Thursday, September 6, 2012
Quit Your Day Job Too!
When I was toying around with the idea of becoming a professional photographer, I was blown away by some of the gigs that these photographers were getting. It seemed as though they just started out being awesome and posted little to nothing about their backstories. I love a good back story because I know that there's NO such thing as an overnight success. No way!
In the year that I was ramping up to start up my own business, I watched one of my favorite wedding photographers, Sarah Rhoads, become a super famous commercial photographer and open up a new business with her husband called We Are The Rhodes. And there are other photographers out there too that look like they hit it big and the way they hide their bumpy paths to success does nothing for me. I will say that Jasmine Star, another wedding photographer that I adore, isn't afraid of putting herself out there and talking about how she got to where she is today, so I'm taking note and doing the same.
I'm going to share everything that I did or will be doing to continue working for myself as a professional photographer. Self-employment is awesome and if you're passionate enough and have a crazy dream to follow, I think you should totally do it. So, yes, I'm asking you to one day quit your stupid soul sucking mind numbing day job too! Lisa and I are here to support you and root you on because we need more savvy lady business owners setting good examples for other women and girls. And we share the dirty stuff, the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts kind of stuff with you, which you should find refreshing and empowering because we did it and you should too.
What I'm going to leave you with from this blog post is one of the first things that I figured out for myself and that's my business model. It is based entirely on the idea of individuality and gratitude. If you just rolled your eyes, I'm ok with that because it took me a lot to get to the point where I have seen how being myself and always making decisions from a place of gratitude has set up a solid foundation for my business.
First, individuality - I believe that the ways in which I'm unique make me and my services more attractive to my clients. There's tons of people out there that are very capable photographers, but they don't have my individuality, working style or personal touch. The moment that I decided to put more of myself out there on my website and blog, my clientele shifted. I also became very technically confident in my photography, so that if you saw an image out there on Facebook you would immediately know, that's a Sarah Deragon, right? I was never part of the cool kids and so that has given me the confidence to continue to push forward just as I am - you either like me or you don't and I'm ok either way.
Secondly, gratitude - I know that I didn't get to the place where I am today by myself. No way! I am super thankful for everyone that supported me along the way. The ways I needed support while I was building up my business was asking for business advice, needing models (real people and professionals) to build up my portfolio, someone to make my first logo, tutorials on how to use blogger on YouTube, loans from my mom to buy my first camera body, feedback from my friends and family about the type of post-processing that I was doing, and someone to talk to about branding. Most of all, I needed a solid partner, my wife Natalie, who really pushed me forward as an artist because she's so completely grounded and is excellent in planning our financial future. I have a lot of instincts business-wise and she supported me 100% when making them and believed me every single time I said "I think that I need to do this for the business" - examples of this would be when I decided to buy my first full frame camera body or when I wanted to buy Lightroom to process my images or when I rented lenses to try out before buying them. She rarely says NO except when it comes to big purchases, ha. I need her fiscally conservative attitude, otherwise, I would have totally drained our savings with buying fancy lenses! So, even though I hate it when I can't buy something right away for the business I am grateful that she has our long term financial future in mind. Thanks also to the other professional photographers that I know, Sophie of Shameless Photography and Diana Rothery, who always answered my silly questions about how to do this professionally. I am so so so so grateful to both of them! I'm also stoked that now that I can give back to other photographers who are just starting out because it is when I start to share everything that I know, I realize how far I've come in such a short period of time. I'm also very grateful to the women in the two Success Squads that I run. In these Success Squads we are able to talk about how to navigate social media, how to price things, what to do when you have a difficult client/customer, and we cheer each other on. Without their support and encouragement, there's no way I would've been able to quit my job 6 months ahead of schedule.
Ok, that's enough for now, but what do you think you'd base your business model on? Tell us what has worked for you in the comments.