Friends! I know we are well into 2021 already, and I can’t believe January is almost over! But one thing I have appreciated this year was taking a slower start at blogging, reflections, and goal setting. Usually I feel pressured by the industry to go right into it on January 1st, but this year, I didn’t. Maybe it’s because 2020 was hard for everyone and we look at goal setting a little differently. We realize that many of our goals last year just didn’t happen. And that’s okay.
So FINALLY I am taking some time to reflect!
2020 was a year filled with uncertainty for all of us, and it definitely rattled the wedding industry as we dealt with a lot of rescheduling, loss of money, and having to re-do a lot of our legal clauses to protect our businesses. And personally, Derek and I continued to deal with infertility last year and started to do many different treatments. Honestly, that was the hardest part of the year for me, emotionally navigating that. Covid had its hard parts too, but that was harder. The hard parts of Covid for me were missing my brother’s 30th birthday, my good friend’s wedding, and our summer trip we had planned to Banff National Park. How I had looked forward to these moments that never came! (I’m sure you can relate)
But I look back on the year and am thankful especially for people that we were able to see. Though I couldn’t visit my family with Covid restrictions, my parents drove up to see us in the summer, and I saw my brother and cousin at a family wedding in the fall. And then in the winter, we were finally able to fly (for the first time in a year!) down to see my family for Christmas. I really valued these visits more than ever. And Derek and I were able to travel to New Hampshire and Maine this summer, which was great just to have a break! I am also so thankful for community, for friends who surrounded us during tough times. I think about one weekend in the summer where all my girlfriends and I had a staycation and went boating – those are days that I miss as I type this, but I am so thankful to have had those moments!
My word for last year was “Grace.” I didn’t even KNOW how much grace I would need. But thankfully, God provided it! Day by day, no matter what we were facing, he showed up and gave us strength, beauty, and love.
This year, my word is “Renew.” I feel that God wants me to go into this year with a renewed mind – not one that is bogged down with what we experienced last year, and expecting the same kind of hard. I feel that God wants me to renew my mind, so I can go into this year with new strength, and new joy. I am starting 2021 feeling hopeful about the year ahead!
Now, to get back to the “business” part…every year I reflect on what did work and what didn’t work the year before, and then make goals for the year ahead! So let’s dive into that together…
WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN 2020:
- Rescheduling so many weddings – this goes without saying, but the industry as a whole encountered many losses rescheduling weddings – not just this year’s income, but income for the year ahead. I was supposed to photograph 15 weddings, and instead I photographed 4.
- Over-saturating myself with information – During the height of the pandemic, it was hard for me to balance wanting to stay connected and inspired with the fact that TOO much information would lead to burnout!
- Zoom – it did work but it also didn’t! It became the new thing for all of us and one of the best ways to connect! But I also encountered some “Zoom burnout” as we all did. Again, navigating that balance of wanting connection without getting burned out by it!
- Contract language – I had to re-do my liability policy to include “epidemic, pandemic, etc…” as circumstances beyond our control. I also had to make sure I had a cancellation and reschedule policy in there where I clearly state what money is retained by my company in case of either. (Fun, fun)
- Blogging – During busy season (from August on), it was SO hard to keep up on blogging! I started sending out teaser galleries to clients and it became really hard with my workflow to ALSO blog. I think another reason why blogging was difficult was I was knee deep planning my October wedding workshop! Balancing the education side of my business with the wedding side definitely had a few challenges like this one – thankfully none that affected my clients, but I want to assess how to do this better this year!
WHAT WORKED IN 2020:
- My first online course in March: Tone Up Your Brand! I decided to try doing an online branding course, and I did it my way – over Facebook, where I was already used to the platform! It gave me a LOT of motivation during the height of the pandemic! And seeing other photographers connect and be inspired too inspired me back!
- COMMUNITY – I would not have made it through the pandemic without community! From the community created in my course / photography group, to Rising Tide Society’s monthly meetings, chatting with other people in the industry REALLY helped us all navigate the tough places and just places we’ve never before had to navigate in our businesses. I am so glad I didn’t do this year alone…THANKFUL!
- Helping my clients navigate Covid – I created a PDF with a bunch of other vendors to help brides navigate the hard times, with helpful articles that would help them think through their decisions and what they were facing. I think it did give my brides a little light and helped them feel supported!
- Shooting intimate weddings & engagements – once the weather was warmer and Covid numbers declined in our area, it felt AWESOME to be outside shooting again! I loved seeing intimate weddings with ceremonies outdoors, and people who were married in venues with open air flowing through. It was great that even though weddings were different, they still happened. And same with engagements! I was so busy in the summer and fall, and it felt good to be back at work again doing what I love!
- My full Wedding Workshop in October! This was probably one of my FAVORITE things in 2020, as it was a goal of mine that I never thought would happen – especially last year! But by fall, we all got into the swing of wearing masks and going to work – so it was amazing seeing 9 students sign up to learn how to shoot a full wedding day! Our planner Carianne and venue The Kester Homestead, and model/florist Whitney Nichols all outdid themselves, and it showed in every detail! I felt SO blessed by this day.
- Mentoring 1-on-1 – I did SO many mentoring sessions with photographers remotely, and a few in person – it was great to diversify my income (as we all needed to do last year) but also to inspire me and others! It was really encouraging to see this part of my education business really grow.
- Brand Launch Mentoring – I also did several mentoring sessions that focused on helping photographers who are re-launching their websites. I am SO passionate about branding and putting personality into our businesses, it really made me so inspired to see these photographers doing so! Another part of my education business that I was really happy to see grow.
- Teach 2 more courses before 2021 wedding season gets busy! After talking to my students, I am excited to plan a Lighting & Posing course for March and then a bigger Styled Shoot & Marketing course for this May! It’s a lot to get done but I’ll be able to recycle some content, thankfully! I’m excited to still be able to serve photographers even though the year ahead will be a lot busier.
- Catch up on blogging – I’m hoping to do this in the off season, be able to blog some of my shoots from last year that didn’t make it up! I am going to try to simplify and do less photos per post – hopefully that will help me!
- Update website – I want to update my current website / portfolio, and maybe tweak the design a little bit – my rebranding students inspired me to do more work on my own site!
- Bookkeeping – this is my huge goal for this winter, I want to have my taxes done in February/March!
- Client experience – updating PDFs / educational materials, and trying a new way of keeping in contact with clients throughout their planning process!
- Outsourcing this Summer – I am looking to outsource editing to help me get through a busy summer, especially come July & August! (I don’t even want to talk about how busy those months will be.)
Overall, my business goal is to find a better balance between my education business and photography business – AND just to survive this coming summer and set myself up to be able to serve people and myself well.
My personal goals are goals I can’t control – we are still trying to have a family, and I still would love to do more traveling. But both of those are goals I have to put in God’s hands. And I do so willingly! Much better in His hands than in mine!
This reflection was helpful for me as I thought about last year, and showed me how many things DID actually work – that was encouraging because sometimes emotions can feel one way, but looking at that list on paper showed me how much I still was able to do despite adversity. And that is something to celebrate, friends. We really made it through, together!
We are surrendered but hopeful, and I am walking into 2021 with a RENEWED mind!