How I Plan on Kicking Ass and Taking Names in 2018

2017 was a very stagnant year for me.  I won #1 Photographer in SWVA in Virginia Living Magazine, I should have been elated, but I feel like I have been holding my breath for a year straight.  My depression and anxiety have overshadowed anything I have accomplished.  When I do feel ok, I watch the atrocities going on in America and feel guilty.  I have to get over the pity party and execute some of the awesome ideas I have been fleshing out on Pinterest boards and in composition notebooks for months to years.

Time to start planning for 2018… Honestly I already started planning for 2018 a month or so ago and accomplished one of my big goals already which was to create a Free Wedding Planner + Checklist.  I splurged and bought The Big Picture Planner from Design Aglow and wrote down Wedding Planning Freebie as my Quarter 1, 2018 project to include creation of the PDF itself, a series of accompanying emails to help with wedding planning, marketing images, and sharing/sponsored posts on social media.  Check, check, check, and check, I’ve done it all already.  Only have 7 people have downloaded my Free Wedding Planner + Checklist so far, but I consider it a success - I haven’t sent it out to my newsletter yet and it only went live a couple of weeks ago.  This is something that has been on my to-do list for over a year and I built it up to be some complicated and such a long, drawn out process that I thought would take me 3 months to complete and I finished it in less than 3 weeks.  I’m off to a good start so I think I will set some batshit crazy goals for 2018 because why the hell not?

In 2018 I want to

  • Book 35 Weddings (about twice as many as I normally photograph in a year)
  • Write a Book (Maybe even 2?)
    • Marketing for Wedding Photographers: I have been looking for a book that is exclusively about marketing for wedding photographers for years and haven’t found one, so now I am writing one.  Sign up for my list to be notified on the progress if you want to be one of the first to take a peek.
    • Making More Money for Photographers: Making photography your full time job can be extremely stressful, especially when business is slow.  This one will be about creating multiple income streams to make sure you are bringing in more money with minimal extra work.
  • Publish my year backlog of blog posts
  • Participate in a wedding expo
  • Attend 2 networking events
  • I want to learn some videography… I would love recommendations on someone who will literally hold my hand throughout the process because the videos I have shot so far are complete garbage.  Apparently my photo skills don’t translate over to my inability to hold a camera straight without shaking like the Blair Witch Project.
  • 10% increase in social media followers across the board
  • Organize and execute at least one styled shoot
  • Invest in stock market [only if it crashes from this crazy high it has been on in 2017]
  • Focus on my physical and mental health
  • Start selling my art through this website
  • Clean out my hoarder room so I have space to take photos, paint, and weave.

This is about the most laser focused my yearly goals have ever been.  Weddings are the bulk of my business and the most profitable part of my business.  I must control my ADHD this year and be very intentional with all of my actions.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2018?  Are you having trouble getting optimistic for what the future holds or eagerly anticipating turning over a new leaf?

Creative Live Course Review: Inside The Glamour Studio with Sue Bryce

Alternative Model Alexa Poletti, Photographed by Blacksburg, Virginia Portrait Photographer, Holly Cromer
Alternative Model Alexa Poletti, Photographed by Blacksburg, Virginia Portrait Photographer, Holly Cromer

Creative Live Course Review: Inside The Glamour Studio with Sue Bryce… Furthering your Portrait Photography Business Exponentially Through Streaming Online Workshops

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. While clicking these links won't cost you any extra money, they will help me keep this site and my business up and running! Thank you for your support! 

The best thing to invest in as an entrepreneur is education.  I am eternally grateful that I found Creative Live years ago, without the lessons that I learned through the courses on their website, I would not be the photographer that I am today.  When I started my business, I had NO idea what I was doing – my communication skills were garbage, I had no idea how to pose people, I did not know what to put in my contracts, and where the hell was I supposed to find clients?  I reached out to local photographers, but was unable to find someone to take me under their wing.  Thankfully after a couple years of trying to navigate the photography business waters blindfolded, I found Creative Live and started streaming their live courses every chance I could sneakily watch them at my day job.  I loved some of the courses so much that I purchased them so I could stream them on demand as a refresher.  In a series of blog posts, I’m going to tell you about these courses because they might be extremely helpful to you as well!

Inside The Glamour Studio with Sue Bryce was both how I found Creative Live and the first course that I purchased through the site.  This was the crash course in posing women that I never knew that I needed, Sue will blow your mind busting out 100 poses in an hour – this helped me go from providing final galleries to clients that had 30ish images with extremely similar poses (not necessarily flattering either), to delivering exponentially more images that were actually flattering and more unique images. 

The business and marketing portion of Inside The Glamour Studio blew my mind.  At that point, I was pretty sure that the only “marketing” I needed to do was to post one or two pictures on Facebook from each session.  My strategy was not bringing in any business, obviously, because it wasn’t really marketing at all.  I just threw it out there and walked away.  Sue helped determine what the best forms of advertising could be for my business and helped me build up my confidence enough to approach strangers that I would like to photograph – this is an extra huge feat for me because I have severe anxiety.  A portion of this course covers video fusion using Animoto to turn your still images and video clips into a gorgeous video without needing any video editing experience – this is an even better way to market your business now than it was when I purchased the course so I’m planning on revisiting this portion of the course and hopefully implementing it. 

There’s truly so much course content that it has to be revisited over and over to get the most out of it.  If I haven’t had a photo session in a few days and I’m just not feeling confident before a one on one shoot for some reason, I watch one of the videos from this course.  It helps me remember how important it is to bringing your A-game, be communicating with the client throughout the entire shoot, and a quick reminder of flattering poses to try.  I bought this course in 2012 and still reference it.  Loads of information and a lot of videos where you get to watch her work which was what I found the most helpful from the very beginning.  I paid shortly over $100 for Inside The Glamour Studio and it paid for itself after just a couple of photo sessions.  One of the best investments that I have made in my business and myself. 

Did I mention that Sue is from New Zealand so you get to enjoy that yummy accent throughout the whole thing?  Or that all of the images that are contained in this blog post were photographed using the information that I learned from her?

Creative Live offers a whole slew of amazing courses for creative entrepreneurs from photography and video, to art and music, selling on Etsy, as well as money and life planning.  I’m a very visual person so I never got into podcasts, Creative Live is like my version of podcasts with the bonus of visuals to help keep my attention.  You should absolutely check them out, I’ve been in love for years and I will for sure be sticking with them as long as they are around.  Check them out ASAP!

Alternative Model Rachel Dashae, Photographed by Blacksburg, Virginia Portrait Photographer, Holly Cromer

Creating Passive Income Streams So I Can Act as Sassy as I Want at My Day Job

6+ Passive Income Ideas for Wedding and Portrait Photographers

Finding direction has always been a struggle for me.  I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and my soul is always being pulled different ways.  The more I try to commit myself to a passion or mission, the more the world’s oyster opens up to me and I grasp up the pearls of inspiration putting me further off of a traditional beaten path.  I have always been a hustler, I started working when I was 16 years old and have kept at least two jobs/side gigs going simultaneously since that very year.  I turn 32 in a couple of months and half my life I have been working my ass off.  I am a workaholic, I need it to be this way to an extent.  Any time I become too idle, I feel myself slipping into severe depression and despair.  Point being, I needed a personal blog post, I needed to put some of the ideas bouncing around in my head out there for a little bit of accountability and in hopes that something will resonate with you and you will reach out so we can discuss further.

Obviously from my history as a serial side hustler, I am aware that multiple income streams is a must – either out of financial necessity or neurotic necessity like it is for me.  While browsing around on Pinterest, I came across a blog post called Make More Money: The Ultimate Guide To Why Multiple Income Streams Are Important, 6 Great Ideas of What To Offer & How to Add A New Stream This Week where Michelle Warner mentions that the average millionaire has at least 7 revenue streams.  What the eff.  So I’m working my butt off and I only have two revenue streams, and I’m aware that at least for my photography business I could be doing more to make it more profitable, but I am not a sales person, I lead everything I do with my enormous liberal heart right out on my sleeve.  This got me thinking about how much I hated Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek because the theories included shortcuts and income streams being SO impersonal which countered my desire to be so hands on involved with.  Now I am kicking myself for putting my copy of The 4-Hour Workweek in a Little Free Library because after 5 years officially in business I can now recognize that I cannot scale a personal portrait and wedding photography business to be sustainable and my sole source of income.  I am already working a minimum of 60 hours per week, the likelihood that I will be able to keep up with this pace over the next decade is not good so I need to weave myself a pretty little safety net for whatever the future holds.

Passive Income Stream Goals for 2017

Since I am already spread so thin, I want to build the passive income streams up first.  Interestingly enough, I started earning passive income long before I ever learned the phrase “passive income”.  Working a part time management position in the food and beverage industry was not making ends meet and one of the options I heard of to make money online was writing for a site called Associated Content [RIP – purchased by Yahoo only to be completely dismantled shortly thereafter and all of my old writing was deleted with no backup copy].  I was paid up front anywhere from $1-$10 for articles over 600 words and then made a few cents afterwards based on the number of page views.  Now that is gone and I haven’t been able to find another similar site and structure so I’m starting out from scratch.  **This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links – but I’m for real doing and loving all these things and I’d be happy to elaborate further if you’d like to discuss.**

1.       Educational Resources: I have wanted to write a book for years, I’ve even had the basis of it in my mind, but I am horrible at writing fiction and cannot get that ball rolling.  As it turns out, I’ve been able to pour my knowledge out into educational resources though, non-fiction business advice appears to be where I hit my stride.  In addition to completely geeking out on arts and photography, I am also a total nerd for marketing and business plus I love working with other creative entrepreneurs.  Developing resources for other small business owners seems like a natural progression for me and hopefully where I can bring in the bulk of the additional passive income that I am hoping for.  I would like to create a couple of eBooks/guides and maybe some templates as well.  I have been doing a little bit of research on this topic, and I’m not 100% sold on the idea of creating another business solely for assisting with creative entrepreneurs.  I would somehow like to keep it in the fold of my photography business because I want to be hands on with everything I do without spreading myself too thin and starting a new site from scratch and building onto it is not happening right now.  I have heard good things about selling digital resources on Etsy because they are immediately available for download so currently Etsy fulfillment is my plan for rolling out this form of “passive income” [a term which I will use loosely here because I am aware that this will require even more marketing than I have to do for my photography business].
Concrete goal for Educational Resources for 2017: Create 4 guides/eBooks
Pie in the Sky goal: $20,000+ in annual educational resources sales

2.       Client Print Sales…  I am super lax when it comes to clients printing their photos.  As long as you are printing your images, I am happy, I do not require folks to purchase their prints through me.  Again, I’m spread so thin that adding another product to deliver is a sticky area, but I hear other photographers touting this as THE reason my business is not as profitable as I would like it to be.  I still won’t be forcing clients to purchase their prints through me, but to hopefully bring in a little bit of print sales, from now on, I will be offering 20% off any printed products purchased through Zenfolio viewing galleries for the first 48 hours after I send out the gallery of final images – an offer that is good for all clients as well as their friends and family members.  Currently I make $0 in print sales through Zenfolio, but I’ve spoken to a couple of other Zenfolio users and they say they are bringing in over $1,000 in print sales on their wedding galleries so obviously this is a huge area of failure and missed opportunities for me.
Concrete goal for Print Sales for 2017: $250 in print sales

3.       Stock Photography:  I have applied to stock photography sites a few times over the past few years, but found myself frustrated with the application and waiting process.  Somehow this year I stumbled onto Adobe Stock – I was able to create an account easily with my existing AdobeID and start building up my library of images, thank God for a use for a decade worth of practice shots and random flowers that I felt like keeping around on my extra hard drive, I was able to build up my content to test the waters and am happy to report that I have made some sales already.  I love these 100% passive income options, no additional marketing or work required once the images have been accepted for sale and they’ve accepted images that other stock sites have rejected before which makes me not even want to mess with other companies [however, Adobe Stock does not hold exclusivity, you are welcome to use the same images on other stock sites and if you have one to recommend to me that might be more profitable and worth my time than Adobe Stock, PLEASE let me know].  They also accept vector and video files so once I have mastered stock images, I hope to branch out into *gulp* videography.
Concrete goal for Adobe Stock for 2017: Build my portfolio of images that are for sale to 10,000 images by the end of the year. 
Pie in the Sky goal: $5,000+ in annual stock photography sales [I am currently at $37.50 so this is REAL lofty]

Update: Of course as soon as I hit publish on this blog post, I was accepted to Shutterstock as a stock image contributor as well so if you are interested in submitting stock photography, I've now added them to my list of recommendations as well, you can sign up for their site here.

4.       Fine Art Print Sales: You’ve probably seen sites around like Cafepress and Zazzle where all you do is upload your images and collect small bits of royalties off of your sales.  Personally I prefer Society6 for this, they have TONS of different products and an easy to use interface, they help market your work, and there is a chance that your work could get picked up and sold through a bigger brand [hello Urban Outfitters, I’m waiting for you to pick up the one single solitary image that I currently have for sale in my Society6 shop!]  Since I’ve been taking more photos for stock sales, hopefully I will come up with more non-portrait, frame worthy pieces to sell through their site.
Concrete goal for Society6 for 2017: List 100 images for sale
Pie in the Sky goal: $500+ in annual Society6 sales

5.       Affiliate Sales: One of the multitude of things I have done over the years is blogging so I already have an account with Amazon Associates.  Once upon a time that account made me $25-$200 a month in affiliate sales, but that’s dropped down to nearly nothing after my Associated Content guides were so rudely deleted by Yahoo.  After hearing Carrie Swails’ guest podcast on Photo Field Notes, Alternative Ways for Photographers to Make Money, I signed up with ShareASale which allows you to sign up for multiple affiliate accounts at the same time.  I have signed up for a handful of affiliate programs with places such as Rent the Runway and hopefully soon I will be approved for Artifact Uprising, but I still have no clue what I’m doing in this arena.  I don’t quite yet know how I will be incorporating affiliate sales, if it doesn’t fit in naturally, I refuse to use it, but I want to at least allow 6 months to see how it will go.
Concrete goal for affiliate sales for 2017: TBD
Pie in the Sky goal: $5,000+ in annual affiliate sales

6.       Swagbucks: I was super skeptical upon joining Swagbucks because I had been a member of one of those sites before where you earn points for certain tasks and then 4 million years later you get a $20 gift card to Kmart or some other crapshoot you don’t even want.  I signed up anyway and I’m super glad that I did.  While it didn’t even occur to me that this was a passive revenue stream to me, it actually is – I checked my account for the last year and I’ve earned nearly $400 from their site [which I could have taken the cash, but instead redeemed for gift cards to other sites and that’s why it didn’t occur to me to count as income].  Most of this accumulates through a Google Chrome extension that awards you points for shopping at certain sites where you probably already make purchases including Target, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Old Navy, Lowes, Groupon, Sephora, and travel sites [you’ll have the added bonus to be able to see if there are any coupon codes available for that retailer if you use the Chrome extension].  If you are a little hyperactive about earning points and credits, you can compete in challenges, watch videos, and fill out surveys to earn points and money faster.
[I’m not setting any goals on what I’d like to bring in via Swagbucks because I don’t want to accidentally give myself permission/encouragement to keep spending…  A penny SAVED is a penny earned and if I didn’t spend so much monies maybe I wouldn’t feel like I need so many income streams, but it is awesome getting discounts and cash back on things I was already going to order and I’m 100% sure you’d like to do the same.]

Passive Income Streams I am Currently too Poor or Terrified to Try, but We Can Still Chat About

  • Real Estate Rental Income
  • Investment/Stocks

5 Year Plan

So why the hell do I have this anxiety out there that I need to bring in all of this income on top of my full time position?  For YEARS the people who are close to me have probably heard me ramble on and on about wanting a wedding venue.  This is it.  I’m hoping to roll all of the extra income I earn into a savings account [or invest it into something with high interest if someone wants to teach me about investing and give me some extra anxiety meds to get me through the process of not knowing my money is 100% safe] until I am able to break ground on my dream location.  I don’t care to elaborate on it much more than that, but I want something that feels industrial, has tons of natural light, and a multitude of photographic options both inside and outside of the structure.  I have zero concept of what it costs to build something of this magnitude, but I do know that I would love to put as much sweat equity into it as possible.  If I make that a reality, who even knows what will come next.

Anyways… thank you for following along on the longest ass blog post I have ever written.  Politically 2017 has thrown me for a loop, but I have to get my eyeballs back on the prize because if we were going to spontaneously combust I think it would have already happened.  I plan on writing more about being a creative entrepreneur on my blog from now on.  I give myself permission.  Share some creative ways you’re helping supplement your income in the comments or any other feedback you might have for me.  If you aren’t comfortable with leaving it in the comments, but would like to chat, feel free to contact me using this form.

Romantic in Revolt

I want to tell you about something kind of exciting that I have been working on for what feels like a few weeks, but has probably been more like 2 years now [and it is actually not photography related]...

First Came the Dreamcatchers

A couple of years ago, my beautiful, talented, wonderful friend Brittany [owner of Tapestry Massage & Yoga in Radford, Virginia] taught me how to make dreamcatchers.  I quickly became addicted to creating art with my hands, I was churning out so many dreamcatchers simply to treat my neurosis that I started selling them at Green Heron Arts Center because I ran out of room.  I hijacked the phrase “Romantic in Revolt” that I had seen floating around on a neon sign that read “Childlike in Wonder, Romantic in Revolt” because it spoke to my soul and that became the name that started selling my artwork under.

Weaving My Worries Away

I started to feel really drawn to weaving and I had been fortunate enough to meet Kate Albee in her short time living in Blacksburg who is also a weaver.  She helped me push through some mental barriers and man up enough to purchase my first loom and go for it.  I learned to weave in 7th grade art class.  My only finished weaving from that class was a cartoon turtle that I drew myself made in neon colors, being the extremely harsh critic of my own artwork that I am, I threw it away thinking I would never return to the loom.  Here I am almost 20 years later teaching myself new techniques as I soumak my ways into the wee hours of the morning on a Melissa & Doug children’s loom.  The artistic process of weaving is so much more therapeutic for me than creating dreamcatchers, I always hit a point where I HATE the way my work looks, but I have to push through because I only have one loom – I swear this process is improving my problem solving skills and working through my doubts and insecurities.  Again I found myself in this predicament that I’m creating a mountain of artwork and squirreling it away in a room that I had once intended to be my photography studio [never say never, if I can sell my artwork maybe I can still end up turning it into a studio].

Etsy Anxiety and Crippling Self Doubt

The time had come to start selling my work online instead of in one retail location where my “ideal client” may or may not ever see them.  With a huge push from yet another amazing talented artist friend of mine, Stephanie of Celestial Surf Studio, I made a plan.  First came the dedicated Romantic in Revolt Instagram account [holy shit I hardly keep up with the photography one!] and I set the date that I would open my Etsy shop.  To take it one step further and make sure I get some eyeballs on my work and give myself accountability, I decided I would host a giveaway [see below] that I set to automatically publish the day the shop opened so if I didn’t follow through I would look like a complete jackass so here I am reluctantly following through.  Etsy has always been a mental block for me, I have dipped my toe in the Etsy waters a few different times and never sold a single item.  So I’m facing my fear of Etsy and I’m putting my weaving out for everyone to see and judge – it somehow feels more personal and like I am more exposed than sharing my photography.  Overwhelming anxiety.  With a MAJOR knot in my stomach I hit publish on 24 pieces of my handmade artwork on the Romantic in Revolt Etsy Shop this morning and sent an email blast out to the handful of people who asked to be notified when I made the leap.

Giveaway

To celebrate me finally gathering up my courage to give Etsy another try, I am hosting a giveaway!  The winner will get to choose a medium sized woven tapestry out of the Romantic in Revolt Etsy shop.

Below are easy ways that you can help me get the word out about my shop and to thank you for your help, each item will provide you an entry into the giveaway AND almost each of the entries can be completed once per day from now until the timer runs out on April 8.  Thank you for joining on my journey of branching out into various other mediums of art!