 years-just to find people who value what I offer them and are willing to pay prices that are the bare minimum to support a business. I joined a very expensive networking group (that didn't result in anything), I advertised in a local magazine, and tried several other attempts to get the word out about my business. When none of these attempts were fruitful, I felt like a total failure and stopped trying. I was tired of putting money and effort into things that didn't work. Meanwhile, I had heard of so many other photographers who were making $2,000 or more per client session! What in the world was I doing wrong?
Well, first of all, comparing myself to other photographers isn't a productive use of my time. Comparison is the thief of joy-for sure! Secondly-what was I actually doing to present myself to potential ideal clients? Absolutely nothing! One would think that nice photos is the reason why people book a photographer. It's actually not the most important reason for people to book a photographer. They most likely have already seen my work (either from a friend, on social media or on my website) so they know that they like my work-but what prevents them from booking me? Typically it's lack of information.
2019 is the year that I have dedicated my efforts to finding the solution in order to provide all of your photographic needs! This year, I hit the ground running on making major changes in my business that I'm excited and slightly frightened about. Change is hard but it usually results in growth which is always a good thing. So, as I continue evolving my business, I look forward to sharing these new changes with all of you. I am hoping to be able to convey the amazing service and experience that each of my clients receive through my new website and social media that will be launching within the next month. I'm also going to be offering different services and fresh, new products that will enhance your overall experience. My pricing will be changing in order to better meet your needs and I will be offering new specialty sessions (hint that a very special petite session is coming up next month).
I'd love your input or suggestions on what you would like to see from me in the future. What questions do you need answered in order to choose a photographer? What things are most important to you in your photographic experience? What's your favorite print product that you would want to see on your walls or in your home? Or anything else you'd love to share with me. If I use your input or idea in my new business model, you will be entered into a contest to win a complimentary Petite Specialty Session. Send me a message: firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me via social media with any feedback you have.