Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography

I'm Joelle, an international Wedding + Boudoir Photographer based in Bloomington, IN. I'm also an educator and podcaster!


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June 22, 2017

10 Ways to Grow Your Business

In the past year, I have learned so much about running your own business and being a professional photographer. When I sat down to think of the things that have really helped grow my business in the past year, it came down to 10 key points. I’m sharing them with you in hopes that they’ll help you in your own journey!

Faith + Hard Work

I firmly believe that my business would not be where it is today if it were not for God’s leading. I do my best to ask Him each day to take my business into His hands; and when I forget, I definitely notice a difference! I begin to feel defeated, discouraged, overwhelmed, stressed…it’s not fun at all. But, as soon as I hand everything back over to God, things begin to shift. My inbox receives inquiries from brides, collaboration opportunities, blog features, etc. 

​But, in addition to trusting God, I believe that it’s also important to continue putting in hard work. Running a business doesn’t come easy, but it is worth it. Make sure you’re shooting often, editing well, and sharing your work consistently.

Set Goals



I’m a goal digger and a list maker. I thrive when I can work off of a checklist. And one of the easiest ways to start accomplishing more in your business is to write down some goals, then decide when you want to achieve them by. Here were some of my goals for 2017:

  • Re-brand (I accomplished this with a new logo + website launch!)
  • Offer educational opportunities (1-on-1 mentoring sessions launched in April!)
  • Post more consistently on social media (My goal was twice a day)

Use Your Resources

I still photograph the majority of my shoots with a Canon 7D. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is: you need to save more than you spend – and be grateful for what you have. I’m also a member of Canon Professional Services, which keeps my equipment in good condition so I can continue using it longer. If you’re a Canon user, then I highly recommend you register your equipment with them if you haven’t already!

*Update: I now shoot with a 5DMIII, but I used my 7D for a good four years before upgrading. Do what you think is best for you!

Connect + Collaborate

Networking is powerful. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds a lot of truth to it. Here are some ways you can connect with your local vendors –

Styled Shoots: Brainstorm a styled shoot that will be publication-worthy, and then do it! Include local vendors and encourage everyone to credit the others when sharing sneak peeks + images.

Second shoot: Last year I emailed many wedding photographers near me about second shooting opportunities. You learn more about the profession, and gain beautiful images for your portfolio. And you’ll get paid!

Rising Tide Society: RTS was founded on the concept, “Community over Competition.” They provide a place for creatives to virtually meet and lift each other up with encouraging words or ideas. It’s awesome.

Never Stop Learning

You may still be in school, or you may be done with school. Either way, don’t stop learning. I started my photography business while I was in school, and it taught me a lot about balance and responsibility. When I was first building my business, I invested in a couple of mentoring sessions and workshops. Those learning experiences brought me so much joy and really helped shape my business.

Now, I offer 1-on-1 mentoring sessions to photographers who are in the beginning stages of their business and seeking some extra direction. We cover a variety of topics that are useful to them and partake in some fun things too, like a styled shoot and headshots. You can read more on the details here.


This one is SO important. I didn’t realize just how much of a difference blogging makes until EVERYONE started telling me that I should. I decided to find topics that would relate to my clientele (i.e. Brides), and write about it. It has been a hit!
In addition to posting pretty photos, share topics that will relate to your target audience. If you photograph fashion photography, write about the upcoming trends for the season. If you run a candle-making business, you can do a tutorial on how you create the scents.

Fake It ‘Till You Make It

It’s okay to make it look like you’re really busy, even if you’re not, because that’s how you begin attracting clients – who will pay you for your time. Sometimes that’s just what you’ve got to do. If you’re just getting started, you may end up doing a decent amount of work that you won’t get paid for, but you’ll get gorgeous shots for your portfolio. And those will get your real clients. But, make sure you’re sharing your work consistently and often

The photos that you see above are from an engagement session in Chicago that was scheduled the night before we met for their session. And it’s one of my favorite sessions to date. The night of our shoot, I shared the photo on the left as a sneak peek and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to see it had 1.2k likes (!!) and How He Asked had messaged me about featuring their proposal story + engagement photos (!!!!). That was a HUGE turning point in my business, and it also pushed me over 1,000 followers on Instagram – a goal I had been trying to accomplish for a couple of months (but ended up happening in one night). 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, whatever you do, make sure you do it well. And please don’t do anything just for the money. But, that’s another story for another day.

Don’t Undersell Yourself

At the same time, make sure you’re not underselling your work. Find the average cost for your profession in your area, and use that as a guide when determining your own pricing. Another pricing tip is to factor what your expenses will be for your packages, and add them into the cost. Then figure out how much you need to earn in order to provide for yourself.

Client Experience is EVERYTHING!

Oh, yes, yes it really is. Your clients may have hired you because of your work (which is awesome!), but if you want to keep them as clients then you need to give them a good experience. For example; give them client gifts, play music in the background, get to know them​, offer complimentary hair & makeup styling, etc. Make them feel loved and they’ll love you right back.

Stay True To Yourself

Your Ideal Client is often times just like you.

The most enjoyable experiences, for everyone involved, are when you have core elements in common. For me, my faith is really important to me, and so is coffee. Those are two things that I post about on my social media fairly frequently, and it’s attracted the kind of clients I especially enjoy working with. They feel like they can relate to me, and that’s important. It gives them a reassurance that I understand them on a more personal level.

So, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Do you like to perform random dance sessions? Share that. Are you a comedian? Add some jokes into your captions. 

As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

I hope this blog post made a positive difference for you! If you found it helpful, I’d love to know! Feel free to shoot me an email at

​Stay tuned for more posts like these coming soon!

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  2. How to Become a Wedding Photographer | Joelle Elizabeth Blog

    March 8th, 2018 at 8:18 am

    […] 10 Ways to Grow Your Business […]

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