Self-Employment | Month Three

4.03.2012

While visiting with friends over the weekend*, I spent a lot of time thinking about (and talking about) my latest adventure in self-employment.  This month has been the most difficult so far but also the most insightful.

It's been difficult in the sense that the self-doubt seems to have multiplied exponentially:

Am I doing this "right"?  Why aren't I booking every single client that contacts me?  Am I saying the wrong things at the consultations?  Are my expectations unrealistic?  Do they think the final photos are whack?  Do they think I'm whack?  Does anyone even use "whack" anymore?

Do they like me?  Do they like my personality?  Do they want to spend their wedding day with me?
Do they like my style of shooting?  Did I respond soon enough to their emails?  Or did I respond too quickly thus seeming desperate?

Do the photos look over-processed?  Do the photos look under-processed?  Do the photos represent me?  Do they have an extra punch?  Are they artistic enough?  Am I being true to who I am?  Am I really an artist?  Am I really a business person?  Both?  Either/or?

Why do all these other photographers seem to have this biz thing totally figured out?  Will I ever figure it out?  Am I doing the right types of marketing?  Am I tracking the right info for taxes?    Am I offering the "right" products/services?  Does my packaging look professional?  Unique?  Special?   Am I providing exceptional customer service?  Do my clients feel as special as I think they are?

These, and many other thoughts, have cost me quite a bit of sleep lately.  And, while these doubts have been made a more prominent appearance this month, I'm also feeling more and more confident that I did the right thing in pursuing this business.  I think the doubts are part of the standard growing pains that come with doing something totally unfamiliar.  It's scary.  Like, crazy scary.  But it also feels right.  I finally feel like I've found the balance between logic and creativity that I've been craving from my career.

When I worked in theater, I always felt like my creative side was amply stimulated but I longed for more intellectual stimulation.  When I do legal work, it's nothing but intellectual stimulation and the artist in me feels neglected and abandoned.  But now, I actually feel satisfaction in both arenas.  My typical day is split between the two types of work - administrative/business work for half of the day to fulfill the left brain and photo shoots/editing/marketing to quench the right brain's thirst.  Sometimes the individual day is not perfectly balanced but the big picture finally has what I've been looking for.


You know what else I've discovered?  This path is perfect for my work A.D.D.  I get bored easily doing the same thing over and over (I'm looking at you, doc review assignments...).  But there's so much that has to be done when you are solely responsible for your business - accounting, financial planning, figuring out successful marketing strategies, scheduling photo shoots, scheduling client consultations, shooting the photos, editing the photos, updating the website design (and sometimes learning html code in order to do so), blogging, promoting, updating the business plan, maintaining equipment - the list goes on and on.  When I hit a creative wall while editing, I take a break to update my financial spreadsheets to make sure the monthly expenses/income are all documented and organized.  And when that starts to numb my brain (which it inevitably does), I spend some time pulling together inspiration for upcoming shoots or editing photos to be delivered to clients.

Running a business that focuses on producing a creative product is not only the perfect blend of left-brain/right-brain stimulation but also provides a never-ending To Do list to keep me constantly busy and interested.  So while the little devil on my shoulder has been a bit louder in Month Three, the angel stays strong and reminds me why I love doing this.


*A full recap of my NYC weekend is coming soon but I'm still going through the photos!

11 Comments:

  1. I'm glad that you're finding that sense of balance in your current job. I still find my blog being really the expression of my right brain, which is fine, and I enjoy seeing it in action (and archived) in this manner

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  2. I am seriously so excited for you. I know how easy it is to second guess yourself and it's completely normal but you know you're doing the right thing for you and that is most important!

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  3. i think its normal to get nervous and anxious, but just trust in yourself and things will work out. you are such an awesome example!

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  4. Creative fields can definitely be the most challenging–and the most rewarding. But it's inspiring that you're going for it. Your photos are amazing, by the way. Keep it going!

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  5. I am so, so proud of you!! I'm a former doc reviewer myself. My goodness those were some long days. I'm glad you're following your passion and doing what makes you happy. I'm sure the enthusiasm you showed for your work in this post shines thru in your meetings and your photos. Keep going for it!

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  6. I found myself nodding with this entire post. I have the exact same doubts but I haven't even taken the plunge into being a photographer yet.

    I think you are so brave to do what you have done and while I understand and can see your doubts I think you have the right attitude to make it through.

    Self-doubt is the biggest killer of creativity. I wish there was an instant pain-killer-like solution. :D

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  7. As a client, all I had to say is that we were very pleased with our decision on hiring you. You listened to everything that I wanted (and that was quite a lot) patiently, you made sure the photoshoot went according to what I wanted, but I still can see your personal style on it. I think they were perfectly edited... They had the exact "feel" that I wanted. And your packaging was SUPER adorable! I loved it.

    I think all artists go through a phase like that here and there. I am not saying anything to be nice, I really believe in everything that I said.

    I'm excited that you took your leap of faith! It takes courage to do that and I think you're doing great :)

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  8. I love this honesty and insight. I will be tucking this away for when I start my business and will pull it out when I start to feel doubtful. Thanks for sharing!!! XO brynn

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  9. this is a great description of what i look for too (as someone with a more analytical mind but grew up playing piano, doing theatre, etc.) and this provided me insight to certain choices i would make, so thank you! keep persevering and striving to improve and enjoying the success you have had - it seems like a good way to live.

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  10. this is a great description of what i look for too (as someone with a more analytical mind but grew up playing piano, doing theatre, etc.) and this provided me insight to certain choices i would make, so thank you! keep persevering and striving to improve and enjoying the success you have had - it seems like a good way to live.

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  11. you can do this! i think the hardest part about becoming self-employed is taking the first step to get there. you just keep working with integrity and passion and the success will come rolling in. have faith in yourself. :) xo

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