Photography: The Wedding Chicks
I’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to launch a new business of late. Not so much with Rock n Roll Bride, which I kind of fell into by accident, but with The Blogcademy, the bloggers workshop that I launched with Gala and Shauna in the latter part of last year. Its actually really crazy to think how far we’ve come, the lessons we’ve learnt and the changes we’ve already made (to the promotion, the online presence and the curriculum that we teach!) but it’s been really valuable having to do it so quickly.
Starting a business which immediately needs to be profitable is hard bloody work. I know this sounds like an obvious and pretty dumb thing to say, but unless you’re in it right now, it can be hard to remember what it was like when you first started out. It’s a constant work in progress and sometimes feels like a bit of an uphill struggle but it’s totally worth it and obviously super satisfying when it pays off. If you come to a class, I promise we’ll tell you all about it!
It’s funny that I’ve been thinking about that this week as a lot of the business related links I’ve found are to do with starting over or starting from scratch. Weird huh?
♥ What would you do if you had to start your business from scratch?
♥ Five tips for designing a company logo
♥ Are you charging enough?
♥ Feeling lost? How to start over when things fall apart
“If you go through life knowing that every problem is solving a greater purpose, somehow its making you stonger and smarter, you’re going to look for, and find, an empowering lesson in every situation.” Marie Forleo
Recently, a good friend and photographer showed me some images that he had shot a few years ago. He told me that he was cringing while putting together the couple’s album because they had waited three years before coming back with their selection and meantime his work had, in his eyes, improved a lot. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the images and the couple were clearly still very happy with them if they were investing in an album. Of course they were not the images he would shoot if he did their wedding today but I told him that I think it’s good to look back on your old work and cringe a little. It shows that you are progressing, evolving and developing.
When interviewed on Rock n Roll Bride, Jonas Peterson said “You will never find your style, your style will find you” and certainly ‘finding your style’ is one thing that a lot of photographers, artists and designers seem to struggle with, especially in the early days. However I believe that this constant quest to define and refine your style is one of the things that keeps us in a state of creativity. If we didn’t, our work would surely become stale and dated and we’d probably get very bored. I have been earning my living from taking photographs for over twenty years and I have yet to think “this is it… this is exactly how I’m going to shoot every picture from now on”. I go through phases of being in love with a certain lens, filter or technique but it is never the only way I shoot. By constantly playing and experimenting, learning rules and then breaking them, I’m forever progressing and changing. Any creative should grow with their craft and I very much see it as a journey. The path may be unknown at times but isn’t that all part of the adventure?
The first press release was written in 1906, created by the Pennsylvania Railroad who had just experienced a major accident in which 53 passengers were killed. They quickly released a statement to the press in order to nip any rumours that might be published in the bud. A sensible idea you might think, and yes, it most definitely was. However fast forward 100 years, and similar statements are being released by companies left right and centre, but without this same vital reasoning. These days every small start up business in the world thinks that PR lesson number one is to nail the perfect press release. I’m here today to tell you why I think this is a wrongful assumption and usually a completely pointless exercise.
I hate press releases. With a passion. I’m now half expecting an angry mob of PR’s, bloggers, business owners and journalists to turn up at my door baying for my blood, but hold fire on those pitch forks for just a minute and hear me out…
For a lot of small companies, the press release is believed to be the most important first step in a PR campaign. The drill is usually a mailshot sent to journalists and bloggers, announcing some thrilling piece of company news that they hope the media will get just as excited over and therefore write about. It might be the launch of a range of products, a new appointment or a Summer sale for example. These emails are usually flanked with the imposing phrase “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” (capitals and bold type are obviously mandatory to demonstrate just how damn important this piece of ‘news’ actually is).
Forgive me, but YAWN.
“But wait!” I hear you cry, “I’ve been sending out press releases for years and I’ve got some great media coverage from them!” And while this may well be true, let me offer you another idea, one I guarantee will get you even more coverage in the long run and carry a lot more favour with the journalists you’re trying to impress.
Photography: Ellie Gillard Photography
I’m hungry. I’ve been doing the Clean Program Refresh all week (more on this soon!) and whilst I initially moaned about being a little hungrier than usual, as I came to the end of the seven day programme I had a moment of clarity. In a metaphorical way, being hungry is undoubtedly a good thing. Hunger is what forces us to go out and make changes. Hunger is what encourages us to re-evaluate what we’re doing and if we’re on the right path. Hunger makes us long for something better and pushes us to achieve it.
I am hungry for change. To change how I do certain things and act in certain situations. I’m not perfect at this business stuff, but I’m doing my best. Muddling through in the best way I know how… Now please excuse me while I crack open this packet of biscuits to celebrate my amazing moment of clarity.
♥ Why I don’t care about SEO
♥ The joy of accounting (boooo!)
♥ Why being ‘all booked up’ is ruining your business
♥ Did we exist before social media?
“A friend once told me that social media was like being at a party where everyone’s high on cocaine—they’re all talking at the same time and no one’s listening, all while trying to look good and sound smart.” Paul Jarvis
Why is it that one bad review can negate all the great things people say about you? One mean comment, one snarky tweet, one dissatisfied customer? You know this already, but just in case you’ve forgotten it I’m going to remind you again: you can’t please everyone so don’t waste your time trying.
Of course we don’t want to give ourselves permission to ever do a bad job, if you do get a bad review it’s really important to analyse whether the comment is worthwhile paying attention to at all. It is from someone who paid you for a service or someone who’s opinion you value? If so you might want to listen to it, learn from it and make amends if you need to. However if it’s coming from someone who’s just having a big old moan (online most likely!) then I’m sorry but who gives a stuff what they think? You don’t owe these people a response or any justification at all in fact.
Does anybody watch Nashville (shameful admission alert, but I’m totally obsessed)? In a recent episode one of the main characters, singer Juliette Barnes, tried a new ‘sound’ at a concert. The first review she read of her performance was from a music critic in the audience who said awful things about it and her on twitter. Obviously it crushed her and her confidence and she spent hours, days even, reading and re-reading his comments and doubting her new direction completely. However, by spending her time worrying about what this one critic has said, she’d failed to notice the thousands of positive comments on the YouTube upload of the performance – comments from fans who actually part with their hard earned cash to buy her records. At the end of the day it is their opinions that really matter anyway.
I don’t know about you, but I always do my best thinking in the bath. I’m sure it’s something to do with switching off, being away from technology and allowing my mind to wonder. Regardless, as I soaked in the tub one day last week I started to think about business plateaus, or more specifically, what to do about them.
The first few years of running a business are a super exciting. You’re pushing yourself, growing and learning, all while (hopefully!) having a lot of fun as you go. Yes, it’s a scary time but it’s also a super satisfying one. If you’re doing all the right things, you’ll be into a steady flow of getting enquiries, booking clients, then getting too many bookings so putting your prices up a little bit, getting back to a steady flow… and so on and so forth.
But then, and likely around the two or three year mark, something different starts to happen. You, as usual, put your prices up a little bit more to stem the flow (you can only take on so many clients after all and no one wants to work on loads of weddings getting paid a pittance for each one) but the result is different… zilch… nadda… nothing. Suddenly it’s not so easy to get bookings. You ramp up your marketing and you’re still getting enquiries, but after sending out your price list people aren’t immediately coming back to you with the same joyful exuberance about confirming you for their wedding. They’re either trying to haggle or you simply never hear from them again.