How Is Your 2019?

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Hello friends! How the heck are you?

Thank you all so much for stopping by. Now, today’s topic tells me that you are here for a reason. But why? Is your 2019 going not as you planned? Or is it rocking your world in every way? Either way, we are going to cover both sides of the coin.

From my own experience, I know what it feels like to have a year that is not so great. But let me start by saying, there are a lot of people in that same boat, and you WILL get out of it. What would this journey be without struggle, right? Well, I know that is easier said than done but I can assure you that if you consistently move a step forward every day, you will be just fine.

So let’s start from the beginning. The first thing we have to do is go back to the year before. Did you have a great year? I can tell you the normal trend of how this goes (and what I did that led me to the massive decline of my 2018 year.) In the midst of a wild and crazy wedding season, we have a tendency to let things slip through the cracks that are imperative to growth. Let’s break those down.

Networking || This is a HUGE part of our business Y'all…HUGE. This, I know, is where I feel through the cracks and made some really big errors. Vendor to vendor relationships can be just as important as client relationships. Truly. I know that being a creative entrepreneur is like juggling with 20 balls in your hand at one time but you must take the time to do things that are inevitably going to put MONEY in your pocket. As big as this industry is, it is also very small. We all know each other and we are all connected through the not so little platform of social media. During your wedding season, it is crucial to assure that you are caring for your vendor team throughout the entire process. Communication is going to be the best way to do so. Communication before, during, and after your big day is going to land you on the good side of that team. IF you can make that happen 90% of the time, you should be in good shape.

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Client Experience || So, this is a topic that gets brought up to me all the time. Hints why I created a course specifically for this topic. Your client experience will determine if that person is going to give your name to 5 of their friends who just got engaged. So, what is a good client experience? Every brand is going to do this a little bit different but I can share what I feel works best for me. First, communication is KEY (you will see this trend quite a bit) to having a happy couple. From the moment they email you asking for pricing to the moment you send them their final handwritten note. This is an opportunity for you not only gain brownie points but to also showcase your knowledge that you have worked so hard to acquire. In my Booking Blueprint course, we talk all about how to handle inquiries, pricing, etc. but this blog post would be about 100 pages long if I went into all the details, but the best way to gain good client referrals is keeping your clients in the know and managing their expectations of you. I also am a BIG gifter. I love taking time to send clients welcome gifts, personalized notes, prints from their sessions, and just making them feel like I truly care. That is the biggest goal, making them feel cared for. As we all know, there are so many photographers and this is a great way to stick out in their minds. Take care of them and they will take care of you!

Shooting got YOU || Again, I know the struggles and hardships that come along with a crazy wedding season. BUT, I can assure you that the best thing I did for myself was I continued to shoot personal work. “How can I stand out from a sea of photographers?” This is the best way. There is no sense if following that pack…none. You will just file into the line of a long list go creatives who all look the same. Why do that to yourself? You want to showcase your talents and what you can do and there is no better way to do so then shoot work that inspires you and keeps your creative mind happy. Mindset is such a big contender in this industry, like really big, so you need to be sure that you are feeling your best to create for your actual clients and give them the best of yourself. How can you create amazing work for clients if you can’t do it for yourself?

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Pricing || Okay, I saved the best last. I know from personal experience that this is a tough topic to talk about and come to terms with. When I was in the best year of my career I decided that my time was worth more than I had been charging. So, I decided to make a BIG jump on my pricing and it was pretty much my downfall. I think we as artists can get a little too big for our britches and think we are a little “untouchable” when we are riding the high of a great year. It also makes it even more of a challenge when you see others on social “making it” and you get a little jelly. I know, it’s ok! But what we have to keep in mind is that we do not know what’s going on behind the scenes, just like no one knows what is really going on with you and your business. You are free to do whatever you like with your pricing and how you structure it, but just let me tell you to be careful and stay humble. This is all about the LONG game Y'all, this is not a race. Yes, you always want to push for bigger and better but you also have to eat and pay your bills. If you have a great year, take it as a win and go celebrate with a nice dinner. Don't jack up your prices to the point that your clients in your market can no longer afford you. Do it at a gradual pace, slow and steady wins the race.

So, there ya have it! Those were the four things that attributed to my crappy year. BUT, I will say that I learned a hell of a lot and now I am in the best position I have ever been in in my career. Learn from my mistakes and try your best to keep a strong hold on things when times are good, don’t wait till you are in a bad spot to start working on these things. I hope this helps you guys who are struggling and even those who are rocking it in 2019, either way, these four points will make your business stronger and more profitable.

XO-

Kelly

Creative Missions

Hello friends! How many of us have ever felt "stuck" as an artist or uninspired? Um, me for sure! As creative professionals, we have a tendency to have a 'shoulders down, head forward' kind of an attitude.  Especially when we are shooting multiple weddings, or shoots, or working through a busy season.  This post is going to be about getting that inspiration back into your work and your business because without it, we will never grow as artists or business owners.

In my opinion, the key to staying inspired is to get out of your comfort zone and your daily routine.  Humans are creatures of habit and we have a tendency to stick to what we know. I recently traveled to the coast of California with my in laws for a little get away. I knew having such a busy spring and an upcoming packed fall season, I needed some creative stimulus. Since they had already planned the trip prior to me asking to tag along, I got dibbs on the couch at their home they rented for the week...perfect right? Weeks prior to going I had connected with local vendors and models in the area that I was going to be, so I had my route scheduled and planned out, which I could write a whole other post on...it's quite a job but worth it! I rented the cutest little smart car, for 24 hours to travel around wine country and back to the coast.  While I had some mishaps along the way, this is not a travel blog...so I will spare the hilarious stories due to my own stupidity. 

While driving in the car, alone, I had the chance to truly be in the moment.  To be alone with my thoughts in a completely strange place, I felt a sense of confidence and inspiration come over me as I was driving from location to location.  New scenery, new creatives to work with, and a new sense of creativity.  I had the chance to be away from all of the influence of social media, my comfort zone, and really just shoot the way I love to shoot. Shoot for me, not anyone else. That will be an experience that will forever change and grow your work.

Not all of us have the chance to pick up and travel to California or across the country, but I urge you to take different ways to work, take any opportunity you see you get out of town, and live outside your comfort zone.  When I was younger the saying "do what scares you" never made any sense, but now I get it. The growth, not only creatively but mentally, is exponential.  As creatives, we all must grow,  investing in yourself and your career is never going to lead you in the wrong direction. This is what creative missions are all about. 

Whether you are a photographer, stylist, calligrapher, and no matter if you have been in business 6 months or 16 years, it is important to know the value of growth.  I stash away personal trip money to go on a creative mission at least once a year, but none the less traveling is expensive. For those who have kids and full-time jobs, time is also a huge factor as well. I totally get it! But...I will also tell you that, again, investing back into yourself will only get you that much closer to where you want to be in your career.  If that goal is going full time, breaking into the luxury market, or simply expanding your marketing radius, there isn't a better way to do it. Believe me, leaving home for me is quite the challenge and I pretty much cry every time I leave, but once I get to where I am going I am ready for the adventure. 

This is just some food for thought on this Tuesday afternoon.  I hope you all will get to experience a creative mission and feel the value of it for yourself. 

Comment below and tell me about you creative missions! Here are some snaps from mine! Enjoy!

Why The Vero Workshop?

The Vero workshop has been a dream of mine for a long time;  Not only for just the actual event but of the entire movement.

First off, I would love to start with the question that I am sure you are all asking yourself..."Who are you to host such an event and what are qualifies you to do so?!".  Great question, let's talk about it! You see, I don't think I am anyone special, I just believe in something so big that I have to go after it. I am just a girl who lives on a farm with her husband and a crazy amount of animals, who takes photos for a living.  Not so glamorous right? Well it's the truth.  I am not one to tell you all of my credentials on why you should pay to come to this workshop. That is not what Vero is or about. Now, with that being said, I do believe in my work and my talent. I believe that this is what I have been put on this planet to do. So, I am not totally dogging myself but, I am just being honest. When I first graduated art school, I was like a fish out of water on what to do, where to turn, and how to build my business.  Thank god for my darling mother who helped me with the business side, but she couldn't find my clients for me. Now we are talking the year of 2010, just for perspective, things in the wedding industry were much different than now.  I would knock on photographers' doors, only to be ghosted or have the door slammed in my face.  I did not know anything about the wedding industry and no one was willing to help me. Okay, this is not a sob story but you need to know this to appreciate the rest of the story.  I had attended many interviews with publications, ad agencies, and anyone who needed a photographer.  One interview in particular was quite strange.  He loved my senior gallery show images and wanted to take them with him to show his boss and this would secure my job with this company.  I passed the images over to him, only to never hear from him again.  The images were printed in the publication without my knowledge or consent. I called the man who interviewed me, only to have him continuously tell me how ungrateful I was and that I would never make it in this business. I cried and cried and cried. "How did this happen? Why am I so stupid?" I asked myself 100 times. Because I didn't have anyone to tell me any different.  Someone who was in the industry, someone who had my back, someone who I looked up to and go to for anything! Now granted, my mom and dad did tell me that was not a good idea...but you catch my drift. Not only were these things happening to me, but I had a very small amount of people in my life who supported what I was trying to do. People would say, "You really think you can make money doing that?" I am the kind of girl that if you doubt me, I am going to prove you wrong. Promise! Friends, family, and even my husband/then boyfriend, so when anything bad happened, they would be of no help and really only made it that much worse.

Later in my career, after the wounds of my experiences healed, I was booking weddings, family sessions, and setting up styled shoots on my own.  I attended multiple retreats and workshops on my own and I always left wishing that experience could continue,  that those relationships with my mentors would continue.  It was almost as if like, "well we got your money, you got your experience, now it's time to go.".  Which is fine, but I wanted something more.  I wanted to feel that I had those people to turn to in times of struggle, but instead I got weird vibes and zero willingness to help me in any capacity. Sorry, but that just isn't right.

When I say that Vero is a movement not just an event, I totally mean it. It's a place that fosters true and authentic relationships.  I strive to bring the absolute best creatives in the industry to teach and help you grow your business into something you have always imagined. The BEST part about them, is that they are all there for YOU. To genuinely help you in any way that you need. I am a part of this team as well, and my promise to you is that I will always reach out my hand to you in time of need, in time of success, in time of sadness, whatever the case may be. This is why Vero is so special. It's from the heart.

Now that we have all of that craziness out of the way, I want to BRAG on one of my last Vero attendees!  Carolina submitted a letter to me to win a seat at the workshop, and her letter brought me to tears for all the right reasons.  Carolina is just like me, she follows her heart 110%.  When I got to meet her in person I knew she was someone who was so incredibly special. Once the day was done, her words of thanks brought me to tears yet again, she was so genuine. Carolina and I had many phone dates and face time sessions after the workshop, which I have tried to do with everyone. The best news came this past Monday when Carolina wrote to me:

Kelly! Thank you so much for your wishes, I am so excited this morning, after trying submitting with no luck, I decided to give it a last try and today I received an email from the Editor of Ruffled blog telling me Vero Workshop has been accepted for publication!! All this thank you to you! I am telling you my Brides are getting Inspired and I am getting hired! Last month I booked 5 weddings for January and this month I am going in two, 3 more to reach my Goal, Kelly this would no be possible without you!!!! I wanted to tell you right away!!!! will be published by 02/17/2017. Kelly your words of encouragement stayed in my head, I did not get discouraged for the previous times it was rejected, I will be forever grateful friend!

I was blown away! Truly! It warmed my heart so much to know that I had something to do with her following her passion and succeeding! This is why Vero is so incredible. The best part is, is no matter where you are in your career you still need that support.  We ALL struggle. We ALL go through hard times.  Whether you are a month into your business or 10 years you still need that support to push you to the next level.

Carolina I am so proud of you! Thank you for having me in your life and I cannot wait to see what you do next! 

Thank you all for reading this! I hope that answers any questions about why Vero is so important and why it's not just an event but a movement. I truly hope you come to join us to experience the magic for yourself.

 Photography By: Carolina Epperson of Carography Studios as seen in Ruffled