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When to say “adios” to your day job

When to say “adios” to your day job

  One of the most common questions we get asked from photographers is, “When is it a smart decision to quit my day job?” If you’re in that position, we want to help guide you through that tough decision to make! It was 8 years ago that we...
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One of the most common questions we get asked from photographers is, “When is it a smart decision to quit my day job?” If you’re in that position, we want to help guide you through that tough decision to make!

It was 8 years ago that we decided to pursue photography as a career. At that point in our lives, Zach worked for a company that photographed and produced images for grade-school yearbooks, and Jody worked in international sales and marketing for a record label. We learned learned a lot over the years about how to keep our business functioning day in and day out and one of the hardest decisions we had to make early on in our business was quitting our day jobs.

The struggle came when we were gaining huge momentum and found ourselves in the middle of shooting 30+ weddings our 2nd year into business and we both were working crazy hard. Zach had quit his job 10 months prior but Jody was working 80-90 hour weeks between her day job and photography.  We had a come-to-Jesus-meeting about how much time we were spending business building vs. marriage building (business building was WAY significantly more) and sat down and decided that WE were going to take control of our future.

We sought the advice of a few different counselors including the brilliant financial mind of Dave Ramsey. We wrote out our plan, did what was right based on our marriage relationship, and what we needed instead of what we feared (losing our “security” of the day jobs) and moved forward. We ended the year with a bang and our business continued to thrive and grow each year after.

So how did we practically make the leap?  What were the steps we took?

 

1. Income: 
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When your side business (e.g. your photography) is netting (what you make after expenses) 50% of what your making in your day job, then that is one sign that you are moving into the right position to quit your day job. Because your are only half-committed to the side business due to the limited amount of time you have to put into it, once you quit the day job and have an extra 40 hours free per-week (plus the mental freedom you gain not having your attention divided) then you can easily make up the difference in your income. Do NOT quit your day job, then just keep working the same amount of hours per-week in your photography business and think you will somehow succeed. You have to give it more attention and not less, and nothing will get you more motivated to win then having everything riding on you and your ability to go out and make it happen!

 

2. Debt: 
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We are strong believers in building your business debt free and living debt free because it gives us the ability to do what we want when we want, and not be worse off then when we started if the business doesn’t work out. If you have serious mounting personal debt, you may be asking for trouble if your financial affairs aren’t in order before you quit your day job. If something bad can happen, it will (Murhpy’s law) and what we want to do in life is try and alleviate as much risk as we can. Paying down our debt and getting that monkey off our back is crucial to feeling financially stable when taking a risk like starting your own full time business. Now, we are not saying that you can’t start a biz if you have debt, but we are suggesting that you become debt free (or at least work on that as hard as you can) to help alleviate risk. (For more info on learning how to become debt free like we did, visit http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu – this changed our lives!!).

 

3. Emergency Fund: 
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When you start working for yourself full-time, you will quickly realize that you can have months of plenty, and months of want. You need to learn how to work with an irregular income and budget for times when you have nothing (taking Dave Ramsey’s  Financial Peace University will help with this as well as our Business Finances Videos we did on our blog).

 

The first step in doing that when quitting your day job is building a serious emergency fund.  Figure out (to the dollar) exactly how much cash you need to live per-month at the bare minimum (paying your light bill, gas, food, rent/mortgage and so forth). When making the leap to go full time, we suggest having a 6 month minimum emergency fund. That way, you can go 6 months straight without making one dollar and still pay for your life.  The question to ask yourself is, “Do you really think you won’t book ONE gig for 6 months?”  The answer is no, but it’s a great thing to have in case of good ‘ol Murphy. You never know what’s around the corner. The more money in your fund the better, and be sure to NEVER touch that money unless you absolutely have to. (We keep our emergency in a money market that has check writing privileges).

 

4. Client Management System: 
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The last thing you want to have happen when you go full time is you get tons of clients (with all this new time and energy you have to invest) and start getting super busy, and then let the management of your business go to the wayside and then your clients start falling in the cracks.  This results in them having a negative experience with you and things can go downhill from there.  When you get busy, you need to have a killer system to help you stay organized, and keep your new clients happy. When they get unhappy, there goes your referrals, then soon there goes your business!

 

Start by writing down a systems manual for all the processes you have in your day to day business with your clients. From when to send them certain emails before and after booking, when to schedule shoots with them, when to send the questionnaire to get all wedding details, what order to back up images, when to edit the shots and so on and so forth. There is a ton of things to do, and you need to have them all written down in a step-by-step process and check them all of as you go. That will let you know that everything is getting done, and will keep your clients smiling and happy week in and week out!  (We did this in Excel and Word documents for awhile and you can also use great systems like Pixifi!).

 

5. Make a Plan & DO IT: 
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If it’s not on the calendar, it will never happen. This seems obvious, but most of us don’t take the leap because it is just that. A leap! Fear cripples most wantrepreneur’s (those that want to be entrepreneur’s) and stops them from ever achieving their dream. Be assured that once you have the above, you ARE in a position to do this and you CAN do it! Believe in yourself that you can win and you can succeed and you CAN have an amazing business and do what you love and get paid to do it! You have to put in the hard work, then take that leap of faith and go for it. If you are really scared, and don’t believe that you can do it and that something terrible will happen if you try, ask yourself this; “What is the worst possible scenario that could happen to me?” Tim Ferris says “Do you really think that you will be standing on the street corner, with a tin cup asking for money?” Of course not! You can always get another day job, so go for it and live that dream that you have been wanting to live.

 

It is always exciting to hear the stories of photographers who have made the leap.  We have all been there and you are not alone!  Take the leap!!!

PS. Next week, we’re going to share a brand-new video series on the secrets to running a successful photography business. As a subscriber, you’ll get it for free. But if you want to share this with a friend, please click this link to tweet it: http://ctt.ec/4wVa4.

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The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips on Living the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips on Living the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

What is success? Ever sit down and truly ask yourself that question? Ever felt like you reached what you thought was “success” and you had some surprises? We’d love to share with you an ebook that we are a part of - The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips...
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What is success?

Ever sit down and truly ask yourself that question?

Ever felt like you reached what you thought was “success” and you had some surprises?

We’d love to share with you an ebook that we are a part of - The Surprise of Success | 15 Tips on Living the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of. This project was lead by author Jeff Goins and we’re incredibly honored to be a contributor amid so many other great writers, speakers and bloggers.

Get your free copy of this ebook!

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We wanted to share with you our contribution:

Success comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s ambiguous. It’s subjective. Success to one person may be making a 6-figure income, even if it demands 60 hours a week, and success to another may be making just enough so they can be home and available to their family.

When we first got married back in 2005, all we had between the two of us was a GED, a college degree, a few thousand dollars in debt, and an income of 24,000. Success to us at that point was finding jobs we loved, paying off our debt and saving up to eventually buy a home.

Fast forward nine years to present day and one could safely say that we achieved success beyond what we ever could have possibly dared to dream as newlyweds. We paid off our debt, started our own business, eventually quit our day jobs, and we not only excelled at our profession but began to teach others how to be great at their craft and thrive in business. We traveled across the globe speaking at conventions and teaching workshops. We saved up for a house, bought our first home.

It seemed like everything we set out to do and worked hard for, just worked.

Long gone was the GED high school graduate wondering if he could ever amount to anything. Long gone was the college graduate wondering what in the world she was going to do with her life.

We had purpose. We had success.

And then the crap hit the fan…

The one thing we wanted the most and worked the hardest for wasn’t happening. We were having extreme difficulty staying pregnant.

It was in the middle of that struggle and in those dark moments that the success we had strived for and achieved seemed trivial. So silly. So pointless. We would have traded in a heartbeat our incomes, our home, anything, for what was really important—a family. Someone to raise. Someone to love. Someone that’s half of each of us. Our legacy.

Now that we have been blessed with a child on this side of heaven, our lives have been richer than we ever could have thought possible. Having our lives become about something more important than us has been way more fulfilling than making a great income or living in a beautiful home.

Yes, it’s easy to get sucked back into the rat race – it will always be beckoning, but success to us now has transformed into things that are more long-lasting. Things that matter more. There is nothing wrong with hard work and enjoying the harvest from that work. However, when our whole purpose becomes striving after goals and achievements that will soon fade away, we soon are left more unfulfilled than we may have thought possible.

Success to us now looks a little different. Yes, having a profitable business is still a goal, but ultimately striving for our own achievements and making ourselves happy is not fulfilling. Giving of ourselves for someone else and for a greater purpose is what true success is for us.

To read from the other authors and hear their spin on success, download the free ebook now.

 

PS. We are working on a free video series about the lessons we’ve learned in owning a successful photography business… stay tuned!

George Twins Promo Shoot #2

George Twins Promo Shoot #2

This is my (Zach’s) second time working with the amazing George Twins. I shot all of their promo work for their Youtube channel back in 2014 and am proud that I got to be on the team! One of their recent videos even hit over 2.4 million views!   Here is...
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This is my (Zach’s) second time working with the amazing George Twins. I shot all of their promo work for their Youtube channel back in 2014 and am proud that I got to be on the team! One of their recent videos even hit over 2.4 million views!

 

Here is some of the work that I did for the continuing promo. This year they are putting out 12 singles, one each month, of new originals and covers and will use some of these images for that as well as Youtube. I also shot video of the entire shoot, and am cutting together some really cool behind the scenes for anyone wanting to know exactly how I shot this!

 

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Reciprocity & Why you Need some NOW!

Reciprocity & Why you Need some NOW!

    When we first got married we read a book called The Most Important Year, and one of the chapters was called the “Yes Spiral.” It taught us that if I (Zach) said yes to 99% of Jody’s requests (even if they were inconvenient), that she...
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When we first got married we read a book called The Most Important Year, and one of the chapters was called the “Yes Spiral.” It taught us that if I (Zach) said yes to 99% of Jody’s requests (even if they were inconvenient), that she would want to say yes to more of the things I asked of her. Simple, yet powerful.

This is called Reciprocity. The idea that if I do something for you, then you feel obligated to do something for me and the cycle repeats. (Tweet this message out to your network!)

You NEED this bad right now in your business. You need to be trying to out-serve the community that you are in. If you are shooting weddings, find out what wedding planners need and offer it to them. If you work with venues in your area, find out what they need and offer it to them TODAY! Don’t wait!

Everyone has some needs that overlap, like being appreciated, loved and made to feel important. Use social media, coffee and dinner hang outs to reinforce this need in others.

This is how we initially built our brand and trust us, it works.

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This is Chris and Kira from Chris Willis Photography who drove 4 hours round trip on Saturday to come and help me (Zach) with my George Twins shoot. Why did they come all that way to help me for free? Reciprocity. They follow our online content that we give away, and wanted to come and give back. I then decided to give more and had lunch with them and we talked about business and personal stuff and I am sure that they would want to give back to us yet again.

This is what you need more than anything in your business! Venues, planners and PEOPLE that want to help you because you have helped them, and then the cycle repeats. This is how you will get referrals coming your way like you would not believe and how you build a lasting business. Go out TODAY and give.

PS. Start the conversation below and let us know how you build reciprocity or what you are going to do today to start!

 

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