My inbox, facebook newsfeed, pinterest, and even instagram look like one continuous flow of #girlboss advice. "The Instagram formula to growing your business by 10,000 followers in one month," "3 things that transformed my photography," and "How I started earning six figures in six months in design" are just a randomly selected sample of what I see every day. It's not encouraging. In fact, I find such motivational hooks more enervating than attractive. I'm timid about my own work. I don't flaunt it or exaggerate my abilities. If anything I err on the side of shrinking myself when speaking to others. I was absolutely TERRIFIED of doing freelance anything for money and five months in not much has changed. I am often spiraling in a mental "WHAT AM I DOING?!" Not because of lack of desire but just a guttural fear of disappointing my clients.
So what's my advice for growing your business without all of the preamble, catch phrases, and digital signup schemes?
1: Daily Practice
Yeah, that's real sexy, huh? But seriously, the best thing I've done the past five months is daily practice at photography--indoor, outdoor, low light, blazing sun. The more I play with my camera, the more second nature it becomes.
2: Cull the Heard, My Friend
This has been strangely the hardest yet best thing I've done. For whatever subconscious reason, it's SO HARD not to upload everything. It's like deleting a friend, letting go of a bad - eh photo. But that's 100% necessary and I've been really trying to focus on this more every week. Am I awesome at it? Um . . . Sometimes!
3: Quit the Comparison Game
This is so hard, isn't it? I mean beautiful work is literally everywhere. It's so difficult, there are days I just want to throw up my hands and shrug under the blankets and let everyone else take over. I feel like everywhere I turn there's someone's sister, friend, cousin, teacher, and neighbor who is producing gorgeous and authentic photography. Why am I even trying? Well, that's no good to anyone. I'm doing this because it's important to me, it's my love and passion too. More importantly, I'm working toward creating a photography / video / web design company that serves those who can't afford beautiful design (non-profits / single moms / those struggling / foster parents). I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way, and that's something to work for, even in an overly saturated field. Just put your head down and keep on swimming.
4: Feelings Aren't Facts
This goes hand-in-hand with the above. It's easy to allow momentary feelings to transcend your barrier to rationale and believe that how you're feeling equals reality. This simply isn't true. Feelings are fleeting. O.k., sometimes they are prickly, persistent little buggers, but they don't last forever. And even if they did, they aren't the same as marble-hard truth. The thing is, we all know someone who believes lies about themselves, regardless of the oceans of contrary evidence. It's so much easier to see the truth in others than in ourselves. So when I'm feeling useless, talent-less, and pretty much a waste of space I remember a few things:
1: I'm not here for me. I'm a follower and lover of Jesus and my "point" is to serve others and point them to him. That's it. I'm not called to be the best designer, to win awards for photography, or to bask in the accolades of others. I'm here for Him because he was / is here for me and for them.
2: Just keeping swimming, doing a little work each day, and eventually all of that work will turn into something beautiful. This is a struggle, to see life in the marathon view and not a sprint. But it's totally a game changer and revolutionizes my ability to enjoy the moment and do my best right here, right now.
5: Get Outside!
I find that taking a walk, going on a quick run, or even just stepping outside for a few minutes can do miracles in changing my mood and boosting creativity. It's always a good idea to get out of the house, step away from the desk, and get a change of perspective. Granted, being a stay-at-home-mom first and freelancer a far second, I am rarely at my desk anyway. Regardless, a quick foray outside really transforms my attitude, even when my challenges are in the form of laundry rather than design.