There’s a lot that’s happened in the past nine years while pursuing this business of mine.
My entrepreneurial journey started in high-school, continued through college, and when I graduated I kept a part-time job for a few months before finally taking my business full-time.
There was no plan for leaving my part-time job. That job was the biggest source of security I had at the time. I may have had some photography bookings, and was slowly getting my name out there, but still – it seemed absurd to leave a job that was paying me a steady income that I knew I could rely on for rent, groceries, and clothes.
All the same, I knew it was a risk I needed to take and after weeks of going back & forth on it, one morning I had a talk with God and long-story-short felt the peace I needed to leave.
The first few weeks were AMAZING. I was over the moon about being able to finally work from home at my own desk, set my own hours, work on literally whatever I wanted to! Not to mention, wherever I wanted to! I could finally book photoshoots in Chicago on whatever day I wanted; it no longer had to depend on my previous work schedule. Praise be!
I. Busted. My. Ass. Off.
That time is so special to me, because I didn’t hold back on my dreams or the work I knew I needed to put in to achieve them.
I knew that I needed to prove myself. To prove to myself that I had what it takes.
And yet, I told myself that if push came to shove I would get another job if I needed to. Even if that was working at Starbucks. It wouldn’t matter, if that’s what I needed to do to keep paying the bills while pursuing my God-given dreams.
Thankfully it never came to that, and that’s largely because I was taking on whatever side jobs I could that either correlated with photography, or lined up with something I enjoyed:
- I was a dog-sitter for Rover
- For months, I edited photos for other photographers
- I was a contract photographer for an up-and-coming company
- Second shot for other wedding photographers
- Took gigs that I didn’t always enjoy (ie: events, product, family photos, etc.)
There is a lot of grit that happens in the making of your dreams.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.
And I’m here to tell you that it is so exhilarating and worth it if you’re willing to stick it out, put in the work, and enjoy it to the fullest.
A lot happened during that first year of going full-time:
- I began mentoring other photographers
- Learned to set aside money for taxes, savings, and investments
- Struggled with setting boundaries
- Got kicked out of a venue for photographing without a permit (whoops!)
- Worked on my mindset a lot
- Began curating a client experience that would stand out
- Started photographing & offering boudoir
Listen to me: you will never get this time back.
Make it count.
And for the love of yourself and everything you have to offer, enjoy it.
If I can do it (read: the girl who always struggled with math, science, and was confused as heck on how to license & run a put-together business), you sure as hell can, too.
Here are some of the resources & actions that made a huge difference for me:
- Read How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Andrea Owen
- Routinely checked Honeybook Community for job postings
- Emailed as many photographers as I could about shadowing them, second shooting, or being their assistant (as a side note, while I hoped for pay I didn’t expect it – I knew experience was critical during those early days)
- Emailed wedding planners my wedding guide to share with their couples
- Offered a “first five who book get 50% off” offer for mentoring sessions in various FB groups
- Interacted & routinely checked FB groups for weddings, second shooters, and more
- Showed my work constantly – on Facebook, Instagram, and my blog
…to name a few.
Running a business is no joke, but you absolutely have what it takes. Remember your why – the reason you started this dream in the first place – and practice gratitude often.
It will pay off.
From one go-getter to another, know that you’re not in this alone. There are countless other entrepreneurs paving their own way right alongside you.
You can do this. You ARE doing this!!
Soak it up, cherish it. This is something to be proud of.