Stephanie is an insanely talented, nationally published wedding and elopement photographer from the US. If you check out her work, you’ll see that she hits so many genres with her unique style, from bridal to editorial, couples and boudoir. An all-around beautiful human with over 10 years of industry experience, I knew we had to have her in May’s Wedding Photography Summit speaker lineup. Pulling all the stops, she presented “Best Bang for Your Buck When Advertising” and over-delivered! From the 101 marketing basics to effectively leveraging the different social platforms, Stephanie taught us all things on spending money and time wisely to make the biggest impact.
I invited Stephanie onto the podcast so you could all get to know Stephanie a little more before the summit and we also dived into her top five marketing tips for photographers.
It’s so easy for us to look up to our favourite successful photographers, comparing ‘luck’ and wishing it’s as easy as they make it look. Focusing on the ‘highlight reel’, we tend to forget that they also had to hustle hard, overcome countless setbacks and relentlessly chase their goals to get to where they are today. Success doesn’t come easy, things don’t just happen. It takes hard work and passion.
Image Credit: Stephanie Fisher
Did you know that Stephanie originally went to school and completed a bachelor degree in Biology? She was only doing photography on the side for fun and was planning on going back to grad school. Grad school was expensive, influencing Stephanie’s decision to take a year off and book more shoots to save money for it. Despite her Instagram being mostly selfies, a girl reached out with a wedding shoot opportunity and that’s when fate played its hand.
New to the Instagram game and needing work, Stephanie stalked hashtags (marketing tip on that later), found an engaged couple in Arizona and commented her congratulations on their post. The bride-to-be followed her back but didn’t reach out till two months later. Stephanie successfully booked the couple for their wedding AND she’s also completed a maternity session and other lifestyle shoots with them since then. Building on their newfound friendship, this girl also referred Stephanie to all her bridesmaids and family members, which resulted in another seven wedding bookings. How crazy is that?!
Needless to say, Stephanie fell in love with wedding photography and never went back to school. Learning everything from scratch, she said nothing beats the reward of owning her own business, the freedom of spending time with her family and opportunities to travel all over the world.
Image Credit: Stephanie Fisher
Despite her continued success, Stephanie wasn’t shy about sharing her down days. Likening it to a modelling career, she noted that she wasn’t getting any younger and with most newly engaged couples being in the 20 to 30-year-old bracket, she was aware that they’d likely relate to younger, upcoming photographers. At times, she struggles with ‘staying relevant and on top of the game’ but that’s where her marketing know-how comes in.
A mix of free and low-cost marketing tips for photographers, Stephanie still uses these strategies to this day, so read on!
This is exactly how Stephanie got one of her first wedding clients (now a raving fan), as covered above! By stalking hashtags like #engaged, you can find and comment your congrats on posts by newly engaged couples, opening up opportunities for potential bookings and styled shoots.
Whether it’s a popular wedding venue, florist or wedding planner, you can grow your community by authentically engaging with vendors on socials. Aside from becoming one of their recommended photographers, you’ll also be building your brand and getting your name out there into the world.
Following tip #2, reach out to your favourite vendors and see if they’re open to having you on their list of preferred providers. To get your foot in the door, you can also offer to organise a styled shoot where they’ll get photos to post on their socials, putting your work in front of their audience.
At an affordable cost, you can boost your Instagram posts to your target audience and retain control over who can see your content. Don’t boost blindly, make sure you keep the photos relevant to your target audience for maximum effectiveness.
From blogs to magazines, think about all the place where you want your work to be seen. Editors are always looking for new content – you can do their job for them by asking what they want for their feature pieces and sharing your work accordingly. Even if you keep getting noes and aren’t getting featured, don’t give up, keep hustling. Submit to another publisher.
To reduce the overwhelm, choose your editorial features based on the target audience and overall outcome you hope to achieve. For example, if you want status, you can push for a feature in top rung publications like Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. If you’re after more bookings, consider reaching out to smaller publishers and local wedding blogs. Either way, the more features you score, the more backlinks you’ll accumulate for your website which increases its traffic and authority.
Image Credit: Stephanie Fisher
If you’re just starting out as a new photographer or are struggling to make your break, here are some quick ideas that I personally abide by:
***Bonus tip: Aside from being featured on a vendor’s recommended suppliers list, why not create a preferred vendors directory of your own? This way, you can offer a shout-out swap and offer upfront value when networking.
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.
I’ve got an exciting one for you today! Quick throwback to our Wedding Photography Summit last month in May, I wanted to make sure that with every summit, the lineup keeps getting bigger and better. As creative entrepreneurs, it’s so important for us to get into the room with industry experts and icons who are already making the impossible happen. Challenging your mindset and equipping you with strategic know-how, empowering you to take your business further than ever before.
As many of you know, Jose Villa is a celebrity wedding photographer and I’ve admired his work for years. Having shot A-list celebrity weddings including Justin Bieber’s and Nick Jonas’s, Jose has been named one of the most influential photographers of our decade and is seriously a force to be reckoned with! A massive inspiration for many, including myself, we hosted a Q&A during the summit where Jose talked to us about ‘Attracting High-End Clients’. If you purchased a VIP ticket for the summit, you’ll be able to access a replay via your portal.
Keeping things real, I invited Jose to join me on one of my latest ‘Make Your Break’ podcast episodes to chat about his beginnings and how he made his break.
With over 18 years of experience, it may be hard for us to believe that Jose once started at the very beginning, just like the rest of us. He just started assisting people and networking via commercial and fashion work. Though his ultimate goal was to shoot weddings, he began small by doing little portraits with families and children.
Image Credit: Jose Villa
Figuring it out as he went along, Jose gained momentum through client referrals and he caught his first big break when he got the chance to photograph Martha Stewart’s niece’s wedding in Las Vegas. Teaming with Martha Stewart’s designers and stylists, he learnt little tricks about photographing the small details. With a six-page spread in the magazine, more inquiries naturally started flowing in and the magazine would hire Jose to photograph particular weddings, landing him covers and features.
It definitely didn’t happen overnight, maybe seven or eight years into his business. Jose was working 24/7 photographing and editing as many weddings as possible, and relentlessly submitting them to publications for feature opportunities. Despite endless rejections, he never gave up and continued submitting until someone took notice.
Whether you’re photographing or showing personal work, it’s super important that you only show what you want in return. You need to ruthlessly cull your Instagram photos from years ago, only keeping what’s on-brand. It’ll take time but you want to get to a point where people are identifying your work just by looking at it and not by reading who the photo is from.
Even if it takes reinventing yourself, you need to strive for consistency and achieve a specific look that you can consistently replicate whenever you create. This ensures the longevity of your success in the industry.
There are so many trends that will come and go. You don’t need to blindly follow what’s trending or second guess yourself, stick to your vision and your brand vision. Don’t get distracted by the noise – find your edge, establish your market and stay true to who you really are.
Image Credit: Jose Villa
The reality is you can’t be bothered by it. As an artist, it’s natural human instinct to feel like someone’s copying you but try to see it in a different way. It’ll push you beyond your limits to stay competitive and ahead of the competition. We will always source inspiration from other famous photographers – don’t just copy it exactly, build onto it and make it better. Whether it’s lighting or posing, find a way to make it yours.
We tend to hide ourselves and the things that make us unique, which really, we should be leaning into. The second you don’t try to fit in is the second that your business will blow up. As artists, we all have some sort of thing that bothers us or we’re embarrassed about. Even though it’s hard, we need to practice just getting things out there that may make you or other people uncomfortable. Get yourself out of your own head and don’t be too afraid of your own shadow, and focusing on establishing your confidence and finding your people.
You can also purchase his book on ‘fine art wedding photography’ here.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team that 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.
Hey guys and welcome to another episode of Make Your Break! I wanted to do something a little different this week. Because the year’s been so tough on a lot of people, I noticed that no one’s really stepping up and helping their communities. I wanted to change that. Today, I’m going to talk about five reasons why we launched our wedding photography summit as well as give a little bit of inside scoop on it.
I’m always trying to step up my game and I like to push myself into uncomfortable spaces. The same was true for this wedding summit. I had to push myself; I think that’s really important.
So what exactly is a wedding summit? Basically right now, live events are not an option. There are practically no workshops or conferences. But people still want to be entertained, be inspired and learn. A summit is an online conference, a really big workshop that brings together a lot of top industry speakers.
Our primary goal is to create the biggest online wedding photography workshop in the world. We’re aiming to get 10,000 people signed up and sell the tickets for $7 each. People are often scared about telling people their unrealistic goals. But you need to put those things out there. If you set realistic goals, you won’t push yourself and if you don’t make those goals, you won’t feel good about yourself. I want to overpromise and then overdeliver on that promise. The summit is only $7 and I’m packing so much value into the two day summit for that small cost.
Putting yourself out there is hard. You’re going to get a lot of hate for doing even the smallest thing. But it’s worth it in the long run to put yourself in that mentality.
The first reason I’m doing this is to take a chance on myself. I’m going to invest around $75,000 into this summit. When I do something I want to be 100% in it, no half measures. There are so many reasons why this won’t come together in five weeks, but I know that will make me work harder towards my goal. When I teach wedding photographers I tell them to dream big and invest in themselves. This advice is only worthwhile if I’m also doing that for myself. Take the advice from people who practise what they preach. I’m all in 100%.
When Morgan and I sat down we realised that there was nothing out there that helped people who were really struggling. Our original idea was to make it free, but we decided we needed a small barrier for entry so we attracted the right people. 2020 has been hard for a lot of people. But me and the speakers believe we have a lot of value to give back to the community.
This is specifically around getting paid. I’ve talked at so many workshops all over the world, and I don’t think I’ve ever once been paid. But the fact that the organisers think they can’t pay their speakers is just laziness. I’m paying each one of my speakers, but I’m only charging $7. If you’re charging $500, like some of the workshops I’ve spoken at, there’s no reason at all why you can’t pay someone. You’re selling speakers’ knowledge but you’re not paying them for it.
I really want this to change. I always pay my speakers at my workshops, even though people often tell me not to. I know I don’t have to pay, but if someone’s going to show up to learn something from someone, I want the speaker to be invested. To be able to make this work, I obviously need a different business model; recently I signed up to a business coach to help specifically with this summit. That was a great help in coming up with a way to make sure all the speakers got paid while maximising exposure and revenue.
I genuinely believe that transparency around payment at these events is important. This kind of shady stuff has happened my whole life. I encourage people to ask questions around these workshops. I was immediately transparent with the speakers I invited to the summit, from the first email. Everyone was paid the same.
I’ve been filling knowledge gaps every day in the lead up to the summit. My marketing and advertising skills are being taken to a brand new level. I’ve got to sell the summit out in four weeks; there needs to be tickets being sold every single day. 10,000 is my goal; I know there are 10,000 eager wedding photographers out there, we just need to find them.
I need to be the best that I can be at all times. I want agencies to reach out to me and ask me to sell out their conferences. That’s the level I need to be on. I want to be transparent with this too, so that I can inspire my community all the time. Again, it doesn’t make sense for me to be preaching this stuff at my students and not following through on my side. When you set yourself the challenge, you start thinking differently too. I’m coming up with new, inventive ways to make that investment back every single day.
My long term goal is to become one of the most prolific wedding photography business coaches in the world. That’s my own unrealistic goal; I know it’s impossible, but I’m still going to shoot for it and I know I’ll be happy with where I end up.
This workshop is a way for me to get that plan into action. Until I get people results, they won’t trust me. I need to provide value at every opportunity. If someone gets a good tip from my podcast for free, there’s a good chance they’ll get even more value from my paid content. In fact, I know they will. The summit is a way for me to get in front of people and show them my teaching style. I’m here and available to help people propel their business to the next level. They just need to know I’m ready.
If you have big goals, put them out into the world. Aim bigger. Make such a huge goal that you’ll start thinking differently. If this has resonated with you, hop on to Instagram and let me know!
Thank you so much for listening guys, as always I really appreciate it.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Hello guys and welcome back to another episode of the Make Your Break podcast. All my guests are very special of course, but today I have an extra special guest on the show. His name is Oli Sansom, he’s a wedding photographer but also a bit of a director, filmmaker, designer, web developer; anything and everything creative! I’m going to talk to him about the friction between bad feedback, good feedback and how we can grow creatively. I’m lucky to call Oli a good friend and I can’t wait to chat with him on the podcast.
Oli photographs humans in all different sorts of contexts. He shoots weddings, documentaries and has a passion for design and illustration. I think with Oli’s creativity, he hasn’t restricted himself to any labels, which is awesome. He’s always pushing himself. He describes himself as having a maniacal desire to bring out the best in all his projects. He’s a little bit of a perfectionist. He likes taking a craft approach to everything he does.
I’m the opposite of Oli when it comes to perfectionism; I just blast stuff out without checking it over too thoroughly, because I want to make the most impact I can all the time. Oli agrees that when you’re working towards impact, you can’t be too focused on perfectionism because it holds you back. He has only recently got back to a project he put off and has learned to loosen the reins a little when it comes to perfectionism. It can be a brick wall. Being able to define whether you’re being obsessive or careful is very useful. Oli thinks I jump into stuff quickly, but because I’ve been doing it for so long I’ve built up the background capital. That’s hugely important and people often don’t see it.
At the end of the day, it is a slow process, whether you’re being a perfectionist or not. You still have to put in the hours. If you’re a musician for example, it’s better to practise for ten minutes a day rather than an hour a week.
I think we all react differently to criticism, whether we experience it online or from someone close to us. I was interested in Oli’s take on this. He thinks that there’s an ongoing tension between needing that validation from our inner circle and needing the total opposite in our craft.
Oli studied multimedia design at Uni, where the teachers called things like they saw them. This helped the students not to attach their identity to their work, but it is quite different today when we’re used to constant validation from our social channels. You have to have a desire to show the world you can do what you set out to do. You need a fire. Oli thinks that these days, we have a culture of toxic positivity, which can be detrimental to the work we produce. You don’t want people constantly trashing your work, but at the same time you do need those kind of figures in your life, for the benefit of your craft. You need that underdog spirit, but you need to find it gracefully.
Studies have shown that the opposite is also true; there is a place for criticism, but if someone is creating something and you give them positive reinforcement, they will get better. Social media gives so much positive feedback, that I wonder if it has anything to do with the recent rapid development of some photographers online. Oli wonders what the metric is for artistic development these days and I think we may be moving further away from the artistic slant and more towards business.
Art vs. commerce will always be a tension, and in some ways you have to define which community you want to be a part of. You also want to decide whether you want to be loud or quiet. Oli’s recent work that’s interested him could be described as boring; the work he wants to do is not work that’s probably interesting to a lot of people. He wonders where that’s going to lead in the near future.
I once received an email from someone who systematically criticised my work. While the person who sent it didn’t mean to be encouraging, it really fired up my underdog spirit; I was able to look at what he said objectively and learn from it. In-depth feedback is valuable, whatever it says. Oli agrees that validation works both ways; our industry is a luxury industry and it’s also very new. You can’t get too caught up in people’s opinions at the end of the day.
I was wondering if Oli has a support network, and what kind of advice and feedback he gets from them. Oli says it starts with his business partner, which is a completely transparent friendship. They say what’s on their mind all the time. He doesn’t take anything that comes through Instagram too seriously; he has about ten people around him whose input and opinions he values.
In terms of haters and trolls, Oli has seen his fair share. Being online in and of itself means you’re open to haters. If you get them, at least you know something you’re putting up is having an impact one way or another. In terms of my own career, I think the last six months have been the most instructive and valuable. I feel like I hold myself back sometimes because I listen to the haters. No matter how strong you are, it can be hard sometimes to tune them out. But I’m actually enjoying my haters these days.
I find it’s hard for me to grow when things are going well. It gets comfortable and there’s nothing new to learn. I was excited to come up with new solutions when COVID hit, because the whole landscape changed completely. Oli agrees; the only way to look at this scenario from a business point of view is as an opportunity. It’s the mental fight you have to engage with on a daily basis. You have to wake up and get on with it, despite how you may feel.
Oli views it like a marriage; it’s not a one time deal, you have to work on it every day. I think that’s a great way to look at it. You can look at it as a fun thing or a bad thing. Either way, there will be rough times in business. It’s how you deal with them that counts.
Thanks for joining us as always guys! See you next time!
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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,
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.
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 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 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.
Thanks so much for taking the time to listen, guys! Catch you next episode.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hi guys and welcome to Make Your Break. You all know I talk a lot about mindset; it’s so important for a creative entrepreneur. I’m delighted to welcome a very special guest on the show today; An Award-Winning Leadership Strategist, Harvard-trained coach and member of the esteemed Forbes Coaches Council, Shadé Zahrai is a specialist in building a success mindset, self-belief and self-mastery for business professionals, and enhancing people-centric cultures.
Even in lockdown, I’ve been finding time to accentuate the positives and keep focused on my business and personal growth. I was wonder if Shadé had any insights into keeping a strong mental framework during challenging times. It’s a scary time at the moment, especially for entrepreneurs, with COVID-19 raging around the world. While fight-or-flight may naturally kick in, Shadé says that isn’t a useful response.
Shadé left the corporate world in March of this year, deciding to focus solely on creative entrepreneurship. Her and her husband were going to move to South East Asia, but a week before they were due to fly, the main COVID restrictions hit. This has given Shadé a chance to implement the mindset techniques for herself that she usually teaches to others.
With live events and speaking engagements up in the air, Shadé Zahrai decided to experiment with different methods of reaching an audience. She went online, started up a TikTok that in three months had clocked up almost 250,000 followers. It’s opened up a huge audience that Shadé never would have thought she would reach. When you conduct yourself with the right mindset, the right people align themselves with you, and opportunities seem to pop out everywhere.
Yes, revenue and projections have been hit hard in the current circumstances, but Shadé has been using this time to make sure that she’s well placed when things open up again. By reaching an audience through new channels, she hopes she’ll be the first one they think of when business is back to normal.
Since focusing on her online platforms, Shadé’s reach has grown significantly. In addition to TikTok, she also has almost 16k Instagram followers. The important element to this growth is a genuine desire to help people, as opposed to trying to sell them something. Add as much value as you can. Your thoughts shape how you feel. In turn, they influence your environment. This is a strange, uncertain time, but the people who are reframing their mindset are faring best. It allows them to regain some control.
Shadé shares a story she often uses in her keynote speeches. Two English shoe salesmen were sent to Africa in the 1900s to conduct market research. They did their job and sent a report back to the U.K. The first salesman said, ‘unmitigated disaster. No one here wears shoes’. The second said, ‘glorious opportunity. No one here wears shoes’. Two people, in exactly the same situation, with the same amount of information. Their mindset alone made them difference.
I would call myself an opportunist, because I identify opportunity all the time. My revenue was hit by COVID, but I saw an opportunity to expand my reach online and focus on my podcast. Shadé agrees; you’ve got to actively choose to see the opportunity. It comes down to a concept in psychology called cognitive appraisal. Basically, it’s the mental process we go through to assess the world around us. When you identify something as a crisis or a threat, it physically drains your energy. Your body releases noradrenaline, which constricts the muscles around your blood vessels, resulting in less blood flowing around the body. This leaves you more susceptible to negative thoughts.
However, when you see a situation as an opportunity instead of a threat, it changes everything. You physically get more oxygen; you can breath more deeply and you have more mental acuity. This is the power of our thoughts and the result of what we choose to focus on. If we wake up feeling negative, this will influence everything in your day, and more broadly, your life. Your mindset can physically affect your body.
I was interested in knowing whether you can change your mindset over time. For example, if you’re a naturally negative or narcissistic person, but you take the time to meditate and be grateful every morning, will that have an impact in the long-term? Shadé Zahrai says yes, for two reasons. One, the research backs it up, and two, she’s seen it in herself. A thought pattern is simply a neural pathway in the brain which is being activated. We can create new pathways in the brain through practise. When it comes to riding a bike or driving a car, you don’t think about what you’re doing, it’s muscle memory. The same thing applies to thoughts.
Some recent research from Georgetown University reinforces this view. When you speak your thoughts, they have far more impact than if you keep them within your head. In this scenario, negativity acts the same way, but more powerfully. So when we talk about being positive, it’s not about fanatical positivity. It’s about constantly reinforcing a positive view in the face of difficult or trying circumstances.
I’ve been practising emotional intelligence for the last number of years. If I’m experiencing negative emotions, I allow myself to explore those feelings instead of just dismissing or denying them. Shadé agrees that this is the correct practise, because if you don’t do it, you’re denying the human experience. You should ask yourself questions in response to these emotions, and try to figure out why you’re having them in the first place, rather than repressing them. Shadé was once told that emotions are like data, or information. We choose what we do with that information.
Our internal critical voices become louder in challenging times. Much of Shadé Zahrai’s psychology-based work has been helping professional women navigate their business world and improving their mindset. Through that, she’s identified five critical voices that are lurking inside our minds, waiting for an opportunity to speak.
The first is the classic judge, which we use to berate ourselves for not doing enough. The second is the victim, which is a pessimistic, powerless voice. Many people find themselves listening to this voice in the current circumstances. The third is the protector, which wants to protect you from harm. It keeps reminding you that you might fail; but in trying to keep you safe it holds you back from positive action.
Next is the ringmaster, which tells you that your value is based on how disciplined you are. It makes it so that your sense of self worth is proportional to your output, and if you slow down just one little bit, you’ll feel like a failure. Last is the neglector, who tells you that everyone else’s needs are more important than yours. Shadé finds this one is more common in women, who have internalised a ‘carer’ role. All of us have these five voices within us; they can emerge at different points in our lives. But they are not us, they are sub-personalities. We can acknowledge they’re there, while still trying to rise above them.
I find most of my audience are female, as men are often too stubborn to learn new things. Ego gets in the way. When I do my workshops, I want to make sure that everyone steps up to table equally, instead of advocating initiatives like ‘girl power’, which doesn’t sit right with me. Shadé has always believed that men and women are two wings of the same bird. Women are more likely to focus on what they lack. When you start to identify what you’re missing however, you’ll start to see more and more things that you lack. In the long-term, this will hold you back.
Studies have found that men apply for promotions when they satisfy about 60% of the job criteria. Women will wait until they satisfy 100%. We’re never going to feel completely ready or know everything, so engendering confidence in yourself and your skills is hugely important. You have so much to offer, but if you don’t recognise it, no one else will either. Even though Shadé’s work is geared towards women, she finds that men often reach out to her too with confidence issues. It affects both genders, but women do struggle with it more.
Shadé Zahrai’s advice is to focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Early on in her career, she realised that she was one of those people who focused on the things she couldn’t do. This held her back and prevented her from stepping into her power. Create your own momentum.
I want to say a huge thank you to Shadé on behalf of my community and myself for taking the time to talk to us and inspire us with her insights. See you next time!
Hi guys, today I have a very special episode on the Make Your Break Podcast for you. I didn’t have much in the way of education; all of my learning came from me going out there, rolling up my sleeves and gaining that all-important lived experience. I love teaching from that space. So on the podcast today, I wanted to invite on another wedding photographer and educator India Earl.
I really connect with India because I identify with her strong work ethic. She’s an industry leader, but she’s always out there, giving back to the community. I think she’s a great fit for the podcast and I can’t wait to chat with her. Different points of view and perspectives are hugely important in this game! Let’s dive in and see what insights wedding photographer India Earl can give us.
India Earl lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve noticed that a lot of creative entrepreneurs and industry leaders come out of Utah; must be something in the water! India is 25 and first took up photography when she was 14. She used her Mum’s point-and-shoot at first then upgraded to a DSLR with an actual lens. She was into surrealism and self-portraits at first and edited them heavily. When she was 15, she started doing photography professionally, taking family photos and senior photos of her classmates.
India started shooting weddings at 16. She tried college, but felt she didn’t click with it; even though she did a photography course, she didn’t feel like she was learning anything. She dropped out for one semester, and focused on her business. She put all of her time and energy into it, shooting 70 weddings over six months for very little money. She once shot two weddings in a day, but always made sure she was up to date on edits. She learned so much over this one summer.
I think one of the hardest parts of building a sustainable photography career is balancing the craft side and the business side. Most people focus totally on the craft and forget the business.
When India was first starting out there was no such thing as photography workshops. The mindset was very much competitive as opposed to community. In fact, she distinctly remembers a time when she asked an established photographer for some basic beginner advice and the photographer flipped out on her, accusing India of trying to steal her business. She had to figure it out herself, which is why it took her 11 years to get her business to where it is now. These days, with access to workshops and online groups, she sees beginning photographers covering the same ground in three years or so.
India believes that because she’s only 25, people think she’s had a couple of easy leg-ups. In fact, her success is the result of 11 years of hard work. There’s room for some luck, and yes, some people do get lucky. But without that foundation of genuine hard work, you will never be truly successful. She actually feels she has never really gotten lucky in her career.
I was listening to a podcast recently on the same subject. They were talking about how people sometimes get lucky, but are unprepared for the opportunity and don’t know what to do with it. I do consider myself lucky, but luck is such a small part of my life and business. It took a lot of free weddings and uncertainty to get to where I am today; that’s the stuff that people don’t see.
The popularity of online courses and community-based learning in the photography industry has been amazing to witness in recent years. It’s also showing people that in trade and creative industries, college isn’t always necessary. There’s so much knowledge out there, a lot of which is available for free on the internet. People can work from home, at their own pace. In-person workshops can sometimes overpromise; the value is in the community you build, as opposed to what you’re learning from the Powerpoint presentation.
In 2017/18, massive conferences became popular, with hundreds of attendees and numerous speakers. I feel as if they’ve kind gone out of vogue in recent months (coronavirus hasn’t helped matters). India has spoken at a couple in her time but feels like you can’t really connect with an audience because there are so many people. While conferences helped India grow her education platform, she prefers one-on-one mentorship or intimate programs.
I love getting up on stage and teaching at big conferences, but I also find it hard to make a connection, both as a teacher and as an audience member. I prefer mentorship situations because you can learn specific and personal things which can instantly transform or improve your craft.
I think India’s creativity is one of her greatest strengths. I was wondering whether she feels it helps or hinders her business side. ‘Creative’ is actually one of the last things India would describe herself as. She can work a camera, market herself and make people feel comfortable; but when it came to being artistically creative, she never felt like she was. She felt she needed to redefine creativity; she now sees it more as freedom of expression. India feels she’s best at connecting with her clients; so she put that at the forefront of her business and made it a constant theme.
She found herself in situations where she was copying something ‘creative’ that someone else had done, but found the resulting work was just a lesser version of theirs. That’s when she started to reframe ‘creativity’, making it about connection. From that, she gave her business a unique identity and started creating meaningful work, which other people interpret as creativity. Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.
India used to turn up to a shoot and force creativity, but it found that it took her right out of the session. The less she tries to be ‘creative’, the better she does. She also feels that everyone struggles with burnout and comparison to other photographers; the two often go hand in hand. India reckons it’s okay to have burnouts; they’re inevitable. They play a role in forming and informing your business and lifestyle.
I agree that burnout is an important educator. As you get wiser around business, you find the less you do, the bigger an impact you can make. Put less on your plate and you’ll get more out of it in the long run. Don’t focus on what works for other people, focus on what works for you.
India tries to do this now and again to stop the repetition. She’s trying to branch out into new areas. She used to hate the idea of maternity shoots and shooting family sessions. But because of COVID, she’s had to shift her focus away from weddings because she can’t count on them. She’s tried to shoot more family stuff and being okay with doing stuff she hasn’t previously been comfortable with.
India’s also been on the other side of the camera a lot recently, which is also way outside her comfort zone. But it’s been useful for her, as it helps inform her work with her own subjects. I think as a photographer, making people feel comfortable in front of the camera is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Empathy is one of the best ways to achieve this.
For photographers looking to add income streams to their business, India suggests reaching out to past clients and offering your services in new ways. You have an established relationship and they trust you, so it makes sense to let them know you’re available. Market your prints and albums. You don’t have to aim this at new couples; they can make great anniversary gifts a few years later. Creating online print shops of some of your hobby photography can also provide great passive income that doesn’t require much extra work.
I often hear that people only get married once, so as a wedding photographer you’re constantly searching for new leads. That’s not strictly true; you have a huge contact list of past clients who already love your work. Yes, they might not be getting married again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work with you on other commissions. They’re the easiest people to sell to.
India has her own online education platform for photographers of all kinds. It was initially just India, but she has brought on other teachers who she’s connected with and responding to. It’s a total online resource for photographers, featuring products, online courses and editing tools. India very kindly made a discount code for my listeners: enter in JAI10 at checkout to avail of 10% off your purchase.
I want to say a huge huge thank you to the wedding photographer India Earl for chatting with me and taking the time to talk through her early days, her process and her business.
Hi guys, it’s pretty crazy to think I’ve already put out 29 podcasts! It’s blowing my mind how many listeners I already have and I’m definitely getting more comfortable and confident in front of the microphone. In this episode, I want to talk about how to improve your blogging. Blogging is still a really important and relevant tool for your business, especially if you’re online. I want to walk you through a few different reasons why a blog is a good idea, how to present information in your blog, and how to keep it interesting.
A blog will help you connect with your perfect audience that little bit more. It will help you educate your clients, and add value to their experience whilst they’re interacting with your brand. It can be useful as a marketing tool, and can also help your site rank higher in search engines. Blogging helps you show off your brand a little bit more with the information you decide to post. I think it’s a very important tool even today, and I’m going to talk about how to come up with great content for posts, as well as nine tips for improving your blog.
A blog post is what I call a ‘slow burn’ marketing strategy; you can’t expect to get value from it straight away. It takes a little bit longer, but it’s worth it in the long run.
I do a lot of blogging, with three businesses that I regularly blog for, JaiLong.co, Free the Bird and Heartbreak Hotel. I’ve had so much success with my blog posts; a lot of sharing, a lot of feedback and a lot of positivity. This all results in more visibility and influence for me and my businesses. I’ve been blogging for a long time and it’s resulted in many clients and bookings, with hundreds of people browsing my content every day.
When I first became a wedding photographer, I noticed that all the other photographers just posted blogs about weddings. I changed it up and added value by educating clients through my posts. This helped me stand out and provided value to potential clients.
Before you launch your blog and start posting regularly, there are two main points to consider. First of all, what is your message? What are you trying to achieve? Secondly, who is the blog post for? Who are you writing it to? I envision a perfect clientele so I have a very specific vision for the intended audience.
Blogging is time-consuming and many people think they don’t have the spare time to write one consistently. You can always outsource your blogging and get specialised copywriters to write them. Whenever I have a new idea, I write about that specific topic without editing or deleting. Once I get it all out, I send it to a copywriter to help structure and clean it up. Another obstacle can be that you don’t know how to write that well or communicate your thoughts. Outsourcing can be a great way to solve this too. There are different types of copywriters, so if you do reach out for one, make sure it’s the right fit for you. They need to be able to translate your voice through their writing.
We sometimes feel like things have to be totally polished before we put them out. I’m not the strongest at grammar or spelling, but I’d rather make a big impact than worry about making something perfect. I don’t allow these imperfections to stop me from making the biggest impact possible with my audience. Try and write with a specific audience in mind; don’t write for Google rankings or algorithms. You know your fans – write to them.
When I’m deciding what to write about, I ask the question, ‘what is my perfect client having a problem with?’ You can do tutorials and how-to guides relating to your specific industry or niche within the industry. You can write about the latest industry news. There are always trends, equipment or supplies to talk about, and there might be no one doing that in your area. You want to create valuable content that’s unique. Give people a reason to come back to you.
You could also write about current events in your industry. Controversial subjects are also good for generating visibility and getting your voice out there. You can write posts based around checklists in your industry. Listicles (a piece of writing presented in the form of a list) are always popular and do well on social media. Case studies, interviews and features are also good options for posts. People love reviews, which also work great for SEO (search engine optimisation). Comparisons are a good structure for a post; they can be educational and controversial at the same time.
It doesn’t always have to be words. Video blogs are another option, and they don’t have to have a high production value. You can shoot them on your phone and read out your blog post; it’s just a different way to deliver content. Some people might prefer a video. You can also do a simple audio reading to allow people to dive deeper into the post.
Problems and solutions is a great idea for a blog topic. You can also bring people behind the scenes of your business and show them what it looks like behind the curtain. Any given day at my studio is packed full of interesting moments, which could make for great content to send out to my audience. Inspirational stories are also valuable. People appreciate being inspired; they want to read about and share it. They also like to laugh. Humour can be a valuable asset to your content, making it more lively and bringing a bit of personality through. Frequently Asked Questions can be a highly valuable post, allowing you to automate questions you regularly receive. For a final idea, just do an occasional rant. It’s your blog post, you can write what you want! People will love to get an insight into your personality, especially if you’re an industry leader.
Guest bloggers are a great idea; you can curate other people to write on topics for you. They add so much value to both them and you. Reach out to industry leaders and ask if they’d like to blog for you. They’ll get their own platforms shared with your audience, and you’ll get a lot of value out of these posts with a different perspective. Gallery or album posts can also make good posts now and again, especially if you’re a photographer. These aren’t as useful as written posts, but it’s another way to connect with your audience. Even playlists you like/create can put your personality across and get your voice heard.
Coming up with something to say is tough, but we all have to start somewhere. You can monetise your blog by putting ads on it if it gets really popular. The more specific you are, the better your chances will be of success. You can have affiliates, so you get paid to write about other people’s products. While it’s not the reason to create a blog, there is that opportunity. You have to keep content interesting. Think about the way you’re delivering the content. Videos, graphics and photos are fantastic to communicate your point and keep the post engaging. Break up big blocks of text with anything you can.
You don’t have to call it a blog! Try a different name like a diary, a journal, stories, chronicles, anything that makes it more appealing. Don’t create content just to rank on Google or because you feel like you should. You need to create content that’s going to convert your traffic into fans. Make your content unique so you stand out.
1 – Write more than 300 words. People like to read, so don’t rely on photos. Tell the story of the photos you include. Create more meaty content.
2 – Enable and encourage comments. Comments not only add to the word count and provide links, but it shows that other people are engaged with your posts.
3 – Enable social sharing. Not everyone is fluent with the internet, so you need the social share buttons at the bottom of the post.
4 – Use Videos and Graphics. These keep it more interesting for the reader.
5 – Use pull-out text and pull-out quotes. Get to the punchline, pull it out and put it at the very top of the post. This gives the readers an indication of what the post is about.
6 – Use images and alt text. Images are important to keep your posts dynamic. Alt text is relevant for search engines, and basically refers to a literal description of the image,
7 – Link to the things you’re talking about so they’re easy to find. People will want to engage with what you’re talking about and make sure they open up in a new page. Internal links are also important, leading back to your own pages.
8 – Use SEO plug-ins like Yoast. These make SEO easy and will push your post higher up the search engine charts.
9 – Create shareable content. Write something that people love so much that they can’t help but share it. You can also share your content on other platforms.
So that’s it for today guys, hopefully, all that information is helpful. My biggest takeaway would be don’t allow obstacles to stand in your way; just get started!
Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time for Episode 30.
Do you have any extra tips for blog posts? Would love to hear them in the comments below!
Hi guys, on this week’s show I wanted to discuss some practical tips and tools that you can implement right away in your creative business. Building on last week’s discussion on social media, today I want to focus in and narrow it right down to Instagram. I’ve recently completed my two workshops and got a lot of good feedback, so I’m feeling good; it was great to get offline, go and meet people and connect about their successes.
Doing these workshops is a great way to see what people struggle with when it comes to Instagram. There are a lot of different reasons for this, so I want to talk specifically about five different ways to use Instagram and do a deep dive into writing captions, creating content, using the features and using Instagram for marketing in 2020.
This episode comes with a free workbook that you can download with the link below:
Across my five Insta accounts I have around 140,000 followers, which is not that many in Instagram terms. A lot of us can feel self-conscious when it comes to followers, because it feels like the number that legitimises us in the digital world. Your follower count can say a lot about your business. It might make the difference between someone hiring you or not. But they have to be the right followers, otherwise your marketing voice is being diluted. A lot of the time, gathering followers can be a case of getting offline and connecting with people in real life. I’m always collaborating on shoots and bringing value to people. You never want to be a taker, you want to be a giver.
It’s also important to ask yourself the hard question; would you follow yourself? Sometimes, the honest answer is that you wouldn’t. If you’re posting from a place of anxiety instead of inspiration then it might be time to give up that platform. In 2020, people don’t want perfectly curated images. I follow accounts when they’re true to themselves and they inspire me. People value their time; you have to give them value back. Come from an authentic place and you’ll attract your perfect tribe. You also have to create remarkable content with a unique voice; this is not easy to do, but it is extremely important. People will come to you, and you won’t have to put as much effort (or money) into marketing.
I separated my Free the Bird personal account from my Free the Bird Weddings account. Every two or three months I’d put a wedding photo on my personal account and get a huge positive response and some work inquiries. On my weddings account, my followers were used to seeing wedding photos, but on my personal page they really stood out and attracted people’s interest.
You want to make sure that you stand out in your industry and cut through the noise. Every creative industry is competitive. What makes the difference is how people are going to connect with you. You want to build an audience in a unique way before you start selling to them, otherwise you’ll get lost in the crowd. No one wants to follow someone who is just selling. You want to follow people who add value to your life. Don’t compete with anybody. Make your competitors irrelevant.
Don’t forget about geotags too. They can help get your name out there with people who are doing general searches. Hashtags can be important, but try and find unique tags with a smaller pool of photos for the best results.
Instagram is a visual medium. When it comes to photos, you should think about how it makes your audience feel. Is it on-brand? Will people comment on it? Share it? These are all questions that should become second nature. Ask how it makes you feel first. Don’t post for expectations. If you don’t love it, your audience won’t love it. This extends to your captions, too. I want to know the journey and connect with you on an emotional level. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
You can post to inspire your audience but you can also post to educate people. IGTV is great for this. I put up IGTV videos of the recording of my podcasts. Whatever your industry, you can use Instagram as a platform for education. This sort of content creates high value and encourages people to share it. Any kind of content that can potentially start a conversation with your audience is valuable to both you and them.
Your profile photo is important when it comes to presenting yourself. I usually only follow accounts that show their face in their profile, as I like to follow people instead of faceless companies. It allows me to connect with them on a different level. It’s important to summarise what you do and get your brand across in your profile description. My description on my personal page is ‘F**k being a struggling artist’. I treat that like a mission statement and it lets people know what I’m about right away. That tone filters down through all of my business and how I put myself across. I use Linktree to consolidate all my platforms in one place; it allows me to quickly navigate through all my numerous projects and businesses as efficiently as possible. If you’ve got a lot of things going on, this is crucial.
Engagement is the single most important thing when it comes to Instagram. Social means connection; you want to connect people to you and your business. It’s a fantastic free tool; I try and share as much as I can and link to as much as I can. I’ve made a lot of friends from social media but it’s also resulted in tonnes of work and opportunities for me. You really need to work on building your audience to engage with you.
Getting rid of your ego is the best way to do this. I make sure to respond to as many comments and DMs as possible. This has helped me to grow an engaged audience over the years. You can also share stuff that’s inspired you and put it out there to the world. When you do this, you’re curating content for your audience and engaging with them in a different way. Whether it’s through posts, stories or comments, look after the people who value what you do.
Here are links to some of the Instagram accounts I’ve grown – feel free to connect with me on there (preferably the top one!):
I really appreciate you listening, guys; if you’ve got any questions or if anything resonated with you, please give the podcast a share on Instagram or reach out to me. I love seeing where these episodes get to all around the world.
Thank you so much for tuning in and see you next episode!
Hi guys, I have a special episode for you today. I’ve just finished Day One of my two-day Sydney workshop and thought that I’d get my tape recorder out to bring you an insight from a panel of photographers who have a busy, engaged social media presence and talk about some different perspectives on this popular topic.
Learning from the people around you is one of the best ways to progress. So after a long day of workshop teaching in Sydney, I chatted with Claire, Josh M., Josh J., Usamah, Keegan, and Ryan to get their thoughts and opinions on social media in 2020.
If you want to find everyone on the podcast, I’ll put their Instagram accounts at the bottom of the page, along with details of our sponsors – our favourite copywriters PepperStorm Media and our very own Posing & Lighting course which is out now!
It can be hard to decide which social media platforms you should focus your time on. One of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t go on every social media platform out there. Choose the ones that resonate with you and focus on them. So I don’t use Facebook but I love Instagram.
Josh J. agreed with this and added that it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. As a photographer, Instagram has been the biggest return on time investment and has resulted in a lot of destination work for him. He mentioned TikTok as an example of an up-and-coming platform that generates a lot of engagement. When it comes to Insta, Josh thinks interaction is key. He tries to engage as much as possible, putting a lot of time into his captions as well as the photos. These can make or break a post and allow an audience to invest in an artist and their work.
Ryan agrees that Instagram is the most beneficial for photographers. For him, Insta stories and YouTube are the areas he’s focusing on. He may go a few months without posting on Instagram, but has found it doesn’t change his engagement with potential clients. However, he’s constantly putting up Insta stories, and offering advice and behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube. He thinks it’s important that people see that you know what you’re talking about. You can also send out tip videos to clients over email; it’s very easy to put together a two-minute piece and your clients will thank you for it. Ryan tries to shoot one video a week and thinks that they’re useful to stay visible with potential clients. He also repurposes them for his Insta stories.
Keegan explained that putting yourself out there on Instagram is a smart strategy. In the past, he’s just used it as a photography portfolio, but is now trying to make it more personal. He put a lot of effort into his hashtags to create a bigger audience. He’s trying to put himself into more Insta stories without caring about what people might think, as it’s important to show what you’re passionate about. Josh M. thinks it’s important to highlight that every creative person is going to have a different personality. So the way creatives show up in their business and on their socials is going to vary.
Josh M. thinks Facebook can still be valuable for photographers, especially when it comes to tags. There is more chance of getting tagged on Facebook than Instagram. When you’re starting out, Facebook can still be very useful. You may not get big numbers, but the numbers that you get can potentially be worth more. Each platform has its pros and cons. It depends on the creative and how they use it to their advantage.
Usamah also thinks Insta stories are the next big thing. People are leaning towards videos more and moving away from pictures, even on Instagram. As wedding photographers, Usamah thinks it’s a good idea to incorporate video into their socials. Claire admits she gets a bit anxious about posting on Instagram. She thinks that finding a unique, creative style through stories is key, as opposed to regular posts. She gets more engagement through stories because she puts her own flavour into them. I’ve also found that you can get a sense of someone’s personality through their Insta stories.
Claire thinks that there’s a lot of pressure around social media channels. You feel your work might not be good enough compared to other photographers. When you’re building your audience, it can be hard to engage people in your life and work. Josh M. thinks you have to be true to yourself.
Social media has led to a rise of copycats, so being true to yourself and your work is important. In time, this will lead to a unique style. The most artistic shot might not appeal to the masses, but you should post it anyway. Do what makes you excited. When I look at Josh M.’s account, I see his personality come through. I always try to do the same thing. Josh J. finds that this pays off too. Couples he’s shooting often mention specific things he’s posted on his socials, which is proof that people are connecting with the content.
I always think it’s important to make your content for someone, as opposed to the general audience. This way, by the time you interact with clients, they get a sense of who you are. Josh M. thinks you have to keep your ideal client in mind. You’ve got to know who you want to shoot and who you don’t. Josh is always posting things that are clearly aimed at a specific audience; this is smart as it probably means he doesn’t have to adapt his style too much on shoots unless he wants too.
Usamah agrees, but also thinks this can be hard when you’re first starting out. You can’t always choose clients. Josh thinks you should always project into the kind of photographer you want to be, even if it means having a leaner year at the start. Josh J. underlines that there’s a lot of competition and noise in the industry. You have to cut through the noise and make yourself distinct. Thinking about future clients is key.
Claire loves it when people interact with her posts and work. I recently got a thank you message for sharing something, even though the guy had millions of followers. I learned that it’s important to always keep the smaller interactions in mind and show appreciation when you can. Claire thinks positive engagement takes away some of the social media anxiety. It’s awesome when you know your work means something to someone.
I really enjoy listening to podcasts because I don’t have to spend my downtime looking at a screen. Keegan thinks podcasting is definitely the way forward. It’s great to zone out and not be bombarded by visuals. IGTV is also interesting because the content is so digestible. I always feel like I’m getting a lot more from it. Ryan couldn’t agree more. He finds himself scrolling more and more on IGTV and plans to make more content for it. He wants to focus on education. Josh M. sees one of the benefits of giving content to couples is that they’ll remember you. If they have a bad experience with their photographer, they might come back to you to book a shoot. So even if you don’t immediately get the job, you’re still in the back of their mind.
For me, it’s about connecting and putting out content consistently. You’ve got to have hustle in you and take every opportunity you can. Josh J.’s goal wasn’t just growing his following. He prefers a smaller following with high engagement. Consistency and authenticity are key. Positive engagement with other accounts snowballs into a bigger engagement for you.
Josh M. agrees that quality over quantity is important. You want potential clients as opposed to just followers who think your viral photos are epic. Too many followers can give the impression you’re too busy and keep clients away.
Social media can be manipulated almost like a reality TV show. I think you can overshare and be too self-absorbed, but sometimes people tell me they wish I posted more. For Keegan, numbers aren’t a big deal. If you’re showing the value of what you do, that’s the goal. For him, he tries to keep his Instagram grounded in his work, as opposed to his lifestyle.
Putting yourself on the line with a strong opinion can repel people. You can get negative reactions, especially if you have a lot of followers. When Keegan first signed up, he wasn’t engaging with clients. He was worried about how people would perceive him. But he thinks it’s worth getting a plan together and defining your end goal. With that in mind, he started posting more to appeal to the local market.
Instagram is still relevant, but we need to learn how to use it better. We need to engage with our audience more, specialise more and use video as much as possible. It’s also important to understand how people are digesting content and keep an eye on rising platforms like podcasts. Dig in, keep connecting with your couples and ultimately better serve your audience.
That was such an awesome conversation and I hope it brought you some useful pointers that you can use in your own social media strategy. If you want to connect with anyone you heard on this podcast, here they are on Insta:
And a big shout-out to the listeners who have been leaving me reviews on the Apple podcast app – I love reading these and it helps this podcast reach more people and be as good as it can be, so if you haven’t left me a review yet then I’d love to hear from you.
Cheers guys, see you next episode!
Our second sponsor is…our own team! The Posing & Lighting course is now available and it is helping wedding photographers level-up their craft. It’s such a small investment to join a big community of people who are on the course, plus we’re always adding more content and value as well as teaching you how to get more confident and efficient on wedding days so you can create better images for your clients.
Hey guys, this is the first episode of a two-parter in which I want to share some super personal stories with you and talk about how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.
First up, I just want to tell you that I have loved every part of my life, even the hard times – I learned from every mistake and wouldn’t change a thing. More importantly, I’ve never felt hard done by and I certainly don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. These stories are how I remember them from my perspective – I don’t want members of my family to feel as if I’m calling them out; my only aim in sharing these stories is to inspire those who might be in a hard place and show you that you’re not alone and that no matter what you’re going through you will get through it and have the opportunity to make yourselves – and the world – a better place.
OK, let’s start!
People often tell me that they reckon I’m the luckiest person in the world. Thinking back over my life, I’m not sure if any of my success is down to luck but more that I jump at opportunities when they present themselves…and sometimes I even create those opportunities myself. And this started at a very young age…
What got me thinking about this was that I’m trying to buy a house in the little town that I live and it made me remember my own childhood homes (or lack of them) and how stuff you pick up from your parents kind of sticks with you, no matter how different your life may be from theirs.
It wasn’t a traditional or easy upbringing but I loved every moment of it. As you’ll learn from the podcast, from the moment I was born there was always drama. For the first seven years of my life, we lived on the streets and slept in our car, driving from town to town and sharing tents and friends’ houses. Some people might be horrified at this but it meant that we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Appreciating the value of freedom is something that I carry to this day.
However, this nomadic existence meant that I didn’t get a lot of schooling other than a few months here and there and a bit of home education. So when we finally settled in one place, I attended my first proper school. And I loved it. But I’d still feel ashamed of the fact that I couldn’t bring my mates over to play at my house because, well, I didn’t have one. Eventually, we made up the long, long list for a goverment house and I understood the value of having a place that I could call my own.
Unfortunately, the house didn’t fix all of the problems at home. When my parents would argue and fight – sometimes really vicious, physical fights – more often than not it would be over money. This imprinted on me and I just thought that if I could make enough money then everything would be better. Of course, I see now that money can’t fix everything but it did teach me about the importance of having enough money to provide for yourself and those around you.
Even though I was only about 12 years old, I wanted to provide for my family. I managed to get a job picking weeds for a local guy who – after seeing that I wasn’t the type to take ‘no’ for an answer – employed me to wash dishes at his golf course restaurant. This was one of the toughest jobs that I’ve ever had (and not just because I had to cycle to and from it every night in the dark!) but it taught me that I could take action to improve my life and that of my parents’ through earning money.
Jump to the age of 16 and I realised that school wasn’t helping my purpose. I knew I wasn’t going to get a higher education – it just wasn’t part of my story. So I borrowed my mum’s car (slightly illegally) and drove to a construction site and told the foreman that I was going to work for him. While I might have seemed sure of myself, I’ve got to tell you that my heart was pounding out of my chest! But the guy saw that I would work harder than anyone and offered me $15 an hour. $15!! Guys, at that point I was working for $5 an hour washing dishes. So yeah, I took him up on the job and even though I looked about 12, I rocked up to the site and worked alongside full-grown men, saving my cash so I could send my welfare cheque to my Mum.
For the first time in my life, I felt valued by an employer. This experience taught me that confidence is everything. No matter how you feel on the inside, if people see that you’re confident on the outside they will believe in you.
I knew that I needed an electricians’ license to progress in my career but without much schooling, I knew that I wasn’t going to get very far. However, with the help of people around me, my mates coaching me and a ridiculous amount of studying, I managed to pass the test. I love that I overcame that challenge through the sheer force of hard work.
But a much bigger challenge was ahead of me.
When I was just 20, my partner and I set up a cafe. We put EVERYTHING into this – I’m talking all of our time, effort, money – and (spoiler alert) we lost it all. I go into why we set up the cafe on the podcast but the main reason was to get my Dad (who was essentially unemployable) a job. Unfortunately, he died a week before we opened. As well as losing my father, I lost my purpose for running the cafe in the first place. We fought and fought, I got a second job, we lived in a car but still finally lost everything. And you know how I felt that day we closed the doors of the cafe, just a year after opening? It was the best day of my life.
Imagine the stress that a failed business puts on you and your relationship. Now imagine that weight being lifted as you lose everything. Watching the sunrise that morning, I felt so free. I felt like the luckiest person on the planet. (So maybe people have been right all along)
As hard as it was during that year, I learned how to serve clients, lead staff, manage money – basically, a whole business degree crammed into 12 months of on-the-job experience. So now when I’m facing challenges, I look back at my life and try and remember the knowledge I learned in previous difficult times and work out how to use it to overcome what’s in front of me.
The main thing I’m trying to say is that if you see an opportunity, why not go all-in? Why not risk losing everything because that’s the only way you’ll truly gain anything? What’s the point in life if you’re not living it?!
Thanks for listening, guys – join me next time where I dive into how I started my photography career, all the ups and downs of the last 10 years, and share more wild and exciting stories.
I love sharing these stories, so if you hear something that resonates with you then jump over to my Instagram and say hi!
My new online course ‘Posing & Lighting’ is available on the 10th of Feb.
My goals are always centred around growth – both personally and professionally. Because of this, I’ve wanted to have a business coach on the show for a while now. That’s I was really excited to get the chance to chat with Kaylene Langford from Startup Creative in Melbourne. She runs a successful coaching agency that reaches clients through her podcast, online courses, in-person workshops, and a print magazine. She’s all about getting people to start living their best lives, so I thought it’d be cool to get some inside info on coaching as well as have actually her do a little coaching for me during the podcast.
I’m a firm believer that the experiences you’ve had in the past help to shape your current position in life. Kay started out as a youth worker who developed programs to engage at-risk boys. The skills she learned when she first started out (like taking something that’s dry or boring and delivering it in a creative way that actually engages people) has become influential in her current career. She also realised through spending some time working in government that she needed to stick with a job that allowed her to be creative and to bust out of the nine-to-five mold. My own background has also had a strong influence on my life’s journey. I grew up with not a lot of money, getting handouts and vouchers in order to get by. I couldn’t read or write well until after high school. I had to be creative so that I could sort of fake it ’til I made it. Growing up like this taught me to take risks, since I’ve always had everything to gain and nothing to lose. I opened my first business at 20, was bankrupt at 21, and learned that money comes and goes, but I can always grow (which I’ve taken with me into my later business endeavours).
Fear can hold us back from so much in our lives – but especially from succeeding in the business world. Kay suggests trying to step back and observe your fear as if it was happiness and to remember that fear is just a moment in time. Although it’s uncomfortable and can activate physical sensations in our bodies, if you can try not to take it so seriously and to just observe it, you can actually master the feeling. Instead of going into a full fight-or-flight response every time you’re scared, you can ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen. Being detached from your fear and looking at it from an outside perspective can make us less attached to the outcome. You can go through ups and downs and not become completely destroyed by the lows, allowing you to stop your fear from holding you back.
A business coach is someone you pay for their time, their network, and their expertise. Through them, you can get help to make a plan that will allow you to achieve your career goals. To find the right coach for you, start with someone you vibe with or someone who inspires you. Do your research and jump on a phone call with potential coaches to see if they’re the right fit for you before you go deeper into the process. The right coach can help you build a business that’s an extension of yourself and can get you out of places in your career that feel stagnant and stale. An effective coach can also teach you some valuable shortcuts so that you’re only spending time on the parts of your business that you really want to develop. It might help to look at a business coach as an investment – these people can serve as educators that can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t in your career.
I’ve found that one of my main hang-ups is that I’m stuck in my past – like deep down I still feel like I’m just a person who came from an underprivileged background. Because of how I grew up, I often wonder if I’m limiting myself to what the people around me could achieve when I was younger. What if I can’t imagine a brighter future because it’s something that I haven’t seen? Kay offered me a solution – literally changing the way my brain works. As the saying goes, “Neural pathways that fire together, wire together.” Instead of getting stuck in familiar loops, we should actually determine what’s truly possible for ourselves. She suggests getting in a meditative state where your unconscious mind can imagine unlimited possibilities. If you can feel in your body what your dreams would elicit in you then the brain starts to make new neural pathways. This can allow you to dream bigger because you’ll have the vibrational energy inside you and you’ll then be able to start attracting those positive experiences.
One way you can do this is by doing a guided meditation every day. If this doesn’t appeal to you, Kay also recommends writing out what a day in the life of you would be like five years from now. You can allow yourself to fully dream that anything is possible. Write in the present tense with all of the emotions and feelings you can muster. Then every morning when you wake up, you can conjure up those feelings and fully imagine that life for yourself. The goal is to start putting out those vibrations so that your brain is pulled more towards achieving those dreams.
For some people, their goals might be about reaching more Instagram followers or on making their first million dollars. For me, it’s different. I want to make more money so that I can reach more people and give more people a better life. Kay reminded me that there’s a belief that if you can dream it, it’s already in your path. People lose sight of their true goals or they can fail with their current goals because of limiting beliefs they have. If you stay focused on your purpose, you can more easily achieve your goals. Ten years ago, there’s no way that I could have imagined where I am today – so I think if I keep visualising my goals and looking inwards for my purpose, I’ll be better able to unlock my own potential and get rid of whatever’s holding me back.
You can fully achieve your goals if you find a business coach that encourages you to pursue your true purpose. Look for a coach who is in the next level of where you want to go so that you can actually see someone achieving what you’re after. Dream big by making a list of these types of people, so you can use them for inspiration. If you want your dream badly enough, freedom exists for you to accomplish it. Kay’s company, Startup Creative, exists to free people from lives that no longer serve them. She and I both agree that it’s totally possible for everyone to create the life of their dreams.
For more inspiration, head to Kay’s Facebook or follow her on Instagram at @StartupCreative. Don’t forget to check out her podcast on iTunes or Spotify or head to her website for more information about her online courses and print magazine. You can also email her directly with questions at [email protected].
Tune in next time for a chance to listen to more amazing guests like Kay!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
I know that ‘money’ can sometimes seem like a dirty word. It’s a topic that some people hate talking about – but it’s so important! That’s why I’m hoping I can offer some good takeaways that make it a little easier for you to understand. Unfortunately, we simply don’t get taught about money unless we take it upon ourselves to get educated. We spend so much time trying to optimise our lives (how we can be the most productive, get more Instagram followers, etc.), so why shouldn’t we optimise our relationship with money as well? I wanted this episode to help you do just that, so you can actually have your money work for you.
Everyone learns about financial issues in a different way. For me, I’ve had to sort of learn through experience. I grew up in a very low-income household in a poor socioeconomic neighbourhood. I know what it’s like to not have money, which has allowed me to have the mindset that I only have something to gain and nothing to lose. Growing up in poverty has also let me use my creative superpowers to brainstorm more unconventional ways to make money. When I was about 25, I was making a lot of money but I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t afford certain things. So, I decided to read every book about money that I could find and hired a financial adviser and an accountant. Bottom line: I learned how to use this advice along with basic common sense to build wealth.
My favourite phrase is, “Build wealth for your future self.” This means that all of the choices you make today can affect your future self, which means that the time to take control of your finances is right now. The present is also a good time to get started because we’re currently experiencing the biggest transfer of wealth in history (more billionaires than ever, boomers are giving way to millennials, wealth is being unlocked). Education can help you tap into that transfer and allow you to create wealth for yourself and for future generations to come.
You might have some money hang-ups that are holding you back from building your wealth. You might be self-sabotaging by thinking there’s some sort of honour in poverty or by having the mindset that money changes you in some way. That means you’re operating in a scarcity mindset, often ruled by resentment or fear. However, I’m a firm believer that you are actually selfish if you’re not trying to make money. The single biggest impact you can make on the world is to make money – to create jobs and opportunities for the people that work for you and for your family. Making money means you also have the power to make decisions on where your money goes (such as into ethical business decisions that might improve society or the planet). Once you have enough to spare, you can put your money into things that you truly believe in.
By focusing on what you have and what you want, you can create an abundance mindset (instead of a scarcity mindset). This means you believe there’s enough money to go around, which then leads to the power of attraction. You can ask the universe for what you want because it’s what you know you deserve. If you look around, every single thing you look at is a reflection of someone making money or generating income. This unlocks the idea that there’s always money to be made and opportunities out there for you to take advantage of – the possibilities of which are endless.
Once you’re in an abundance mindset, you can put your money to work. I put away 40% of everything I earn, I have no credit cards, and I have no backup plan. That means I have to constantly put my money to work. If I invest my money in a low-interest savings account, I’ll barely get any return on my money over time (especially accounting for inflation). However, if I invest in the stock market, I can take advantage of the power of compounding. Keep in mind: investing is all about having foresight; you can’t stress yourself about short-term gains. Look at the broader picture to see what will have value in the future. On the same note, evaluate opportunity costs and what return you’ll get. For example, when I started out as a wedding photographer, I was shooting with lenses that didn’t really work because I couldn’t afford the equipment. Instead of spending $500 on new lenses, I signed up for a workshop that cost me $2,000. While I spent more money initially, this workshop ended up making me tens of thousands of dollars over the next few years, so the opportunity cost was well worth it.
One key point I’d like to make is that you should always tip your scales so that your income is heavier than your expenses. People have a tendency to keep spending money as they’re earning it. We grow with how much money we make. However, this can become toxic. I recommend putting your profits first, then focusing on sales, and then expenses. Be sure that you’re making sales and you’re making enough money to pay off or lower your expenses. Within the sales arena, don’t sell yourself short. Always price your services according to what people are actually prepared to pay. By offering unnecessary discounts, you could end up creating a less than perfect experience for your client and getting underpaid in the process. I’d also like to note that knowing your worth doesn’t mean that you should feel bad about taking on other jobs or projects. There’s no shame in getting a second job, a side hustle, upselling your services or taking on more revenue streams. All of this generated income can go into growing your business and building your wealth.
Making direct changes with my money means that I’m generating an income that serves my clients and myself. I’m using my money to create opportunities and build a better world. If you have questions or thoughts about this topic, DM me for a chat on @jailong.co. Hopefully, this has made money a little more approachable for you!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
Follow me on Instagram @jailong.co
I’ve become a huge fan of Jessy and Perry from Rhodes Wedding Co. in the US. They’ve created a truly impressive company where they make handcrafted wedding bands and engagement rings. They’ve somehow also managed to establish the perfect combination of creative output along with a beautifully connected community. So, I wanted to chat with them about how they’ve been able to build this special kind of tight-knit community with such true intention and passion.
One of the most important steps you can take to create a business that you absolutely love is to figure out what you’re passionate about. Don’t just tolerate specific aspects of your business – instead, discover the tasks that you actually love and focus on those. It’s easy for me to stay creative and motivated with my work because I do truly love every task I do – and the ones I don’t, I delegate to someone else! You can also get rid of tasks you hate by asking yourself, “Is this really adding to my community and my mission?” It’s okay to toss out things that aren’t working for you or that don’t play to your strengths.
Photo by: katchsilva
It’s so easy for people today to get caught up in the numbers game. Whether you’re focusing on how much money you’re making or the number of Instagram likes you’re getting, it can be hard to put your attention anywhere else. However, I’ve found that if you’re creating something with good intent and heart, people will see that and the rest will follow. People will flock towards authenticity. Jessy and Perry created their company from a passion project that has since flourished into a successful business. Their creative outlet expanded because they decided to focus on making a living doing something they actually love and are passionate about instead of how much money they could potentially make. It can also be helpful to become a ‘giver’ – a person who makes an effort to give back to their community (to clients, colleagues, customers, etc.). If you think about how to give back, you’ll get so much more in return and you won’t be as obsessed with those other numbers. Your relationships and your success can grow from there.
Photo by: Phil Chester
As a creative person, I’m always bringing my creativity into my business. Jessy also noted that she can bring creativity into almost every task she does. With her social media outreach, she’s creating relationships and fostering connections with people in their community. These communications lead to the creation of their products – actual, tangible pieces of art that were inspired by that person’s story. Relationships within the community are also like a creative dance with another person since they lead to creative output. Working with a limited number of clients with a focus on clear communication and developing a deeper insight into the relationship allows them to craft unique pieces that resonate with their clients and the community as a whole. I totally agree with this perspective – I can feed my creativity doing any task (from looking after clients to marketing). Creativity doesn’t have to stick to a specific, traditional definition (me photographing something or playing the guitar or drawing a picture), it’s really just problem-solving with a new idea or bringing in a fresh perspective that can get my juices flowing.
Photo by: Nirav Patel
Along the same lines, this creativity can lead to strong relationships within your community. In order to do this, it helps to be open and genuine about your own life. It can be incredibly rewarding to create an open line of communication with your customers. People weighing in with offers of support or by sharing their stories creates valuable relationships (even with strangers you’re just interacting with on Instagram). If you put yourself out there in a vulnerable way, you might be surprised by how much you’re positively influenced by these interactions. I’ve had fans reach out that have been following me for years, and their support means so much. Even just an email from someone sharing their story really makes all of the hard work worth it because you’re building something real with other people.
As I mentioned already, it can be really tempting to get drawn into the obsession with Instagram. For some people, getting more likes and more followers is the ultimate goal for their business. However, for people like me and Jessy and Perry, Instagram can be an effective tool that doesn’t have to be used solely for numbers. Jessy notes that she spends around 20 to 25 hours a week on Instagram, connecting with new followers and commenting on posts to boost engagement. This isn’t about increasing likes though; it’s more about putting the time and effort in so that their customers notice the dedication they have to the community. Perry said it did feel like a burden at first to interact with Instagram on such an intense level every week, but then it felt more worthwhile once they were both able to experience a perspective shift. They realised that Instagram could be used as much more of a community-building tool for them and a way to effectively connect with the right people and form long-term relationships. I can definitely feel this goal when I look at their Instagram – it’s carefully curated and shows them being unapologetically themselves.
I’ve also found that I don’t have to get hung up on how many likes my posts are getting because I can be confident in my own work. A lack of likes doesn’t mean I’m not worth it; it could mean I need to work harder or set different goals, or it could mean that people just don’t get my work. I respect their opinion, but at the end of the day, I make my art for myself and not for other people. So, a less successful Instagram post won’t necessarily make me feel insecure or bummed out.
Since I don’t want to get myself down about low numbers on Instagram, it helps to make new goals for myself that feel more true to my own intentions. I do know what the Gram will like, but like Jessy and Perry, we’d rather do something that will resonate with others rather than just post something that would receive a less meaningful mass appeal. And if you’re not being true to yourself, what’s the point? To fail at what you don’t even love is tragic, but to fail at what you love, that experience can still have a lot of worth to it. So, my goal for social media often means that I need to keep reinventing myself. I want to keep being true to what I love and to always be growing. If this is a goal for you too, try asking yourself, “How else can I push myself?” This question can open up a brand new avenue both for expression and for success.
Photo by: Nirav Patel
You can build a really strong community by determining what you find valuable. Basically, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if your goal is not based on likes and followers, but rather on something more substantial like strong relationships or giving back to others. Sometimes this path might be a little harder (with not as much instant gratification or validation), but it can also lead to a long-lasting career with engaged community members who will be there for you throughout your journey no matter what. Holding onto goals that don’t feel genuinely rewarding to you will end up meaning you’ll attract the wrong people anyway. It’s always better to be true to yourself and what matters to you than to be fake.
Photo by: Nirav Patel
I had such an amazing time talking with Jessy and Perry. I’m seriously inspired by their goal to push themselves to aspire to limitless growth as well as by their success at building a community that blends perfectly with their business goals.
Cheers guys, I’ll see you for the next podcast when I’ll be sharing more stories from awesome guests like Jessy and Perry!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
OK guys, if you’re listening to this podcast on the day that it drops, we’re coming up to the end of 2019. What a year it’s been! Whether it’s been a great one or a bit of a struggle, it’s so important to take the time to look back and reflect on what you’ve achieved, the lessons that you’ve learned and how you can use this experience to make 2020 even more productive and enjoyable for you and your business.
I set a lot of goals for 2019. Some of them I achieved, some I didn’t. But I worked as hard as I could and did my best, so I’m feeling pretty happy. That’s why I thought I’d pull back the curtain and give you guys some real insight into my business. I put a heavy emphasis on transparency, so you can learn the good, the bad (even the ugly!) about how everything is going.
First up, let’s take a quick overview of my businesses.
I work as a wedding photographer and we have one full-time employee, Morgan, and myself, plus contractors, including a copywriter, bookkeeper, accountant, etc.
It’s a client-centric business and I have around 100 clients at any given time; that’s 50 couples who have booked with me to shoot their wedding. This requires a lot of work with and plenty of communication.
We have a photobooth & DJ business that has 5 employees plus myself. We also have around 100 clients on the books and we cater to weddings, parties and corporate events.
~ Pictured below, Some of our staff from all three businesses
This business covers all of the educational content I put out, including online courses, live workshops, eBooks, workshops and the podcast that you’re listening to! We have 3 full-time employees and me, as well as contractors to help with facebook ads, design, coding etc.
So at any given time, I have around 200 clients. That’s a lot. And that’s not including the people that I serve, including the thousands – just like you – that listen to my podcast. This is why it’s so important for me to take a few months off every year and come back rejuvenated and prepared to best serve everyone who interacts with my business.
So with these three businesses, I set goals (broken down into 90-day, 30-day and then everyday segments) to achieve in 2019.
In 2018 I shot some amazing weddings all over the world, including Africa, Norway, the US, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity. However, this year I wanted to work closer to home. So I booked all jobs in a 10km radius of my house (fortunately, I get enough enquiries that I can pick and choose). This turned out to be a really cool year, as I enjoyed the lack of commute and building relationships with local businesses. Also, you make more money when you don’t travel – even when you get your travel paid for, you don’t get paid for the extra days it takes for you to get to a destination. So it’s been a win-win on that front and I’m really happy with how it went.
I set out a goal to double Heartbreak Hotel. To do this, I thought ‘why not add DJs to the business?’ I saw a gap in the market, as I’ve worked a lot of high-end weddings who put so much attention to detail to everything except the DJ, who usually turns up with a black trestle table, cords everywhere, playing Backstreet Boys. Not a great look.
What if we got a great DJ with cool turntables, isn’t cheesy, doesn’t play terrible music, etc.? Amazingly, no one else was doing that! So I interviewed DJs, found an amazing one (Reggie) and set about building the website, rebranding and redesigning the business.
How did it go? Well, we just did gigs for Nike and Google and have five weddings booked this weekend. We are now on track to double the business and, honestly, it feels incredible to have a goal and see it come to life.
OK, so before you think that I’m just going to tell you about all the great stuff that happened to me in 2019…check this out.
I wanted to set up a new workshop for creative entrepreneurs that covered everything that you need for levelling up your business, including how to hire people, do the admin, pay super, arrange tax breaks, etc. How useful, right?!
Well, yeah. I launched workshops in five different locations and sold….drum roll please…one ticket.
I’ve been running sold-out workshops since 2015. How did this happen?! I was totally deflated. The problem is, no one has ever done this before. It’s so hard to be a pioneer rather than just improve on a tried-and-tested formula. You need to educate people and explain why they need what you’re offering.
I learned so much from this experience and implemented so many changes. It’s why I changed the name from Free The Bird workshop to Jai Long workshop, why I started employing people (including the AWESOME Zoe, my project manager) and basically changed my whole organisation. I decided to reinvent my whole business, build it properly with good foundations and take the long road to where it needs to be.
I wanted people to trust in my brand (see previous episodes with Danelle and LeeLou on why this is so important). Even though I sold out my workshop, I didn’t have the time to deliver the best customer experience. Now we can take the time to curate the ultimate customer journey, from buying a ticket straight through to aftercare package. I want to make sure that I’m giving my customers more than they’re giving me.
We launched the Album Academy online course and, after an admittedly slow start, it sold really well and made a big impact on the photography community that I’m a part of; it’s amazing to get online feedback saying that a product that you’ve made has helped one of your peers.
And finally, the New York-based wedding & portrait photography print magazine RangeFinder has got in touch with me and asked me to contribute regular articles for them! This is such an honour, especially because I didn’t have much education and was never great at reading and writing. I never want to be egotistical on this show but sometimes it’s really important to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come, so I’m going to practice what I preach!
Now I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has listened to these podcasts and allowed me to indulge in these stories about my career – and I want you to do the same. Looking forward is amazing but always know where you came from. Appreciate where you are now, compared with where you were a year, or five years ago and harness this energy when moving forward into 2020.
I’ll be talking to you all again in 2020 – have a fantastic holiday season and a fun-filled new year!
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 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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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!”
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
See you for the next episode!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Creating content on a budget is one of the most important skills that a business owner can learn. Why? Because content is king and it isn’t going to lose that crown any time soon. But the pressure to constantly create fresh content can make the process seem time-consuming and costly. What I want to talk about today is taking the stress out of creating content and saving you more than a few dollars along the way.
We all create content every day, maybe without even knowing it; that Instagram caption that you just posted? Content. The Snapchat photo that you sent yesterday? Content. Which leads us to our first important lesson…
That’s right. Some content is brilliant. And some content is…terrible. You only have to flick through a social media feed to understand this. However, when you are creating content for your brand, you only want to promote the posts that are going to represent your brand in the right way. Understanding this can save you a tonne of time and effort, which equates to money saved on creating poor or mid-level content.
I’m a firm believer that it’s better to put out nothing than something that damages your brand. To do this, think of why you are releasing this content? Who is it for? What reaction do you want?
I know that it can seem as if you’re missing out if you’re not posting every second of the day but I urge you to let go of this idea. Don’t get anxiety about posting all the time. Nowadays, people see through the fakers, especially on Instagram and the platform itself seems to be rewarding genuine and interesting content rather than the same old stuff churned out just for the sake of it.
If I’m only creating one piece of content then it has to be the best content that I can make. This doesn’t mean that I have to buy the most expensive gear or spend thousands of dollars in ads promoting it but it does mean that I have to think about the impact that I want it to make. How can I make it interesting, entertaining and informative enough for the listener to share, like, comment or listen to the next episode? Because if I can’t, what’s the point?!
If you don’t care about your content then your audience won’t either.
If you want to create content on a budget then you need to learn how to stretch out your content. This can involve repurposing existing content, getting multiple pieces of content out of one session of work or even sharing your content on different audience platforms.
For example, here’s an IGTV video that I made about How To Shoot Large Format Film.
One piece of content, right? NO! Not only am I going to release the video, I’m going to create a blog post around it, share it on social media, use it in my Instagram tiles and share it on my newsletter. I can do this because I planned ahead of time and put a lot of effort into deciding the best way to create a piece of content that can be used not once but multiple times in several different formats.
I’m going to do the same for a podcast that I recorded on the same day – not only am I going to create the same auxiliary content around it (blogs, social, Insta tiles, newsletters) but I’m also going to create another piece of content for my guest to share with his audience, giving me the opportunity to put my brand in front of his followers who may then also become my followers.
So out of just one day of work, I’ve created dozens of content opportunities, enough that could keep a brand going for a week, a month or maybe more. It didn’t require any extra financial investment – all it took was forward-planning and initiative.
If you have a group of friends who work in similar industries (designers, copywriters, photographers, etc.), why not pool your resources? Have a brainstorming session and don’t be afraid to create content for them – it always comes back around, as they will be incentivised to create content for you as well as allow you the opportunity to link to your brand via the content that you made for their audience.
Sometimes you might feel as if you don’t have enough time or resources to create content – I understand this sentiment but if you think about it, you probably have everything you need to create quality content in your pocket (your smartphone) and an upcoming bus ride/plane flight/evening alone that’s the perfect opportunity to get to work.
Creating content on a budget can be easy these days, given all the awesome tools at our disposal. If you have a smartphone then you essentially have a great camera, an editing suite (apps) and direct access to platforms on which to post your content. We sometimes get so caught up in thinking that we need to produce the raddest content possible and forget that it’s the content that’s honest, useful and created with a specific audience in mind that will make the biggest impact time and time again.
Let’s put this particular piece of content (the blog post that you just read and the podcast that you listened to) to the test and see if it’s inspiring enough for you to leave an awesome review, subscribe to my channel, share it with a your friends and tune in to the next episode, which is all about how to avoid burnout and recovering your creativity.
See you soon, guys!
Do you wish your branding on your website was amazing and doing what it is supposed to do; Create trust, better serve your clients and position you as a leader in your field? Well no matter your budget, I believe you can do exactly that. Let’s dig in and give you 5 ways you can better use your branding on your website.
On the podcast today, we give you 5 ways to Creating a Stronger Business Brand, with Graphic Designer Leelou. For full disclosure, Leelou is my wife so I might be a bit bias, but I do think she is so talented and she has one of the best boutique design agencies in Melbourne; By Leelou.
Leelou has just released website templates for wedding photographers and I think you should definitely check them out. A template just makes things so much more affordable and you have a good base to work off and customise so it’s your own. When I spent $10k on the design of my own website, years ago, I wish templates like these were available. Would have made my life so easy.
If you want to hear the full episode, jump over and hit play. Promise it is packed with good stuff and it will get you thinking about your own website.
I wrote a blog post to give you 4 ways to better use your website. CLICK HERE to read.
So why is a website still important in 2019/2020? Some say a website is not as important as they used to be and I do agree with that to some degree. But I could also argue that a good website is more important than ever before.
I think if your website is built right, has loads of relevant content to what your traffic is looking for and is visually pleasing, it can turn your traffic into clients and fans.
It is important to know what the purpose is of your website and how you can build it to best serve your business and best serve your clients. Also, it is good to know what content you should publish and put more time in. Things change so fast in the digital world and the way people use websites has changed dramatically even in the last few years.
For example, 4 years ago, I would publish new weddings on my blog and website pretty often. I would do that because I could see that is the type of content my traffic was trying to find when they came to my site. You can track things like that with great tools look Google Analytics. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website yet, I recommend doing that sooner rather then later.
Today, not many people go to my website to see my portfolio. Mostly because they now spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram and they are happy with my portfolio on my social media. So when they are heading to my website, they are looking for different content, such as blog posts that will answer questions or help them with their wedding. Or to find more about my packages and what I offer and a means to contact me and send an enquiry.
On the podcast, Episode 11, I talk about these 4 things:
– Is it google voice friendly?
– Do you have subtitles on your videos and content?
– Can anyone read the text? Is it legible
– Not over complicating the website
– How can you connect with your clients with your brand
– Does it best represent your services and what you are about?
– Does it represent the quality of your work?
– Does it represent trust?
– Is it informative?
– Is it relevant?
– Is it interesting?
– Is it binge-worthy?
– Video + text?
– Should you use a copywriter?
– Seo – Optimising your website to work well with search engines to get organic traffic.
– Social channels – Make it easy for your traffic to share their favourite content.
Convert traffic into clients and even fans!
Also, if you struggle with your SEO and would like to do it yourself. Check out my friend Dylan’s SEO course.
Use code: Jai for 10% off
In this episode, I got did a shoutout on Instagram to see if anyone wanted to take over my Podcast show and ask me any questions. I think it was a good way for someone to connect with me and ask all the things that want to know. It would have been an amazing opportunity for me when I first started out; asking an established photographer any question I had!
Daphne Sky is a wedding photographer based in Queensland, Australia. She has done some mentoring sessions with me so I know her a little and I have been helping her out with taking her business to the next level. It has been a really fun project to work on and I know she will be killing it next year with all the work she is putting into her business.
She asks loads of interesting questions and be warned, this episode has a few swear words!
Daphne asks me, where did the name Free The Bird come from? How did I start workshops and what is my take on spirituality and religion. It is really interesting listening and I hope you guys enjoy it!
This episode is brought to you by Vision Art Wedding Albums.
Use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK for 30% off your first order.
In this episode, I talk about hiring your perfect team and how to go about it. I have been hiring people to work for me since I was 20 years old, when I ran my first business, a cafe called, Buddha Belly. Diving into hiring and creating a team without any experience was a huge learning curve for me and something I continue to learn about every single day.
I’ve hired and sometimes had to fire people but what I really want to tell you about is how I have grown as a leader, which didn’t come naturally. No matter where you start in life, you still need to hone your leadership skills to be able to steer the workforce.
If you have the ability to listen to the people that work for you, you are off to a great start because most people just want to be heard. We’re all human beings, and when I talk about my employees or hiring someone, I am talking about a real life human that experiences the same things I do that has dreams and goals, and all those wonderful things that I have too. They are real life humans and step number one is, treating them like so.
The other thing about working with humans, is that we are emotional. As a leader, you need a certain degree of EQ, emotional intelligence. In fact, I would argue that, it’s the most important attribute you could have as a leader.
I have a full time editor at Free The Bird Weddings and he basically runs the daily tasks of the business, including editing. It is amazing having him here with us and taking a chance on him was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. He started back in 2016 and he really was fresh. Still at university and didn’t really know what he was doing. I made sure to put in as many hours as I could to train him up and today is produces incredible work. It’s not all thanks to me sitting over his shoulder though. But it is thanks to the experience I have had, being a leader. I give him the space and time he needs to learn and I listen to him. I push him enough so he is always growing and I make sure he learns it all on his own.
So before you decide to hire anyone, take a step back, and think, do I have what it takes to be leader?
ALBUM ACADEMY is LIVE!!! Hit this link to see what it’s all about.
In this episode of ‘Make Your Break’, Jarrad Seng shares with us how his career got started and some of his career highlights. Then myself & Jarrad dive into a quick mastermind to talk about ways you can either identify an opportunity or create an opportunity from a situation. I think it is inspiring to hear from people like Jarrad, just how he has created his career into what it is today.
My highlight from this conversation is when Jarrad is telling us about a story from a few months ago, drinking with Ed Sheeren for his birthday at Pizza Hut and buying a house on a whim over the internet in the early hours of the morning. It sounds like such a typical rockstar story!
Here are the 5 different stories Jarred and I cover in regards to creating or identifying an opportunity:
My online course ‘Album Academy’ is about to drop. So if you would love to start designing and selling albums, this course is going to be a game-changer. To get started, you can download the free tip guide and join the waiting list.
If you would like to internet creep Jarrad, check out his Instagram here. I also suggest googling his name and watching some of the funny things he has been up to over the last few years.
In this episode, we dive into something I think is very important to any business: Up-selling and add-ons. A good add-on will bring extra revenue into your business, which is important because you need to make your business as profitable as possible so you can continue to grow and provide the service your clients love. I talk about eight tips to help you start up-selling and creating add-ons and no matter what industry you are in or what you decide your add-on will be, this episode will really help you.
I have also put together a workbook for this episode so if you would like to download the workbook and follow along…
Now, before we get started, I want to mention I have just put together my first ever online course called the Album Academy. It is a complete 4 step course from designing wedding albums, how to sell albums and how to make your workflow super fast. This course is available from the 4th of November for 2 weeks only. If you are a wedding photographer and want to make extra money in your business, speed up your workflow and better serve your clients, this course is a game-changer.
To find out more about the course THE ALBUM ACADEMY
So let’s not waste any time and dive straight in.
What is the difference between upselling and add-ons, also known as cross-selling?
Upselling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary product more expensive. For instance, A wedding package that now includes a wedding album. Or buying a camera and having the option to have a memory card, battery and camera strap.
Cross-selling is the suggestion of any other product to be purchased in conjunction with the primary product —
Buying a microphone? Maybe you need a microphone stand.
Buying a plant, Maybe you need a new pot. Or some fertiliser.
I call Add-ons, cross-selling because It is an add-on that is relevant to the client’s purchase.
Ok, we all know what they are, let’s talk about the why.
The most obvious reason is to make extra revenue for each sale. We want to do that for two different reasons. One, because we need to make as much revenue as possible so we can create a better service and just keep our doors open for longer. Did you know it is much cheaper to sell to an existing client then it is to get a new client? You have already paid for the ads, you have already put the leg work into marketing and you have already converted your client into a fan.
It is expensive and time consuming to gain an extra client. The second is because we want to better serve our clients.
That’s right, most people don’t associate upselling with serving clients but today I am going to see if I can change your mindset on selling.
Here is the thing. Your clients love you and what you do. They probably wouldn’t have hired you otherwise. So that is a pretty safe bet. They respect you as a professional and they value your professional opinion. So with an upsell of a larger package, if you are anything like me, I wouldn’t upsell a large package to anything that I don’t think would benefit from it.
For instance, if I get a wedding client asking about my photography packages and which one they should book. I ask them about the wedding and what they need. If they are having a small wedding with 40 guests and its all in the one location, I won’t be trying to upsell them a big package because they don’t need it. I will advise them on my smallest coverage and tell them exactly what they need and how we can make it work.
If I have a client with 100’s of guests and a very complex wedding, I will be advising my biggest package plus the extras that I believe will help them make their wedding day easier and what will be more cost-effective. If they want a wedding album, I let them know that it is much cheaper if they just choose my biggest package with that included and its better value for money.
Your clients trust you because you have earned it. So my biggest piece of advice is don’t take advantage of someone’s trust and sell them something that is not exactly what they need.
Your clients are looking for the products they want and if you don’t have those products because you believe you don’t like upselling, you are actually not serving your clients in the best way possible.
I get enquiries every week from other photographer’s clients asking if I can create them an album with their wedding images because their photographer doesn’t offer that service. I even book a lot of clients just because we have the extra add-ons they were looking for and others didn’t offer it.
People love shopping. And People love choice. So if you are not giving them that experience, you are doing more harm than good.
I believe the more your personalise an add-on for your client, the more likely they are going to feel looked after and more likely to purchase. For example, If you are trying to upsell a videographer to muir clients and they have expressed they don’t want video, it’s a safe bet to say you won’t get a sale. But if they really love photos and they are there most important, upsell an album and talk about why you believe this is the perfect product just for them.
Your clients trust you as a professional and they believe and even want to buy, products that you believe in and curate just for them. People love shopping and they love the power of choice. If you don’t give your clients choices, it can feel like you are pushing a package or product onto them with no options and it can feel like a one-size-fits-all’ type of thing and most people don’t like that.
On the other hand, people don’t like too many choices. And with too many choices can cause the same reaction as not enough choices. Your client will get confused and it simply becomes easier to just not book you…
Just like when you walk to a drink fridge and there are 50 choices of drinks and it gets way too hard to make a decision.
Some of the best upselling examples get this right by making visitors imagine how they could make use of the upgrade, or by triggering the fear of missing out (FOMO). This is psychologically proven to help make more sales. Good copy to communicate what your packagers and offers will do for them is key.
You don’t have to be a salesman to sell add-ons and often that is exactly what your clients are afraid of.
Be honest with your opinion and make sure you have your client’s best interest at heart and not your agenda to make extra sales. If you are going for an upsell, talk them through why you believe it is the right choice. Being genuine and transparent is always going to trump sleazy sales tactics.
I know discounts are never a good thing because you will become a discount wedding photographer or a discount designer. But I believe once someone has booked your services, there is no reason why you can’t treat your clients with insider specials and discounts or even something else, like a thank-you card or a gift. Or even a voucher for a future purchase or a discount on a product that you know they will love.
People have a hard time visualising something that is not right in front of them. So it is important to have examples of what you have on offer and if they can touch it, hold it and feel it, the product will sell itself.
For example, I sell wedding albums to my clients and I love the albums I sell. I believe they are the best money can buy and I believe they are an amazing investment for my clients. But it is hard for me to just sit there in a client meeting and tell them that. It is much easier to put a sample album into their lap and let the product sell itself. And if I am telling them all the facts and features of the albums, at least they can hold them in their hands and see why I am so passionate about what I am selling.
With any kind of add-on or upsell, it needs to be an easy process. From the choice, all the way to the payment and delivery.
There are many programs out there that help you sell add-ons upon checkout or upon booking your services which means they don’t need to get out their credit card twice and it becomes one easy transaction.
Also offering things like free delivery, free gift-wrapping or any other way to make it easy and desirable for your clients, the better.
I would also make it easy with pricing. People hate hidden fees and extra credit card fees and extra tax fees and all the other things to stop people from buying. The easier and more painless you make it for someone, the more sales you will get. So next time you re complaining about the credit card fees you have to pay, just remember that you may have made a lot more revenue this year just because you made it easy for your clients and you accepted credit card payments or even payment plans.
Most of the time people don’t even know what they want until you show them what they want. Educating people on your products makes it much easier for people to buy your products because they know what they are, how to use them, why they need them and just simply, so they know your products exist.
You can educate your clients through your mailing list, blog, social media platforms, in person at meetings and many other ways.
So I want you to have a think about what you offer and how you can educate your tribe on what you offer.
Ok, I am going to have to wrap up this episode. But I could literally talk about this stuff for days. I am passionate about it because I love the fact that I can make more money for my business which means I can employ people, give my clients a better service and live the life that I want. So it really is an amazing tool to be able to offer the products your clients actually want.
Again, my new course ‘The Album Academy’ is almost here and I can’t wait to start teaching wedding photographers how to sell albums effortlessly and bring in more money for their business. The course will be available from the 4th Nov for two weeks only. So it’s only a small window, but seriously guys, this course has so much value and I am excited to be bringing this to you.
So last recap before we end the show,
Tip1 – Personalise
2 – choice
3 – get your lounge right
4 – be honest
5 – reward loyalty
6 – visualise
7 – make it easy
8 – educate.
Don’t forget to download the free workbook for the show.
See you next time.
In today’s episode, I am talking with Nara Commerford, the founder of Evolution Botanicals in Byron Bay, Australia. Evolution Botanicals are a collection of premium tonic herbs and adaptogens. Nara has been running this company only for a few months now and we dive in to see why he decided to go out and create a product from scratch and how he is going about getting out to the world.
I have known Nara for a long time now and I know he is good at life and education hacking. So that is exactly what we talk about today.
Here are the three tips Nara gives us at the end of the episode on creating a physical product to bring to the market.
I am personally bringing a few physical products to my online store in the next 12 months, so it was so nice to have a chat with someone that is doing it and get some inside knowledge and insight. It is literally the best way to learn.
Today’s episode is with an Australian singer-songwriter, Kyle Lionhart. Kyle has been making waves lately with his new album hitting the shelves and it has been non-stop busy for him. So I am very luck I could catch him for 40 minutes and get a good interview for you.
Kyle Lionhart is actually my brother-in-law and I have known Kyle for most of my life. So it has been incredible watching him grow up and not only dream big, but believing in himself to make those dreams his life. Not many people do that, especially after becoming a young parent.
So today we talk about riding the highs and lows and I know Kyle gets both in spades. So many incredible things happen for him every day with his career but it is not always good news. Sometimes he is fighting to the odds to keep the dream alive.
The biggest take away from this episode ‘persistence’. Reaching your goals and dreams, it really comes down to how persistent you are. How many times are you prepared to get back up and try again. If you just keep trying you will eventually get there. Sometimes you will need to change how you are doing things and change the formula, but persistence will out trump anything else.
The other take away that I loved is loving your clients and fans. Serve them and give them the best experience, no matter what industry you are in. It will pay off in spades.
If you want to hear more, get over to the ‘Riding The Lows & Highs’ Podcast episode with Kyle Lionhart.
In this episode, I chat about how we need to change our mindset on the concept of ‘busy’. Being seen as busy is over-celebrated and far too glorified in our culture. What does busy even mean?
Being busy can simply mean that you’ve sat in your office chair all day and kept yourself engaged in low-value tasks just in order to “keep busy”. Being impactful, however, is using what little time you have to make the biggest impact…and, therefore, the biggest splash.
There are so many ways to make a bigger impact on a day-to-day basis. One of my first pieces of advice is to arrange your tasks and give them a number marking the highest value task to the lowest. Then work out if you can delegate, delete or do something else with the lowest value tasks so you can free up more time to spend on high-value tasks that bring in more income, grow our business and – yep, you guessed it – make the biggest impact.
In this episode, I mention a couple of programs that I use – here are the links:
ACUITY – Client booking and calendar system
ASANA – Everyday management system
STUDIO NINJA – Client management system (CRM)
Promo code: MAKEYOURBREAK (50% off your first subscription payment)
This episode marks my first ever podcast interview. Dan O’Day joins us to have a chat about his relationship with money and how taking control of his finances and setting personal goals has been a real game-changer.
I remember having a good discussion with Dan a few years ago in which he told me about how he was going to buy his first home. This is a goal that many of us share but can sometimes feel unachievable. What I loved about the conversation was hearing how Dan was taking action and making steps towards that goal. We chatted about the importance of having a professional financial advisor in your corner to help you along the way.
I’ve put together a few tips on how to find the right financial advisor for you. The world of financial advice can be hard to navigate and I understand that many people don’t even know where to start. So let’s change that right now!
Ask around to see if you can find a good referral. As with any service, it’s always easier to talk to someone you trust by getting get a first-hand recommendation. If no one in your immediate friend circle springs to mind, think of anyone you know who may use a financial advisor and reach out to them for some direction.
Now you’ve shortlisted a couple of advisors, go and meet them to see if the two of you will get along. Hiring a financial advisor usually means that you’ll be working with them for years to come, so it’s important to have someone you can trust and with whom you can communicate effectively.
Find out how they expect to be compensated. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for one upfront, while others will receive commissions from products that they’ll try and get you to purchase. I always go with someone that I pay directly and who I feel has my best interests at heart. Sometimes you can set them up in your super fund so that you’re not out of pocket straight away.
Be honest with both your advisor and with yourself. Tell them your goals (even if they seem impossible) and be candid about how much you really earn and spend. They’ll be able to help you on the way to achieve these aims and it will be incredibly beneficial to have an exact number of what you need to make as a target to aim for.
I hope that these tips will help you find the right financial advisor; now check out the podcast episode and hear more about how Dan O’Day has approached his journey towards financial success.
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?
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.
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.
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.
In this episode, I tell some real-life stories in which I have made my own breaks. I define ‘making your break’ as creating your own opportunities that will significantly change your life, be it business or personal.
I want you to think about a time in your life when you actively went out and made your own break – you created your own opportunity or intentionally changed the course of your life and your business.
I’m fascinated by how successful people got to where they are today; what sacrifices did it require and what measures did they take in order to make opportunities for themselves?
I am also a big believer in being intentional, in the sense that opportunities won’t usually just come your way – you have to make them cross your path. This philosophy has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with intentionally creating your own opportunities. Whether that is deciding to be in the right place at the right time, making sure that you know the right people, or being aware of exactly what to say when it matters, you should always be intentional and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. It is much easier to create your own break than to sit and hope that you’ll get lucky someday.
I was 16 years old. I’d recently quit school and moved out of home.
We grew up in government housing and there was a lot of domestic violence and drug use in my house and neighborhood, so moving at such a young age didn’t feel like a choice. It felt like the first step towards taking control of my life.
I got a job working as a laborer and the guy that I worked for didn’t pay any tax so everything was dealt with in cash. As I already knew that this job wasn’t going to last long, every afternoon I would go to the phone booth and cold call businesses from the directory in the hope of getting myself a real job. This was the second step towards changing my situation.
Eventually, I heard from someone at work that there was a huge new construction site in town and the team there was building a new art gallery.
So that afternoon I walked into town and bought some new work boots and the next day I rode my bike to my mum’s house to borrow her car.
I wasn’t even old enough to drive at that point but that wasn’t going to stop me from making my break.
I drove to the job site at the same time as all the tradesman at 6 am, walked up to the site office and, with my heart sinking to the bottom of my belly, knocked on the door.
The foreman was encouraged to see me standing there saying that I was ready to start my new job that very day. He questioned my age but after I showed him my car, he was convinced that I must have been old enough for the job.
I did get the job and I started work that day.
I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to leave it to chance. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me or give myself any excuse for why I couldn’t have that job.
That day changed my life, as I made my own break; even though it may sound small, it had a huge impact on the rest of my life.
I just visited my dad who was in rehab and really wanted to help him.
And I came to the conclusion that the only way I could help him would be to get him a job.
And I tried and tried. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t figure out how to get a job for someone that was essentially unemployable.
Again, I came up with a new idea: What if I became an employer? And I created a job for him?
Why can’t I run my own business?
So my girlfriend Leelou and I set out to start a café. We got friends and family to come and help with renovations and everything else that we needed in order to launch the business.
Unfortunately, my dad died of a drug overdose just two weeks before we opened the doors of the café. We lost the whole reason why we were starting it in the first place.
I didn’t know a thing about business when we opened the doors. I just figured that if I sold great coffee and food, people would pay us money and we would be able to continue to provide great coffee and food. I wasn’t actually too far from the truth; I just didn’t know all the other things that you need to know in business.
Although I made my own break and created my own business, we closed the doors 12 months after we opened and lost everything.
Hey, I didn’t say that making your own opportunities will always result in a success story! Sometimes you do things to change the course of your life and have no control over the outcome.
But I do see that time of my life as a huge success and I learned so much of what I know now from those first 12 months in business.
I was running the café and we had begun to lose money…big time. I realised that I was going to have to get a job and bring more money to the table in order to keep the café open.
The problem was, while I had finished my apprenticeship as an electrician before opening the café, my previous employer was withholding my Electrical Licence as a blackmail tactic to get me to come back and work for him. I’d finished a four-year apprenticeship and didn’t have an Electrical Licence to show for it.
So I started a job search online and found some great opportunities.
There was one electrical job that really stood out to me but I got a little disheartened when I read the description.
It said something like this:
I didn’t want this job, I needed this job – my business and future depended on it.
So I stopped myself from making up excuses why for I wouldn’t get it and instead just concentrated on getting the job.
I Googled the business name and found a direct email address and the owner’s name.
Then I wrote a simple email to him that went like this:
I’ve just seen a job advertised by you guys and I wanted to have a quick chat.
I don’t have a resume or a cover letter because I am too busy working hard in my own business most of the time.
But I can tell you this: I will work harder than anyone else and I am ready to start work tomorrow.
I promise that you won’t regret hiring me.
Looking forward to your call.
I got a call back within the hour. I went for an interview and started the job the next day.
When I asked him if there had been any other interest in the job, he said he’d had over 300 applications over that weekend and there were mountains of resumes to go through. But when I emailed him, I was the only person that had said that I would work hard.
(He never even asked me about my Electrical Licence but I did find out down the track that he knew I didn’t have a license but also felt that I was more ambitious than anyone else, so he couldn’t not give me the job!)
I recently took out a job ad for a Project Manager position in my business.
Within a week I had about 20 resumes to look through. It was hard work because most of the resumes didn’t even show me a picture of the person applying for the job. While I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, I do like to see what the person looks like when I’m reading their words; it just makes me connect with them on a different level.
I got an email in my direct inbox that turned out to be a job application, which was weird because I didn’t put my email address out publicly.
It was from a person called Zoi who had created a whole webpage on her website dedicated to the job application, which included a bit of her personal background, her core values and a statement regarding what she was going to do for me and what she can bring to the table.
This is what I had been waiting for: someone with enough ambition to reach out and take the job, not just apply for it.
Needless to say, I got her in for an interview and she started work right away.
She made her own break and, as an employer, that is exactly the type of person I was looking for.
Shoutout to Zoi who is now working for the workshop business and together we are going to create some amazing resources that will be available to you guys.