Wow, how has a year gone by already since I opened Sarah E Photography?! Those of you who don’t know, I am a photographer! My Husband really inspired me to open my own business once we realized this was my passion! Well, Photography AND writing are my main passions. Becoming a business owner is extremely exciting but can also be daunting when you think about the book-keeping aspect of it all. These upcoming bullets are the top 5 lessons I learned my first year in business, and I hope they will help someone out there too!
1) Coming up with days for your work-flow like “Marketing Monday” or “Finances Friday” are a sure way to make sure you are dedicating time to the most important aspects of your business. Even if they aren’t the most fun part of it all, marketing and book-keeping are huge for EVERY business.
2) In business, and especially in the photography world, contracts are imperative. This may sound silly to you, but I want to share a quick example of a contract change I had to make within one month of business. I was photographing a wedding and one of the guests stood next to me with her fancy camera and photographed every image I did. She was photographing the couple in the exact same poses I was having them do. Some would say, “Sarah, that’s not THAT big of a deal!”, but it is, and I’ll tell you why! This gal’s flash went off multiple times when I was hitting my shutter button and I had to discard about 20 images. These 20 images could have been beautiful and cherished by the couple, but instead they were ruined. Having someone copy all of you poses is an infringement of your copyright, yes, but when this wedding guest posted her photos all over Facebook that VERY night, my couple wasn’t as excited about my photos. I mean, why would they be? Anyways, I now have in my contract that I am the ‘Exclusive Photographer’, and the Brides + Grooms are responsible for ensuring their guests are aware of this requirement. Like I said, you may think this is silly, but imagine missing a precious moment for your couple. To me, that is much worse!
3) License of Use – this tells your client how they can USE their images. It is clear communication from the photographer and owner about the images to the recipient. My License of Use looks different when I book a Commercial Event compared to a Family session. If my commercial clients haven’t purchased the copyrights to an image they are unable to display it on Billboards or items they resell. Whereas with a Family Portrait Session, the last thing I am worried about is them buying the copyright because these images are displayed in their homes and Facebook pages. These folks aren’t trying to make a profit off the pictures, therefore Family clients receive a ‘Personal License of Use’. However, I do still tell my Family Session Clients how that CAN’T use the photos in their album. Make sure you dot all of your I’s and cross your t’s, because the last thing you want is a legal battle.
Fun fact: I was browsing Facebook this past year and came across a Magazine article with a few of my photos on it. The gal who wrote the article was unaware she couldn’t use these pictures for her article, because I failed on the License of Use in this situation. It was devastating to see my pictures published without the artists name next to them (Sarah E Photography). It was a hard lesson to learn, but it was my fault! Now every client receives a License of Use! Phew!
4) NETWORKING! I can’t say this word e.n.o.u.g.h., y’all! You know those sponsored Ads that say, “Sign Up Now to Learn The #1 Tip in Business”? 9/10 this is all they are going to tell you to do- NETWORK. The best thing I did for my Photography Business was message local businesses. I met SO many locals this way and it’s the #1 way I got all my clients in a brand new town. Imagine starting a business in a place you grew up in… I knew my Husband here in Walhalla, and that was about it. A year later I have a ton of friends and many loyal clients. I met these people at NETWORKING events or by sending emails. Once you build a small network, word of mouth starts doing some of the work for you. It’s incredible. Make some business cards, find out where the events are going to be, and pull out that confidence inside of you! You will go far if you stay patient and consistent.
5) Don’t get discouraged. Being a new business owner is a learning process. Obviously, you want to make sure you have enough information about the industry you’re working to prevent from getting sued or being fined for preventable things. When scenarios fail to go as planned, know that you are incredible for giving yourself this chance and believing in YOU. The quote that did it for me was, “There are people living out your dreams while you’re still contemplating them.” Yikes. It kind of hurt when I read it, but it’s true. You could still be dreaming, but here you are being the CEO of your life. If someone hasn’t told you in a while you should hear it from someone – “I am so proud of you.” Lose that discouragement at your old job, because we only have room for positivity and improvement here.
“Be Humble. Be teachable and always keep learning.” - Unknown.