A PSA Regarding Being In Business
I think it's extra hard for us women to talk money. ACTUALLY talk about it - like real figures and amounts and all that. I know for me, it sometimes feels icky. Or it feels like that shouldn't be my motivation, and by talking about it I send the message that it is. Or that weirdly enough, I don't really have a right to want to make a profit with my business... even though by definition, being in business means I am TRYING to earn a living. But I think that sort of attitude or fear or shyness is the worst thing you can do for your business. So here's a little advice I wanted to share this morning:
1) Know exactly where every penny earned comes from, and where every penny spent goes to. Use some sort of system where you can check it at any given time and know *exactly* what the health of your business is like. I use free software called WAVE accounting. It's what works for me, but if paper and pen is better for you - or Excel - or Quickbooks - use it. The key phrase there being USE IT. I can't tell you how many people I have mentored who can only guess at the financial health of their business. It's scary. I get it. Some days I truly hate looking over my books. It can be discouraging - if you let it. But it can also be a huge source of information, helping you make informed decisions about what works and what doesn't. Know your finances just as well as you know your camera.
2) You booked a client? YAY! Now, do NOT spend a penny of that money until you have finished the session. I know, maybe you have a non-refundable deposit in place. But I have seen photographer after photographer get themselves in a bind because something outside of their control happens, and they don't have the money to refund or fix the problem. I'm not going to get into the liability pieces or the "stick to your contract" bit - I'm more concerned with your mental health, and the stress that comes along with spending money before you've earned it. And I really think that 9 times out 10, it's not intentional - it ties back to #1 above - people just don't know where their money is going. And beyond a worst case scenario - it's basic human nature to work harder for something you don't yet have. So you want to bring a little extra something to your session? Have an edge over a competitor, or just being more excited when you are feeling burned out? Don't pay yourself until after the fact.
3) Think of your income or earning potential like a pie. Whatever amount you need or want to earn is the full pie. Each element of your business is one piece of the pie. So if you shoot families, maybe that's one piece. Newborns are another. Maybe you also have design skills. Or teaching skills. Or website skills. Or editing skills. Or a studio you can rent out. Make those another piece of your pie! I think it's a rare photographer these days who can have just one piece in their pie. Spread it out a little - create multiple income streams, and you will see huge reduction in stress and an increase in the sustainability of your business. I've talked about this one before, because I *know* it is the only reason my business has been so successful for me. Each little piece adds up, and the total is so much better because of it. It also helps me with burn out, too - when one thing starts to feel too much like a chore, I can focus on something else a bit. And if you are sitting there doubting your ability to find additional income streams... well, I don't know your exact situation, but I bet you once doubted your ability to be a professional photographer, too. So you just never know. ;)
I really really REALLY think there is enough out there for all of us. And that we all have a responsibility to run our businesses in a healthy way. The whole industry benefits from that, and you, as an individual, will too. If you are feeling like you need someone to help hold you accountable and really dig into things with you, I'm available for business mentoring as well. It won't be easy. I ask tough questions, and expect %100 transparency. But you can trust me to not just fight for you - but help YOU fight for yourself.
And hey - you GOT THIS! I absolutely believe in you. <3