1.) Facebook & Twitter are an essential part of my business, believe it or not. When you’re on facebook checking out updates pics & statuses, I’m doing the same…except I consider it market research. Social networking sites are great resources to connect with clients, peers, and leads. But every so often, I get a little lost and I update the most random status like “I’m eating a carrot”…yeah, too much info.
2.) Stop Twittering or Facebooking negative thoughts. People read yours & my thoughts. Hourly, daily, weekly…If they see a hint of negativity or hostile attitude, they will hide you after a certain point. I do it all the time. I have my bad days, and I know my clients do too…but if you’re a professional, please don’t post anything negative about your life or other people. Your clients will read this. If you need to vent, keep it short and sweet. Just think of it this way…Facebook/Twitter is like hanging out with a group of your friends. Some friends suggest cools things to check out, some friends give/take advice, some tell stories, some will say the most random things…and some will complain. Do you really want to be that friend that complains all the time? I didn’t think so.
3.) “Andrea, stop spending so much money!” The almost exact words of wisdom from my husband Mike. We just recently did our taxes and I had the pleasure of tallying my yearly expenses. They totaled an amount no woman, no matter how shop-a-holic she is, would ever be proud of. Yes, I did have some start up expenses in the past year, but things like the FUSION DVD, ACTIONS, CARD TEMPLATES, RIBBONS FOR PACKAGING are not essentials for the business at this point in time. Sure, they seemed like a good purchase at the time… but most of them resulted in a loss for the company.
4.) Location, location, location…I know I live in a small town, but that isn’t a good enough excuse to use the same location 4 times now. I find it a little clumsy of me when I use a location more than once. When I first moved here, I felt like there were countless amazing spots in town, but now that I’m a local my fresh set of eyes have matured into coke bottle sized glasses because I keep seeing the same places pop up of blogs.
5.) Less photo-shopping, more photographing. This one explains itself. I want to develop a style that can be seeing from in camera & not in photoshop.
6.) I specialize in weddings. I often get newborn, maternity, grad & family session inquiries which I love to take on, but I don’t specialize in them. If you want a specific “look”, then you’ve come to the wrong place (i.e. baby in a hanging gauze sac tied to a tree, baby in a basket, silhouetted studio maternity profile, or my favorite…hands in a heart on belly). I tend to break free of those trendy shots, because I know when my clients hire me, they hire me based on my previous work…which is different from the rest of the pack.
7.) Color blocking is not part of my editing repertoire…and will never be.
8.) Googling one’s self does not improve SEO ratings. For a while I was often worried my SEO rating because I tend to fall behind a few Calgary photographers when you type in “Red Deer Wedding Photographer”. After a while, I just gave up caring because I know that most of my inquiries are referrals from past clients & their families. So what if I’m on the third page… I consider it home now.
9.) Learning when & how to turn away clients. Yes, you’ve read that right… I am trying to learn how to turn away awesome business. When I meet with my clients for a wedding booking, I make a promise to them & myself not to book another wedding on their weekend (double header). Number 1 reason: I want to make sure they get the best service & product possible…and Number 2 reason: I really don’t need to book two weddings in one weekend. Besides being a full time photographer, I’m also a wife (who doubles as a marketing manager for my husbands realty business), and eventually I’m going to be a mom. I think it’s fantastic when I see other photographers doing 30 weddings a season…but I am not that kind of person.
10.) Be kind to your ego. I would often see another local professional working at the town’s gadget store (I guess since business get’s slow around Christmas), and we would chat/brag about business for the next year. One time, I was so tired of being hounded with questions that when I was asked how many weddings I booked for 2010, I immediately blurted out “25!”. If you know me, then you know that I only book around 12-15 depending on the season (see post #9). I know it’s wrong, and I truly don’t lie to my peers, but this was one time that I felt like I needed a quick ego booster. If you ever need an ego booster, don’t go around telling little white lies…instead get on with a peer network of professionals and let them support you with their criticisms, compliments, advice, and friendly ego boosters. What else are friends for?
11.) Reaching out to my competition was the best thing I’ve ever done. Hands down, best thing ever! I have met so many talented photographers in Red Deer, Calgary, and Edmonton…all because of our peer networking groups. I have never once thought in my mind, “oh dang, they are going to steal my ideas”…. F.Y.I : idea stealing is the best thing that can happen to a photographer. It makes your idea & work brilliant when it’s so sought after. It just proves you’re doing something amazing. Anyways, back to peer groups…when I first moved to Red Deer, there were no groups for connecting with other professionals…and that really scared me. So I went on facebook and started my own group called Red Deer Wedding & Lifestyle Photographers. It’s been over a year and we now have about 40 members (all professional photographers in Red Deer & Central Alberta…and a few from Calgary). Either way, its an amazing tool. We often meet for cupcakes or drinks every season to catch up on photography buzz & business. If you aren’t part of a group in your local area… get to it! What are you waiting for? Don’t hog your wealth of knowledge.
12.) I love wedding food. Make sure when you hire me for 10 hours of shooting that myself (and my assistant) have a place to sit & a plate of your amazing feast. Who else is going to write up about how awesome your food was?
13.) I need to give myself more credit. Maybe it’s my way of being modest, especially since I grew up being so boastful as a kid, but I tend to shy away from accepting my talent. When someone tells me they love my work…my first thought is “they’re just saying it not make me cry”. I need to turn those negative thoughts around and appreciate praise for my work.
14.) Grow thicker skin for criticism. Of all my sessions last year, I walked away with one unhappy customer. Mostly because there was a communication breakdown…but also because they didn’t like what they saw. That’s cool though… as much as I try my best at every session, I wont be able to please everyone I work with. I need to take their criticism and apply them to the next session so no other client walks away unsatisfied. In the end, as long as I can extend the olive branch and offer the unhappy client something in exchange so they walk away happy in the end, then I know I’ve done the right thing.
15.) No more blog contests. I had the most bitter comments from people after last contest for the Shannon Sewell Workshop because people were spamming facebook/twitter/forums for more votes. Voting isn’t about being popular, it’s about making your own (uninfluenced) choice. Whoever bitterly wrote those comments, thank you. I have learned from you.