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The Secret to Success in Your Photography Business

The secret to your success is NOT your technical skill.  It is NOT your marketing know-how either. 

It’s your confidence.

Confidence is the key to making your dreams come true. It is the bridge between wanting and having.  

And on today’s episode, I’m going to share what I’ve learned over the course of my 25 year career about how to get it.

If someone were to ask me what the secret is to long term success in the photography industry, I’d honestly have to say confidence.

And this may sound like a trite answer, but I really believe it’s true.  Starting, growing and maintaining a photography business is a very complicated process.  

You have to have technical skill.  

You need to have artistic skill.  

You need to be good with people. 

You need to know how to curate your work and present your work well so that people will see it and want it.  

And you need to know how to set your prices and make sales.

All of that takes time and effort to learn, but it also takes a tremendous amount of confidence to execute!

Creating art is an extremely personal thing.  And selling your art- putting it out there to be seen and judged and purchased is next level vulnerable! 

Putting a price tag on what you have to offer is SCARY.

Marketing yourself.  Telling your story.  Explaining why someone should go with you over someone else is hard.

And the one thing that makes all of this easier is confidence.  

Confidence.  The feeling of knowing without a shadow of doubt that your work is good enough, your skills are where they need to be and the work you produce is worth whatever you charge- it is huge!

Confidence. Being crystal clear on the value you provide and what makes you different from everyone else. Not being concerned in the slightest with what others are doing or charging…. Never feeling nervous or concerned about what you are saying or share- it’s a game changer

So if confidence is the key, how do you get it?

This is a question I’ve asked myself for a very long time. 

You see, confidence is something I personally have always struggled with.

I’m a self-taught photographer.  And so I never really knew if I was doing it right, or if my work was good enough.

I struggled, sometimes I would produce great work, and sometimes I didn’t. 

 I felt like a fraud a lot at the beginning of my career.   Like I was just making it up and sooner or later everyone would find out.

Those feelings- classic imposter syndrome – kept me playing small for years. 

 I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself, because I was afraid that if the spotlight was on me, people would discover that I didn’t actually know what I was doing and call me out.  

Because I was afraid of drawing attention to myself, I wouldn’t really market myself.  I waited to be discovered.  I hoped that people would just find me, but I wouldn’t put in the work to make it happen.

Then I would tell myself that the reason I wasn’t busy was because I didn’t market, and used it almost as a safety net, like if I’m not doing it, then I can’t fail… like a weird exercise in self sabotage.

I was also undercharging.  

I felt insecure because I was self taught and didn’t feel like I had the right to charge what “real” photographers charged, so I was extremely cheap, and then told myself that the only reason I had clients was because I was inexpensive, not because I was good at my job… 

I was honestly  just a ball of insecurities for years.  And it felt terrible!  I hated it.  So slowly I started to do the work to address my big insecurities.  

The first thing I did was work on my technical skills. 

I learned all about the exposure triangle, and how to shoot in manual and how to use lights…. And I found that as my technical skills grew, so did my confidence.

The old story of “I don’t know what I’m doing” slowly began to be replaced by a feeling of mastery.

Feeling like I was actually a good photographer and that I knew what I was doing gave me the courage to raise my rates.  And I actually started making money!

Then I began to study business and marketing and discovered I was good at those things too.

First time ever, I actively started to put myself out there.   I realized that no one was going to tell my story.  No one was going to champion my cause.  I had to do it myself.  And as I did, people began to notice.  I gained more clients, but I also caught the eye of big brands and was asked to speak and teach.

Click and Company asked me to speak on one of the big stages at their conference and live streamed it!  My imposter syndrome kicked into high gear, but I did it and discovered I’m a really good public speaker, which boosted my confidence

CreatedLive asked me to teach on their platform in front of thousands!  I thought I was going to die, but I did it, and that boosted my confidence…

People and brands I respected praised my work, and that made me feel like maybe I am good at what I do!  The feedback boosted my confidence.  

And confidence feeds itself. 

Confidence begets more confidence! It builds on itself.

Now I’m at a point in my career where I feel super confident!  I still make mistakes, because I’m human.  But I’m no longer crushed under the wait of imposter syndrome like I used to be.

 I’ve spoken on countless stages, I’ve worked with and been sponsored by some of the biggest brands in the industry, I’ve taught thousands of photographers all around the world, and I’ve written a best-selling book.   A far far cry from the woman who was too afraid to charge a living wage and too insecure to market my business.

And it’s all because of confidence.  It really is the bridge between wanting and having.

But getting to the point where I am now took over 20 years.

And that’s a long time.

So if you struggle with a lack of confidence.  If you struggle with self doubt.  First of all, you are not alone.  SO many of us do.  I did, for YEARS.

And I know how much it sucks… So how do you get over it and gain the confidence you need to do the things that are going to get you where you want to be?

Well this is what I’ve learned.

Confidence comes from knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you are GOOD, even great at what you do.  

Simple, but not easy.

For me, confidence grew as I grew in my craft.  The more I learned.  The better I got.  The more confident I felt.

My confidence grew when other people, and brands I respected noticed my work.  Having someone you trust and admire, admire you back, does wonders for your self worth.

I want to give the photographers I work with confidence, and that is precisely why I’ve designed my certification program the way I have.

We start with the technical skills because I know that is step one in the process.  To feel confident you need to know you know you stuff.  So I teach all the things, and then I meet one-on-one with each student to look at their work and five them feedback so they KNOW when they’re getting in, and they know what they still need to work on.

And I provide access to group coaching as well to build community, trust and support.  AND, what I love about this program is that, not only do you learn the things, and get the feedback… you get the opportunity to earn a certification.  I personally review your work and certify you in the sandra coan method, and once I do, I add you to my online director and referral network, but I also send you a badge to share a proof of master.

You graduated knowing that you have been trained and tested and have EARNED my seal of approval and my trust.

We also do fun things like have a monthly photo contest and a Certification Summer Camp (in-person retreat) every year!

If you’d like to boost your confidence, I’d love to help!  Follow the link, get your name on the waitlist for certification!