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.

How We React to Negative Reviews

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.

 

Constructive Criticism Vs. Negativity

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.

 

Two Types of Negative Reviewer

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.

 

Your Business as a Ship

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.

 

Why Do People Leave Bad Reviews?

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. 

 

My Personal Negative Reviews

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.

 

The Second Bad Review

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.

 

Negative Podcast Reviews

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. 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself 

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!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

Jai Long
Dan O'Day with Jai Long

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.

The Perfect Time is Now

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.

www.danodayphotography.com.au

Taking the Time to Reflect

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.

 

Impact on the Wedding Industry

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!).

 

How Dan Started his Business

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.

 

Prospects for the Future

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.

 

Finding the Car Park

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. 

How Can We Stop Ourselves Becoming Victims of our Own Circumstances?

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!

To See Dan O’Day’s work, head over to his WEBSITE or INSTAGRAM

 

Jai Long

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.

What is a Bubble?

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.

 

Recession as Opportunity

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.

 

Questions to Ask Yourself 

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.

 

Here’s How to Help Your Business Get Through a Recession:

1 – Card Expenses and Tracking All Outgoings

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. 

 

2 – Get Innovative

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.

 

3 – Add Value, Not Price

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.

 

4 – Staff

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.

 

5 – Don’t Stop Learning

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.

 

6 – Diversify 

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. 

 

7 – Get Creative 

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. 

 

8 – Scale Back

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.

 

9 – Don’t Cut Back on Marketing and Education

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.

 

10 – Negotiate Better Deals with Suppliers

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. 

 

11 – Use Your Savings to Invest in Your Business

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.

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

Jai long photographer

 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. 

Reasons to Blog in 2020

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. 

 

Why is a Blog a Great Idea?

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.

 

Jai Long Co

 

Things to Consider When it Comes to Your Blog

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. 

 

Obstacles to Blogging

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.

 

Jai Long

 

What Is Your Blog Post About?

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.

 

Video Blogs and Audio 

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.

 

More Blog Ideas

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 and Gallery Posts

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.

 

Ideas for Content Creation

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. 

 

 

9 tips for creating better blogs

 

 

 

 

 

9 Tips for Creating Better Blogs

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.

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

 

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:

FREE WORKBOOK – DOWNLOAD HERE

 

 

 

how to better use instagram

1 – How to Get Followers

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

 

Would You Follow Yourself?

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.

 

2 – How Instagram Can Help With 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.

 

3 – Content is King

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.

heartbreak hotel photobooth

Use IGTV to Educate

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. 

 

4 – Workings of Instagram 

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. 

 

5 – Engagement 

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!):

@Jailong.co
@Freethebirdweddings
@Analogfeatures
@Heartbreakbooth
@Freethebirdpresets

 

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!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

How to better use instagram with Jai Long
Free The Bird Workshop

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!

Which Platforms Should You Focus On?

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.

 

The Benefits of Making Your Own Videos

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. 

Personality Vs. Profession

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.

 

Is Facebook Still Useful?

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.

 

Are Insta Stories the Future?

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. 

 

Social Media Anxiety

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.

 

Serving the Audience

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.

 

Social Media Interactions

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.

 

The Rise of Podcasting and IGTV

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.

 

How Do You Get More Followers?

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.

 

Dealing with Negative Reactions

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.

 

Wrapping Up

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:

@Joshuamikhaiel
@Joshjay.co
@Claire_coulthard
@Keegancronin
@Usamah.hussain
@Featherandthefinchphotography
@Jailong.co

 

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!

 

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

 

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.

Jai Long Photographer

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 success

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?

 

Scarcity Mindset

Believe it or not, most people have a scarcity mindset; this means that they often:

  • Act as a victim or a bully
  • Put others down to make themselves feel better
  • Call people out and create drama
  • Feel like an imposter
  • Feel like their isn’t enough to go around
  • Envious of their competitors
  • Feel entitled

 

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.

 

Abundance mindset

If you have an abundance mindset, you:

  • Are in control
  • Believe in your vision
  • Know that there’s enough to go around
  • Feel positive
  • Work on things that are bigger than you
  • Are excited about the tasks ahead
  • Are willing to help those around you
  • Concentrate on the big picture and positive outcomes
  • Are clear with your thoughts
  • Actively seek advice and feedback
  • Don’t judge or compare yourself to others

 

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.

 

People I’ve met with scarcity vs. abundance mindsets

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.

Jai Long

Wedding Photography Mindset

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?

Jai Long

Educational Workshops Mindset

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?

Free The Bird Workshop

Who I want to work with

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.

 

Unlock your potential and change your mindset

I want to give you some practical tips that can help you change your mindset to one of abundance:

  • Become aware of your thoughts – ask yourself why you are making a decision
  • Practise gratitude – be grateful
  • Think like a beginner – learn and grow
  • Limit the time you spend with people who have a scarcity mindset – even if they are close to you, talk through their decisions considering the scarcity vs. abundance mindset
  • Remind yourself – don’t let yourself slip back into a scarcity mindset
  • Be kind to yourself – this won’t happen overnight, so be patient

 

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!

 

Workshops

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.

BOOK YOUR SEAT NOW!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

Zoë Morley

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.

Starting Out

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…).

 

Focus on your business, not social media

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 Morley

Nonjabulo

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.

Zoe Morley

The Challenges

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.

 

The Big Night

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.

Zoë Morley

What did she learn?

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:

  • Research – Know who you’re going to work with and check if they are happy to work with you – a good relationship with a charity will make the world of difference.

 

  • Get help when you need it – If you’re running a fundraising exhibition then ask for help and work with a group who you can delegate jobs to – basically, don’t do everything yourself.

 

  • Make sure you have a reason ‘why’ you’re doing this – Choose a charity that you’re really passionate about -in the hard times, having a ‘why’ will get you through.

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 🙂

 

 

Workshops

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.

BOOK YOUR SEAT NOW!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

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.

 

Write your own story

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

 

Learn about money

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 keythere 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.

 

Don’t sell your time

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:

  • Be a professional wedding photographer
  • Shoot 30 weddings
  • Teach a creative business workshop
  • Learn how to shoot in manual mode

 

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…

Launching my first workshop

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.

 

My new story

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:

  • Self-confidence will get you everything.
  • Be resilient and don’t let failure stop you from living your best life.
  • Don’t let people who don’t have your best interest at heart give you advice or jade your perspective.
  • Trust in yourself.

 

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!

Jai Long
Startup Creative with Jai Long

My goals are always centred around growth – both personally and professionally. Because of this, I’ve wanted to have a business coach on the show for a while now. That’s I was really excited to get the chance to chat with Kaylene Langford from Startup Creative in Melbourne. She runs a successful coaching agency that reaches clients through her podcast, online courses, in-person workshops, and a print magazine. She’s all about getting people to start living their best lives, so I thought it’d be cool to get some inside info on coaching as well as have actually her do a little coaching for me during the podcast.

USE YOUR BACKGROUND TO INFORM YOUR FUTURE

I’m a firm believer that the experiences you’ve had in the past help to shape your current position in life. Kay started out as a youth worker who developed programs to engage at-risk boys. The skills she learned when she first started out (like taking something that’s dry or boring and delivering it in a creative way that actually engages people) has become influential in her current career. She also realised through spending some time working in government that she needed to stick with a job that allowed her to be creative and to bust out of the nine-to-five mold. My own background has also had a strong influence on my life’s journey. I grew up with not a lot of money, getting handouts and vouchers in order to get by. I couldn’t read or write well until after high school. I had to be creative so that I could sort of fake it ’til I made it. Growing up like this taught me to take risks, since I’ve always had everything to gain and nothing to lose. I opened my first business at 20, was bankrupt at 21, and learned that money comes and goes, but I can always grow (which I’ve taken with me into my later business endeavours).

Startup Creative

WHAT WE CAN ACHIEVE WITHOUT FEAR

Fear can hold us back from so much in our lives – but especially from succeeding in the business world. Kay suggests trying to step back and observe your fear as if it was happiness and to remember that fear is just a moment in time. Although it’s uncomfortable and can activate physical sensations in our bodies, if you can try not to take it so seriously and to just observe it, you can actually master the feeling. Instead of going into a full fight-or-flight response every time you’re scared, you can ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen. Being detached from your fear and looking at it from an outside perspective can make us less attached to the outcome. You can go through ups and downs and not become completely destroyed by the lows, allowing you to stop your fear from holding you back.

 

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT BUSINESS COACH

A business coach is someone you pay for their time, their network, and their expertise. Through them, you can get help to make a plan that will allow you to achieve your career goals. To find the right coach for you, start with someone you vibe with or someone who inspires you. Do your research and jump on a phone call with potential coaches to see if they’re the right fit for you before you go deeper into the process. The right coach can help you build a business that’s an extension of yourself and can get you out of places in your career that feel stagnant and stale. An effective coach can also teach you some valuable shortcuts so that you’re only spending time on the parts of your business that you really want to develop. It might help to look at a business coach as an investment – these people can serve as educators that can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t in your career.

Startup Creative

ELIMINATING THE ROADBLOCKS IN YOUR CAREER

I’ve found that one of my main hang-ups is that I’m stuck in my past – like deep down I still feel like I’m just a person who came from an underprivileged background. Because of how I grew up, I often wonder if I’m limiting myself to what the people around me could achieve when I was younger. What if I can’t imagine a brighter future because it’s something that I haven’t seen? Kay offered me a solution – literally changing the way my brain works. As the saying goes, “Neural pathways that fire together, wire together.” Instead of getting stuck in familiar loops, we should actually determine what’s truly possible for ourselves. She suggests getting in a meditative state where your unconscious mind can imagine unlimited possibilities. If you can feel in your body what your dreams would elicit in you then the brain starts to make new neural pathways. This can allow you to dream bigger because you’ll have the vibrational energy inside you and you’ll then be able to start attracting those positive experiences.

One way you can do this is by doing a guided meditation every day. If this doesn’t appeal to you, Kay also recommends writing out what a day in the life of you would be like five years from now. You can allow yourself to fully dream that anything is possible. Write in the present tense with all of the emotions and feelings you can muster. Then every morning when you wake up, you can conjure up those feelings and fully imagine that life for yourself. The goal is to start putting out those vibrations so that your brain is pulled more towards achieving those dreams.

STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR TRUE GOALS

For some people, their goals might be about reaching more Instagram followers or on making their first million dollars. For me, it’s different. I want to make more money so that I can reach more people and give more people a better life. Kay reminded me that there’s a belief that if you can dream it, it’s already in your path. People lose sight of their true goals or they can fail with their current goals because of limiting beliefs they have. If you stay focused on your purpose, you can more easily achieve your goals. Ten years ago, there’s no way that I could have imagined where I am today – so I think if I keep visualising my goals and looking inwards for my purpose, I’ll be better able to unlock my own potential and get rid of whatever’s holding me back.

 

You can fully achieve your goals if you find a business coach that encourages you to pursue your true purpose. Look for a coach who is in the next level of where you want to go so that you can actually see someone achieving what you’re after. Dream big by making a list of these types of people, so you can use them for inspiration. If you want your dream badly enough, freedom exists for you to accomplish it. Kay’s company, Startup Creative, exists to free people from lives that no longer serve them. She and I both agree that it’s totally possible for everyone to create the life of their dreams.

 

For more inspiration, head to Kay’s Facebook or follow her on Instagram at @StartupCreative. Don’t forget to check out her podcast on iTunes or Spotify or head to her website for more information about her online courses and print magazine. You can also email her directly with questions at [email protected].

 

Tune in next time for a chance to listen to more amazing guests like Kay!

 

Workshops

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.

BOOK YOUR SEAT NOW!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

Jai Long

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.

Jai Long

HOW I LEARNED ABOUT MONEY

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.

 

WHY WE SHOULD EDUCATE OURSELVES ABOUT 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.

Jai Long

WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK FROM MAKING MORE MONEY?

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. 

 

SWITCHING TO AN ABUNDANCE MINDSET

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. 

 

HOW TO PUT YOUR MONEY TO WORK

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.

 

KNOW YOUR WORTH

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!


Jai’s 5 favourite books on finances. Click to download


Workshops

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.

BOOK YOUR SEAT NOW!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

 

Follow me on Instagram @jailong.co

Building a community with Jessy and Perry

I’ve become a huge fan of Jessy and Perry from Rhodes Wedding Co. in the US. They’ve created a truly impressive company where they make handcrafted wedding bands and engagement rings. They’ve somehow also managed to establish the perfect combination of creative output along with a beautifully connected community. So, I wanted to chat with them about how they’ve been able to build this special kind of tight-knit community with such true intention and passion.

How to build a business that you actually love

One of the most important steps you can take to create a business that you absolutely love is to figure out what you’re passionate about. Don’t just tolerate specific aspects of your business – instead, discover the tasks that you actually love and focus on those. It’s easy for me to stay creative and motivated with my work because I do truly love every task I do – and the ones I don’t, I delegate to someone else! You can also get rid of tasks you hate by asking yourself, “Is this really adding to my community and my mission?” It’s okay to toss out things that aren’t working for you or that don’t play to your strengths. 

Building A Community With Jessy And Perry

Photo by: katchsilva

When it’s not about the numbers

It’s so easy for people today to get caught up in the numbers game. Whether you’re focusing on how much money you’re making or the number of Instagram likes you’re getting, it can be hard to put your attention anywhere else. However, I’ve found that if you’re creating something with good intent and heart, people will see that and the rest will follow. People will flock towards authenticity. Jessy and Perry created their company from a passion project that has since flourished into a successful business. Their creative outlet expanded because they decided to focus on making a living doing something they actually love and are passionate about instead of how much money they could potentially make. It can also be helpful to become a ‘giver’ – a person who makes an effort to give back to their community (to clients, colleagues, customers, etc.). If you think about how to give back, you’ll get so much more in return and you won’t be as obsessed with those other numbers. Your relationships and your success can grow from there.

Building A Community With Jessy And Perry

Photo by: Phil Chester

Using creativity in your business

As a creative person, I’m always bringing my creativity into my business. Jessy also noted that she can bring creativity into almost every task she does. With her social media outreach, she’s creating relationships and fostering connections with people in their community. These communications lead to the creation of their products – actual, tangible pieces of art that were inspired by that person’s story. Relationships within the community are also like a creative dance with another person since they lead to creative output. Working with a limited number of clients with a focus on clear communication and developing a deeper insight into the relationship allows them to craft unique pieces that resonate with their clients and the community as a whole. I totally agree with this perspective – I can feed my creativity doing any task (from looking after clients to marketing). Creativity doesn’t have to stick to a specific, traditional definition (me photographing something or playing the guitar or drawing a picture), it’s really just problem-solving with a new idea or bringing in a fresh perspective that can get my juices flowing.

Building A Community With Jessy And Perry

Photo by: Nirav Patel

How to foster relationships in the community

Along the same lines, this creativity can lead to strong relationships within your community. In order to do this, it helps to be open and genuine about your own life. It can be incredibly rewarding to create an open line of communication with your customers. People weighing in with offers of support or by sharing their stories creates valuable relationships (even with strangers you’re just interacting with on Instagram). If you put yourself out there in a vulnerable way, you might be surprised by how much you’re positively influenced by these interactions. I’ve had fans reach out that have been following me for years, and their support means so much. Even just an email from someone sharing their story really makes all of the hard work worth it because you’re building something real with other people.

 

When it’s not all about the gram

As I mentioned already, it can be really tempting to get drawn into the obsession with Instagram. For some people, getting more likes and more followers is the ultimate goal for their business. However, for people like me and Jessy and Perry, Instagram can be an effective tool that doesn’t have to be used solely for numbers. Jessy notes that she spends around 20 to 25 hours a week on Instagram, connecting with new followers and commenting on posts to boost engagement. This isn’t about increasing likes though; it’s more about putting the time and effort in so that their customers notice the dedication they have to the community. Perry said it did feel like a burden at first to interact with Instagram on such an intense level every week, but then it felt more worthwhile once they were both able to experience a perspective shift. They realised that Instagram could be used as much more of a community-building tool for them and a way to effectively connect with the right people and form long-term relationships. I can definitely feel this goal when I look at their Instagram – it’s carefully curated and shows them being unapologetically themselves.

I’ve also found that I don’t have to get hung up on how many likes my posts are getting because I can be confident in my own work. A lack of likes doesn’t mean I’m not worth it; it could mean I need to work harder or set different goals, or it could mean that people just don’t get my work. I respect their opinion, but at the end of the day, I make my art for myself and not for other people. So, a less successful Instagram post won’t necessarily make me feel insecure or bummed out.

Rhodes Wedding Rings

Setting new goals for social media

Since I don’t want to get myself down about low numbers on Instagram, it helps to make new goals for myself that feel more true to my own intentions. I do know what the Gram will like, but like Jessy and Perry, we’d rather do something that will resonate with others rather than just post something that would receive a less meaningful mass appeal. And if you’re not being true to yourself, what’s the point? To fail at what you don’t even love is tragic, but to fail at what you love, that experience can still have a lot of worth to it. So, my goal for social media often means that I need to keep reinventing myself. I want to keep being true to what I love and to always be growing. If this is a goal for you too, try asking yourself, “How else can I push myself?” This question can open up a brand new avenue both for expression and for success. 

Building A Community With Jessy And Perry

Photo by: Nirav Patel

What do you find rewarding?

You can build a really strong community by determining what you find valuable. Basically, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if your goal is not based on likes and followers, but rather on something more substantial like strong relationships or giving back to others. Sometimes this path might be a little harder (with not as much instant gratification or validation), but it can also lead to a long-lasting career with engaged community members who will be there for you throughout your journey no matter what. Holding onto goals that don’t feel genuinely rewarding to you will end up meaning you’ll attract the wrong people anyway. It’s always better to be true to yourself and what matters to you than to be fake.

Photo by: Nirav Patel

I had such an amazing time talking with Jessy and Perry. I’m seriously inspired by their goal to push themselves to aspire to limitless growth as well as by their success at building a community that blends perfectly with their business goals. 

Make sure to follow them on Insta @rhodesweddingco and check out Jessy’s website for info about their upcoming projects. 

 

Cheers guys, I’ll see you for the next podcast when I’ll be sharing more stories from awesome guests like Jessy and Perry!

 

Workshops

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.

BOOK YOUR SEAT NOW!

 

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

Today we’re going to talk about goal setting and why it is so important to success. There’s no way that I would have made my own break without setting clear, ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them. It’s what got me started in this business and it’s something I do every single day in order to keep learning and growing.

 

The most important goal I ever set

The biggest goal that I have set for myself was to quit my day job as an electrician and become a full-time wedding photographer. Breaking into the creative industry can be difficult, especially if you don’t already have a foothold in it; however, I made it even harder for myself by saying that I wanted to be:

  • One of the best wedding photographers in Australia
  • Shoot internationally
  • And do it all in 12 months

 

 

I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to manage this if I had a job. I needed to give 100%. So, I quit my job and…that’s when the full weight of reality hit me. I had to pay rent, look after my partner who was in Uni, oh, and I also had two mortgages!

How was I going to achieve these goals? Well, first up I knew I didn’t need any luxuries. I didn’t need a car (I’ll take the train!), I didn’t need a TV (I’ll research photography in the evenings!), basically I didn’t need any of the monetary-focused things that you save up for when you’re working full-time as a means to an end. Now things were different. I was passionate enough about the goals that I’d set to do whatever I could to make it work.

However, we were entering the off-season for weddings in Australia and waiting six months in order to start booking regular gigs didn’t fit in with my goals of shooting internationally and becoming successful within one year. Maybe if I hadn’t set myself these goals, I would have been more flexible but I’m so glad that I stuck to my plan and made my own break instead of letting life happen to me. I booked two tickets for my partner and me to fly to the US, where the wedding season was just kicking off. I contacted blogs, magazines, other photographers, etc. and told them my ambitions and even offered to shoot weddings for free, for a couch to sleep on – it didn’t matter because it’s what I needed to do to achieve my goals.

We shot about 10 weddings all over the country and in some truly epic settings; this was before Adventure Weddings became a big thing, so the shots I got were really unique. When I came back to Melbourne, I was an international wedding photographer AND I had 10 awesome weddings on my website and Instagram, all because I had set ambitious goals and worked incredibly hard to achieve them. I booked 30 weddings for the next year, achieving my goal of becoming a full-time wedding photographer. And because it looked as I was pretty well established I managed to get sponsorship from some US companies and in 2015 I won a bunch of awards as well as being named in Rangefinder’s Top 30 Wedding Photographers.

I learned a lot about goal setting along the way and I want to share this knowledge with you.

Jai Long

Congratulate yourself

First up, it is so important to pat yourself on the back for all of the goals – big and small – that you achieve. If you don’t, no one else will! Get some perspective and look how far you’ve come since you set out on this path. Appreciate the hard work and long nights that have got you here and use that energy to propel yourself towards future goals.

 

SMART goals

In my mentoring sessions, we talk about setting SMART goals. I don’t want to get to business-ey, as I know a lot of you come here for the inspiring stories; however, I find that setting the right kind of goals is just as important as the concept of setting goals altogether.

For example, You might say I want to make $10,000 in 3 months. OK, that’s a tangible goal but it’s not very inspiring. What could that $10K do for you? You could go on holiday, invest in your business, help the people around you…anything that gets you inspired to complete that goal. Locking in on a feeling rather than a figure will always be more motivating.

So, what are SMART goals?

S – Specific

The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Compare ‘I want to lose weight’ with ‘I want to lose 10 kilos in 3 months so I look great in my holiday snaps’. The former is too vague but the latter gives you a set target as well as a reason to achieve it.

M – Measurable

Humans love to measure things, especially success. Have a set goal for financials, e.g. I want to hit $1K every week on shop sales. Just remember to celebrate when you hit them!

A – Attainable

As you can gather from the story I just told, my goals were pretty unrealistic but I reached them. Although I’m really happy that I did it this way, I understand that some people will respond better to realistic, attainable goals. I don’t expect everyone to be the emailing-on-a-Sunday workaholic that I am and I totally appreciate that. So if you want to ensure a work/life balance as well as dreaming BIG, maybe set a large unrealistic goal but set smaller attainable goals that you can hit on your way there. That way you’re day-to-day life will be full of wins whether you hit your big target or not.

R – Relevant

If you set relevant goals, it means that you won’t take on unnecessary work. For example, when wanted to become an international wedding photographer and had no real income, I would get offered money for family portrait shoots…but I would turn them down. People thought I was crazy but it’s because they weren’t getting me close to my goal. Making contacts, blogging, posting on social media were all more important to my goal than making a quick buck doing something that was just going to distract me.

T – Time-Bound

Locking your goal into a time-frame will make you so much more efficient. When I started this podcast, I gave myself a four-week deadline. This was unrealistic, as we had to source equipment, outsource work, etc. but I didn’t let the date slip and we made ended up making it. And as any entrepreneur will know, there is no better feeling than reaching your goal inside of the time limit that you set.

 

Recent goal

We’ve got time for one more quick story. I have family in Norway and I thought ‘How cool would it be if I could shoot a wedding in Norway and catch up with my family at the same time?’ So, I set a time limit of a year and started putting #Norwaywedding hashtags on my Insta, reaching out to Norwegian bloggers and photographers, essentially doing everything to tell the universe what my goal was. Within 3 weeks, someone approached me to shoot their wedding in Norway. I was floored. Amazing!

What it reinforced in my mind is that you have to tell people about your goals, tell them your passions and then you will have so much more chance of reaching them. It sounds simple, but it’s something so crucial that a lot of people forget about. Let the universe in on your plan and it will help you in return.

Jai Long

Jai Long

Goals for 2020

As we come to the end of the year, I want you to think about goal setting. Think about the goals you’ve already hit in the last 12 months. Then think about what goals you want to set next year and what you need to do to achieve them. This could be signing up to a workshop, getting some mentoring or even buying a flight to go and see someone in the industry who you admire and just starting a conversation.

Whatever it is, you need to take charge of your business and make your own break – setting SMART goals and working hard in order to achieve them is the best way I know to do this.

 

Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next episode!

Episode Sponsor

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.

CHECK OUT PEPPERSTORM’S COPYWRITING & SEO SERVICES

 

Jai Long
5 Ways To Fast-Track Your Business, With Alex Cohen

Alex Cohen is one of the hardest working entrepreneurs that I’ve met.  She knows what she wants and she goes straight after it and this is why she is so successful. Because she spends so much time, energy and money on fast-tracking her career, I thought this podcast would be the perfect opportunity to talk to her about how to be resourceful and give yourself the best education.

First up, who is Alex Cohen? She is a wedding photographer she’s based in Perth, WA but she travels a lot…and I mean A LOT. Every two weeks she catches a flight to an (almost always) exotic location that gives me extreme wanderlust. How did she achieve this career?

Well, for people like me and Alex, fear simply doesn’t exist. We jump in at the deep end and don’t want to wait around for success. It’s not about taking shortcuts, it’s about being resourceful and fast-tracking your way to the top – we talk about five ways to do just this.

Ways To Fast-Track Your Business

 

Workshops

Alex thinks paid mentoring and workshopping is the best thing that she has done for her career. (I’m honoured that she mentions my Free The Bird workshop as one of her favourites!) It can seem like a lot of investment but in the long run it can give you massive returns. Plus, you can’t put a price on the benefit of instantly joining a ready-made, likeminded community where everyone is at a similar stage and eager to learn.

It’s important to note that all workshops are not created equal! Choose carefully and make sure you go after the speaker who might be charging a bit more but is killing it, not the one who may save you a bit of money in the short-term. If you implement what you learn then you and make your money back in no time.

By the same token, you have to make sure that you hold on to the information that is relevant to you and our business and leave the rest to the side.  Be careful – if someone suggests massive changes, it can render massive results…but just as this can go really well, it can go really badly. If your speaker is offering quick fixes then you should be suspicious. If it’s a wedding photographer that isn’t booking lots of work and is just trying to boost their income, be very suspicious. Do your research, request social proof, ask around and then double, triple, quadruple check before you pay for advice!

Jai Long and Alex Cohen

Podcasting

Podcasts are (usually) a free resource that we can listen to every day. I certainly do, every morning when I’m walking my dog. It doesn’t have to be about photography, it can be anything, just as long as it’s interesting and I can learn from it – in fact, I can’t remember the last time I listened to a photography podcast! As Alex and I discuss, people go deep on podcasts and can get really personal; however, they also give away a lot of tangible information – prices, numbers, copy wording – and this helps us understand their business.

 

Online Courses

Alex thinks that online courses are incredibly useful to a wedding photographer’s education; once you have bought the videos, you can go back and watch them again and again. She recommends Lilly Red and  India Earl and sometimes still revisits their videos before a wedding for inspiration. Templates (emails, guides, etc.) are very useful too, especially if (like Alex) English is not your first language. It’s a great way to save yourself trawling through YouTube to create the content and spend your time on something more profitable.

Personally, I put together Album Academy to give photographers a complete roadmap to selling and creating an album. I only want to put courses out there that give 100% value. I make $1000 from one album and the course is just $350. If you take the course – and do the work! – you will sell albums. To me, this is a no-brainer! It’s crazy to me that people wouldn’t buy this course and that’s probably true of other good courses too.

Jai Long and Alex Cohen

Social Media

We agree that social media is absolutely essential for education. Alex reckons that YouTube is great for absolute beginners learning to shoot but now the platform is a bit “dusty” and IGTV has taken over! We both love following inspiring stories on social; it doesn’t even have to be about photography – we get revved up by the success stories on Chef’s Table!

 

Networking and Community

Community is the most important thing for business – we wouldn’t be where we are without the help of our friends. Alex says that so many of her best friends have been made online and in her words, “It’s how I made my break!

I totally agree and anyone who has done my workshop will know that I stay involved well after the course. I’ll organise get-togethers, Christmas parties, etc., whereas some workshop leaders are out as soon as the final talk is over. I think this is the difference between ‘networking’ and ‘communicating’ – ‘networking’ hints at selfishness and greed as you are only out for yourself, whereas we think you should be all about ‘connecting’. Make friends first with no conditions and if something happens for your business then that’s great – if not, at least you made a friend!

Instead of thinking of what you can get from people, think of what you can do for them – then the world will open up to you and people will fall over themselves to pay you back.

Jai Long and Alex Cohen

Paid vs. Free

Nowadays we live in a world in which education is at our fingertips, whether it’s YouTube classes, mentoring or workshops. This is awesome but it can also be overwhelming, as there are so many ways out there to learn and a lot of them are free – but are they worth it?

Alex thinks that free resources only touch the shallow end of what you need, whereas paid content is tailored to give you everything you require. I certainly agree that you value things differently when you’ve paid for them compared with when you get them for free. In my courses, the people who have traveled, hired a babysitter, etc. will be the ones who are paying the most attention.

It’s the same with clients -the ones who pay top dollar are the ones who understand the experience and leave us to do what we do best.

Take Alex, for example – in under three years, she has gone from new on the scene to recently booking a $15K wedding. That’s my biggest wedding fee to date too and it feels amazing to be valued at that price. However, we deliver at least $20K of value and those clients will walk away thinking that we were worth more than what they paid. Be confident in your product and yourself and you will earn what you deserve.

5 Ways To Fast-Track Your Business, With Alex Cohen

I had such a blast having Alex on my podcast and I have no doubt you’ll enjoy listening to it too! You can find Alex on Instagram either at her Wedding Photography account: @alexcohenphotography or her personal one: @alexcohen.

And before I forget, I have two courses coming up that will cover Posing and Lighting. We’ve been working so hard on these and they are going to be game-changers!

We also have workshops next year in Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles, and New York. I’m so excited about these and if you want more information check out my Courses page.

See you for the next episode!

 

Creating Content on a budget

Creating content on a budget is one of the most important skills that a business owner can learn. Why? Because content is king and it isn’t going to lose that crown any time soon. But the pressure to constantly create fresh content can make the process seem time-consuming and costly. What I want to talk about today is taking the stress out of creating content and saving you more than a few dollars along the way.

We all create content every day, maybe without even knowing it; that Instagram caption that you just posted? Content. The Snapchat photo that you sent yesterday? Content. Which leads us to our first important lesson…

 

Not all content is created equal!

That’s right. Some content is brilliant. And some content is…terrible. You only have to flick through a social media feed to understand this. However, when you are creating content for your brand, you only want to promote the posts that are going to represent your brand in the right way. Understanding this can save you a tonne of time and effort, which equates to money saved on creating poor or mid-level content.

 

Content: It’s all about quality, not quantity

I’m a firm believer that it’s better to put out nothing than something that damages your brand. To do this, think of why you are releasing this content? Who is it for? What reaction do you want?

I know that it can seem as if you’re missing out if you’re not posting every second of the day but I urge you to let go of this idea. Don’t get anxiety about posting all the time. Nowadays, people see through the fakers, especially on Instagram and the platform itself seems to be rewarding genuine and interesting content rather than the same old stuff churned out just for the sake of it.

Jai Long

Free The Bird Photography

Believe in your own content

If I’m only creating one piece of content then it has to be the best content that I can make. This doesn’t mean that I have to buy the most expensive gear or spend thousands of dollars in ads promoting it but it does mean that I have to think about the impact that I want it to make. How can I make it interesting, entertaining and informative enough for the listener to share, like, comment or listen to the next episode? Because if I can’t, what’s the point?!

If you don’t care about your content then your audience won’t either.

 

How to stretch out your content

If you want to create content on a budget then you need to learn how to stretch out your content. This can involve repurposing existing content, getting multiple pieces of content out of one session of work or even sharing your content on different audience platforms.

For example, here’s an IGTV video that I made about How To Shoot Large Format Film.

One piece of content, right? NO! Not only am I going to release the video, I’m going to create a blog post around it, share it on social media, use it in my Instagram tiles and share it on my newsletter. I can do this because I planned ahead of time and put a lot of effort into deciding the best way to create a piece of content that can be used not once but multiple times in several different formats.

I’m going to do the same for a podcast that I recorded on the same day – not only am I going to create the same auxiliary content around it (blogs, social, Insta tiles, newsletters) but I’m also going to create another piece of content for my guest to share with his audience, giving me the opportunity to put my brand in front of his followers who may then also become my followers.

So out of just one day of work, I’ve created dozens of content opportunities, enough that could keep a brand going for a week, a month or maybe more. It didn’t require any extra financial investment – all it took was forward-planning and initiative.

 

Create content with a little help from your friends

If you have a group of friends who work in similar industries (designers, copywriters, photographers, etc.), why not pool your resources? Have a brainstorming session and don’t be afraid to create content for them – it always comes back around, as they will be incentivised to create content for you as well as allow you the opportunity to link to your brand via the content that you made for their audience.

Creating Content on a budget

You have more time than you think

Sometimes you might feel as if you don’t have enough time or resources to create content – I understand this sentiment but if you think about it, you probably have everything you need to create quality content in your pocket (your smartphone) and an upcoming bus ride/plane flight/evening alone that’s the perfect opportunity to get to work.

Creating content on a budget can be easy these days, given all the awesome tools at our disposal. If you have a smartphone then you essentially have a great camera, an editing suite (apps) and direct access to platforms on which to post your content. We sometimes get so caught up in thinking that we need to produce the raddest content possible and forget that it’s the content that’s honest, useful and created with a specific audience in mind that will make the biggest impact time and time again.

 

Let’s put this particular piece of content (the blog post that you just read and the podcast that you listened to) to the test and see if it’s inspiring enough for you to leave an awesome review, subscribe to my channel, share it with a your friends and tune in to the next episode, which is all about how to avoid burnout and recovering your creativity.

See you soon, guys!

Jai Long

In this episode, I talk about hiring your perfect team and how to go about it. I have been hiring people to work for me since I was 20 years old, when I ran my first business, a cafe called, Buddha Belly. Diving into hiring and creating a team without any experience was a huge learning curve for me and something I continue to learn about every single day.

I’ve hired and sometimes had to fire people but what I really want to tell you about is how I have grown as a leader, which didn’t come naturally. No matter where you start in life, you still need to hone your leadership skills to be able to steer the workforce.

If you have the ability to listen to the people that work for you, you are off to a great start because most people just want to be heard. We’re all human beings, and when I talk about my employees or hiring someone, I am talking about a real life human that experiences the same things I do that has dreams and goals, and all those wonderful things that I have too. They are real life humans and step number one is, treating them like so.

The other thing about working with humans, is that we are emotional. As a leader, you need a certain degree of EQ, emotional intelligence. In fact, I would argue that, it’s the most important attribute you could have as a leader.

I have a full time editor at Free The Bird Weddings and he basically runs the daily tasks of the business, including editing. It is amazing having him here with us and taking a chance on him was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. He started back in 2016 and he really was fresh. Still at university and didn’t really know what he was doing. I made sure to put in as many hours as I could to train him up and today is produces incredible work. It’s not all thanks to me sitting over his shoulder though. But it is thanks to the experience I have had, being a leader. I give him the space and time he needs to learn and I listen to him. I push him enough so he is always growing and I make sure he learns it all on his own.

So before you decide to hire anyone, take a step back, and think, do I have what it takes to be leader?

 

ALBUM ACADEMY is LIVE!!! Hit this link to see what it’s all about.

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.

 

Jarrad Seng Podcast

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:

 

  • “Fake it till you make it”. A story from Jarred about how Adobe contacted him to be a Lightroom expert and how he navigated around the opportunity
  •  “Opening a door”. I talk about how I sold my car to invest in my business and used the money to create a portfolio of work
  • “Get yourself in the room”. Jarred tells us about how he got on to the TV show, Survivor.
  • “Turning a disaster into an opportunity” Jarred smashed his friend’s camera and got a job working with Canon as a result.
  • “Doing what you love, no matter the cost”. We both talk about shooting for free and not letting rules stop us from achieving what we want.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Jarrad Seng and Jai Long
Dan O'Day

This episode marks my first ever podcast interview. Dan O’Day joins us to have a chat about his relationship with money and how taking control of his finances and setting personal goals has been a real game-changer.

I remember having a good discussion with Dan a few years ago in which he told me about how he was going to buy his first home. This is a goal that many of us share but can sometimes feel unachievable. What I loved about the conversation was hearing how Dan was taking action and making steps towards that goal. We chatted about the importance of having a professional financial advisor in your corner to help you along the way.

I’ve put together a few tips on how to find the right financial advisor for you. The world of financial advice can be hard to navigate and I understand that many people don’t even know where to start. So let’s change that right now!

Dan O'Day

Tip One

Ask around to see if you can find a good referral. As with any service, it’s always easier to talk to someone you trust by getting get a first-hand recommendation. If no one in your immediate friend circle springs to mind, think of anyone you know who may use a financial advisor and reach out to them for some direction.

 

Tip Two

Now you’ve shortlisted a couple of advisors, go and meet them to see if the two of you will get along. Hiring a financial advisor usually means that you’ll be working with them for years to come, so it’s important to have someone you can trust and with whom you can communicate effectively.

 

Tip Three

Find out how they expect to be compensated. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for one upfront, while others will receive commissions from products that they’ll try and get you to purchase. I always go with someone that I pay directly and who I feel has my best interests at heart. Sometimes you can set them up in your super fund so that you’re not out of pocket straight away.

Dan O'Day

Tip Four

Be honest with both your advisor and with yourself. Tell them your goals (even if they seem impossible) and be candid about how much you really earn and spend. They’ll be able to help you on the way to achieve these aims and it will be incredibly beneficial to have an exact number of what you need to make as a target to aim for.

 

I hope that these tips will help you find the right financial advisor; now check out the podcast episode and hear more about how Dan O’Day has approached his journey towards financial success.

 

 

Dan O'Day

Jai Long

In this episode, I have a conversation about the (sometimes uncomfortable) subject of money.

Ah, money… It’s so interesting that it sparks such different views and personal relationships within all of us.

I know for a fact that, as creatives, many of us feel guilty about making money; this sounds odd but it’s true. We actually often stop ourselves from making money without even knowing it.

It all comes down to our individual mindset and relationship with money, which can be formed from so many different experiences in our lives. Some people may associate money with evil, perhaps because their parents used to fight a lot over finances when they were younger.

Maybe your parents worked hard to earn a lot of money and therefore weren’t around when you were growing up?

Or maybe you have a different view. Maybe your parents made a large amount of money and you saw them help all the people around them; you got inspired by how they could help your family and community and provide everything that you needed and wanted. Or maybe they were around all the time exactly because they weren’t hung up on making loads of money.

Maybe it has nothing to do with your parents at all and you’ve become inspired by other people around you. Maybe it’s not even people but movies that serve as your inspiration? Only you know where your mindset and relationship with money comes from.

But the chances are that no one ever taught you about money. Not your parents, your teachers or your peers – this is usually because they also don’t know about money.

Ah, money! We all make and use it in such different ways. Some of us swap different things for it, some people are able to make a lot of it and others struggle to make any at all. Some people save it and store it and others use it.

One thing that I believe is that money isn’t talked about enough. And that is why today we’re taking a deep dive straight into this hard subject. I think that the more we open up and have conversations around money, the easier it will be for people to understand its whole concept, function and utility.

Here are a few reasons why I think people don’t talk about money:

We can feel insecure. Maybe we don’t make as much money as our friends or co-workers, or we suspect that we don’t and would rather not know.

Or maybe we make more than others and don’t want people to feel bad…or jealous, or envious.

Another reason is because we tend to shy away from things we don’t know much about.

Also, we don’t get taught about money in our schooling system, besides the fact that you need to get good grades so you can get a good job and start working and essentially exchanging your time for money.

It may lead to an argument, especially if it’s a topic you don’t talk about much with your partner.

We also don’t like to talk about it because sometimes we know we’re in a bad situation and would rather bury our heads in the sand rather than dealing with it directly.

Another reason why we don’t talk about money is that we often associate our personalities and character with the amount that we earn: what class we’re in, what friend group we’re in, etc. If we admit to people that we don’t actually have control over our finances, we may feel as if we could lose our identity.

You see, we usually associate ourselves with earning more money than we do. That’s why we borrow money that we don’t have to buy a car we can’t afford, all to build an image that we’d like to portray to the world. If we admit to our friends that we’re actually not doing as well as we may seem, we may lose the identity that we’ve created for ourselves.

“Some people are able to make a lot of it and others struggle to make any. Some people save it and store it and others use it.”

 

Make Your Break Podcast

 

In the show, I chat about my free eBook Cashflowing Like A Boss. I want you to download it to discover ways in which you can save money in your business. Even if it’s just a few dollars, it all counts. As the saying goes, “A small leak will sink a great ship.

Every year I go through the steps outlined in this eBook and find ways that my businesses can save a few dollars in order to relieve some of the financial pressure. This year alone, after a just day’s worth of work, I was able to save over $5000.

As always, if you have any questions about this episode, feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond.