A Year In Review: What 2017 Taught Me About Running My Own Business
Over the course of 2017, I’ve grown so much as an artist and as a business owner. I get so excited when I think about how far I’ve come over the last year! I have so much to share in this post that it’s hard to know where to begin, so I'm going to break it down in the simplest way I can. Let’s start off with the five best decisions I made for my company in 2017
My Top 5 Business Decisions
#1 I got a coworking space.
Coworking is a style of work that involves multiple companies using a shared workplace. I am currently renting a desk at Makers in Downtown Seattle. David, the new owner, is so friendly--and he’s a 2018 wedding client of mine! One of the biggest pros about having a coworking space is that I have opportunities to meet new people in a warm, professional environment.
It’s way better than a coffee shop where you have no control over the distractions around you. If you’ve been thinking of getting into a coworking space, I highly recommend it! It's totally worth it. I find myself feeling way more productive on days when I work in the space and it helps me cope with the loneliness that often comes with working for yourself.
#2 I've started an internship program!
Over the years, quite a few second shooters have come in and out of my life, so I set up an internship program to provide a bit more stability. At this point in my career, I have 10 years of experience and an increasingly busy schedule, so it’s a win-win! I get some much-needed (and much-appreciated) help and a fledgeling photographer gets to learn all about wedding photography as they start their career.
This has been a huge success because it has brought one of my favorite people into my life: Tanya! I can’t even begin to describe the amount of joy this amazing young woman has brought me. She grew so quickly in her role, in fact, that I hired her as my full-time second shooter! She is now shooting her own weddings, and trust me, she is so good that I plan to hire her to shoot my wedding in Mexico one day.
If you want to learn more about how to set up your own internship program, I’ll be covering the ins and outs of hiring and supporting interns in a future post and video! In the meantime download my exact copy edit used that helped me find my first intern.
#3 I set up my CRM.
This year, I set up my Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with Dubsado for client management purposes. Don’t ever underestimate the value of a good CRM. Although there’s a bit of a learning curve as far as how to use the program, once you figure it out, the system will give you amazing insights into customer engagement.
And if you use a system like Dubsado, much of this can be automated. It’s seriously a life-saver! If you’re interested in trying Dubsado or have any questions for me, leave a comment down below. I’d be happy to help!
# 4 I’ve started outsourcing.
As of now, I’m finding freelancers via Fiverr and Upwork. These two great companies have introduced me to so many awesome people. In fact, I’ve met a few people who I've absolutely loved and have since asked to join my team! Any business person will tell you the best thing you can do is learn to delegate early on. It’s the best thing I’ve done this year, hands down.
#5 I began using Trello.
Trello, a virtual task manager, is amazing for streamlining workflow, especially when you bring new people on board. Let’s just say that if you love Pinterest, you're going to love Trello. It comes with a very, very short learning curve, and I actually use Trello boards to do pretty much everything. I use it to make to-do lists for team members and share tasks on other platforms like Google Docs in one neat, organized place.
Want To Get Started? Grab My Most Used Trello Boards Freebies Here
And the Julianna J Photography additions don’t stop there! Over the course of 2017, we also added short film and photobooth services to our repertoire. I’m so excited to talk about these new projects, and I’ll be writing about them in an upcoming post.
The Road Ahead
When the new year rolls around, we all think about where we’re headed. As for us, there’s so much in the pipeline in 2018. Let’s start with our biggest announcement.
We’re staying in Seattle!
One of the most exciting changes we’re making in 2018 is exclusively shooting weddings in Seattle and the surrounding areas. We have chosen to stop shooting weddings far outside of Seattle unless it's for someone we personally know or it's a unique situation.
What can I say? We just love this place! I personally love it so much that I don't want to leave sometimes in the summer because it's so beautiful. The adoration I feel for this city is what inspired my decision. I’m beyond thrilled for us to focus all of our energy on Seattle weddings!
We’re cutting back to one wedding per week.
I made this choice so that I can give each couple my full attention and dedication. We spend a week before the wedding going over every little detail about the couple and their big day. Then we spend the week after the wedding working on all the photos so that we can mail them out within 21 days. We’re really known for our 21-day turnaround process! We know that giving ourselves plenty of time and leaving no stone unturned is what our couples deserve.
We’re making teaching a priority.
I started a YouTube channel and I'm going to be using that channel and my blog to create free resources for photographers. Whether you’re just starting your photography career and need to learn what it takes to build your brand, or you’re a little more established and you want to give your company a boost, we want to make sure that you have the tools you need to do so.
What’s really exciting is that we plan to create content that teaches business owners more about things like delegation, internship programs, and outsourcing, to name a few. You can’t build a house without a good foundation, and the same is true for a successful business. I truly believe that nailing down your workflow early on is crucial to your success, and helping young photographers do that is so important to me.
We’re building a vendor resource library.
My goal going forward is to create content with local vendors to showcase everything Seattle’s wedding community has to offer and share that content on YouTube and my blog. We’ll team up with vendors to conduct video interviews and create blog features to help our couples build their dream weddings.
I firmly believe that people lucky enough to live in Seattle don’t need to look any further than their own city! Everything they could possibly want for their wedding is right here, and I want to use my platform to showcase that.
Now, for the fun part! Here are some of my favorite behind-the-scenes shots of me and Tanya from 2017. This year really has been a blast, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.