So what exactly would I tell myself?
Here’s a letter from 2017 me to 2014 me. If you are considering starting a photography business, or any business actually, I hope you find at least one helpful piece of information here.
Hey there Nessa, it’s me, your future you. You, in 2017. I know you’ve decided to start getting serious about this photography thing you love so much. After hearing from relatives, “Hey, you should start charging for pictures” and “Maybe you should do this on the side”, you’ve decided you really want to give this a whirl. You think you’re ready to move on from taking pictures at birthday parties, family gatherings, and holidays. So I’m here to give you a little advice as well as some insight on the possibilities.
It’s okay to be scared. Just don’t let that hold you back. Because fear will stop you and then hold the door open for doubt to come in. Doubt is just as bad as fear and together those are worse than a wrestling tag team duo! Together, those two little words can and will stop you every time. But only…if you let it. Let me repeat that. Only if you let it!
Fear will try to stop you whenever you want to try something new, and doubt will have you believing you’re not worth more. Your mojo will be shaken, your confidence will be rattled, and they’ll make you wanna call mom and cry.
You’re going to be scared that people won’t like your pictures. Or that only your mother will like your pictures. Oh I hear you laughing! You laugh because you know mom will always like your work. She may not always love it but she’ll tell you in a way to help you grow. Like, “Maybe next time you should try this.” You’re also going to be afraid that people that aren’t your relatives or close friends will actually pay you to take pictures.
Meeting new people will definitely intimidate you. But those new people will lead to other new people. See where I’m going with that? Good. And this next little tidbit is golden for us. Your best defense against this fear? Faith in God. You know He can guide you and you know all you have to do is talk to Him. So do it! And do it often.
Be wiser about the camera gear you buy. Come to think of it, be wiser about ANYTHING photography related! Here’s the truth. You are going to wanna buy every single little photography related equipment, online class, or editing software you see. Bigger truth: You won’t need half that crap. (Well not all of it is crap but too much of the same thing can pile up to be crap.) I’ll share a couple of examples. First, filters. There will be some cool macro filters you’ll want. And you’ll get some pretty cool shots using them. But you won’t use them much. Save your money!
Second, bundles! Be smart when you see the word “bundle”. Because bundles will make you drool and move your mouse to the “add to cart” button so fast that you’re wallet won’t know what hit it. You’ll end up with hundreds of cleaning cloths, boring camera bags, memory card holders, and editing presets that you will NEVER use. So save your money! (See a pattern here?) You are going to want to buy a ton of shiny new toys! And even though I’m proud of you for realizing you can’t afford all of those lenses the cool kids are using and for leaving your credit card in your wallet, there will be times when you’ll experience buyers remorse. (Ahem, like those filters I mentioned.) Save your money!
Third, online classes. Now, I’m not saying don’t buy any of them or buy a specific number of classes. I strongly suggest you finish one class before you buy another one. Easy! Waiting 6 months before you buy another one would be a good guide to follow. But the most important thing is to never stop learning. Promise yourself that and we’ll be golden. Oh and don’t worry, you do learn all of this eventually. I’m just helping you realize this sooner rather than later. You’re welcome.
Organization. It’s been two years and we’ve tried to find an organizational tool that works for us and to actually stick with it. We have tried a digital system, paper and pen, but what works for us is using both. Our love of office supplies stops us from completely going digital. We’ll still need to tweak it as we grow but sticking with it will help us succeed.
Surround yourself with a good support group. You’ll come to realize that not all of those people who encouraged you to start this journey will stick around to be supportive the whole time. It’s not anyone’s fault though. People grow. You will grow. And all that means is that you will grow in a different direction, that’s all. You will feel as if those people don’t value your work because it’s not free anymore but that’s simply not the case. And it doesn’t mean they don’t want to see you succeed. So don’t take it so darn personal girl!
Now when I say a good support group, I want you to know that besides our fabulous sister Denise, the online group we’ve ended up finding is amazing! This after being in many photographers groups where we’ve encountered the pettiness, the competition, and the ugliness that comes with arrogance. You’re even going to come across other photographers that will make you so mad you’ll cry. There will be a lot of people that will test you, and doubt you, and people that won’t take you seriously. But those people are showing you a reflection of themselves. And those big bad wolf photographers will be a reminder for you to never be THAT kind of photographer, or person for that matter. You will say to yourself, “I am going to help anyone that I can in any way that I can.” And you will be a better human for it.
Back to this online support group of ours. It includes a group of “Likeminded Ladies” that you will call friends. It’s funny because this group of ladies includes women from all over the world and the most important thing that makes them ‘likeminded’ is a small but powerful word, respect. (Are you singing Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T song in your head? So am I!) They are all ladies that want to see each other succeed. But here’s the kicker…they won’t just be cheering you on in your photography business but in your personal and spiritual journeys as well. I can almost hear you sighing with relief. As you should. Because fear is also conquered when you have people in your corner ready to be tagged in the ring and fight with you.
Finally, positive thoughts breed positive actions. This is so important! As I mentioned before doubt and negativity will creep in. Just remember all that I’ve said. These are the answers to your most burning questions. You can do this. You are stronger than you know. You deserve to be successful. You are showing your kids that it’s never too late to do what you love. Give yourself permission to toot your own horn and pat yourself on the back. There is only one YOU and that makes you unique.You will meet wonderful people and learn so much along the way. Enjoy every second of it!
Go now. Be awesome. Be a boss. Be you!
(If you are looking for a great tribe, I’d love to share mine! Click here to join the Likeminded Mommas lounge on Facebook.)