I can't tell you how many times I get asked, "How do you do it? How did you do it? How do you manage it all?"
Well, let me tell you, I am no super hero, but I can function on little sleep and I love my caffeine! :) I think my simplest answer is, passion. I'm quite obsessed with my job and as my business grew, so did my passion. I never felt like I was working when I was putting in tons of late nights/early mornings/weekends. I LOVED every second, I still do! The late nights and weekends have pretty much gone away, but the long hours are still there! They always say, "when you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." I think that's very true for the most part. Don't get me wrong, I'm human and there are days I'd rather be on my couch, in my pj's, watching mindless crap!
I built a 6 figure business in just under three years, crazy eh? I think so too! But don't think for one second that I'm over here just snapping images and playing in Photoshop while getting super rich. WRONG!
A lot of time and money go right back into building a business. A LOT. I've already mentioned my long hours. I mean looooong hours. Literally, 6am to 2am sometimes. I'm not kidding. Fall is not for the weak in photographer world!
Yes, my time is spent capturing beautiful people, but that's about 30% of my time... if that. The majority goes into correspondence, scheduling, marketing (thank God for my assistants on this), planning, networking, and education. Not to mention business aspects- money, receipts, bookkeeping, etc
Photography is one of the few trades that does not require a degree, but if you think you can just pick up a DSLR and you're suddenly a "professional photographer", you couldn't be more wrong! I don't think I felt comfortable proclaiming a "professional photographer" status until I was well into this business... like well into it. Sometimes, I still doubt myself! Ha, that will probably never go away. I'll always be my own worst critic.
I have spent countless hours and lots of money on education. Tutorial after tutorial. Researching everything from lighting to posing to successful business tactics. There is SO MUCH to learn. I don't care how good you are, how professional you are, how much money you are making, if you think you're ever done learning in this industry, you should plan on quitting soon. Because your business will sink fast when you decide you have no more to learn!
Not only have I invested in education, but the props, oh the props! It's taken me three years (almost) to get my stash and it's still not complete. I'm not sure I'll ever feel that it is! I have SO MANY things for my clients to choose from during a session. I can dress a baby from 0-4 years old. I can even dress a pregnant or postpartum mama. But there's always more I want to add. Always. The newborn industry is making a killing on us photographers stocking our studios! Here's an example. See the teensy little elephant below? Adorable, so adorable. That cost me nearly $40! FORTY DOLLARS!!! Now, I'm not saying that little cutie wasn't worth every penny, because it was! I just wanted to give you small example of the cost that goes into running this business. See...I'm not getting rich over here...yet. ;)
Check out Snugglies on Facebook, she's awesome!
So what's my point in all of this? My point is, it's A LOT. Like A LOT of work to run your own business and still be a mom/wife/friend/sister/daughter, BUT you CAN do it. It takes a lot of sacrifice, especially in the beginning! You may want to specialize in a certain kind of photography, i.e. newborns or weddings, but when you are first starting out, you better take anyone out there willing to pay you. It's how you grow. Eventually, you'll be able to pick and choose what/who/when you shoot/work, but when you are starting, it's best to not turn anything down. I remember in my early days doing a 90th birthday party, an 80-something year old woman's model session for her dating website (she was so fun), and countless other events I didn't necessarily love doing! However, it helped get my name out there! One thing to be careful about though, is that your passion will shine through when you love the work you are doing. So, if you absolutely do not want to do a session, DON'T. It'll show negatively in your work and only hurt your portfolio instead of build it. For me, it's weddings! I've done three in my career and never again. It's just not where I shine or even want to shine!
Of course, there is more that goes into running a SUCCESSFUL business, but it starts with passion. You can put countless hours in and try to force it, but if you don't absolutely love what you are doing, it'll show and you will not grow. Can photography be big money? Absolutely, like I told you, I turned this into a 6 figure business in just under three years! But, if you are in this just for the money, you will not succeed!
Other things like customer service, your actual work, the experience you provide, how you price yourself, etc...also play a big factor, but that's all things I can talk about another day!
For today, I just wanted you to know that being a lady boss is HARD work, but so much fun and so achievable if you just put your mind to it and your whole heart in it!
Until next time,