When I first began my business almost two years ago, it was an super crazy time in my life!! I was a senior in high school trying to balance homework, college applications, business and having some type of social life…it was kind of insane!! But, one of the major things that I struggled with was where to invest the money that I was making as a new business owner. I knew that I needed to invest it into things that would better my business, but how do you know what will benefit you the MOST when you are just starting out? Equipment, education, a formal photography degree, marketing, being a “preferred vendor”, conferences, branding, websites? How in the world do you know how to spend your hard-earned money in a way that is going to grow your business fast, inspire you AND help you become a more credible photographer? As I was struggling with college decisions, I began looking into applying at art schools. I mean, it made sense, right? Having a formal photography degree would OBVIOUSLY make my business a billion times more “legit” and people would HAVE to take me seriously. But, over and over again I felt like there was a gap there. I felt like formal photography schooling wasn’t something that you NEED to be successful in the wedding photography industry, and it wasn’t the things I wanted to learn. I didn’t want to necessarily learn how to get the light JUUUUUST right to photograph a billion different things in a billion different situations…I wanted to learn how to capture MOMENTS. I didn’t want technicalities, I wanted to learn from someone in the industry who had been successful at exactly what I wanted to do and soak up as much information as I could from them. So, I scratched the idea of getting a degree in the arts (even after being accepted to prestigious art schools) and decided to invest in the Katelyn James Photography Workshop instead.
Oh, boy…I can’t even BEGIN to explain all of the information that I learned from that workshop and the value that it brought to my business!!! From then on, I decided that I wasn’t going to focus on investing my money in technical classes, marketing, magazines, branding or a new website…I was going to invest in education. Because I walked away from that workshop feeling inspired, refreshed and ready to build my business in a way that they don’t teach you at art school. During that first year in business, I invested almost 100% of my earnings (yes, seriously) into new equipment and education to better my business. I attended 8 wedding photography workshops, 2 conferences and gradually collected all of the equipment I knew I needed for wedding photography. Now, during the second year of my business, I am SO glad that I did. Because, now I can profit almost 100% of my earnings since my education and equipment are all set to go, and I honestly believe that I owe the success of my business to that one decision during the first year!!!
So, if you are considering investing in a workshop, mentoring session or conference…just do it. Here’s why:
1. You will learn information from someone who has DONE it:
This one seems obvious…but it is SUCH an important thing to think about! You can read information on a blog post or on Google, you can ask your friends’ opinions, or you can sit down with someone who has most likely done EXACTLY what you’re doing, been through exactly what you are going through and can offer real, honest, practical advice for you to immediately apply to your business. Where else can you receive that kind of wisdom and mentorship!?
2. You will make some of the most valuable connections:
Not only are you learning from some of the industry’s leaders…you are CONNECTING with them and building valuable relationships! Some of the women who have hosted the workshops I’ve attended have become some of my dearest friends, and I’m not sure it would have happened if I hadn’t attended their workshop!
3. You will have a new network of soul sisters:
This one may seem far fetched…but I’m serious!!! After attending a workshop or conference, you become a FAMILY with all of the other attendees! The photographers leading these events almost always create some type of online community for the attendees…and you will continue to value that community, share your celebrations, ask advice and build friendships with those people for years to come!!
If you are considering registering for a workshop, attending a conference or booking a mentorship with a photographer you admire…do it!!! I promise that you won’t regret it and that it will take your business to a whole new level!