The First in the Forest

2018 kicked off with big plans but they didn’t quite go as I’d expected… some personal changes meant I had a bit less energy for the business so I took fewer bookings than I’d planned.

But from the ones I did take, I’ve managed to raise enough funding to plant five trees with Trees for Life as part of our new collaboration!

I’m very excited about this – giving back to our wonderful planet is something that means a lot to me and has been a big part of my business plan for many years.

I can’t wait to send the donation later this month to help restore the Caledonian Forest and I couldn’t do it without you!

Thank you! x

 

Lost Along the Way…

Back in December, I wrote a blog about the 12 Things I’ve Learned in 500 Days of Mei Photography.

Today, now at 818 Days of Mei Photography, I went back and read it again.

I’m really glad I did.

I wrote the blog as a way to help people in a similar stage of their businesses realise that they are not alone. All the worries, panics, fears and insecurities are normal and part of the journey.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot about it.

“It” being both my blog post and the information within it. I really need to learn to take my own advice.

In the last few months, this roller-coaster ride that is setting up and running your own business has felt a bit shaky. This is thanks to a variety of reasons but at lot of it is linked to the very first point -> lots of ideas + not enough time = lack of focus and a bit of a burnout.

Burnout is pretty severe sounding. It’s not as bad as all that but I am getting bogged down in worrying about all the things I’m trying to do and not really feeling good enough to do it all. And to be honest, I can’t do it all. At least not at the same time. Somewhere along the way I forgot that again and I’ve had to take a step back to refocus.

I’ve never been one to be short of ideas. And I’m the first to admit that not all my ideas are good ideas. So I have to learn to take time to think about what is useful and worthwhile before diving straight in.

Teal green writing on a white background which reads "A goal without a plan is just a wish" with the Mei Photography Logo

And that requires planning.

I love planning. The act of it that is. The charts, timelines, budgeting etc. I am one of those people who actually enjoy it. At least to a certain extent. But for some reason, when the excitement of a new idea or project takes hold, the planning stage goes out the window and I dive in at the details end. And then a few weeks/months/a.n.other amount of time later, I’m left with a lot of half finished projects which I didn’t have a clear end point and feeling like I’m treading water instead of achieving anything.

And no wonder. With no clear end point, how can I know if anything is finished? What am I trying to achieve with all these ideas? A greater good like #RealGirlsRealBeauty where the aim is to help people? To meet more people who might be future customers and make my business sustainable? To increase awareness of the work I’m doing? Or to improve my craft and upskill? Lots of ideas are great but if they quickly become useless without any point.

So here’s the thing, by the end of BLOGtober, the goal is to update and refresh my Business Plan and have clear outlines and priorities for these many ideas floating about in this creative but sometimes impulsive mind of mine!

Wish me luck… I’ll need it! x

 

 

 

 

Welcome to BLOGtober!

Blogging.

It’s hard.

It shouldn’t be. I have lots of ideas and stories to share with you. But I almost never do it. Mostly because of timing issues which really boils down to bad planning as far as blogs go. I tend to put them off and “plan” to come back to them.

So I’ve set myself a challenge and I’m going to post a-blog-a-day for the month of October.

BLOGtober, if you will.

(Stick with me, it gets better!)

I actually have three blogs, which only adds to the confusion. But I will post links to them all here at the very least as they are all relevant to my work and being a female entrepreneur who is trying to figure out what on Earth she is doing.

You can check them out here:

https://wildlifebyjo.wordpress.com/
http://www.jofoowildlifephotography.com/about/blog/
and of course, where you are now: http://www.meiphotography.co.uk/about/blog/

And, I do have a plan… or at least a start of one… and while this is a totally lame start, I’ve made it legit by adding a photo…

A black & white photo of my list of blog ideas for the month

Blog-tober plan

Honestly. it WILL get better…

12 things I’ve learned in 500 days of Mei Photography

500

FIVE

HUNDRED

The number of days since I started my own business.

That’s actually a lie.

It has now been 523 days since I started my own business.

I’d fully intended on posting this more than three weeks ago but, as I’m about to write about, things don’t always go to plan. However this next part is true – I can’t quite believe I’ve been self-employed for over 500 days. I’ve learned so much from my successes and my many, many failures! So as a little bit of revision for me and hopefully some helpful tips and advice or even just a chance for any small business owners to see that they aren’t alone, here are a few things I’ve learned…

1. So many ideas, so little time…

more focus WR

I started this business the way I start pretty much everything. Headfirst with a million ideas all jumbled about in a heady mix of excitement and nerves. I’m a planner, an organiser and I’m ambitious. My original idea was to combine my 3 loves: photography, dog training and conservation science communication. My Business Gateway Advisor’s head was spinning when I first rushed in with all my ideas. And my “elevator pitch”? At best garbled and had to be delivered on a trip up the Empire State Building to get through it all. The truth was, I knew what I wanted to do but I had no idea how to do it all.

Since then, I’ve become a bit more realistic. I couldn’t do everything all at once. No matter how much I tried or wanted to – it just wasn’t a feasible business strategy. To survive as a small business owner you have to be focused and work out how to make your idea make you money. It seems a bit basic but the reality is, if your business doesn’t make money, it won’t survive. Successful, sustainable businesses need money.

So I focused on photography in this first year with a little bit of conservation thrown in.  This made most sense for me. I love taking photos and capturing moments for people. I also love the art of it.  The creativity and ideas behind it. I’ve temporarily shelved a couple of my other ideas until life becomes a bit more stable – then I’ll throw another ball into the juggling mix.

2. Value what you dowhat you're worth WR

This has been a tough lesson. Especially when just starting out and working in a creative business. Creative work is personal. We do it because we believe it improves other people’s lives even in just the smallest way.  We do it because we want to make a difference.

Figuring out how much to charge has as much to do with confidence as it does maths.  You need to cover your costs, have good enough profit margins to be able to reinvest in the business but still be competitive and also be able to take a wage so you can, you know, live. Simple? Yes? Not quite.

It takes a lot to put yourself out there and this becomes more apparent when the product you’re selling is a creative one, it’s like an extension of yourself and the way you feel about yourself is reflected in your prices. Getting the price you deserve for your work starts with you. Know your worth and value your work, or no-one else will.

Farewell 2014! Hello 2015! x

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts – before this, and after this. – Fallen

This past year has been a big one for me.  I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to start up my own business doing what I love, taking photographs.  It’s been a dream of mine to own a small business and I’m so excited to be chasing after my dream.  So far it’s been challenging, exciting and demanding as I learn the ropes and just begin to understand all that’s involved.

The support has been amazing.  I’m blessed with a extraordinarily talented and generous group of family and friends who help make everything just that bit easier.  So it seems fitting that I end 2014 with a Thank You to everyone for their love and support.  I’ll try to remember everything but if I forget something let me know!

Thank you to…

  • My parents!  For always encouraging me and supporting my decision to leave my job and go out on this adventure and for helping me find the funds to add to my ever-growing photography kit.  Plus, they also have a growing collection of my work in their home.  I’m sure they’ll show it to you if you fancy a visit!
  • My talented friend Stephen who spent many, many hours working with me to design my logo.  I love it and get compliments on it all the time.  Thank you for your patience.
  • Jenny & Robert at Glasgow Science Centre who made it possible for me to have my first ever exhibition and kept it on display for a whole year.
  • Johanna, who has been a fan and supporter of my work for a couple of years now and even traveled to see my exhibition (it was lovely to finally meet you a couple of weeks ago!).
  • Louisa, who bought my first official print and made me believe that this might actually be something I can do.
  • Kim, who not only encouraged me to go for it after finding success and happiness in her own small business (Kimmycakesuk – check her out!) but also got me my first official portrait session booking with the lovely Peer Family.

Collage of images from family photo shoot

  • Katy, who has been working on her own business venture and cheering me on with mine, every step of the way.
  • Ian, Sharon, Katy, Morna & Yaz who booked me to return to GSC and capture photos of the events there.  I had a great time and was happy to be involved.  Exciting and engaging people with science will always be an important part of my life.
Scottish Water Event
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  • Everyone who has worked with me and given me honest feedback to help me figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Laura, who put in hours of work to build this website and also spent weeks teaching me how to edit it and structure it myself.  Your never-ending patience has been amazing while I struggle through all the jargon!
  • Craig, Sophie, Jo, Joanna, Johanna, Claire, Lynn, John and my parents for looking over my website and checking it made sense.
  • Fiona, Jennifer, Ian and Steven who have agreed to be part of a mini advisory board and offer their expertise and guidance in the future.
  • Claire and Mairi who bought various prints of my Squirrel photos – some of my favourite shots from the year and made me even more determined to move in to wildlife photography.

There is no gallery selected or the gallery was deleted.

  • Siobhan, for taking the time to look over my contracts and terms & conditions and made all the legal talk something I could actually follow!
  • Everyone who has liked my page, retweeted my images, commented on Facebook, 365project or 500px – it may seem a very small thing on your side but trust me, it means a lot to me.  Every little like and comment lifts my spirit and keeps me ploughing through the less glamorous side of being a small business owner (special nod to Jo B, Johanna and Sophie as they’ve been especially supportive in the world of social media!).
  • And last, but far from least, Ewan. My other half. My better half. He has been everything from a problem solver to a food provider; a shoulder massager to a copy editor; a tech adviser to my much needed comedy relief; my number one fan and the all important shoulder to cry on when I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the process.  I would not be here without you.

Thanks so much to you all.  You’ve all played a part in making a dream come true.  I cannot wait for the excitement and adventure in 2015 and I’m looking forward to my first run of bookings with my niece’s birthday party, the Mpiana family and a trip to see the Red Kites again.

Best wishes for you and yours in 2015! xx