top 3 things that helped my business in 2018

Last year, I was an eager photographer hoping to grow my business into one that had been around for years. I was dreaming of BOOM! Instant success. Well, it didn’t work out that way. Businesses take time to grow, they need to be nurtured and grown nice and slow to get consistent results. I’m still telling myself this today, one year later. But the seeds I sowed over the past year, is growing and I’m seeing the results of some of the things I’ve done!

It took a lot of hard work and hustle over the past year but these are the top three things that helped my business GROW in 2018.

1. Education

Think you were done with school and classes huh? At first, I wanted to jump right into it and I did! But I was struggling with more of the business side and creating a brand rather than photography itself. Being the owner of a photography business is 20% shooting, 80% business. And boy, was I struggling with that! My photography could’ve used some help too in terms of how to nail down the style I was dreaming of but failing to achieve. So I made the leap in 2018 to invest in education. I attended a workshop with a local photographer where I joined a small handful of other women in similar journeys as me to learn camera settings, gear to use, and knowing your worth. I learned so much and I kept on investing. If you’re a photographer in Virginia, then you know Katelyn James. I cannot get enough of her and her education is the best thing I have ever invested in. I invested in KJ All Access, following KJ behind the scenes as she shot engagements and weddings. I discovered tips and tricks on posing, client communication, wedding day timelines and how a wedding day should flow. I loved it and Katelyn as a teacher so much, I’ve invested in her business journey for 2019!

My highlight of the summer was an educational event! Another photographer who I’ve admired from the start was Hope Taylor. She and Caroline Logan hosted The Gathering Event 2.0 for young women who are in the beginning stages of running their photography business. It was so much fun, getting to meet and know other photographers walking down the same path. I learned more of the business and branding side which helped tremendously! And I also got to actually meet Hope, Caroline, Annamarie Akins, Erika Medlin and her hubby so I mean, nbd (I was totally fangirling, let’s be real.)

If you’re unsure of where the problem lies, take a step back and analyze your business as a whole. I knew my struggles were with the business side of things, so I focused on education that would help me grow and become better and more knowledgeable in that area. It’s easy to deny it and say “oh it’s fine, I don’t need any help.“ because I spent a few months in denial and that things would get easier. Girl. Invest in your education! It’s scary giving your hard earned money to someone and something you’re not certain will be helpful but read reviews from other photographers, think of the pros and cons. There are also sooooo many FREE resources to learn from as well! Katelyn James, Amy and Jordan Demos, Hope Taylor, they all have free educational resources! Yes it’s scary to invest but it's so worth it when you LEARN and NAIL what you’ve been missing!

2. Dubsado

Last year, after a bridal show that I had done, I realized I needed a CRM to put leads in, keep track of clients and contracts, workflows and more. So I began my hunt and research. There are so many CRM’s out there: Dubsado, Honeybook, Tave, 17 Hats… it can all get overwhelming. I chose Dubsado because I loved how customizable I could make it for my brand! In Dubsado, I can keep track of new leads, booked clients, and past clients. I have my contracts and forms in there, automated in a workflow that does things FOR ME. Everything I need for a new wedding client is right there at a glance: emails, their date, their contract and invoice, forms. My clients love their client portal, it keeps their files together in one place! Dubsado’s customer service is also one of the best I’ve ever known. They’re constantly adding new features including a scheduler (YAY easier mini session scheduling!) and my favorite feature: the approve button in my workflow. So when I need to send an email, Dubsado will send me an email asking to approve the email so I can check to see if I need to change anything in the email! Dubsado added a new level of professionalism in my business and I would be completely lost without it. You can try a free trial of Dubsado HERE!

*note: This contains an affiliate link*

3. Second Shooting

In 2018, I was a second shooter for: 7 weddings and 5 different photographers! I did a lot of double header weekends and I went all over the state of Virginia. Second shooting helped me so much because I got to work alongside of photographers who had been in the industry longer and were more experienced than I am. It was a great learning experience for me and I also got to connect with them! I enjoy working with other photographers because everyone is a little different on how they work a wedding day, how they handle different situations. Plus they understand how tiring but oh so rewarding it is working in this industry. I learn something from every wedding and I love helping them serve their clients. Whether it’s carrying camera bags or moving light stands, fanning the bride and running gear back and forth, capturing different angles during the ceremony and reception, it’s always a great experience. If you’re starting out in the wedding industry, I highly recommend second shooting or assisting with a more experienced photographer. I look up to all the photographers I’ve second shot with and I always look forward to the chance of working with them again in the future!

Of course, there are more than just three things that helped me grow but these were the three I think were the ones that helped the MOST. What was your top three? Do you have any questions about any of these? Drop them in a comment below! Keep on keeping on, friend! I’m cheering for you!

If you loved this, you may enjoy:

My Biggest Instagram Revelation

5 Things I Learned My First Year in Business

Behind the Scenes 2018