Having just returned last week from WPPI, I was struck by the number of conversations I had with relatively new photographers who are chasing success. In fact, the fury over education and new products was more like an Easter egg hunt than a quest for knowledge. Well, that got me thinking about everyone's definition of success and how little time we all put into our early thoughts.
Don't aim for success if you want it;
just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
Here's where my age and time in the industry becomes a real advantage, because I've redefined my own personal definition of success at least a half dozen times, most of them, at least in the early days, without ever honestly thinking anything through. Listen to one of my early Weekend Wisdom podcasts with Sandy Puc and you'll hear her talk about success being a moving target and how much her definition has changed.
Just before the comments below, she was talking about the business she'd built. It was huge and a "monster" with great gross sales, but she hadn't paid attention to her overhead...
We were just under two million dollars...But in 2011...There's a point in life where you really have to sit back and you have to say, "What is it I'm doing?"...You wake up one day and you realize the key to success is happiness. If you're not happy then you're not successful.
So, it's Marketing Monday! Let's come up with some solid components to help you define success. Again, the definition has to be yours and everybody has different goals.
Your Skill Set: If you're goal is to be a professional photographer you'll never make it with a half-ass understanding of technique, your gear and the processes associated with creating stunning images. There is no compromise.
Relationship Building; If you're not a people person, then you're in the wrong business. Photography is a word of mouth business and relationship building is critical. Any moron can get their first client - the key is getting that client to come back again, as well as help you spread the word to get clients number 2,3,4 and so on.
Mac 'n Cheese: It's about money and while everybody has to start somewhere you don't want to eat mac 'n cheese forever. This is where paying attention to your overhead is a key. Stop thinking you made a killing because you got $20 for a print that cost you $3 from your lab! You've got to take into consideration ALL your costs including education, gear, insurance, your car, computer and the list goes on and on. Make it a point to understand your real bottom line cost.
Take Some Risks: It's not just about taking risks, but letting disappointments roll off your back and moving on when something doesn't work. Something not working as good as you had hoped isn't failure, it's just something that didn't work. Train yourself to analyze what went wrong and then just move on. Keep taking those risks and fine-tuning each approach.
A Morning Smile: Do you bound out of bed in the morning excited about the day ahead? If not then take the time to think through what's going to make you happy.
Here's the most important point I want to hit this morning...success is relative to your own definition. Nobody can define it for you. It's based on what's important to you, but first, you have to figure that out!
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.