Can we talk about something real for a second?
If you had come to me a few years ago and said to me that I would be my OWN business owner, working my own hours, and running a business how I see fit, I would have laughed in your face. I lacked self confidence and in many ways still do. BUT, I know that when you work hard, you can achieve your dreams, and I believe this to be true about so many things.
I get asked all the time different questions on facebook about how I do different things in my business. The answer: Hustle. No, not the Jay - Z rap kind of hustle. Hustle in the way where you truly believe in yourself and your working every single day for your business. Hustle in the way where you are looking for new ways to grow your business and gain new clients. Hustle, and set your self realistic goals so that when you achieve them you are one step closer to your dreams.
When I decided that I wanted to become a wedding photographer, I set myself 3 goals for the year, realistic goals. Here were my goals: 1. I wanted to start second shooting for other wedding photographers to gain experience and knowledge, 2. Set myself up a website that I was proud of and 3. Shoot at least one of my own weddings. I not only achieved every single one of those goals, but I exceeded expectations. I booked over a dozen weddings for myself that year, I got myself a functioning website that I am proud of, and I got to shoot along side an amazing talented photographer and I learned a ton of things.
I secretly had other goals. Like my 3 year goal was to get published, and my 5 year goal was to travel for my photography, and I got to achieve both those goals barely in my second year of running my business.
My business today, is not where I want it to be, I am not at the price point I want to be, and I want more for my business but, I believe in myself. I am setting myself up with new goals this year and I know I can achieve them.
Here is the answer to achieving your goals; you have to go after them. Don't sit around and wait for a potential client to come and check out your jewelry shop because you created a facebook page for your new business. Chances are slim to none that you announce on FB you started a business and the clients come pouring in. No, YOU have to work, go out there, and SHOW people your jewelry. My first Fall Season in photography I printed out a ton of pages of a simple flyer I made for "fall sessions" and I drove out in my car and gave one to a bunch of neighbors and just stuck it in their mailbox. Some may call it desperate, I call it chasing after my dreams. How will people know if you don't tell them?
I am in no way an expert. I am not a business guru and I still have so much learning in my own business, but I will share a few things that helped me grow my business.
1) Build relationships with other business owners. There are so many groups on facebook where you can meet other creative entrepreneurs. Notice how I said BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Don't just message another jewelry shop owner on facebook and say "hey, I saw your amazing ring, where did you get that beautiful stone from? Where do your purchase your jewelry products from?" No, not cool. Not cool to just start asking another business owners all their tricks. But if you BUILD a RELATIONSHIP with someone, they are more likely to share some tips with you, and eventually you will learn things that could help them too.
2) Do your research. Anybody can get a camera, and then start a facebook business page, and then call themselves a photographer, and then start charging clients. Before I started my business, my camera was in my hand, every. Single. Day. I put my camera on Manual mode and never took it off. I figured out a photography style that I loved, and then I did everything I can to achieve that look with my camera. It use to take me about an hour to put my daughter to sleep and I would lay down with her on my bed nursing her and watching videos and workshops on having your camera on manual mode. I practiced in different lighting situations to ensure that I can handle them. I practiced getting "bokeh" (blurry background). I researched different lenses and figured out which ones I needed to achieve the look I was going for. Then, when I was comfortable enough to ask people, I asked if I can shoot their kids and their families for free. And every single time I practiced, I learn something new. I learned the best time of day to shoot for lighting purposes, I learned what posing works, I learned how to make people comfortable in front of the camera, I learned that it usually takes 15 minutes for people to get comfortable around the camera so start with boring poses and then get into the good stuff.
3) Give you your clients a 5 star experience. Remember the rule that the customer is always right, even when they are wrong. When you give your client a 5 star experience, they will be more excited to talk about you to their friends. Word of mouth is stronger than any kind of marketing technique you got up your sleeve. Word of mouth clients, are willing to pay and not haggle you for pricing. Word of mouth clients will build your business. Think of special things like cute or unique packaging, thank you cards, and welcome packets. Answer questions right away, go above and beyond for every client because when they love you, they will talk about you. When they talk about you, other people will hire you.
4) Try doing small giveaways to bring attention to your business, and your page. This is something I will probably keep doing. I love bringing attention to my page and my business by doing different giveaways. This year, I will probably be doing a free mini session giveaway, you never know if this person might end up being a potential client in the future, or if they have friends who will need your services. Don't be afraid to ask them to talk about you and your products and services on social media.
5) Attend local vendor events. Smaller local events are usually pretty affordable and even in some cases, free. You get the chance to sell products, to potential clients, talk to people about what you do, meet other local vendors and create new relationships, and if you do a giveaway you can collect emails and then start an email list. When you start an email list, you can keep in touch with them and let them know about special sales or giveaways that you will be having and can possibly make a few sales through email marketing.
Have a dream? Believe in yourself, and go out there and achieve them. Chase after them, and don't expect for the clients to find you, go out there and find them!