Hi guys, today I have a very special episode on the Make Your Break Podcast for you. I didn’t have much in the way of education; all of my learning came from me going out there, rolling up my sleeves and gaining that all-important lived experience. I love teaching from that space. So on the podcast today, I wanted to invite on another wedding photographer and educator India Earl.
I really connect with India because I identify with her strong work ethic. She’s an industry leader, but she’s always out there, giving back to the community. I think she’s a great fit for the podcast and I can’t wait to chat with her. Different points of view and perspectives are hugely important in this game! Let’s dive in and see what insights wedding photographer India Earl can give us.
India Earl lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve noticed that a lot of creative entrepreneurs and industry leaders come out of Utah; must be something in the water! India is 25 and first took up photography when she was 14. She used her Mum’s point-and-shoot at first then upgraded to a DSLR with an actual lens. She was into surrealism and self-portraits at first and edited them heavily. When she was 15, she started doing photography professionally, taking family photos and senior photos of her classmates.
India started shooting weddings at 16. She tried college, but felt she didn’t click with it; even though she did a photography course, she didn’t feel like she was learning anything. She dropped out for one semester, and focused on her business. She put all of her time and energy into it, shooting 70 weddings over six months for very little money. She once shot two weddings in a day, but always made sure she was up to date on edits. She learned so much over this one summer.
I think one of the hardest parts of building a sustainable photography career is balancing the craft side and the business side. Most people focus totally on the craft and forget the business.
When India was first starting out there was no such thing as photography workshops. The mindset was very much competitive as opposed to community. In fact, she distinctly remembers a time when she asked an established photographer for some basic beginner advice and the photographer flipped out on her, accusing India of trying to steal her business. She had to figure it out herself, which is why it took her 11 years to get her business to where it is now. These days, with access to workshops and online groups, she sees beginning photographers covering the same ground in three years or so.
India believes that because she’s only 25, people think she’s had a couple of easy leg-ups. In fact, her success is the result of 11 years of hard work. There’s room for some luck, and yes, some people do get lucky. But without that foundation of genuine hard work, you will never be truly successful. She actually feels she has never really gotten lucky in her career.
I was listening to a podcast recently on the same subject. They were talking about how people sometimes get lucky, but are unprepared for the opportunity and don’t know what to do with it. I do consider myself lucky, but luck is such a small part of my life and business. It took a lot of free weddings and uncertainty to get to where I am today; that’s the stuff that people don’t see.
The popularity of online courses and community-based learning in the photography industry has been amazing to witness in recent years. It’s also showing people that in trade and creative industries, college isn’t always necessary. There’s so much knowledge out there, a lot of which is available for free on the internet. People can work from home, at their own pace. In-person workshops can sometimes overpromise; the value is in the community you build, as opposed to what you’re learning from the Powerpoint presentation.
In 2017/18, massive conferences became popular, with hundreds of attendees and numerous speakers. I feel as if they’ve kind gone out of vogue in recent months (coronavirus hasn’t helped matters). India has spoken at a couple in her time but feels like you can’t really connect with an audience because there are so many people. While conferences helped India grow her education platform, she prefers one-on-one mentorship or intimate programs.
I love getting up on stage and teaching at big conferences, but I also find it hard to make a connection, both as a teacher and as an audience member. I prefer mentorship situations because you can learn specific and personal things which can instantly transform or improve your craft.
I think India’s creativity is one of her greatest strengths. I was wondering whether she feels it helps or hinders her business side. ‘Creative’ is actually one of the last things India would describe herself as. She can work a camera, market herself and make people feel comfortable; but when it came to being artistically creative, she never felt like she was. She felt she needed to redefine creativity; she now sees it more as freedom of expression. India feels she’s best at connecting with her clients; so she put that at the forefront of her business and made it a constant theme.
She found herself in situations where she was copying something ‘creative’ that someone else had done, but found the resulting work was just a lesser version of theirs. That’s when she started to reframe ‘creativity’, making it about connection. From that, she gave her business a unique identity and started creating meaningful work, which other people interpret as creativity. Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.
India used to turn up to a shoot and force creativity, but it found that it took her right out of the session. The less she tries to be ‘creative’, the better she does. She also feels that everyone struggles with burnout and comparison to other photographers; the two often go hand in hand. India reckons it’s okay to have burnouts; they’re inevitable. They play a role in forming and informing your business and lifestyle.
I agree that burnout is an important educator. As you get wiser around business, you find the less you do, the bigger an impact you can make. Put less on your plate and you’ll get more out of it in the long run. Don’t focus on what works for other people, focus on what works for you.
India tries to do this now and again to stop the repetition. She’s trying to branch out into new areas. She used to hate the idea of maternity shoots and shooting family sessions. But because of COVID, she’s had to shift her focus away from weddings because she can’t count on them. She’s tried to shoot more family stuff and being okay with doing stuff she hasn’t previously been comfortable with.
India’s also been on the other side of the camera a lot recently, which is also way outside her comfort zone. But it’s been useful for her, as it helps inform her work with her own subjects. I think as a photographer, making people feel comfortable in front of the camera is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Empathy is one of the best ways to achieve this.
For photographers looking to add income streams to their business, India suggests reaching out to past clients and offering your services in new ways. You have an established relationship and they trust you, so it makes sense to let them know you’re available. Market your prints and albums. You don’t have to aim this at new couples; they can make great anniversary gifts a few years later. Creating online print shops of some of your hobby photography can also provide great passive income that doesn’t require much extra work.
I often hear that people only get married once, so as a wedding photographer you’re constantly searching for new leads. That’s not strictly true; you have a huge contact list of past clients who already love your work. Yes, they might not be getting married again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work with you on other commissions. They’re the easiest people to sell to.
India has her own online education platform for photographers of all kinds. It was initially just India, but she has brought on other teachers who she’s connected with and responding to. It’s a total online resource for photographers, featuring products, online courses and editing tools. India very kindly made a discount code for my listeners: enter in JAI10 at checkout to avail of 10% off your purchase.
I want to say a huge huge thank you to the wedding photographer India Earl for chatting with me and taking the time to talk through her early days, her process and her business.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Today I want to talk to you about shooting 4×5, or ‘large format’ film. It isn’t that popular amongst photographers today but that’s exactly why I want you to learn a bit more about it. Shooting and then developing the film yourself can be a really rewarding experience, so in this article, I describe the process of shooting large format film and why I love it.
First, I just want to make sure you understand what I mean by: ‘Large format film’ – it literally means ‘big film size’ and large format cameras use 4×5 film, so a lot of people alternate between calling it large format film and 4×5 film. Simple stuff but best to make sure we’re all on the same page!
Since shooting in 4×5 film is analogue instead of digital, it means that when you blow up the image from the negative, it can’t pixelate. Why? Well, because it’s analogue, it doesn’t have any pixels! That’s why a lot of people use 4×5 on big campaigns to make sure they get high resolution imagery…and as I think I already mentioned it’s actually so fun to work with.
I use black and white sheet film, usually the Kodak T-MAX 400 standard film that’s easy to develop. You can get 50 sheets in one box and you don’t even need a darkroom to develop as long as you have a tent – it might look a little sci-fi, but it works great! I use the tent as a ‘film changing room’, basically to get the film into the film holders and also to get it into my developer tank.
Here’s a really important tip: When you’re loading your film into the film holders, make sure to note the top of the film. There should be a white border – this means that the film hasn’t yet been exposed. Once you’ve taken the photo, that border becomes black so you know that it’s ready to be developed.
And another one: If you’re in a darkroom or can’t see because of the tent, put your hands in and feel along the border to find little bumps that tell you if the film is ready to be developed.
And another one: It’s really important to label the film with a piece of tape so you don’t forget what you’re shooting, especially if you’re not going to be coming back to the images for a while.
OK, so let’s climb into the tent (not literally) so you can start developing these photos.
In your tent, you can transfer the sheet films (usually six images at a time) into the developing tank and seal it with the cap so that no light can get in. From there, you can start pouring in your chemicals to start the developing process. This process is perfect if you don’t have a ton of space because it can all be done nice and easy in the tent or in the developing tank – I usually do it in my laundry sink at home!
If this process sounds a little too time-consuming, you can always post or take the film to your local developing shop. However, this can be pretty expensive and some shops don’t process 4×5, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm as well as shop about to get the best price.
One other tip: When you’re out and about taking shots, remember that you’ll see everything upside down and backwards. Keep this in mind and you’ll get better results. The camera also allows you to shoot both portrait or landscape photos, so it’s pretty versatile. After you’re done, take out the dark slide and make sure your lens is closed so you don’t ruin the piece of film and waste an entire day’s work.
Shooting and developing large format film can be a lot of work… Especially if it’s just for one photo. But, I enjoy this process because it is the exact opposite of digital photography – it’s tangible, challenging and really rewarding.
If you go out and do a whole shoot for only six images, the effort you put in to those six images will make you feel so much more excited to get home and develop them than if you shot 600 images and just have to go back and delete 594 of them.
And yes, it can be expensive and time-consuming but it also gives you the chance to fall in love with the images that you’re shooting. It’s good to try and appreciate photography as an art form and not just a job…. Just like when we all start out with our first camera.
I believe that large format film lets you to think differently compared with when you’re just clicking a button on a digital camera. Even the tripod that you’ll usually use for capturing large format film can create a unique energy, since you won’t be used to using it.
Getting out of your comfort zone and practising different types of shooting is a great way to change your same routine, and shooting and developing large format film is my favourite way to do this.
After saying all of that, this type of photography won’t be for everyone. You don’t want to buy a camera, film and developing supplies just to find out that you don’t really like the process. So if you want to try out 4×5 film without spending too much, you could try to ask a friend to borrow their camera and just have a play before making any big purchasing decisions.
If you want to get a better idea of what it’s like to shoot and develop large format film, check my video on IGTV where you’ll learn all about my camera, its parts and how I use it. And don’t forget to check out my other videos and Rangefinder articles for more tips and tricks on photography!
Hi guys, today’s episode is something I really enjoy talking about; how to handle negative reviews. As creative entrepreneurs, we create and sell our art. This can be hard to do in front of an audience, especially when we fail. You will experience negative reviews – you can’t please everybody. Not everyone has your best interests at heart and some might just be unhappy in their own lives.
It’s not about the negative feedback though; it’s about how you react to it. That’s what I want to talk about today. How to turn a negative into a positive and not take it personally. I get positive and negative reviews daily, so I know a thing or two about them.
There are three main ways we react to a negative review. First, we ignore the review and pretend it never happened. Secondly, we tell the reviewer to go f**k themselves and get into a back and forth debate. And thirdly, we react instantly and take action, resolving the conflict with empathy and open conversation.
I recently got a review of the podcast which wasn’t overly positive, but it didn’t come from a bad place. I looked at this review as constructive criticism because it’s telling me where a problem might lie. In this case, the reviewer found my podcast too scripted. I can learn from this, get better and grow. You need both positive and negative reviews to get to that place.
Let’s look at two types of people who might leave a negative review or feedback. One is from your fans. These are your clients, customers, or those who engage with your content. People who don’t have anything to do with your brand or aren’t invested in you are internet trolls. The way you react to these two people are totally different.
If I get an email or DM from a troll telling me they hate my podcast or Insta page, it doesn’t really affect me. It’s not someone who’s in my world or who I have a connection with. I ask myself the question, ‘is this shaking my truth?’ If not, I can easily ignore it and move on from it. The other type of negative review will come from a client or customer. When someone does this, there’s definitely a good reason behind it, as it takes courage to publicly shame someone.
A good exercise I often do in my workshops is to imagine your business as a ship. You need to disconnect yourself from your business. I am not Free the Bird Photography, even though I built it and I’m proud of it. When you separate yourself from your work, it helps with negative reviews. You won’t view them as a personal attack. Instead, I think about it as a problem that needs to be solved. There is a leak on my ship somewhere – and I have to fix it.
The first reason is that people feel unheard for some reason. They want to leave you a review to make sure that their voice is heard. They didn’t get the value from you that they were expecting. This ties into the next reason: expectations were not met. That’s usually your fault for not setting expectations as this allows people to make up their own. In my workshops, the first day is about creativity, while the second is about business. I make sure to set these expectations right at the start so people know what’s happening. Another example: if you’re not able to respond to emails for a while, set an auto-response so people know what’s happening.
I’ve had only two negative reviews on my Free the Bird Facebook page, and both have been pretty brutal. In the case of the first one, I was very, very busy. I was so busy that I only took bookings from people who paid a deposit, which I thought was fair. This means that I would sometimes have to email couples and tell them that their provisional date was taken by a paying client. I was being reactive to the problem. I had to apologetically email a lovely couple and tell them that I wasn’t available for their provisional date because someone else came through with a deposit for the same day. Tragically, one of my best friend’s passed away that weekend, so I wasn’t in a good headspace when I got the negative review. Really bad timing.
The review said I was arrogant and a scam artist, and that I didn’t give the couple enough time to make a decision. It was really hard to read, but it also made me realise that there was a big problem in the way I was booking people. They didn’t have a bad experience with me personally; they had a bad experience with a system on my ship. I apologised to the couple and shared the review on Facebook. From there, I had a big open discussion about how to fix the broken system on my ship.
More recently, I got a second bad review that I shared on my social platforms. At the end of the day, the couple’s expectations weren’t met. It was a really hard wedding to shoot, but their expectations were almost untouchably high. Afterwards, they left me a harsh, really personal bad review. I had to get past the hurtful comments and look at the review with empathy. The couple weren’t being heard. I apologised for their experience with me and shared it on my socials. No business is perfect, but I’m not my business, so these bad reviews don’t shake me. I know deep down I’m doing my best.
I also had a negative review with my photobooth business, Heartbreak Hotel. This was a hard one to deal with. I talked to the couple personally, as they were accusing us of ruining their wedding (though I’m not sure how a photobooth could ruin a whole wedding). In this case, it turned out the Roman numeral prints on the photos were missing an ‘I’ and were the wrong date, even though the couple had approved them prior to the wedding. I couldn’t get through to the couple as they were screaming so much. In the end, I fixed the problem, but only after I allowed the couple to feel like they had been heard.
I get a few bad reviews for my podcast. There are three main reasons why people don’t like it. Firstly, educators think that I’m giving too much away. But that’s more to do with them than my content. Secondly, people think it’s too scripted. This is a valuable point, and it’s encouraging me to talk off the cuff more. Thirdly, people think my content is too basic; the total opposite to the first point. My point is, if you’re putting yourself out there, people will have an opinion on you and your work, and it’s not always positive.
When it comes to negative reviews, the key is to be unmovable and unshakable. You achieve this by being separate from your business and knowing the worth of your content.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when reading a bad review.
1 – What is the truth? Does this negativity undermine your truth? If you’re being authentic, why would this review shake you?
2 – What outcome do you want? How can you make the best of this situation. We can all turn a negative into a positive.
3 – How can I see this review in a different way? Whenever I get negative feedback, I look at it subjectively. I look for ways that it can grow my business.
4 – What can I be grateful for in this moment? Think about all you’ve built and all the fans you’ve gathered along the way. Don’t allow bad reviews to move you.
Finally, remember that people who are doing big things with big ambitions will never bring you down. I call them high-frequency movers. You too can be one of these people. Don’t get petty or egotistic; try to be as selfless as possible. Be confident in your business and in yourself.
I hope some of these insights have helped you out. I now see negative reviews as positive; if you can train your mindset to look for the opportunities within them, you’ll be able to as well.
Thank you so much for tuning in and checking out the podcast, guys. See you next time!
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Hello and welcome to podcast number 32! Well guys, if you asked me a month ago whether I thought the whole financial world would come to standstill in four weeks, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. Today I’m chatting about the ongoing madness with Dan O’Day. Dan is an award-winning wedding photographer (and self-proclaimed ‘best photographer in the universe’) who’s here for a relaxed conversation about how to manage stress during a crisis. Our goal is to make these tough times a little lighter.
But first I want to talk to all my listeners who dream of becoming creative entrepreneurs but feel like they’re stuck in a job they can’t leave. It can be hard to predict the perfect time to break free and go it alone. Well, chances are that right now, due to current circumstances, your job may be on the line. You may have even lost it already. There’s no better time to cut free, start your own hustle and make your own break. It’s more risky trying to be safe right now than it is to take a risk. If you’ve already lost everything, then there’s nothing left to lose – don’t let these losses define you. Don’t leave your livelihood in the hands of someone else. The perfect time is right now. Step outside your comfort zone and take that risk. Life is lived in that place.
Dan’s an interesting guy to talk to at this point in time because he started his business in 2009, right after the last big global crash. At the moment, Dan’s feeling relieved about the lockdown, and glad the world is finally taking the crisis seriously. On the personal front, the last year and half has been intense for Dan, so he’s enjoying the opportunity to slow the cogs and catch his breath. I think the same way; I’ve been so busy recently that I’m enjoying the chance to relax at home a little bit. Even though there’s a serious side to the virus, Dan reckons that we shouldn’t pass up the chance to reflect and be grateful for everything we’ve got going on.
Like myself, Dan is a wedding photographer. When it comes to shooting weddings, he currently has the next 28 weeks off. While only one of these has actually cancelled and the rest have postponed, this is the longest break Dan has ever had in his life. He’s looking at it as a chance to reset and spend some time with his family (although he acknowledges he might feel a little differently in four weeks time!).
Dan started his business in 2009, so I was interested to hear how it evolved from that point all the way up to where it was just before the virus hit. He admits he was a little reckless in the beginning and had an overly optimistic attitude compared to now. However, he thinks that attitude helped him out in the early stages. This pandemic is going to test everyone because it’s not the same as the Wall Street-induced crash. You can go hyper-creative or you can choose to give the creative part of your brain a break instead. I agree – when I first started, I had that same reckless attitude because it’s easy to be bold when you have nothing to lose. I think the people that have just started their business should be the least afraid, compared to people who have built something up that could topple very easily. Dan feels like the slate has been cleaned.
Dan thinks we could see the busiest year ever in 2021, as everyone who has postponed will all be looking to get married. There are going to be more weddings than high-profile photographers can manage, creating space for more work. People aren’t going to stop getting married. You should adopt a long-term view, and while he acknowledges that cash flow in the short-term is important, Dan thinks you should spend this time preparing for the big comeback in 2021. I think a lot of creative entrepreneurs struggle with projecting into the future. It’s easy to understand when you’re living in the moment, but a crisis can put that into perspective. When something like this happens, of course there’s a very serious side, but on the business front all I see is opportunity. It’s important to be aware and optimistic, although getting the right balance between these is a delicate process.
Dan thinks this could be a good opportunity for taking the creative side out of it to focus on the business side of things. Opening spreadsheets and working out some numbers can help you feel like you’re not getting left behind.
I’m good at business, but I don’t thrive looking at spreadsheets and stuff. I’m using this time to reflect on myself and take comfort in the fact that I have knowledge and capabilities that I can fall back on. Dan likened this to location scouting for a wedding shoot. He found that going into a wedding with a plan gave him the confidence and freedom to explore new creative options, knowing that he had a fallback if things fell apart. I don’t location scout anymore because I feel it hinders creativity, but I do take the time to check out the car park of a new venue. As long as I know where to park the car and that I won’t be late, the creativity comes easy. Dan uses second shooters for this same reason. The practicalities are just as important as the creative elements.
Dan thinks we can achieve this by focusing on something other than ourselves. There’s a lot of anxiety-inducing stuff that he could carry around in his head, but he’ll be much more productive if he can acknowledge that without focusing on it. Finding someone or something else to focus on helps to declutter and empty our brains. Dan also advised me to take a little break from my constant work schedule. It can be hard to ask yourself for a holiday. Dan always defaults to painting when he thinks of something he wants to do for himself. However, he always has to remind himself to switch off the part of his brain that wants to ‘monetise’ something. Dan thinks that business is a creative venture in itself, which I also believe. It can be hard to separate the creativity from the strategising.
People associate business with transactions, and ‘business’ itself is something of a dirty word in some creative circles. I think many creative entrepreneurs haven’t put the link together to see how creative business can be. It becomes limitless. You have to have so much creativity to bring it to life. Dan agrees and thinks that we use blanket terminology and that’s where a lot of the good stuff gets lost.
That’s going to do it for this one, guys. Thank you very much for listening as always – we’ll be back next time with more insights and conversations!
Hi guys, today we’re talking about recessions. How to build a business that will see you through a recession and some tips to help your business survive a recession. Most people are terrified of them; especially business owners. People hate change in general. Yes, a recession can wipe out a business and your savings, but today, I’m going to bring you a perspective on recessions that you won’t hear anywhere else. What goes up must come down; sometimes when things are going good, we forget what it feels like when things aren’t as easy. But it’s all a cycle.
A bubble is an economic cycle characterised by the rapid escalation of asset prices followed by a contraction. As a wedding photographer, I know that weddings are in a bubble that is just about to pop. Here’s how I know; in 2013 the average Australian wedding cost around $25,000. In 2020, the average wedding costs $65,482. That’s an increase of 260% since I’ve been a wedding photographer. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been moving towards education. During a recession, people move away from luxury and towards skill-building. Everyone will be affected in some way, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a natural cycle. People with the most knowledge will rise to the top.
A recession can be the single biggest opportunity for you to get ahead. Don’t be scared of them. There is a lot of wealth to be made in recession times and there’s opportunity in all markets. Personally, I have a lot to lose in this coming recession, so if anyone should be scared it’s me. But I’m actually really excited. Right now, everything is expensive and ballooning. A recession gives all the underdogs a leg-up. Yes, I’m scared of losing a lot, but I’m excited to see the adventure it leads me on.
Having said that, I always say don’t leave anything to luck. Be intentional. Set up your business so that it has the best chance to survive during recession.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself; please be honest when you answer them. How long right now can you last without any income at all? How much does it cost you to run your business week-to-week? How much are your personal living expenses and are you living within your means? Do you put business or personal expenses on a line of credit? When a recession hits, you need to answer these questions and understand the fundamentals of your business.
Having debt is the fastest way to run down your business. A line of credit is not your money – it’s a liability. Debt puts your whole business at serious risk. I don’t have credit cards or personal loans. It took me a long time to get there and it’s hard to achieve but for me it’s an important step to make my business recession-proof. How long can you sustain your business if there are no jobs coming in? Where can you save some money? Once a year, I cancel my debit card and see which emails come in. This gives me a better idea of how much I’m spending on subscription services. It also gives me the choice of asking if I really need the service and cancelling it if necessary.
During a recession, you need to get more innovative and creative than your competitors. This applies to all aspects of your business. Don’t stay still or you’ll get out-innovated by people who are rising to the top. Experimentation is important because a recession brings in a new market. Understanding your new market is crucial. It will help you stay innovative and creative. Get out of your comfort zone and hit the ground running.
People don’t want to pay a lot in recessions. Landing a job over a competitor will usually come down to price. Moving your prices down or up isn’t usually a good idea. Instead, add value. Do something that other people aren’t doing. Look for any way in which you can add value to the services you provide.
As an employee in 2020, you have more rights than ever before. As an employer, it’s becoming increasingly harder to create a work environment that everybody’s happy with because everyone can go out and hustle for themselves. You have to give employees a purpose-driven role. It can be a hard line to tread. You want to look out for your staff and your business at the same time. I also think that staff need to look after their employer. Talking things through honestly with your staff is always a good idea. During a recession, the workforce becomes more competitive because of business closures. It can be a great time to hire talented people.
When times get tough and work gets scarce, keep learning. That’s going to be the difference between you and somebody else. The reason I’m excited about the upcoming recession is because I have this well of knowledge that I’ve been building up. The money doesn’t disappear during a recession, it just changes hands. You need to prepare yourself with education so you can be part of that transferral and not a casualty. There are loads of ways to educate yourself: never stop learning.
Look at offering products and services that have a quick return on investment. Offer things that you don’t usually do, or maybe that you don’t necessarily want to. You have to get a bit scrappy in the face of a recession. I don’t allow pride or ego to get in the way of my business. People are afraid of looking like a failure, but you have to learn to adapt at all times.
When you’re in a recession, you won’t have a lot of money on hand for marketing or for growing your business in general. You need to get creative with your message and your brand. What you will have is time. Put more time into getting your brand seen and visible. Do it in creative and innovative ways that will make you stand out.
Scale back your services or products and think about offering services that have a quicker return on investment. You don’t want stock sitting on your shelves. You want cashflow during a recession. You don’t want to be relying on credit during a recession. Reign your business in and rely on the core of your brand. Start growing slowly from there.
In recession times, you can get a leg-up on your competitors through creative marketing. You can also do it through education by understanding money and cycles. These things will help your business and your mindset. They will also help you prepare for the future. Scale back on everything – but these two things would be my personal advice.
If you’re a product-based business, it’s time for people to get competitive. You can negotiate anything, from interest rates to your phone bill to your property rent. Work out how you can save money in all facets of your business. In a recession, every dollar means something. You should try and make every single dollar have the biggest impact possible.
Once you’ve applied the ten previous tips, pour your savings into your business and fuel growth. There’s no better time to be investing. There’s an old saying, ‘don’t buy until there’s blood in the streets’. People often think recession means the end of everything and the markets will never recover. But it will always turn around. Everything is undervalued in a recession. There are many bargains to be found. Your goal is long-term investment. In the future, there’s a high chance you will make your money back, plus more. Do the opposite of what everybody’s doing.
You can’t be attached to what you have, because we have nothing. You have to know when it’s time to let go and pass it on. In life, everything is in motion. It all comes and then it all goes. Allow things to move around and be thankful for it. With this mindset you don’t need to fear a recession. I love change because it’s where life gets exciting.
Thank you so much for listening guys. If you know of someone who’s worried about the upcoming recession, please feel free to share the podcast around! See you next time.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Hi guys, it’s pretty crazy to think I’ve already put out 29 podcasts! It’s blowing my mind how many listeners I already have and I’m definitely getting more comfortable and confident in front of the microphone. In this episode, I want to talk about how to improve your blogging. Blogging is still a really important and relevant tool for your business, especially if you’re online. I want to walk you through a few different reasons why a blog is a good idea, how to present information in your blog, and how to keep it interesting.
A blog will help you connect with your perfect audience that little bit more. It will help you educate your clients, and add value to their experience whilst they’re interacting with your brand. It can be useful as a marketing tool, and can also help your site rank higher in search engines. Blogging helps you show off your brand a little bit more with the information you decide to post. I think it’s a very important tool even today, and I’m going to talk about how to come up with great content for posts, as well as nine tips for improving your blog.
A blog post is what I call a ‘slow burn’ marketing strategy; you can’t expect to get value from it straight away. It takes a little bit longer, but it’s worth it in the long run.
I do a lot of blogging, with three businesses that I regularly blog for, JaiLong.co, Free the Bird and Heartbreak Hotel. I’ve had so much success with my blog posts; a lot of sharing, a lot of feedback and a lot of positivity. This all results in more visibility and influence for me and my businesses. I’ve been blogging for a long time and it’s resulted in many clients and bookings, with hundreds of people browsing my content every day.
When I first became a wedding photographer, I noticed that all the other photographers just posted blogs about weddings. I changed it up and added value by educating clients through my posts. This helped me stand out and provided value to potential clients.
Before you launch your blog and start posting regularly, there are two main points to consider. First of all, what is your message? What are you trying to achieve? Secondly, who is the blog post for? Who are you writing it to? I envision a perfect clientele so I have a very specific vision for the intended audience.
Blogging is time-consuming and many people think they don’t have the spare time to write one consistently. You can always outsource your blogging and get specialised copywriters to write them. Whenever I have a new idea, I write about that specific topic without editing or deleting. Once I get it all out, I send it to a copywriter to help structure and clean it up. Another obstacle can be that you don’t know how to write that well or communicate your thoughts. Outsourcing can be a great way to solve this too. There are different types of copywriters, so if you do reach out for one, make sure it’s the right fit for you. They need to be able to translate your voice through their writing.
We sometimes feel like things have to be totally polished before we put them out. I’m not the strongest at grammar or spelling, but I’d rather make a big impact than worry about making something perfect. I don’t allow these imperfections to stop me from making the biggest impact possible with my audience. Try and write with a specific audience in mind; don’t write for Google rankings or algorithms. You know your fans – write to them.
When I’m deciding what to write about, I ask the question, ‘what is my perfect client having a problem with?’ You can do tutorials and how-to guides relating to your specific industry or niche within the industry. You can write about the latest industry news. There are always trends, equipment or supplies to talk about, and there might be no one doing that in your area. You want to create valuable content that’s unique. Give people a reason to come back to you.
You could also write about current events in your industry. Controversial subjects are also good for generating visibility and getting your voice out there. You can write posts based around checklists in your industry. Listicles (a piece of writing presented in the form of a list) are always popular and do well on social media. Case studies, interviews and features are also good options for posts. People love reviews, which also work great for SEO (search engine optimisation). Comparisons are a good structure for a post; they can be educational and controversial at the same time.
It doesn’t always have to be words. Video blogs are another option, and they don’t have to have a high production value. You can shoot them on your phone and read out your blog post; it’s just a different way to deliver content. Some people might prefer a video. You can also do a simple audio reading to allow people to dive deeper into the post.
Problems and solutions is a great idea for a blog topic. You can also bring people behind the scenes of your business and show them what it looks like behind the curtain. Any given day at my studio is packed full of interesting moments, which could make for great content to send out to my audience. Inspirational stories are also valuable. People appreciate being inspired; they want to read about and share it. They also like to laugh. Humour can be a valuable asset to your content, making it more lively and bringing a bit of personality through. Frequently Asked Questions can be a highly valuable post, allowing you to automate questions you regularly receive. For a final idea, just do an occasional rant. It’s your blog post, you can write what you want! People will love to get an insight into your personality, especially if you’re an industry leader.
Guest bloggers are a great idea; you can curate other people to write on topics for you. They add so much value to both them and you. Reach out to industry leaders and ask if they’d like to blog for you. They’ll get their own platforms shared with your audience, and you’ll get a lot of value out of these posts with a different perspective. Gallery or album posts can also make good posts now and again, especially if you’re a photographer. These aren’t as useful as written posts, but it’s another way to connect with your audience. Even playlists you like/create can put your personality across and get your voice heard.
Coming up with something to say is tough, but we all have to start somewhere. You can monetise your blog by putting ads on it if it gets really popular. The more specific you are, the better your chances will be of success. You can have affiliates, so you get paid to write about other people’s products. While it’s not the reason to create a blog, there is that opportunity. You have to keep content interesting. Think about the way you’re delivering the content. Videos, graphics and photos are fantastic to communicate your point and keep the post engaging. Break up big blocks of text with anything you can.
You don’t have to call it a blog! Try a different name like a diary, a journal, stories, chronicles, anything that makes it more appealing. Don’t create content just to rank on Google or because you feel like you should. You need to create content that’s going to convert your traffic into fans. Make your content unique so you stand out.
1 – Write more than 300 words. People like to read, so don’t rely on photos. Tell the story of the photos you include. Create more meaty content.
2 – Enable and encourage comments. Comments not only add to the word count and provide links, but it shows that other people are engaged with your posts.
3 – Enable social sharing. Not everyone is fluent with the internet, so you need the social share buttons at the bottom of the post.
4 – Use Videos and Graphics. These keep it more interesting for the reader.
5 – Use pull-out text and pull-out quotes. Get to the punchline, pull it out and put it at the very top of the post. This gives the readers an indication of what the post is about.
6 – Use images and alt text. Images are important to keep your posts dynamic. Alt text is relevant for search engines, and basically refers to a literal description of the image,
7 – Link to the things you’re talking about so they’re easy to find. People will want to engage with what you’re talking about and make sure they open up in a new page. Internal links are also important, leading back to your own pages.
8 – Use SEO plug-ins like Yoast. These make SEO easy and will push your post higher up the search engine charts.
9 – Create shareable content. Write something that people love so much that they can’t help but share it. You can also share your content on other platforms.
So that’s it for today guys, hopefully all that information is helpful. My biggest takeaway would be don’t allow obstacles to stand in your way; just get started!
Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time for Episode 30.
Do you have any extra tips for blog posts? Would love to hear them in the comments below!
Hi guys, on this week’s show I wanted to discuss some practical tips and tools that you can implement right away in your creative business. Building on last week’s discussion on social media, today I want to focus in and narrow it right down to Instagram. I’ve recently completed my two workshops and got a lot of good feedback, so I’m feeling good; it was great to get offline, go and meet people and connect about their successes.
Doing these workshops is a great way to see what people struggle with when it comes to Instagram. There are a lot of different reasons for this, so I want to talk specifically about five different ways to use Instagram and do a deep dive into writing captions, creating content, using the features and using Instagram for marketing in 2020.
This episode comes with a free workbook that you can download with the link below:
Across my five Insta accounts I have around 140,000 followers, which is not that many in Instagram terms. A lot of us can feel self-conscious when it comes to followers, because it feels like the number that legitimises us in the digital world. Your follower count can say a lot about your business. It might make the difference between someone hiring you or not. But they have to be the right followers, otherwise your marketing voice is being diluted. A lot of the time, gathering followers can be a case of getting offline and connecting with people in real life. I’m always collaborating on shoots and bringing value to people. You never want to be a taker, you want to be a giver.
It’s also important to ask yourself the hard question; would you follow yourself? Sometimes, the honest answer is that you wouldn’t. If you’re posting from a place of anxiety instead of inspiration then it might be time to give up that platform. In 2020, people don’t want perfectly curated images. I follow accounts when they’re true to themselves and they inspire me. People value their time; you have to give them value back. Come from an authentic place and you’ll attract your perfect tribe. You also have to create remarkable content with a unique voice; this is not easy to do, but it is extremely important. People will come to you, and you won’t have to put as much effort (or money) into marketing.
I separated my Free the Bird personal account from my Free the Bird Weddings account. Every two or three months I’d put a wedding photo on my personal account and get a huge positive response and some work inquiries. On my weddings account, my followers were used to seeing wedding photos, but on my personal page they really stood out and attracted people’s interest.
You want to make sure that you stand out in your industry and cut through the noise. Every creative industry is competitive. What makes the difference is how people are going to connect with you. You want to build an audience in a unique way before you start selling to them, otherwise you’ll get lost in the crowd. No one wants to follow someone who is just selling. You want to follow people who add value to your life. Don’t compete with anybody. Make your competitors irrelevant.
Don’t forget about geotags too. They can help get your name out there with people who are doing general searches. Hashtags can be important, but try and find unique tags with a smaller pool of photos for the best results.
Instagram is a visual medium. When it comes to photos, you should think about how it makes your audience feel. Is it on-brand? Will people comment on it? Share it? These are all questions that should become second nature. Ask how it makes you feel first. Don’t post for expectations. If you don’t love it, your audience won’t love it. This extends to your captions, too. I want to know the journey and connect with you on an emotional level. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
You can post to inspire your audience but you can also post to educate people. IGTV is great for this. I put up IGTV videos of the recording of my podcasts. Whatever your industry, you can use Instagram as a platform for education. This sort of content creates high value and encourages people to share it. Any kind of content that can potentially start a conversation with your audience is valuable to both you and them.
Your profile photo is important when it comes to presenting yourself. I usually only follow accounts that show their face in their profile, as I like to follow people instead of faceless companies. It allows me to connect with them on a different level. It’s important to summarise what you do and get your brand across in your profile description. My description on my personal page is ‘F**k being a struggling artist’. I treat that like a mission statement and it lets people know what I’m about right away. That tone filters down through all of my business and how I put myself across. I use Linktree to consolidate all my platforms in one place; it allows me to quickly navigate through all my numerous projects and businesses as efficiently as possible. If you’ve got a lot of things going on, this is crucial.
Engagement is the single most important thing when it comes to Instagram. Social means connection; you want to connect people to you and your business. It’s a fantastic free tool; I try and share as much as I can and link to as much as I can. I’ve made a lot of friends from social media but it’s also resulted in tonnes of work and opportunities for me. You really need to work on building your audience to engage with you.
Getting rid of your ego is the best way to do this. I make sure to respond to as many comments and DMs as possible. This has helped me to grow an engaged audience over the years. You can also share stuff that’s inspired you and put it out there to the world. When you do this, you’re curating content for your audience and engaging with them in a different way. Whether it’s through posts, stories or comments, look after the people who value what you do.
Here are links to some of the Instagram accounts I’ve grown – feel free to connect with me on there (preferably the top one!):
I really appreciate you listening, guys; if you’ve got any questions or if anything resonated with you, please give the podcast a share on Instagram or reach out to me. I love seeing where these episodes get to all around the world.
Thank you so much for tuning in and see you next episode!
Hi guys, I have a special episode for you today. I’ve just finished Day One of my two-day Sydney workshop and thought that I’d get my tape recorder out to bring you an insight from a panel of photographers who have a busy, engaged social media presence and talk about some different perspectives on this popular topic.
Learning from the people around you is one of the best ways to progress. So after a long day of workshop teaching in Sydney, I chatted with Claire, Josh M., Josh J., Usamah, Keegan, and Ryan to get their thoughts and opinions on social media in 2020.
If you want to find everyone on the podcast, I’ll put their Instagram accounts at the bottom of the page, along with details of our sponsors – our favourite copywriters PepperStorm Media and our very own Posing & Lighting course which is out now!
It can be hard to decide which social media platforms you should focus your time on. One of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t go on every social media platform out there. Choose the ones that resonate with you and focus on them. So I don’t use Facebook but I love Instagram.
Josh J. agreed with this and added that it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. As a photographer, Instagram has been the biggest return on time investment and has resulted in a lot of destination work for him. He mentioned TikTok as an example of an up-and-coming platform that generates a lot of engagement. When it comes to Insta, Josh thinks interaction is key. He tries to engage as much as possible, putting a lot of time into his captions as well as the photos. These can make or break a post and allow an audience to invest in an artist and their work.
Ryan agrees that Instagram is the most beneficial for photographers. For him, Insta stories and YouTube are the areas he’s focusing on. He may go a few months without posting on Instagram, but has found it doesn’t change his engagement with potential clients. However, he’s constantly putting up Insta stories, and offering advice and behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube. He thinks it’s important that people see that you know what you’re talking about. You can also send out tip videos to clients over email; it’s very easy to put together a two-minute piece and your clients will thank you for it. Ryan tries to shoot one video a week and thinks that they’re useful to stay visible with potential clients. He also repurposes them for his Insta stories.
Keegan explained that putting yourself out there on Instagram is a smart strategy. In the past, he’s just used it as a photography portfolio, but is now trying to make it more personal. He put a lot of effort into his hashtags to create a bigger audience. He’s trying to put himself into more Insta stories without caring about what people might think, as it’s important to show what you’re passionate about. Josh M. thinks it’s important to highlight that every creative person is going to have a different personality. So the way creatives show up in their business and on their socials is going to vary.
Josh M. thinks Facebook can still be valuable for photographers, especially when it comes to tags. There is more chance of getting tagged on Facebook than Instagram. When you’re starting out, Facebook can still be very useful. You may not get big numbers, but the numbers that you get can potentially be worth more. Each platform has its pros and cons. It depends on the creative and how they use it to their advantage.
Usamah also thinks Insta stories are the next big thing. People are leaning towards videos more and moving away from pictures, even on Instagram. As wedding photographers, Usamah thinks it’s a good idea to incorporate video into their socials. Claire admits she gets a bit anxious about posting on Instagram. She thinks that finding a unique, creative style through stories is key, as opposed to regular posts. She gets more engagement through stories because she puts her own flavour into them. I’ve also found that you can get a sense of someone’s personality through their Insta stories.
Claire thinks that there’s a lot of pressure around social media channels. You feel your work might not be good enough compared to other photographers. When you’re building your audience, it can be hard to engage people in your life and work. Josh M. thinks you have to be true to yourself.
Social media has led to a rise of copycats, so being true to yourself and your work is important. In time, this will lead to a unique style. The most artistic shot might not appeal to the masses, but you should post it anyway. Do what makes you excited. When I look at Josh M.’s account, I see his personality come through. I always try to do the same thing. Josh J. finds that this pays off too. Couples he’s shooting often mention specific things he’s posted on his socials, which is proof that people are connecting with the content.
I always think it’s important to make your content for someone, as opposed to the general audience. This way, by the time you interact with clients, they get a sense of who you are. Josh M. thinks you have to keep your ideal client in mind. You’ve got to know who you want to shoot and who you don’t. Josh is always posting things that are clearly aimed at a specific audience; this is smart as it probably means he doesn’t have to adapt his style too much on shoots unless he wants too.
Usamah agrees, but also thinks this can be hard when you’re first starting out. You can’t always choose clients. Josh thinks you should always project into the kind of photographer you want to be, even if it means having a leaner year at the start. Josh J. underlines that there’s a lot of competition and noise in the industry. You have to cut through the noise and make yourself distinct. Thinking about future clients is key.
Claire loves it when people interact with her posts and work. I recently got a thank you message for sharing something, even though the guy had millions of followers. I learned that it’s important to always keep the smaller interactions in mind and show appreciation when you can. Claire thinks positive engagement takes away some of the social media anxiety. It’s awesome when you know your work means something to someone.
I really enjoy listening to podcasts because I don’t have to spend my downtime looking at a screen. Keegan thinks podcasting is definitely the way forward. It’s great to zone out and not be bombarded by visuals. IGTV is also interesting because the content is so digestible. I always feel like I’m getting a lot more from it. Ryan couldn’t agree more. He finds himself scrolling more and more on IGTV and plans to make more content for it. He wants to focus on education. Josh M. sees one of the benefits of giving content to couples is that they’ll remember you. If they have a bad experience with their photographer, they might come back to you to book a shoot. So even if you don’t immediately get the job, you’re still in the back of their mind.
For me, it’s about connecting and putting out content consistently. You’ve got to have hustle in you and take every opportunity you can. Josh J.’s goal wasn’t just growing his following. He prefers a smaller following with high engagement. Consistency and authenticity are key. Positive engagement with other accounts snowballs into a bigger engagement for you.
Josh M. agrees that quality over quantity is important. You want potential clients as opposed to just followers who think your viral photos are epic. Too many followers can give the impression you’re too busy and keep clients away.
Social media can be manipulated almost like a reality TV show. I think you can overshare and be too self-absorbed, but sometimes people tell me they wish I posted more. For Keegan, numbers aren’t a big deal. If you’re showing the value of what you do, that’s the goal. For him, he tries to keep his Instagram grounded in his work, as opposed to his lifestyle.
Putting yourself on the line with a strong opinion can repel people. You can get negative reactions, especially if you have a lot of followers. When Keegan first signed up, he wasn’t engaging with clients. He was worried about how people would perceive him. But he thinks it’s worth getting a plan together and defining your end goal. With that in mind, he started posting more to appeal to the local market.
Instagram is still relevant, but we need to learn how to use it better. We need to engage with our audience more, specialise more and use video as much as possible. It’s also important to understand how people are digesting content and keep an eye on rising platforms like podcasts. Dig in, keep connecting with your couples and ultimately better serve your audience.
That was such an awesome conversation and I hope it brought you some useful pointers that you can use in your own social media strategy. If you want to connect with anyone you heard on this podcast, here they are on Insta:
And a big shout-out to the listeners who have been leaving me reviews on the Apple podcast app – I love reading these and it helps this podcast reach more people and be as good as it can be, so if you haven’t left me a review yet then I’d love to hear from you.
Cheers guys, see you next episode!
Our second sponsor is…our own team! The Posing & Lighting course is now available and it is helping wedding photographers level-up their craft. It’s such a small investment to join a big community of people who are on the course, plus we’re always adding more content and value as well as teaching you how to get more confident and efficient on wedding days so you can create better images for your clients.
Hi guys, I’ve just finished a two-day workshop and I am….exhausted! It was an awesome experience but like any big event it can be an energy-suck and takes a few days to recover. I’ve been running workshops since 2015 and have been part of so many success stories and I’ve noticed that the people who succeed are always the ones who have the right mindset. So today I want to talk about changing your mindset and challenging the habits that have been formed as early as childhood.
We all want to live a life that’s full of purpose and passion. If you didn’t believe this, you wouldn’t be reading this blog or listening to this podcast. But the biggest difference between someone who lives their life full of abundance and someone who lives their life full of fear out of scarcity is down to mindset.
Many of us creatives suffer from imposter syndrome – we feel that we don’t deserve what others deserve. This is because of the outside influences that tell us that we can’t do something. I’ve been told this my whole life and in every business, I’ve ever started, no matter how successful they’ve turned out to be.
So how do we break out of this habit?
Believe it or not, most people have a scarcity mindset; this means that they often:
A scarcity mindset can lead people to feeling stuck and powerless – you focus on what’s not working and all of the challenges ahead of you and blame others for your lack of success.
If you have an abundance mindset, you:
If you can understand the difference between the two mindsets and recognise these signs, you can start to understand why you act a certain way and start to improve your outlook on life.
As you’ll hear on the podcast, I’ve met plenty of people with a scarcity mindset, including my old boss who actually stopped me getting my Electrician’s Licence just because he was scared I was going to steal his work.
But I also had a boss who had an abundance mindset – he’d been both a millionaire and bankrupt several times over and yet he paid us well, let us do after-hours work and was never scared of running out of jobs or money. He didn’t even mind if his workers left; in fact, he’d even help us with advice and references!
His attitude was mind-blowing to me – the guy who gives and gives and gives was really successful and the guy that just takes, well, simply wasn’t. I learned from him that there’s always a way to make money in anything you’re passionate about.
When I started out in wedding photography, I gravitated towards other photographers with abundance mindsets – and noticed that they were always more successful than those with scarcity mindsets.
I noticed that many photographers who weren’t successful always has an excuse…and it’s usually someone else’s fault.
When I started running workshops, I got accused of over-saturation. There’s only so much to go around! This is crazy to me because I don’t see competition – I’m only looking inwards and competing with myself.
As I’ve been growing as a mindset – every decision is it made out of fear or abundance? How can I help those around me, better serve my clients and create more success for everyone in my world?
If a business isn’t growing it’s dying. And now I’m in an educational business, the more people who succeed means the more my business grows. I’m open about this and that means that people are open when they come to me for help.
The weird thing is, other photographers seem to be scared of me running workshops. They won’t share my workshops. They think I’m taking up too much market share and have put walls up – not only will they not share my content, they’re actively blaming me and creating bad business practices. This is all coming from a scarcity mindset.
A lot of these same people are now running workshops – I’m not against photographers supplementing their income, but do you really want to learn from someone with a scarcity mindset?
I’m happy to share and collaborate with high-frequency players who have an abundance mindset, who care about their audience enough to share all of the relevant courses and information and are confident enough in themselves to know that even if people sign up to my workshop, they’ll still buy theirs – why? Because you are the only person who can do what you do.
If you run a workshop in a specific industry, it’s actually better if there are more workshops out there. This might sound strange, but the more workshops there are, the more it becomes normal to attend one. People will attend one workshop, recommend the concept of a workshop to their friends who can then discover yours.
I want to give you some practical tips that can help you change your mindset to one of abundance:
Thanks for listening, guys – if you want to get in touch, reach out on Insta and feel free to tag me in when you share the podcast with your friends.
And thank you to everyone who is leaving reviews – they mean so much to me and give me the incentive to carry on making this content.
I’m going to take a few days off before preparing for my Sydney workshop – see you next episode!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York & Los Angeles – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
Zoë Morley is a very talented photographer who uses her creativity for worthy causes. I wanted to get her on the show to talk about the challenges that she’s faced in fundraising her charity projects and how she overcame them.
This topic has been on my mind recently, especially with the bushfires in Australia; a community has come together and brought their skill sets to help people who are less fortunate than them and if you’re just seeing the finished product on social media, the process can seem easy. But so much hard work goes into these projects and I think it’s important to look behind the curtain to see exactly what it takes to run a successful campaign.
Zoë is a Sydney-based photographer who has been shooting weddings for seven years. She made her break in a pretty funny way. She worked as a flight attendant but had a background in photography and so to shortcut all of the grunt work of being a second shooter, etc. before she could start booking weddings on her own, Zoë put on a big fake wedding with her cousin (who’s a model), got a wedding dress from Grace Loves Lace, invited all of her friends and used the photos for her portfolio, which helped her book her first year of weddings. The really funny part is, she’d never even been to a wedding before (just like me…).
Zoë used the portfolio to get 20 bookings in her first year but it wasn’t through social media – she used Google AdWords. Not many photographers know how to use this, so understanding power of Google Ads can be a gamechanger. This is something I teach my workshop students – everyone else will be competing on Instagram but if you know how to use AdWords, you can fill up your year pretty easily.
Zoë also focuses way more on running her business than racking up Instagram likes. She’s more interested in caring for her clients, packaging, getting her name out there and optimising referrals, keywords and online bookings from Google.
Zoë was born in South Africa and always wanted to give back to that community. When she was 19, she spent three months volunteering at an orphanage called Nonjabolu that cares for the children who have been abandoned because of HIV/AIDs. She had her first film camera with her and took photos of the kids; when she got back home, she raised support to put on an exhibition to raise funds for the orphanage. She managed to get a big review on the front page of the Arts section of the Sydney Morning Herald which boosted awareness and she ended up raising $20K for the orphanage.
Ten years later, she thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to revisit that project’? She wanted to photograph the kids who were now teens and young adults and see how their lives had progressed.
Zoë ran a Kickstarter campaign and only expected to cover flights and accommodation but ended up raising $11K, which paid for travel and putting on the exhibition. But there were so many unforeseeable challenges in actually getting back out to South Africa and finding these kids, all of which she goes into on the podcast. She’s really open and honest in our conversation and she talks about how she suffers from anxiety and self-doubt. It didn’t matter how many people were telling her that her work was great, she still lacked confidence and doubted the quality of the images that she took.
Even though her photos were accepted in the Head On Photo Festival – a life dream of hers – as you’ll hear on the podcast, the pressure that she put on herself took a big toll on her mental health. She lost half a year’s worth of income, as she didn’t shoot weddings and outsource her editing and got so stressed that it affected both her mental and her physical wellbeing.
South African-born Australian businesswoman Gail Kelly opened the show and although Zoë had expected a maximum of 100 guests, on the night over 200 people showed up. Everyone was really supportive, she sold lots of books and prints and ended up raising $32K.
This money was used to change people’s lives. She split the money between the orphanage Rehoboth, an AIDS hospice and a crèche, all of which are in desperate need of funding.
Even though the night was a big success, Zoë found it hard to acknowledge this and still doubted her work. It shows that creatives are often self-critical and can we can be our own worst enmeies.
I asked Zoë what she would do differently and she had three pieces of advice for anyone planning to run a fundraiser:
I was really honoured that Zoë shared her story with me and gave us all an insight into the hard work that goes into a project like this. You can check out the photos at Nonjabolu and follow her on Instagram.
And I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has left reviews on this podcast – it’s so amazing to read your feedback and hear what you’re getting value from these episodes. Please be sure to tag me at JaiLong.co if you share the podcast on Insta and I can join in the conversation.
One more thing – my Posing & Lighting course is out now and it’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on! I’m so excited to share it with you guys and I can’t wait to hear your feedback.
Cheers guys, see you next episode 🙂
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
I’m going to continue the second part of this two-parter by talking about why it’s important to write your own story. I’ve already told you about my childhood story and now I’m going to tell you about my business story and how I’m still learning from everything I’ve been through to write my own story every day.
It’s easy to see people who have success and assume that they’ve had it come easy. It’s also easy to create excuses for ourselves and assume that someone is succeeding because they have money, or an education, or don’t have kids… But comparing yourself to others is toxic because you simply don’t know what they’ve been through. Instead, use this good energy to focus on building your own business.
Last time I told you about how my cafe business had failed and I was totally out of cash. I didn’t want my failed business to not become part of my identity. At the time we were going through a minerals boom in Australia, so I jumped on an opportunity and moved up to the mines in Queensland.
It felt like a prison and my bedroom was like a jail cell. The gym had barbed wire around it and the weights were old and rusty. I spent 12 months there working as an electrician before moving to the mines near Perth, which was the most challenging job I’ve ever had. I was attacked physically and mentally. I met someone who had no good in their heart. There was even a murder.
My workmates spent all afternoon in the pub and I didn’t really want to spend my time drinking. I thought that as I’m in such a beautiful part of the country, I wanted to learn photography.
I jumped on eBay and bought a Canon 5D with a fish-eye lens. My flatmate also bought a camera and we’d drive down to the ocean and take photos of the sunset and beautiful landscape.
I put together a blog called Free The Bird and posted my images on there and wrote a few captions about what I liked about the photos. The blog was perfect because I also want to practice writing and being able to tell a story. Just those few captions on each photo were game-changing. Through the blog and Instagram, I could share my art with people who knew me.
I came back home and it was like returning from prison. I had to reintegrate myself into society. I got myself a normal job as an electrician, worked up the ladder and was given my own job site. The only catch was that Leelou and I had to move to Melbourne but this opportunity was worth it. I could be my only boss, run a team and have my own life at the same time. I really felt like I’d made it and was proud of the work that I was doing. But I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, so I needed to take advantage of the situation to build for my future
I needed to learn about money and understand why do some people struggle others have so much. I contacted a financial planner and studied the mindset of wealthy people. I grew up around people with a scarcity mindset and now I was surrounded by people with an abundance mindset. This was another life lesson to add to confidence is key – there is abundance.
I wanted to put what I’d learned into practice, so I took my $100K savings to the bank who then loaned me a million dollars. Just stop for a second and think of how weird it was for someone with my upbringing looking at their bank account and seeing a million bucks. I used the money to buy two houses in Melbourne and I still have them today.
Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t want to swap my time for money. I’m always looking for ways to build wealth without having to spend a lot of time doing it. So now I had some houses, I figured I didn’t need my job and decided to become a full-time photographer. I liked taking pictures of people and I wanted creative control, so I reckoned wedding photography was right for me. The weirdest and funniest thing about this is that up until that point I’d never even been to a wedding, other than my parents’ which was held in the front room of my house.
I set myself goals for the next year:
This was ambitious even for me, so I hustled as I’ve never hustled before. I knew I had to go to the US as wedding season was over in Australia, so I put the word out on blogs and social media that I would shoot for free in return for a couch to sleep on and within a month I booked 8 weddings. Now I just needed to get myself there, so I sold my car to pay for me and Leeloou to head to America.
The weddings were fantastic but I knew I needed more content for my site, so in between weddings we would raid thrift stores for wedding dresses and I’d do a photoshoot with Leelou in awesome locations like Joshua Tree.
We had a lot of adventures and we were so low on money but I saw it as an investment in our future. Another life lesson that I learned was that you don’t get opportunities like this by playing it safe.
When I got back I was published in Junebug Weddings and Hello May magazine, so I was now an international wedding photographer and published photographer. Oh yeah, and I can now shoot in manual mode all day long…
Just 18 months after I started my business, I launched my first workshop. I taught the business and my friend Ryan Muirhead flew over to teach photography. It took a huge amount and of time and energy and in the end, I think I was about $5K out of pocket. Some people might see this as a failure but I saw it as an investment, as the ticket for my education. And it worked.
It skyrocketed my career. I was asked to talk at the biggest conferences, be a guest speaker at other workshops and it really put my business on the map.
In two years I had shot 60 weddings in 4 different countries, held a workshop, was named one of the 30 rising stars of wedding photography by New York Magazine Rangefinder, was Caption magazine’s runner-up photographer of the year and was published in all my favourite wedding magazines.
It might sound like I’m bragging, but I’m telling you this to inspire any creative entrepreneurs and show you that making it is possible.
And believe me, I got hate mail.
People thought it was coming so easily to me. My peers blamed me for their lack of success and one US professor of photography even sent me a 10-page email critiquing my pictures. He was actually 100% right and I learned so much from him – I’m sure that’s not the result he wanted but it proved to me that if you have confidence in yourself then no one can shake you.
People will get upset if you fail or succeed. Just do it for you and you will be an unstoppable force
And it’s not all easy. I’m still fighting every day to continue this life I’ve built. Leelou and I currently live in a tiny house with no TV. I make good money but I invest it back into my projects, just like this podcast. I get up on stage at workshops and I’m still really scared but I know I have to be out of my comfort zone in order to keep growing.
I want to finish up by talking about my new business, jailong.co, which is focused on teaching business to creative entrepreneurs. It blows my mind that I can just think of a fun project and make it happen and that even thoughI’ve grown up, I still get to be a kid and play on the projects that I want to do. I make decisions not out of fear, but from knowing that I have the power to change my life, to do more, be more and love more.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Thanks for taking the time to listen to my stories – if it can help just one person then I know I’ll have succeeded.
Find me on Insta, and if you want to share this podcast then be sure to tag me in.
Cheers guys, catch you next time!
I know that ‘money’ can sometimes seem like a dirty word. It’s a topic that some people hate talking about – but it’s so important! That’s why I’m hoping I can offer some good takeaways that make it a little easier for you to understand. Unfortunately, we simply don’t get taught about money unless we take it upon ourselves to get educated. We spend so much time trying to optimise our lives (how we can be the most productive, get more Instagram followers, etc.), so why shouldn’t we optimise our relationship with money as well? I wanted this episode to help you do just that, so you can actually have your money work for you.
Everyone learns about financial issues in a different way. For me, I’ve had to sort of learn through experience. I grew up in a very low-income household in a poor socioeconomic neighbourhood. I know what it’s like to not have money, which has allowed me to have the mindset that I only have something to gain and nothing to lose. Growing up in poverty has also let me use my creative superpowers to brainstorm more unconventional ways to make money. When I was about 25, I was making a lot of money but I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t afford certain things. So, I decided to read every book about money that I could find and hired a financial adviser and an accountant. Bottom line: I learned how to use this advice along with basic common sense to build wealth.
My favourite phrase is, “Build wealth for your future self.” This means that all of the choices you make today can affect your future self, which means that the time to take control of your finances is right now. The present is also a good time to get started because we’re currently experiencing the biggest transfer of wealth in history (more billionaires than ever, boomers are giving way to millennials, wealth is being unlocked). Education can help you tap into that transfer and allow you to create wealth for yourself and for future generations to come.
You might have some money hang-ups that are holding you back from building your wealth. You might be self-sabotaging by thinking there’s some sort of honour in poverty or by having the mindset that money changes you in some way. That means you’re operating in a scarcity mindset, often ruled by resentment or fear. However, I’m a firm believer that you are actually selfish if you’re not trying to make money. The single biggest impact you can make on the world is to make money – to create jobs and opportunities for the people that work for you and for your family. Making money means you also have the power to make decisions on where your money goes (such as into ethical business decisions that might improve society or the planet). Once you have enough to spare, you can put your money into things that you truly believe in.
By focusing on what you have and what you want, you can create an abundance mindset (instead of a scarcity mindset). This means you believe there’s enough money to go around, which then leads to the power of attraction. You can ask the universe for what you want because it’s what you know you deserve. If you look around, every single thing you look at is a reflection of someone making money or generating income. This unlocks the idea that there’s always money to be made and opportunities out there for you to take advantage of – the possibilities of which are endless.
Once you’re in an abundance mindset, you can put your money to work. I put away 40% of everything I earn, I have no credit cards, and I have no backup plan. That means I have to constantly put my money to work. If I invest my money in a low-interest savings account, I’ll barely get any return on my money over time (especially accounting for inflation). However, if I invest in the stock market, I can take advantage of the power of compounding. Keep in mind: investing is all about having foresight; you can’t stress yourself about short-term gains. Look at the broader picture to see what will have value in the future. On the same note, evaluate opportunity costs and what return you’ll get. For example, when I started out as a wedding photographer, I was shooting with lenses that didn’t really work because I couldn’t afford the equipment. Instead of spending $500 on new lenses, I signed up for a workshop that cost me $2,000. While I spent more money initially, this workshop ended up making me tens of thousands of dollars over the next few years, so the opportunity cost was well worth it.
One key point I’d like to make is that you should always tip your scales so that your income is heavier than your expenses. People have a tendency to keep spending money as they’re earning it. We grow with how much money we make. However, this can become toxic. I recommend putting your profits first, then focusing on sales, and then expenses. Be sure that you’re making sales and you’re making enough money to pay off or lower your expenses. Within the sales arena, don’t sell yourself short. Always price your services according to what people are actually prepared to pay. By offering unnecessary discounts, you could end up creating a less than perfect experience for your client and getting underpaid in the process. I’d also like to note that knowing your worth doesn’t mean that you should feel bad about taking on other jobs or projects. There’s no shame in getting a second job, a side hustle, upselling your services or taking on more revenue streams. All of this generated income can go into growing your business and building your wealth.
Making direct changes with my money means that I’m generating an income that serves my clients and myself. I’m using my money to create opportunities and build a better world. If you have questions or thoughts about this topic, DM me for a chat on @jailong.co. Hopefully, this has made money a little more approachable for you!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
Follow me on Instagram @jailong.co
In this episode of ‘Make Your Break’, Jarrad Seng shares with us how his career got started and some of his career highlights. Then myself & Jarrad dive into a quick mastermind to talk about ways you can either identify an opportunity or create an opportunity from a situation. I think it is inspiring to hear from people like Jarrad, just how he has created his career into what it is today.
My highlight from this conversation is when Jarrad is telling us about a story from a few months ago, drinking with Ed Sheeren for his birthday at Pizza Hut and buying a house on a whim over the internet in the early hours of the morning. It sounds like such a typical rockstar story!
Here are the 5 different stories Jarred and I cover in regards to creating or identifying an opportunity:
My online course ‘Album Academy’ is about to drop. So if you would love to start designing and selling albums, this course is going to be a game-changer. To get started, you can download the free tip guide and join the waiting list.
If you would like to internet creep Jarrad, check out his Instagram here. I also suggest googling his name and watching some of the funny things he has been up to over the last few years.