Throughout the past few months, I’ve been a busy bee setting up the Female Photographer Association- especially the Shining Lights Program. There is a slightly insane amount of work involved with creating and maintaining a course that will take the business + profits of photographers to the next level – it gets intricately technical, in ways you can’t possibly image if you’re a bit of a technophobe- which naturally, I am.
But, amongst setting up subscriptions and learning to create videos and audio clips and amazon links and setting up lists and auto responders and all of that tech- trickery, I had this little voice in my head.
You see, on my course, in video one, I’m encouraging my Shining Lights members to share their stories. Where they come from, where they are headed. And most importantly, because before we can move forward sometimes we have to look back- I ask what is preventing them from reaching their business goals.
Their stories are amazing, incredible, touching, profound. We are being open minded + hearted + ridiculously supportive of one another. It’s a great community to be a part of.
Yet I realised that amongst all of the sharing, I hadn’t actually shared my own story.
So I want to tell you this, because once you see + get where I come from and where I am now, you’ll understand that you too can use photography to transform your entire life.
First – I grew up financially poor. Pretty much dirt-poor. My mum was a single parent, my Dad left when I was 3 and we practically never saw him again, unless twice counts. My mum worked herself to the bone to support us. I learned money was a source of stress, worry. That it was ultra-important to get a ‘good job’ and stick to it and basically, become a slave to the 9-5 because that is what kept you safe.
What did your childhood teach you about money?
I also learned almost nothing about how to handle money. So in my twenties I blew whatever money I had, because I was afraid of it. I didn’t understand that money could be an amazing pleasure, even though I was always desperate to have more of it.
I had huge plans for wealth that included a jewellery shop, fashion photographer (obviously), a top flying lawyer, a film company director, a cinematographer, and a best selling author.
But those things, for some reason, didn’t fall straight into my lap. And I couldn’t understand why. It’s not like I wasn’t passionate. It wasn’t like I wasn’t prepared to work hard. It’s not like I didn’t have subject knowledge or marketing knowledge. I had lots of both.
Perhaps if your photography business isn’t where it should be right now – it’s not reaching the financial goals that you have for it, or it’s causing you to work almost all of the time to be ‘successful’, or it’s not pulling in the dream clients that you would like- then perhaps you are at this stage. Perhaps you just don’t understand what you are doing wrong. After all, you know how to use your camera. You know how to market your business. You have some bookings. Perhaps you’ve even been published. But for some reason, your business isn’t providing you with that wonderful, overflowing sense of abundance that you would like. And I’m not just talking money here. I’m talking money AND lifestyle. Is this you? Read on to discover what I did to fix this.
In my 30th year I had my lightbulb moment. You know when all of a sudden you just get something. For the first time, I just got it.
I all of a sudden had these huge realisations about money and success and how I could truly use my business to make all of my dreams become a reality.
And I used them. I used them and now we are living a laptop lifestyle in beautiful Cyprus. A warm land full of sea and sky + safety for our kids. We have a beautiful home, a pool, and spend much of our time at the moment rescuing stray dogs. Life is wonderful. Life is plentiful.
I literally went from being somebody who had grown up with absolutely nothing, to having the family life + home + living in a place that before, I had only seen in my dreams.
And when I used all of my realisations about money + success + business to work for me, I hit my first 15k month in business. That’s in pounds, by the way. So if you’re reading from America and want to see that in dollars – that’s $22, 641.
From then on, the only way was up.
And this is how I did it.
I realised two things- and if you want to be truly successful in your photography business then this is the part when you need to pay attention.
I realised that everything I had learned about money from my childhood + society was a complete lie. Not a deliberate lie, but lies none the less. I realised that money was just a tool that I could use in whichever way I wanted it to be. I didn’t have to feel guilty around having money. I didn’t have to work my ass off in a 9-5 job (or a 8am-9pm job, had I followed the lawyer route) in order to be successful. It wasn’t just about having my own business – it was about realising that the ingrained beliefs I had about money were truly sabotaging my own chances of success.
If you’re holding deep beliefs about money, you need to let go of those now. We go into this in a lot more depth in the #FPAshininglights program but I have to keep it brief here or this blog post will run until this Christmas. But if you want to learn anything from this post, learn this- you have to let go of fear if you want to be successful. The lies I had learned around money and the fear that it had created within me – that I was basically, terrified of not having any more – was in itself repelling money away from me at the speed of light.
It was preventing me from raising my prices. It meant I accepted clients who asked for (large) discounts. It meant that when these clients asked for the moon + back, I couldn’t say no- because I was too afraid to lose their custom. It meant that I worried about the competition, whether what I was offering was enough / different/ perfect. It meant I worried about money and spent far too long creating pointless budget lists only to watch it all fly out of the window again when pay day came in. It meant that I was afraid to invest my money in where I truly needed to invest it because I was scared of ‘wasting’ that money. It meant that I worked on dates that made me really, really miserable to be working + away from my family, particularly my two toddlers. Christmas Eve, for example. It meant that even me – with a ton of marketing experience + knowledge – ran around like a headless chicken who is worried that the sky is falling, scattering my marketing here there and everywhere in desperation that the money was just not going to come in.
And guess what. With that approach, no wonder it never really did. No wonder I never had any money! No wonder I had huge debts and hidden letters from collection agencies and was always the friend who couldn’t afford to buy other friends gifts for their birthdays or Christmas. I was literally, repelling money with my fears + beliefs about it.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
What did you learn about money from your childhood? How are your beliefs about money holding you back?
I finally understood how to monetise my business. Using a combination of marketing and products + passion to attract my target client and sell to them directly. Using smart language to sell prints every time I had an event. Diversifying my income streams. It all clicked together.
The biggest change I went through was realising that if I wanted to make my photography business work, I needed to diversify my income stream. (This article might help with that).
On top of what I learned really did work, I learned what didn’t work and where I was wasting time.
So many of us run around trying to squeeze more hours into the day, wishing for more time. There is no magic way to suddenly learn to manage your workload that will suddenly give you a zillion hours in the day. It’s about making the most of the time that you do have, and not wasting it.
I was spending forever editing my work. As a perfectionist, I want my photos to look truly amazing for my clients. So I would spend up to an hour on a single image sometimes. And not just that.
As photographers we are always taught it is good to have a ‘signature style’. And it is.
But not when it comes at such a high cost that the cost is your business.
I spent forever considering + planning my own, key, ‘signature style’. One that I would be recognised for and would create me my fortune.
ARGH biggest mistake. What a naive concept.
This is one of the things holding back so many photographers from earning what they deserve. They’re striving to be the next Leibowitz. They are striving to ‘make their name’/ But why? Are you chasing fame? Prestige? If so, then keep chasing.
But if it’s money and dream lifestyle choices you desire, you might want to forget about chasing the fame-dream and get set on focussing on your big-money dream instead. The editing process + the search for our signature style, that quest for perfection, consumes so much of our time that we barely have time for anything else.
When I understood all of the above- my negative money beliefs, my new money-making strategy, and what was holding me back in business, it was like seeing my world through fresh eyes.
Applied to my business, and it meant that I ended up with my first 15k month. I’m on target to double that this year.
Get rid of your negative money beliefs! Figure out how to create income streams that mean you aren’t just relying on your next client to pay your heating bill. And streamline your workflow by doing more of the stuff that makes money, and less of the stuff that wastes time!
NONE of this stuff is rocket science but it’s amazing how few of us female photographers seem to GET IT!!! We aren’t ‘lucky’ to be doing this job. We EARNED the ability to be able to do it. Now we need to be bold and brave and go out there and feel the fear and just say – this time, things are going to be different! And mean it! And take action!
One of the things that I took action against was my boggy workflow. Working through my editing sapped the life out of me. So I streamlined it; and the way I streamlined my editing process entirely was by learning to shoot film.
We all have our opinions on film vs digital. That’s not my argument, it’s yours. Neither is ‘better’, they’re just choices. Choices which are usually made from an artistic perspective- but not for me.
The main reasons I chose to shoot film? Plain and simple. It made me more money. I could charge more for it AND it completely simplified my editing process + took away the hours I spent editing at a desktop. How else do you think I wrote 2 books this year, had a fully booked season, raised 2 toddlers, completed an overseas move and set up the FPA?
It’s not the only way to do it. Digital shooter? Outsourcing your editing or even finding a brilliant one-click editing workflow could work for you (I recommend Mastin Labs).
But this is the way I chose to free up more of my actual work time and enabled myself to focus more on my higher-earning tasks.
Because I am a true film lover and believe it could make a lot of difference to your life, for one week only I’m giving away copies of my book Supercharge Your Profits; Learn To Shoot Film. It’s usually valued at £24 / $30 and has been featured on 35to220.com and Wedding Sparrow. You can read more about it here, but make sure you come back to this page right here to purchase to be able to gain it for free. But this is purely for this week only.
I’m giving it away purely because I think it might make one of those small differences to how you shoot + work. If you enjoy it and want to pay it forward, you could always drop me a mini-review over at firstname.lastname@example.org – or it would be great if you could share this post by using the buttons below.
But there isn’t an obligation. This book is now yours to do as you please with. If you print it out it might make a great coffee cup stand, but I would suggest reading it. If you’re an intermediate/advanced film shooter it might not be the book for you (try this instead) but otherwise it should start to open up to you the possibility of earning much more money from your business – film or not.
You can get your free book here. Click Add to cart and then View cart.
I wanted to share this post with you because I wanted to show you how literally anybody can go from making zero in their business + life, to completely transforming their photography business, if only they would take the time to follow the steps that I did and use them to enable incredible things to happen.
It’s nothing to do with social media or your latest instagram or your brand new lens (hate to break it to you). But it is everything to do with these things. Do this and your business will change.
Get right with your attitude towards money.
Create a diverse income stream.
Make the most of your available time – find out what is working + what isn’t.
Streamline or outsource your most time-consuming tasks.
That’s how you get yourself on the way to your first 15k month.
The time is NOW.