I wish I knew it’s a lonely job. Build your community.

Last week, I wrote a post titled 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting my Photography Business and touched on the 4 biggest things I wish someone would’ve talked to me about before I dove head first into my business.  So far, I’ve dug deeper into….
#1 – I wish I knew I’d work more than I did in Corporate America.
#2 – Investing in education would propel my business forward faster than the latest and greatest photography gadget.
#3 – I determine my self worth, not my competition or my clients.

And today is all about #4 – I wish I knew this could be a lonely job and the importance of finding a supportive community, locally and online.  Finding your people is so important.  The saying “It takes a village” applies to your business too.

community is important

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending 3 days away in Charleston with 5 amazing photographers that I’m thankful to call friends.  We talked shop, shared stories about the good, bad and the ugly, had dance parties and relaxed on the beach.  When I first started my business in 2012, I assumed that’s what every day of my business would look like – hanging out with friends, other photographers, and clients, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  I knew I’d have a little work to do in the mornings or evenings but still have this amazing work life balance.  Boy was I dead wrong!

There were times when days would pass and I didn’t see a soul, except my husband.  The dream I created in my head from what I was seeing on other photographer’s pages wasn’t exactly how things were turning out.  I saw friends and family on the weekends or nights when they weren’t working and if I could pull myself away from what I was doing.  I’d see clients for an hour or so when I was photographing them BUT the majority of my time was spent in front of the computer trying to figure everything out from editing to how my website works to how to market and what in the world is SEO…

This is where community is SO important.  Having other people that I can throw ideas around, vent to, share my successes and cry about my failures with, that I can learn from, listen to, share new techniques or SEO tricks with.  It’s my safe place that totally gets it when friends and family have no idea what you’re talking about when you tell them you’re exhausted from staying up until 4am getting caught up on editing and you still have to blog that session.  I encourage you to reach out to others locally and online.  I have communities of photographers that I LOVE dearly but have never met in person.  The internet is super cool like that.  I also have a small group of lovely local ladies that I trust.  It’s important to find people that bring you up and don’t tear you down.  You will come across some relationships or groups that don’t have your best interests in mind, aren’t your style or just negative – I’d politely exit stage left and never look back.  You have enough going on in your business that you don’t need added stress, anxiety or drama bringing you down.

Make sure you are being the kind of photographer and friend that you want to attract.  There are others just like you looking to connect!  Be vulnerable, take risks, grab coffee with someone, build your community.  You never know where that new friendship in life and business will take you.  Here is a little glimpse into what being open to new friendships and community has brought to my life.

Below are a few iPhone pictures from my weekend in Charleston with Melissa, Meredith, Sarah, Katie and Chelsea.  All of us are from the Charlotte area and embrace the idea of community over competition.  I’d hate to think I’d be missing out on these friendships because they are all my competition in business.  My life and business are better because all of these women are a part of it.

Genuine Connection

Want to be a part of our community?!  Melissa and I are so excited about our upcoming GPS Workshop in North Carolina.  We’re passionate about helping photographers, like you, grow a genuinely successful business. Registration is now open for The GPS Workshop. Come stay with us October 6 & 7 in a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Norman, NC for a 2 day workshop to give your photography business the direction it so deserves. We will be sharing the heart of our businesses to help guide you to success in yours. No topic is off limits. Won’t you join us?! Check out all the details here !

North Carolina Photography Workshop

 

I wish I knew I determine my self worth

Earlier this week, I wrote a post titled 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting my Photography Business and touched on the 4 biggest things I wish someone would have talked to me about before I dove head first into my business.  Over the last few days, I dug deeper into #1 – I wish I knew I’d work more than I did in Corporate America and #2 – Investing in education would propel my business forward faster than the latest and greatest photography gadget.  Today, I’m going to lay it all out there with #3 – I determine my self worth, not my competition or my clients.

This one’s tough.  We’ve all done it at some point or another.  We all compare, doubt ourselves, our prices, our client experience, our talent, ability to make it all work especially when we are just getting started.  You look at so many different photographers and want to be where they are.  You compare style, editing, shooting technique, locations, lighting, how many clients they have, their prices, their website, their equipment, how many likes they get on social media – it’s an endless mind game if you let it get out of control.  You base your self worth off of what your competition is doing when the reality is, you have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes of their business.  You should never look to another photographer and let that dictate how you feel about your business and what you do.  Use that energy to better yourself instead of wasting it on worry and doubt.  We’re all so different, have different styles, and want different things for our business, clients and life.  If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger business self  “Hey, you.  Chill out.  Keep your eyes and energy on what you want to do.  Learn from those you admire and stop comparing.  Your business is going to be just fine.”

One thing I’ve done to create a healthier mindset, I started unfollowing all local competition on social media that I didn’t personally know.  I was starting to compare too much and worry about what they were doing.  I also unfollowed any business that didn’t add value to my day if they popped up in my feed.  Value to me is anything I get excited to see, I’m inspired by, love their story or purpose.  It’s been very freeing to my heart and mind.  It sounds so simple but it’s been one of the healthiest decisions I’ve made.  Try it. I promise you’ll see changes happen.

Don't compare your business to othersThe same goes for your clients or those looking for your services.  People are going to say all kinds of things like “Your prices are too high/too low.” “We don’t like the products you offer.” “We only want 15 minutes to take pictures, not a whole hour.” “We only need 1 image, not an entire gallery.” And so on.  You can’t take it personally.  It’s totally fine BUT you know what kind of business you want to run and what makes your heart happy.  Everyone that contacts you is not going to be the perfect client for you and that’s ok.  We have to create a business that serves the client that wants the experience we offer.  It does take some time to really get a feel for what you want to create for your clients.  Just remember you determine that!  Do what makes you happy in your business and gets you excited to do for your clients.  It will show through when you’re working with them and have you falling in love with your business over and over.

When you start doing things because your competition is doing this or because your clients feel like that then you’re letting others run your business.  You lose sight of why and how you want to do things.  You forget it’s YOUR business.  The beauty of it all is you determine what you want in your business like which days you work and when, how much you charge, if you want to make big changes or keep things the same.  Being a small creative business is what you make of it so let’s stop letting others determine our self worth and get back to calling the shots!

North Carolina Photography Workshop

Melissa and I are so excited about our upcoming GPS Workshop!  We are passionate about helping photographers, like you, grow a genuinely successful business. On July 20, registration will finally open for The GPS Workshop. Come stay with us October 6 & 7 in a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Norman, NC for a 2 day workshop to give your photography business the direction it so deserves. We will be sharing the heart of our businesses to help guide you to success in yours. No topic is off limits. Won’t you join us?! Check out all the details here !

Education is more valuable than the latest and greatest

Earlier this week, I wrote a post titled 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting my Photography Business and touched on the 4 biggest things I wish someone would have talked to me about before I dove head first in to my business.  Yesterday, I dug deeper into #1 – I wish I knew I’d work more than I did in Corporate America.  And today, I’m share my feelings on #2 – Investing in education would propel my business forward faster than the latest and greatest photography gadget.

When I first started my business in 2012, I was quickly sucked into thinking I needed the latest and greatest ‘fill in the blank’.  I whole heartedly thought if I had the best camera, best lenses, more versatile camera bag, the newest props, more props, the coolest mini session setup, a super fancy website/blog, my own studio space, better lighting equipment, a better computer and so on, that I would have a better business.  That all of those things would get me to where I wanted to be.  Don’t get me wrong, all of those things have helped in some way but when I first started out, concentrating on educating myself on how to run and improve the core of my business the best I could helped more.

 

Education is power

In 2012, my photography business started in NYC.  We lived in a tiny apartment in the West Village.  Everything was expensive so I had to quickly get over the urge to buy more and have more for several reasons. #1 – Money was tight when I started and I still needed to pay my bills. #2 – I had NO space to store anything in a 400 square ft apartment where Jordan and I both lived.  So I resorted to the minimalist approach in all areas of my business except education.

I didn’t have anywhere to put physical things for my business so I invested the little money I did have into education – workshops, breakout sessions, going to WPPI, working 1-on-1 with other photographers and different online programs and webinars.  Learning how to perfect my photography, style, editing, workflow, book keeping, SEO, client experience, working with clients, marketing, blogging and everything else under the sun made more of an impact on my business than the newest camera, lenses and props.  I rocked what I had at the time which was a Red Bull book bag with inserts for my gear, my 7d and 50mm 1.8 and enough props to fill up 1 big blue Ikea bag.  Yes, all of my newborn props I owned fit into that 1 bag – a small travel beanbag, a basket, 2 blankets, a few wraps, headbands and hats.  That’s all!  None of that affected the quality of my client’s images or the experience they received.  It was the knowledge I had to make a better image and experience for them that made the biggest difference.  Think about it, having a nicer camera doesn’t bring you more clients but knowing how to attract the right client brings in clients.  Education is power!

I was very strategic in how I prioritized and budgeted for my education.  I wanted to learn at a workshop before I ever started full time to see how others ran their business and make some photography friends.  I needed to see for myself if this was really something I could do.  After a ton of research, I snagged a spot in Robin Long’s newborn workshop.  I’d only photographed 2 newborns before I went but it was perfect timing.  I got to work with one of the best newborn photographers around and learn the ropes from the start.  I met 9 other amazing ladies who I still keep in touch with.  (That’s also where I met Jessica Mitchell who I recently taught a workshop with.  How cool is that?!)  At Robin’s workshop, I asked a million questions and saw what it was like to own a photography business. I was hooked!

A few weeks later, I put in my 2 weeks notice to start Brittany Lauren Photography.  From there, I reached out to different photographers that I thought were successful to have 1-on-1 time with them.  I budgeted to go to WPPI the next year which was life changing.  I was lucky enough to win a seat to the Seniorologie tour Texas and, recently, The Thriving Photographer Mastermind in San Diego.  It’s been invaluable working with so many different mentors with different business approaches and shooting styles.  I soak it all in and make it my own to fit my business.  I encourage you to seek out photographers and educators you admire and would love to learn from.  You need to connect with those you’re working with.  It makes your learning experience more fun and something you really look forward to.

You have to figure out what works for you and what your business truly needs.  Don’t be ashamed of running things with a minimalist approach.  Everyone’s business looks different so stop comparing and start improving YOUR business to work for you!

North Carolina Photography Workshop

And if Melissa or I are someone you like learning from, we would love for you to join us for our upcoming GPS workshop!  We passionate about helping photographers, like you, grow a genuinely successful business. On July 20, registration will finally open for The GPS Workshop I’ve dreamed up with Melissa Lynn Hunt. Come stay with us October 6 & 7 in a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Norman, NC for a 2 day workshop to give your photography business the direction it so deserves. We will be sharing the heart of our businesses to help guide you to success in yours. No topic is off limits. Won’t you join us?! Check out all the details here !

I wish I knew I’d work more than I did in Corporate America

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting my Photography Business and touched on the 4 biggest things I wish someone would have talked to me about before I dove head first in to my business.  Today, I’m going to dig deeper in to #1 – I wish I knew I’d work more than I did in Corporate America.

The conversation needs to happen.  I always had the illusion that when I started my photography business, I would have so much more free time, be less stressed, have a flexible schedule, make less money but be happier, love what I do and be around awesome clients all the time.  Some of those are true and some just aren’t.  The reality is my schedule was flexible, over time I actually made more money and I love what I do BUT I wasn’t less stressed, I didn’t have more free time and I rarely was hanging out with clients because I was behind a computer all the time trying to run my business by myself….  That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I was daydreaming of owning my own business.  No one was telling me the cold hard truth, probably because most of us don’t want to admit it.

small business is a lot of workWhen you own and run your own small creative business, you wear all the hats at the beginning – photographer, marketer, email/phone answerer, scheduler, blogger, editor, social media manager, director of sales, bookkeeper, web developer, little errand runner, big errand runner, creative director, learner of everything, researcher and the list goes on and on.  Anything you need in your business is your responsibility whether you know how to do it or not.  We have to figure it out until we have enough money in the bank to start outsourcing some of these areas.  The hardest part is that most people in our lives and our clients don’t really know all of the behind the scenes and don’t understand how much we are putting into this.  It’s not just taking pretty pictures, it’s the whole experience for our clients and the behind the scenes of your business.

It get’s better!
I totally get it and I’m here to tell you, it gets better.  At first, I did work more hours than I ever dreamed of in Corporate America.  The first few months felt like drinking from a water hose.  I ran full force at everything I could learn and do to make my business better.  There were long nights of editing and finding a workflow to get faster, weekends spent shooting and shooting, long days of figuring out what and how to blog/resize images/SEO,  hours spent answering emails, tears shed over never having enough time in the day then feeling guilty when I blew my friends and family off to work.  And then there was the stress I felt when I did spend time with people but knew I had 234,532,699 things on my to-do list.

Here’s how
Over the last 3 years, I’ve learned to create workflows around EVERYTHING, outsource what I don’t love doing and created a schedule that I stick to (most of the time) to create boundaries for myself.  The name of the game is SIMPLIFY!  My first year in business was a lot of hard lessons learned.  Now in my 4th year, things run MUCH smoother.  I do still tend to work a lot but it’s because I find more and more things I’m passionate about to pour myself into like helping other photographers and creative small businesses.  I’m naturally a creative problem solver and love helping creatives figure out how to work the kinks out of their business.  This thing we call small business ownership doesn’t have to be as complicated and difficult as we make it.  We just have to work harder at working smarter so we can make that illusion of a dream business in to a reality.

North Carolina Photography WorkshopI’m passionate about helping photographers, like you, grow a genuinely successful business. On July 20, registration will finally open for The GPS Workshop I’ve dreamed up with Melissa Lynn Hunt. Come stay with us October 6 & 7 in a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Norman, NC for a 2 day workshop to give your photography business the direction it so deserves. We will be sharing the heart of our businesses to help guide you to success in yours. No topic is off limits. Won’t you join us?! Check out all the details here!

 

4 things I wish I knew before starting a photography business

When I had the idea and passion to start my photography business years ago, I was eager, fresh faced and ill prepared. Good thing I didn’t know that at the time because I might not have taken the leap. For a few years out of college, I took classes and honed in on my photography skills while working in Corporate America. At first I had no intention of ever having a photography business. I’d shoot anything and everything in the evenings and on the weekends. I felt alive and challenged behind my camera. But during the week, at my regular gig, I felt the polar opposite – dreaded to wake up, push through, develop myself, move up the corporate ladder – it all felt forced and unnatural to me. Photography was my escape as I know so many of you relate to.

starting a photography businessWhile we were living in NYC, I started building a foundation to start my photography business thanks to one of my favorite mentors, Leah Remillet.  She’s a wealth of knowledge and I’m forever grateful for the things I’ve learned from her and the community I’m part of because of her.  More on that this week!  While working full time, I soaked up as much photography education as I could.  I finally had a solid business plan together so I left my corporate job in April of 2012.  The first few weeks and months felt like drinking from a water hose trying to put more and more in place to grow my business.  Over time, I realized a few things that no one was really talking about, or maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions, that would have helped me better prepare myself and business from the start.

So here are the 4 things I wish I’d known…
1. I’d work more than I did in Corporate America. (that post here)
2. Investing in education would propel my business forward faster than the latest and greatest photography gadget.
3. I determine my self worth, not my competition or clients.
4. It can be a lonely job. Creating a community is powerful.

Over the next 4 days, I’ll dive deeper in to each of these covering a ton of important topics I wish I’d known more about to better prepared myself. One of the biggest lessons I learned in the short stint I had in the corporate world was ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’.  Well I never quite got comfortable in that world but in my own business, I did.  It took some blood, sweat and tears but I’m living proof it’s so doable and FUN.  It truly is everything you make it!

COMING SOON!!!!
North Carolina Photography Workshop

I’m passionate about helping photographers, like you, grow a genuinely successful business. On July 20, registration will finally open for The GPS Workshop I’ve dreamed up with Melissa Lynn Hunt. Come stay with us October 6 & 7 in a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Norman, NC for a 2 day workshop to give your photography business the direction it so deserves. We will be sharing the heart of our businesses to help guide you to success in yours. No topic is off limits. Won’t you join us?! Check out all the details here !