So- a little bit of a warning- that today’s post is a real one. Full of real emotions and human thoughts and big epiphanies after long conversations with dear friends! So, readers beware and proceed with caution!
Did I scare you a bit?? I bet I did! haha. The truth is that this blog is not scary, but it is also not one of perfection. Instead, its one of truth… and its a long one! So I have broken it into different sections to tell the entire story!
Part1: The Backstory
I launched the AHP mentoring sessions a few weeks ago. You guys can read all about that HERE, but the reason I start with this point is because I want to remind you that I am a HUGE believer in #communityovercompetition and I truly want to help others succeed in the creative industry, no matter what area their passion lies.
Part 2: Bitterness and Overreactions
Well, I had a moment last week where I was certain that another photographer was copying my business plan- post for post and, in some cases, word for word…I was probably overreacting and even if that was the case, I should be flattered right?? Isn’t that what leaders do?? Set a path for others to follow?? Well… I wish I could say that these were my initial thoughts… However, the reality is that I was bitter… So bitter, my friend… Angry and bitter because I put so much heart and honesty into my business. I want to be a leader in this industy, but I don’t want to feel as thought I am up against someone that is trying to be me in their business..
Part 3: Practice What I Preach… Or Not
Now, be honest with me- y’all can relate right?? Feeling a bit rung up because what someone else was doing was shockingly similar to you?? (Hopefully there are a few of you out there that are nodding your head yes!) I am NOT proud of what the way I acted, but I added the reality in this post because we are all human, friends… We all have moments where we feel angry, or jealous, or unworthy because of what someone else is doing. I am the first one to preach that when someone makes you feel that way, the best thing to do is to stop following them. Whether that be their social media or their blog or whatever it is that you’re obsessing over- just stop torturing yourself and let them go for now… Well, instead of practicing what I preach, here I am all up on Instagram worried about what this other person is doing and letting my irrational emotions get the best of me and fill my heart with unnecessary bitterness.
Part 4: Feeling Bombarded
I met Ashley Powell back in June of 2015. She is one of those people that are just as sweet in real life as her Instagram feed portrays. Since June, our friendship has been blossoming to the point that we email regularly and now have monthly Skype meetings to chat about life + faith + business + our pups + our husbands + all the boss lady things.
I called into our Skype meeting this week and the moment she asked how I was doing, I breathed out a sarcastic laugh and admitted that I was barely holding it together!! The truth was just that. I was feeling bitter and angry because in the last five days I felt bombarded with this need to keep up with everyone else. This was such a new feeling to me because I have always been one that wants to be transparent in my life and my business. I strive to put as much of my personality + heart into this business as possible so that every word + every image is true to who I am in life. I enjoy allowing clients and friends to go through this journey with me, but suddenly I felt overly consumed with what everyone else was doing in their businesses.
Part 6: The Struggle
I explained to Ashley that I was struggling with so many things…Bitterness had filled my heart that week and then on top of that I was having a really hard time with my pricing and finding balance.. I felt like I was wearing myself ragged by trying to keep up with everyone else. I needed to keep my pricing as low as possible to keep up with the many other photographers in this area and what they were charging. At the same time I was also spending double the amount of time at sessions, delivering three times as many images in the final gallery, and really focusing my entire business plan on my clients experience.
These three items are part of what makes my client experience such a fun and memorable time. But the truth is that I was dragging, friends. Emotional, physically- I was trying to stay competitive in an area that is heavily saturated because I was certain that my business would crumble if I wasn’t super competitive in my pricing.
Part 7: Hope and Grace
Ashley was amazing in hearing me out and I am so grateful that she didn’t offer a look of judgment by everything that was spewing out from me like word vomit that day. She talked to me like the kind, God fearing woman that she is and filled my heart back up with joy for this industry and something that I had lost in the last few days… Hope and Grace. I held onto those two things so strongly, and then somehow in a matter of days, I felt like I had completely lost them. But with this new found sense of hope and grace, as well as advice from this friend so dear to my heart, along came an epiphany
Part 8: The Epiphany
I have spent so much of my business portraying transparency. I am so happy to have my clients and friends and family join me in this new adventure of being a small business owner. Somewhere along the way (as of last week) I had begun to feel unworthy. I had begun to feel so burnt out that I lost sight of the joy that I have for this business and the creative industry.
Feeling burnt out can make you think crazy thoughts people!! Can I get an Amen about that?! I had been so overly concerned with what someone else was doing that I lost sight of the person I am at heart. By trying to keep up with everyone else, I was only wearing myself ragged and the more ragged I was run, the more burnt out I became and the more bitterness filled my heart.
Part 9: The Solution
After such an uplifting skype meeting with Ashley, I felt empowered by this realization and I knew that a solution was necessary. The solution was to reevaluate my business plan.
Part 10: The Experience
The thing that I have built my brand around, and the thing that I put so much effort into perfecting is The AHP Client Experience. My packages are constructed with my client experience in the heart of it all. Every action and every word that is shared with my clients from the moment they reach out to me until their gallery is delivered is rooted with the absolute desire to provide an amazing experience for them. I want my clients to feel so loved on, and so cared for, and so appreciated because without them I wouldn’t be able to live out this dream of mine every day.
So, with that being said…. I finally realized that I had been cutting myself short. I had been pricing low to keep up with my market and thats not a good feeling, friends. I realized that I the reason I felt so bitter was in fact because I had been devaluing myself.
The reality is that to most people- a photographer is a photographer is a photographer… A majority of the population has a DSLR camera and a newfound passion for photography and its not difficult to find someone willing to offer sessions at extra low pricing.
Part 11: The Risky Move
So here is the risky move I have made friends… The tables have turned and I have made a conscious decision that I seriously almost had a panic attack over.
I raised my prices… I know, I know.. Half of you are probably appalled while the other half of you are shocked that I am admitting it and drawing attention to it in a blog post! I know, kind of crazy… And I definitely was hesitant to post this… But hear me out!
The time I put into each client to get to know them and curate friendships with them, the time I put into loving on each one of my clients and making sure that they feel appreciated, the amount of beautifully curated images I deliver to clients- All of this is part of the AHP Experience. All of it is a necessity if I am being true to my business plan.
I could have easily cut out time that I spend with my clients or drastically decrease the amount of images I deliver in order to keep the price of each session low- but that just wouldn’t alight with my brand or the heart of my business.
So…. I may receive less bookings and thats scary to admit. However, In a world of digital everything, in a world where you know at least one person that is willing to take your picture for free, how do you set yourself apart from them?? How do you convince a client that they should pay for your services rather than the person that offered to take them for free??
Well, I don’t… The truth is that I may not be the right photographer for those people seeking an incredibly low priced session. I may not be the right photographer for someone that is looking for just anyone to take a snapshot of them and is not concerned with any other details.
However… I am the right photographer if you want the following..
A friendly person to chat with from beginning to end. A kind person to care about you. A person that wants to know about you and your beautiful life before ever worrying about talking numbers. A person that is going to use that knowledge of you + your beautiful life to curate amazing images that allow your personality to shine. A person that is going to take beautiful photographs of you and those that you hold closest to your heart. A person that will welcome your questions and comments and any moments that you want to chat via email because she wants you to feel excited and confident about your upcoming session.
A person that has spend so much time reading and learning and practicing so that when you are in front of the camera, she will not only be extra knowledgable about posing and her equipment and lighting- but she will also know how to interact with you in a way that allows your exceptional personality to shine in front of the camera. A person that is committed to making you feel comfortable in front of the camera. A person that is going to laugh with you and love on you and make you feel like a million bucks because without you, she may not be able to live out her dream. A person that is going to do everything in her power to create exceptionally amazing images for you.
A person that is going to do all she can to document your life and these amazing moments in their truest form. A person that is going to spend quality time examining every image from our time together and choosing the very best ones. A person that is going to take time to edit each image, not heavily, but in a way that expectorates your natural beauty and the beauty of the moment captured forever. A person that is going to continue to cultivate a friendship even after the session. A person that is going to spend quality time on your blog post and making sure that your images, your personality, + your life are documented and shared in a way that is unforgettably amazing and exciting.
If you want more than just a snap shot- if you instead want a joyful experience… then I am your photographer and that joyful experience is what will set me apart from the millions of other photographers out there.
P.S. If you are in the creative industry and find yourself feeling like I was at the beginning of this post, I encourage you to take a step back, reevaluate, and know your worth! You are so special and so capable of so many amazing things!! Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, stop devaluing yourself to keep up with them, and just what is best for YOUR business!! 🙂