Reflect And Reward

Jai Long


December 29, 2019

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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.

My three businesses

First up, let’s take a quick overview of my businesses.

Free The Bird

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.


Heartbreak Hotel

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

Jai Long

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.


What worked (and didn’t work) in 2019?

So with these three businesses, I set goals (broken down into 90-day, 30-day and then everyday segments) to achieve in 2019.


Free The Bird

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.

Heartbreak Hotel DJ

Heartbreak Hotel

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.


Jai Long

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.

Jai Long

Trust in my brand

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.


Album Academy

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!


You guys!

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.

make 2020 even more productive


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’ll be talking to you all again in 2020 – have a fantastic holiday season and a fun-filled new year!


Episode Sponsor

This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.



Meet the Author

Obsessively wordsmithing and hyping the living daylights out of anything and anyone, Mel is our in-house word nerd and coach.

You’ll also find her regularly dropping hot website/ biz tips inside the Business Map and yelling at people for downplaying their wins (“big” or “small”, every win is still a win).




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