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One thing I stopped doing, and one thing I started doing in 2019 | 13 Photographers Answered

As business owners, who always strive for growth, hustle day and night, find new ways to improve their skills and juggle 1000 things at once, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of tunnel vision. Which is basically focusing on that one-two things and failing to see the bigger picture. There’s always that “If only I had a better camera”, “If only I lived in a more beautiful area”, “If only I had more followers on Instagram”, “If only I did destination weddings in Iceland”… That “if only” is what stands between you and ultimate success, or ultimate happiness. Right? 

Maybe it is. Or maybe, you’re looking at the wrong metrics while trying to assess your success. We wanted to get to the bottom of this question, and approached 13 amazing photographers from all around the world, asking them to answer 2 simple (or not) questions. 

  1. What is one marketing, sales or business thing you started doing in 2019 that has made a difference for you and your business?
  2. What did you stop doing in 2019, or plan to stop doing in 2020 and why?

Before you jump into reading the answers and getting surprised by how differently similar they all are, try to pause, think and answer these questions for yourself. Which one thing you started or stopped doing in 2019 and why?

Danilo & Sharon

daniloandsharon.com

1. What we started doing in 2019?

“One thing that really helped us build a better brand and business was working consistently on creating new content – the one that stands out as our signature style. We did this by shooting more with other creatives, planning how these photoshoots will affect our brand identity and getting in control instead of finding excuses.”

2. What we stopped doing in 2019?

“If there’s one thing that all photographers should give up on (we did it ourselves a bit earlier than 2019) that would be wedding photography groups and forums. It’s about focusing precisely on actual clients’ needs and desires. Working on making couples happier gives our businesses far more value than desperately trying to impress our colleagues.”

Nicola Dixon

nicoladixonphotography.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“This didn’t exactly happen in 2019, but has been happening since 2017. I have been organising styled shoots for fresh content that aligns with my ideal clients and it has been the best thing I have ever done for my business. In 2019 I increased my destination styled shoots in locations I dreamt about – Amalfi, Tulum, Hawaii to name a few. I guess in 2019 I travelled off my own buck and it has paid off for my business as my weddings in 2020 are mainly destination and more in line with my dream clients. I just got booked at a bucket list venue on the Amalfi Coast off the back of a styled shoot I had there last October. I was able to recommend a full team of creatives to my clients that they went on to book, meaning I was able to serve my clients.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“I guess in 2019 and ongoing I started saying “no” to more things that don’t serve me. I don’t take on any work that doesn’t really excite me, I no longer shoot family sessions because I can’t charge enough for them in my local area to make them viable. I don’t fill my diary with coffee dates when I know I just need to get my head down and work. Essentially, I can say “no” and don’t feel guilty about it :)”

Melli & Shane

melliandshayne.com

1. What we started doing in 2019?

“Self Care – We started taking more time for ourselves and allowed ourselves to have breaks during the high season. This allowed us to offer the best possible service to all our couples while at the same time keeping us happy and healthy (i.e. not working on our birthdays in July, our little mid season break in Apulia). We realised it is as important to look after ourselves as we do our business & our couples. ” 

2. What we stopped doing in 2019?

“We stopped following feature accounts on Instagram because the constant comparison slowed us down and made us feel less valuable, plus we now spend less time browsing Instagram and more time doing things we need to for our business, for ourselves and for our family. “

Joshua Wyborn

joshuawybornphotographic.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“I started showing off more of my off camera flash work. I want to have more year round work rather than seasonal. Not only for business reasons, but because each season has its own challenges. I want to challenge myself and show what creativity I can get up to in a venue’s pitch blackness. From this, I started to get more and more year round work making it less feast and famine, and more of a regular workload that’s mentally more manageable.” 

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“I stopped giving a sh*t about others. I removed myself from about 30 photography groups and unfollowed many wedding photographers. All my social media feed was wedding photography and it was just so much to take in. I no longer feel worried about potentially and accidentally copying someone’s work. Instead I decided to follow more landscape photography and other feeds that have to do with my hobbies. 
As a sideline, I have also started my own landscape photography Instagram to show off my work and to engage with other creatives. It’s amazing! I’m falling in love with art again. Something I feel we all could do more of.”

Julia & Gil

juliaandgil.com

1. What we started doing in 2019?

“In 2019 we changed the way in which we define our business goals and instead of asking ourselves how we can grow or increase sales, we asked ourselves how we can make our business better. What can we change, so that our clients go through a much better experience while working with us. The goal is not blind growth, but continuously trying to become better than last week, last month or last year. Our metrics for success changed and this will build up a business for the long run.”

2. What we stopped doing in 2019?

“We stopped focusing on the wrong metrics like inquiries, sales, followers or attention. You can easily reach a specific number by hacking the system. But it’s more important how you reach your goals and how you choose to play the game of life, love and business. People love shortcuts (including us) and we all want the best results possible in a short period of time. But this can lead to a dangerous path, frustration, envy and failure. Instead, we may not reach specific goals yet, but by becoming better every week, month or year, we build up a sustainable business.”

Ash Powell

ashpowell.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“One thing I started doing differently in 2019 that I think has made a difference in my business was focusing on my overall client experience. Everything from a new website design, to the ‘voice’ I use, the language and really staying on brand with my beliefs and values. I soon then started to develop a client guide to send to my clients as I noticed a few of my weddings had a greater potential to not only be better for myself as a creative artist but better for my clients in terms of their experience of the day. There are a lot of aspects that go into a wedding day that become overlooked in the stresses and busyness of planning a wedding. I knew I wanted to provide my clients with the help and knowledge I have which is pulled from my own experiences. I think this has made quite a big impact on showing clients that there is value in hiring me and that they can trust me. I don’t believe that anyone is more experienced in weddings than your wedding photographer when it comes to diagnosing potential problems on your day. And that already inherently makes you more valuable.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“One thing I stopped doing in 2019 and will continue to not do in 2020 is marketing myself towards other photographers. I think social media has become a big trap for many photographers in sense that we always have to be “on” and outdo each other in a way.  From the tone and voice we use in captions, to what we write about. I don’t know if clients particularly pay attention to “ I just blogged this wedding” to “ just sent out 5 galleries this weekend. We all want to give this sense of success, that we are always busy, always working, getting all the enquiries, booking all the weddings. We aren’t really doing ourselves and each other any favors in that regard. That sense of community is lost when it comes down to it. Maybe that’s a strategy that hurts me, I’m not quite sure. It’s easy to see what other photographers are doing and think “Should I be doing that to? Should I be posting more stories, promoting more posts, posting more often?” and it sucks you in because you’re thinking more about what photographers who live in different countries and have an entirely different type of client base are doing. I think posting a photo and giving a breakdown of the moment itself, talking about the client, or a favorite memory from the day has a more favorable impact on a potential client. But that’s just me :)”

Johanna Rosenlew

johannarosenlew.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“At the end of 2019, I started my mailing list. After recommendations, Instagram is my biggest source for new wedding clients, and I have at least been guilty of taking it for granted. For years I never thought about what would happen if the algorithm changed in my disadvantage, or Instagram suddenly became unpopular. The scary thing with social media is that we can’t control who sees our content, and it feels like every year you have to put more and more effort and time into it to reach your audience. With my emailing list, I can reach straight to my subscribers’ inbox and serve them with content that they are actually interested in seeing; whether it’s more information about me for future couples or educational resources for photographers. One of my favorite thing with email marketing is that it can be a hundred percent automated, so that once you have set it up it literally takes care of itself and won’t steal any of your valuable time!” 

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“Hustling haha. I think that we get so caught up in our business that we forget to just stop and take a breath once in a while. We are always reaching for the next goal and when we finally reach it, our mind shifts straight away to the next one and we never just stop and appreciate where we are and how far we’ve come. It sometimes feels like if you stop grinding for a moment, you’re not being successful. I think in the midst of 2019 that was a pretty crazy year for me, I learned to appreciate where I am and that it’s okay to take a break to regain focus and energy. This January I have been on a break and told myself that I am allowed to do anything that I am inspired to within my business. It’s okay if it doesn’t lead to more revenue or takes me on a completely different path, as long as it’s inspiring and gives me energy for the year to come.”

Ameirfikri

ameirfikri.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“Promoting more couple shoots rather than wedding/event ones. It is more manageable and I find it easy to close the deal and also get better connection with my clients.Connection is really important in marketing.”

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“I stopped investing into Facebook/Instagram ads.I’m not doing it because I don’t get much exposure and engagement by paying for Instagram and Facebook ads.”

Brandi Potter

brandipotterphoto.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“I started being better at social media. I wanted to hit 10k followers so I could have a swipe up feature. I actually put in the effort like I’ve never actually done before. I made sure my engagement stayed up so the algorithm was on my side. In the grand scheme of things, social media isn’t as important as SEO or a good website, but it’s nice having a swipe up feature to share links on.” 

2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“Flying as much for business. It’s one of the main reasons I’m moving to the West Coast this year. I flew over 65K miles in 2019 and I am tired. I could have been spending so much of that time doing other things besides being exhausted.” 

Sandra Åberg

sandraaberg.com

1. What I started doing in 2019?

“I changed my prices significantly and never looked back. I truly do believe we need to keep looking at our businesses and growing with it. We, as creatives and photographers, give a lot of ourselves to the work. Yet, we struggle to feel that we deserve it. Hence I’m changing the game of that. We do deserve to be paid well for the work we do – and, of course, we improve our services accordingly.” 


2. What I stopped doing in 2019?

“I stopped being the one who sends out prices and negotiates. I will sometimes, but from now on my studio manager takes care of all of that. It’s a relief to be an artist and focus on what I’m good at, so I highly recommend that! :)” 

***

Having an open conversation about the current state of your business (or life) is an essential tool for its growth. Listing all the things that work or don’t, is a good way of detecting those toxic habits and finding ways to remove them from your life. 

Remember to always be kind to yourself. Your mental and physical health fuel your creativity, motivation and energy. If social media tricks you into a negative game of self-doubt and comparison to others – unplug. If certain types of clients always give you trouble and make you feel miserable – don’t be afraid to say “no” to working with them. Didn’t you ditch your 9-5 office job to be able to do what you love? Then do it, focus on things you enjoy, find new ways to make your clients happy, take breaks when you feel tired. All our favorite adventure books give us chills because their main characters dare to live the life that brings them peace and happiness. Why don’t you? 

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