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How to start building your photography business now

When I knew deep down it was time to make the leap and go after what I really wanted in life, it was pretty daunting. I had so many ideas, emotions, plans swirling around in my head, but I wasn’t really sure where to start. I just knew that my corporate career wasn’t meant for me to do long term. I loved the job. I loved the people I worked with. But…something was missing. Deep down, I craved more. I knew there was something else I was supposed to be doing with my life.

So slowly, I started. I took one step toward practicing photography at every one of my friend’s kid’s birthday parties I could. I booked a day full of mini-sessions. I got certified as a Google Trusted Photographer. I started getting clients from my husband’s digital marketing agency.

I started realizing what photoshoots I really enjoyed and the ones I didn’t really like.

The first step in all of it was just to start. I took that one small step.

Yeah, yeah. I know that’s easier said than done. Here are some things I did that really helped me. Trust me, I wasted a lot of time on things that didn’t help…but there were a few things that moved the needle.


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Every extra second of my day, I consumed photography and business videos on YouTube and podcasts. Peter Hurley, Pye Jirsa, and Jessica Kobeissi become my new best friends, even though I hadn’t met them yet. I devoured Lara Casey’s book Make It Happen, read more, studied more, and journaled as much as possible to make all of it make sense. I couldn’t get enough.

I don’t where you are on your photography or business journey, but I want you to know I’ve felt those feelings your feeling. Excitement, overwhelm, hopefulness, tears, and pure joy are all part of it.

Here are the things I learned along the way when building my business that can help you build yours right now:

Journaling

Start getting those jumbled thoughts out on paper. You’ll start to see patterns that will really help you discover what paths to take and more importantly, which ones not to take.

At first, I didn’t know where to start, so I just would make lists. Then those lists became thoughts. Those thoughts became patterns, and before I knew it, everything started making more sense.

Three years later, I’ve filled up many journals and love having these to look back on to see how far I actually have come.

Reading

Don’t spin your wheels trying to figure out something that someone else has already mastered. Reading business books is a great way to learn from those that have gone before us, so we can take those things that help our business and use our gifts to make it our own.

Planning

Do you know where you want to go? If you’re starting your photography business and don’t have in mind where you want it to go, it will be hard to get there. Each year I sit down and figure out my overall goals for the year, then work backwards to help me get there.

This also helps you make sense of all the ideas swirling around. Writing it all out, so you can determine what you should really pursue and plan how to execute the things you should helps so much and really cuts down on the overwhelm.

I love Lara Casey’s Powersheets. It helps me get focused on my business as well as keeping those things that are most important to me as part of my goals too. John Maxwell has such great guidance on doing an annual inventory as well.

Find Your Business Mentor

Finding those business mentors was such a help for me. At first, I started listening to everyone and their grandmother whoo spoke about photography and business, and I quickly realized I needed to pick my few go to people. It was too overwhelming having so many thoughts and opinions. I mean, how in the world are you supposed to have a good morning routine when you’re listening to 10 different people’s opinion on how to do a morning routine.

My go to people were my husband Dave (thank goodness he is a business and marketing genius), and then I went to the public figures at the time who were speaking about what I needed to hear at the time. My go tos were Rachel Hollis, Brendon Burchard, Jasmine Star, Tony Robbins, Lara Casey, Ed Mylett, Neil Patel, and John Maxwell. Depending on what topic I needed coaching on, I would go to one of them.

There is only so much you can really get from a stranger, so that leads me to my next point, connecting with other photographers.

Connect with Other Photographers

Don’t hold yourself back by not connecting with other photographers. I’ve met several along the way that are standoffish and don’t want to share trade secrets, and I never understood that. There is so much business to go along with and the people that work with them probably won’t like working with me and vice versa.

I can’t remember exactly what it said, but I saw a photo with these beautiful flowers years ago that had a caption about how we don’t see one flower being more beautiful than others. We see them all as being beautiful in their own way.

That’s the way I see photographers. Everyone has their unique way of telling a story and capturing moments, and I love learning from my photographer friends to see their point of view.

This is my crew of photographers who have become some of my dearest friends and people I bounce business ideas off of. We build each other other up, and I absolutely love seeing how this team creates all the memories from the Night to Shine event sponsored by Tim Tebow each year. This group is all so different, and yet every one here creates stunning images that tells a story of an amazing night. The more we connect as creatives, the better your career will be.

Trust me, you’ll have new opportunities because of it. And … as an added bonus, you’ll have a friend through the journey of starting and owning a business, so you don’t have bore your spouse with all the struggles.


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Connecting with other photographers will broaden your skills and the way you look at a subject. Plus, photographers are usually a lot of fun too!

 

Let’s be friends! Follow along @focuscreativeco.

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