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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Education, Podcast

September 10, 2018

Episode 01: Owning Your Youth

I’m 23 years old. I forget a lot of the time that being a 23-year old business owner comes across as being young to many people. But, I’ve always been driven by my age. I have this weird motivation where I want to achieve as much as possible as young as possible. I’ve been making big goals and acting on them since I was 11 years old.

Do you remember the American Girl magazine? I was obsessed with American Girl as a kid, I absolutely loved it! I subscribed to the magazine and remember reading through a new edition that had come in the mail one day, and I flipped to a page that highlighted another girl named Leah. She was a 13-year-old Jewish girl who had noticed that there weren’t any magazines for girls in her culture. So she started her own.

I was so inspired by her and decided I was going to start a magazine myself. So at 11 years old, I started my first publication: Best Friends Forever Magazine.

Now, the name was not the greatest, I’ll own up to that. But, I was serious about this! I nailed down what topics the magazine would cover, lined up interviews, organized photoshoots in the backyard – and when all of those details were in place, I typed out a letter that announced my new venture, highlighted how important it was and the difference it would make, and then asked people to help contribute. Whether that was articles, photos, or donations. I must have sent out hundreds of those letters. And I actually got contributions! People sent in articles and recipes, and someone even gave me $20 to use. I kept that $20 locked in a box for months waiting for the right thing to use it for, but the magazine eventually faded out and I decided to hit pause for a bit.

Fast-forward 2-3 years later and I’m a freshman in high-school at 13 years old. Sometime during second semester I decided I had too much free time, so I plotted to create another magazine. This time I had more of a handle on what I was doing. I named it Enthrall magazine and collected articles from friends and family about dating, health, beauty, etc. I organized more photoshoots in my backyard enlisting my sister and some of our friends as models. And I lined up more interviews. This time I was interviewing people like Kate Voegele, Shannon McIntosh, and Lindsey Stirling. Yes, I interviewed Lindsey Stirling at 15 years old. Being young has never held me back.

But, school caught up to me again and eventually I was in college and decided to hit pause again. I couldn’t keep up with it – after all I was doing pretty much all of it on my own! The photography, designing, interviews, you name it. There were a couple of people who wrote articles or submitted photos, but that was about it. Now, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to outsource some of my work so that I don’t have to do it all on my own! But, that’s for another episode!

It was my junior year in college when I decided to pursue photography as a career and it’s been such a crazy fun ride since.

After college, I went on to work at a local magazine company at 21 years old. A few months later, shorty after I turned 22, I went full-time in my photography business. Now I’m 23 and in the past year I’ve begun offering mentoring sessions, hosting photography workshops, I traveled to Norway to photograph a destination wedding, started creating more video content, now we’re doing this podcast and you better believe that there’s more in the works! I’ve always been ambitious, but I believe that’s always been one of my greatest attributes.

But, there were a couple of moments last year when I began to get a bit self-conscious about how young I was.

I was reminded of the verse in the Bible – 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Um, WOW.

One of you mentioned: “I struggle with people taking me seriously”

I think that a lot of it has to do with how you present yourself. As a kid I always loved hanging out with the older kids and I’d pay attention to the way they acted. I began to notice that you had to be confident and sound like you knew what you were talking about in order to be taken seriously. And it helped to have a plan. And for the most part, that’s what I’ve done.

It also helps a lot to have connections. For me, I figured out what connections I needed and then I went and networked for those connections. I’m a huge believer in networking! I have been connected to so many different people all because someone else connected us together. And that’s been beneficial as well.

Sydney Cave asked: “How do you not give up when everyone else is way older, experienced, etc.?”

  • There are so many YOUNG entrepreneurs, too!
    • Hope Taylor
    • Evie Rupp
    • These girls are CRUSHING it and they’re younger than I am! That inspires me.

Sydney also asked: How do you balance your time as a student and business owner?!

  • Invest in programs that will streamline your workflow
    • Planoly
    • Dubsado
    • Agree
    • PhotoMechanic for culling
  • Schedule shoots on weekends and work on homework and editing during the evenings
  • Try to take classes that you need for your major but that will also benefit you as a business owner. Ex: Photo classes that have projects you can use for marketing.

MK said: “[I struggle with] explaining to my friends that I have flexible time not free time”

  • Schedule stuff on weekends at first to get them used to your schedule
  • Get into the habit of telling them no for things during the day
  • Share behind the scenes of what you’re working on so that they’ll see you’re actually working

Decide when you’re going to be working and stick with it so they become used to it.

I hope you guys enjoyed the first episode of the Heart to Heart podcast! We have so many good ones lined up for you guys so stay tuned for next week’s!

If you want to join a community of super awesome, Jesus-lovin’ entrepreneurs, then find us on Facebook! Join the Heart to Heart Podcast Tribe Facebook page to get to know other creatives, ask each other questions, and find referrals for different opportunities.

And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review! I would LOVE to give you a shout out in an upcoming episode!

Happy Monday!

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