It's been a while since I did one of these, but to be fair I've kept the regularity of these quite random. I like to think I'll only provide an update when the need arises. Besides, those of you keeping up to date with my newsletters and posts to social media will have an idea of how things are progressing anyway.
I appreciate that since the last 'Long Road to Pro' blog, I've been fortunate enough to gain some more followers, so here's a recap on the 'series' to date...
Part 1: Has vanished without trace as this was on my old website, which itself has since vanished into the ether. Don't feel bad about not being able to read it; if I recall it was weak and a bit 'gushy' so let's move on...
Part 2: This can be read here
Part 3: This can be read here.
And now here we are with part 4.
So this year is flying past. It's going a little too quickly for my liking, and still holding down a full time day job is leaving limited time to try and get the photography business off the ground. But progress is being made.
To date this year I have managed to:
• Get a logo created.
• Get a decent business card made up.
• I've managed to flesh out the 'bread and butter' part of the business, that being pet photography, and photography training.
As such I've put together an Introduction to DSLR photography course, which I have been fortunate enough to run to interested parties at my place of work as a presentation/masterclass. This has enabled me to get feedback and make adjustments to it.
I'm also learning a lot by presenting it to people - getting real feedback is invaluable. Also hearing the questions people ask helps make sure I am prepared for most eventualities. These questions also help when planning in the 'part 2' version of this course.
I've also created some freebies to give away at these courses and presentations. Only in prototype stage currently, but progress is being made.
• Work has also begun on a 'Fundamentals of photography' presentation & workshop.
• I've been in touch with a local dog charity volunteering my services in order to boost my photography pet portfolio. All going well I'm helping uot at their fun day in June.
• As I type this flyers are being produced to advertise the Pet Photography part of the business.
• Additionally I'm pursuing printing avenues for greetings cards using my photos.
So pressing ahead with the above is hard work, especially when most of your day is taken up with your day job and 'life'. The means this year there have been some sacrifices. With only so many hours in the day, some of the 'life' stuff has had to be sacrificed to make way for pushing ahead with the business.
It comes down to the realisation that making a go of this professional lark isn't going to land on my lap, and nobody is going to gift this career change to me. The old adage of you only get out what you put in is true, so more sacrifice and hard work now will hopefully mean more success later right?
Some of the sacrifices might seem a little drastic, such as cutting back on social time with friends and family, spending more time in doing work in front of a computer, and spending most days off/holidays out with the camera honing my skills and scoping out new photography locations. Spending time indoors in front of a computer writing up notes/processing photos/writing course material/updating the website comes hard on a nice spring day when you can hear people outside laughing and enjoying the sun. Its at times like this I just grab another cuppa, turn up the music and get my head back into it.
I've been conscious too of not being distracted by frivolous things - getting sucked into checking out social media channels for ages on end is a weakness. It's a bad habit but I've found when the brain is pressured into too much work, it seeks out a change of scenery, and this is very true as some days I feel like I'm running two jobs; the one I get paid for, and the one I'm trying to move to.
Lately I've also become victim to a sense of urgency around things. Time is precious and important, so any time lost waiting for people to get back to you (when you've approached them for goods or services), or time lost having to do things that are not directly related to building the business is very frustrating, leading sometimes to sheer annoyance.
Part of trying to build your own business is 'putting yourself out there' - basically giving up your time and services in order to show people what you can do, and hopefully drum up some trade. What I am learning is not to be disheartened when people fail to acknowledge what you are doing or giving them. Not everyone will say 'Thank you' or appreciate your efforts. I'm learning to accept that, and take solace from the people who do give favourable remarks and comments, albeit they are the minority sometimes. Basically don't get down about it. Learn from it and move on.
But there's an upside to the days of frustration that things aren't moving quickly enough or things getting in the way. When things do start to work in my favour, and I start to get results such as being asked to run photography courses at work outside of my day job. Recently I helped out a work colleague with their photography skills for photos they were taking for the football programme they produce. Said programme has just won them an award at regional level, and earned a top 40 place in the national competition. Not too bad. These events do provide a much needed mental lift. Things like this are also confirmation that I do know what I'm doing is right, and has merit.
This is important because when nothing seems to be going right, I do question if what I am doing is worth it, and am I wasting my time. Its important to rise above such thoughts and keep pressing ahead. Anything that is worth it is worth striving for, and there have been shards of reward and recognition so far this year, so I know I'm on the right path. I just need to keep going and dusting myself off when down.