If you ever opened a Facebook group dedicated to newborn photography and wondered why you don’t have it all figured out while (almost) every other photographer has, I have 3 reminders for you:
1 – You are not alone
What you see on social is only a glimpse of other people’s reality. Of course, not everybody around you is lying about their business (and life) – but we all feel compelled to share our best, especially in spaces like (Facebook groups) where we fear other people’s judgement.
Even those photographers who’ve been successful for years don’t have it ALL figure out. You grow and face new challenges, new unknowns and new fears.
https://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/newborn-photographer-mindset.jpg13201980giuliabigihttps://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GB-Logo-Final-1.pnggiuliabigi2021-09-18 17:00:572021-09-18 17:05:253 REMINDERS FOR WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU “SHOULD HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT”
You know that feeling when you “end up” on your competitors’ page and all of a sudden a thousand anxious thoughts fill your head?
“I really need to step up my game.“
“I should be posting more.“
“She’s got double my followers, she’s probably got an inbox full of enquiries – god, I really need more bookings, things have been slow the last few weeks.“
“That post is good, and why is she getting so many comments?? She is good.”
And so on.
It’s all good to say you should not compare yourself to others, but in the age of social media sometimes it’s really inevitable. We are on each other’s faces – or feed – almost all the time.
If it’s not a post on a group it’s an ad, or a recommendation, or whatever else.
But if comparison is (almost) inevitable, you have a choice over what happens next.
If you are still at a stage where those anxious thoughts follow you to bed – breathe, please. You have time.
Step away, close your laptop, throw your phone away (figuratively!) and forget about it all for a while.
Focus on what you have achieved so far. Chances are, it’s pretty fucking amazing.
Go back to where you started, how many things you have figured out. Go back to when your page had 15 followers and you had no solid plan to get more. Go back to shooting for free for family and friends.
Everything that’s happened between there and now, including taking your business through months of lockdowns and no shooting, it’s yours. You have built it.
And you will keep doing the same. It’s going to be ok.
If, instead, you have already mastered the art of “staying sane when your demons come visit”, I have a challenge for you.
Learn to keep your eyes open. Don’t run.
Learn to stare those demons in their eyes – and see what they have to teach you.
Learn from your fear.
Learn to sit in the eye of the storm, stand in that space between “she’s better than me, I am going to fail” and “fuck it, who cares” and see if there is a lesson in there for you.
That fear might be showing you something that you know, deep inside, you have not mastered yet.
Something you are missing, or have been neglecting for a while.
An “I keep meaning to…” or “I really should be…”
Whatever that is, deep inside you know you’ll have to face it, at some point.
https://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/grow-your-photography-studio.jpg13201980giuliabigihttps://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GB-Logo-Final-1.pnggiuliabigi2021-09-01 21:59:272021-09-02 05:51:24“I KNOW I SHOULDN’T BE LOOKING AT MY COMPETITORS, BUT…”
There I am, slightly (errrr) overworked, slightly frustrated and anxious because… well, how is everybody else getting so many clients and charging SO MUCH MORE than I am?
Notification: new email.
A client asking me to do something that is not really part of my job – and of course, taking for granted I’ll do it anyway.
The above, of course, is followed by a 45 minutes internal rant, performed while pacing up and down the living room whispering to myself “this is ridiculous” and angrily typing the whole story on my phone for my best friend to read.
Eventually, I decide that NO, it’s not gonna happen. I need to stand up for myself, set boundaries and stop letting people take advantage of me.
It’s a big NO, no no no.
It’s my business, my rules.
… maybe I could make a little exception and DO IT, but make it clear that I would NOT be doing it again.
After all, I am not that busy and I want clients to love working with me. Right? Also, deep inside I know I am charging a lot of money… maybe too much.. What if she gets upset and starts complaining and wants her money back?
Come on, it’s gonna take 30 minutes max – surely it’s worth it if it helps me keep the client?
“When we asked people why they hesitate to set boundaries, the number one answer that emerged from the research was, “I don’t want to make people mad, disappoint others, or make them stop liking me”.
[…] What’s really interesting is that when we asked the same participants to describe or explain the consequence of not setting boundaries, the overwhelming response was resentment. Followed by anger. Followed by frustration.”
Failing to set boundaries can not only affect our mental and physical health but also eat away our ability to see our own business as an enriching and enjoyable part of our life.
But we all know that, right?
And still, for most of us “setting boundaries” feels like a constant struggle.
A MATTER OF POSTURE
Ever caught yourself all hunched over your desk, and reacted by – inadvertently – tensing all of your muscles in an attempt to sit up straight… just to end up slumping forward again within 10 minutes?
This very much reflects how I used to deal with boundaries in my early days in business – alternating between collapsing and posturing.
Collapsing is giving in to all requests and it often comes from our desire of being liked, of feeling needed, and from our lack of confidence. Collapsing is compromising our needs and integrity out of fear (of losing a client, of facing uncomfortable conversation, of disappointing others…): we keep giving more, so that the person in front of us will appreciate us more, like us more.
We keep giving in, and giving more, even when that means sacrificing something that is important to us.
We keep saying yes, stretching ourselves and neglecting our needs until we eventually “snap”… and lean into the opposite, the “I won’t be a victim anymore”.
Frustrated and exhausted, we go from collapsing to posturing.
Posturing is all about force is our “as previously discussed”, “as per the contract you have signed” – it is overselling, acting superior and wanting to feel important.
RIGHT… BUT I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW TO SET BOUNDARIES
So what is the alternative to all of this?
If you have ever had to work on your posture or practiced yoga, you already know the answer: force and tension won’t take you far, but finding your core will.
As a business owner, you find your core when what you do and how you do it are perfectly aligned with who you are, and deeply rooted into why you are doing it.
As a business owner, finding your core comes from choosing to walk a path you can truly own as yours.
“Stress is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are” (Chinese Proverb)
When our actions and decisions come from such place we become beautifully strong and equally flexible.
And so do our boundaries.
“Did you just say… flexible?”
Yes, I did. Make your boundaries and give yourself permission to make exceptions.
People have this idea that being “good” and valuing yourself meaning making rules and rigidly keep them – no matter what.
Truth is, the secret to creating proper boundaries is to ensure they are strong and rooted in your beliefs, in your core, but not so rigid that they easily break under pressure.
But how do you decide when to bend a boundary, when is it ok to make an exception?
The answer is simple: when it feels right to you.
Trust your intuition, trust that voice inside you.
If all that voice is saying is “don’t even think about it, you don’t even WANT to work with this person anyway” – STOP. Breathe.
“No” is the right answer. And one that doesn’t need to be justified or explained.
And by the way, my favourite “no” answer comes from Shonda Rhimes: “I am unable to do that”.
It just feels right and complete to me. It feels good.
AND WHAT ABOUT SAYING… YES?
“Yes” is also an answer that does not need to be explained or justified.
So when it feels right to you to bend your boundaries, just do it. Know that you don’t have to be ashamed or justify it – to your photography friends, to your favourite Facebook group or to your mentor.
https://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Boundaries-business-photography-studio.jpg11281690giuliabigihttps://growyourstudio.photography/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GB-Logo-Final-1.pnggiuliabigi2021-08-30 06:40:012021-09-19 13:17:24THE PROBLEM WITH BOUNDARIES – HOW (AND WHEN) TO SAY “NO”
For some of us, the idea of having phone calls with leads can be anxiety-inducing, and even if you have been doing it for a while you could still wonder whether you are “doing it right”.
There are two common traps we have the tendency to fall into:
1- We feel that the goal of the call is to convinceour potential client of something: book the session, buy wall art, etc;
2 -As a result of the above, we often overwhelm with words the person on the other end of the phone.
If any of this sounds a bit like you, there are 3 steps you can take to immediately improve your approach, and these take us back to the idea that growing a business means building relationships (more on this HERE).
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PERSON ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PHONE
Before asking about the colour of their nursery, how they want to display their images, spaces for wall art, try to answer this question: “What is more important to your prospect when buying what you sell?”.
Knowing what is important to them will help you understand what to focus your conversation on, and also establish whether they are a good fit (see below).
Let me clarify with an example.
Baby’s mum and dad are both originally from France. Their families and friends, including baby’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc are all there.
This might even be the biggest motivation for booking a session: to have photographs they can share with their family and friends abroad to feel closer to them.
Now imagine you spending most of your phone call talking about wall art for their home, while your competitor (having discovered what’s important to the client) chose to focus on extras like additional personalised USBs they could send home, digital slideshows or even albums and other products delivered to the grandparents.
Who do you think they would instantly love?
Who would make them more excited?
And who do you think would be more likely to get not only the booking, but a bigger sale in the end?
Now, the easiest way to understand what is important to your leads is to simply ask them.
“Over the years I have learned that parents have different ways of thinking about their session, some envision beautiful wall art they can show to family and friends, some are doing it to create memories for the baby and so on… can you tell me more about what is important to you?”
Of course, you don’t need to use these exact words. Make it yours, and you will see how easy it is to connect with your people once you have the answer, as opposed to trying to sell your clients something without knowing exactly what they are looking for.
ESTABLISH WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE A GOOD FIT
Going back to our previous example, you might be thinking “Well I don’t want to sell digitals, so they would not be my ideal client anyway”.
Great, it would be even more important for you to discover that information and let the client know that you might not be the right person for them. If you have ever worked with someone that really was not your client, you’ll understand how important this is.
SET BOUNDARIES AND CLARIFY WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
We all hate chasing clients, and clients hate being chased.
Before ending the call, define exactly what is going to happen. Here are a couple of scenarios you might find useful:
“I’ll speak to my partner and let you know”
“That’s perfect, I will email you now and then try to call you next Tuesday.
Can I please ask you to email me back, should you decide not to go ahead? I want to ensure I don’t keep trying to contact you again if you are not interested”
If the baby has already arrived and you have a very limited time to get the family in the studio.
“Ok, if Wednesday 10:30am works for you I will hold the date for 48 hours to give us time to get you booked in.
I am about to email you a recap of what we have discussed, so you have all the info in writing. I will also send you a second email with the contract, and invoice for your deposit/session fee.
Should I not hear from you within 48 hours I will only contact you once again to let you know I am closing your enquiry and cancelling your reservation.”
When I first started in business I had a 6-page script to follow for my calls. A perfectly designed tool for sales.
And I hated it.
Fast forward to today, I can unequivocally say that the non-scripted approach I have taken after using my perfect script less than 5 times has been an irreplaceable tool to learn who my clients are, what motivates them, what language they use and – ultimately – to make selling a genuine and easy process.
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