For Wedding Photographers Archives - Jai Long

Our story so far – By Morgan Vandermark

It’s impossible to start our story without mentioning the person who brought us together. Who in a quest to chase his dream, died not long after. To us both, his last gift.

 

Dwight was Jai’s best mate & my cousin, who died on the other side of the globe racing sidecars in the deadliest race in the world.

 

June, 2016: Dwights Funeral

After an emotional funeral where my sister braved the audience with a speech & Jai and Leelou preformed a beautiful song. My mum, after a few drinks to send off Dwight, approached Jai without my knowledge to tell him that he has to give me a job. This is where the conversation began & a week later I started.

Dwight Beare

Dwight Beare.

 

It was Jai’s film photography that drew me into his work and is what I respected & loved so much. I was in ore of his photography. I remember showing my housemates when he would put up a new image; “How is this even possible?”.  I was desperate to learn from Jai. Apart from a love for film photography I really walked into Jai’s business a wee little pawn.

I started just watching. Soaking up everything that was in front of me. Editing, slideshows, album design, branding, marketing, photography. It all started small, with me asking question after question & taking way longer than you think Jai & Leelou would have the patience for. I had a spark for all things creative & our conversations always ended in great bursts of inspiration.

I’m always asked what it’s like to work under Jai so here it goes… Mayhem.

Jai has a unique perspective on all aspects of work, business & creativity. It’s an idea to action in the same breath. If it’s a good idea then “yep, get the gear, let’s do it now”. There is no dwelling on ideas or trying to ‘figure it out’. It’s just getting into it.

Jai doesn’t look at outside influence as something to peg your own abilities against. He only looks at what we create as a business & pegs it against our last work. Which is constantly improving. This view of Jai’s is insane and I believe why he is so profound at creating impact in all he does. His ability to only focus on our tasks at hand and what we are doing allows him to experience little to no doubt with more triumph as we celebrate in everything we create.

But, it’s not always cheersing a pint down at the local bar…

Sometimes it feels as though you are constantly being thrown in deep end; where if you stand on your tippy-toes & crank your neck to 90 degrees, you can just get enough air to move on with the task at hand. As soon as manage to tiptoe to a comfortable position I am ripped out into deeper water.

October, 2020: Phone call from Jai (Midway through Covid 19 lockdown)

Jai: Hey man, I want to make the biggest wedding photography summit in the world with the best speakers America has to offer.. I want you to run the whole thing. Are you up for it?

Me: Far out… Sounds incredible. Yes, let’s do it.

 

November, 2020 4:00 am : Summit Day 

Walking up the stairs of the building where we are broadcasting the summit. A team of four. No idea if all the planning would pull off and I really was ‘up for it’. Hearts pounding, using gear I have only tested a handful of times in a situation we have never experienced. Completely in-charge of tech, camera’s, audio, DJ, lights, internet and streaming to over 8000 people from around the world. ‘One minute until live’. Jai’s doing push up’s to up the energy & shake out the 4am feels. I am running over every situation that could go wrong with doubt creeping in. What if the internet cuts out, streaming platform has been set up incorrectly, audio sounds horrible, and on…

3…2…1… LIVE

Jai’s talking, but can people see him? hear him?

Chatbox opens and is going at a rate I can barely read. 2,000 people live. No one mentions an issue. Everything is working. (Exhales)… Thank fuck.

Our story so far has been one of growth, friendship, success & failure. From business to business, task to task. We have adapted & changed through anything in our way. My rolls are forever changing and adapting as our business grows and we aim higher taking on more complex tasks.

Through Heartbreak Hotel I helped Jai bring a business from paper to reality, from no work to booming, and from owning to selling, all in the space of four years.

Now, after almost 5 years after starting to work for Jai, I shoot all our video & photography content, edit everything, run our online workshops/summits, design, copywriting, directing & work alongside Jai in all aspects of the business.  Thanks to this wealth of knowledge I have attained from working under Jai I have also shot weddings, both photo & video, under my own name.

Every day I am excited to walk into work not knowing what crazy idea we will come up with & execute not long after. Jai & myself work together extremely well. We disagree rarely and when we do it’s usually on what we can do to make a thing we are creating as amazing as they can be. Even then we are able to sit back & listen to the other person, ready to be convinced and for our ideas & perspectives to merge into one complete super power.

I’m proud of all the things I have learned & overcome whilst working for Jai and I’m ready to say yes to whatever insane idea pops up next.

 

To work in this company alongside both Jai & Leelou is incredible.  Or as Dwight would say “living the dream”.

I hope you enjoyed a peak behind the curtains.

Morgan x

 

 

Working with Jai & Leelou at a shared studio in Cremorne, 2016. 

Morgan Vandermark and Jai Long

First time out shooting film with Jai + a model, 2017. 

Morgan Vandermark on film

Moved to a bigger shared studio in Collingwood, 2018.

Morgan Vandermark with Jai Long

Moved into our very own studio, 2019.

Morgan Vandermark

Preparing for the Summit, 2020.

Celebrating a successful summit, 2020.

 

 

Morgan Vandermark
Wedding Photography Summit 2020

I believe in setting big goals and taking big risks to get the success you want in life. I am a Business Coach and mentor and it’s important to me to be inspiring people with not only what I have done in the past, but with what I can do right now.

 

Do what others won’t to get the success others don’t have.

 

I seen so much negativity in the wedding photography industry and people really struggling throughout 2020 and for good reason, it’s been bloody hard for most of us. I didn’t want the year to end that way though and I said to Morgan (my right-hand man) “F*ck it, let’s do something big”.

I told him that I am willing to invest $75,000 (my savings) into something and bring some positivity to the industry and help those people that really need it most right now.

Now as a business coach, many people thought I was crazy. Why would you do something that could lose money? But look, I am an entrepreneur, not a business owner. It’s not always about money and a return on investment and all that other boring stuff that doesn’t make my life fun. It’s about pushing to see what is possible. Inspiring, motivating others, and lifting people up.

Life is too short to just be chasing a “return on investment”.

But as we all know… Those that are willing to do something for free, with love and passion, often received the greatest rewards. And that to me, is the definition of a ‘Creative Entrepreneur’.

Wedding Photography Summit Behind The Scenes Documentary

12-speakers, 2-days, 8159 attendees, over 50 countries, over 10 hours of live streaming. Watch the video to see how it went down!

Jai Long speaking live

Six Figure Business Map Jai Long Wedding Photography Summit Business Map with Jai Long Jai Long Wedding Photography Summit Jai Long

Obviously, I got a lot of push-back and skepticism and we got a lot of love and support at the same time. It was a risky move, but one that I knew was important right now.

 

Morgan and I did the simple maths and worked out how affordable we could make this event so people that need it most will have access.

 

I had $75,000 to invest so we figured, why not make the tickets $7 and try to get 10,000 attendees. I know…. That’s a bit of a stretch and literally, no one in the world has done something like this before. But I thought f*ck it, why isn’t it possible? Who says it can’t work?

 

Getting 10,000 to a workshop is a mega task for any marketing and advertising agency and Morgan and I did it on our own, bootstrapping the whole way and using all kinds of marketing hacks under the sun to make the dream work.

 

The risk for this was huge. I know I could have failed massively in front of the whole industry and I could have lost a lot of money. But you know what, life is too short to worry about a scenario that doesn’t even exist yet. So we went guns blazing and put 100% into everything.

 

All in or nothing. ALWAYS

Jai Long Wedding Photography Summit

This event pushed my comfort zone and what I thought was possible. I had to reach out to the industry leaders to try and pitch them the idea, often waking up at 3 am to jump on a zoom call to make the time difference work. I had to learn Facebook ads and new marketing strategies that I haven’t done before, and Morgan and I had to learn all the hardware and software to make it all work.

Jai Long and team

We gave ourselves 5 weeks to do all of that.

 

Fast forward to the Wedding Photography Summit 2020 and we hit some milestones. One of them being we created the biggest wedding photography workshop in the world and we impacted so many lives that needed help at this exact moment.

 

2-days
12-speakers
8159 Attendee
10+ hours of live streaming

 

All I can say is, dream big. Have unrealistic goals that inspire people. Because why not go in 100% into what you love and feel alive.

Those that would take on big risks for the love of what they do, will always see big returns from the universe and I believe this 100%.

Now we are looking towards 2021 and how we can bring it back. Even bigger and even better. So If you enjoyed the ride so far, don’t worry, more to come.

Wedding Photography Business Coach Jai Long Wedding Photography Business Coach Wedding Photography Summit 2020 Wedding Photography Summit 2020 Wedding Photography Summit Wedding Photography Summit

The speaker lineup included:

🌟 Jai Long
🌟Jonas Peterson
🌟 India Earl
🌟 Fer Juaristi
🌟 Dawn Jarvis
🌟 Kaley From Kansas
🌟 Elizabeth Austin
🌟 Olivia Markle
🌟 By Leelou
🌟 Igor Demba
🌟 Dylan Howell
🌟 Anni Graham

Inspiring the Sailors inside the Six-Figure Business Map Course

This is the post I put into the Six-Figure Business Map Facebook group, to help inspire those building their own business and really teaching from example.

Wedding Photography summit

That’s it! Let me know in the comments below if you were apart of this workshop! I want to hear from you!

Jai x

Jonas Peterson Photographer

Hey guys and welcome to another episode of Make Your Break. Today I’m talking with destination wedding photographer and master story teller Jonas Peterson about the importance of narrative in art. You’ve probably heard people talk a lot about the importance of storytelling, both in your craft and in your business. Stories are the core of connection; they also help you create desire and value around what you do. Your story will make you unique and more importantly, authentic.

How I Met Jonas Peterson

Before I became a full-time wedding photographer, I spent a couple of weeks in Thailand with my wife. I remember not being happy with my job; I didn’t want to leave Thailand and go back to it.  Photography had always been a passion of mine, so I thought that might be a good place to start. After scrolling through some photography blogs online, I came across wedding photographer Jonas Peterson and I was absolutely blown away by his work. He inspired me to pursue wedding photography.

A year or so later, I saw that Jonas Peterson was holding a workshop. I was barely able to afford it, but I knew I had to get in that room. Attending that workshop was the first step that got me where I am now, so I am thrilled to be able to talk to Jonas on the podcast today and show you all why I was so inspired by him when I was first starting out.

Jonas Peterson Photographer

Getting Creative with Wedding Photography

Jonas Peterson is a destination wedding photographer whose work has taken him all over the world. Jonas started out as a copywriter in advertising, where he had a successful career for years. After a while, he found himself getting burnt out and decided to transition to his passion, photography. He initially saw wedding photography as the lowest form of the craft, as he didn’t think it promoted creativity.

But he found the challenge of reinventing a form appealing. He knew he wanted to do it differently to everyone else; he just had to decide how. Jonas realised that the majority of wedding photography fell into two categories; high-end, precise shoots or cheesy, poorly-executed snapshots. He found there was a lack of story in both and decided that’s where he would make his mark.

This approach paid off; he went from shooting one wedding for his friends to shooting 40 weddings in his first year and 65 in his second. Very quickly, Jonas became one of the top wedding photographers in the world thanks to his narrative-based approach. He extended this focus on story-telling to his website and social channels, ignoring the traditional wedding photographer website format and designing his own. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive.

Jonas Peterson Photographer

The Importance of Standing Out

Jonas thinks that standing out from your competition is crucial. He thinks you should get nervous if your work starts to look the same as everyone else. I agree; if I scroll through a social media hashtag, I often find amazing photographers, but I can never remember their names because they blend in with everyone else. As competition increases, I think it’s actually easier to identify gaps in the market and ways to standout from other photographers.

Jonas thinks that wedding photography is inherently formulaic. But that gives creatives a chance to really break out of the mould. Especially nowadays, as wedding photography has become kind of cool; there are many ways to reinvent the wheel. You have to do what makes sense to you. For example, Jonas doesn’t shoot ring shots, because it made no sense to him. This doesn’t mean that nobody should do it. It just means that it’s not part of his identity as a photographer. You should always question why you’re shooting a specific shot and if it makes sense to you. This will help you stand out in the long run.

The Power of Storytelling

Jonas Peterson’s storytelling skills are obvious in his work. But I was interested in how he integrates storytelling into the rest of his business. Jonas believes anything and everything should be a story, even the ‘About’ page of a website. As humans, are brains are wired towards stories; we try to turn everything into a narrative. If you can tell a story through each and every interaction your work has with the public, people will connect more with your work, and more willing to pay money for it. The goal should always be to make people feel something.

I totally agree with Jonas. I was doing some research the other day, and came across a guy in Hollywood who has a hand in every big script that gets made. He has a step-by-step process inspired by Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, which informs most films and stories. These basic steps can be applied to anything from a major Hollywood film to a wedding photographer’s website. Jonas even employs storytelling in his emails and urges others to do the same. ‘Story’ doesn’t mean that you have to create some elongated narrative; it just means you have to link it back to something personal.

Jonas Peterson Photographer

Making People Feel

The goal of good storytelling is to make people feel something, so that they can attach themselves to your story. When people look at Jonas Peterson’s wedding photography, they imagine themselves feeling the same way on their wedding day. That’s why they hire him. His storytelling inspires emotions in his prospective clients, who project themselves into the same kind of story. They want to feel and look the same way.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making on their website is making the story about themselves. Jonas thinks that sometimes people are afraid to share their own journey and include anything about themselves. You have to strike the right balance between opening up about yourself and also taking yourself out of the narrative. For example, Jonas’ father passed away when he was 25, so he finds himself connecting more deeply with stories about absent parents. He also finds that he produces his best work when he connects with people and experiences. He cares more deeply about it.

Carve Your Own Path

Jonas wants to underline that this is his approach, and it might not apply to everyone. There are plenty of other successful photographers who do things differently. You don’t have to be the type of photographer who’s digging for the story at every opportunity like Jonas. Highly aesthetic-focused, editorial styles that look amazing on the surface are totally fine too. Do whatever you want, just do it the best you can. Decide on who you are and what you believe in. Then run with it. People will always respond to how you see the world if you’re being authentic.

If you’d like to say hi and share your own story with Jonas Peterson, you can get in touch with him on his website, on his Instagram or on Twitter.

I want to say a big thank you to Jonas for taking the time to chat with me. It’s always so refreshing to hear his take on the business and I hope people realise how valuable his point of view is.

Big thanks to you guys too for listening! I’ll catch 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

Justine Missen Photography

I believe that what we put out to the world creates our own reality. Even in trying times like now, with COVID-19 dominating our lives, how we react to the pandemic will define our existence.  Someone who has really adopted that optimistic mindset is Justine Missen, a student of mine from my six-figure business map course. So today I’ve invited Justine on to the show, to have a little chat about her experience with both the business map course and her own entrepreneurship.

Listen to the full episode on the Make Your Break Podcast.

Starting Out

Building a six-figure wedding photography business is no small feat. While Justine Missen has only been in business for two years, and she’s already making massive strides towards her goals. After she had her first child in 2017, Justine was trying to figure out what to do with her career, after feeling her current job left her unfulfilled. She didn’t know how to use a camera at that stage, but she borrowed her husband’s camera and started snapping shots of friends and her new baby.

After a couple of friends asked Justine to shoot their weddings, she committed totally to photography and fell in love with the craft. She didn’t have a background in business or photography, so she had to learn a lot in a short space of time. Fortunately, she was extremely dedicated and worked hard.

Justine Missen Photography

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Justine said there were times in the beginning where things were pretty scary, and the fear of failure loomed large. She was very conscious of how people perceived her, especially after having a baby. But she soon put that negativity out of her mind and followed her dream. She worked a lot on her mindset, which helped negate the fear of failure. I know for myself, I have to work daily on my mindset, training my habits and thoughts. Justine has only been practising this for a couple of years, but says she feels like a totally different person.

Identifying Opportunities

Justine listened a lot to me and other creative entrepreneurs when the coronavirus hit; instead of getting depressed over the state of the industry like many of our peers, she began to see opportunities instead. I was interested to see how Justine believed in herself enough to listen to the message that I was putting out. She thinks it hit her at the right time. Before COVID-19 hit, the work diary for Justine Missen Photos was full for 2020. While she did initially feel put out by the way the year turned out, she soon realised it was an opportunity to listen to people who were making the most of the situation. My message came along at the right time. The end result is that her Justine Missen Photos business has grown beyond her wildest expectations this year. She’s now in a position that she didn’t expect to be in for another three or five years.

I know for myself, when coronavirus hit, I was already expecting some form of recession in 2020. I had one or two days of self-pity in March, but then I snapped out of it and started looking at the opportunities it presented.

Justine Missen Photography

Celebrate Your Wins

If you want to build a six-figure wedding photography business, having a community behind you that supports your work is key. Lifting each other up is a major game changer. Justine agrees; she used to feel like she was being arrogant when she talked about things she was doing well, but now she’s excited to share her experiences online and maybe inspire someone else in the same position. It can be hard to find this kind of community, but once you do, everything clicks into place. It’s so important for our growth to celebrate our wins. They don’t just come out of nowhere, they are the result of tons of hard work and graft. They deserve to be shared and celebrated,

Booking Her Biggest Package So Far

Justine Meissen Photos recently booked their biggest package ever and I was interested to know how Justine felt about it. She said that while she strives to be valuable to all her clients, she realised that she was selling herself a bit short in some areas. She used to have a standard package, but decided to offer her clients more options. This is one of the key steps I talk about when it comes to building a six-figure wedding photography business. People like to go shopping. When Justine’s clients booked that top package, they expressed how pleased they were that it contained everything they needed. People aren’t always looking for the cheapest option. They want the most value for their money.

Invest in Yourself Too

Investing money in yourself is important. You need to check your ego at the door and listen and learn from people who know better than you. This is one of best shortcuts to building a six-figure wedding photography business. Yes, your photos have to be great, but so does your website. So does your copy. Justine is rebranding next month and overhauling her site; this time last year she would have been terrified to spend money on something like that, but now she sees the inherent value in it.

Connecting with People

Connecting with other people is so important. As a photographer and an educator, it’s one of the most important things for me. The more you share, the more you relate to people, the more people will love and believe in what you do. They’ll want to invest in you, your ideas and your business. I love connecting and providing value to people; I don’t love business in the abstract. Justine feels the same. For the first time ever she has people paying in full, because they’re aware times might be tough right now. She feels this is a result of giving up her time for people, and it makes her more inclined to keep giving. She tries to always be there for people, connecting with them and adding value to them.

My brother-in-law Kyle Lionheart is a pretty famous musician. I was doing a few mentoring sessions with him, and advised him to bring as much value as possible to his live shows. Even as a musician, you have to treat it like a business. How do you create the most value for people? Once you offer that, people won’t care what they pay you; they’ll be grateful for the experience. Justine never liked talking about money before, but now it’s one of her favourite subjects. Whenever anyone pays off an instalment or a deposit, she makes sure to thank them. Even little gestures like this can foster connection and add value to an experience.

Justine Missen Photography

Balancing Family and Work

Justine Missen photos is well on its way to becoming a six-figure wedding photography business, but I was interested in what Justine thought was holding her back right now. What is her ceiling? For myself, I’m always trying to work out what the next step is. Justine says she’s not so sure; she’s interested in scaling her business and taking it as far as it can go. Justine feels like she’s the next step, because her life is so hectic. She has outsourced a lot of the things that don’t work for her schedule, but it’s always a balance. Involving her family in her business is very important for her. At the moment, Justine spends just six hours a week on her business, and she’s already within reach of six figures. She feels like she’s already there, which is the key to an abundant mindset.

I understand exactly what Justine’s talking about. I’ve made plenty of sacrifices over the past few years; although my business makes a lot of money, I pump it straight back in. But despite that, I live like I am rich because I know I will be one day. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’. When you have that mentality, the growth keeps stacking up. I have to commend Justine, because there’s not many people within year two of their business who have that mindset. The minute you live and breath the life that you want, it will come. That may sound airy-fairy, but it’s the truth.

I personally don’t believe in saving money. You’re sacrificing your lifestyle in the now. My philosophy is f**k saving. Work out how to make the money for what you want. I don’t want to put in my mind that I can’t afford things or I don’t deserve it. Justine agrees with this. Even if she doesn’t have the money for something she wants, she’ll find it somehow. She doesn’t deny herself or her business anything and it feels like money is a by-product of her following her passion. That’s the exact space you need to be in as a creative entrepreneur.

Justine’s last piece of advice is to not get in your head too much about things. When you can see someone who can help you, don’t let fear hold you back. Go for it.  If it feels right, do it.

I want to thank Justine so much for coming on the podcast today. If you’d like to check out more of her work or get in touch with her, check out her website Justine Missen Photos or her Instagram.

Thanks so much for taking the time to listen, guys! Catch 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

Hey guys and welcome to another episode of Make Your Break! Today I’m thrilled to be talking to Western Australia wedding photographer James Simmons. He’s an incredible artist with many awards to his name; our paths have crossed before at workshops, but I can’t wait to talk to him in-depth on the podcast!

How James Simmons Made his Break

James got interested in photography when he was living (and surfing) down in the South-West. He took a lot of shots of friends out on the waves and the competitive nature of capturing the best shot hooked him. His mother was also a photography teacher, so he was familiar with the process and intrigued by the magic of the dark room.

Unfortunately, James made the wrong kind of break when he snapped his arm in two while surfing. While in rehab, he couldn’t do manual labour, so he went back to college and studied film and photography. He cut his teeth with an apprenticeship at a wedding portrait studio. It was here that he started to figure out what he liked and didn’t like about photography; he combined the arts-based approach from Uni with the more commercially driven angle he picked up at the studio.

Going Solo

He spent five years in the studio while psyching himself up for a solo career as a wedding photographer. He started booking his own gigs and eventually took off on his own, utilising all the knowledge he’d picked up.

James found that the most exciting part of setting up his business was the branding and strategy side. For me, I’ve started so many businesses and I agree with James; the first two years are always the most exhilarating. You have to be able to have fun with that kind of stuff, otherwise fear will stop you doing anything.

Getting Creative Through Playing

I’m friends with some of the best wedding photographers in the world, and I’ve found that everyone at that level doesn’t mind failing. They treat their careers almost like a game, allowing themselves to get creative and playing with their work. James agrees that this is an important thing to do in order to drive creativity. You have to let your imagination run wild. That’s the point where we start to get curious and interested in asking questions. You can’t reach this level without a fair bit of acceptance of failure. You have to keep it fun.

When you’re having a good time, you don’t worry about things so much. You’re freer in the moment and happy to be part of the process. You’re not concerned with the ultimate result, you enjoy the craft moment-to-moment. On a wedding, there can be stressful moments when you have to capture something crucial, of course. But overall, James thinks that allowing yourself to play leaves you open to more options and unique results.

James Simmons Photography

Turning Weaknesses into Strengths

A lot of people always ask me how I learned to do certain things, but I’m always playing with things; I don’t do it unless it’s fun. I only do what’s fun in both business and wedding photography. When it comes to wedding photography James Simmons agrees. You’ve got to accentuate the positive parts of the job and find shortcuts through the things you don’t enjoy. For example, when he started out, James only had one 50mm prime lens. While that might seem like a restriction, James turned it into a strength by getting creative with it. Even though he now has a wide choice of lenses, he still finds himself going back to the 50mm for a large majority of his work.

I love that James describes this as taking away the complication. I often find that business owners over-complicate things unnecessarily. But what people don’t realise is that I love restrictions. The more that I put myself in a small box, the more creative I become. This applies to both my photography and my business. James thinks that simplifying things is the key. Just the other week, James got together with a few friends, hung out and took some shots with whatever gear they had to hand. He really enjoyed having that freedom.

James Simmons Photography

Tips on Getting More Creative

I wondered if James had any tips on how to get more creative. For myself, I find that giving myself the space to think helps me come up with new ideas. The less that I do, the more I think. But if I’m working all the time, I don’t have the required space to make the impact I want to make. James finds that he’s struggled to pursue an idea because he wanted it to ‘mean something’. But he realised recently that you just have to start. The creativity comes from the process. As you start working, a lot of those concepts manifest themselves naturally.

I think that’s so true. As soon as I get to work, ideas come and things just happen. There’s no point waiting for creativity to strike, as it won’t happen every day. You’ve just got to get on with it and allow yourself to be open to inspiration and ideas as you move through the process. James thinks the same is true for business; once he gets started on the task, it can spur on other ideas. I also think that it’s important to hang out with people on the same wavelength as you. I just did a mentor session with a family photographer; at the end of it I was amazed at the amount of ideas we both came up with together that we would never have come up with on our own.

James Simmons Photography

Clearing Your Mind

Giving yourself the space to reset your mind is crucial for both your business and your craft. I’ve found that the more time I’ve taken off, the more money I’ve made and the more people I’ve impacted. Even during this pandemic, I’ve made more money and connected with more people than I ever have in my life. James agrees and thinks it’s important to get that kind of clarity about your business and life in general. I take an hour walk everyday to try and organise my thoughts. I’m such a big believer in taking the time to focus on your thoughts and unlocking the potential to get what you want. It’s all in there; you just have to organise it the right way.

Future Plans

I remember James once told me he’d like to start  his own James Simmons brewery some day. As he mentioned an upcoming photography project with a brewery, I thought I’d ask if he was still keeping the dream alive. He could easily transfer the entrepreneurial skills he’s learnt over the years to another business. James would never say never, but he views brewing (and drinking) beer as more of a hobby at this stage. He thinks he needs the right contacts before launching that kind of business, but he loves doing it as a hobby.

Starting over in another business is scary, just as starting in the photography business was scary at the beginning. But once you educate yourself and figure out all the details, it becomes a lot less intimidating. At the moment, James is still pushing his photography business as far as it can go. In this pandemic downtime he’s focusing on revamping his James Simmons wedding photography branding and creating more content. He wants to create a website that can add value for clients, offering them info and tips around weddings. He’s also keeping a close eye on how the wedding industry is evolving during the course of the pandemic, and how that might play out into the future. For example, as weddings get smaller, photographers might have to shoot two or three weddings on a weekend as opposed to one big one.

Even though the landscape is changing, you just have to figure out how to add value and be the first to do it. In the end, it’s all playing; you have to figure out how to make the best of the situation instead of dwelling on the negatives.

I want to say a huge thank you to James Simmons for coming on the podcast and chatting with me. If you’re interested in seeing more of James’ work or want to ask him any questions, you can check out his website, Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much for listening guys; please take the time to leave a review if you enjoyed this podcast, I’d really appreciate it. I’ll see you next episode!

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James Simmons Photography
fer juaristi

Hi guys and welcome to the Make Your Break podcast. I have an awesome episode lined up for you today. I’m talking to wedding photographer and educator Fer Juaristi from Mexico. Today’s interview is one of my favourites in a long time. Fer’s tagline is ‘be grateful for what you have and fearless for what you want’. This really sums him up perfectly! Honest interviews like these are one of the main reasons why I started this podcast. So let’s get straight into it!

The Stigma of Money

Fer Juaristi is an amazingly successful wedding photographer, but it took him a long time to come to terms with the idea that, as an artist, it was acceptable to make money. The stereotype of creatives is that they’re going to end up living with their parents. Money doesn’t have to be a scary thing. But Fer feels it’s very hard to break out of that mindset, especially in South America. Going to workshops in the U.S. and expanding his horizons has helped Fer empower himself and his art.

 

The Willingness to Fail

Fer believes you have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. Instead of thinking of life as a game where you only have one life, think of yourself as having four, five or six lives. Give yourself the space to fail. It was also important for Fer to rise above the embedded ways of thinking in his culture. For example, instead of changing his car every two years like the people around him, he made do with the same car for a number of years.

Mexico teaches people to be humble all the time, which Fer feels is connected to the strong religious presence in the country. He also points out how many people in Mexico love soap operas and thinks that they could spend their time watching TED Talks or listening to an awesome podcast. There’re no excuses anymore. But too often education is seen as an expense, rather than an investment.

I totally agree. Not all spending is the same. We like to spend money on instant gratification, not on long-term investment like website design or your brand.

 

Wedding photographer Fer Juaristi

Making Sacrifices

Sacrifices in any kind of creative career are hugely important. Would you rather get to where you want to go even if you have to make a small sacrifice, or would you rather stay where you are right now? Change in your life will require a sacrifice. Fer believes you have to have faith in yourself. In Latin America, people are content to sit back and watch their heroes as opposed to being the hero themselves. But it’s about making a movement from this mindset. Conferences can be a great place to expand your contacts and creativity; I actually met Fer Juaristi at one of these events. I was impressed by his work beforehand, but I was also impressed by how he took the time to chat with me.

When Fer started his wedding photography, he found the older generation were jealous about the upcoming photographers and closely guarded what they knew. He wants to change that and inspire the younger generation instead. He doesn’t want to ever stop learning; he’s learned to shut the f*ck up and listen more (even though it’s hard).

 

Art Vs. Business

Listening and acknowledging other viewpoints while reconciling your own is definitely a skill. Fer used to go to conferences and see other photographers discussing business. He used to think these people didn’t know what they were talking about, but as time went on, he realised the business side was as necessary as the creative side. He’s still trying to make peace with that and finds it a constant struggle.

Business practices all over the world had to change thanks to COVID. Fer has seen more educational courses crop up in recent months, which is great. I love the idea of people being able to access educators they can emulate. They don’t have to waste a lot of years in college, they can go straight to the source. College is not always worth the huge expense, especially when you can access so much awesome info for free in the form of podcasts.

 

Resilience

So many people are at home right now losing business. For many people, it’s their first recession. I was interested in what kind of challenges Fer has faced during his career, and what kind of resilience he’s had to show in response. Fer thinks that the first step is to have the courage necessary to chase the goal and take the first step. When he was first starting out, he and his family didn’t have the income to provide for themselves, so they had to stay with Fer’s parents-in-law. You have to rely on your family to support you. Value people on their energy and aspirations.

Another big change for Fer was changing his website from Spanish to English, even though his peers thought it was a bad idea. He has also forged strong relationships with wedding planners who appreciate his work. Fer Juaristi has been a wedding photographer for 14 years now, so he’s experienced many failures and many successes, as anyone who strikes out on their own must.

 

Wedding photographer Fer Juaristi

The Biggest Event in Fer’s Life

I was interested in the biggest event that’s defined Fer’s life or his career. In Mexico, you ask for a 30-year loan to buy a house. His wife told him that they were going to own their house in two years once he started on his path to being a wedding photographer. Although he didn’t believe her at the time, he worked so hard over those two years and his wife’s prediction came true.

Fer finds his biggest challenge is to believe in himself. He finds it easier to believe in other people. That resonates with me so much, as I have the same relationship with my own wife; she believes in me more than I do most of the time. Everybody wants to make the right decisions, but you also need the willingness to take the wrong ones, because these are the ones you learn most from. Fear can paralyse you or push you.

 

Wedding photographer Fer Juaristi

Rolling the Dice

I really liked Fer’s gamification metaphor from earlier in the chat. It’s something I also believe wholeheartedly, that we have more than one chance at life. I was wondering if that’s how Fer also views his own career and art. Does he like rolling the dice?

Fer was never used to the good life, so he’s never chased luxury. He still feels weird when his wife takes him to a fancy restaurant. Because he has very specific goals for his business, he wants to keep everything as low cost as possible so he has room to experiment with his craft and art. This is how he chooses to roll the dice. I love that mindset and it’s something I implement in my own life.

The hardest thing to change is survival mode, in Fer’s opinion. If you leave your ego behind, you can shift this mindset. You should do whatever it takes to give you peace of mind. Social media is like high school in a way, but no one fundamentally cares what you do. Fer doesn’t want to monetise his talent on every job. He finds a balance between doing what he loves and what is necessary.

 

Wedding photographer Fer Juaristi

Defining Success

I recently closed down my studio as we’re under lockdown in Australia. Someone asked how I could be successful when I couldn’t even open my studio. But all I could see was them projecting their anxiety on to me. But with a shift of mindset, you’ll see that no one cares about you. They care about themselves.  You need to let go of that ego and learn to thrive instead of survive.

You also need to redefine what success means to you. It’s a huge challenge, but Fer thinks we have to take that risk. He knows rich people who are not that happy, and also poorer people who always seem delighted with life. When Fer realised this, it allowed him to switch his mindset. Waking up with a smile and empowering other people gives him much more gratification than another zero in his bank account.

I define my success as my willingness to do and fail. I think about this all the time. If I organise a workshop and no one turns up, I’ll still have a smile on my face because I put myself out there. That’s why I create so many things with the aim of helping people. I always face failure with a smile because I know it’s all part of my success. Knowledge doesn’t represent mastery. It is far better to try and fail, instead of not doing anything at all and simply commenting on the efforts of others.

Fer’s final message is to not be afraid to contact the people you admire. He finds the wedding photography industry to be one of the most humble he’s known. Try and honour that. Don’t be a bad human, don’t ask for things; instead, try to solve each other’s problems.

If you’re interested in hearing more from Fer Juaristi, you can find him on his official websiteInstagram, Patreon and Facebook.

I want to say a huge thank you to Fer Juaristi for sharing his insights and stories with us. Thanks for listening guys, until 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.

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Wedding Photographer India Earl

Hi guys, today I have a very special episode on the Make Your Break Podcast for you. I didn’t have much in the way of education; all of my learning came from me going out there, rolling up my sleeves and gaining that all-important lived experience. I love teaching from that space. So on the podcast today, I wanted to invite on another wedding photographer and educator India Earl.

I really connect with India because I identify with her strong work ethic. She’s an industry leader, but she’s always out there, giving back to the community. I think she’s a great fit for the podcast and I can’t wait to chat with her. Different points of view and perspectives are hugely important in this game! Let’s dive in and see what insights wedding photographer India Earl can give us.

How India Made Her Break

India Earl lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve noticed that a lot of creative entrepreneurs and industry leaders come out of Utah; must be something in the water! India is 25 and first took up photography when she was 14. She used her Mum’s point-and-shoot at first then upgraded to a DSLR with an actual lens. She was into surrealism and self-portraits at first and edited them heavily. When she was 15, she started doing photography professionally, taking family photos and senior photos of her classmates.

India Earl Wedding Photographer

Turning Pro

India started shooting weddings at 16. She tried college, but felt she didn’t click with it; even though she did a photography course, she didn’t feel like she was learning anything. She dropped out for one semester, and focused on her business. She put all of her time and energy into it, shooting 70 weddings over six months for very little money. She once shot two weddings in a day, but always made sure she was up to date on edits. She learned so much over this one summer.

I think one of the hardest parts of building a sustainable photography career is balancing the craft side and the business side. Most people focus totally on the craft and forget the business.

 

Going It Alone

When India was first starting out there was no such thing as photography workshops. The mindset was very much competitive as opposed to community. In fact, she distinctly remembers a time when she asked an established photographer for some basic beginner advice and the photographer flipped out on her, accusing India of trying to steal her business. She had to figure it out herself, which is why it took her 11 years to get her business to where it is now. These days, with access to workshops and online groups, she sees beginning photographers covering the same ground in three years or so.

India Earl Wedding Photographer

Hard Work Meets Luck

India believes that because she’s only 25, people think she’s had a couple of easy leg-ups. In fact, her success is the result of 11 years of hard work. There’s room for some luck, and yes, some people do get lucky. But without that foundation of genuine hard work, you will never be truly successful. She actually feels she has never really gotten lucky in her career.

I was listening to a podcast recently on the same subject. They were talking about how people sometimes get lucky, but are unprepared for the opportunity and don’t know what to do with it. I do consider myself lucky, but luck is such a small part of my life and business. It took a lot of free weddings and uncertainty to get to where I am today; that’s the stuff that people don’t see.

 

The Rise of Online Courses

The popularity of online courses and community-based learning in the photography industry has been amazing to witness in recent years. It’s also showing people that in trade and creative industries, college isn’t always necessary. There’s so much knowledge out there, a lot of which is available for free on the internet. People can work from home, at their own pace. In-person workshops can sometimes overpromise; the value is in the community you build, as opposed to what you’re learning from the Powerpoint presentation.

 

Industry Festivals 

In 2017/18, massive conferences became popular, with hundreds of attendees and numerous speakers. I feel as if they’ve kind gone out of vogue in recent months (coronavirus hasn’t helped matters). India has spoken at a couple in her time but feels like you can’t really connect with an audience because there are so many people. While conferences helped India grow her education platform, she prefers one-on-one mentorship or intimate programs.

I love getting up on stage and teaching at big conferences, but I also find it hard to make a connection, both as a teacher and as an audience member. I prefer mentorship situations because you can learn specific and personal things which can instantly transform or improve your craft.

 

Creativity Vs. Business

I think India’s creativity is one of her greatest strengths. I was wondering whether she feels it helps or hinders her business side. ‘Creative’ is actually one of the last things India would describe herself as. She can work a camera, market herself and make people feel comfortable; but when it came to being artistically creative, she never felt like she was. She felt she needed to redefine creativity; she now sees it more as freedom of expression. India feels she’s best at connecting with her clients; so she put that at the forefront of her business and made it a constant theme.

She found herself in situations where she was copying something ‘creative’ that someone else had done, but found the resulting work was just a lesser version of theirs. That’s when she started to reframe ‘creativity’, making it about connection. From that, she gave her business a unique identity and started creating meaningful work, which other people interpret as creativity. Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.

Wedding Photographer India Earl

Weaknesses 

India used to turn up to a shoot and force creativity, but it found that it took her right out of the session. The less she tries to be ‘creative’, the better she does. She also feels that everyone struggles with burnout and comparison to other photographers; the two often go hand in hand. India reckons it’s okay to have burnouts; they’re inevitable. They play a role in forming and informing your business and lifestyle.

I agree that burnout is an important educator. As you get wiser around business, you find the less you do, the bigger an impact you can make. Put less on your plate and you’ll get more out of it in the long run. Don’t focus on what works for other people, focus on what works for you.

 

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

India tries to do this now and again to stop the repetition. She’s trying to branch out into new areas. She used to hate the idea of maternity shoots and shooting family sessions. But because of COVID, she’s had to shift her focus away from weddings because she can’t count on them. She’s tried to shoot more family stuff and being okay with doing stuff she hasn’t previously been comfortable with.

India’s also been on the other side of the camera a lot recently, which is also way outside her comfort zone. But it’s been useful for her, as it helps inform her work with her own subjects. I think as a photographer, making people feel comfortable in front of the camera is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Empathy is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Wedding Photographer India Earl

Diversifying Your Skillset

For photographers looking to add income streams to their business, India suggests reaching out to past clients and offering your services in new ways. You have an established relationship and they trust you, so it makes sense to let them know you’re available. Market your prints and albums. You don’t have to aim this at new couples; they can make great anniversary gifts a few years later. Creating online print shops of some of your hobby photography can also provide great passive income that doesn’t require much extra work.

I often hear that people only get married once, so as a wedding photographer you’re constantly searching for new leads. That’s not strictly true; you have a huge contact list of past clients who already love your work. Yes, they might not be getting married again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work with you on other commissions. They’re the easiest people to sell to.

 

India Earl’s Online Courses

India has her own online education platform for photographers of all kinds. It was initially just India, but she has brought on other teachers who she’s connected with and responding to. It’s a total online resource for photographers, featuring products, online courses and editing tools. India very kindly made a discount code for my listeners: enter in JAI10 at checkout to avail of 10% off your purchase.

I want to say a huge huge thank you to the wedding photographer India Earl for chatting with me and taking the time to talk through her early days, her process and her business.

To check out India’s work, head over to her main website or give her a follow on Instagram.

india earl education

 

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 Film Photography

Hey guys, today we’re gonna chat about developing your own black and white film. This is a great way to be 100% involved in the entire process of capturing a photo, from shooting your image to developing the final product. Also, sending your film off to a lab can be time-consuming and expensive, so it’s cool to be able to do it yourself. 

I wanted to create this IGTV episode and this post because when I’ve searched online for information on this topic, and I’ve found it’s difficult to get detailed instructions on developing your own film without a darkroom.Everybody ready? Let’s dive in!

 

WHAT APPS CAN I USE TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN FILM? 

OK, so even though it’s kind of an old-school process, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use technology to help us along the way. There are some really useful smartphone apps that make the developing process so much easier because by breaking it down step-by-step and eliminating the guesswork. 

My favourite app is Massive Dev (you can grab that on Apple or Android for free!); it’s the world’s largest film development chart and comes with a multi-step timer and darkroom support. 

The app has development times for over 18,000 combinations of black and white films and developers. You can also adjust film development times by temperature, store lists of your most-used film and developer combinations, modify your preferred agitation schemes, and find the volumes of liquid that you need depending on your developer dilution. 

Massive Dev allows you to achieve consistent results and its notifications allow you to agitate your tank accurately.

Jai Long Film Photography

INGREDIENTS AND EQUIPMENT

For this example, I use 4×5 Kodak TMax 400 sheet film. 

If you’ve already downloaded Massive Dev, head to the app and choose the size of film that you’re using and the developer. In this case, it would be 1-part developer to 25-parts water with ISO 400 film. The app walks you through the steps on the dashboard, and there’s even a darkroom format if you have access to one. 

Once you get started, you’ll want to make sure you have an even spread of developer. You might want to try some test shots to ensure you’ve got the perfect amount of water and mix of developer. 

The app tells me that for this process I want 30.8ml of developer and 770ml of water. It will also let you know the ideal temperature for your water. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can estimate the temperature in the room, which in this video is about 20°C. (Don’t worry too much if the temperature is not absolutely exact – I’ve never had an issue with the temperature having a negative effect on my end product.)

Use a smaller jar to measure out your developer but be careful as it is highly toxic – make sure you’re in a ventilated area and be really careful when handling the product. Play safe!

 

THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING FILM

OK guys, now the really fun part! Pour the 30ml of developer into a jar of water and mix it together. Then put your sheets of film into the developing tank using a darkroom tent. Pour the developer straight into the tank and hit ‘Start’ on the app. 

Massive Dev will show you exactly how to mix everything up. You’ll want to agitate the tank to make sure that all of the developer gets on the film. Follow the instructions on the app for the rest of the process, which includes a stop bath with fresh water to rinse out the negatives and a fixer bath for five minutes. 

You’ll also need to use Hyper Clear, which is a cleaning agent that cleans the negatives and agitate for two minutes, as well as a final wash for another two minutes.

 

WHY DEVELOPING YOUR OWN FILM IS WORTH THE TIME & EFFORT

As long as you follow the instructions on the app, your photos should turn out great. I know that it can feel like a lot of work when you’re going through the development process but once you open up the tank and pull out the film, you’ll be able to hold a tangible result of all of your hard work in your hands…trust me, it’s worth it!

If you want to see how your image turned out straight away, you can use another called Film Developer. Basically, you take a photo of your negative and then you can instantly see a clear, positive image of how your photo turned out. 

After drying out the images, you can take the negatives to get scanned – oh yeah, sure to communicate really clearly with the lab so that they can work with you to get the exact images you’re after.

 

I hope this has helped you better understand how to develop film at home – check out more photography tips & tricks in my other Instagram videos! 

Today I want to talk to you about shooting 4×5, or ‘large format’ film. It isn’t that popular amongst photographers today but that’s exactly why I want you to learn a bit more about it. Shooting and then developing the film yourself can be a really rewarding experience, so in this article, I describe the process of shooting large format film and why I love it.

 

WHAT IS LARGE FORMAT FILM AND WHY USE IT?

First, I just want to make sure you understand what I mean by: ‘Large format film’ – it literally means ‘big film size’ and large format cameras use 4×5 film, so a lot of people alternate between calling it large format film and 4×5 film. Simple stuff but best to make sure we’re all on the same page!

Since shooting in 4×5 film is analogue instead of digital, it means that when you blow up the image from the negative, it can’t pixelate. Why? Well, because it’s analogue, it doesn’t have any pixels! That’s why a lot of people use 4×5 on big campaigns to make sure they get high resolution imagery…and as I think I already mentioned it’s actually so fun to work with.

WHAT FILM SHOULD I USE?

I use black and white sheet film, usually the Kodak T-MAX 400 standard film that’s easy to develop. You can get 50 sheets in one box and you don’t even need a darkroom to develop as long as you have a tent – it might look a little sci-fi, but it works great! I use the tent as a ‘film changing room’, basically to get the film into the film holders and also to get it into my developer tank. 

Here’s a really important tip: When you’re loading your film into the film holders, make sure to note the top of the film. There should be a white border – this means that the film hasn’t yet been exposed. Once you’ve taken the photo, that border becomes black so you know that it’s ready to be developed. 

And another one: If you’re in a darkroom or can’t see because of the tent, put your hands in and feel along the border to find little bumps that tell you if the film is ready to be developed.

And another one: It’s really important to label the film with a piece of tape so you don’t forget what you’re shooting, especially if you’re not going to be coming back to the images for a while.

 

THE DEVELOPING PROCESS

OK, so let’s climb into the tent (not literally) so you can start developing these photos.

In your tent, you can transfer the sheet films (usually six images at a time) into the developing tank and seal it with the cap so that no light can get in. From there, you can start pouring in your chemicals to start the developing process. This process is perfect if you don’t have a ton of space because it can all be done nice and easy in the tent or in the developing tank – I usually do it in my laundry sink at home! 

If this process sounds a little too time-consuming, you can always post or take the film to your local developing shop. However, this can be pretty expensive and some shops don’t process 4×5, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm as well as shop about to get the best price. 

One other tip: When you’re out and about taking shots, remember that you’ll see everything upside down and backwards. Keep this in mind and you’ll get better results. The camera also allows you to shoot both portrait or landscape photos, so it’s pretty versatile. After you’re done, take out the dark slide and make sure your lens is closed so you don’t ruin the piece of film and waste an entire day’s work.

 

WHY I CHOOSE TO SHOOT LARGE FORMAT FILM

Shooting and developing large format film can be a lot of work… Especially if it’s just for one photo. But, I enjoy this process because it is the exact opposite of digital photography – it’s tangible, challenging and really rewarding. 

If you go out and do a whole shoot for only six images, the effort you put in to those six images will make you feel so much more excited to get home and develop them than if you shot 600 images and just have to go back and delete 594 of them. 

And yes, it can be expensive and time-consuming but it also gives you the chance to fall in love with the images that you’re shooting. It’s good to try and appreciate photography as an art form and not just a job…. Just like when we all start out with our first camera.

Jai Long film photography

“IS IT FOR ME?”

I believe that large format film lets you to think differently compared with when you’re just clicking a button on a digital camera. Even the tripod that you’ll usually use for capturing large format film can create a unique energy, since you won’t be used to using it.

Getting out of your comfort zone and practising different types of shooting is a great way to change your same routine, and shooting and developing large format film is my favourite way to do this.

After saying all of that, this type of photography won’t be for everyone. You don’t want to buy a camera, film and developing supplies just to find out that you don’t really like the process. So if you want to try out 4×5 film without spending too much, you could try to ask a friend to borrow their camera and just have a play before making any big purchasing decisions.

 

If you want to get a better idea of what it’s like to shoot and develop large format film, check my video on IGTV where you’ll learn all about my camera, its parts and how I use it. And don’t forget to check out my other videos and Rangefinder articles for more tips and tricks on photography!

Jai Long
How to better use instagram with Jai Long

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

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 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

Zoë Morley
Jai Long

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!

Tailoring The Perfect Customer Experience With Si Moore

Si Moore is a hugely talented film photographer and artist from New Zealand who runs several businesses with his wife Sophie, including Bayly & Moore (wedding photography), Arcade (event furniture hire), Boxful (wedding catering), Story & Light (photography workshops), to name just a few.

He’s always working on different projects and is an expert on customer care, so I wanted to chat with him about the principles of offering and creating an amazing customer experience. I had a blast catching up with my friend and I hope it’s as inspiring to you to hear as it was fun for us to record!

 

Why is customer experience so important?

If you’re a creative entrepreneur, you might think that making art is at the heart of what you do; however, as Si puts it, “Rather than thinking of it as us working in an art industry offering a service, we work in a service industry making art.

80% of what we do as creative entrepreneurs is giving a service, whereas only 20% is actually making the art. So customer experience is crucial. Understanding how human beings work, how to build trust, how to be in the right place at the right time…all of these elements add up to creating a fantastic customer experience that is as important (if not more so) than the actual art/product itself.

Think about a Michelin-starred restaurant: it doesn’t matter how much research, preparation and passion goes into creating a beautiful plate of food – if it’s cold or just slapped down in front of you by a rude waiter then this negative experience will cancel out everything that led up to that point.

The delivery vehicle for your art is an essential part of the experience.

Tailoring The Perfect Customer Experience With Si Moore

Your ideal client is…you

We hear that target markets can be mysteries to identify but if you think about it, as a creative entrepreneur, you have a ready-made test audience member staring at you in the mirror.

You may not have the same background, life experience or ideologies as your audience but you both agree on one important thing – you love your art. Build from that crossover point and you’ll be able to understand what your clients want in relation to the service that you’re providing. Why? Because it’s what you would want too.

Tailoring The Perfect Customer Experience With Si Moore

Learn from bad experiences

We’ve talked about going out into the real world and learning from other customer experiences that you have with businesses that are totally different from yours (cafes, airlines, hotels, etc.). However, it’s usually been focused on how to implement the good elements…why not think about some terrible experiences you’ve had and learn from them too?!

You learn the most when you have an experience that you hate. The next time that you have awful customer experience, pay attention to how you feel, why you think it’s happening and how it could have been avoided. Learn from this terrible experience and see how can you spot warning signs in your own business so that none of your customers ever have to feel like you did.

 

Know where to overdeliver

The old marketing adage ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ is often misinterpreted as ‘underpromise…and then just deliver!’ So many businesses don’t take the time to put in the extra effort where it counts, so if you can identify these hotspots then you can win big.

Whether it’s replying to an email within a few hours rather than a few days or any other seemingly inconsequential element of your service, if you flex your empathic muscles and think about the little things that would impress you as a customer then you can be ahead of your peers with minimal effort.

Tailoring The Perfect Customer Experience With Si Moore

How much should I charge?

Your pricing should reflect the type of clients that you want to deal with. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and want to shoot $40K weddings then that’s great if you’re surrounded by the sort of people who drop that amount on a wedding. But if you’re not hanging out on yachts every other weekend, it’s going to be hard to jump into that world and essentially pretend to be someone else every time you have to work.

On the flip side, if you undervalue yourself then clients won’t respect you as much as if they were paying you a ‘professional’ amount. Don’t get insecure about your pricing – be confident in what you charge. You don’t always (or ever!) have to give discounts. Not everyone is a bargain hunter – some clients are looking for an experience and are happy to pay for it.

 

Join the club

Let your clients know that you are on their side. Make them feel as if they are part of your club! And as club members care more about the experience than the price, you don’t have to nickel-and-dime them by charging an extra hour at the end of a shoot, tagging on additional shots to their bill, etc. because you’ve already covered this by charging a reasonable entry fee upfront.

Being the leader of a club means that you have to pay attention to how you interact with your clients, how you move through a room, how you engage over email…essentially tailoring every aspect of the customer experience so that at the end of the day it transcends money. What do I mean by this? I mean that you want to get your service to the point at which your clients aren’t thinking whether it was worth the higher fee but are so overjoyed that all they’ve had to do is give you some cash and they get this incredible experience.

 

Learn how to be loved

Here’s what I tell everyone who attends my Free The Bird workshops: A business must be needed or loved. And a luxury wedding photography business is definitely not needed…so it must be loved! Work out how to get people to fall in love with what you’re doing and you will have a successful business.

 

As you can tell from the show, Si and I could have gone on talking for hours and hours and hours…so we have to get him back on the podcast, right?!

Until we do, you can follow this wonderfully talented artist and entrepreneur on Instagram at @BaylyMoore and @SasMoore or check out his website Bayly & Moore, and I’ll catch you next time.

 

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

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

 

Danelle Bohane is a wedding photographer from New Zealand and regarded by many as one of the best in the world. She has a unique approach to business, which is why I’m very excited to have her on the show to talk about the importance of building a trusted brand.

 

Building trust in your business

Big businesses spend tons of time, effort and money in working out how they can get their customer base to trust them; however, this is something that a lot of small businesses overlook. When you look at how much trust is imbued within Danelle’s brand, it’s clear to see why she has been so successful over the last 10 years.

Humans rely on trust in every aspect of life, even if it’s subconscious. We don’t want to be lied to and are repelled by danger and discomfort. As soon as we sense any danger, we won’t buy a product or sign up to a brand. This is clear just in day to day shopping and it’s especially true when customers choose their wedding photographer.

Danelle talks about how she puts a heavy focus on the consistency of her imagery and creating a comfortable experience for the client from Day 1.

Make your break

We discuss how Danelle made her own break, from the humble beginnings of her first job out of university, how she survived the different ebbs and flows of starting a business from rock bottom, sacrificing a lot in her twenties in order to build her business and how scary it was to market her first workshop to how she was selling out new workshops in 20 minutes just a year later.

We talk about how luck and hard work played a part in her rise to the top and why both are important. Now that she’s had a child, it’s important for her to shoot locally, so we touch on why building relationships with favourite local venues is crucial to establishing a work/life balance.

Danelle Bohane with Jai Long

Education, education, education

One thing that we’ve both noticed is how the format of launching a small business has changed in the last decade. The traditional method of spending a lot of money to go to college or university seems to have been supplanted by new business owners attending workshops and learning directly from industry leaders. This fast-track option is not specific to wedding photography and is present across several industries.

Danelle and I talk about how we feel about this method of learning and why we think that having the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them is just as important as formal education.

Building A Trusted Brand With Danelle Bohane

Why is it important to have a brand that people trust?

Danelle is one of the most trusted wedding photographers around and the longevity of her business speaks for itself. She explains that her customers know what they’re getting when they book her and she taps into the natural human instinct of not liking surprises – especially on their wedding day.

If you give someone an amazing experience and pretty good photos, they’re probably going to recommend to you. If you give someone a terrible experience but incredible photos, chances are that they won’t – they might even warn others away from you.

This is why she puts such an emphasis on client care as well as streamlining the focus of her marketing and social presence. Work out who your clientele is and ask yourself what they want to see on your social media – no matter how cute your dog is, do you really think that potential clients want to see it popping up on your Insta?!

Building A Trusted Brand With Danelle Bohane

How important are reviews and testimonials?

Danelle explains that while online reviews are really important, nothing carries more weight than someone praising your name directly to another potential customer. Word of mouth is the way she gets a lot of her clients, which is why excellent client experience is essential.

 

Higher prices, higher level of trust

We agree that as our prices increase, so does the level of trust coming from our clients. We get micromanaged less, we get sent fewer mood boards and suggestions – basically, our clients leave us to do the thing that they hired us to do in the first place. Danelle explains that clientele that pays higher prices also don’t have any time for sloppiness, so slick communication is paramount.

 

International weddings

How to get people to trust you enough to fly you around the world to shoot the biggest day of their life? It’s a key question and one that Danelle answers by saying, “Keep it personal.

She tailors everything to the couple, including putting their names on the pricing guide (rather than a standard PDF), shows that she is in control by doing all the research for flights, accommodation, and car hire, and asks them specific questions about what it is that they want as opposed to just delivering the same boilerplate service to everyone

 

Danelle Bohane has created a trusted, client-centric brand that will keep going and going as long as she maintains that trust. She’s booking weddings well into 2021 and in her own words, “Life is great!

Building A Trusted Brand With Danelle Bohane

Check out Danelle’s work on Instagram at @danellebohane and join us for a new episode of the podcast next week!

All images by Danelle Bohane

 

This episode was brought to you by our sponsors, Vision Art.
Use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get 30% off your first order.

Danelle Bohane
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!

 

Avoiding Burnout And Reclaiming Your Creativity

Imagine taking a break from work and earning more money than when you stayed in the office. I discovered that this dream can actually become a reality, so today I want to talk to you about avoiding burnout and reclaiming your creativity.

 

In the world of western commerce, we’re told how important it is to hustle, work hard and that free time is wasted time – we’re rarely told how important it is to take time off. This is is crazy to me, because when I take time off I come back recharged and actually create much more of an impact than when I’m toiling away at my desk for months on end. It might sound incredible to you but the years in which I’ve taken the most ‘holidays’ are the years that I have made the most money.

As a creative entrepreneur, I can guarantee that you work harder than most regular employees; you also almost certainly wear several hats – marketing, building websites, creating content and even working for free. All of this you do because you love it but it can also be exhausting. So how do we avoid burnout at work AND increase productivity?

Take a holiday every day

Realistically, we can’t always jump on a plane to an exotic location every time we feel a little overwhelmed at work. Saving up for a holiday abroad, getting someone to look after the kids, dogs, house, etc. – this can add to your stress levels. The answer? Take a mini-vacation every day. This can be just one hour that you set aside for yourself in which you go for a walk, head to yoga, listen to podcasts – anything that just takes you out of the world of work and into your own space. I go for a walk every morning with my dog and when I arrive at the office, I’m so much more energised than if I’ve just rolled out of bed. It’s also when I get my best ideas, which, for a business owner, is crucial.

Avoiding Burnout And Reclaiming Your Creativity

When to finish work?

I’m all about creating the biggest impact with the work that I do, and this means more time brainstorming and less time actually at my desk. That’s why I start every day by creating a To Do list on Asana and then as soon as I finish my tasks, I can go home. If this happens at 11 a.m., great! I can come back and start a new day tomorrow.

Full disclosure: I want to practise what I preach, so I need to tell you that right now is a very busy time for me. I run several businesses that are going full-pelt at the moment; I don’t remember when I last took a full day off. But that’s why my mini-holidays every day are SO IMPORTANT! They allow me the space to recharge and come up with new inspiration.

 

The more time I take off, the more money I make

Everyone has that friend who’s always working, rarely available to hang out but never really seems to be progressing very quickly (if at all). Then there are those other friends who always seem to be travelling, hanging out and partying but always show up on your social media, growing their business and having a really good time while doing it. This is because when you step away from your business, you have more space to view it from the outside and see how others see it, which in turn will allow you to improve your services.

When I go on holiday, I interact with other businesses – not necessarily ones in my industries but hotels, airlines, etc. – and I think about how I interacted with them, how they made me feel as a customer, what their booking process was like, etc. and then I look at how I can put that into my business. This is something I could never do from my desk!

Last year I took three months off work and travelled around the US and Europe. I had a lot of time in airports, on planes and buses, so I made myself a deal – every time I was in transit, I’d get my laptop out and write an eBook. It was such a fun project and one that I would never have the time to do unless I stepped away from the office – and by the time I got back I had an eBook!

Avoiding Burnout And Reclaiming Your Creativity

Work smarter, not harder

I’m a big proponent of this concept and I’m always thinking of how to repurpose and repackage the little amount of time that you have each day to make an impact. For example, if I’m meeting a friend who works in business or a client with whom I have a strong relationship, there’s an opportunity to get the microphone out and create a podcast.

I employ about 10-12 staff across all of my businesses, so I know think what can I do now, what can I postpone to later and what can I delegate to someone else? As I said, right now I’m incredibly busy so I’m actually looking at doubling the impact I make by delegating a lot of the really impactful jobs to someone else so I can look around for new trends and fresh inspiration. This isn’t always the best way to run a business, as organic growth is usually preferable – but it’s how I have always approached business and will always want to push growth that little bit extra.

 

Be the best boss and employee

If you’re a business owner and you feel underpaid, stressed and don’t get enough time off then I have to be honest – you’re a crappy boss! I wouldn’t want to work for you, nor would other people and I don’t think you do either. Make sure that you are treating your main employee (you!) well and look after your mental health with regular holidays and rejuvenating breaks.

When you go to the gym and work out, it’s actually the rest days when you grow. It’s the same when you’re at the office – build up when you take a break and you’ll come back and see a marked improvement.

 

As we head into the festive season, many of you might be tempted to power through and work, work, work – it’s so important not to do this and take a proper holiday, see your friends and family, put aside time for yourself and come back and start 2020 well-rested and stronger than before.

 

This episode is sponsored by Leelou’s beautifully designed website templates. Head over to byleelou.com.au

 

By Leelou

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Album academy

If you’re a wedding photographer that wants to add value to your services as well as increasing profit with every single client then one of the best ways to do that is learning how to sell wedding albums.

Maybe you already offer wedding albums, or maybe it’s an add-on that you’re trying to work out how to assimilate into your services…or maybe I’m totally wrong and you’ve never even considered them!

Either way, if you’re not yet offering wedding albums to every client (or you are offering them but not in an effective way) then not only are you leaving a lot of money on the table, you’re also depriving your clients of an incredibly valuable service that they’ll treasure forever.

With the Album Academy course (available from 4th – 18th November 2019), I present a straightforward guide for any photographer looking to start selling wedding albums to every single one of their clients.

 

Why Do I Sell Wedding Albums?

I’ve been working as a wedding photographer for several years and I offer albums to all of my clients and the vast majority of them sign up as soon as they hear my pitch. I rank so highly in Melbourne (my home city) for ‘wedding albums’ on Google that I actually get other photographer’s clients coming to me to add my wedding album service on to their existing package!

While this is great for my business, it does make me wonder why other photographers aren’t offering wedding albums as part of their service? Or, perhaps more accurately, why they aren’t offering it as effectively as I am?

My success in selling wedding albums doesn’t come from years of honing a super-slick sales approach or putting the hard sell on my clients; I simply present what is a really valuable option as part of the package in a way that lets the couple envision holding their very own wedding album in their hands even before a single picture has been taken. And I’m going to show you how you can do it too.

the album academy

Why Should You Sell Wedding Albums?

The answer to this question is simple: Wedding albums are timeless memories of the most special day in two people’s lives.

Remember when you were a kid and looked through your parents’ photo albums? How much longer you spent taking in each picture instead of just clicking to the next image? This is what couples will want their kids to do. The finite quality of an album also works in its favour; online you can put endless reams of photos up from the big day but in an album, you are limited to around 50-100 images, so it puts a massive emphasis on quality over quantity by condensing the absolute best moments from the wedding.

Nowadays there are a ton of different ways to show people photographs – you can show them on a USB, a CD (or even a floppy disc, depending on how retro you want to go!) – however, I haven’t found anything that beats the tactile experience of holding an album in your hands.

That’s why I never take a screen to a client meeting (no phone, laptops etc.) but instead I show them a selection of sample albums so they can envisage what their own album will look like.

 

My Process

In this course, I will show you my process – this is how I sell wedding albums and this way has been really successful for me.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the exact same process will be successful for you; maybe it will and you can copy it verbatim or maybe you’ll need to adjust it to fit your own style.

There are so many factors that can affect this – your budget, location, specialism, etc. – so bear this in mind when you watch the course and look out for the general takeaways that I will highlight as we go along, as these will be effective for every wedding photography business.

When you’re watching the course, focus on the parts that resonate with you and assimilate them into your business model; don’t worry, I’m not precious about my personal approach – I want you to remodel what I do and make it perfect for you!

 

What Will You Learn?

In the Album Academy course, I’ll show you a refined method of how best to sell wedding albums as part of your regular packages.

You’ll also learn tips and tricks to securing sales, including how to give your clients a tactile example of the finished product, how to source swatch samples, making sure you’re covered in terms of a contract with the right T&Cs, and so much more.

There are entire modules dedicated to the three most important elements of selling wedding albums: Design, Sales & Marketing, and Delivery.

 

Remember, a wedding album is something that your clients already want – you just have to offer it to them in the right way.

 

The course is will be available again in MARCH 2020, so if you’re interested then you can find out more or sign up here.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch by sending me an email or a message on Instagram!

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.

Jai Long

I’ve always pushed myself to do the things that make me most uncomfortable and, truth be told, this is one of the main reasons why I’m starting a podcast. Yes, it’s a business podcast, so listeners will glean a lot of advice, tips and tricks from each episode, but the underlining (selfish!) reason why I’m doing this is to push myself and encourage me to grow.

I’d been asked to do several podcast interviews and I noticed that I kept saying no. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time to do them – it was just because I was scared of recording a conversation and making a mistake in front of an audience.

That does sound scary, right?

Jai Long

Make Your Break is a creative business podcast show that’s aimed towards helping my community push their businesses to new heights. I’m packing it with stories, inspiration and tangible tips designed to help anyone at any stage of their creative business take action to improve their situation.

I’ve been recording it in my bedroom, which isn’t the quietest place even at the best of times. We live behind a busy café and are surrounded by shops and public transport. But you do what you have to do and I actually think the sound quality is working out really well!

I’ve also received some help from a company that specialises in podcasting and who do all the post-production. We have so many projects and businesses on the go at the same time and it would be crazy for us to try and do everything ourselves.

To be completely honest, recording the first episode was much harder than I thought it would be. I overthought it, ruminating on it for days on end. I changed the subject a few times and did too many script rewrites. By the end, I had to apply one of my personal rules to the process: Done is always better than perfect. And I know that the show will only get better, so I can’t get too caught up in perfecting the first episode. I fumble my words in some parts but I actually like this real, authentic feel. Plus, it gives me a great chance to improve! I want to get more confident when speaking in front of a microphone and this is the perfect opportunity for me to do just that.

So, if you love listening to podcasts before work for that extra bit of motivation as much as I do, I invite you to take a listen to the trailer and subscribe on your favourite channel – let’s start spending our mornings together!

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for the shows then I would love your input, so please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

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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.

Melbourne photography workshop

“Thank YOU Jai!!!! It was honestly life-changing for me. I’ll be doing more one on ones with you. I’ll see you next year to shout you that drink when I book those 40 weddings!”
~ Prue Peters

 

wedding photography workshop Melbourne

 

It was no suprise that this Melbourne workshop SOLD OUT in record time, full of keen creative business owners ready to take control of their business and up their game. The feedback has been incredible and it is so rewarding to read through all the reviews, emails and listening to feedback. It just confirms to me that the workshop is making such a huge impact on so many creative businesses.

This workshop was held in a warehouse in Abbotsford called Small Talk. It was the perfect venue and it really had that cool Melbourne vibes. Such an easy location for everyone to get to, especially when they fly in from interstate and book accommodation right in the city.

For me, every workshop is different and every student is at a different level or different part of their journey. So it can be hard to navigate around and make sure I don’t teach anything that will go over their heads and it has to have enough so they can see the middle moving for their business. At the end of the day, everyone has a goal and this workshop is a BIG stepping stone to get them that one step closer.

 

Free The Bird workshop

The workshop is spread over two full days and you would think that is plenty of time, but even at this workshop, we didn’t get all the way through all the content. There is just so much to go through when you are knee-deep in business and trying to take it to a new level. Even if you are just starting out, you still have a ‘to-do’ list longer than you want. But having said that, I made all the content digestible and easy to implement in a step-by-step format.

Melbourne wedding photography workshop