January 1, 2011

STL 2011 Contest: What Worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next?

Why hello there, 2011! My don’t you look pretty and so full of possibility. And I just thought you should know….it’s on. Oh yes, it….is…ON!!!

And to prove just how ON it is, we thought we’d go ahead and kick off the New Year with a contest guaranteed to get your booty in gear! And since I know last night was a festive night, we’re gonna keep this real simple for you: all you have to do is leave us a comment in the box below and tell us one thing each from your own What worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next list. And we’re going to be picking not one, not two, but THREE of you to win your very own FREE seat to Spread the Love 2011. And if you already signed up, we’ll give you that seat to give to someone. Y’know….so you can help get their booty in gear too.

So whattya say….Let’s do this!!

  1. Julie V.

    Okay 2010, let’s see…

    What worked: Bringing my husband into the business with me! Best. Decision. Ever.

    What didn’t: Not having a better backup plan for archiving when the laptop and external hard drive died in the same week. We learned about the importance of backing up the hard way! (Thank goodness we didn’t lose anything important!)

    What’s next: Specializing in boudoir photography (love you guys, but some of us weren’t cut out to be wedding photographers!) and, hopefully, taking this thing full-time!

  2. Kare

    What worked: Facebook; could it be any more fabulous? My connections are almost all through facebook; for those that haven’t taken the plunge, DO IT! What Didn’t: sticking full time with my day job; I would have done a whole lot better if I reduced my hours at the day job and had more time for my business. What’s Next: Putting the biz on hold and surviving breast cancer. It. Is. ON!!

  3. Erin Watson

    What Worked – Taking control of my branding. I had a really rough time deciding how I wanted it to look and listening to other people made me doubt myself. When I finally took the plunge to do what I liked it was really well received and I feel great about it.

    What Didn’t- Trying to work a full time job, run a business, and raise a 1 year old. There were some months I had a wedding every weekend and I was a walking zombie. My house was a mess, my relationship was suffering, and I wasn’t putting out work I was proud off.

    What’s Next- Being more confident in my business. That includes raising my prices, being able to say "no" when necessary, and having the faith to relax a little bit and know that this is the path I’m supposed to be on.

  4. Stephani Foster

    What didn’t: Trying to quit. I still work full time and thought back at the beginning of the year that I should give up photography and focus more on my full time job. That lasted about 3 months. I missed it a lot and hated that I was taking pictures and building my busniess. What worked: Joining DWF and following blogs like you guys. I am by now means where I should be photography wise, but I am smart enough to know that and know that reading something everyday that helps me grow as a photographer is VERY important! What’s next: Branding myself.. and not with a hot iron! LOL! I dream about a high end boutique photography studio and I know to get there I have to not only be a good photographer but also have to have a good brand! That’s why I follow you guys! You have slammed dunked the branding!

  5. shannon cline

    This was a fabulous 3 part posting… It’s nice to see that even those running a successful show have the same struggles I have as a newcomer. Here we go –

    What Worked! I overcame my fears and put myself out there last January 1 and launched my website and photography

    What Didn’t Work! REALLY putting myself out there to get the clients I REALLY WANT – I wasn’t active in blogging or FB as much as I should have been – but want to say I finished strong with bumping up my fan base the last week of December from 161 to 293 fans… in one week. Which brings me to…

    What Next! I have already started mapping out my Calendar in quarterly segments to help manage my goals, expectations, and accomplishments. Which include more ‘stylized’ children shoots, a few more ‘styled’ wedding shoots to boost my wedding portfolio (and gain practice) which will drive me to my end goal of shooting weddings. Blogging more about myself and my photography even if it means feeling like I am a deer in headlights when I do it.

    I admire all three of you guys for the hard work, thought, and dedication you put into your business…

    Happy New Year to you all :)

  6. Kim

    What worked: I had the opportunity to attend Imaging, WPPI and your talk in 2010 (both in NYC and at WPPI!!). A combination of all three really pushed me to think differently about my business. In the fall, my business finally took off and I’m so grateful!

    What didn’t: I really wish I could have pushed the envelope a little more during some of my shoots. I’m a portrait photographer and there were several sessions I look back and think I failed my client. I’m just hoping that I can change that for 2011!

    What’s next: I’m working on a better schedule for myself when it comes to blogging as well as my own day to day schedule. I have been wasting time on blogs/forums/etc. when I could be editing or getting items ready for my clients. I also have vowed to my husband to really put away business related items when we have free moments. It’s difficult when he is working on his PhD and I’m working on having a successful business.

  7. Kelsy McCartney

    what worked: streamlining our post-wedding work between the two of us and deciding to outsource our editing of weddings – this bought us SO much time and without doing so we would have been over our heads all season long. score! :) what didn’t: not upgrading to albums from books for our wedding couples sooner. i really don’t know why we started offering books in the first place. albums are so much more stunning and way better quality. not to worry, the change was made and we are now drooling over albums with our clients. what’s next: getting into a better routine involving starting our day with a work-out, and implementing a no work after 6pm unless it’s a session rule. we work way too much, and didn’t make enough time for ourselves this summer! i mean what is summer really about — friends, family, sun, and fun! lots of hard work will still be done, but you know… inside the guidelines of a better daily routine. happy new year to you both from the two of us! :)

  8. Jaime

    With lots of hard work and wonderful clients, and a rocking support system (family, friends, and especially awesome photographer friends)- somehow the 1st full year of business worked out better than I ever imagined!
    The business and photography skills will be an ever learning process – I will look forward to for the rest of my life. However, my false sense of time management (A big fat DIDN’T) truly fell by the wayside. I need to find a way to not be an Everythingographer!
    The balance this year didn’t work and I greatly missed out on some special times with my husband and child.
    Cheers to next year being the best year ever!

  9. Leeann Marie

    WHAT WORKED: quitting my day job!!! Working more with ShootQ. keeping deadlines through a crazy October. PartnerCon. Honesty.

    WHAT WAS WRONG: comparison. Non-reviewed contracts. Not setting work hours.

    WHATS NEXT: travel. Lynda.com training. Quikbooks. Learning. Bringing in someone to possibly bring on more in 2012. Outsourcing.

  10. Amanda

    What Worked: Asking for a change in my life- I got a new job in a completely new, unfamiliar field, and it was the best change I ever made. I started dabbling in photography and world traveling and found a new, excited passion with youthful curiosity.

    What Didn’t: Leaving my brand new camera on a plane from said world travels. Sacrificing sleep (and in turn, health) for my new and exciting adventures.

    What’s Next: Find balance in life. Mesh passions and health together. Explore said passions. Move, have more "me time", graduate, get promoted.

  11. Julia Noack

    What worked: Blogging a sneak peek from every shoot and giving my clients a chance to share their excitement with friends. What didnt: Under pricing some of my products because I didnt add on for shipping, packaging, etc. Whats next: Using the winter down time to get my work flow, packaging and marketing materials to a place where I’m happy with them.

  12. stacy sullivan

    worked: facebook!
    didn’t: doing my own album design–slowed me down!
    next: outsourcing!

  13. Emily Haack

    What worked: Putting ourselves out there in shooting our first wedding. The feedback and movement in our now business has been amazing. And attending PartnerCon. It has totally help us frame and re-shape our business.

    What didn’t: Using Adobe Bridge. Ick. Our HTML code based website also didn’t work. We had to make ALL changes and input ALL updates in HTML code. Our new, much easier to update, blog launched at 12 a.m. :)

    What’s next: One (or maybe both) of us going full time. Our first, full wedding season and really really finding out who we are as photographers.

  14. Naomi Elle

    Designing my own albums did *NOT* work…. must. outsource. now!!!: )

  15. Jennifer Eileen

    What worked | Facing the fear of hearing "no thanks" and getting my work out there!

    What didn’t work | Having a whacked work schedule (I work for myself) always feeling like there is more to do so I never take a break and allowing my clients to schedule my days how they see fit.

    What’s Next | Oh Lord have mercy! Boundaries are next. Excellence. Stretching myself. Styled shoots. Helping others. Making my little business work smoothly (or smoother). Lastly, focusing on my brand and what makes me and my work unique!


  16. Katie Neal

    What worked: Facebook, MAJORLY! For my first wedding season, a ton of my clients came from facebook. Social Networking really can build a business. Also, I taught my hubby to shoot with me, and hanging out with him on the weekends is simply the best! What didn’t work: Spending money on actions and other useless photographic tools. While everyone does it, I came full circle and found my style without all the silly actions that everyone wants you to buy. :) What’s Next: Building the brand that is uniquely me via a HUGE rebrand, and one that I can be SO excited about. Also changing my pricing structure. :)

  17. Aubrey

    Worked: Taking chances!
    Didn’t work: Keeping a part time job….not only did I suffer, but my clients and family did too.
    What’s next: Making a list of goals and getting a mentor

  18. Rebecca

    What worked: Having a dream and going for it. I would never have imagined that I’d be shooting at 25 weddings my very first year. What didn’t: winging it all the time – I had no real business plan because I hadn’t expected to be a business! Not having that organization ahead of time really made it challenging for me to be consistent. What’s next: LOTS organizing, hopefully some upgrading, attending the Boston STL and Walk Thru Wedding, J&M mentoring session, and trying to follow my heart. We’ll see where it leads! No matter what this is a lot of fun =)

  19. Dede Edwards

    Did I mention dream & breathe? * Not doing meal-planning/grocering for the week. We ended up eating out a lot and it was usually pretty unhealthy stuff. * Julia, Julia, Julia! She is by far one of the best decisions we have ever made and I can’t imagine our business without her now. And trust me, this past year she has "worked"…..worked her butt off for us!! We love & appreciate her more than she could ever possibly know.

  20. Jess M.

    What worked: a revised work schedule to accommodate my kids’ school schedule.
    What didn’t: not making a weekly "to do" list for evening activities, after school activities, weekend activities, and meals.
    What’s next: bring back my commitment for exercise. I need it to clear my head and generate more engergy for all areas of my life.

  21. Jen P

    What Worked…letting go of the past
    What Didnt work…Getting stressed out over the little things.
    Whats Next…Being more organized, meal planning, getting back to the gym, and date night!

  22. Chelsea McGowan

    WHAT WORKED: Picking our clients. 2010 kicked 2009’s butt in this regard. We worked with people we adored, who, in turn, adored us. Our work felt like fun. We’ll never go back to booking every wedding we get offered.
    WHAT DIDN’T: Our weight. Ugh. We traveled so much, and worked so much, that we totally let fitness and healthy cooking slide, and gained TONS. Having a baby didn’t help. We have big plans for 2011 in terms of setting better goals for our children in our personal fitness. 30 extra pounds, be gone!!
    WHAT’S NEXT: Full time as a duo. Mack is now officially a full-time partner in McGowan Images, and while it’s totally frightening for our entire income to be based on our wedding photography business, we’re confident in the groundwork we’ve laid, and excited to see what’s in store for us this year!

  23. Lydia

    What worked: outsourcing editing and album design. What didn’t: having a different workflow for each wedding. What’s next: setting up systems/workflow that allows me to be consistent with all my clients.

  24. Kristen

    Worked: going to Spread the Love 2010 and taking massive amounts of notes! Didn’t work: not having enough confidence Next: facebook

  25. Joe Don Richardson

    What worked: Still trying to figure that one out. What didn’t work:Under bidding myself. What’s Next:trying to figure out how to get my name out there so that people are knocking on my door and not the other way around.

  26. rachaelmarie

    2010 was my first year in business and an incredible year, full of growth and learning…but also frustration. what worked? personalizing each session for each client, it really allowed their individualities to shine through and made the resulting images so unique and personal. what didn’t? trying to do it all…and do it all alone. i need to learn to ask for help in the coming year. to let go of some of what i do for sanity sake. what’s next? more growth and more learning. i plan to take on 2011 with even more gusto than i did 2010. increase sales and refine my client’s experience.

  27. Haley

    2010 proved to be a whole new plane of awesome for us, but we had no idea just how much it would take from us time wise. In only our second year of business, we failed to carve out time for ourselves to be together, to plan for new experiences, and to really take the time to remind ourselves why we love our jobs (What didn’t work). We ended kind of burned out and wimpy really. But! With the new year (What’s Next), we have big plans to for keeping it simple and setting achievable goals for our personal lives and our business side! Thank you for sharing your lists – it’s helpful to know that other photographers struggle with the same problems we do! :)

  28. Melissa Waller

    What worked: Putting myself out there and making some amazing new Photography friends who aren’t afraid to share their knowledge. What didn’t: I gave away to many photography sessions for little to nothing because my passion for photography is so intense that I just want to take pictures. What’s next: I am going to jump, gain more confidence and put my faith in the Lord that this year will be the best ever!!!

  29. Nadya

    What worked: blogging more, but not just about sessions but personal stuff, my clients know things about me before we meet in person and they tell me how they feel the same way or relate, so thats pretty cool. we build a friendship

    What didnt work: trying to do everything all at once. I rushed my start of my business and brand and i am taking a step back now to redo my brand and find my style

    whats next: ill be shooting my first 2 weddings ever in Oct as the primary, so i need pt practice practice and be confident in my worl, also build my brand to suit me and my style!

  30. heather

    what worked: gaining confidence and getting out there. doing networking events, bridal shows, etc. what didn’t work: marketing to future clients….I suck at it and need massive help! i am told that my images are great but i just can’t seem to book enough weddings :( 2011 will be different though!!!

  31. Caitlin

    What worked: when I graduated from photo school, and no one would hire me as a paid assistant, I took the plunge and started shooting on my own. Best thing I could have done. I went from shooting once a month, to 3 or 4 times a month. Two months later, I invested in studio space in an artist’s mill. Very inspiring to work around such creatives, and it is probably one of the major reason my portrait client base is steady and growing. What didn’t: thinking that since my first year of business would be slow while I was growing it, this would be the perfect time to go to grad school. What was I thinking ?!!?

  32. Tiffany Deming

    Happy 2011!! :) 2010 was a huge transition year for us…What worked: Going to workshops and learning from people who have already walked this walk (…STL was definitely on that list!!)…What didn’t work: Both of us working full time jobs outside of photography and not having our infrastructure in place (workflow, website that we’re proud of, brand, marketing collateral, business plan, etc.)…What’s next: Applying everything we’ve learned, implementing our plans, launching our new brand/website and taking this business by the horns and moving toward our dreams…for real!! I’m so excited!! :D

  33. angel pope

    What worked: honesty and being me. Not trying to be something I wasn’t. Sometimes that meant maybe cutting my prices for someone I knew VALUED photography but maybe couldn’t afford it. What didn’t: not having a plan and flying by the seat of my pants! What’s next: a plan. Although I’m not exactly sure how to go about it…

  34. angel pope

    What worked: honesty and being me. Not trying to be something I wasn’t. Sometimes that meant maybe cutting my prices for someone I knew VALUED photography but maybe couldn’t afford it. What didn’t: not having a plan and flying by the seat of my pants! What’s next: a plan. Although I’m not exactly sure how to go about it…

  35. Karen Gerace

    What Worked – Redesigning our website. Using off-camera flash at the reception venues. Including an engagement session with our wedding collections. We’ve been able to become friends with our couples and have a blast hanging out and photographing them before their big day. What Didn’t Work – Our beloved Canon equipment. We switched to Nikon in Dec. Only time will tell. Fingers crossed. What’s Next – Participating in a bridal show in 2011. Networking! Craig turns 50 this year, so I surprised him with a photo workshop (Spirits of the Navajo) in Arizona, Sept 2011. It crosses off one item on my bucket list and I get to spend a week with my hubby just being a “kid with a camera” again. I can’t wait!! Attending a STL workshop? Please?!

  36. jan

    what worked… being myself, taking time for the things i love, changing my pricing to something closer to what i think i’m worth, putting myself out there, elbowing my way in to hug mary & apparently petting her arm while introducing myself at partnercon… that worked, right mary?!
    what didn’t… the economy, too much tv, holding back, saying yes too much, coffee after 5pm, confusing wedding pricing guide.
    what’s next…simplicity in every area possible, love my clients well, love my family better than anyone else, read more, separate wedding website, fully booked in 2012, spread the love to my vendors that have been so good to me, learn 10000% more about film, stick my toes in the sand at the beach next to my two little girls, go to a movie by myself, ask a lot more questions, photograph new water wells for villages in peru, photograph my mom with my girls, learn to skate ski, find contentment in the now, second shoot for someone really talented, attend the foundation workshop, continue to define success by my actions & not my pocketbook, give more, use my passport again, attend stl 2011…of course!!!

  37. Spring

    What Worked- Getting my own butt in gear and going for it… throwing myself 100% into photography and coming out alive on the other side of a very successful year!!!! What didn’t- spending money on ads- what a waste. What’s Next- LAUNCHING MY NEW WEBSITE AND BRAND!!!! whooo hooo :)

  38. Jen

    I seriously just gasped OUT LOUD! This is a seriously amazing giveaway!

    For me the resounding theme (much like yours) to "dream and breathe" resonated with me for what’s next…I thrive creatively off of dreaming and fail to make time for that on a regular basis and I think it’s important. What worked was my editing work flow…I finally got into a rhythm towards the end of the year and was pleased with the consistent outcome. What didn’t was my production…got get on it for marketing and what I produce for my clients!

  39. bethany cox

    yay! i love me some contests and whats better than one that has to do with winning something that will help me learn something new eh? it goes with the new years theme! so here goes:

    what worked: getting a photography internship that taught me a lot, enough to start out on my own in fact!

    what didn’t: not standing up for myself, not believing in myself, allowing myself to be taken advantage of

    what’s next: the official launch of our photography business, and adopting a life of not looking back!

  40. Ryan

    I am so inspired by your three posts, that I have been mentally working on ours all day…. Just a preview: What worked – Treating our clients like friends. What didn’t – our workflow, there is so much room for improvement and so much fat to be trimmed and time to be gained – looking forward to fixing that. What’s next – networking with the other wedding vendors in our area – starting with sharing our images with them from the events we worked together this year! Looking forward to a great 2011!!!

  41. Deb

    Love love love contests…especially when they involve STL! So here goes..What worked: building up my brand a little more; What didn’t: not setting definitive hours to effectively divide my time between my family, myself and my business; What’s next: Believing in myself more and making bigger dreams a reality.

  42. Alicia Candelora

    If by some chance, I win this, I am sending Adam in my place. He could use a dose of J&M to help him "get" this whole photography/life thing a bit more. He is excited to help but has a hard time breaking out of a corporate mindset. :)

    WHAT WORKED | Finding my shooting style and realizing the type of images I connect with and love to produce, as well as the technical components of producing such images. WHAT DIDN’T | Not blogging consistently, but going through cycles of blog “bingeing and purging.” Fx – 2 posts a day for 8 days then not posting again for another 2 weeks. WHAT’S NEXT(!!!) | Donating 10% of all wedding commission and product sales to a non-profit and then leading a team of clients to one of the villages that our support directly impacted (Winter 2010). Could not be more excited about this!!!!

  43. gen

    Gosh…how that list continues to drive me – day in and day out! What worked? Learning to not be afraid of the fear! Learning to power through and take it as an opportunity to stand tall in defence of my dreams. What didn’t? Feeling like I always had to say yes to everything, even when it didn’t feel right. If I’m going to take a leap of faith to become the person that I want to be, I better darn well learn how to do it my way!! What’s next? Remembering that in order to be the very best photographer I can be, I need to be the very best ‘me’ that I can be. Which means making more time {especially when I feel like I don’t have the time} for yoga classes, reruns of Sex & the City, pedicures with my friends and of course – brownies! Thank you for your constant inspiration!

  44. Ravyn

    HAPPY NEW YEAR to you guys! What Worked: Creating a workflow in writing … this totally helped keep us organized! What Didn’t: Keeping up with emails. I tend to push certain ones to the side and then too much time passes before following up. It makes me feel like crap knowing people waiting too long! What’s Next: Making sure that we’re always improving our client experiences. We are so excited about our 2011 clients! Can’t wait to see you guys at STL!

  45. Meg Nelson

    What worked – getting our two year old into daycare!!!! Holy smokes – what an amazing decision! We had been having nanny’s come to our home and just keeping them on one side of the house and us on the other – well – turns out Grant knew we were still there! We signed him up for our local christian daycare and he absolutely loves it! We get to work from home in peace – and he gets to play with kids his own age and have so much fun! Definitely a win!

  46. Sarah S

    I would be SO EXCITED to win this!! Here goes – What worked: meeting new families through preschool and school auctions (donating a free session to a handful of auctions). What didn’t work: wasting money on actions or presets that I don’t end up using. What’s Next: Getting more organized and building my business for 2011!

  47. Alice G Patterson

    Love you guys! What worked: Taking Jared Platt’s Lightroom workshop, gift bags for my bridal clients, the continued passion to always grow as a photographer. What didn’t work: not scheduling enough administrative time, being single and a workaholic with not enough breaks from work. What’s next: Faster turnaround times for my clients, bookkeeper, more me time!

  48. sharon

    Yay!!! So exciting!!! What worked: My ability to make clients feel at ease in front of the camera – I have such an animated personality and I think it comes in handy! What didn’t work: AHH, I have such a tender heart that it’s so easy to ‘forget’ the business aspect of photography and ‘give’ sessions away. What’s next: SPREAD THE LOVE TOUR in Charlotte!!! I’m really hoping to learn from everyone and take back a better understanding of this industry! I can’t wait! =)

  49. Stef

    Absolutely loved these 3 posts – thanks so much for sharing! :)
    What worked: FACEBOOK. I wouldn’t have half the clients I did if not for Facebook. What didn’t work: Not having a minimum order & bending some of my policies :( Got taken advantage of ALOT.
    What’s Next: Going full-time this spring!

  50. Kristin

    I’m not a photographer so mine may be a little different but here goes! What worked: Connecting with customers personally, no paid advertising, realizing business related arguments with husband needed to stay at business(also goes in ‘what didn’t’… a work in progress!), never sacrificing quality of product for quantity of output, loving what we do. What Didn’t: making business arguments personal, not separating life from business, not getting website up/not taking full advantage of internet & social networking. What’s Next: Streamlining our systems even more, launching website and growing online following, and.. Maybe not anytime soon… But a Melt #2!

  51. Brittany Brock

    what worked? getting to know my brides as personally as I can, Facebook, and being willing to try new things! Underpromising and over delivering!! what didn’t? saying yes to much, I need to learn to choose the opportnities that are right for me, what’s next? STL Charlotte, and making a lovemark!!!

  52. Nicole Robbins

    For me in 2010…
    What worked? word of mouth clients and trying out more than just portraits/engagements. Also using those shots to launch my website finally!
    What didn’t? not advertising myself enough and still negotiating fees for my work.
    Whats next? Wedding photography!!

  53. Ellen

    Great contest! What worked? Attending a workshop with an amazing wedding photographer who changed the way I felt about myself. He helped me to see that it’s not about the photography as much as who you are as a person. More importantly, that it was ok to be me and to allow my feelings to show instead of always trying to hide or squash them. What didn’t work? Not following up on the high I felt after attending the workshop and allowing myself to slide back into poor habits (like my wedding workflow..yikes!) What’s next? I would like to attend a STL workshop, brand my business and redesign my website and really work on my technical skills. And that’s just January! Thanks for all you do to help photographers. Most of us really need it!

  54. Jane

    What worked: Facebook and Mini Sessions
    What didn’t: Doing Photography part time and working Full time as a Speech Therapist
    What’s next: Quitting the Full time job and doing Part time photography, part time Speech therapy!

  55. Kate

    I continue to hear about "Justin & Mary" time and time again… yay! I am happy to follow you in your adventures. What worked for us this year: sticking with vendors that we LOVE, regardless of their pricing or how it may impact the percentage of our actual profit from each client. We found success in offering high-end products that we can proudly stand behind. Welcoming clients into our home office for consultations. Couples feel like they really get to know us and what we’re all about this way. What didn’t work: paying for advertising. It may have been an easy way to get our name out there, but it sure didn’t pay off like referrals or features have. What’s next: A shiny new brand, more personal, more "us". Fewer clients = more personal attention! :)

  56. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    1) What worked: Doing Christmas/Thank you ornaments for clients. This was inspired by you guys and I’m SO GLAD I did it! 2) What didn’t: Doing freelance for a political candidate (since I spent 4.5 years as a writer, I was a congressional candidate’s press secretary for 10 months in 2010). I loved the experience, but it really took away from my photo bizz-ness. 3) What’s next: I will work on making my meeting/consult space a bigger/better reflection of us/our brand.

  57. Amy Dawson

    What Worked ?? Saving up my dimes and nickles and purchasing an awesome Nikon Digital SLR !!!! What didn’t work ? Losing the owners manual within the first week !!! (Thankfully Nikon reps were able to send me new one, whew, disaster averted ! What’s next ORGANIZE 101 !!! So that I dont lose anything else!! Cept my keys… as usual.

  58. trent

    What Worked: reading millie holloman’s GIT book, I’m still implementing many of the things today, and plan on re-reading; getting a website and blog that really reflected ME; upgrading our apartment to have a presentable space to meet with clients and actually both get our own workspace, educating myself with workshops, classes at ICP, and walking through a wedding with J&M (seriously, amazing), getting out of my comfort zone, starting conversations, lunch meetings and early morning coffee with industry professionals.

    What Didn’t: comparing myself to other, reading way to many blogs (including bad blogs that polluted my brain with mediocre work), not having enough systems in place, being on call ALL the time (I’m not an ER doctor so emails can wait), having an uncomfortable desk chair.

    What’s Next: Investing in a comfy desk chair. New pricing, D3s, shooting film for personal work and incorporating that into my wedding work in 2011, packaging that really reflects me, a new client goodie basket complete with a Trent Bailey magazine, new letterpress cards to reflect the new brand

  59. Jessica Sweeney

    What worked: finally getting my business started, legally, and getting all that paperwork out of the way.

    What didn’t: not being aggressive enough about marketing it. There’s a lot left to do.

    What’s next? Who knows? I hope a lot of paid shoots! That’s my plan.

  60. Jennifer

    what worked: for me Facebook has worked really well. What didn’t: my time management, What’s next: I’m really excited for 2011 because I am loosing the fear in all of it and going for it.

  61. Brandi

    Thank you for your most recent posts! They definitely left something to be … reflected on! So here goes:

    what worked: we did an awesome job welcoming our clients into our lives and showing them who we are… we havent always been open to that and by doing so, it allowed for our clients to become friends!

    what didn’t: I am a slacker! There I said it! My partner Ryan and I were in a 90/10 relationship in 2010 but with the launch of our new brand, R Studio, that is all changing and that leads me to….

    what’s next: a 50/50 partnership not a relationship where my sugar pie and I share the responsibilities of our business and by doing so we create more time for each other!

  62. Christina Shippey

    What worked……. Facebook, a new blog for easier/quicker posting, networking with other photographers. What didn’t work…… saying yes to everything and everyone! What’s next……… albums, dreaming big, facing fears and getting the business side of this thing way more figured out!!

  63. Beth

    Love this idea! What worked: Being comfortable being us! I feel like we finally let go and just had fun being who we were created to be. What didn’t: Workflow! By the end of the season I was six weeks out and I hated when brides had to ask about their photographs. I felt like I failed! What is next: Putting Christ first. All the rest will make sense if He is put first! Love you guys! Happy New Year!!

  64. Nancy Mitchell

    You two are AMAZING! Thanks for sharing. WHAT WORKED: Making relationships with my clients. Social media has worked very well too! I applied for the SOAR scholarship by MeRa Koh and didn’t win, but built some awesome friendships through the process and made it my mission to SOAR on my own! WHAT DIDN’T: I would have to say that having FOUR kids and working full-time as a labor and delivery nurse puts a struggle in my time schedule. WHAT IS NEXT: I am going to set GOALS and stick to them, I am going to have CLARITY, I need to FOCUS, and I need to SET PRIORITIES!

    "I want to Fall down, mess up, get dirty, cry
    Brush myself off, Laugh, Believe in myself as much as you do, take one step, get right back on that train…
    and REPEAT!"

  65. Lisa Cour

    I’ve been doing this soul-searching this week already and have more planned. For now…What worked…saying yes. Daring to take the first, huge leap in the direction God was leading. What didn’t…trying to learn everything, be everything to all in a very short period of time. What’s next…SO much. Getting systems in place to have a uniform, professional look from the very beginning to the end. Also, deliberately making more connections in this wonderful world of fellow photographers.

  66. Nicole Callaway

    I love J&M &J2 ~ I’ve learned so much from you, so thank you. WHAT WORKED ~ expanding to add a second shooter to my larger weddings. WHAT DIDN"T ~ My organization program, scratch it and start ALL over again for 2011 WHAT"S NEXT ~ Branding myself and making it known!

  67. Deyla Huss

    F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S!!! I would love to ring in the New Year with some booty kickin!!
    WHAT WORKED: establishing stronger relationships with the vendors I have worked with. WHAT DIDNT: Being taken advantage of by clients and saying yes to just about everything to make then happy. WHATS NEXT: Standing my ground and making my business stronger as well as taking care of me!!! because my family and clients need a healthy me!
    CHEERS to making 2011 SOOO Great!

  68. Sarajane Case

    Thanks for creating these challenges/contests! They always make me think through my business. : ) WHAT WORKED: Quitting my job in order to focus full-time on my business and travel Europe and the U.S. on a photo tour. WHAT DIDN’T: Not getting my website up as soon as possible. WHAT’S NEXT: Living a life that makes me a better photographer. Stopping, breathing, and looking at my surroundings!

    with love.

  69. Carol Anne

    What Worked: Just being ME. Not that I thought I had to be someone else, but I price myself for the more affluent client and I always thought I had to be someone like them. I am not. I am so low maintenance and hippie-like. Turns out, that’s OK. :) What Didn’t: Giving away sessions to my broke friends in exchange for them referring me. What’s Next: Unfortunately a part-time job is next. :( I am a graphic designer as well as photographer and there are no design jobs to be had. I am still marketing and desperately want to get some videos on my website. That is the "what’s next" for my business. But in the meantime, a part time job. :(

  70. Alison

    What worked: returning to spending time with my clients not on them so I can tell this chapter of thier story from my heart. Shoot and write in my own style. Bits & Pieces posts. Starting a photography group. What didn’t: over booking myself. never again will I shoot a newborn, two families and second shoot a wedding in 8 days while working full time. No way no how. Whats next: WPPI, hiring help with branding, marketing materials and a blog overhaul- time to admit when I am out of my league and I want to spend my business time with my clients, and keeping to a more structured schedule for business time.

  71. Stephanie Stewart

    What Worked: Being myself, shooting my style, client slideshows! What Didn’t: Using natural light for everything at a wedding…must bring on the off-camera flash when needed!!! Putting off thinking about systems, and not fully treating my business like a business, putting off working out, eating healthy, family time. What’s Next: Branding, creating systems, more personal projects to keep my love of photography fresh and creative, shooting what I love, more forward thinking.

  72. Debbie Allan

    WHAT WORKED: Facebook and Word of Mouth

    WHAT DIDN’T: Donating sessions to charitable organizations. Resulted in the most challenging sessions of the year!

    Projection sales. I am in the middle of renovation to create a perfect space for clients to come to me for a sale presentation.
    Branding and Blog overhaul. I am excited to be working with @Corina Neilson on a new logo, branding and blog.

    2011 promised to be a big year for Debbie Allan Photography. I cannot wait.

  73. Kristin

    Sigh. What Worked: Getting out there and meeting and working with other photographers. Taking classes. Making an inspiration board… What Didn’t: Expecting too much too fast. Wanting to edit hundreds of images before showing them to anyone… What’s Next: Making and publishing a complete website. Selling some art prints. Learning more about off-camera flash… Good luck with all of your What’s Nexts J&M!

  74. Nicole Benitez

    What worked… believing in myself enough to reach for my dreams. What didn’t… pushing for things that weren’t a safe bet. What’s Next… bigger goals and bigger dreams and conquering the fear to fail.

  75. Evie Perez

    What worked: My step of faith of continuing to learn how I can become a better photographer. Learning and giving to others. What did not work: Not thinking I am good enough. Not listening to my inner voice telling me it would not benefit me. Over-stessing in the little things . Focusing on what I don’t have instead of looking at what I have already accomplished. What’s next: Goals, Goals, Goals. Taking workshops. Buid a website that represents me, believe more in myself, read business books, and continue to give back :)

  76. Jessica F

    Wow, thanks for an amazing giveaway!!!
    Okay, so what worked: my proofing system was awesome and really organized for clients. My pricing structure for seniors worked so well and was very accepting with clients. Switching over to a 27in iMac! Best decision ever!! Learning to put family first and not think about work so much. I have struggled with this since I started my business and in 2010 I really did well with putting my family first.
    What didn’t work: my wedding pricing structure! Apparently I attract the cheap brides and I am too expensive…it is so frustrating!
    Facebook stole a LOT of my time!! Donating sessions, I give a lot back and pay ALOT forward to others and I really over did myself. I still want to give back but
    Maybe in smaller amounts or different ways! The weather didn’t work for me here in Seattle…too much rain!!
    What’s next: better and thoughtful interaction with clients. More face to face stuff. I want to figure out a way to organize the books and biz finances better. That is where I am lost! I want to shoot more weddings this year than last year! I want to do more with off camera flash. I just ordered a ton of new studio equipment plus a portable battery for ocf location shoots!!

  77. Amanda Watson

    What worked: Second-shooting — I have gained SO much knowledge and have had to freedom to make a ton of mistakes and learn so much doing this! What didn’t: Second-shooting — the downside to second shooting is that I have hardly any time with the bride, hardly any control over posing, and my style clashes a little with the primary photographer. What’s next: BIG THINGS in 2011!! I have quite a few weddings of my own booked and am working on a major photo shoot to get PUBLISHED ::crosses-fingers::!!

  78. Anya Elise

    Worked: Getting my web site up and running – woohoo!

    Didn’t: Keeping on the ball with my ambitions. I need to push myself every.single.day.

    Next: Practice, practice, practice. And booking more second shooter/engagement gigs.

  79. Elizabeth Bower

    What Worked: Throwing our own "Launch Party" that gave us the opportunity to build relationships with other wedding professionals. Plus it was super fun =)

    What Didn’t: To many options in our pricing catalog. We thought our clients would love having so many ways to customize their album and package but quickly realized it was confusing and people just wanted it to be simple.

    What’s Next: "Big and Big Things". We are currently on our annual planning retreat and we are not just going to make things Big this year, but we are going to accomplish Big and Extra Big things!

    Thanks for hosting the contest! Hope to meet you soon!

  80. Yesenia Emeric

    Worked: Networking with other wedding industry professionals!
    What Didn’t: Paying lots for a print AD in a local wedding magazine.. (live & learn)
    What’s Next: Keep working even harder to define my style and stop comparing myself to other photogs!
    ps. thanks for the giveaway!! xoxo

  81. Abbey Bradshaw

    What worked – joining a local photographers group for women. Its so informative and I’ve met some amazingly talented women!
    What didnt work – google adwords…total waste of money
    What’s next – 2nd shooting more. I have so much more to learn and I cant wait for the 2011 season!

  82. Catie Ronquillo

    Woo hoo for BHAGS! :)
    What worked: setting up meetings with local wedding vendors. Setting up concepts shoots and networking with local photogs. What didn’t: comparing my work & progress with others. Relying too heavily on others’ opinion of me. What’s next: Building my business for the life un-ordinary! Shooting a destination wedding next week. Continuing to define my style with my vision, and believing that I can be myself in this industry. :) Happy 2011!

  83. Mar

    Like my friend always says… Oh, it’s on… it’s on like donkey kong! Cheesy, you say? I like cheesy ;) Things that worked: breaking out into the High School Senior market. Having the, ahem, confidence to finally set my goliath of a camera fully on manual!! Yup, I just said that out loud. This past year and a half I have relied too heavily on aperture priority, shutter priority, and even (dare I say this)… automatic. Standing my ground on what I can provide for my clients, or moreover, what I cannot provide. Starting in 2007, I was afraid to ever say ‘no’ to any opportunity that came my way. Now I know that it’s okay to say ‘no’ when the opportunity doesn’t feel right. Using a Get To Know You type questionnaire (inspired by Davina) with my brides & grooms and high school seniors.

    Things that didn’t work: Where do I begin? The only time I need to be everything to anybody starts right at home (with my husband and child). I struggle juggling the work/family life. Boo :( Taking appointments too close to mandatory deadlines. Not sending important carbon-copy emails to all parties interested (ie. school misplaced 3 of my yearbook images that I had sent in a timely fashion – I had parents contacting me). Definitely DO NOT want to have that type of reputation. My lack of organization did not help me at all this year! Not having completed my business plan.

    What’s ahead: Everything! Finishing my business plan. Working with a graphic designer to create a logo – one that has ‘Mar’ written all over it!!!! I would like to invest in a splashy website this year. Speaking of investing… invest in some more lenses, some business classes, and in doing more personal photography. It doesn’t have to generate income, just has to reflect who I am as an artist. Oh, and for sure… to win me a seat at 2011’s Spread the Love. That would be a dream worth realizing :)

  84. ashley Scobey

    These have been really helpful. Thanks for putting it all out there like this!

    What worked: Doing things our own way. There are so many amazing photographers out there and it is easy to think that their methods should be ours, but they shouldnt. What makes us special is unique to us, and we have tried to celebrate that, not squelch it.

    What didn’t: Living life without margins. Sure, what we do is our passion and an extension of ourselves, but we need to build in more time to renew our energy and spend time together (sans business talk).

    What’s next: Hiring someone to help us balance our workflow. We are so excited and can’t wait for her to start!

  85. Rachel M.

    oh 2010. you killed me. what worked? trusting myself a little more. pushing my limits. maybe i messed something up i really shouldn’t have, but in taking those chances i learned something.

    what didn’t work was being scared. i think this is something that i’m going to work more on for 2011. i pass opportunities up and don’t do things because i’m scared of failing.

    whats next? hopefully leaving the 9-5 world and creating more time and space for me to be successful on my own. taking time to breathe and enjoy my new husband. maybe an adventure or two. :)

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