I can’t believe I’m writing a post today celebrating four years in business. I’ve decided to mark the occasion by sharing four of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ve given this post a lot of thought. Over the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about myself, photography, how to work with others, and how to run a business. But the four lessons I’m sharing today are the standout lessons that I would share with Day 1 Katie, or anyone who came up to me and asked, “What do you wish you had known that first year?”
I’ve been through several highs and lows with my business. Moving from Virginia to Kentucky was exciting, but also felt like I was knocking down everything I had built and starting from scratch. COVID was also an extremely tough year, with a lot of hard conversations and difficult decisions. But, I’ve also faced a lot of highs! Next month, I’m flying down to Jamaica to shoot a wedding! I have two destination weddings on the calendar this year. I have twenty five weddings this year! In 2019 my first relocation year, I ended up with 20 weddings. I’ve had venues on my list for years, that I keep getting to check off the list. I work with brides that feel like my best friends.
I have come a long way in the last four years. In four years, here are four lessons I’ve learned.
Make it legal every time. Insurance, contracts, taxes… It goes on. Figuring out the right way to do things in my business over the last four years has been challenging. And, I’m still figuring things out. But, the sooner you can get things straightened out on the legal side of your business, the better.
Create repeatable systems and processes. When I was first starting out, I didn’t have any systems in place. Every single client had a different experience. For example, I handled every inquiry different. Sometimes we would chat over the phone. Sometimes I would drive an hour just to talk for fifteen minutes. I would never know what to expect and felt unprepared because nothing was ever the same. I l quickly learned that if I did things the exact same way with a client every single time, I would be more prepared, productive, and have happier clients.
Once I found the best way to handle my inquiries, I wrote it down, and created a system. I applied this idea to my entire business. I have a process for how I pay my quarterly taxes, how I handle my inbox, and from booking to wedding day for every client. I am always making tiny adjustments, but this works well for me.
Having written processes, templates, and system means I can be more productive, work less, and have happier clients in the end.
Outsource whenever you can. I’m thankful that I came across this idea earlier rather than later in my business, and I try to apply it to my life, not just my business. I still remember listening to Jenna Kutcher’s podcast on my way to work a few years ago, and being a little bit skeptical about the idea. Outsourcing is handing-off something in your business to others who can do it more efficiently than you. For a photographer that can look like outsourcing your editing, social media, marketing, album design, bookkeeping, website & logo design, etc. When I’m not spending time on tasks I’m not great at, I have more time to spend on the things I am passionate about.
Keep your blinders on. I feel like I’ve talked about this before, but it’s so important. I don’t even know if it’s a lesson I’ve learned, or if it’s more of a lesson I’m still learning. Don’t play the comparison game.
I would say I follow HUNDREDS of fellow wedding photographers on Instagram. That can be difficult when I’m trying to hone in on my style, and simply stay in my own lane. I do a lot of work to avoid the comparison game. I’ll hide Instagram on my phone, turn off notifications, delete the app for a few days, etc. I really like the quote, “Don’t compare your day one to someone else’s day one hundred.” It’s not fair to yourself, or to them.
Creatively, it’s also difficult to stay true to your style when you’re worried about what everyone else is doing.
I hope I’m here writing a blog post about what I’ve learned after ten years of running a business.
For right now, I’m happy to have weddings on my calendar, and brides that I love working with. Thanks for reading!
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