One year ago, through tears of joy, I wrote a blog called Stepping out on Faith. It was my announcement to the world (and to myself) that I had officially became a full-time wedding photographer. I remember giving 2 weeks notice at my 9 to 5 and walking out on that last day. After working 7 years in the corporate world (including 3 years of running a photography business part-time), I pursued my passion full-time. There were a lot of naysayers when it came to entrepreneurship but I had the support of family and friends and in my heart it just felt right. A year later I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I have amazing clients, more time with my family and more freedom to explore new adventures. I’ve learned SO many lessons from my first year as a full-time wedding photographer and I’m excited to keep it real and share them with you!
1) Work/Life balance may be a myth… but that won’t stop me from striving for it.
When I re-read the Stepping Out on Faith blog, I chuckled at my excitement for not staying up super late and getting up early to work anymore. I thought that bad habit would immediately correct itself. NOPE! It took a WHILE to get to that point. I’m talking 6+ months. Even though I had more time in the day to work, I still thought about the extra work I could squeeze in the wee hours of the night and continued to exhaust myself. After a few ‘come to Jesus’ moments, I eventually changed my mindset. It finally hit me that I didn’t quit my 9-5 to work 24/7. I started to have SET office hours like I planned and did not pull my laptop out every night after Koa went to sleep. It’s done wonders in my marriage, I’ll tell you that! Our evenings are filled with laughter and our weekends are filled with family time. I was able to spend a few days in New York with my sisters last summer and we went on vacation to Orlando with my whole family in the fall. My family has been my number 1 support system throughout my entire life and spending time with them makes me so, so happy. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me!
If you’re a hustler like me, here’s your reminder to slow down. The work will get done if you have a well-planned workflow. Your family and personal time is important.
2) Finding my tribe was crucial to not only my success, but for peace of mind.
The relationships I’ve formed and grown in the industry these last few years have been amazing. But the support they’ve given me since I quit my job has completely changed my business and life. These are my people. We dive deep into each other’s businesses and entrepreneurship aside, they are such true friends. We travel together, host an annual workcation and just understand the joys and struggles of running our own businesses. I spend the entire workday chatting with some of these ladies on Voxer (walking-talkie app) so it feels like we are working side-by-side (or mommy-ing side-by-side depending on the day haha). Some of my best business ideas and events have come from saying it out loud to them on Voxer and getting great feedback. I reflect on the year and think, ‘Who would I talk to all day if I didn’t have these people and this means of communication? I would be bored to death!’ Haha! Technology, ya’ll. It’s something else.
3) Investing in education continues to be the best investment.
By and large, I am not afraid to invest in my business. And the best investments have been in products, courses or workshops that give me more knowledge and experiences. I want to continue to grow in all aspects of business (photography, marketing, entrepreneurship mindset) and the past year has really moved the needle. The GoLive Workshop in LA was a huge investment and it keeps paying off. We built a website in 2 days and they trained us on the platform. I can literally drag and drop anything I want on my website, create new pages for workshops and edit pages super quick without waiting on a help desk. I traveled to Sonoma for a retreat with female entrepreneurs in all different industries and the mindset shift was crucial. These aren’t your typical ‘educational investments’ but they were highlights of my year and moved my business forward.
4) I can’t be afraid to go against the grain.
Speaking of not being typical, I learned to do what’s best for ME and not anyone else. Yes, I am a wedding photographer but I am so much more. I am an entrepreneur and the opportunities are endless. I have a background in marketing/PR and since I love that so much, I brought it into my business. I hosted a Marketing Intensive with a variety of wedding professionals, launched a newsletter for creatives, mentored photographers, launched a Styled Shoot workshop and a networking event. What a incredible year of helping others go in the directions of their dreams and meeting new and inspiring people.
5) We all need a Treat Yo Self Day.
In addition to time with my family, I realized more than ever that I needed time to myself. Time to clear my mind, pray, enjoy my surroundings, binge watch a little Netflix haha! I went to see Beauty & The Beast by myself last week… on a work day. And it reminded me one of the reasons I pursued entrepreneurship was to create a life that I loved. A life where I can serve my clients, love my family and truly love myself. Here’s to a year of reflecting on a life lived to the fullest and a ton of lessons learned <3