As a business owner and blogger, the holidays brings out a bit of anxiety in me. I feel pulled between client work and family time. On one hand, I want to make sure all my work is done and my clients are happy… and on the other hand, I need to rest, unwind and spend quality time with my family. After all, this is why I am my own boss! Then, there is an added layer, you see, and in the back of my mind, worries about bookings for the new year are floating and saying hello, and sometimes they are screaming loudly. Can you relate?
Pretty soon we’ll all be sitting down and setting goals, but I’m happy to say I have a head start. I am now using Think Creative Collective Trello for business, and they have a board called Big Picture Strategy which I love. But in looking at the overall big picture for my business, I also reflected on what worked and what did not work for my business over the past year. I thought it would be fun not only to share my business lessons but also interview a few creative entrepreneurs who I admire and allow them to share their business lessons and what they hope to achieve in 2017.
I had the pleasure of interviewing 30 creative entrepreneurs and I will be splitting the survey results into two blog posts: 1st up is about Photography business lessons. I asked these 16 photographers for 3 business lessons they have learned this year then secondly what are they looking forward to the most in 2017. I enjoyed reading what the business tips these photographers had to share and feel free to join by commenting with your own answers.
Photographers share their business lessons.
1. Noreen Nooner Photography- Nashville Photographer
- Turn off notifications on your phone so you can be productive and a better business woman!
- Focus on what you love and what inspires you, and push that content on your social media.
- Invest in yourself!!!! Conferences and classes can be so expensive, but if you don’t set aside the money to learn, you will never grow for yourself and your clients!
Plans for 2017: I am so excited to create an even more amazing experience for my clients! My goals are to update my website, be better about blogging, and create an environment that makes my clients feel special!
2. Stevie Cruz Photography: Orange County Newborn Photographer
- Be consistent.
- Pricing is important.
- Social media is highly important.
Plans for 2017: Outsourcing what I don’t enjoy doing to become more efficient.
3. Holly Davis Photography: Woodlands Tx Family and Senior Photographer
- The importance of alt tags.
- How to get the most from Yoast.
- Holding firm to your boundaries of time.
Plans for 2017: Increasing my rank and market share in the high school senior space.
4. Susie and Becky, DC-based Wedding Photographers
- We learned that it’s worth taking the time to find the RIGHT people to outsource to!
- We are learning, again and again, the beauty of outsourcing!!! We love our editor, our brand new office manager, and Feuza, who does our Blogging SEO.
- We brought on two associates this year, and we learned that there are growing pains associated with every business change/growth – just expect them and roll with them!!! Don’t get discouraged—instead, just look for lessons in everything that you can take into your next change.
Plans for 2017: We’re looking forward to growing as managers – so much of our business is becoming about motivating and leading a team, and we want to grow in that!
5. April and Jay Photography: Indianapolis Wedding & Senior Photographers
- Sometimes you just have to raise your prices!
- Raising prices does not mean you instantly have more money!
- You have to put more work into your business than you do just taking pictures (assuming you have a photography business).
Plans for 2017: We would love to start offering in-person sales. We started our business off offering just digital files and seem to be stuck with that business model. It’s been hard to get out of that rut.
6. Meagan Ready, Tulsa Newborn Photographer
- Perception is reality (staying current and busy on social media platforms).
- Being quick in correspondence and turnaround time really sets a good times for clients.
- Managing expectations. Under-promising and over-delivering.
Plans for 2017: Emotionally connecting with my clientele more.
7. Suzanne Taylor, Bella Lei Couture, Virginia Tween and Senior Photographer
Be Authentic. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Plans for 2017: Shooting with emotion; making money; meeting a whole new group of clients.
8. Ashley Rodriguez, NJ Maternity and Newborn Photographer
- Blog, blog, and blog some more!
- Know the right keywords to get you found by potential clients.
- Get on the phone and talk to people who inquire.
Plans for 2017: Finer tuning of SEO on my website. Getting my business in order from a-z.
9. Alicia Watson, DC Cinematographer and Photographer
- In 2016, I have learned that there is no “right path” to success for you, except the path you take to get there. The journey may be slow and as winding as a mountainous road, but the experiences you have while on it allow you to grow into the person you need to be to handle your future blessings wisely and responsibly.
- It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and focus on them so much that you don’t realize that the line has blurred between inspiration and copying. Instead, trust your taste. Trust your gut. Do bad work so that you can learn what you’re good at. “Let your work move you forward”, as I once heard Ava Duvernay say. *DING* Lightbulb moment. We all have dreams and a purpose and we are each uniquely wired with gifts, talents and the right personality to bring them to life. And that’s where I learned I had to start: by embracing what I did well and who I am naturally and amplifying those qualities.
- I’m also learning to be/stay present. I’m training my heart and mind to focus on the me of today and to celebrate her. As ambitious people, it’s so easy to brush off our accomplishments- the goal we reached, the deal we closed, the smiles we provided- in favor of a shinier, more glamorous, more BOSSY version of ourselves, but today and every day (even on our worst days), each of us is wonderful enough to celebrate right where we are.
Plans for 2017: 2016 has been a year of unexpected growth in so many different areas of my life and I look forward to continuing to grow in 2017. I plan to be more open with my story, more visible, showing up both online and offline and to make more genuine connections with some of the amazing people I’ve met lately.
10. Karrie Davis Photography: South Jersey Family Photographer
- The best advice is to try not to compare or compete with other photographers or similar professionals. Just try and be better each day!
- Also, don’t spread yourself thin and learn that “no” is not the worst thing to say. Driving yourself ragged does nobody any good!
Plans for 2017: I am looking forward to focusing on finding my ideal clients and making their experience with me the best I can offer!
11. Kandi Anderson: Nevada Newborn Photographer
- Just how important blogging and maintaining a website are. Learning how to effectively blog for SEO has been a game changer for me.
- Another game changer for my business this year has been Pre-Consults. I stopped giving out my pricing through the internet. I now schedule a pre-consult and have potential clients come to my studio. I invite them to come in for an NO-obligation consult to discuss the different options I have available. Plus, it gives them an opportunity to get to know me a little, see how adorable my studio is, and go over pricing and products! They can feel and touch the beautiful product I offer. We also go over what to expect at the newborn and maternity sessions. Now people don’t just see numbers on a page. They see the value of the service I provide.
- I also started offering my clients a beautiful collection of maternity gowns to select from (they have the opportunity to try them all on at the consult). It has really set me apart from other photographers in my area. I cater to the individualized needs of my clients. My complete line of accessories and wardrobe for use alleviates the burden of extra shopping and worry before the session.
Plans for 2017: I want to thrive and continue in the direction of the long-term goals I have set for my business! Every year I invest in some type of education. I am looking forward to several workshops I have signed up for.
12. Ashley Gerrity: Philadelphia Wedding Photographer
- Data. Data. Data. Feelings are great, but they shouldn’t motivate your business decisions, especially decisions that cost money.
- Don’t expect to be able to do everything yourself. Find people that you trust and share the workload.
- Treat Yo’self. But seriously, celebrate the small wins, take time out for enjoying life, and remember the reasons why you started doing what you are doing as often as you can.
Plans for 2017: Starting the year off with a stronger vision and plan in place than ever. My studio manager and I took a retreat to dig into the business financials, goals, and strategies from 2016 and made plans for 2017 with more intention than ever. Working as the head of a team gives me so much pride and responsibility, but I also know that I need to be better at sharing the workload, developing my staff, and helping them invest in the business. I already feel more optimistic and prepared for the year than I have before. We have plans on paper, scheduled time to check in on those plans, and we are going to stay on top of our successes and misses in the moment.
13. Kristina Ingersoll , Philadelphia Wedding and Newborn Photographer
- Specialize. For a while I thought I could do families, newborns and weddings – and now going into 2017 I have finally decided to just focus on newborns and weddings and I can already tell it’s helping my brand significantly!
- Over promise and under deliver, it’s said a lot but, it’s true. Makes people happy!
- The first year after you move markets, you need to spend some time every single day bettering your business and getting your name out there. It really is like starting all over again, don’t be afraid!
Plans for 2017: For the first time I am taking an entire month off from sessions to focus on growing my business, and I am so excited about it! I always thought if you weren’t working you weren’t going to make any money, but now I see the perks in taking a little bit of time off!
14. Stacy Jacob Photography: Palm Desert Ca Senior Photographer
I’ve learned to walk through my fears of trying to be all things to all people. I stopped trying to just win business that wasn’t my ideal client. I learned to outsource at least some things that will make a difference in me having more free time for work, strategy, and play.
Plans for 2017: Outsource editing. Take two days off every week.
15. JB Brookman: Franklin TN Senior Photographer
- Delegate the tasks that suck the life out of you!
- Learn how to be in front of a camera: video, Snapchat, Insta Stories, FB Live, etc.
- Create systems that allow you to work less and do the things you are gifted at more!
Plans for 2017: Scheduling all social media posts and blog posts.
Revamping website (before New Years). Spending more time marketing in-person with the time freed up from scheduling. Working off of a marketing calendar for the first time. Taking my daily habits to the next level (running, gym, nutrition, water intake).
16. Brooke Summer Photography: Denver Boudoir Photographer
Be YOU. Ultimately there are so many people that do what you do. Finding different products and offerings is great, but ultimately what will set you apart is YOU and your story. Keep moving forward! Don’t worry about what others are doing, be you and run your business in a way that makes you proud. Don’t let others influence your business decisions!
Plans for 2017: I have been working more and more with photographers to grow their businesses, and I’m excited to move forward with more of this!
Wow this is such great insight to running your own photography business. Thank you all who participated and stay tuned for part 2 of this blogging series.
P.S If you are a photographer who wants to step up your SEO game in 2017 then join my FREE DIY SEO 30 day Challenge.