I like it when other photographers talk about what they did wrong when they started their business, or what their weaknesses are. I love it when photographers are honest. Sometimes it’s more inspiring hearing how they failed than how they succeeded, because it fills me with hope. I think, “Oh man, I did that too! But they survived, so I probably will as well.”
It makes me realize that none of us are perfect, none of us go into this knowing exactly what we’re doing – business wise. Even that super busy, fabulous photographer with a zillion clients fell flat on her face a time or two in the beginning. Just like me. Hearing someone talk openly and honestly about their mistakes fills me with so much more admiration for them. Because none of us are perfect. And if you act like you’ve always had a stellar, perfect business… that you always had tons of clients… that you never struggled through writing a business plan and figuring out this crazy marketing stuff… then you might just be lying to yourself. (Or maybe you’re just way luckier than the rest of us.)
Sometimes this blog gets to be all “kittens and rainbows and cute babies and nice couples and OMG MY JOB RULES – IT’S NEVER BAD!!!!!” And to be honest, that is truly how I feel 98% of the time. Your worst day falling flat on your face doing what you love, is still better than your best day doing something you hate. But I do want to be honest and say… I have done some things WAY WRONG in this first year. I have taken some stupid chances. I have put money into silly things. I have made all kinds of mistakes. I did not know the first thing about running a business when I started this little venture. Whoa, right?
Monday marks Katie Jane Parker Photography‘s first anniversary. A year ago, I quit my 9 to 5, and started chasing this totally crazy dream I had. And it was scary as hell. You know… it’s still scary as hell. But I’m here. Am I still struggling? You bet. I never know what each day will bring; I never know how many clients I’ll end up with each month.
So what lessons did I learn this year? What did I do wrong? Sometimes I took rejection too personally, that’s for sure. Boy, did I take rejection personally from time to time. I didn’t have enough confidence in my work. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m not a bad photographer. But I let doubts get into my head, and convince me to do stupid things like lower my prices once. I should have stood by my work and my abilities. I spent money on advertising that went absolutely nowhere – Google ads, Facebook ads… silly things.
But those were all lessons I had to learn. I don’t take rejection personally anymore – usually it’s for monetary reasons, and you know, I get that. I have so much more confidence in my work. I’ll stand by it no matter what now. And I know where not to waste advertising money, that’s for sure.
It’s been hard. It’s been painful. But it’s also been the greatest experience of my life. And the smartest thing I ever did for myself.
Next week will be full of lots of celebrating; lots of happiness that I made it through my first year – intact. But I wanted to stop for a moment, I wanted to acknowledge that this hasn’t been easy; this it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and that I failed – A LOT – and wanted to close up shop from time to time. There were days I went trolling Craigslist looking for a normal 9 to 5 job again… no joke. I wanted to be honest about what this process has been like… for myself and for you guys.
I messed up. A LOT. And I’m going to make a ton of mistakes in year two, no doubt. And that’s okay. That’s what has to happen.
If you’re a photographer reading this – what mistakes have you made in your business? What do you wish you had done differently?