How to overcome pitfalls in the business of blogging.
Alright, so I've received a lot of messages & questions about how I was able to make a name for myself in the creative space using my blog as a tool to grow my business. For those of you that have known me for a while, you know that my background is in marketing- I worked for various agencies that represented businesses in the hospitality & entertainment sector working tireless hours being the creative mind hiding behind my clients' feeds while tracking data, noting engagement patterns and doing all the somewhat scientific things for each of my accounts. How I was able to move past that and evolve into what I do now is a whole other story on it's own, however before turning my passion into a profitable business I needed to overcome the pitfalls of this business by learning these 5 valuable lessons.
- Account for ALL your time spent when working on a project.
Part of my job as a content creator is to set the scene for a shot. A lot of this includes pre production planning going to the store looking for props to buy (and many times return), to styling, food prepping, cooking, travel time to get all of these assets in order. Most small businesses and sponsors don't understand all the time it takes getting everything prepped for a shoot. This is why so much goes into producing one shot for a magazine cover. Even if it looks simple, it takes a web of people to make this happen. As someone who creates content for brands I wear many hats- from creative director, stylist and producer to blogger, model (sometimes), productions manager, lighting specialist, to productions assistant at cleanup. I do it all, and I learned the hard way that at some point I had to start charging clients for all the time invested in taking on those roles. Eventually as the projects got bigger, I was able to budget in help and pay people take on specific roles of a project I knew I needed help on in order to meet deadlines.
2. Hourly rates are never a good idea
Repeat after me: Your work is worth more than an hour's worth of work.
Unless you are covering an event of some sort, hourly rates are never a good idea when negotiating rates with clients. At the very beginning I used to "estimate the amount of time" a project would take me based on the deliverables of the clients. I learned quickly that the needs of every client are very different, and might take more time than others, which is why price everything on a case by case basis. Important questions I ask myself in order to better assess the costs are: 'How involved does the client need me to be in pre production planning?' 'What's the budget of the client?' 'Can I give this much of my time for what they are asking me?' 'What can I do for them with their budget?' Perhaps instead of 30 deliverables you might have to scale back half of that without getting involved in pre production planning in order to fit the needs of their budget. It's all about compromising how much you can do for them, not how little time you can do it in. NEVER. DO. THAT.
3. Be consistent
Just like a restaurant is as good as the last meal you ate there. Your business is as good as the last project you finished. If you're not passionate about the project, or a client that wants your business doesn't necessarily fit your lifestyle or aesthetic, you're better off walking away from those opportunities. It's hard to be choosy at the beginning when all you want is to get your name out there. But the more I did that the more I realized I was being inconsistent with quality of work I was putting out. I eventually learned I wanted to do fine art photography and have my own showings of my travel series'. Taking photos of weddings in tacky ballrooms wasn't going to move that goal forward. I also hate shooting weddings (unless they're intimate and in remote locations) so those shots wouldn't come out as good as the ones I'd take for my hospitality clients let's say. My heart is invested more in things I like to do, and helps my performance on shoots. When I take myself away from that, I lose the opportunity to get referrals and that's never good for business.
4. Quick turnaround time & response rates are key to retaining business
This one is pretty self explanatory and more of a continuation of my last point but I can't stress this enough. If you say you deliver things in less than a month. Deliver in less than a month. If a client emails you with an inquiry respond within 24 hours. You risk dropping the ball on potential business if you slip on responding in a timely manner. If something goes wrong and you can't meet a deadline, let your client know right away what is going on. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE.
5. Take advice from the pros.
It's just as important to keep learning, especially from people who have experience in the gray areas of your life. For me it was finding real support & advice from someone I could trust and therefore keeping me motivated to never give up. Luckily people like Grace Lever are there to guide you and motivate you through every step of the difficult journey that is entrepreneurship. Grace Lever reviews ways in which you can achieve the life & business you love without having to feel like you're chasing an empty dream. More on her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gracelever
Hope you guys find these tips valuable and can apply them to virtually any business you're thinking of getting off the ground. If you have any more tips feel free to drop them in a comment or shoot me a message :)
You can preview my work at : Visualsbyzeinabkristen.com