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The FIX

So this entry is a bit more on the symbolic side of things – this past week I had the chance to re-connect with one of my mentors, Jasmine Star and my peers – the J* Jets, who happened to join me in Seattle for her workshop last April.

The reason why this trip was so symbolic to me was that I’m at a point in my business where I’m re-evaluating my approach towards growth and delving into what REALLY needs attention as far as quality is concerned.  What really needs a “FIX” in my own system.

I’m a fan of being transparent and completely open & honest, so I’m going to share with you these exact issues that I’m dedicated towards working on this upcoming year:

-Faster client service: Responding to emails as fast as possible.  The more accessible you are, the more trust you earn as a result of being consistent and reliable.  The faster you are, the more the client can depend on you & are willing to refer you.  I’ve come to believe it’s crucial to have as much trust as possible in order to get the very best out of a clients wedding/event, so this has become a very important issue for me to focus on lately.

-Quality of work: I feel that every photographer is their own worst critic when it comes to evaluating our work – we are never satisfied – however I have some clear and defined goals I’d like to work on in terms of my lighting, composition, and artistic abilities.  These goals are within reach, and I’m dedicated on improving upon them.

-Focusing on the right network & demographic:  Work has been steady for me and I’ve been fortunate with consistent clientele the past 4 years.  However, now it’s time to concentrate on the clients that are aligned with my ultimate direction of photography and are going to contribute towards helping me achieve my goals.  It’s going to be really weird transitioning, but I kind of look at it like I’m graduating in a sense.  In the next month I’ll be saying goodbye to 2 of my nightlife clients – which amount to about $15,000 of my revenue each year – in order to really focus on my goals.  It’s going to be tough, but it’s something I have known that I’d eventually be doing when the time was right.  Life’s to short to be moving “up” the “down escalator” – and I’ve got to focus on the bigger picture.

-Updating my content:  For both my peers in photography and my clients – I’d like to allow you all to engage with me on more of a personal level – and with that, comes the issue of updating my content both on a personal level & work level.  I’d like you all to be familiar with what I’ve been shooting, where I’ve been traveling, and what is currently going on in my life.  I want this mainly so that when I see people, conversations can become relevant and when I talk about my portfolio, I wont have to explain, “Oh, visit such and such a post on my blog – it’s more recent than the stuff on my site.”  I want this thing to be locked & loaded.  Let’s do this.

-Surrounding myself with ambitious individuals & those that are closely related to my niche: I like having variety in all facets of life, and I think it’s best when you can surround yourself with people that have the same habits & lifestyles as yourself, or that which you’d ascribe to.  Your standard of living is similar, you can enjoy the same kind of experiences without worry of financial obligations like others, and you can identify with situations others are facing that may be relevant with your own.  In regards to those in my niche, it’s like this except on an extremely targeted level of discussion/experience.  A quote I refer to often goes, “Birds of a feather flock together – don’t hang out with chickens because they don’t fly.”

While these topics above may be common knowledge, they’re important ideas I feel need an emphasis at this point in my business.  I’m excited for the things to come, and I’m stoked for you guys to be along with me throughout this journey.

I’d like to end this post with a request for you to either 1.comment below letting me know what you’re working on in your personal/business life or 2. if you’d like to be more private, email me at the link above and let me know what you thought of this post.  I’m not usually this candid, and hearing back from you guys definitely reinforces the idea of writing more posts like these.

Jasmine Star The Fix San Francisco

Jeff King - “He that is not busy being born is busy dying.”-Bob DylanJuly 6, 2012 – 9:31 pm

Moses de los Santos - Quote:

“You were born an original, don’t die a copy!”

- John MasonMay 7, 2012 – 2:39 pm

Moses de los Santos - Tim,

About year ago I met you thru craigs’ list and after our transaction I began to follow your work and it has soooo effected me on many levels! I changed my website because of you, I learned tons about being open and sharing photographic knowledge (something that I want to model more in my life). I feel as if I live vicariously thru your adventures, if I didn’t have the life that I have chosen I would of been on the road with you as well! I still think deep inside that I will be traveling and taking photographs!

Meanwhile on the subject of “the fix” I am an amateur photographer that is moving more and more into doing wedding photography, my day job is that of software/technology entrepreneurship and trying to launch a couple of businesses from ground zero. I too, like one of the comments on this thread, feel guilty from time to time about the money and time that I have placed on this photography calling/yearning. I sometimes feel as if I am living a duplicitous life, the one with photography in it and the other one (lol).

I do not feel that guilty, though, because photography has become a wonderful way thru which I am now slowing down to stop and look around me. As a type A personality I was always moving so quickly, that I missed what was right in front of my nose!! NOT ANYMORE!!! If it has accomplished anything its’ that it has allowed me to enjoy living in the moment.

Back to the Fix, I plan to put out an online magazine this summer of my adventures and I plan to work seriously on and a marketing plan that will target the kind of work that I want to shoot and the type of photographer that I wish to become. If I have to take a class from a particular institution or individual or get a nearby mentor (any ideas Tim?…lol) I will do so as well.

Thanks Tim, because of your example, I too want to open up more and be “real” about being alive and being on this photographic journey! As you have said to me “..its a process man!”

I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes:

“You were born a original, don’t die a copy.” — John MasonMay 7, 2012 – 2:37 pm

Life with Kaishon - My goals are to have weddings edited and albums ordered within 4 weeks. It is so hard working full time and working on weddings but I really must speed things up! : )

Your goals are fantastic. I wish you all the very best.March 29, 2012 – 8:35 pm

ashley barnett - I’m working on removing a gigantic build-up of guilt I have. Guilt for following my dream. Guilt for feeling like I’m holding Jeremy back from his in the process. Guilt for spending money, guilt for feeling like I “should” be a million other things than I am and doing a million other things than what I am. So yea, that’s my “fix”. :)March 29, 2012 – 4:56 pm

Hannah Sons - Loved this post. I have been holding my “fix list” hostage, not sure if I am ready to let it out yet. But, just like you I have similar goals. Thanks for sharing.March 29, 2012 – 10:44 am

Masha - Great post as always! I’m also in the process of making some positive changes in my business!March 25, 2012 – 2:59 am

Erin Oveis Brant - Really excited to see this post! I have most of these things on my “FIX list” along with simplifying what I ultimately deliver to my clients (product offering) and clarifying my brand purpose and experience (so that I can ultimately focus on the right network and demographic). I feel pretty confident that if you stick to your plan that $15,000/yr will reappear in all the right, adventurous places. It was so great to be back with the pack for the weekend!!March 23, 2012 – 6:40 pm

Tracey - Goal 1: Define my direction. I have been so busy with my day job that I haven’t been able to really put as much focus into photography – my creative passion in life. I’m a photographer who also happens to enjoy my day job, but at the same time,I would also like to work on developing a client base that will allow me to feed my creative passion. I enjoy shooting weddings. But I don’t need to book weddings to survive financially.

Goal 2: New a new website & blog.

“I’d like to allow you all to engage with me on more of a personal level – and with that, comes the issue of updating my content both on a personal level & work level. I’d like you all to be familiar with what I’ve been shooting, where I’ve been traveling, and what is currently going on in my life.”

Get on it! Let’s do this fo reals! :)March 23, 2012 – 3:44 pm

Bethany Ann - I attended The Fix in Nashville and, WOW did it make me think about what I wanted to change and fix. I loved meeting Jasmine. She’s so kind and sincere. :)

Anyway, I liked this blog post. Like you, I am trying to “fix” some aspects of my business. First and foremost: Saying NO when I want to say no. It’s hard, and I need to do it for my sanity. Second, I am going to start focusing more on my overall client experience. For example, today I sent out a gift to my brides.

I look forward to seeing your business grow and change for the better. Have a great weekend! :)March 23, 2012 – 1:40 pm

Dan - I currently work a “9 to 5″ (more like a 7 to 4 really). Through my working career, I’ve always had things like health insurance. So my biggest hurdle (fear?) is trying to figure out what my options are in a very unknown area for me.

Thanks Tim for your blog. Your travels, adventures and self/business reflection are always inspiring, much like your photography.

**note** It’s not JUST health insurance, but also equipment insurance, and to a lesser extent….retirement.March 23, 2012 – 12:58 pm

Matthew Eeles - In my short time in photography, I have learned just how much I love doing it, even if unpaid. That being said my time is extremely valuable in my two sales roles, one being a company I am now fully invested in with direct equity.

As an entrepreneurship major with parents who operated a large company in the UK, I am always proactively searching for opportunities, business as well as lifestyle. Photography as opened my eyes to business opportunities that I wouldn’t have thought of before diving into it.

Mr King I definitely look to you as a photography mentor, however, I use my CEO as my business mentor. If he has taught me anything about business and growth, it’s that you value the customers most who you know will pay on time and spread the word about your work in a positive light.

As Gerald mentioned, offering services for free or at a low cost is all very well, but as your reputation grows so should the structure of you client. Unless they can provide you with an intangible benefit or a stepping stone to greater opportunities stay strong on price, believe in the value of your work and believe in your long term goals.March 23, 2012 – 12:46 pm

Josh Mitchell - My business life and personal life aren’t all that far apart. My main goal for 2012 is to get my name out in the San Diego market, and start establishing my business as a solid contender. I want to continue to make connections, have fun, and do awesome stuff. And by awesome stuff I mean I want to be there to photograph life changing events.March 23, 2012 – 11:59 am

Cody - Great post.
I am currently leaving a top studio (which equates to about 30k/year in revenue for me) to pursue my own interests and clients and transition into shooting film. It’s a new awakening for me and photography will never be the same now that Ive opened my eyes to this world. I like what Seth Godin said: “The problem is that their is a lack of guts. Guts is the willingness to lose. To be proven wrong, or to fail. It’s easy to be confident when you have everything aligned, when the moment is perfect. It’s also not particularly useful.” Best wishes Tim.March 23, 2012 – 11:34 am

Gerald - Always inspirational Tim.
For me, I’m working on getting my pricing strategy up. I started turning clients down that have been low-balling. It’s my fault though since I started offering services at basically free, just to get started. I know I’m not exactly in the same caliber as the high-end companies, but I keep attracting the $500 brides.March 23, 2012 – 10:14 am

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