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The 3 Biggest Mistakes I Made My First Year In Business

For Creatives

February 7, 2018

I remember when I actually realized that I could pursue photography as a career. Maybe that should be mistake number one.  Well, first let’s go back, way back to 12th grade AP Photo. Where I pulled so strongly towards this medium, but could never imagine starting a career with it. I wanted to be a Psychologist or a teacher. While I achieved degrees in both, I couldn’t help wistfully walking past the art department at Arizona State. Peeking into the photo department and thinking what if. It was while I was getting my masters degree that a co-worker had his engagement session photos taken. This one little thing, and it was like something inside of my brain just clicked. That’s what I want to do. I want to create. I want to give couples the opportunity to look back and know how they felt about each other, because of those moments matter.

Home I went, being this naive girl almost finished with graduate school and working a full-time job, and spoke to my dad. Because that’s always what I end up doing when I think of a big idea and him and my mom had me reach out to my Uncle Bill, who was a sports photographer. I spoke to him on the phone and gave me the biggest gift, a Nikon D2HS. I was so nervous when it came in the mail, I was so afraid I would drop it and that’s it, career done. But I practiced and practiced and 8 years later, it’s all I can ever dream of doing.

Now, the point of this post is that I learned a lot along the way, and I did that my messing up a lot. I posted giveaways that no one applied to. Wrote blog posts that no one read. Did all the things that are a bit cringe-worthy now but in 2010 sounded pretty darn great! Today I want to share with you three mistakes I made in my first year of business, and how you can avoid them.

  1. Not Researching My Ideal Client- I was just so happy to have ANY client that I didn’t pause to research the couples that would be happiest with my work. It’s so important that whether you photograph families or weddings or seniors, you create a brand that is polarizing. Not in a bad way, but one that gives clients an immediate feel of I NEED THAT PERSON or eh, not really my style. Guess what? It’s totally ok if people aren’t your style!
  2. Not Charging My Worth – Again, this goes back to just being so happy to have a client!  If you are putting in hours and hours of work and not charging appropriately, you will get burned out, fast. Once I realized I was charging what amounted to $5/hr (told you this post was cringe-worthy!) I changed my strategy and set a more realistic pricing structure.
  3. Not Creating A System

    – My biggest mistake in my first year of business was not putting together systems that allowed me to work on my business instead of in my business. It’s still something that I review every February to make sure I am giving each client the same level of care from start to finish. I also look for new programs out there to help with bookkeeping, email lists, and social media. As a creative business owner, I wear a lot of hats. Allowing systems to automate has allowed me to be more creative and spend more time dreaming up the next big thing for my company.

What roadblocks are you running into in your small business? Or if you have been in business for years, what is the biggest (cringe-worthy) thing you’ve overcome? I’d love to discuss it more, so make sure to leave a comment below or on today’s Instagram post!

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