I’m currently reading The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan by Dane Sanders. I’m still deep within the book, but I just read a part that spoke directly about my current approach to developing my business. In Chapter 3 “Marry your vision to your market,” Dane talks about easing your way into the market if you’re able to. It’s a more reasonable and realistic option in today’s marketplace, and it’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
I began the process of developing Michael R. Mierendorf Photography in April of 2010. The first day? April 9, 2010 to be exact. It was the day I attended Scott Kelby‘s Photoshop seminar in Chicago. It was also the day after being laid-off from my job. It was the start of my desire to follow my passion for photography into a professional career. On April 9, I learned more about Photoshop and approaches to photography in general then I had in years. Scott’s personal approach to teaching and relaxed attitude that “yes, even you can do this,” was encouraging. I was 26, newly unemployed, nervous and extremely excited about the prospect of being my own boss and doing what I love for a living.
After joining NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) at the seminar, I took it as my first step to actually pursue this professional course of action. I jumped into creating a website, designing and pushing my content in the world more aggressively. I booked a wedding for late May (the results which you can see here.) I felt excited, passionate and optimistic. However, living in Chicago isn’t cheap, especially when my unemployment compensation was set at 50% less than what I should have received. It became increasingly obvious that I needed a full time job. Eventually, thanks to a former co-worker, I found myself at Columbia College Chicago in June.
Since then, I’ve shot 3 more weddings, portrait sessions, and expanded my website galleries to include categories I did not even originally consider. However, I continue to work in a full-time job that I love, and my side passion for a photography business is constantly pushed to the back burner. That’s where the title of this blog post comes into play. At what point and when do you push yourself from your comfort zone?
When do I force the change to a higher percentage of free time dedicated to my business, not just photography? I am sure that Dane’s book will help answer part of that question, but I admit that I don’t know the answer now. I know that it will take time to learn it, understand it and successfully take the charge to initiate my business. But I’m not rushed. My full-time job has granted me the opportunity to take my time with Michael R. Mierendorf Photography. I don’t need to worry about relying on my photography business as income to survive. There is a lot of work to be done, but I know that this past year has been about establishing a base and portfolio that will allow me to compete in the market.
Dane’s book has given me a healthy dose of reality that maybe the best alternative is not to push that boundary until I’m ready. Organic growth in this marketplace is reliant on an understanding of multiple factors including what I can offer; my competition; the need, want and desire for my products; as well as many more. My business will not grow without me tending it, but it’s nice to know that right now, taking my time isn’t a bad thing.