Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Fantasy Wedding [Marvel Addition]

We are Marvel nuts. DJ loves Ironman and Deadpool (the three of them share the same sarcastic humor). I am a Black Widow fan, but really, I love them all. We go to the midnight releases for every single movie. I even read the Black Widow teen novel that came out not too long ago - it was a gift from DJ, and we didn't know it was for young adults, and it was only okay. But I periodically see Marvel-related wedding stuff on Pinterest, and I thought it would be fun to fantasize about the big wedding we won't be having... Marvel style.

All images can be found here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to Better Manage Your Time

We've all been there. And if you're a business owner like me, you've really been there... and probably more times than you can count. You've lost track of time, your mind seems to be all over the place, you're forgetting to email/text/call people back, and you feel terrible about it. 

I have weddings to photograph, meetings to attend, images to edit, galleries to send to clients, students to teach, interns to train... And the list goes on. My friends impatiently text me, wondering why I'm ignoring them. I can't even attend my cousin's baby shower because I'll be shooting a wedding. And I feel like everyone hates me sometimes.

But it's part of the job. It's like my own baby. I have to give it all kinds of attention, stay up late into the night sometimes to tend to it, make sure everything is done to make sure it's happy and thriving. It's tiring, but necessary. But I also work full time in an office during the day. I have to prioritize and maybe try to stop multitasking so much. But it's hard. 

It's taken me years to master the art of managing time wisely. And I can't even say I've quite mastered it yet. I'm still learning. But what, exactly, needs to be done in order to better manage our time?

1. Invest in a planner.

A planner is an important tool for managing your time on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I've personally been eyeing this adorable planner for months from the My Rubber Stamp store. Although a search for "planners" altogether on the Etsy site leads to many more interesting results. Check them all out!

2. Schedule your day before it even begins.

I try to plan my days out the night before. Oftentimes it's at my desk before I leave for the day. Regardless, having a plan set in motion helps bring on the motivation.

3. Try to complete your most difficult tasks first.

By getting the tough stuff out of the way, the rest of your day should be a breeze!

4. Minimize distractions and practice self control.

This is my greatest problem. I have this terrible habit of repeatedly checking my social media, email, and cell phone. Because I could have totally missed something in those two seconds I looked away, you know? Try scheduling specific times per day to check emails and social media, and limiting the use of your cell phone - only pick it up if you hear it, rather than checking it just in case you missed something. You're more likely to get things done quicker this way.

5. Limit multitasking.

I don't know about you, but my desktop always looks like a billion things are going on at once, and usually, because there are. Right now, for example, I have six tabs open in Chrome, Adobe Bridge and Photoshop open in the toolbar. My phone just went off telling me I have an email, but if I check it right now, I'll slow down the writing of this post, pushing back its publish time, which could be in 5-10 minutes if I focus, or in 30, if I answer that email and start a new discussion with a possible new client. 

(If you have to know, I ignored the email until this post was complete. Yay for small wins!)

6. Organize your inbox.

This is a must for me. I learned of its importance at my day job, and it worked out very well in my own business. By organizing emails into folders, I don't lose anything, and if that one client who forgot what was included in their package asks me about it, I can go straight to their file, reread our emails to find out, and quickly give them an answer.

7. Set deadlines, no matter how small the project.

Put simply, finish what you start. I have to do it with every single client. Wedding galleries take forever to complete for me, for example. I work a full-time day job, so I can't sit at home all day editing and get that wedding gallery out in a few days like most pros in the area. It just can't happen. So I give my clients a 2-month waiting period. Usually I finish it before that time, but the 2 months is a good cushion for me to take my time and make sure they get my very best work.

8. View downtime as opportunity.

When you get a free moment in between projects, you could sit on the couch and binge-watch  shows on Netflix... OR you could get up and start that next project early, which in turn could help you finish that project even earlier and give you even more downtime later with which you could again choose to use or finish another project.

9. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

I'm not kidding. You'll thank yourself later.

10. Wake up early.

This shouldn't be hard as long as you get to bed at a decent time every night. I make it to bed usually by 10 every night and even this feels late to me, as I get up around 6-7 every morning. I still get my 8 hours, but I'm groggy as hell until that first cup of coffee. Regardless, waking up early is proven to help us get more done. 

11. Schedule downtime.

You may think this contradicts #8, but it's extremely important that once the heavy stuff is done, you schedule your own downtime. We need to relax to avoid burnout. And by actually penciling it in, you can't possibly feel bad about it.

12. Avoid doing it alone when you don't have to.

Ask for help! You're bound to have a friend or family member there for you, waiting for your call. Truth is, they're probably more than happy to lend a hand.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Giant Makeover

Hey y'all! Long time... again... but I can explain. Life has been busy.

I had a handful of sessions.

An event in Williamsburg.

A wedding at the end of April.

I started offering mentoring sessions and had my first student over.

And over this past weekend I photographed a sweet Outer Banks wedding in North Carolina. I had a blast, and I'm incredibly happy with the images.
But before I posted the sneak peeks, I decided to make some business changes. And as you can see from the images above, I had already made one small transition. But I wanted to continue with it.

I was getting bored with my gold and mint logo. Everyone loved it and I thought it was so me. Turns out, it's not me at all. And as I've started selling logo designs on Etsy, I decided it was time for a change. Hopefully I'll stick with it a little longer this time. But so far, I don't have anything to complain about. The website is gorgeous. The blog was redone to match. And my new logo is adorable.

But lastly, I've also decided to make some price adjustments.

After watching my calendar fill as quickly as it does every month, I've decided to raise my prices just a little. I no longer have them listed on the site, but until June 1st, sessions will be priced as they have been all year so far.

However, after May 31st, not only will prices change, but packages will be altered as well. For weddings and events (and possibly even larger sessions), consultations will be offered to help clients better understand and get the most of their packages. I have never been a fan of blindly booking sessions. I like to meet face-to-face, get to know you, understand who you are and meet your family members so we can all have the best time at our session, and in turn, get you the absolute best images. I want you to treat me as a friend. Because anyone who supports my small business is a friend of mine. But more on all this a little later.

In other news, if I haven't mentioned it yet, we've finally set some kind of date to move to Mississippi! We're looking at Fall 2017, so I've got a whole year and a half of weddings and sessions left. And when I leave, I'm planning on leaving my clients with my interns once they're experienced enough. My goal is for the transition to be as smooth as possible for everyone. I don't want to leave people in the dust. But I am so, so excited!