Having work friends is the key to your self employment sanity!
My last blog was the 4th April... I keep saying I'll get better at blogging, but it doesn't seem to happen! The reason for this is simple, I need more hours in a blummin' day! Once again I will try to keep my promise of doing this more regularly!
This evening blog is a bit more personal than usual. I'm opening up about my struggle with working on my own and how the new friends I've made in this industry are not only super cool, but have helped me at some of my lowest points in my career.
I'll start with my back story... I'll try not to bore you... notice I say TRY!
As bizarre as this will sound, from a teenager I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I studied photography at college, then at university and within six months of leaving university I got a job as a photographer for an online clothing retailer, then as a photographer in a family portrait studio and now here. You're probably thinking, 'what's bizarre about that Steph?' well amongst the new friends I've made in this industry, where they are now wasn't what they planned and I'm the only one who knew from a youngish age and studied my profession! This seems to be a common factor in the all the wedding industry, not just wedding photography. I didn't necessarily think I'd be a wedding photographer/ family photographer, but I always new I had to be doing something with my photography.
Now I am in year two of being my own boss full time and I've had moments when I've doubted myself and doubted the possibility of making it in such a competitive industry. When I started out, I thought i'd be getting twenty wedding bookings easily, people will see how fun and chilled I am and then BOOM, i'm booked. This is far from the reality of starting out as a wedding photographer. There's so many talented, accomplished, cool and friendly wedding photographers out there, looking back, my initial thought was so naive! Being at the right place at the right time for people to see your work is hard work! Wedding fairs; Advertising on the right websites: Facebook advertising; Instagram; Updating your website; trying to suss out Google Adwords... all of this can be a right brain ache to perfect and I still haven't managed this! It's hard work. Then, I meet amazing couples who choose me to capture their special day and it just makes me think, "yeah, this is where I belong!" The main reason for having these thoughts is working on my own.
This is the first time I have had to put up with my own company. Don't get me wrong, I'm a barrel of laughs, my kitties will back me up here! But sometimes having people around you, who are going through the same situation and having the same thoughts really does help you remember, you're doing ok!
I am very lucky to have made some pretty cool friends in this industry! These friendships are so important to me and my sanity. Just knowing you have friends you can vent to, bounce ideas with and sometimes seek advise from. I used to think asking for advice or help from others was a sign of weakness, that if I can't figure this out by myself then I'm not cut out to be doing this. These thoughts have been scary, I'm quite a positive and problem solving person. If something hasn't been working out for me I think practically about whats happened and what I need to do to resolve it and do it. At previous stages in my life where work has been an issue, I've had colleagues to talk to, friends who are also in the same position in their work place. Now, I'm my own boss and boy it can be tough managing staff!
It's not all glum though. I joined a local networking group. This was a great way of meeting other small business owners from completely different fields whilst building working relationships and some great friendships. I really found a lot of guidance and now work with some great local businesses as a result of the networking. I attended a wedding fair last November and met another lovely wedding photographer, this friendship has made I realise all my stress and doubtful thoughts felt so extreme because I had no one to talk to about it who was in the same situation. Hurray, I was cured... well kind of!
The reason for tonights blog is to reach out to those who are having the same struggle of being your own boss. Anyone who doubts themselves and their work. Anyone who thinks they're alone and has no one to turn to for help. Anyone who needs a friend in this industry. It's tough, it's competitive, because of this you think you can't make friends because they're potentially trying to get the same clients as you. I say to ANYONE who fits in any of the above, STOP.
Make friends with some folk in the same industry. Whether it's through local networking groups (you can find your local networking groups through online search engines); through doing some networking at a wedding fair before the crowds roll in; through a facebook page that specifies in your industry or local suppliers or even from reading this blog! Communicate. Don't see everyone as your competition, see them as equals and potential venting vessels! Having friends in this industry is a lot better for you and your business. Through networking I have gained some great work, work I wouldn't have had if I hadn't met these great local businesses. I now pride myself of recommending these friends I have made, lets face it, would you send work to a complete stranger or to a friend who you know will smash it!
I have recently set up Birmingham Contemporary Wedding Suppliers group on Facebook. My aim is to try and help Birmingham businesses get to know one another, building working friendships and supporting one another. If you're a local Birmingham Wedding Supplier and would like to join the group, please click HERE and ask to join the group! The bigger this page becomes, the more opportunities and friendships we will all gain!
I hope you've enjoyed reading tonights blog. Steph x
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