A little while ago I had an email from another wedding photographer asking for advice in growing her business. She referred to me as 'a successful photographer'. It was one of those moments when I looked over my shoulder, and thought "Is she talking about me? Surely not." There's a big part of me that still feels like a newbie, that worries what more experienced photographers will think of me and is just waiting for someone to catch me out. It's that imposter feeling that I'm sure some of you are familiar with.
But do you know what - sod that. I'm owning it. I have a successful photography business. Of course, a lot depends on your definition of success but for me it looks like this - over three years in business and to date I've photographed just over 100 weddings and goodness knows how many portraits, newborns and family sessions. I've exceeded my bookings target for 2016 and I'm very nearly at target for 2017. I earn enough money that I was able to leave my day job and go full time and get this - I even started a private pension last year - grown up girl boss!!! I outsource areas of my business, I've employed an assistant to help me with some of my admin and more basic tasks and I'm expanding my business to have associate photographers shooting under my brand. Pinch me now.
I didn't feel like this a couple of years ago. I was newly self employed, feeling the fear and getting slightly panicky about how 2015 was shaping up. I decided it was time to stop winging it.
Let's be clear - I have had no experience of running a business before this. I've spent my relatively short working career in the public sector or enjoying the benefits of it's generous maternity leave. So it's all been a huge, and for the most part, hugely enjoyable, learning curve. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn't just want a mediocre business - I wanted a totally awesome kick ass business. And it turns out that doesn't come with fannying around posting pretty things on your Facebook page. I started reading about marketing, google, improving my website, attracting customers and so on and on and on.
For those of you in the same boat. Be warned. There is so much content out there to wade through. So many marketing blogs, video tutorials, courses, newsletters. It can get a bit mind boggling (and expensive) and to be frank, some of it's a bit shit. But there's some absolute gold out there if you're willing to look and learn. It turns out that running a business is something I really really love, possible even as much as the photography itself. I love a good chat about marketing, working on my SEO, reaping the benefits when the right kind of enquiries start to flood in. It's so rewarding!
As I've worked my way through the year, I've also had the chance to give other photographers a helping hand and this is something I've massively enjoyed doing. Which is why I now offering mentoring opportunities for other photography business owners who need a little help getting to where they need to be.
Struggling to get bookings? Spending far far too much money on advertising that doesn't work? Not happy with your website or branding? Falling into the pattern of buying a new piece of kit or preset as if that's going to solve your problems? Just feeling a bit lost and not sure what to try next? Yep. Been there. It might be time for you to stop winging it, to seek a bit of help and a fresh set of eyes.
Here's to a successful year in business!