So I’m just gonna be completely honest with you, I messed up big time when I started designing my website. I had my old SquareSpace website up with the blog up and running for about the first half of designing my new website over on Showit and in true Manali fashion, I got entirely TOO excited and pulled a noob move by hitting “Publish” instead of “Preview” to see how the new site was functioning! And of course, my whole domain got switched to my Showit website design instead of SquareSpace and I had no idea how to switch it back. So I stuck up a (lame) “Construction” page and continued building the rest of the website, including the new blog, behind the scenes. This meant a lot less blogging about stuff that was going on through Friday Fun posts.
So this post is getting back to blogging on Fridays and covers a bit about what exactly I’ve been up to this summer! As a lot of you know, I graduated from UVA this past May and as some of you know, I have a job for the fall lined up with Accenture. I’ve had the job lined up since last year which was a goal that I thankfully hit during my fourth year. However, due to reasons that were out of my control, after asking to start at the end of August or the beginning of September, I got asked to start working in the beginning of November. And when I tell anyone that, I immediately get a look of shock, disappointment and surprise all balled up into one weirddd look from people. Somewhere along the lines of becoming a postgrad student, it became unacceptable to have a job that didn’t start during summer or the beginning of fall. And to be honest, this was how I initially felt when I got the email stating that I wouldn’t start until November. I felt like I had somehow done something wrong and that I wasn’t successful or going down the right path if I had so much time before I started working full time.
But about a week or so after I got that email, I decided to flip that feeling of unreasonable guilt on its head. This could be the best thing that has ever happened to me. I had six months to do whatever it was that I wanted to do. I’m thankful that my parents are supportive enough to let me stay with them until I start working and that I truly do have that freedom. Anyone I told about this extended break told me that I should travel as much as humanly possible while I still can and although I appreciate the sentiment and normally would have LOVED to do just that, I decided to do something a little bit different with my spare time over this summer and early fall.
Not a lot of people know this but for the entire summer, except for the week where my family traveled, I have been working 6-8 hours every day on my photography business. People see the highlights and results of this work but not necessarily the amount of work that goes in on the back end. It’s not something that I can explain to anyone during a quick conversation, I usually just say something like “Oh yea I’m doing a lot with photography.” But what does that REALLY entail besides taking pictures? A lot apparently!
This summer I’ve been working to create a system to stay on top of my inquiries, provide a smooth workflow that includes conveying my information and process to people, drafting up contracts and templates, coordinating with venues, building and continuously updating my wedding & couples portfolios, tracking my expenses and income, upgrading my gear and investing in A LOT of education (!!!) in order to increase the quality of service I can provide to my clients! I also completely redid my entire website after switching to a new platform, have been consistently blogging posts to increase traffic & SEO (starting to slowly understand what the heck that even is), and created a guide that helps my clients through the process of picking out outfits and styling for their sessions. Again with the upgraded experience 🙂 I developed a consistent system for backing up all of my images in multiple places, practiced & honed in my style to cut my editing and turnaround time IN HALF (woo!!), networked with other people in the industry to get more second shooting positions, learned how to work on marketing, and am still constantly reevaluating my to-do list to add in things that will grow my business down the road! No day looks the same because there are so many tasks that you do and that you COULD be doing to push yourself forward. I’m referencing ALL of this when I say I’ve been working on photography. And it legitimately takes 6 to 8 hours of work every day, meaning that a lot of times I’m doing some work on the weekend too. It’s a lot but I genuinely enjoy it and wouldn’t have wanted to “free” time over the summer any other way!
So for the past couple of months after I’ve been graduated, I haven’t been working “full time” as people would think but I HAVE been working full time for myself and in a way. It’s without a doubt been the most rewarding summer experience I’ve ever had. I’ve put in the hours of work and I’ve started to see the kind of progress I’ve always wanted towards turning photography into a full time business 1 to 2 years down the road. And so instead of seeing not starting with Accenture until November as this awful situation, I have started seeing this time before I start working as a blessing in disguise.
Thank you to Caroline Zhang for the wonderful headshot above!