What. A. YEAR.
10 gorgeous weddings with the absolute best couples + 86 lifestyle sessions (engagement, newborn, etc.). Allllll over the last twelve months. My bookings increased by over 200% + my sales increased by over 300% YOY & my mind is completely BLOWN by the growth Heather Etheridge Photography has taken on this year!
It’s hard to believe that I began this journey as a side-hustle two short years ago as it’s such a huge piece of my life now. In January I’ll begin my third year of business (!!) & here are some things I’ve learned so far:
It’s Ok To Take A Break: I say this first because it’s a big one for me. As someone who likes getting everything on my to-do list done before I relax, I’ve had to let that notion go. It’s just not going to happen. (I’ve had things on my to-do list for over a year at this point…). Once I’m caught up on editing + delivery, sometimes I just want to come home from work & sit on the couch & watch Bravo & be a normal person (without the nagging thoughts of “you could be doing xyz right now”)! I’ve had to accept the fact that as a business owner, there will always, always be things that need to be done, so it’s ok to give myself an afternoon / weekend / week to breathe. I’m still working on it, but I’m getting there!
Starting a Business — especially on-the-side — Isn’t Glamorous: I work…a lot. I come home from my day job & typically work for at least a couple of hours until Nathan gets home. During busy seasons, it’s much more than that — mornings, evenings, weekends. On top of two jobs, I’m still doing normal-people things like being a wife, maintaining friendships & spending time with family — all of which are huge priorities for me. While fulfilling & exciting to be growing a business, it can also be really daunting. (During the busiest part of the year this year I had 12 sessions in queue to be edited & I was like HELPPP.) BUT, this leads me to…
I Said “No” A Lot This Year: Not because I didn’t want to, but because I knew I shouldn’t. As I learned last year, I’m definitely not the best version of myself when I’m overextended. I struggled with saying “no” since I’m actively trying to grow a business, but the last two years have taught me that quality wins out over quantity every single time. (Also, I value my sanity + my priorities listed above, so that makes it easier.)
Find Your Efficiencies: They say “time is money” & they’re right — the business dream-state is to make as much profit while investing as little time as possible. Finding my efficiencies was a huge priority for me this year (especially considering this is a second job). At the beginning on the year I invested in a new MacBook Pro + a new camera (Nikon D750) + lenses, a CRM platform & made the decision to outsource my wedding editing. All of which have given me so much LIFE back.
Laptop (MacBook Pro) + Camera (Nikon D750): Probably the two most important pieces of equipment for running a photography business, so it’s important that they’re up-to-date. I edit using Lightroom which is a beast of a program considering the amount + size of images. I needed a laptop that could keep up. As for upgrading my camera — I was in need of a full-frame camera & with that, the quality of images increased exponentially as well.
CRM Platform (Dubsado): Makes contracting + payment a breeze for both me & clients. Thank you, LORD for this vendor.
Outsourcing My Wedding Editing: I went back & forth on this for a long time, but eventually knew it was the right decision for me + my business due to time + work-life balance priorities. Essentially after a wedding, I’ll go through the thousands of images taken by me + my assistant & select the images that I’d like to move forward with editing + include in the gallery (this process is called “culling”). From there, I’ll edit a few”anchor images” from every single part / lighting scenerio of the day (appx. 100 images) & then send the catalog of images over to my fabulous editor. She simply matches my edits & shoots them back over to me when she’s finished. Voila!
As always, I learned so much this year & have so much more to continue learning. I saw myself grow tremendously this year in terms of style + consistency & can’t wait to see where I am at this time next year.
A huge, huge thank you to my clients — I owe so much of this growth to those of you who have referred me, reviewed me & continue to book me to capture all of the special moments in your lives. Thank you, thank you!
Cheers to 2019!
[p.s. I am fully booked for 2019 weddings (& so excited for every single one!) but have lots of availability for lifestyle sessions throughout the year.]
Here are a few of my favorite images from 2018:
(Many more COMING SOON due to wifi being uncooperative while we’re out of town. Sigh.)