Creating a Foolproof System for Just About Everything

Over and over again I hear the same tired excuse from people that they just don’t have enough time… “Oh I’d love to blog more but I just can’t find the time…”, “I can’t possibly reply to all my emails, I just get too many…”, “Yeah I’d love to take a holiday/work on a personal project/spend more time with my loved ones, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day…”

Now forgive me as this is probably going to irritate you but seriously? Let’s cut the crap. Yes when you run your own business free time can be a luxury, and finding extra time is difficult, but if you really really want to do something then you’ll find it. Be honest with yourself now – is it really lack of time or lack of effort that you’re suffering from?

No one is telling you that you have to blog/reply to all your emails/take a break/do a personal project/edit a wedding in two days/turn around design commissions in a week etc etc, and if you don’t want to then fine… so let it go and stop making excuses. But if you do want to make some changes then stop blaming the imaginary time stealing fairy, take some responsibility and prioritise!

OK so now I’ve beaten that out of you, how exactly does one regain control and get things done? Well, in a nutshell, to feel in control of your business you need to keep on top of your work as much as possible. That may sound totally obvious and easier said than done but honestly, it really doesn’t have to be that hard. It’s easy to be in control if you create a system and stick to it. Set up a process for anything and everything that needs constant attention. Emails, social media, editing, bookkeeping, blogging… basically anything that you have to tackle on a regular basis.

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Better Together

Who do you think are life’s greatest teachers?

In a way it’s pretty obvious to think of all the things we can learn from the more experienced people in our industry, but today I’d like to encourage you to think about what you can learn from your peers… or even people will much less experience than you.

Nature, nurture, experience… we are a mash up of all our external influences, and because of this every single person on this planet has a different way of viewing the world. A more practiced photographer/blogger/stationer/designer might have industry knowledge that they can pass onto you, but someone unfamiliar with the norms of an industry will undoubtedly be able to offer a completely different perspective on the same situation.

Passion and enthustaiam are contagious so don’t ever disregard an inexperienced professionals’ opinions due to lack of experience. Sure, you might not want to take their ideas as gospel, but don’t dispel what their untrained eye might pick up. It’s all very easy to become bogged down with ‘the way things are’ when you’ve been doing something for a long time.

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

Blogging. If you’re in the wedding industry you’ll be hard pushed to avoid it. Still a relatively new medium, the first blogs (called web-logs back then) were launched in the late 90s. The wedding industry quickly adopted this format as their own with many wedding suppliers now using a personal blog to promote their work and to connect with others in the industry as well as potential clients. There are even people (like me!) who make a full time career out of blogging.

There are currently a reported 164 million blogs in existence, so how do you make yours stand out? Is blogging even right for yomu and your business? Two UK wedding photographers battle it out…

Sassy of Assassynation Photography doesn’t have a blog, preferring to use Facebook to preview her images to her clients and fans

Photography Credit: Lisa Jane Photography

Before I start I should say that I am in no way saying that it’s bad to have a blog, but it just isn’t for me right now. I have never ever had a blog and I can’t see me getting one any time soon. For me, I just can’t see how they will add value (not just workload) to my business. I know all the reasons that people give as to why I should have one (SEO, showcasing your personality, sharing your latest work etc) and I have basically been told that I am a total idiot for not having one. It is probably even more shocking for me to be of this opinion because in my previous life I was marketing manager!

Everyone seems to think I am breaking rule number one by not having my own blog. When I launched my photography business I wrote all the content on my site. I managed the whole thing myself, and being able to update my site as much as I like (I don’t have to go through a developer or anything) I am basically able to update it as much as I want. So instead of blogging, I constantly update my gallery with new weddings. For each of the weddings that I feature in my gallery my couples write a little bit about their day. I’m also very lucky that a lot of my work gets picked up by the big UK wedding blogs (thanks bloggers, I love you guys!) from my Facebook previews or when I submit weddings directly to them. These blogs have a much higher readership than any little blog I could write. I am not a writer, nor do I have any desire to be one. I want to tell my stories through imagery, not words, and having a blog would mean people would have to listen to me prattle on *yawn*.

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Obsession (& The Most Embarrassing Blog Post I’ve Ever Written)

I was twelve when it started. We were in Dublin visiting family when my Mum spotted that Boyzone were playing at The Point Theatre. I’d never been particularly interested in music, and although I’d heard of the band and seen them perform on SMTV Live (with Ant & Dec – remember that!?), I wouldn’t say I was a fan. But for some reason my Mum asked if we wanted to go and so she went to see if she could get tickets for the show that night.

We were in the very back row. I remember being sat next to my excited younger sisters and someone else’s little brother (who looked rather unimpressed throughout the whole thing). I’d bought a tee-shirt from the concessions stand and I was ready to…erm… rock. And right then and there I fell in love.

I’m not sure what it was… it certainly wasn’t the quality of the show (we couldn’t see eff all from back there!) but something about being there, and seeing them in the flesh (well as tiny dots…) made me fall head over heels… and with lead singer Ronan Keating in particular.

And yes, I cried actual tears when he got married.

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Adventure & Thinking Small

Photography Credit: The Fancy

In 2001, and with no real experience, Alastair Humphreys decided he would cycle around the world. He set off from his Yorkshire home on an epic journey that took him four years to complete. He cycled 46,000 miles, through 60 countries and 5 continents.

Now, whilst reading that you might think “jeez that’s no small adventure!”, and you’d be right, the idea behind this article and the video below is an explanation of the importance of adventure, any adventure, no matter how big or how small. In this TEDx talk he speaks about his experiences, and why he feels starting small is much more important when trying to make changes.

Isn’t that just so incredibly inspiring? Hell, if he can make a walk around the M25 an adventure, I’m sure we can find our own joy and excitement with some mini-adventures.

“One thing that struck me from this experience”, he says, “was that what I really loved was having adventures in all sorts of different forms, living adventurously. It seemed to make sense to me that surely a good strategy for life is to find what you love and do a lot of it…”

“I think adventure is vital for everyone. They dont need to be big adventures, they can be tiny little adventures… adventure is just about doing something you’ve never done and doing it with enthusiasm and curiosity…”

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Great Expectations

Today I want to tackle the tricky issue of managing client expectation in the wedding industry. Sooner or later no matter who you are or what level you are at, the chances are that you will encounter some sort of complaint or confrontation in your business. We work with people who are often planning the biggest experience of their lives and there can be a lot of pressure all round. A wedding can be a bit like all your Christmases at once – if your family all get on then brilliant, but a wedding can often highlight any issues too. Then there are all the money concerns connected with weddings. Good for you if you have a bottomless pit of cash to splash, but for many couples a wedding can be a huge financial strain on them or their immediate families. Add to that some of the other pressure that couples can put on themselves… Like making their day the stand out amongst their circle of friends, getting super carried away with how their wedding is going to look, or being obsessed with making their wedding ‘blogworthy’.

I have recently noticed a slight shift in the industry that I am not entirely sure is a completely good thing. I used to have to pitch to my couples about having their weddings featured on a blog or in a magazine, as lets face it, having that press is good for me and all their suppliers to promote our businesses for free. In the last year however, I have started to notice that I am often asked by couples about submitting to blogs even before I have shot their wedding. Of course I love to photograph creative weddings, I love to see my work featured and yes I may even be borderline OCD about details, but recently I have actually started encountering couples that would be devastated if their wedding didn’t get featured. It’s as if it’s the validation that the wedding was a success. This can really lead to a lot of additional pressure all round – both for me and my clients.

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