Earlier this year, I started a wedding photographer’s group on Facebook to to foster relationships and share business ideas among local wedding photographers. It’s also a way for me to open up communications to other newer photographers who might otherwise be reluctant to ask questions in a public form. And one of the questions I hear all the time is “when did you know to pull the plug and quit your full time job?” So I decided to write a blog post about how I knew it was time to “pull the plug!”
In order to talk about the end, I must start from the beginning. A little over 4 years ago, I had grown frustrated with my full time career as an architect. I loved the people I worked with, but it had become mundane, predictable, and uninspiring. The reason why I originally chose architecture as a career, was because I love the creative process. I am the kind of the guy that can get excited about an trash can if the design was beautiful. I was, and still am, fascinated by people’s ability to create beautiful things out of the most ordinary. However, when I started to spend 9 hours a day doing paperworks, staffing, budgeting, arguing with contractors…I became a boring paper pusher. I had completely lost touch with the creative process and I grew increasingly unsatisfied. Angry, was probably a better word. I became an angry person. Angry that I felt like I was ‘stuck’ at my day job. Sitting at my desk, staring at a computer screen, another excel spreadsheet. ONE.AFTER.ANOTHER. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The best way I could describe it would be that it was ‘soul draining.’ I felt like my soul was being sucked out of me. So I started looking for something outside of my day-to-day tasks for my creativity outlet. Naturally, since I had two baby girls, I started taking tons of photos of them. I rocked a Canon Powershot back then (pink, by the way).
Fast forward to sumer of 2009. I finally got the chance to shoot my first wedding. It was my wife’s cousin’s wedding up in Stockton, California. It was just a family event but I got to shoot family formals, some details, and generally just tried to capture the wedding as well as I could. And I was 100%, completely, unequivocally, hooked. I loved the whole creative process, instant gratification, and being able to work with happy people. It all just made sense to me. It was as if a light bulb went off. Then the following year, I booked my first paid wedding. And as they say, the rest is history. It has been an awesome run. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best people out there on the most important day of their lives. Met a lot of great people along the way, and most importantly, I figured out who I am. Who I’m really supposed to be.
I’ve always treated my clients and my business as if it were my only sole source of income. I think by implementing a system (which will be taught at my upcoming workshop for the serious photographers) and sticking to it since day 1, really helped to make the transition a lot more smoothly. I also knew I needed a plan to ensure long term success of my new career choice (and also the financial ability to keep feeding my kids happy meals). Here are the 5 steps I followed to ensure a smooth transition.
- Save, save & save. Put away as much money as possible. You should have at least 5 months of living expenses saved up.
- Restructure pricing & packages to allow long term growth.
- Write down tangible goals that are reasonable. And keep yourself accountable for those goals.
- Branching out to other markets in order to diversify portfolio.
- It’s never too early to start structuring an exit plan.
At my upcoming wedding photography workshop, I will be teaching the specifics of these five very important steps. I will also teach the following topics;
- How to create a brand with your images.
- Standing out in a saturated market.
- How to correctly price yourself.
- How I don’t spend 1 penny on advertisement.
- Website/work critique
- Posing & directing clients
- Composition like no other.
- How to correctly use natural light, so it works for you, not against you.
- What to say during a consultation.
- Album sell strategy
- Social Media Integration
- Stylized shoot.
Lastly, I will share with you guys the biggest mistake I made. It was timing. I quit my job towards the end of the year. Yes, around holidays. Not a lot of brides are busy booking photographers towards the end of the year. A lot of people are more occupied to prepare for holidays, buying christmas presents, paying property taxes..etc.. A better time to quit would have been February or March, right before wedding season gets into full swing here in California. December to Valentine’s day is when a lot of couples get engaged, and they are all wedding venue shopping. Photographers included.
Are you ready to pull the plug and live your dream? My workshop will be the best investment you can make for your business. If you are a serious photographer, you will find that I share real world experience and real business strategies. Success doesn’t happen because you want it to happen. It happens because you are willing to let go of your fear. I will share with all the attendees how I was able to let go of the fear of failure and fear of “what if I’m just not good enough.” Visit the official website for all the information. www.jeremychouworkshops.com
I want to end with this quote by the Author Norman Vincent Peale.
Fear is never a reason for quitting; it is only an excuse. – Norman Vincent Peale.
*** You can win a free seat to the workshop by visiting Le Magnifique! Visit the blog post for all the details on how to enter!