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dear female photographer, keep tweaking …

Dear Female Photographer,

Last night, I lay in bed desperate for my nose to fall off. I’m in the so-much-mucus-is-in-my-head-it’s-insane stage of a bad cold and there’s nothing quite worse than that feeling where you just want to lay down and sleep … but you can’t because if you lay flat you’ll receive no oxygen. I propped myself up and accepted that I just might not sleep. Instead, I grabbed a book and tried to distract myself. What I ended up reading was immensely helpful … so much so that I’m going to share it here.

In his book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference“, Malcolm Gladwell explores why certain ideas, trends, or social behaviors spread like wildfire … while others don’t. I bought the book, actually, because I thought it might help me to answer a question that pops up in photography forums (and in my own mind) quite frequently: Why do some photographers have wild success while others don’t?

There are many interesting theories and facts explored in the book. But last night, I read about Sesame Street.

Gladwell details a handful of the different experiments that were run by some very smart child psychologists tasked with figuring out how to make Sesame Street a major success. Over the years, test groups were formed and various tweaks were made to the program. What researchers would find is that sometimes the smallest tweaks could mean the difference between a group of preschoolers watching 90% of the program or 10%.

A Tweak That Really Worked

At one point, psychologists worried that young children would be confused by the mixing of human characters with non-reality characters. And so the show was separated into different segments. Some segments had real people having conversations. Some segments had make-believe characters. But they were never shown together.

During this time, no matter how much the researchers tweaked and changed up the program’s order, they just couldn’t get kids to really pay attention to the show.

Eventually, they decided to go against the recommendation and allow for make-believe characters like Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to share the screen with human characters. Poof! Just like that … kids were enraptured.

I remember loving Mr. Rogers more than Sesame Street as a child. So it isn’t Big Bird that gets me so excited when I think about this.

What DOES get me super happy/optimistic/pumped is the fact that it was a SIMPLE change that made a HUGE difference.

The show already had human characters. It already had make-believe characters. A massive revamping of sets, characters, or anything major wasn’t needed. Just a slight tweak of what was already there was all it took.

That same principle applies to our business, too. Sometimes all it takes is finding that one perfect tweak … and your business totally changes. You might already have every single element in place. You just need a slight tweak. It’s an exciting thought, right?! You could be just around the corner from a MAJOR success.

If you’re struggling to get things working, here are a two things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep tweaking. The researchers invested a lot of time and effort in trying to figure out how to get kids to love their show! If you feel like you’ve already tweaked things, but still don’t have the success you want, then keep tweaking. Switch your Web site colors. Try a new logo. Adjust your pricing. Refresh your portfolio. Keep going until you find that sweet spot!
  2. Replace your feelings of overwhelm with knowledge. When you’re feeling like you have tried it all and things aren’t working out the way you need them to and you just want to sit down and cry, open a book and start learning. Learn better SEO skills. Learn Photoshop. Learn accounting. Learn SOMETHING useful. When you sit down and learn something new, it truly helps to combat negativity. And of course, it never hurts a business when it’s owner is well-educated.

“Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill

Tweak on …

Warmly,
Kate

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It’s ok to be still once in a while

Running a business is a huge challenge for me. I’ve got no problem admitting it. I work HARD to try and get done the business side of my business.

Inspiration for my art, on the other hand, comes and comes and comes to me. I’m a fabulous idea generator. Execution, on the other hand, isn’t always my forte.

Sometimes, the running-of-the-business part of the business can literally sap the creativity out of my spirit.

And so days like yesterday happen: I woke up, got dressed, and got started. But I was literally on E.

So I did what I had to do. I cleared my schedule and went to the top of a mountain. And I sat there. I got still.

I accomplished little more than stillness. (And the selfie you see above, of course). But that’s ok. Stillness was just what I needed.

It’s ok to be still once in a while.

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dear female photographer, impress your boss and grow your business

qualified

Dear Female Photographer,

It’s been over nine years since I left my job as a Designer/Writer and became a self-employed photographer. I hadn’t really ever dreamt of owning my own business. That’s just the turn my life took and I rolled with it.

Over the years I’ve come to see the pros of self employment. Of course, I’ve also gotten quite familiar with the cons, too.

But there’s one pro that is undeniable: The only person who can fire me is … ME. And since I definitely don’t want to fire myself, I guess that means I have job security! And at first, that was a really liberating feeling.

Job security, however, doesn’t mean I automatically have clients. And no clients means NO MONEY.

When I first left the 9 to 5 world of corporate America, I fell into a common trap. I was so sure that my new life was going to be structureless and free. Now I’d get to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted! Sleeping in? Sure. Taking extra days off? Well, no one will fire me.

This was a lovely feeling.

Until I was SO broke I couldn’t pay my bills. And THAT is not lovely. 

In fact, I think the most STUCK and UNFREE I’ve ever felt is when bills are piling up and there is absolutely no way to pay them.

Eventually, I came to realize that if I didn’t start working like I had a boss … a person in charge of promoting or firing me, my business was going to fail. And I was going to continue to be DIRT poor.

I realized that I DO in fact have a boss … ME … and I was letting her down.

So I set out to earn myself a promotion. I had already done it successfully at my last job, so I thought back on the things I did to earn the respect of the boss and started doing them in my own business:

  1. Show up on time every single day I was scheduled to be there. And if possible, show up EARLY.
  2. Work hard. I mean … hard. I made a list and I ran through it … checking each item off. All the while the other folks in the cubicles around me talked about the latest movie releases and their lunch plans while dabbling in work.
  3. Stretch myself. I had to go out on a limb for some projects and tackle things I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle.
  4. Ask for help. In order to tackle those big projects, I needed help. And I got it. My boss was happy to see me extending myself.
  5. Be proactive and positive. The negative nellies out there are a drag to be around.
  6. Educate myself. I asked for additional training and was granted my wish in the form of books, webinars, and other opportunities to learn and grow.

So today, even though I’m self-employed and there’s no one who will give me a dirty look if I’m not on task, I remember that I always want to keep working hard so that I can not only impress my clients … but my boss, too. I want to keep growing. Keep improving. Keep reaching. I hope you will, too.

This week, go out and impress your boss. Good things will come of it, I promise.

Warmly,
Kate

 

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