Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding photographer & educator serving Charlottesville VA & DC. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali is a wedding photographer & educator based out of Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or teaching other photographers how to save time & grow their business, you can find her at a vineyard with wine & cheese in hand with her friends & fam!
3 Lessons I’ve Learned in 3 Years as a Wedding Photographer
January 21, 2020
Three Lessons I’ve Learned in 3 Years as a Wedding Photographer
I’ve been celebrating three years in business this month which sounds CRAZY to say!! I always thought that I’d have everything figured out by this point and I actually said the exact same thing about 9 months ago in an Instagram post! Part of me wonders if this will ever change and part of me hopes that it won’t because that means that I’ll stay learning and growing as an entrepreneur! Here are three things that I’ve learned within the past 3 years of running a wedding photography business
HAVE A PURPOSE
This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Waco, TX for the Heartfelt Brand Society Retreat and it was the perfect way to celebrate three years of doing business! In the middle of last year after the newness of running my own business full time had worn off, I started to feel really mixed feelings about the business.
I absolutely LOVED the change and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world but I started to lack the clarity and motivation that had taken me through the hustle season of switching to becoming a full-time wedding photographer and replacing my income with my own business. I by no means was necessarily sitting around all day NOT working but I had lost an overarching goal, mission, and sense of purpose. I hadn’t sat down to really think past going full time and dreamed of what my business would look like or feel like past that milestone.
Enter Bonnie’s group coaching program called the Heartfelt Brand Society. It really forced me to sit down and think about the future of the business, what I wanted to dream up and make happen within the next 3, 5 and even 10 years from now. It took sitting down and doing the hard work to define brand values and a mission that would guide me on days where things were not pretty or perfect as Instagram may have you think!
I had always heard that having a strong “why” behind your business was crucial but I had never sat still enough to really pinpoint what that was for me. Talking with Bonnie and going through her program really forced me to sit into where I was and reflect deeply on my own business for the long haul. This brought a lot of clarity and courage where I lacked the confidence to start pushing into new territory to grow as an entrepreneur!
MAKE BUSINESS FUN
This might seem like a weird one to add in here but I really do believe that burn out is a real thing. And it’s really hard to catch until it’s too late and the effects of it last a LOT longer than we think they might. Running a business as a solopreneur is HARD. WORK. We juggle all the hats and take care of all the tasks day in and day out and then pour our hearts and energy into giving our clients the very best!
It’s important that we’re taking care of ourselves first so that we can be the best business owners we can be! This is something that I’m still working on improving actively this year. I think creating fun opportunities that get you out of the house, help you stay connected with others and make sure that you consistently nurture your creativity which will, in turn, help you give your clients your very best self.
Here are a couple of ideas in case you feel like this is something you want to introduce to your daily life this year as a solopreneur:
TAKE. BREAKS! If you’re like me, you’ll work through an entire eight-hour workday only to realize that you didn’t take any breaks and although you got all the things done in the name of productivity, you’re completely burned out. Take some time in between bigger blocks of working to walk around, grab some water, take a walk, whatever it is to give your eyes a bit of a break from your computer screen.
Schedule a coworking day with a friend!
Work from a coffee shop or restaurant or fun creative space one day a week
Having a slow afternoon where you can’t seem to focus? Take it off! Trust me, the work and the to-do list will ALWAYS be there! Sometimes pushing through really tough mental blocks will only burn you out even more.
Invest in a group coaching or mastermind experience
Schedule one day a month that’s a fun field trip for inspiration
If you do Monthly Duty Days, you can get out of the house for these! If you’re not quite sure what this is, Ashlyn has a great article about it!
Talk with a business bestie that’s your sounding board
I have a list of “soul care” things and I try to do at least one of them each day! They’re great to do during a break to get you away from your laptop for a little bit
If you guys have any fun things that you do either on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, feel free to chime in on the comments below!
PLANNING IS EVERYTHING
I’ve always been a planner but bringing this aspect into my business has really made a WORLD of a difference. When I started introducing monthly planning, it gave me a focus to move the needle forward in my business each month! Having clear goals or mini-projects to work on each business gives you clarity and confidence in what you’re doing to grow your business rather than relying on outside information telling you what you should focus on at any given moment. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and scattered from your main purpose when this happens. The goal is to keep the main thing the main thing as Stephen Covey says.
Since then I have started implementing quarterly planning which has been an even bigger help! Ashlyn Carter runs her marketing and launch schedule on a quarterly basis using what she calls her Champagne Campaign system. Essentially this means that she has one main focus for each quarter. This could be either promoting the current service you offer, introducing a new one or marketing a product launch of any sort. Having one key offer can help you plan out your marketing efforts for that quarter to really hone in and making sure your marketing efforts and messaging are helping you convert to reach your revenue goals!
Along with Marketing, Here’s a Comprehensive List of What I Plan for Each Quarter:
What worked well last quarter and what I could improve/simplify for this one
What do I want to do more of and less of in the upcoming quarter
Getting a good look at the financial picture for the upcoming quarter
I review Quickbooks to review the past quarter and HoneyBook for the upcoming quarter’s payments
My quarterly revenue goal
A list of expenses that I anticipate for the upcoming quarter
Breaking my revenue goal down into exactly how much of what I need to sell is helpful!
I set benchmarks of how much I absolutely need, what would be great & what would be stellar!
Decide on 5-7 big quarterly tasks that must get done to move me toward my yearly goals and projects!
List out blog post topics & outline them as much as possible for that quarter
Map out a general schedule for posting these to social media
I plan for vacations/days off by looking at the holidays
Looking at my calendar I’ll decide which evenings I’ll keep free for engagement sessions
Review any meetings that I have on the books or need to schedule
Make sure all of this is up to date in my scheduling tool so I don’t accidentally double book with a potential client
I review what my top 3 sources of booking referral are so I can better focus my energy
I make sure to refresh all social platforms, my portfolio and evaluate my website on desktop & mobile (I actually recommend doing this monthly if you make tweaks to yours often!)
This has helped me better organize my business and reduce the pressure to feel like I have to work on everything all at once! Well, that’s all for this one, I hope it was helpful! If there’s anything you have a question on, always feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
READY TO START PUTTING SYSTEMS IN PLACE IN YOUR BUSINESS?
If you’re wondering what the inside of a successful & streamlined photography business looks like the Resources Vault is for you! It includes everything from email templates, client questionnaires, workflows for portraits & questionnaires, a breakdown of a profitable marketing strategy & how to streamline and organize each and every part of your business. More of a visual learner? Be sure to watch the totally-free masterclass!