Business coach, social media guru and all round nice person Rhea Freeman from Rhea Freeman PR invited me recently to join her in a blog, 5 Things I’m Proud Of (#5thingsimproudof), I jumped at it. Although I don’t do a huge amount of blogging but because the theme seemed so positive, with a simple structure and at the right time of year to be considering the topic, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. Simples.
OK, so a couple of days later and I was thinking, “well that’s a pretty wide open blog title we got going on here Rhea”… Does she mean things I’m proud of this year or through my whole life. Maybe she means from a business perspective or does she mean in my personal life?
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So, I’m throwing this to the skies a bit here and I’m running with my own variation. I’m going with anything in the last 12 months because in general my personal life and my business life sort of merge at times. I know there will be a huge number of horrified gasps from many walks of life with that statement as we are supposed to draw the line in our days and leave the office behind and concentrate on ‘me’ time etc etc… and I do, I promise, I’m just saying that due to the nature of the beast the two seem to combine and it’s not always clear where the personal bit stops and the business bit takes over, or vice versa.
I think there’s a really good reason why too…
My business/brand has my name in it. The way much of my business comes to me is down to how people relate to me, how they engage with me and that they believe I am the right photographer for them based on my style, my delivery and my service.
I’m rambling once more though. So I sat down a couple of days after Rhea’s request and thought about all the things I’d achieved in the last 12 months. It’s really easy to get bogged down in life by comparing yourself to others and thinking you haven’t maybe got as far as you might have hoped. So looking back over a specific period can really help focus the mind and realise just what you have achieved!
Here I go… and in no particular order…
1. The Roof
When my marriage broke down and the house sale imminent I realised that I needed to find a new roof, a roof that I could return to day after day and feel happy and secure. A place where I could now continue to build the business, in my own way and in my own time. I found that place and I can honestly say that after the difficulties of the last few years one of the proudest things I’ve done is to put a roof over my head and keep it there too. Knowing that my business is supporting me in this way is possibly the best way to keep focusing on what I’m doing and also knowing that what I do is enough for others too. I don’t need a mansion and I don’t need fancy things in life, I just need that basic security of a roof over my head and the knowledge it’s self supporting.
2. Building Relationships & Creating Long Term Clients.
When businesses recognise that good imagery and visual content is paramount to enticing their own clients to buy into their Brand, product or service, then I do a little jig. Working with a number of equine or rural businesses I’ve seriously enjoyed this development (I’m not going to pardon the pun) in my photography. Often these small businesses just need a one off session with me and this gives them enough content for a specific campaign but often if we are clever enough with the content, then probably a year. That’s fabulous as I leave them knowing they’ve got plenty of chance to create interest and drive their own businesses forward and I’ve delivered great value for money that they remember. I guess what I’m most proud of though is those businesses that come back on a regular basis. Relationships start to build, I start to really get under the skin of the needs of the client and the enjoyment escalates. I’ve really enjoyed working with brand such as Mackenzie & George, Smart Grooming and TC Leatherwork. In addition to this from the portrait work it’s been flipping fabulous to start seeing repeat customers. Those who first had a shoot with me a couple of years ago, but now having a 2nd with a different horse or with their dog instead. The pleases me hugely and repeat business is definitely something to be proud of.
3. Hiho Silver
A perfect example of the previous point is the working relationship I now have with the equine and countryside focused jewellery brand, Hiho Silver. I was first approached by their CEO, Emma Warren in the autumn of 2017. It was my flatlay images that caught Emma’s eye and she wanted to work with me on a Christmas campaign where we made the ‘Jewellery the King’ amongst products from other brands Hiho aligned itself with, with flatlay as a basis to the look. Ever since then the relationship has really developed. Emma knows what she wants from a campaign or specific image look and over time I’ve got to grips with that. We both love faffing with flatlay’s and working together, but I frequently work alone with the confidence I know that I’m working to the right final aim for the brand. Aside from the Flatlay styled product shoots I’ve covered a number of fantastic events they’ve been involved in or sponsored, such as the Badminton Horse Trials Best Dressed Trot Up, which was particularly exciting. Receiving an official BHT Media Pass and working in a VIP environment away from the main Press pack was such fun. However there’s been no better feeling at times than seeing the Hiho Website and Social Media channels using so many of the images I took for them.
4. Pushing the Comfort Zone
Naturally I’m quite introverted in many ways. Shy, I’m introverted. Big social gatherings drain me even though I normally thoroughly enjoy them. I work alone for most of the time and I really enjoy that. I don’t need the big interactions with others often in order to feel fulfilled and I don’t need a large group of friends to feel loved or included. I’ll talk till the cows come home at times, but often that’s just me plugging a gap that I think is there but really isn’t. However the introverted side can sometimes mean that although I am capable on paper of stepping forward into something I frequently physically find it hard to make that final step, so I don’t and I stay in my comfortable lane. I don’t always believe in what I can bring to a situation either. However I was asked earlier this year to be one of the Speakers at a new Instagram styled workshop for small businesses, the Style, Skills and Silver event held in Worcestershire and hosted by Hiho Silver. I led the Skills Workshop and demonstrated how flatlay images can provide any small business with really effective, really engaging and ultimately cheap marketing content for them. It’s one thing to work in your own and create flatlay to your own remit, but to then explain how I do it to a group of people who’d paid money to be at the event, well, that was a flipping different matter. Thankfully most of the other speakers at the event were in a similar mindset, I think only a couple had done any kind of public speaking before. However through good teamwork we delivered and I seriously enjoyed it. I was utterly mentally exhausted afterwards but to think that I’d helped a small number of people to learn a new skill they could bring to their business was a thoroughly incredible feeling. The feedback on the day and afterwards gave all of us involved a lift
5. Passing on Knowledge
Going arm in arm with Point 4 is the feeling that by sharing knowledge with others everyone learns faster, or further. I’m often asked why I share information in my photography blogs and why would I give people ideas about how to self improve their own photography potentially to the detriment of my own business. I just think well why wouldn’t I? It’s a big world and there’s plenty of room for everyone. I actually get a little frustrated at times by those that withhold information from the next generation of photographers or young business people. Giving people snippets of knowledge as I have them hopefully means their own journey is better and I’ve always said I’d far rather be the person responsible for encouraging or discovering the next well known/loved photographer than the person who squashed them because they were a threat to my own livelihood. It makes no sense to me. I’m mostly self taught in my career, so in some ways I’ve learnt the hard way, so to be able to share something with someone who can then go away and create something they maybe wouldn’t have done at all, or created it quicker than they might, then that’s something I can be proud of. Feels good to share knowledge.
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Are there 5 things that you are proud of this year? Then why not join Rhea and the #5thingsimproudof Challenge for 2018 and shout about it. Go on, I dare you!