At the past two Creative at Heart conferences, I have had the privilege of hearing Natalie Franke present her talk on the brain behind the business. If you have yet to hear this talk, and have any opportunity to do so, I can’t recommend it enough. I have heard it twice, and would gladly learn from it again, as each time I walked away with powerful realizations about my brand and business- and the things that I needed to let change.
Even in the smallest summary, I couldn’t do her brilliant content justice. But one part has stuck out to me the most, and that is the importance of consistently showing your face in your brand, and it’s direct correlation to how it builds trust with your potential clients. How it builds community. How it creates loyalty. How it makes others feel a part of something.
Now, there are definitely different opinions of this when it comes to the creative industry- because not every successful photographer has a “personal brand”. There are many photographers that I follow who never show their face, or incredibly personal posts with the world. They keep it only about their art, and keep their profile a bit mysterious. I guess you can say I tried to land somewhere in between. As an extreme introvert, sharing my face all the time is a struggle for me, but I also feel a sense of community the most when I share my heart and personal thoughts throughout my brand and social media presence.
And while I never stop working to be more skilled in the art I create as a photographer, my vision IS very personal. I create from my own story and how I see the world. I love building personal relationships with my clients, and always want to to see them as a family and not human transactions. And not to say keeping everything about my work is the opposite of any of that, it’s just the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was trying to have a personal brand..without the person. So often it was creating a disconnect.
I sat in the back of the Creative at Heart Conference last November in Charleston, so tired from a weary season, and the beautiful Krista Jones sat beside me. Of course, I knew who she was, having followed her work for quite some time and having been involved in the Rising Tide Society the few months prior.
“Are you Tiffany Farley?” She asked. After replying Yes with nod, she responded with a statement I can still hear in my head, “Oh, ok, Hi! I wasn’t sure what you looked like.”
Why am I sharing all of this? I have felt challenged for months now to put more of me in my brand, without compromising my integrity and values as an artist. To share more personally, without it taking away, but instead adding to my brand. So I am sharing this post for accountability, and to maybe challenge someone else out there. The beautiful thing about the creative industry, is that there is no one right way to make decisions for your business. I hope you never find me sharing from a place that makes you feel like you need to change something, when things are absolutely beautiful the way they are. But I do hope that if you were struggling with this idea, that it inspires you to let change happen where you need it. To like myself, put insecurities aside, and let people in a bit more.
I’m off to dive into a busy Wednesday in the office, and preparing for an online mentoring session for another photographer who is just getting started. I LOVE to help others and share the lessons I have learned the hard way over the years!
Here’s to letting small changes happen where they need to.
Ok, so I’ll be the first to admit that I have often found myself grumbling about the Adobe Creative Cloud, and how annoying it is to have a monthly payment for a software, versus the way it USED to be when you could buy the software and own it. BUT, having the Creative Cloud has a lot of benefits, and it does actually have really good pros that I have come to see as outweighing the cons.
- You always have the latest updates to programs like Photoshop right at your fingertips. You used to have to buy that upgrade every time a new release came out.
- If your computer dies, like mine did a couple weeks ago, (tears) you don’t lose your Adobe programs with it. When I first started in photography, a family member had an extra installation of their photoshop they weren’t going to use, that they let me download a copy on my computer to get started. But when that first laptop kicked the bucket, because I never owned it, I lost my Photoshop with it. (more tears)
- It opened my eyes to the other programs that I honestly probably never would have tried without them being so easily available. I started my Creative Cloud membership with just Photoshop, paying around $20 a month. (the cost of a single app) If InDesign were a $600 or $700 software that I had to buy to even try it and see if I liked it, I probably never would have made that jump! But $20 per month was much more reasonable, and Creative Cloud allowed me to do that easily. I have raved about InDesign for a year now, and how I used to use Photoshop for projects that InDesign was MADE for, and they would take forever and cause me so much frustration. I never once regretted adding InDesign to my Creative Cloud. InDesign was how I was able to easily create and customize my Portrait Session Planning Guide that I print and give to all my clients!
Last year, I gratefully came across the Elle & Co blog, which is truly a resource GOLD MINE for photographers and creative small business owners alike. Her blog posts have taught me about SEO for Squarespace, Increasing Your Blog Traffic, and SO much more. I think I stumbled across her blog in a Google Search, and then I got lost for hours reading and learning SO much free content that she offers. Lauren Hooker, the talent behind the Elle & Co blog, is a GENIUS. I had the honor of meeting her at the Creative at Heart Conference and she is just as sweet in person as she is online.
*Bonus Tip: Yes, attending conferences and workshops in person is often a great investment. Yes, there are a lot of things you can learn online from the comfort of your pajamas for a lesser one, but there is just something magical about being at some of these events- and the connections and relationships that build over a cup of coffee or dinner- I would NEVER have some of the friends in the industry that I do, had I not stepped out and attended things that were bigger than myself. Creative at Heart just opened their Denver registration, and you guys, it is SUCH a well done event. Their leadership team not only keeps every detail beautifully handled for all the attendees, but they are the most genuine of hearts. Don’t miss out!!
Ok, back to Elle & Co. Shortly after finding her blog, I signed up for every way to follow her that I could. Her mailing list has RICH content you guys, and I seriously learn something new every time she posts something. This past fall, she opened up her second Adobe Illustrator Basics online course, and I snagged it right away for a few different reasons- It was affordable, nothing Ell & Co had ever produced for educational content had been disappointing thus far, and I KNEW that I wanted to learn Illustrator but just felt really overwhelmed at the thought of learning a new software on my own. Knowing how to use Illustrator will be SO helpful in my business as I learn to quickly make blog graphics, and a gazillion of other uses. (Because we all know that running a photography business really IS 90% business and 10% actually taking pictures! There are so many other tasks on our plate!)
I admit that I got really busy this past fall, and never started the course. But after having dinner with Lauren at the Creative at Heart Conference, I was reminded that I needed to set time aside for myself to GROW and learn new things. How often do we spend our days in Gmail, and never growing as a business owner??? I want to change that for me!
Because the course included a year of access to the material, I was able to jump right in, and you guys, I am LOVING it and can’t believe I waited so long to start. Her videos are so simple and step by step- and truthfully I felt that just after the first module that I had a good grasp on what makes Illustrator worth investing in. Because I already had Photoshop and InDesign in my Creative Cloud, I was able to upgrade to have have the full creative cloud, giving me access to Illustrator and the full Adobe library for an extra $10 a month. Um, YES please!!
Her next class starts TOMORROW, so I just had to share with you to consider signing up. If you are wanting the confidence to create the marketing tools, blog icons, and other self-designed graphics to use throughout your brand to make it stand out even more, and to not depend on a hired designer for every little thing, I would consider reserving a seat. If you’re not sure about downloading Illustrator before the class, there is a free trial of Illustrator and other Adobe Cloud Apps HERE!
I can’t wait to dive into the next module already! Learn more about Elle & Co’s Adobe Illustrator Basics Online Course HERE!
In the past few weeks, I have had the most amazing honor of teaching and sharing at two conferences for creative small business owners on Finding and Serving Your Ideal Client, and really the benefits that I have found in specializing as a photographer of motherhood.
I am still floored that I was asked, as sharing at either is such an incredible honor. I spoke a couple years ago for the very first time, and to be honest when I got off that stage I vowed I would never do it again. I hadn’t known how to prepare myself effectively, or understand how nervous I would feel in front of a crowd- no matter how well I knew the material in my head!
When I was first asked to share this year at the Annapolis Creative at Heart Conference, and then shortly after at the Pursuit Conference, I knew that if I said yes I would need to commit to a lot more practice and preparation this time! I tried to keep my Keynote Slides simple, (per the suggestion of Katelyn James) and included my notes with each slide right in Keynote itself. I learned the first time I spoke that paper notes didn’t work well for me, they were falling all over the place!
Something else I found really helpful in preparing to learn my talks was recording myself through Evernote on my iPhone, so that I could listen to it on the plane and the night before, in addition to reviewing the notes and slides. Now I definitely admit that I still need a lot more practice in the art of public speaking. A lot. I gained a whole new respect for those who do it full time. I found myself looking at my notes much more often than I wanted to, and wish I had the confidence to strut the stage with passion as so many of my friends are able to do, but thankfully there’s grace for the beginner! Truthfully, just between you and me, I had to include “Hi my name is Tiffany” in my notes for my intro- because THAT’S how nervous I get in front of people! Ahh!
Finding Your Ideal Client and the benefits of specializing is a topic that I am SO passionate about, because I have learned that trying to be everything to everyone is the fastest way to hate your dream all together. If you have no filter for what you say yes or no to in your business, if you have no idea who your client is- than I believe you will find yourself more often than not, running on that hamster wheel, chasing growth for your business and never really seeing it. If you don’t know who your client is specifically, than how will you market your business to them? Who will your brand speak to? How do you make any decisions for where your business is headed outside of replicating what everyone else is doing? In the last four years, I have learned SO much about how to find your ideal client- and more specifically how NOT to find them. I could never fit all that I shared into one blog post, so I thought I would leave you today with just three simple lessons I learned in finding my own ideal clients over the past few years.
LESSON ONE- In order to find your Ideal Client- the clients who are the perfect fit for you and your business- you MUST know why you are in this business and who you are as a photographer. (or an event planner, or a florist, whatever your role may be.) Because you see, when I first started, I was more concerned (obsessed) with what everyone else was doing. What THEIR website looked like. What THEIR brand looked like. How THEY edited their photos. What products THEY sold their clients. What props THEY used. I had no idea who I was a photographer, or know that I even had the right to define that at all. I never spent time thinking about my own core values, so how would I attract clients who shared them? Keeping my “eyes on my own paper”, and asking myself what images that I created actually MEANT something to me was when the game begin to change in my brand and business.
LESSON TWO- Finding your ideal client, or building a speciality, doesn’t have to mean that you only take on one type of session. It is instead about choosing to work with one type of client. Those of you who have been around here for a few years know that I used to proclaim my specialty as “Connection Portraits”. It had a specific structure, and it was just one type of session- because I thought that’s what you had to do to “specialize”. Although it brought me closer, because I was finally pursuing my OWN brand and vision, it often still felt like I was striving. Like I was trying too hard. I became so concerned with the outside look of my brand, and what I offered and what it was called- that I almost completely missed the most important part of building a niche and that was WHO my client was and WHY. Naturally, and over time, I realized that my clients were mothers, and that SHE was who my brand needed to speak to.
LESSON THREE- I learned that the best way to define your Ideal Client is to simply tell your truth. And it doesn’t have to have a name or a title, and it doesn’t have to be different, and it doesn’t have to be the same- it just has to be YOU. Your vision. Your values. Communicated in a way that filters and connects only to the clients who are the perfect fit for you. And guess where that doesn’t start? When you spend your whole days looking at what everyone else is doing. I came to understand that my own story has shaped the way that I see the world and how I value family. When I started photographing through THAT lens, instead of worrying how every other photographer was doing things, that is when my work started to have a defined, consistent look, and I began to work with clients who were such a good fit for me- because we began to connect on a much deeper level of shared values.
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”– CS Lewis.