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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Nelson

Spending Money to make Money

Let's talk money.

For any new photographers who may be reading this, let me tell you, it is not easy. A month after starting my business I saw a rapid decrease in my finances which lead to several break downs. Having gone through those, I can tell you that the age old saying,

"You have to spend money to make money"

is pretty darn accurate. However, do yourself the biggest favor ever and educate yourself every which way in that sense. You have to know where you want to spend your money and know what kind of return you can expect from it before signing up for anything.

I'll start with some positive experiences and then we can move into the more, I wont say unfortunate, but the more eye opening experiences I've gone through.

I think one of my best moves, as a wedding photographer, was getting set up on The Knot. They are probably one of the number one most recognized platforms forms for all things wedding related. You can find all of your vendors on their site, and they are one of those companies that cares for both their subscribers, and their customers. So it is a win win for those of us who advertise on the site, as well as all of the couples who go to find their vendors.

However, when I was first starting out, the idea of spending $100+ to advertise myself as a wedding photographer, seemed out of the question. I was barely making enough money to pay my bills, so how was I to scrounge up enough money to pay for advertisement. The short story is I put it on credit for my first three months while I beefed up my storefront and personal website. I wont say this was the smartest option because I am a firm believer in only buying what you can pay for not what your credit line says you can afford. But, in this case, getting set up on The Knot, was my best choice. After having some false leads come through, I finally booked my first ever client through my storefront two months after signing up. I was beyond thrilled! And from there I went on to book several more, and a year later, I would say taking that first step in spending money, has lead me to make money. I will say though, it is not all sunshine and rainbows and booking clients left and right though.

Once you start advertising yourself as a photographer of any kind, you will start to be targeted by those who want to make a profit off of you. In some cases it is great and both parties win, and in others, you will be the sole loser in the situation. And those times suck.

A while back I went through a poor financial decision because I was promised the reality of rapid bookings to the point where I would be turning away clients because I was so busy. Now doesn't that just sound like a dream come true? So I whipped out my credit card and bam, paid for that sucker. Literally ten minutes after, I realized I had been sucked into their greedy little hands and melted down. Because I have chosen to work in the wedding photography business, one in which there are many others like me, I chose to see if my quick and poorly made business choice would warrant any clients instead of canceling and getting my money back right away. You can say, and "they" do, that I did indeed get a client out of the decision. However, the proof is not concrete and after consulting with someone it was brought to my attention that it was indeed a rushed decision and one that cost me quite a few pennies.

Those are the moments when things get really hard. You fall into the traps of those who are advertising their help for your well being and they end up being shady money grabbers. So now when I am presented with a "wonderful new opportunity that will grow and expand my business" I am very real with them about my history and how I will never jump into a promise without concrete proof. This is where all the education and second opinions, really save your check book and your sanity.

Now, it has been over a year that I have been actively pursuing my passion as a wedding photographer and turning it into a business. I still consider myself a novice at all things business related, but am learning everyday that some part of it gets a little, I wont say easier, but a little less difficult. I feel like a baby learning to walk sometimes. I'll get myself up and then my chubby little legs aren't strong enough so I plump back down. Some days I stand up and even manage a step or two, my arms flailing before I inevitably fall back down. But with every step comes a new level of confidence. I become more assure of my capabilities to sell a wedding package, or to reach out to a newly engaged couple, or to try out new poses during an engagement session.

"You've got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.”  – William Albert Allard
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