I Thought My Business Was Failing… Personal

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Since I started my business over 3 years ago, I have been so blessed to have never gone through a season of being fearful of my business failing. I hit the ground running as a senior in high school and since then, my business has flourished into more than I ever imagined. I’ve worked harder than I ever thought possible, God has been so faithful and that has allowed my business to continue growing and gaining inquiries throughout its entirety. I’ve gone through really tough seasons of insecurity, seasons of doubt, seasons of work that seemed like it would never end. But I had never gone through a season of feeling like my business may actually crumble beneath my fingertips…until just a few weeks ago.

This year has been one of the biggest years of my business. It’s been the hardest working year I’ve ever had. With almost 20 weddings with my ideal clients, hosting 4 workshops, speaking at 3 conferences and launching a brand new website in May…it’s been a huge season of growth and change and blessing and gratefulness. When I launched my new brand and website in May, if we’re being completely honest, I thought to myself “this is going to make my business SO AMAZING and the bookings are just going to flow through the doors 24-7 and it’s going to be like magic”. So, when I launched my website and my inquiries dropped from a minimum 15 inquiries a week to 1 every three weeks…I didn’t know what to do with myself. For over 3 months, I did not book a single wedding. No, really. Not one. When I say I was getting ONE inquiry every three weeks…I’m not exaggerating. I began to convince myself my business was failing. I told myself that there must have been something huge I did wrong and that brides just weren’t coming and I was going to have to figure out how to make 2017 work with way less weddings than I had hoped. I beat myself up and was devastated cried and cried and cried. I was working 15 hour days trying to analyze every aspect of my business to change any and everything I could to bring in more inquiries. I worked tirelessly on new projects for my 2017 brides, stopped to take a break and cry, post a beautiful portrait on Instagram in hopes that someone would inquire, and then work some more. Three months into feeling this way, I discovered that my mobile contact forms had been malfunctioning since the launch of my website, which is where over 85% of my inquiries come in. Three months of emotion and hard work and tears and beating myself up…just to come to find that it was an innocent error with the server of my website.

This blog post is more vulnerable than I like to be with you. Because who wants to share that they made a huge mistake that made them think they were failing? But, last week on the Creative at Heart Conference webinar about “the biggest mistake I made in business”, I made the decision to share this mistake with the viewers. I have made COUNTLESS mistakes in my business that I could have shared, but this one just happens to be the most recent, the rawest and the most REAL. So, despite being embarrassed and prideful, I felt like I was SUPPOSED to share this mistake, so I did. And I received so many emails from sweet viewers that thanked me for being honest…so I decided to share here, too in hopes of encouraging someone that may be experiencing something similar or feel like they’re alone in their failures.

Clearly, there are quite a few mistakes made in this situation. I should’ve noticed the mistake on my site, I should’ve tested all of my contact forms from all devices, I should have seen it much earlier…the list could go on and on. But those are not the mistakes that I want to talk about. Because, yes, avoiding those mistakes could have changed this entire situation…but I don’t think the situation was meant to be changed. I believe in God’s beautiful design for my life and I believe in His goodness and I believe that this was part of His plan to teach me and work on my heart through a season that I had never experienced. So, I don’t believe that the mistake was that I didn’t catch my mobile contact forms malfunctioning. I think the mistake was my mentality and outlook on the situation and the way that I allowed it to take over. I allowed this situation to completely control my emotions and my definition of success. I was being asked to speak at some of the most popular photography conferences, but I wasn’t getting inquiries, so I told myself I was failing. I was working with some of the most AMAZING brides God has ever brought me…and I told myself my business was crumbling. My weddings were being featured, my clients were leaving me the sweetest reviews, my family was healthy, blessed and supportive. I had countless blessings to be thankful for…but instead I focused on the one thing that I THOUGHT defined my success. Since the fix of the contact forms…things have gone back to normal and God has been blessing my business more than ever before and I could not be more grateful for that. But, nonetheless, I want to talk a little about what God did in my heart during those few months.So, here are the things I want to share that I learned through this tough season:

  1. Don’t ever let anyone else’s Instagram feed make you feel lesser or unworthy. If you scroll through my Instagram over the last 3 months…you would never, ever know that this was happening in my business. But guess what? It was. Don’t ever let someone else’s skills in CURATION make you feel like your life is a mess. You are not seeing reality.
  2. I have never, ever felt like I was failing more than I did with 32 thousand followers on Instagram, speaking opportunities at huge conferences, 20 weddings on the calendar for this year and a beautifully curated Instagram feed. No matter what season of business you are in…You are not alone in the ways that you feel and the failures you experience.
  3. Success is not defined by any specific accomplishment, number of followers, number of bookings, the amount of inquiries or speaking opportunity. And if you have an idea of success in your mind…I promise you that it will change. I have accomplished all of my goals that I set for myself last year, and guess what? I thought that my business was completely crumbling. Do not allow yourself to define success based off of a checklist of business goals. You will never feel fulfilled, and that is not what God wants for your life. Count your blessings and be grateful for each and every one of them every single day. Success should not be defined by the number of inquiries you find in your inbox each morning…and I allowed myself to believe that for much too long.
  4. Never, ever stop being eternally grateful for your clients and the inquiries that you do receive. After having three months with a very empty inbox…I don’t think I will ever complain again about having “too many” emails or spending hours responding to my sweet brides. I look FORWARD to spending two hours on emails now and I will never again take that for granted!
  5. No matter how well your business is doing…don’t ever stop working to make it even BETTER. I had come to a season in my business where I felt like my business was on “cruise control”. Inquiries were coming in, brides were booking, things were going well…so I pressed pause on a lot of projects I wanted to complete to improve my client experience and make my business even better, because I didn’t felt like I needed to. During the season of not gaining inquiries…I finished every single one of those projects and then some. It is SO important to always be working to grow, learn, improve and make your business better than it was the day before. Because of that season, my wedding experience is better than ever and I can’t wait for 2017!

WHEW. If you made it to the end of this blog post…you deserve an award (or an extra cup of coffee/cookie/piece of cake). I hope this was encouraging to you and that you know you are NEVER alone in the struggles that you face! I’m cheering you on every step of the way. If you know of someone else that needs to hear any of this today…share this post with them!! I hope the rest of your Thursday is wonderful!

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POSTED

September 29, 2016

  1. Alyssa

    January 30th, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    This is so wonderful and inspiring! I been feeling like this for a while with my current business and with my other business I am trying to start. I need to hear this kind of encouragement, thank you for sharing.

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I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!

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