Why Isn’t My Business a Success?

blogcademy Alexa Loy-268

Dear Kat
I love the Green Room and your no-nonsense advice. I’ve read every post you’ve ever written and tried to implement your advice into my wedding photography business but it feels like nothing is happening. I don’t get many enquiries even though I think my work is OK. I’m struggling to see what it is that I’m doing wrong and why everyone else I look at seems to be doing so well.

I’m feeling lost and discouraged. I’m not really sure what I want you to say and I’m half expecting you to just delete this email anyway, but I guess I’m just hoping you might send me some words of encouragement…

There are two types of people who want to run their own business – doers and thinkers. The first graft, struggle, make mistakes and do everything in their power to make their business a success. The second have an idea, read lots of books or advice columns, know what they have to do but then (for whatever reason) fail to apply the lessons to their own businesses. It sounds harsh, but most of the people that fall into the latter category seem to think things are just going to fall into place because they want it badly enough. Wanting something is not enough, you have to go out and make it happen!

As you can probably tell I’m not really one to sugar coat things. If I’ve learnt one thing from doing as many workshops as I have over the past few years (both attending and teaching) it is that some people really are looking for a quick fix or worse still, for someone else to do it for them. It sounds stupid but learning the lessons isn’t enough, it’s what you do after the class that counts.

I love that you say you’ve read so much of my Green Room but (get ready because its tough love time again) have you actually been applying the things you’ve read or have you only really thought about it? You clearly have the knowledge of what it takes to succeed but what have you done with that knowledge?

Alexa Loy

You say you think your work is ‘OK’, well, what are you doing to make your work better than just OK? This is a highly competitive market and ‘just OK’ won’t really cut it I’m afraid. What steps forward are you currently taking and how are you showing potential clients, in no uncertain terms, that YOU are the photographer they need to book for their wedding?

Is your website ‘just OK’ too? Do you need to do a rebrand? Maybe an About Me film would help you connect with clients better? How about getting some work featured on a wedding blog that attracts your ideal client? Haven’t got the right kind of work to get on a blog? Well go and shoot some!

There are always things you can do to turn a business around so my question to you is, honestly, what are you actually doing?

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but in business, just like in life, there are no quick fixes, no easy routes and no one size fits all path to success. I’m yet to read a guide book that will metamorphosize the reader into an overnight sensation.

Alexa Loy

YOU have to make things happen for yourself. YOU, and only you, are in charge of your destiny. No-one is going to come along and fix your problems. Many people can and will advise you on what they think you should do, but YOU are the only one who can take that advice and turn it into an action.

It’s not an easy ride, far from it. You have to do things for yourself. Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. Books and advice articles will only take you as far as the starting block. They are your training manuals but you have to run the race yourself.

Please don’t feel disheartened or discouraged. Take your disappointment with how your business is going and use is as the rocket fuel you need to turn it around. You can do it, I know it, just remember no-one else can do it for you.



  1. Kim

    Kat, this is so true. I struggle with being a thinker, as you describe it, primarily out of fear. Since the Blogcademy last year, I have made a lot of great changes to my blog based on things I learned in class, but I keep getting scared to pull the trigger on my relaunch. This is just more evidence that I need to kick myself in the butt and stop thinking and start doing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to keep getting better. Now I have to take this advice to heart.

  2. What a great boost! I sometimes feel like “why am I not selling enough” and the answer is that I simply have to get out there and DO IT. And accept that it will take time, hard work and dedication. I love the previous comment that “it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to keep getting better” it really has struck a chord with me. As has the rest of the article.

    Thanks 🙂 makes me feel less like giving up and more and more like soldiering on!

  3. This is so true! It’s really hard when you first make the step from thinker to doer, but once you get started and become more confident, things get easier. I personally keep rambling on about self-publishing a book, but when it comes down to working on it The Fear strikes. I can publish away on my blog quite happily, but publishing a book is a whole new thing. Still, as you say, no one can make it happen but me!

  4. I also tend to fall into the trap of doing lots of research but then getting intimidated by all the different advice out there and scared about making big changes. This post reminded me of my friend Emily (co-creator of footloosecomic.com)’s motto – “get sh*t done, make life better”. The only way you can find out if something’s going to work is to throw yourself into it and give it a shot.

  5. Thank you for this article! I was recently in a newspaper article listed as a “Doer” though at times I feel like a “thinker”. You’re exactly right, go for it and find out what it takes to succeed!

  6. So true! That first step is the hardest. I think I tend to hesitate sometimes out of fear, but I once I get it in gear, everything works the way I think it should. Thanks for the great article!

  7. Very well said! 4 years into the business I know that these words are very true and are pearls of wisdom. Become a master of your trade and your clients will sell you on your behalf by raving about your services to everyone they meet!

  8. If I can give a word of advice to the writer of the question. Immediately STOP looking at everyone else! There is a great quote out there that says stop comparing your beginning to someone’s middle/end. (or something like that) As a photographer running her own business, I know there is a lot of competition in this saturated market (for sure!) but my business is based 98% on referrals. Ask the clients you do have, what they think of your work. Offer them a referral incentive. Do a survey with a certain amount of people that like your work and see where you can improve (if it’s anonymous they are much more honest). I have been professionally photographing since 2006 and it is 2013 and I am still not “where I want to be” but I am doing better now. The other thing is, I don’t shoot JUST for my clients. I show my other work. The photography work I am extremely passionate about so they can see that I am different from a standard photo studio. Submit, submit, submit. Even if you don’t get clients from blogs you will get your work out there and this will look more impressive to future clients.
    Instead of feeling discouraged, find out what makes you happy and follow that route. Do you absolutely love photographing people? Maybe people and their pets is more your thing? Perhaps you are more of a food photographer? Etc. Make yourself stand out by following YOU. People go where the passion is 😀 I hope this helps and if you ever want to chat about photography business, etc. feel free to shoot me an email: keyholephotography@hotmail.com or check me out on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keyhole-Photography-Design/339081542791

  9. Great advice! I recently started a business and for 8 months felt like I was going nowhere. It took a lot of focus to keep saying, “OK, what I have isn’t working, but what if I try XYZ?” Sometimes XYZ worked, sometimes it did’nt and then I had to try something else. I like the comment that there are a lot of ways to grow a business. It takes some doing to see what will work.

    Just in the last couple of weeks, we started getting traction!! And it is such a triumphant feeling!

    Keep going, it is so worth it! Just never stop trying new things… experiment, tinker, adjust!

  10. Thank you Kat, excellent advice. Please don’t hesitate on sharing more “tough love” advice. We people of the web definitely need to DO more rather than just browse around reading stuff and thinking of things that just won’t materialise by themselves. Thank you! X

  11. Thank you Kat – I really needed a kick up the butt. My work is better than ok, but my website isn’t and I am not out there enough – fear of failure? Maybe, but maybe it is better to give something your heart and soul then say “well it just didn’t quite work out” that to fail to commit and never see what it could have been….
    Words of wisdom once again.

  12. I think a lot of folks think they can be successful as soon as they start out but that is so far from the truth .It takes about 6 years to build a good reputation , just because you are good and have a good website it doesnt mean you can just sit back and people will find you , they wont. Network, social media , cleverly placed ads Good SEO all will help but you have to get pout there , , work with other businesses and your local community for free in order to get your name out there.Most of all DONT GIVE UP!

  13. ej

    or maybe you’re just not that into it but you didn’t realise it. business is hard, it requires bazillions of different skills, but also it requires determination and it’s tough to rustle up tenacity when you’re not fully committed. it’s also hard to be honest with yourself, you can get caught up in all kinds of wishful thinking about what you’d like your life to be, and how to get there, but is it really what you want?

  14. I’m guna toot my own trumpet.. I have always been a dooer, sometimes too much of a dooer but I always get shit done and after 3 years it’s all starting to pay off.

    Sure iv made mistakes along the way but I have sure as hell learned from them, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for DOING all the stuff!

    Great advise!

  15. This is strange that it feels like this is a response to me or written for me.
    Gotta do it now, or I’ll be thinking all day long.

    Thanks, thanks , thanks for a boost and recharging!

  16. Eh gads this is so true! I am more a thinker than a doer. I will read every book published on a subject and then be so overwhelmed that I never do anything about it… Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Amen to that advice. I needed that kick up the ass!! I fall into the second category that you talked about, and I did laugh. But I had an aha moment a few weeks ago, nothing will ever be perfect. I learn best by doing so I will be launching my website at the end of this month. It will be a work in a progress just like me and my business.


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