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by admin

Photography Business Boundaries

August 16, 2015 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Tips by admin

Today I want to talk to you about photography business boundaries, and boundaries in general. In the 16+ years I have been running my photography business, the thing that has wreaked to most havoc for me and my company, has been difficulties with boundaries. And, I believe, that if you have problems setting and keeping strong boundaries in your business and in your life, then getting your boundaries established and strong will be the single best way to improve your photography business.

Why do I say that? Because boundaries effect everything. Boundaries are the limits you set on outside influences. Boundaries are your first line of defense against invaders, and boundaries are your protection from harm. As creatives, we photographers tend to have more permeable boundaries than other people. And this can really get us into trouble. Here are some examples.

Pricing – pricing is the boundary you set on what your photography business’s products and services cost. Do you ever find yourself discounting your pricing when someone tells you that they cannot afford you? Do you set your pricing so low that you can’t earn a decent living? Do you fail to stand behind your pricing as being fair and appropriate for the service that you provide? Then you have a pricing boundary problem in your photography business.

Hiring, Training and Managing – your employee policies are your boundary for human resources in your photography business. Do you ever find it difficult to confront an employee that is taking advantage of you and your generosity? Do you have a hard time firing employees that are not doing their job? Do you avoid discussing issues like tardiness, absenteeism and insubordination, hoping it will just go away, or take care of itself? If so, then you have an human resources boundary problem.

Accounting – your accounting practices are the boundaries you set on where the income is coming from and where the money is spent in your photography business. Do you jump every time you see a cute new little prop pop up in your inbox? Do you set income and expense goals for your business, but always find yourself breaking your own rules. Does your expense column outweigh your income column? Then you have a boundary problem with accounting in your photography business.

Marketing – your marketing plan is the system you put in place to keep your income high enough to stay in business. Marketing effectively and consistently, with discipline, is quite possibly the MOST important boundary you need working well in your photography business. Do you plan to make a certain number of calls or visit a certain number of potential clients each week, and then chicken out? Do you find every possible excuse for why you are unable to create enough time to follow through with your marketing plan? Do you bury yourself in “research” or “education” to avoid marketing? If you do any of these things… and I’m sure you can think of plenty other examples, then you have a really big boundary problem in your photography business. And this boundary problem is YOU. You are unable to set limits on yourself, and follow through on your promises to yourself. And this, my friend, will destroy your photography business.

Time Management – how you manage the time you spend in your business and the number of hours you work are the boundaries you set on time management in your photography business. Do you find yourself working so many hours that your kids have given up trying to even get your attention? Is your workflow disorganized or not followed? Do you convince yourself that spending hours each day on Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram etc. is the best use of your marketing time? Do you try to do everything in your business yourself, never delegating or outsourcing, and continually running yourself ragged? If you have any of these problems, you have time management boundary issues in your photography business.

There are many other places that you need boundaries in your photography business, but these are some of the biggies. I have had problems in all of these areas in my business at one time or another. Photography business boundaries, or my lack of thereof, has caused a lot of damage. And, I don’t want these challenges to cause damage to your photography business.

So, what can you do? Well, the truth is, boundary issues are not quickly or easily dealt with. If you have boundary problems, they are, to some extent, part of your personality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements that will have a big impact. If any of the examples above ring true for you, you would be well served to find, and read a good book on boundaries. One of the best out there is “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud.

But, if practically everything above rings true for you, then you are probably experiencing significant difficulties in operating your photography business. And, you need to get help right away! One, two or three of these can cripple your business, but if you are having a hard time with all of them (to some degree) it will literally suck the LIFE out of you and your company.

If you are in this place, you are probably feeling overwhelmed, and maybe even hopeless. But there is hope.

I am offering a FREE 30 minute photography business coaching session to anyone who needs help right now with boundary issues. I am in the process of writing a book for photographers to specifically tackle these issues, both in their photography business, and in their life. If you would like to receive your FREE 30 minute coaching session, and/or are interested in participating in research for the book, please call me @ 512-997-7429 to schedule your appointment. All participants will remain anonymous.

 

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by admin

The Loss Leader in Photography

July 31, 2015 in Business Tips, How to start a photography business, photography education, Photography Entrepreneurship, Photography Marketing Tips, Photography Tips, Photography Workflow by admin

Today I want to talk to you about using a loss leader in your photography business.

The portrait industry didn’t start out using loss leaders, but once corporate, multi location studios began popping up everywhere, the loss leader became the name of the game for portrait photography. I imagine most of you already know what a loss leader is, but for those of you who don’t, this is how it works. You run an ad. It’s a very attractive ad, because it offers a ridiculous number of portraits for a very small price. The photography ad draws in lots of business! You take lots of pictures. You even sell some. It works, right?

Well, let’s look a little deeper. It’s called a loss leader because is leads your customers into the studio… but at a loss. A loss, you say? Yes… you see, you can’t possibly stay in business offering portraits for less than they cost you to produce them. So, why would anybody do that? The supposed logic behind this strategy is that you will attract lots of buyers, and you will, but the only way for you to keep from losing your shirt in the process is for people to buy more than the deal. If they don’t, you will spend more money than you make, and that’s a terribly bad losing strategy for any business. You might as well be sitting on your butt watching tv rather than taking pictures at a loss. So why did the photography industry build it’s entire marketing model on this strategy? It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? The reason is that it works… at least it did for a long time. And, not only for photographers. The big box stores still use this strategy all the time. They advertise a few items at a big discount, knowing they will lose money, just to get you into the store. Why? Because, when you take the time to get your kids dressed and into the car, to drive all the way to Walmart in 100 degree heat (in Austin anyway), you sure as heck aren’t going to leave the store with just that one little item on sale. So yay for Walmart. It still works for them, and probably will continue to do so.

But the loss leader doesn’t work for photographers. It worked for the big chains at one point, but even they can’t use it much anymore. Why? I believe there are several reasons.

1. Digital has made it possible for people to scan their photographs and make more themselves. When Olan Mills gave you one 8×10, they expected you would buy more for friends and family… and you did. But, when your client can essentially steal your images from you, they have no incentive to buy more. Even some people who would never consider taking a piece of candy from a grocery store without paying, won’t think twice about copying and distributing your images without permission or compensation to you. That’s not a judgement about the morality of our clients… it’s just a fact about the way most of our society has come to view digital images.

2. One of the main reasons why the loss leader works for big chains is that they are BIG. They can spread out the risk. If 100 people buy their deal, and only 50 of them buy additional items, they are probably still going to come out ahead. But if you, as a photographer, only do 10 sessions each week, and half of them only take the deal, well, how can I say it… You’re Screwed!

3. Your work is custom. It takes a lot of time, energy, skill and creatively to produce a portrait. When Walmart’s client doesn’t buy an additional item, they might lose a dollar or two. But when you give something away for free, or, God forbid, at a loss, you lose $100’s or $1000’s of dollars. Why? Because you are one person, spending a lot of dedicated hours on that one client’s portraits, and you are not making any money. You also have an opportunity cost, because you cannot photograph another client or work on a paying client’s images during that time period. Walmart can spread out that labor, but even if you have an employee or two, your risk is extremely high.

4. Probably worst of all the loss leader is … well… deceptive. People are getting more and more marketing savvy. They can smell a rat. And they already know that the loss leader is a rat. They know you will want them to buy something else. Heck, they know you “need” them to buy something else. Even if they have no idea how much you really should be charging for your work, they know it’s more than what you are advertising. This sets up an adversarial position between you and your client, a psychological tug of war, and a very messy situation for both of you in the ordering appointment. Even if you get away with it and they do buy, you probably won’t get this client back in the future, and they sure won’t recommend you to their friends, because they won’t want done to their friend what you did to them. Ick!

So, is there ever a time to use a loss leader? Sure! I just used it a couple of months ago… and very successfully. But my goal wasn’t to make money or even produce a profit at all. My goal was to get images for my marketing, and FAST! So, what did I do? I gave it all away. I ran a Facebook ad for a FREE newborn session with 5 high res digital files. WHAT, you say? Kate!?!?!? How could you do that? I told you, I needed marketing images, and fast. I had just returned from an amazing class with Julia Kelleher at Texas School on newborn photography, where I learned a TON of new tricks for photographing newborns. And, I wanted to completely update all of my marketing and pricing with beautiful new images that reflected my heightened skill level. I also needed a test run for my workflow. How long was it going to take me to do a session with all these new props and wraps and such? How would I track everything with all the new steps I was putting in place? Would I need an assistant? I had lots of questions that needed answers, and photographing a gazillion babies in a short amount of time was going to answer a lot of questions and provide me with exactly what I needed. So I did it. I photographed 22 babies in  about a month and a half. I processed every image myself, presented every image myself, charged, tracked, culled, backed up, and posted to Facebook every image… myself. And I got exactly what I needed from that campaign. Did I make a lot of money? No! I had a lot of people take their 5 free images and go. But I also had a bunch who bought additional photographs, because I did a really, really good job for them. So, I said it was a loss leader, but as you can see, it really wasn’t. Because I was compensated in many important ways. And, I wasn’t being deceptive. I really meant it when I told them they were not required to buy anything and I wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t. Because I meant it. I knew I was getting something as valuable, if not more valuable, than the money. I set up a complete newborn studio system that creates repeatable, consistently beautiful images, that thrill my clients in less than two months, and I couldn’t have done that without using my Facebook “loss leader” ad. Will I ever do it again? Probably not. Everything I needed from that ad I got photographing those 22 gorgeous babies. And, my work got MUCH better because of it. So, now I’m worth more.

The loss leader does permanent damage to your brand. If you train your clients to expect a deal, they will expect a deal, every time. Be straight with people about why you charge what you charge, and don’t discount it. Can you run a special every now and then. Sure. But I would run specials that add value, rather than take away money. Then it is more like you are giving gifts. And most clients would rather receive a gift than a “gotcha” any day.

 

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by admin

Marketing for Photographers

July 24, 2015 in Photography Marketing Tips, Photography Tips, Uncategorized by admin

What fishing on my vacation taught me about marketing for photographers.

I had the pleasure of spending a week and a half in Pennsylvania this month for my family reunion. My aunt and uncle live on a beautiful little lake out in the boonies, and I just love visiting them there! One of my favorite things to do is go fishing. It reminds me of fishing off my grandmother’s pier when I was a kid, and it’s a rare chance for me to relax and reconnect with nature for a while. This trip was no exception. Even though the entire family would be expected, my boys and I had almost a week before the rest of the family got there, and fishing was the first thing on our minds as we drove down the steep driveway to my aunt and uncles house.

But there was something different about fishing for me this time, and I don’t mean the fact that it took me three nights of basically no action before I landed my first large mouth bass. This time, while I was out there on the lake thinking about life and my photography business my mind wandered to marketing. I knew that I was going to return to Austin soon, and that my first priority would be marketing. So, I figured I had better put a little thought into it while I was waiting for the fish to bite. Both of my boys had abandoned me due to the slim pick-ins, so I was out there on the lake all by myself. The first real fish that we caught was a 15 inch bass that my 5 year old pulled in, to everyone’s amazement (before he decided he was “bored” and went back up to the house). The funny thing about this catch was that little Max caught it with a fake worm. Now, if you know much about fishing, you know that bass aren’t typically what you catch with worms. Sunnies is what you catch with worms. As a matter of fact, you can pull in sunnies one right after the other with live worms. Worms are what I learned to fish with as a kid. Practically all I ever caught from my grandmas lake was sunnies… because of the bait I was using. Later, when I was in high school, my grandmother got us some live minnows to fish with, and I caught my first bass. Wow! Was that ever exciting! I didn’t use minnows very often, but I had a lot more fun when I did, because the fish were so much bigger and better to eat. The other thing though about using minnows was that I caught less fish. Bass simply don’t bite as often as sunfish… or at least they didn’t where I fished. My grandmother’s lake was stocked with sunnies, and they seemed to be everywhere. The bass were few and far between.

So what does any of this have to do with marketing? Great question! A lot actually. Marketing is a lot like fishing. When you think about it, fishing for fish requires bait… so does marketing. If you don’t have the right bait, you might not get any bites at all. If you use worms, you will get lots of little fish, and if you use minnows or lures, you will catch a few bass. So how does the bait apply to marketing for photographers? Well, what kind of bait are you using to catch your clients? Are you using worms? What is the marketing equivalent of worms? I would say Groupon is a good example of a worm. You will attract lots of little fish with Groupon. But will you catch the kind of clients that you want? Will you attract clients that can afford you? Maybe what you want to do is to attract bass. You know, big fish that are good eating. It takes courage to fish with lures and minnows instead of worms. Worms will get you fast results… like Groupon will, so they seem great. But, when you take into consideration the amount of time, effort and energy you put into each of your clients, do you really want to do all that, just to end up with a big bag full of sunnies? Lures and minnows will bring you long-term clients that are right for you and your photography business. It scary to fish for the big fish. Why? Because to do so, you have to take your focus off of the sunfish (the clients that want cheap photos) and spend all of your efforts on catching the bass. This can be hard to do when you aren’t seeing instant results. Instant results are fun! They are encouraging. And having three nights of no success can make you want to pull in a few sunnies, just to keep your spirits up. I know it was frustrating for me, going three nights without a single bass.  And, I actually did break down and fish for sunnies for a while. But pulling in sunfish, one after the other, gets pretty boring. Not only did I know they weren’t big enough to eat, but the whole time I was fishing for them I was neglecting the bass. So I went back to my lure.

So back to the story… Max caught the first bass, on a fake worm. What’s that? What did you say, Kate? I thought you said worms were for sunfish. Well… that’s normally true, and technically, since the worm was fake, it would actually be considered a lure. But I digress. The reason I brought up the fake worm was to teach you something else about marketing. You see, Max caught that big bass on a fake worm, and it was the first time we had thrown that lure in. None of the lures I typically catch bass on in that lake were working, but low and behold, Max lands a bass. So what do you think I did? Your darn too-tin! I strung a fake worm onto my line and tossed it out. We caught five more bass on that lure over the next two days… each one bigger than the last. And we had fish for dinner two nights in a row, which was a huge treat for my boys, my mom and my aunts and uncles (and, of course, me). Why did we finally have some luck? Because we were flexible. We started with our standard lures, then moved to minnows, then worms (just so we could catch SOMETHING), then to the fake worm. Marketing is like that too sometimes. Especially in today’s fast-paced world. You never know what bait is going to pull them in. Start off with the tried and true marketing efforts. But, you’ve got to be willing to try new things, if those aren’t working. I remember direct mail used to be HUGE in photography. But I haven’t been able to get a direct mail campaign to work for three years now. Groupon… that will work… and it will work fast! Especially if you give everything away. But running a Groupon deal can kill your photography business. Think about it, do you ever shop at Bed Bath and Beyond? If you do, you know that it’s crazy to pay full price for anything there. All you need to do is wait for them to mail you a coupon. You don’t want to get that reputation for your photography business.

The final thing I learned while out there fishing on the lake, is that I can learn to be more patient with my marketing. I can trust that the fish will come (the clients), if I use the right bait, and keep putting it out there. And I don’t have to hate marketing either, as I always have. Because I LOVE fishing… and marketing is a lot like fishing. :-)

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by admin

Miracle Morning – Day 33

July 22, 2015 in Business Tips, Exercise, Goal Setting by admin

So I completed my 30 day miracle morning project a couple of days ago.  Wow! What a ride! The fact is that I have had a morning routine for several years now, so I wasn’t sure that miracle mornings would be much different. But I was wrong! I didn’t realize how much of an impact some of the things I hadn’t been doing would have on me. I have been in the habit of exercising, drinking a healthy protein shake, filling out my Daily Action Items worksheet and working out my mind on www.lumosity.com for some time now. But the journaling, meditating, visualizing and reading were new. And… they turned out to be… well, I hate to say it… but “miraculous”. There’s something amazing about writing down your experiences that can make you see things you have been missing… big things. Especially when you are a driven person like I am. I am typically moving a bit too fast… constantly. So slowing down to record my thoughts and feelings on paper has really had an impact on me. Journaling every morning, in the quiet, with no one else around, and the space to really get in touch with my own center has helped me see patterns in my life that are not longer serving me. And, as I continue to observe, without judgement, insights are coming to assist me in making changes for the better. While I am still quite new at this… at least that’s what I am finding.

So, I have decided to keep my miracle morning routine. But I have altered it slightly from the routine suggested in the book. (Actually the book recommends you modify it to suit your needs and goals).

Here it is: I have listed time frames rather than exact amounts to keep myself from being too perfectionistic or critical, and to keep it fun.

3-5 minutes: read today’s day in the daily meditation book

5-20 minutes: journal my thoughts on that meditation, or just on what I am thinking and feeling in the moment about my life

3-5 minutes: read aloud my affirmations

2-3 minutes: visualize my major goals as realized using all my senses to “lock” in the memory of it having been accomplished

5 minutes: read 10 pages in a book that is designed to assist me in the attainment of my goals

5-15 minutes: www.lumosity.com daily practice

30 minutes: workout

3-5 minutes: make and drink a high protein, low carb healthy shake

3-5 minutes: fill out my daily action planner for the day

As you can see, this routine will take me between an hour and an hour and a half. And, to be realistic, I will probably need to split it up between before, and after, taking the kids to school. I may modify it along the way. Especially when I need to travel for work. But I have come to realize that having a set routine to keep myself balanced, grounded and healthy is more important than just about anything else I will do during the day. I can’t make a big impact in the world if I am not healthy… and neither can you. So, maybe you’d like to try the 30 day miracle morning challenge yourself. I guarantee you will find it very beneficial if you do. :-)

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Photography Business SWOT Analysis

July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin

By far, my most popular blog post ever was on the photography business SWOT analysis. So… being that today, July 1st, 2015,  is our 16th anniversary as a photography business, and also the first day of the 3rd quarter, I think it’s fitting to revisit the ever popular photography business SWOT.

In the fast paced industry of professional photography, where advances in imaging are occurring daily, and where more and more people are being attracted to becoming photographers themselves, a SWOT analysis is an invaluable tool for your photography business success! A SWOT analysis examines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for your photography business.

Strengths: Or as I like to think of them, your unique selling proposition (USP), MUST be discovered, articulated and communicated clearly to your potential clients, and your current clients for your business to become, and stay, strong.

What makes you and your photography business different, special, unique? You do not have to be “better” than your competition, but you do have to stand out from them. Your photography business has to have something that calls to the clients who share your values. It’s not enough to be able to attract clients who “like pictures”, “value photography” or “enjoy fine art”. A huge percentage of the population likes pictures. That’s why cell phone cameras are so incredibly popular. You need to attract clients who value “professional photography”… pictures that they cannot capture themselves. You need to have a discernible style, so that your images stand out as unique to you. And you need to stand for something. What do you stand for? Do you stand for the belief that every person should be able to afford you and get great pictures? While I completely understand the intent of this stand (making a difference and serving your art and your fellow man) it is a recipe for disaster financially. Why? Because affordability is different for each and every person. You will never be able to have every single person be able to afford you. You can’t stay in business that way.

SWOT Analysis Step 1: So what are your Strengths? What skills, talents, passions, values, do you have going for you in your photography business? What makes you different? Why should a potential client come to you instead of the photographer two doors down?

Weaknesses: I would bet you can come up with a lot more of these than you can your photography business strengths. Why? Because, as humans, we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. It’s easier for us to see our weaknesses than our strengths. We often take for granted the things we are good at, because they come easy to us, but we constantly struggle with our weaknesses, so they are easier to see.

SWOT Analysis Step 2: What are your Weaknesses? How can you put steps in place to improve on your weaknesses? Where you can stop trying to do everything yourself, and hire out your weaknesses?

Opportunities: We all have opportunities that we are missing out on in our photography businesses. This is often due to overwhelm, and/or a refusal to let go of some of the jobs that we ought to be delegating. Opportunities arise every day. So sometimes we are taken by surprise by them, and don’t have our systems in place to be able to switch mid-stream… even if we wanted or needed to. Look around your business and see what can be improved, and where you can capitalize on your strengths to improve productivity, fulfillment and profit.

SWOT Analysis Step 3: What opportunities would you like to follow if you had the time? What can you delegate so that you can capitalize on those opportunities? What systems does your business need? What can you automate? Make a LIST.

Threats: Here’s an easy one. Right now, in the photography industry, sometimes all I think I can see are threats. Some of these are real, and some of them are imagined and created from my own fears and insecurities. You need to sort out the difference and make a list. Here are a few that you probably already know well about. 1. We are being inundated with new photographers entering the market… increasing competition, and driving down pricing. 2. Software has created a way for relatively inexperienced and unskilled photographers to create relatively good images… rather inexpensively (when compared to the time, effort and money that those of us with 25 years were up against). Again… more competition… lower pricing in the market 3. Everyone has a camera. Ugh! 4. The trend is moving more and more away from obtaining your photographs from professionals, and more and more toward taking them on your own. OK… this is the same as #3… but it’s a Biggie! 5. Instant gratification is growing in popularity over quality and craftsmanship. The general population seems to be more willing to accept “good enough” and less willing to pay for “professional”.

I won’t go on, because I will get myself going in the wrong direction. The point is that there are some very real threats out there. You may not agree that the examples I gave are even real… and maybe they aren’t. But they are on my list. Why? Because it is easier to overcome the evil we know, than it is to overcome the evil we don’t know about. Examining your photography businesses threats, and potential threats, is an important part of making a plan for business stability. I’m not going to lie to you. Being a professional photographer today is MUCH harder than it used to be! But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It does mean that you are going to have to work harder, smarter, and most importantly… more strategically.

SWOT Analysis Step 4: What are the threats your photography business is facing today? What threats are facing the photography industry… locally, nationally and internationally? What steps can you take in your photography business to deal with these threats?

Being a photography business owner today is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely competitive out there, and it requires commitment, determination, discipline, and passion. If you don’t love photography… get out. There are easier ways to earn a living. If you do… then decide if you are willing to fight hard for it. You CAN succeed in this industry! Doing a quarterly SWOT analysis of your business (maybe even monthly during these challenging times) will help keep you focused, and on the right path.

As always… Here’s to Your Success!  :-)

 

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Miracle Mornings Day 11

June 29, 2015 in Business Tips, Goal Setting, Uncategorized by admin

You may be happy to hear that on day 7 of my miracle mornings I discovered chapter 7, the chapter on making miracle mornings work for busy people. Yay! Boy was I glad to find out that you can get the benefits of the miracle morning in only 6 minutes a day. Woo Hoo! I haven’t tried the 6 minute method yet, as I have been finding there to be more time than that needed for me right now. But I am encouraged by the fact that, when needed, I can reduce my hour down to a much shorter time and still receive the results I am going for. What results are those, you may be asking? Well… here is what I have been gaining so far.

1. My morning meditations (Silence) are gently reminding me to avoid perfectionism, stay present and be good to myself. With the TPPA print competition occurring yesterday, and none of my prints scoring merits, I REALLY needed this reminder to keep from beating myself up yesterday.

2. My (Affirmations) have already started paying off, as I am seeing evidence in my life of the things I have been affirming. This is really fantastic! I remember using affirmations 25 years ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. They were incredibly powerful for me then, but I never made a habit of using them after my life improved. This miracle morning project has shown me that using them every day is well worth the time and effort.

3. I started working out daily (Exercise) about two and a half years ago, so the exercise part of my miracle mornings is not new. However, I believe that my daily habit of exercise is one of the most important things that I do every day. It has gotten me through many difficult times, and kept me strong and full of energy to tackle each day.

4. My morning mind exercises on lumosity.com are not new either, but continuing them every morning always has me feeling sharp and ready to take on my next challenge.

5. Daily journaling (Scribing) has had many benefits for me… and also some challenges. While I don’t always like what I discover looking deep into my own psyche, I do expect that it’s going to be very good for me in the long run. Let’s call it “character building”.

6.  I have not gotten very good at the (Visualization) yet. I used to find this sort of thing quite effortless. But the older I get, and the more things I want to take on, the harder it is to choose between my options. So, I have been noticing that I am getting distracted and confused when trying to visualize outcomes. I may be over-complicating this one. I will try simplifying tomorrow and see how that goes.

5. And (Reading) has always paid big dividends for me in my business and my life. Audio books may have replaced books somewhat for me, but learning from experts has always helped me to skip over learning curves and implement what works much more quickly.

These are the SAVERS of the miracle mornings… the Life SAVERS. Whether you are currently in need of a life overhaul or just wish to implement a bit of preventive maintenance. A daily morning routine like the miracle morning could prove to be incredibly powerful for you. It is certainly showing great promise for me. :-)

 

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by admin

Miracle Mornings Day 6

June 24, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin

After yesterday’s miracle morning’s deep dive into my own dark feelings, today’s morning was much more pleasant. Thank goodness! Today I tackle a new issue, a much more practical one, having the children home from school with me. You see… I have been blessed with early-rising kids. They are also night owls, believe it or not. So they go to bed late (during the summer anyway). And… they are also getting up early. So, I am running into challenges getting enough sleep myself, while maintaining some boundaries around my miracle mornings. To really get the benefits of the miracle mornings, I need silence. It’s the quiet reflection time and mental and emotional space that helps create the “miracle” of the miracle morning. So, early-rising, night owl, children has left me with a challenge. How do I get my boys to bed early enough, that I can get myself to bed in time, to rise early enough, for a silent morning, while still having gotten enough sleep to function? (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

While this is a bit of a challenge. I love the mundaness of this problem vs yesterday’s deep dive. I will gladly take this one on with a smile on my face.

I do still have to fight back the propensity to beat myself up for the fact that my miracle mornings have not been done perfectly… far from perfectly, actually. I have not been able to get a full, completely dedicated 60 minutes in, without interruptions yet. This is partly due to poor planning on my part… OK… mostly due to poor planning. But, I hadn’t counted on my boys both going to bed late, and getting up early. For some reason I believed they would need more sleep than that. But it seems like I am the only person who lives here that needs much sleep. I’ll save exploring why that is until tomorrow morning’s “miracle”.

Until then… I hope you have a great day! I’m heading upstairs for a workout. After I get my blood pumping, this sleep things should be a piece of cake to solve. :-)

By the way… I should let you know about my morning meditation. Today’s excerpt was on detachment, and it reminded me of something I learned from Sarah Petty, and have heard many other times during my life. Sarah recommends, when selling your portraiture, to be “committed, but not attached”.  What I have come to believe this means is, to be completely committed to serving the best interests of your photography clients, without any attachment to their buying decision. This sounds simple, but when trying to apply it, can be a challenge. I have found that the most difficult part of this is putting aside my own interpretation of what will “serve my client’s best interests”, and acknowledging my own agenda. In my mind, a wall portrait or album will best serve my photography clients. But that is not really always the case. I have found that to really follow this philosophy of detachment, what I really need to focus on is being present. If I am completely present with my client as they are viewing their portraits, and making their buying decision, then I can truly hear what they are telling me, and assist them in making choices that will be best for them. It’s very easy to get side-tracked by our own wants and needs in a sales session. After all, what we earn as photographers is directly linked to what our clients spend. But I have found that by getting my own wants and desires out of the way, I can truly hear what will best serve them. This can be really difficult when you have someone who cannot afford you in a sales session. And, I believe, this is one of the main reasons why photographers make concessions and discount their photography. I believe they really do want to serve their photography clients, and they believe their client cannot afford the pricing they have set. So, one of two things is going on here that needs to be worked on. 1. Your photography business is attracting clients who cannot afford you. or 2. You do not value your work enough to believe that it warrants what you are charging. Your job is to figure out which issue you have so that you can solve it. The solution to the first issue is to find ways to attract more appropriate clientele. The solution to the second one is to work on your own thoughts, feelings and beliefs about yourself, your art, and your pricing.

There is no better feeling than working with a client to get exactly what serves them best, and it perfectly aligns with the numbers you desire for your business.  There are a lot of components that go into making this happen, only one of which is the “committed but not attached” principle, but once you figure this out… your photography business will soar, and your purpose in life (from a photography business perspective) will be fulfilled.

What challenges are you experiencing in your photography business? Have you figured out how to be “committed, but not attached”?

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Miracle Mornings Day 5

June 23, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin

Today is Day 5 of my Miracle Mornings project. I would love to tell you all that it’s been an amazing experience so far… but that would not be the truth. Well… maybe it would. Days one and two were certainly inspirational and freeing, but 3-5 has proven to open my eyes to some rather unfortunate realities. It’s not that I’ve been in complete denial about what I am seeing, but I have had my eyes closed enough to some things that daily meditation and journaling has revealed that I have some serious work to do. What work you ask? Well… I am probably not ready to share that quite yet. Besides I need to continue this process a little longer before it’s even going to come out making much sense.

But I can tell you this. Today’s meditation was on letting go of perfectionism. I seem to be receiving the exact information I need to be focusing on right now. I have, for some time now, known that I am way harder on myself than is healthy for me. However, today I saw this perfectionism exercise from a new angle. It became clear to me today that holding on to trying to have things be perfect … or, the way I hear it in my head is, “done right”, has kept me entangled in some rather unhealthy thought and behavior patterns that are not serving me. My hope is that as I look into this further, I will be able to be gentle with myself, and make the changes needed without judging myself too much. But for today… I am feeling rather like a schmuck. Ick! Wow! That is terribly difficult to admit. After all, I have a rather ingrained belief that I am an optimistic person. I am a person who works hard and tries to always do her best. But it turns out, I am also someone who wants to do everything right, because I also want people to like and admire me. So admitting that I am struggling with my feelings around having created a “prison of my own making”, is hard. And, while I am not one to shrink from things that are hard, I don’t like to look bad either. And, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I believe admitting I have weaknesses and struggles might do that. Intellectually, I know everyone has weaknesses and struggles in their lives, but my twisted thinking doesn’t always remember that.

So… there you have it, a messy day five of Miracle Mornings. This would probably be a great day to admit defeat and quit the project. But then there’s that commitment thing. Ugh! So on I press. I am confident this process is going to yield amazing results… and hopefully soon, before I lose my nerve.   :-)

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Miracle Mornings Day Four

June 22, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin

Today is day four of my Miracle Mornings project. I have to admit, at this point, I have mixed feelings about the results. My thoughts are clear… this it is working, and is going to be good for me. But, from a feeling perspective, I am feeling a bit… uhmmm… uncomfortable. Yesterday, in my reading more in The Miracle Morning book, I learned that the missing piece, the last of the six practices, of the miracle morning is scribing. What’s funny is that I was already doing that. I had read another book years ago called “The Artist’s Way” that recommended “morning pages”. Morning pages are a way to clear out your mind chatter, get your thoughts and feelings on paper, so that you can look at them, and learn and grow from personal reflection. So, when I started The Miracle Morning, knowing it was based on developing myself each morning, I just assumed I should journal my thoughts and feelings. It was really cool yesterday to find out that was one of the 6 practices suggested.

Back to the uncomfortableness. I have never been one to delve into my feelings. I have been in therapy several times throughout my life. I did not have the most uneventful of childhoods. My life, while an exciting adventure, has also been splashed with traumatic events… not the least of which was being kidnapped at the age of 7. Add to that physical, emotional, psychological, religious and sexual abuse, and therapy seemed like a rather reasonable route to take. But before I discovered cognitive behavioral therapy… I discovered self help. And most of self help is focused on putting your focus on what you want and not on what you don’t want. So therapy, after years of self help, seemed like a dismal way to get healthy. Focusing on everything that had gone wrong in my life to “let go” of past events, never really felt right to me. I much preferred to ignore those bad feelings, and find ways to feel good. And, while that has worked on many levels, for many years, it has also created problems. Some of the ways I chose to “feel good” were NOT healthy for me, or the people around me.

So, I believe that’s why writing down my thoughts and feelings is a bit “uncomfortable” for me. But, this morning, like the past three mornings, I did it anyway. And, while looking deeply at myself, and how I create not only things I desire, but also things that are not healthy for me, has not been completely motivating and inspiring for me, as I had hoped it would be. It has, I believe, started to open me up to the possibility that I CAN feel the negative feelings too. I can let them in, and notice them, and extract lessons from them… and then… maybe even… “let them go”. Ignoring and suppressing them, while temporarily making me feel better, has led me down a path where now, I can be taken off guard by intense emotions bubbling up and taking over. So, journaling is probably going to be the hardest part of this journey for me. I will let you know how it goes.

In true Kate fashion, I shall now return to the parts I like better… affirmations and visualization. Whew! That’s MUCH better. :-)

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Miracle Mornings Day Two

June 20, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin

I started a new project yesterday. It’s called Miracle Mornings, and it’s from the book by Hal Elrod, entitled “The Miracle Morning”. While not always one of my best qualities, I have a tendency to jump in head first on things, even when I don’t quite understand the ramifications of the action. And, jumping into a 30 day challenge with miracle mornings was no different. Well… it was a little different. This time I made a decision based almost exclusively on a recommendation by my coach and mentor Jeffrey Shaw. Jeff made the recommendation to read the book, and he said that he has been so inspired by it, that he has started his own miracle mornings project. Well… not to be out done (yes, I am VERY competitive) I jumped right in and bought the book. Well…. first I bought the audio book. (While listening to books audibly may seem like the lazy way out… I have found it to be quite to the contrary. When I listen to a book, I can combine activities, that otherwise may have been less productively spent… like driving my car, with learning something new). So… I bought the audio book, and I started it… the day before yesterday. I was so inspired that I made a commitment to complete a 30 day challenge before the end of the first chapter. Woo Hoo! Yay for me!

So here’s the thing about commitment. It creates a momentum all its own. What do I mean by that? There is a wonderful quote by William Huchison Murray that says, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Whew! Doesn’t that get you all fired up and tingly inside? It sure does me. That’s why I like to make commitments. They have a ton of unseen energy and power, just waiting to assist me in my quest. So I committed… without even really knowing what I had committed to. Probably not a good idea usually, but this time, I think so.

Day One: Yesterday was day one of miracle mornings. I set my alarm clock for an hour early. And, I set aside that hour to do my miracle morning. What was I going to do for that hour? I didn’t know exactly. I had only gotten to chapter two of the book, and the whole plan isn’t laid out until chapter 9 or 10 ( I don’t even know which). What I did know, was that I was committed. I may not have taken big actions, but I HAD taken actions, and this time I would figure it out as I went along. You see, sometimes I overthink things. Sometimes I do, what I once heard of as, “squatting to rise”…

An old grandmother was cooking biscuits one day, and pulled them from the oven, only to find them terribly flat. When her grandchild asked what happened, she replied, “well, they squatted to rise, but they just got cooked in the squat”. I love that story! It reminds me to get a move on. It reminds me that waiting to make the changes that will dramatically alter my photography business or my life could end like a lifeless un-risen biscuit. That’s not what I want for my life or my photography business. It also reminds me NOT to start anything with a “last hoorah”. Like telling myself that this is the last piece of pie before I start my diet. That inevitably leads to adding ice cream… and probably some chocolate or caramel syrup as well. Waking up the following morning from such a binge can lead to feelings of guilt and shame… making me want to drown my sorrows in pancakes and syrup. This kind of “preparing” or “planning” to start a diet is a recipe for diet disaster… especially if you get “cooked in that squat”.

So… anyway, back to Day One: Thursday morning I awoke an hour early to fulfill my commitment. I didn’t really know what I was going to do for that hour, but I did know it was going to be GREAT! All I really knew about what to do, was to focus on personal development… physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, intellectual and psychological development. In the first chapter of his book, Hal referred to his first day. He had done some meditating, reading, exercise, affirmations, visualization… and something else I couldn’t remember. So, I figured, I would work with these ideas, and go from there. Since he had read, I decided that whatever time I had left after focusing on the other things, I would read as far as I could get in his book to get additional information on what adjustments to make to my miracle morning project tomorrow.

I started by reading a daily meditation book I have called “The language of letting go”. The topic was right on point for my life. “Life doesn’t have to be hard”. Whew! That was a lesson I could really pay attention to for the day. After reading my daily excerpt, I journaled about the topic. That helped me get in touch with my feelings about the subject, and how it applies to my life today. It gave me a sense of freedom to know that this concept I have had in my head, that life is hard, wasn’t really true, and that I could give it up. Journaling did something else though. It brought up something that has been causing problems for me in my growth… my perfectionism. I realized while getting ready to do my first miracle morning that I didn’t really know what I was doing yet. I had no plan. I didn’t know the rules. How was I going to do it “right”? It was interesting to notice these thoughts. Normally I would make my thoughts and feelings “wrong”, ignore them, or move on to something that made me feel better. But instead, this time I had my journal, and I was able to work through my thoughts and feelings about having to always follow the rules and do everything “right”. Realizing that life doesn’t have to be so hard is easier when you give up your perfectionism. I’m not saying that I have done that completely… I’m just saying my first miracle morning gave me a taste of that freedom.

After my journaling, I moved on to reading more from the book. I decided to skip a bunch of chapters to get to the “good part” on what to do, and found the chapter on affirmations. So I wrote down a few, and read them out loud. That made me feel hopeful. I have to say, it made me feel more hopeful than I have in a long time!

Going back to reading, I got additional information on my 30 day project, and I decided I ought to exercise my mind a bit before my hour was up. I went to www.lumosity.com, where I have an account to exercise my brain. I have already made a habit of working out on lumosity, but it was a lot more fun after the rest of my miracle morning.

Day One Complete! Woo Hoo! I felt great!

By this morning… Day Two… I had more information, so I felt a bit more secure with my project. Reading more in the book gave me more tips and suggestions for affirmations, and I added some visualization too. My meditation reminded me that I don’t have to force myself to interact with people who aren’t healthy for me. We all need to deal with difficult people sometimes, but we don’t need to make people like that an ongoing part of our lives. I journaled about that for a while, then did my lumosity and headed out for a quick sprint and jog session to exercise my body.

Wow! This miracle morning thing is pretty cool. I wonder what tomorrow will be like?

If you’d like to join me in the Miracle Mornings Project, you can get the book here at Amazon or the audio book here @ Audible.

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