Just Because You CAN Doesn't Mean You Should

Just because you do something well doesn't mean you have to turn it into a business.

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If you're guilty of trying to turn every idea or skill you have into a profit, you're not alone. Creative people with an entrepreneurial spirit often have so many ideas floating around and unique talents that I can see why so many businesses or "hobbies" are started, stopped, started again, changed, etc. You then get stuck in the rat race of never feeling like you're accomplishing anything. Is this you? 

Trust me, I've been there. And unfortunately trying to turn every interest I've ever had into a business never got me closer to where I wanted to be.  As a creative, I'm sure you have a lot of interests, skills, and talents, but for long term growth sometimes it's important to let hobbies remain hobbies. If you're tracking with me, I think you know what those hobbies turned business turned business-that-didn't-work are, right? I do. I have a whole bin of leggings and work out tops that are collecting dust because I thought turning my health and fitness hobby into an online shop was a good idea ;). So why do I love the mantra "just because you can doesn't mean you should"? Because it's kept me focused on my end goal when things get tough, when business slows, or when I get bored.  Below I've highlighted three reasons why it's important to not pursue every idea and talent that pops in your head. 

1. Find your focus. 
When you choose one or two things you do really well and focus your energy, time, and talent on that thing, you clear your head of other distractions that come with doing several things at once. Focus takes discipline, and discipline creates good habits, and good habits create success. So find your focus, be disciplined, and you'll be surprised at the growth over time.  

2. Long term growth. 
I'm a believer that hard work over the long haul creates long term success. It's easy to want everything to happen right now, and if it doesn't happen right now, you change your mind to see if something else will make you money, right? The problem is that it's not sustainable. Finding your focus and choosing that over the long haul naturally creates long term growth. It gives you time to make mistakes, to learn from them, to fight through the hard times, and to see success as an end result. 

3. Brand consistency.  
Whether you're an individual, a small business or a large company, brand consistency is so important to long term success. If you're always starting new things or changing based on what feels good at the time, you'll never build a strong brand or following. People want to know who you are and what you're about. To some extent, they like predictability.  

Focus takes discipline, discipline creates good habits, and good habits create success.

Again, these are just my personal thoughts based on experience over the last 10+ years. Everyone is different, and some people thrive on doing many things at once. I thought I did. But over time, I realized I couldn’t sustain turning all of my interests into businesses. So I decided that finding my focus and being disciplined over the long haul will allow me to accomplish my dreams and goals without going crazy. :)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Defining Your Enough

How much is enough?

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This is such a loaded question, right? Enough what? Money, happiness, down time, work, etc? When we talk about enough, it doesn't always mean dollar signs, but we do need money to survive right?  Over the years, my definition of "enough" has changed from just focusing on the numbers to focusing on quality of life as well. So below I've outlined 3 simple ways to pursuing your definition of enough. 

1. Know your financial needs. Then set your number. 
In order to know how much money is enough each month, start by writing down how much you actually need to cover your basic needs (for example: mortgage, daycare, utilities, groceries, insurance, etc.) Once you know this number, you then know how many services, products, or projects you need to book each month. From there you can set your monthly financial goal. Knowing this number opens up space to pursue enough in other areas. 

2. Define your personal needs. 
What I mean by this is all the needs you have outside of your work. Your wellbeing. The things that bring joy. It could be working out, cooking, playing with your kids, going on vacation, reading, shopping, etc. The point is to write down the things that bring joy and then make intentional time for those things every week.
I use to feel immense guilt if I went to the gym for an hour while my husband was with our son. But then I realized that working out and being healthy is something that brings me joy and something that makes me a better wife and mom when I am home. My husband also knows this and therefore is supportive and encouraging when I get to have time to myself. So that time working out is not only special, it also brings me closer to living my "enough". It's a win-win. 

3. Be ok with your enough.
Once you've defined your enough including your finances and your personal needs, be intentional about being ok with that. This might be harder than the first two because it's a mental shift. It's so easy to think more = happiness. And It's ok to keep pursuing excellence and growth (in fact, you should!), but at some point, enough is enough, right? Pursuing your definition of enough = pursuing joy over the long haul. 

If you never define your enough in all aspects of life, you might find yourself never being satisfied with anything. You will always be jumping from thing to thing searching for a happiness that ultimately never happens because it will never be enough. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you find your happiness? What is enough for you? 

If you never define your enough in all aspects of life, you might find yourself never being satisfied with anything.

Weekend Brunch with NOOKU

Sometimes the best shoots are the ones that happen naturally, with good friends and good food and drink. A few months ago we did just that. We had just moved back from Waco, TX (to hear a little bit about that story go here), just barely settled into our new/old house, and we got together with some friends for a Sunday brunch, featuring Nooku Bourbon Cream. Nothing was perfect about this at all. Our house was still not unpacked, the food was nothing fancy, but the coffee was hot and our friends who gathered made this shoot what it is. And all those imperfections are often what make lifestyle photography successful. Imperfect is real and good and honest. That's what I want to be about.  

Shot for: Nooku Bourbon Cream
Services: Photography and Creative Direction
Food/pastry props: Bindle Coffee
Location: My house - to book it for a shoot go here. Also, we've been renovating the past few months so it looks a little different now than when we did this shoot, but you get the idea ;). 

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Part Two: I Know I'm Talented, But Why Am I Not Successful?

Hey guys! Thanks for sticking with me on this little series.

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You see, the whole inspiration behind this blog series is because of a conversation I had with my husband. I was asking the question, "Why do I not feel successful?" He went on to tell me how much potential I have, how talented I am, and a bunch of other nice things. He's clearly my biggest fan ;). The problem I was wrestling with is that I know I have potential. I know I have talent. These are things I've worked really hard on. BUT, I also know that I'm not great at being patient. I get restless easily, and because I know I'm capable of juggling several things, I tend to get distracted. This brings me to the second part of this series. Persistence, Patience, and Consistency. All three of these disciplines have worked together toward success in my life.  
Call it PCP or PPC or however you want to say it, but what I've found is that when I am patient with the process, persistent when things get hard, and consistent over the long haul that is when I've experienced the most success in whatever I'm doing. Some people say "just do one thing and do it well", and while that sounds great, and for some people it is great, but for me I LIKE doing different things. I LIKE using a lot of different skills, and I LIKE multitasking. The key though for me is to remind myself in that whatever it is I'm doing I have to be patient, persistent, and consistent over the long haul in order to reach my fullest potential and to reach my definition of success. Does that make sense? 
So back to the question, "I know I'm talented, but why am I not successful?"
What I've learned are two things. First, clearly define YOUR definition of success. Not anyone else's. Then set goals to achieve that.  Second, stick to it with patience, persistence, and consistency. Pursue that thing even when it's hard and you want to throw in the towel or when you get bored and need to move on to the next thing. Trust me, I've been there and done that. 
Lastly, I know everyone is so different in their thoughts, personalities, jobs, and life. What works for me might not work for someone else. But I think this will at least start the conversation. Being honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses has been the biggest key for growth in my career and family life. So with all of that said, if you're struggling with the idea of success in your life, maybe read part one and then part two of this series and let it simmer a little bit. I have a feeling there might be a breakthrough for you in one way or another. Cheers! 

Annabode's Laundry Room Renovation

As a photographer of interiors, I get to see final projects, beautiful design, and well styled spaces. It's rare that I get to see the befores when everything is torn up, dirty, and old. Anna of Annabode + Co. recently shared the before and after of her laundry room renovation, and I was SHOCKED to see her laundry space before because the after was just SO GREAT. She teamed up with Semihandmade, and if you're not familiar with Semihandmade, they make beautiful doors for some of Ikea’s cabinet frames. It gives you the look of custom cabinets for a fraction of the cost!
After seeing this renovation, I can't wait to imagine what my laundry room could look like. After all, our laundry is of all places in the garage! ha! That's the beauty of an old home, right?
With all that said, take a peek at the after photos I did for her, and then head over to her blog to see the full post and ALL the sources she used. 

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Part One : I Know I'm Talented, But Why Am I Not Successful?

"I know I'm talented, but why am I not successful?"

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This is a statement I've run into time and time again. I've asked myself this, and I know other people have asked themselves this. People tell me I'm talented, and I know I'm talented. I know I am capable of doing a lot of different things. I'm not saying this in an arrogant way, it's just that I've worked tirelessly on my craft and skills to the point where I do feel good at them. And honestly, creative things and ideas have always come naturally for me. I know this isn't the case with everyone. So if I'm talented, gifted, or whatever you want to call it, I often found myself asking "why am I still struggling to be successful?!"

But then something shifted. I asked myself, What is success to me? To other people? I realized success means different things to different people, and I got so caught up in the comparison game that someone else's success story became my measure for success. When in fact, working 12-14 hour days, never seeing my family, hustling day and night for appearance and accolades and money wasn't my idea of success AT ALL. I've lived that life, and I don't want that life. So I started asking myself what success looked like. For me it means making enough money to live comfortably, but not lavishly. It means being done with work by 5:30pm so I can spend the evenings making a healthy dinner (and not a store bought pizza). It means having the flexibility to meet a friend for coffee on a Thursday morning. It means having a weekend free to play with my family and friends. It means doing great work that matters and doing work with clients that I am passionate about. It means working hard when I'm at work, and playing hard when I'm not. What does success look like for you? 

If we're always playing the comparison game, never defining our idea of success, I think we'll always be left also playing the "never enough" game. Never enough money, enough time, enough purpose, enough toys. The list is endless. And that road is a deep dark hole that I don't want to go down. 

So to recap the first part of this series, start by defining what success means to YOU. Not anyone else. One tip: get off of social media for a few days and really think about what success looks like in your life. Not just the amount of money you want to make, but what you want your day-to-day life to look like. By defining our individual ideas of success we can have a measurement, a goal, to reach for. And all of a sudden, it becomes enough.  

 

A 10 Year Recap

I've been a photographer and business owner for 10 years. It almost seems impossible to say 10 years because it has flown by. In those 10 years, my life and work have looked very different as I've navigated my way as a creative in a world where creativity is everywhere. Because I feel like I'm coming back to my roots so to speak, I thought a 10 year recap on my life as a business owner and photographer might be a good introductory blog post. I also know my life is not perfect, and I want other creatives to know that it's not always glamorous. But persistence and patience does pay off. 

10 years ago I was 22, just out of college and working for a real estate development company. I always knew I wanted to own a business some day, I just didn't know what that was. The company I was working for asked me to take photos of their houses and properties (because I was "artsy"). So I did, and I fell in love with it. I continued to work on my skills as a photographer, and I kind of became consumed with it. I mostly photographed weddings, families, and anything else I could get my hands on. Eventually I saved up enough money to quit my corporate job and start a real photography business with a real studio. 

About 5 or 6 years into shooting weddings, I got burned out. Not with photography, but with weddings. I was working 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week, and I was exhausted. With myself and with my work. I decided to switch gears a little bit, and the opportunity to open a women's retail store presented itself. Since I had been doing freelance photography with a boutique for the previous five years, I decided it would be a great fit with my skill set and a new challenge that I was craving. So I, along with a friend, opened Sunday Supply Co. in 2014. It was a dream. I loved every bit of it and felt like I was in my sweet spot. I was still working a lot, especially in the beginning, but I knew it would pay off. Unfortunately my family life was suffering. My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and my husband and I rarely saw each other. I hated the feeling of not being able to be there for the people that needed me the most because I was always working. I knew something had to give, and I was not about to let my family down. I decided to step away from Sunday Supply as an owner, and it was one of the hardest (and still is hard) moments in my career. I hated letting my business partner down, and I hated that I let myself down. Or so I thought at the time. 

The past 2-3 years have been a little all over the place creatively, but the one thing that has been consistent is photography. Instead of shooting weddings, I found that I really liked commercial photography, particularly food, interiors, fashion and lifestyle. As I quietly built my commercial portfolio, the opportunity to work for Magnolia came my way. I thought it would be a dream job! I accepted the job, moved my family 14 hours away, and soon realized the job was not the right fit for me or for my family. So I resigned, and we packed up and moved back to Colorado. There has been plenty of emotions the past couple months as you can imagine. Although I'm bummed it didn't work out, I'm glad we tried, because if we didn't take a risk we would have always wondered "what if". 

So now we're back in Fort Collins, the city we loved before and love even more now. It's our home. Our people are here. And our businesses are here. Since moving back, I've intentionally hit the reset button. I've spent time with my baby, spent time with my family and friends, and I've discovered that my dream job has always been right in front of me. Though I can wear many hats, I continue to find joy in being a photographer, creative director, and marketing strategist. For the first time in a really long time, I've been able to create the type of business that feels like me. It feels real, and it feels nice. It's taken 10 years to get here, but I'm finding that by developing my own style and aesthetic, I'm getting the right clients for the right price. And that, to me, is worth the last 10 years of ups and downs, taking risks, failing, succeeding, and ultimately finding myself as a creative and as a business owner. I never want to think I've arrived, and I don't think we ever do, but I like to think that I'm settling into my sweet spot again. And that's a really nice feeling. 

So if you've made it this far in my story, thank you! (I probably wouldn't have read something this long). Nonetheless, I felt the push to share my story the last 10 years and also introduce this blog as a place where I can show a more in-depth look at my work, share some business tips I've learned along the way, and maybe throw in a little bit of my lifestyle now and then (i.e recipes, life, home, and fashion). I'm excited to have you join me! 
 

I never want to think I’ve arrived, and I don’t think we ever do, but I like to think that I’m settling into my sweet spot again. And that’s a really nice feeling.