Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reality Check on My Business — Surviving Not Thriving

I'm just surviving with my photography business...not thriving (I can't save any money so we can eventually move out of my parents' house). I'm struggling to motivate myself to work in my studio space, feeling embarrassed by asking clients to come to my home with all the animals roaming around, tractors in the garden, my brother's mechanics garage & beat up cars hanging around, unfinished construction projects everywhere, hodgepodge furniture, a grass entrance (poor women who arrive wearing heels), some broken glass around the door frame (rubble from my brother's childhood airgun battles) and even just having a bathtub in the bathroom. The space is really designed to be a living area or bedroom and I've been struggling to get it to feel like an artist's studio. It's hard to run a creative business in a space that doesn't have my own style & inspirational energy (just humor me here). Plus, I just feel like I don't have enough division in the space — an area for makeup, viewing, shooting etc... they all just jumble together. I know I'm super lucky to have what I have — much more luxurious than many photographers I know working from their homes. It's all relative but knowing that doesn't help me much. 

I realized I'm avoiding marketing because I'm afraid of getting more clients because then I would have to host them in my studio and deliver a high-end customer experience — which is hard to do, very tiring and only made more difficult by this location. I'm burned-out from 2yrs of workaholic behaviour and I'm afraid of falling back into the pattern. I've really fallen behind this summer — offering less than golden service (not serving my signature cookies, not playing music, not burning candles, taking forever to reply to emails and deliver orders, taking simple pretty portraits instead of pushing the envelop and creating original artwork for women). I just don't feel like the experience I'm offering at the moment is matching up to the high prices that I need to charge. This discord is really off-putting and I'm left feeling like I don't want to work at all. Plus, as lovely as it can be working from home, it's also a great challenge for me to feel the focus and productivity - always getting distracted by animals, husbands, gardens, kitchens etc... Would having a commercial space  — a designated professional work space — help all these issues? 

I've also been watching my portfolio get more and more chaotic by the minute. My photography style is changing and I need to reorganize my website, branding materials and client experience to make sure I continue to offer a consistent product that has a clearly defined ideal client. I have two different styles that I love and I've had to pick which direction I want to head in. I've gotten a little confused along the way and this needs to be sorted out.... but I'm at the starting line looking at a very long marathon. Exciting but ughhh. 

Is it worth renting a commercial space to turn into my studio? It's a risk. I could 'waste' that rent money when my bank account is already having tummy grumbles. But is it one of these risks that will pay off? Will the new space offer that more professional environment that will encourage more clients and higher spending? What should I do?