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!