At the start of 2011 I found myself at a crossroads. I had just finished my taxes for the previous year and was literally in tears. My 60+ hour work weeks, ridiculously late nights, and countless weekends spent with other people’s families, had translated into a whopping $15,000 after taxes.
Why had I worked SO hard for so little money?
When all was said and done, I was making roughly 15.00 an hour.
Good grief! I pay my house cleaner 17.00 an hour! This was not worth all of the hours I was away from my family (either physically gone or mentally gone.) I had two young kids at home and I was sadly missing their childhood.
It was at this point I had to make a decision. Was I going to keep going at this pace, risk the happiness of my family, and cross fingers that things would change? Or was I going to call it quits and take my toys and go home?
I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of quitting; not after how hard I worked (even though no one would have faulted me for packing it all up). Instead, I decided that if I was going to do this I was going to do it right.
As fate would have it, I had recently met Jeff Jochum. I instantly knew he had the right idea. And with his help, I was able to step back and take a long look at my business from a totally different perspective. I stopped focusing on the money itself and took a very thorough look at who I was and who I wanted as clients.
We started out by examining my existing clients. To my surprise, when I sat down with my client list and started reading over the names, I saw an emotional pattern emerge. The clients I had the best time with, the ones I loved working with, were people I could easily have a margarita with. They were like me. But the rest of my clients caused me some amount of sorrow – they were the ones that I couldn’t imagine having to survive a cup of coffee with, much less a cocktail!
Wow. How had I not noticed this before? It seemed so painfully obvious as I looked at my list because I realized that the ones I REALLY loved were the clients who hired me to go into their homes and photograph the bright spots in their seemingly crazy world.
Everything about these clients brought me joy… true joy. From phone calls, to emails, to asking for money, I was at ease with them. Oddly, not at all with the other clients (wedding, teens, professionals).
It was with this realization that a new Family Life photographer was born.
Fast-forward two years, and I am finally working happy. My life and my business don’t conflict any longer because I don’t feel the pressure to take every. single. job. that lands in my inbox. Now I only take the jobs that I WANT to do, and I easily say, “no, thank you” to the ones that don’t bring me joy. I feel in control for the first time since 2006.
What is my specialty? What do I declare to my clients? I specialize in Chaotic Families. They move me, and I don’t want to photograph anything else.
My business no longer runs me; I run it.
Specializing has given me power and confidence. I have a clear desire, message, and goal. It has allowed me to really be who I am and focus on families that are like me. This is powerful. Amazingly, overwhelmingly, powerful. I feel very blessed. And it all started by choosing.
Once I felt the power of choosing one thing and doing it really well, I can’t ever imagine going back to the way things used to be. And certainly not for 15.00 an hour. 😉