HEY SMALL BUSINESS OWNER - YOU CAN DO IT ALL!
If you don't like eating, sleeping or spending time with your loved ones.
A story about why you should outsource (some or all of) your business marketing.
Don't worry folks, this isn't one of those emotional reflection blogs (I'll save those for another day!). But it is a legit warning to photographers everywhere. A story about a girl who wanted to be a photographer - and did it! But did it ALL. WRONG. And then threw it all away.
Photographers (or honestly, ANY small business owners), I hope my story helps you. Particularly those of you who are tired. Or broke. Or are just wondering if it is all worth it.
I'm the typical MWAC story (you know, the mum with a camera). Had the cute baby in 2010. Obsessed. Must take 10000 photos of the kid per day. Oh, iPhone photos are terrible. Let's get a DSLR. Let's do a little photography course. Let's post the photos on Facebook. 10 friends comment "Oh wow Kate they are AMAZING." Kate gets a serotonin hit. BAM. Next minute, there's a Facebook page, a business name registration and we're off. Familiar anyone?
Whether you're a photographer or a cake maker or a dress designer or whatever. The evolution of your small business story is probably very similar to mine. And the problems are the same too.
- Not enough hours in the day
- Not enough skill or knowledge to do it all
- But desperately WANT to do it all (insert control issues here)
- Other life commitments "getting in your way" (loaded quote there)
- All while initially having so much fun doing it that you lose sight of when work ends and life begins.
Here's the short version of my story. I jumped deep into the world of newborn (and other portrait) photography right when it was exploding in Australia. Timing perfection. I did a thousand workshops and spent hours and hours working out how to take great photos. It took around 3 years but by then, I had nailed it. I could consistently capture a great gallery of images, no matter the mood of the baby. I could edit them with my eyes closed (albeit, with eyes closed for 4 hours - yes - that's how long it would take!) and I had 6 months worth of pre-booked clients scheduled into my calendar. Almost ALL word of mouth or repeat clients. Hello. The. Dream.
So I quit. Literally overnight.
There's a few reasons why, of course. I had 2 kids in 18 months, one of whom we shall call "spirited" and was later diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. My marriage wasn't coping. Throw in a touch of postnatal anxiety. Life stuff. You know it. We all have it. But there are plenty of business owners who go through epic life stuff and manage to build, work and grow a successful business.
My story is Burnout 101. Anyone feeling it?
Running a small business is hard yakka folks. And life as a photographer is right up there with the hardest work I've ever done! Life as a creative involves daily self doubt and anxiety. Worry about the clients. Worry about time. No hiding behind your desk job if you're having a bad day. NOPE! The client is knocking on your studio door right now and you are going to be DELIGHTFUL. Inspiring even. Calming. Even though your own toddler woke you up 5 times last night.
And then there is the editing. Ohhhhhhh the editing. Can I get an amen sista? Did you know that there is an underground chat world of photographers who gather together online between the hours of 8pm and 2am every night - busily posting their woes on forums, impulse buying props and holding up their eye lids with toothpicks while they watch 600 sunset maternity images download into Lightroom. The struggle is long and real.
So you get the idea. Small business life doesn't involve walking out the door at 5pm and YouTubing on the train on your way home. IT. NEVER. ENDS. And forget about holidays! I used to have to schedule 3 weeks off to just manage 1. Because the other two would end up filled with early / late babies and a week of admin just to catch up on business life.
I didn't make it guys. I tried to do it all myself. I didn't price myself right so I could make enough money to outsource anything. I worked myself to the bone and one day literally could not get out of bed. It wasn't fun any more. I was dreading sessions. Crying a LOT. You get the idea.
Hopefully, you're not there yet. But let me tell you, I was THE most passionate photographer around. I lived it day and night. I adored taking beautiful photos. But not even the joy of the craft could save me from business burnout.
It really is a passion project for me now to help other photographers and business owners survive. Because I LOVE being a small business chick. The perks are too perfect. Time with my kids, flexible lifestyle, no boss telling me what to do. But if you don't do it right, you'll lose it all.
So here I am, A Little Life. It's been A Little Life Photography of course first. Then A Little Life Fabrics, as I side hustled in the world of photography props which was seriously fun! But 6 years on, it's time for the next step.
A Little Life Creative
I'm your new fairy godmother. The one that flies in and sprinkles her wand over your business and does all of things that you don't have time to do.
* You know how you spend hours making your social media accounts look amazing? Stop. Just stop. If this is what you're spending most of your time on, you're definitely not making any money taking photos right?!
* 20 hours to design your new pricing guide? Guyyyyyys, let me do it for you!
* Thank you cards. Facebook banners. Slideshow graphics. Video of you doing what you do. The list goes on!
Our store will soon be stocked full of ready-to-post and custom made graphic products for your business. And for those of you ready to take the next step and outsource the process - we can do all of the scheduling and posting for you too!
Select from heaps of styles and designs to suit your business and brand. Or throw us a message and we can custom design it too.
Even better, our products transfer across industries. For example, visit the BABY section and find conversation starters, calls to action and creative content that will suit any industry servicing newborns, babies and mums to be. From newborn photographers to doulas to bib makers and more.
Marketing your business is SO important. So so important. But working IN IT is even more crucial. If you're spending too much time on your promotion, there really is no point. You've gotta automate this stuff guys. Design it right and make it work for you.
I've been doing it my whole life! I've worked (mostly begrudgingly) in hundreds of my parent's small businesses - Christmas tree farms, Mexican restaurants, shopping centres, wedding reception venues and so many more! My degrees in Communication, Marketing and Graphic Design plus years of life as a professional designer, photographer and videographer are finally all coming together to help people just like you.