Today we celebrate the best decision I’ve ever made. I can’t believe it.
It’s been a year!
It’s been one year since MDB Photography was officially launched. Twelve months of being an entrepreneur. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of being a boss babe.
In case you’re a little confused about the timeline, I’ve been a paid photographer for almost 8 years. Whether it was wedding, family, senior, branding or corporate photography. . . I was working under other photographers and/or companies. I was just another photographer there.
Last year on this day, I became THE photographer. The owner and lead photographer of MDB Photography. I still remember the excitement and terror when I finally had all the formation documents in my hands. I vividly remember running up to my dad (THE entrepreneur) with everything in my hands showing him the “MDB Photography LLC.” I remember the look in his eyes and him saying, “I’m so proud of you.”
The past year has been incredible. MDBP was more successful than I ever thought it would be in the first year. It’s truly been the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve made some good ones - haha!
Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. I’ve cried countless times over not getting a gig or not making as much as I wanted to and even cried when some didn’t believe in me or like my work. There were days I thought MDBP was a big failure. Let’s not forget that COVID-19 came approximately 4 months after opening. There have been days where I booked multiple weddings in one day. There have been days where my clients have made me happy-cry because they were so thrilled with their experience at MDBP. This journey has been extremely rewarding and quite scary all at the same time. Would I do it again? HECK YES!
I started this business at the young age of 22. I’ve learned A LOT. I’m pretty sure I could write a book about “Things I’ve Learned in the First Year of Being an Entrepreneur.” For now, we’re just going to stick with a blog post. . . 😉 Here are my Top 6 Things I’ve Learned in my First Year of Being an Entrepreneur
Not Every Client is for YOU.
This was one of the hardest things I have had to learn. When I first opened, I would take anyone and everyone. They couldn’t afford me? I’d drop the price. They didn’t like the way I edited images? I would change it for them. I was a little innocent shark who just wanted to make money. Just like every entrepreneur getting started.
I remember after one of my first job interviews, my brother asked how it went. I told him I thought I did an excellent job, but I didn’t appreciate the way the “boss” spoke to me. He told me this one thing that has stuck with me ever since. “A job interview is just as much you interviewing them as they are interviewing you.” If I got a “bad vibe” from the job interview, how happy did I think I would be in the workplace? I use that same advice today. I’ve had prospect clients that I didn’t appreciate the way they talked to me or spoke about my work. I’ve had clients who didn’t want to hire me because I was young. My sanity and mental health is worth more than that. I’ve learned not all clients will be a good fit and I am okay with that.
It’s Okay to be Friends.
You read that right. At first, I thought I had to be SUPER professional and serious, but quickly learned it’s better to be friends. In fact, it’s awesome. I am so happy to say that I am friends with most of my clients, especially my wedding couples. I purposely run my business in a professional, yet personal way. I keep it professional while also having fun. It makes for better pictures. . . Think about it. If you’re getting your picture taken, would you rather a total stranger or someone you know well?
Since high school, I was always aware that connections were important. As I got older, I realized how important. In college, I purposely took jobs (bridal consultant and second shooter for weddings) that would allow me to have connections that would help me in the future. It’s been more helpful than my 18 year old self could ever imagine. In need of a wedding gown for a day? Got it. Have a question about banking? Got it. Especially in a small city like Savannah, everyone knows someone you know.
9-5. Forget it.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I worked 40 hours or less in a week. As an entrepreneur, you’re everything. You’re the marketing manager, the accountant, the photographer, the editor, the social media manager, the blog writer, the receptionist. . . You get my point. I technically am open 9-6 Monday through Saturday. Lately, I’ve been working every Sunday too. I’ve had clients text me at 11:30 at night freaking out about the wedding day. I happily responded and reassured them we would make their wedding everything they dreamed of. My business mind is never off. I’m pretty much always checking to see if I responded to everyone’s emails, texts, calls or DMs. I’ve finally decided that I need to find at least one day a week to have off. If I don’t, I get burnt out. I’m honestly still working on teaching myself that it’s okay to have a day off.
It’s Vital to Take a Break.
As a photographer, I spend a ton of time sitting and staring at a computer screen. I’ll sit and edit until I get hungry or until my eyes hurt. (Yes, I have blue light glasses, but those change the color of the image, so I can’t use them while editing.) Just recently, I’ve learned (or been forced by my loving boyfriend 😉) to take a break mid-day. Whether it’s going for a run, working out or running to the grocery story. Anything to get my eyes off the screen. That daily break allows me to restart my brain and eyeballs - haha!
The Right Marketing Is Worth It.
Marketing. We have a love-hate relationship. During the start up, I wasted SO much time and money on marketing in the wrong places. For example, Facebook Ads. I know it works for many, but I could have flushed hundreds of dollars down the toilet and had the same outcome. However, a few months after opening, I took the giant leap and paid to be listed on The Knot and WeddingWire. I’m not gonna lie, it hurt my wallet at first, but I’ve received so many ideal clients from those two places. Clients that I love to work. Clients that have truly become friends. Friends that don’t just need me on their wedding day, but want me at their wedding.