Mistakes I made when I started my photography business

Wow…I’ve made a LOT of mistakes.

I’ve purchased a lot of things I couldn’t return, and that didn’t make me any money.  From equipment that didn’t work for me, and that I usually had to sell at a loss, to software products that just didn’t do what I expected (and that wasn’t returnable of course) to software templates, actions, other people’s business advice, and more.

I’ve broken things.  (remember I dropped that 24-70, not once but TWICE?)  And let’s not talk about the light stands that fall over in the wind and kill flashes…thank goodness for Nikon Professional services…it’s a shame they can’t replace the expensive soft boxes that don’t survive the falls, too.

Computers…so many of them.  About 8 years ago I finally settled on Apple products, but I never thought I’d need TWO computers, TWO Wacom tablets, and 3 iPads to run this business.  Not to mention the back up systems.  You have no idea how much sleep at night I lose when I let myself think about the what ifs of my back up systems.  It’s nightmare worthy…  Anyway, when I left the PC to change gears to Apple – that was a whole new learning curve and of course, new versions of almost everything.  And the time to learn it all, and change it all.  Sometimes it’s the little mundane things that are major time suckers!  Losing an hour to set up a new piece of software doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you only have 24 of those golden hours in a day and a LONG list of things you need to, or want to do, it has an impact.

I spent a lot of time on things that never worked out.  One spring I spent two weeks painting a stucco wall in the portrait park to look like a rock wall. I probably put 60 hours of time into construction, painting, after convincing my husband to built it at all … In the end, it looked HORRIBLE and a good strong storm knocked the wall down anyway.  See?  A total waste.  Then we had to figure out how get rid of it.

Identity…in crisis.  I changed my branding not once, but three times. Stupid, right?   Expensive mistakes.  New packaging, new marketing.  But your branding is your business identity…and you need it to speak to the different markets for you in an easy to “get” way to your clients.  And then you needed to make sure you had all forms of your branding, or could get it.  Who knew I’d need a “non colored filled version of my square logo” for imprint purposes???

Speaking of branding, I had to learn more software, or pay others to do it all.  I had to design all my own marketing materials…and figure out how to schedule social media posts that might attract new customers.  I wish I had learned all of that sooner, or better yet, just knew to do it all sooner!

Not buying a pick up truck years ago!  Boy, that would have saved me so much money, time and aggravation.  (Good news, my son bought one last year so I now have a built in pick up and delivery person (mostly)…and someone who can take big things to the dump for me when I really screw up – like the wall mentioned above.)  But seriously, I never really consider the type of car I had when I wanted to do this business.  But I put a LOT of stuff in my cars, and now that one of them is a MINI, I really have to stop and think before I decide which car to get into when I leave the house!

I’ve priced myself badly and had to honor those offerings while I lost money and gave away the store.  That one hurt.  Let’s not talk about that one again.

I’ve spent money on printed items only to realize I missed a big thing in my proofing and had to reprint.  See above about having to learn new software…I can only blame myself folks…

I spent almost two years trying to be a “networker” and joined local organizations (yes spent money on dues too)…only to come to the realization that I cannot be the kind of person that would jump in front of another to “get the deal”, and that trying to deliver an elevator speech FREAKED ME OUT.  Yup, networking is not my forte…. (I know, that is probably something I should work on)

I could go on all day long with the things I did badly, or could have done differently.  Past and present.  I’m certainly not perfect now either.  I still can’t network…but I have decided on that one thing I mentioned earlier that helps me a lot with a bunch of the other stuff:

I ask myself all the time “will this make me money?”.  Because if it won’t, then I don’t need it in my business.

That goes for offerings too.  Marketing, purchases of equipment, just about anything.  Forcing myself to look at it all differently has helped me a LOT.

There are still grey areas.  Did I need to spend money on decorating the new studio?  Maybe not.  Could I have saved some money each year and cut my own grass?  Maybe.   But I also had to be willing to invest in myself – and that means I have to pay others to do some things that will free me up to do what I need to do.  And I had to spend money on samples in the studio so people could see options.  Having a nice environment proved to people when they came in that I was a “real bunny”.   And more.  But was it worth it to pay others to do my social media or advertising?  Not for me, I needed to be too involved so it was easier and less costly for me to keep that task.  Same answer with my retouching.  I could send it all out, but I don’t want to lose that control over my final images.  Grey areas.

But bottom line, IS the bottom line.  I have my eye on it all the time.

My goals:  pay my bills, keep me happy, have a good reputation, and offer something great for people while still enjoying my home, my husband, and my family.

Did I tell you I’m going to have my first grand baby in about a month?  And my second grand baby just two and half months later?

(Now I have to take some newborn photos again! – but shh…don’t tell anyone

Only one more left in this series, folks!  Thanks for staying with me through this series!

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