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Running a creative business is preeetty much a recipe for comparisonitis.
Unfortunately, social media can be a black hole of comparison. Those endless hours of scrolling have the power to make you (the business owner) feel like you have to do what every other business owner is doing! Whether it’s launching a new service, creating a specific product, or trying out new content trends, it can be easy to become trapped in the never-ending cycle of insecurity about your own journey as a creative entrepreneur.
I believe that in order to run a successful and long-lasting business in the creative industry, you need to draw inspiration from within! To do so, you’ll have to figure out a way to do what makes YOU happy, by seeking joy and fulfillment for yourself, first.
So, I’m here to share 5 ways I’ve figured out how to put joy first while running my own business. Then, I’ll wrap things up with some practical and insightful tidbits for you to apply to your business, marketing and mindset!
1. By not niching down.
I offer multiple kinds of photography. Even though so many people say you have to choose a specific niche to be successful, I’ve chosen to do what makes me happy. I enjoy variety!
If I dread going to a certain type of photography session, or if I come home and feel like it wasn’t fun at all, I try to think about why that might be the case. I’ll spend some time determining what it was that I didn’t enjoy about that type of project or session, while also pinpointing any changes that could be made. From there, I’ll implement those changes so that I can have a happier life and business!
If you’re not a photographer, think of this tip through the perspective of your own lens. (Pun intended!) That might mean offering different kinds of services, broadening your ideal client demographic, or giving yourself the wiggle room to do what makes you happy, first.
2. By prioritizing time for personal projects.
I’ve made it a point to set aside time and money for multiple personal projects throughout the year. This not only keeps my creativity flowing, but it allows me to create work that will bring in the right clients!
If you’re a photographer who wants to dip your toe into product photography, play around with it. Buy some fun products, and design, build and photograph your own creative shoot! No one said your portfolio had to only include paid work. You’ll bring in the type of work that you show off, so taking the time to create those dream projects will only attract more of those ideal clients!
3. By never drawing inspiration from Pinterest or Instagram.
I mean it when I say that I never, ever search on Pinterest or Instagram for ideas!
When it comes time for me to plan out a creative shoot or project, I make sure to give myself silence and space to come up with my own ideas. I never want to be influenced by what other people do!
Once I have a shot list, I might head over to Pinterest to put together a mood board for my client. But at that stage in the planning process, I already know exactly what I’m looking for. Working with this method helps me to remain completely and uniquely inspired!
4. By sharing bits and pieces of my personality on my site and social media!
If you were to just glance at my website or social media, you’d see a bunch of photos of me playing with fruit, jumping and dancing in colorful outfits, hiding behind balloons, and doing other silly things. Not only do I have a blast creating these photos, but they’re a glimpse at my true and authentic self!
I believe that you can find joy in your work by being completely and authentically you. Some people might say that you need to showcase a more professional side on your website, but my dream clients are inspired by the whimsy and color that are portrayed in my photos – which means that those fun portraits I share actually help to attract them!
By sharing those personality-packed photos, I’m able to attract my ideal client, while repelling my not-so-ideal client (those who don’t love color or fun). It’s a strategy that works well for me, while also allowing me to feel joyful and authentic!
5. By owning my style.
As a budding photographer, I wasn’t sure what my “style” was, or what I enjoyed most. So, I gathered all of my favorite photos I had taken, and looked back at what they had in common. Surprise, surprise… it was color!
More specifically, I noticed that my photos had a common theme of color, whimsy and movement. Additionally, I found that detailed shots stood out to me, and made me happy! From there, I was able to really hone in on my own creative style, which helped me continue to create work that I enjoyed.
Now, you can use this method for anything in your life! If you’re an artist or service provider, gather your favorite projects or work, and identify common themes so that you can understand what you’d like to keep doing, and what you’d like to skip. If you’re a product-based brand, take a look at your best sellers, or your most-loved products. Spend some time determining what makes them your favorite!
Before you go, I have a few random (and encouraging) thoughts.
You don’t have to do _____, just because it’s on trend. Your photos don’t need to be orangey and moody unless you want them to be. And those pictures in lavender fields? Sure, they might be popular on Instagram. But if they don’t light you up inside, skip them!
You don’t have to niche down and focus on one thing, just because that’s what the “experts” say to do. It might work for some, but it might not work for others. Take the time to understand what it is that you love to do, and go from there.
You don’t have to offer the same things as your competitors. If you’re a photographer, you don’t have to offer mini sessions just because other photographers do! If a specific service or offer doesn’t feel right for your audience or make you happier in the long run, skip it. Or, take that idea and use it to inspire an entirely new way of approaching things.
Don’t be afraid to approach things in a new way. If you have an idea for an offer or product that you haven’t seen done before, don’t let that scare you. See if it makes you happy, and if it fits your business well. Remember that this is YOUR life, so your business has to work for you!
Structure your business around what brings you joy and fulfillment. I’m not saying that all of your projects need to be things that light you up (because we all have to pay the bills), but a majority of the work you do and seek out should fulfill you.
Unsure about what lights you up? A lot of people struggle with finding what makes them happy. Start by thinking to yourself about what you would do if you had an entire day or week free, with no expectations. What tasks or things would you gravitate toward? If you could start your own creative project, just for the sake of creating, what would it be?
I come up with a ton of my ideas while on a daily hike with our dog. I love walking in silence while listening to the leaves blowing and observing my surroundings. I find that when I leave space for silence and just being, the good ideas come through! So, find your quiet space (internally and externally), and let the ideas flow.
Get a little personal. If you’re a service provider, you’re not only marketing your work, but you’re also marketing yourself. People have to like you in order to want to work with you! Share your real, authentic personality with your audience, and I promise that you’ll bring in the right clients.
I want to help you find joy in your photography business!
If you’re a fellow photographer, you know better than anyone that the going can get a little lonely. I’m here to help you grow through those next steps of your business, while providing my own insight, must-dos and how-tos as your personal photography mentor. Book your free 30-min mentorship call here!
Want a little more business advice? Check out this post: 4 Business Tools and Systems to Invest in as a Creative Business Owner