I leanred a lot in 2015! Lessons on how to work with people, how to work with legal stuff, how to work with myself... and a few things stand out as important enough to share with you! Below, you will find four examples of big lessons I've learned along the way. I'm sure I will have more lessons to share, later, but I'll just share these four for now!
1. Owning a business is not easy.
Hurdles, hurdles, hurdles! Do you quit halfway through a race and walk away? Nope... you keep jumping those hurdles because you want to reach the goal! Having been down the small business owner route before as a musician, I somehow thought that it'd be so much easier to open another business... second time's a charm, right?! Haha! From becoming legally licensed to operate a business to paying site fees to permissions to contracts to whatever else is required, if you're passionate about it and it makes sense to be in business, don't let the frustration stop you -- keep going! Don't be the person who looks back one day and says, "I wish I'd done that...". I've been in that position before, regretted it, and learned from it. If you don't have a friend who can advise you (Thanks, Abbey and Erin!), the internet holds an amazing amount of helpful information if you're not sure where to turn. Also, lots of Facebook groups dedicate themselves to offering community for people with like-minded pursuits. Find someone or something to help you out, and keep going! You can do this!
Do you quit halfway through a race and walk away? Nope... you keep jumping those hurdles because you want to reach the goal!
2. Know who you are. As a photographer, I offer an experience, not just images.
Last week, I had the opportunity to second shoot a wedding with a friend who is also a local photographer (Thanks, Jess!). We chatted the whole way to and from the venue. We both agreed that the level of importance and emphasis that should be placed on client experience is paramount. A great client experience isn't just a result of how well your images turned out, how many prints or downloads you received, or whether or not they felt like it was a good monetary value - people remember how you made them feel. I was raised in a home that heavily emphasized the way we treat others. Guests were to be treated as someone of utmost importance, no matter who they were. This upbringing easily translates into business! Just as I was raised to do with people who come to my home, my clients should also be provided with the best - a clean, friendly, warm, personable atmosphere. Clients should feel that they are important to you! Treat them with kindness. Let them know how happy you are to work with them. Ask them questions, get to know them - what do they do, what is important to them, how did they meet, etc. People generally feel good when others want to know them. Try not to talk about yourself the whole time. The experience is about them, not you. If they love the way you make them feel, they will want to come back. I'm thankful to have also experienced years of working in customer service. Nothing gives someone a crash course on how to be treated like having to deal with customers all day long during Christmas shopping season, haha!! Everyone should experience a customer service job at some point. Know the unique experience that you offer, and act. Clients will remember your efforts and how they felt when they left their session. Make it a great memory!
People generally feel good when others want to know them. Try not to talk about yourself the whole time. The experience is about them, not you. If they love the way you make them feel, they will want to come back.
3. Not everyone will love you and love what you do.
Oh, how I would love to be able to say that everyone has reported back to me with glowing comments and love after a session! :D (Don't get me wrong -- I have happy, dreamy clients/friends! This has only happened on rare occasion.) Let's face it, though - mistakes happen on the business owner's end, things can happen on the client's end, and somewhere, somehow, sometime... people won't like what you do. It's just a fact of life. Whether it's your fault or not, it will happen. There's always going to be that one person who doesn't like the way they look (ever) and they want you to work miracles in post processing. There will be the person who doesn't like your policy or procedure. There will be someone who treats you like garbage. It's so easy to allow a negative experience to overshadow twenty fantastic experiences!! Don't let this steal your joy. If you made a mistake, then learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. If you did everything right, take the experience as a lesson on how to work with difficult people. Find yourself a colleague that you can trust and ask them if your response to your client will be well-received. (Thanks, Erin!) Tread with kindness and care. To go back to point #2 above, continue with your tradition of client experience, and treat others how you'd like to be treated, even if you feel that they're being ridiculous. As a child, I learned the verse from Romans 12 that says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.". Yes, that example seems extreme - I'm not name-calling people "evil". The greater point from that verse to be applied - We ought not let others' negativity control us, rather we remain positive and spread that good attitude and joy. Be encouraged, friends!
If you made a mistake, then learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. If you did everything right, take the experience as a lesson on how to work with difficult people. Find yourself a colleague that you can trust and ask them if your response to your client will be well-received. Tread with kindness and care.
4. Have fun!
Do you enjoy what you do? Then, enjoy what you do! Allow your joy to show... it's contagious! It'such a joy to me when I have the opportunity to work with a family more than once and get to know them. If you love outdoor sessions, make the most of your time outdoors! Be creative, cozy up to the dirt and in the leaves for that shot you love! (Did I mention that I love being outside?!) Don't get caught up in the mundane. If you struggle to sit behind your computer and do the work needed in your post processing time, turn up some good music, grab a sweet tea, spray your room with or diffuse some essential oils that put a pep in your step, and make the most of it! Set goals. If I know that once I finish x hours of work, I'm going to hop up and go for a walk, I'm more likely to knock out my work. I like to think that I create my own happy and fun in life. You can make fun happen, anywhere. :)
Do you enjoy what you do? Then, enjoy what you do! Allow your joy to show... it's contagious!
Now, it's your turn! What would you add to this list? Please share!