5 Things I learned in my 5 years of self-employment.
Man, this last 5 years have been a journey. On the 4.4.2017 I started my first business as a photographer, I still remember when I went to the chamber of commerce and filled out all the papers. That was such a good day and definitely a life-changing decision. I could go on how much I love it to be my own boss, bla bla bla, but I would rather focus on some learnings over the years. In this following article, I summarized 5 key points.
Guidance / Mentorship
Well, I didn’t start out of nowhere. I was very lucky and fortunate that my uncle already had a media company and gave me advice all the time, and still does. I’m so thankful for that, cause with his experience and age, he knows what can go wrong and what you shouldn’t do and how things work in the economy. When you start off new, you don’t know shit and most of the people have to learn it the hard way by making mistakes along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I had to work for every camera I own, and I’m proud of that. But having someone who knows the game is definitely a big benefit. Here I want to refer to a quote of one of my favourite actors:
“I have a mentor. I have guides. I have a lot of guides. Not really a lot, but people whose opinions I really respect and who I will turn to.” — Jake Gyllenhaal
If you’re starting out, or you’re already in the game, having someone who knows more stuff than you is always helpful. Would recommend.
I’m currently finishing my master’s degree in communication studies. In my university career, I undoubtedly wasn’t the fastest. Since I was on the university way longer than others, I got to know a ton of people in different ages. What I always thought was a bad thing that I was so slow studying (while I was pursuing other things) is now getting one of my biggest strengths. Back then I was very outgoing and talked with everyone about their and my passion and so it came that a lot of people knew what I was doing. And it seems that people remember that, because I still get requests from people I haven’t seen in years. Not only the long university time paid off, also doing photoshoots for free in the beginning to learn and get more experience really helped me. I’m still in contact with the people I did my first shoots with and when everything's fits, we still work together. Some working colleagues became fantastic friends, and this is the beauty of this journey, the people along the way.
This is key. Just do your thing. Constantly. I was following my passion of photography for the last 5 years. I tried to be self-critical, I tried to improve every aspect of my work, I tried to branch out a little by doing Youtube, writing some blog posts, being better at business and so on. Not only that, but I really focused on just making everything better for me and for my clients. Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t work all day and night, but just be persistent in what you do and people will recognize.
This is something I learned during the government restrictions of the Covid-time. From one day to the other, everything got closed. Events cancelled, Shops closed, Gyms closed, … the whole economy just got shut down. I already tried to diversify my clients before this time — tourism, industry, and food & beverages, and retail. That helped a ton, my business still got hit, but at least I still had a bit of work to do. I saw a lot of friends struggling who focused on a specific area, like weddings, events, school photography, etc. During normal times they did extremely well, but this black swan event changed a lot. And it also looks like that times stay chaotic a bit longer, so I think it’s a good idea to branch out to different sectors of businesses. This helps you to be more independent in the long run.
Be friendly & on time
Last but not least, I think it’s very important to just be friendly and have a good time with the clients. We’re as photographer are in the service sector and I not only want to provide good work, I also want to provide a good time and having some fun on set. It depends on the set or client, but good music always helps (especially in a studio environment) or just go for dinner/drink after work. You should always have a look at your soft skills.
There are still many more things I learned, but I think this are some vital points that stood out. In the next 5 years, I definitely want to focus more on giving back and helping people to follow their own dream. To build a network of young and motivated content creators who support each other. I also wanna spend more time with side projects to learn new skills and maybe add value to my core business.
More information about my online photography coachings and presets can be found on my homepage: www.chrisperkles.at