How the heck did you get started?! I get this question pretty often. And let me just start by saying that Instagram can certainly make it look like someone you look up to just snapped her fingers and suddenly she was an overnight success. But the obvious truth is that we don’t see everything that goes on behind the scenes. And it’s almost as if time passes so much more quickly from the lens of social media. The same way you see your friend become “Facebook official” with their boyfriend and the next thing you know they’re married + having babies. It’s like we blink and so much has happened! So I understand why I get this question all the time…
Everyone’s story is different, and we are meant to be on our own timelines, take certain paths, and encounter different experiences to get us where we are today. However, here are my TOP TIPS for getting started on a dream of yours:
1. JUST START.
Buy the camera. Watch a YouTube tutorial. Follow someone who inspires you. Small steps are still steps and they matter more than you realize! You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing to start without being an overnight expert. In fact, if you wait until you’re “ready” to finally take the first step, I can guarantee you “ready” will NEVER come. We are lifetime learners and we will never be 100% ready for anything. The longer we delay starting, the more learning opportunities we are missing from simply being in it, and with experience comes expertise. That is truly the only way!
You don’t have to formally create a company (if you’re a solo entrepreneur) in order to start your business. It can seem really daunting to have to register as an LLC or something along those lines. And it’s okay if you don’t necessarily want to start with that right off the bat, especially if there is any second thought that you might change your mind after making your passion into your career. However, if your business does take off and/or you are bringing in a significant amount of revenue, it may be wise to register for an LLC to protect your personal assets. This way your personal assets are protected should anyone ever come after business.
2. LET GO OF THE FEAR OF JUDGEMENT
Everyone has to start somewhere. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to have it all figured out in order to get started. So it is important to walk into your endeavor knowing you are good enough and worthy enough to be taking that first step. But it is also important that you walk in with a sense of vulnerability to accept that you do not know everything, and you will take each learning curve as an opportunity for growth!
When it comes to the judgment from others, I can promise you that no one who is doing MORE than you will ever put you down. There is no such thing as perfect, and it is impossible to please everyone. You may or may not have people in your close circle, your audience, or your immediate community who may question your decisions. But their own thoughts and opinions are none of your business! Do not let that negativity stop you from pursuing your dream.
There will always always always be obstacles that come up along the way as an entrepreneur. It’s up to us to continue to push through those things as they arise because the love of what we do and our personal drive is enough to persevere. But I can 100% guarantee you there will be WAY more people who will support you, encourage you, and will be cheering you on than those who may try to bring you down. Even if you do receive any negativity from others, those same people will be looking at you tomorrow, in a few months, in a few years with admiration WISHING they had the guts to take a big leap as you did!
3. SPEAK IT INTO EXISTENCE
Start putting yourself out there AS a photographer, a speaker, a coach, a wedding planner, or whatever it is you want to be. The world is not going to know what you have to offer unless you show them and tell them! For example, just because you start sharing pretty images does not mean your audience will just assume you are now a photographer. Sometimes it feels like we may be stating the obvious, but the only way to receive ANY clients is to let them know who we are and what we do in the first place! This is important.
4. DO ONE SMALL THING EACH DAY
Start by doing ONE small thing each day to take you toward your goal. Examples:
- Change your Instagram bio
- Create a website + work on one page at a time (you don’t have to publish it right away!)
- Watch a free online training
- Write one single blog
- Reach out to someone you look up to in the industry + ask if they offer mentorships, internship programs, etc.
- Post a photo on Instagram that provides value to your ideal client in the caption
- Show up in your stories on video — it doesn’t have to be business-related all the time (in fact, it shouldn’t be!)
- Watch a YouTube tutorial on how to create a pricing guide on Canva
- Literally ANY small step that will give you the knowledge, sharpen a skill, provide value, and/or make your business seen
5. CONSISTENCY IS EVERYTHING
Start building your brand to be recognized as an expert at what you do. If you only post a photo of your work every 3 months, between time passing + algorithms, no one is going to remember. Show up and KEEP showing up! Even if it may seem like you are being repetitive, I promise you are not. Your audience probably follows a ton of people, and with the algorithms, we know for a fact that every single one of your followers is not seeing every single one of your posts. Continue to show your face in your stores so your audience can learn to know, like, and trust you and consider you an expert at what you do (even if you don’t believe that for yourself yet)! Even if you are only one step ahead of someone, your unique experience is valuable to them!
For example, if you are wanting to enter the wedding photography industry, post a photo of your work. In the caption, write about the benefits of a first look. Even if you have only photographed a styled shoot or second shot for another lead photographer, your ideal client most likely has not been in your shoes behind the camera. Any insight you can give them will serve them in some way!
I could go on and on here, but these are the biggest takeaways I can give to you from building my business from the ground up. I get so excited to help other women step into their dreams too because I know it CAN be done! That’s why I am SO pumped to be offering mentorships this year. Education was HUGE for me when it came to growth. So maybe we can take that first step of yours together?? What’s one fear of yours that’s holding you back from taking a leap?
Chelsea, thanks so much for passing on these tips! They are incredibly helpful, and I’m sure other people will find them useful as well. I especially appreciate the tip about changing my IG bio – that’s something I would definitely consider doing. Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge with others. I’m sure we’re all better off for it. 🙂