Today marks my anniversary of 5 years in business! And it’s my birthday too! 🎂
You can read my whole journey about creating my photography business here. But the long and short of it is… one day, we were driving back home to Texas from a trip to my in-laws. I saw a field of Bluebonnets on the side of the road and stopped to take a photo of my daughter in them.
After taking that, I had such a thrill of loving seeing the joy and magic of my little girl captured that I had an idea. What if I could provide this same joy to others?
That very day, I decided to start a Facebook page for my unofficial business. I called it Bee Sweet Photo & Design. So while this “business anniversary” is not the official anniversary of how many years I’ve been a legal business, or how many years I’ve been known as Melissa Sheridan Photography – it’s the official “when I started photography” as a real thing anniversary for me. But I still count it because it was the moment I started growing an idea into a dream!
My business journey has not always been easy, despite what social media and pretty photos may depict. I am extremely grateful to be where I am today though and am expectant of many more years in this business doing what I love and connecting with amazing people. Notice I didn’t say “making money” or “taking photos.” While I do both of those things, the core of my business is people and will always be people – you guys! I truly do this because I love it, it’s my passion, and it feeds my creative outlet.
Here’s 5 things I’ve learned in 5 years in business. Enjoy!
If I could go back in time and prepare myself, I’d have had a talking to with myself about the work involved. Unless you are also a business owner, it’s so hard to explain the level of effort that goes into it!
I have little work/life balance because I am so invested in my work sometimes. I wear all the hats in my business and currently do not outsource anything so I am a bookkeeper, social media manager, photographer, marketing expert, photo editor, send client contracts, build relationships with other photographers/vendors in the area… the list goes on! I know if I didn’t work as hard as I have, I wouldn’t be as successful as I’ve been though. I do not regret any choices I’ve made to hustle. It’s always a choice. But man, is it some work!
Yeah, I’m sure every photographer or business owner says this, but my clients truly are some amazing people!
As a military spouse, I often work with a lot of other military families in the community too. It’s very meaningful to me to provide a family’s photos at a duty station they’ll only live at for a few months to a few years, so they can remember their time there. And since military are often not near family, it’s important for them to share images with family who are far away. My clients are so appreciative of their photos for the fact that they are often sharing them with a service member who is deployed or a grandparent who hasn’t seen the grandkids in a while. I love that I have a part in that for my clients.
Regardless, my clients are all super nice people who enjoy a fun, painless, and quality photo experience. If you’re a past client of mine, I truly cannot thank you enough for trusting me as your photographer. It’s a personal job and I truly do take it so personally. So THANK YOU!
As time has gone on, I’ve niched down to only offer newborn, family and wedding photography. I say no to pretty much anything else unless it’s for a friend and I’m helping them out. I do not offer commercial or real estate photography, senior sessions, or event photography that’s not weddings.
By choosing to focus on just the types of photography I truly love, I give my clients a better experience. This also ensures I’m not saying yes to projects that take up my time but don’t add a lot of value to my business/life. I’d much rather focus on what I love and am great at than say yes to every inquiry that comes my way just to make a sale.
When I was a newer photographer, I thought that was the only hat I wore. Sure, I’d post stuff on social media, maybe update my website now and again, but my main job was take photos, right?
As time has gone on I’ve actually realized that taking and editing photos takes up the least amount of time in my business. Crazy, right?! I spend a lot more time on social media management, marketing my business, and working on my client workflow than editing photos (except in October! woof!).
It was a long road to come to love inputting my expenses or tracking all my income. Now that I have a good system down and have worked out the kinks, I actually enjoy the business side of being a business owner. I hope every business owner gets to experience that freedom. It’s not pain-free all the time, but I don’t totally loathe filing my monthly sales tax anymore. Win!
I absolutely love being my own boss, creating projects, connecting with my clients at photo sessions, procing beautiful prints and wall art for people, & more. My business has helped me be a better person overall. I wouldn’t change any part of this journey at all!
If you are a long-time friend, client or supporter of my business, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support you’ve given me throughout these past 5 years in business. I really don’t know how I’m celebrating this milestone already – it seems like I just started. Truly, I am so happy to be doing what I do. I really care and I hope that always comes across to those who come across my business. My business wouldn’t be what it is today without YOU! So again, thank you. ❤️
It’s been an honor to be in 5 years in business. I am so excited for many more!
Are we friends on the ‘gram? If not, I’d love to connect with you there!
Melissa Sheridan is a newborn, family and wedding photographer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is a military spouse, mom of two, avid reader, and probably drinks too much coffee. You can find her on Facebook and Pinterest. Looking to schedule a photo session? Contact her here!