I only started my photography business for portraits and events in New Jersey just over a year and a half ago, and things were going great – I was booked practically every weekend with some portrait sessions during the week.
Because I was so busy, I could finally make that one decision that so many professional photographers only dream about…
I was able to quit my full-time job.
But circumstances were about to take a drastic turn…
While my photography business was going well, my husband had been finishing his Ph.D. in Microbiology. We knew he would be graduating in 2012, and had been looking for employment for him since early January 2012.
He finally graduated in May 2012 but the weeks and months went on and the résumés kept pouring out. We continued to network as much as we could, but nothing seemed to strike a chord with the companies in New Jersey.
A Chance Meeting And A New Job
Through nothing short of a miracle, my husband’s mother happened to hand his résumé to a colleague who’s office was in Los Angeles. It was just a casual conversation, with her asking if he knew of anyone who would be looking for a Ph.D. and that my husband had always dreamed of living in Southern California.
Two months later my husband received a phone call to say they were looking for someone with a Ph.D. and the experience my husband had. The odds of this happening were truly remarkable. Within a week, my husband was on his way to L.A. for his interview., and he was offered the job the same day.
But What About My Photography Business?
Everything started to crumble in my mind as far as my photography business was concerned!
As photography business owners we live, breathe, eat, and sleep our businesses, but what are we supposed to do when tough decisions must be made that better our family, but drastically alter our business?
Up to this point, I had been working 80-100 hours a week or more, making a name for myself in New Jersey, New York, and basically the entire tri-state area.
I even took on jobs as far away as Connecticut. I did all this while holding down a full-time job, too.
The road in my photography business wasn’t always paved out for me. I have a Master’s degree in Psychology, and am the classic case of a girl that always wanted to go to art school, but went instead towards a more traditional and safe route, as my family believed that would guarantee me a job.
So you can imagine now that I finally was able to prove it to myself and those around me, it was extremely satisfying for me.
It really hurt to think that all of that hard work was now wasted.
Where In The World Would I Begin In L.A.?
So, we moved to L.A. three weeks later. All of our belongings, our 4 pets, and our cars are all here now, and I still don’t know how we managed to get this done in such a short amount of time.
My husband is satisfied with his new job, I truly love the weather here in L.A., and the people seem extremely friendly. My days consist of running errands, trying to figure out how to live a normal life in California, and continuing to make this new place our home.
But – in the back of my mind is still the question of “Where do I start from here? How do I reclaim what I had in New Jersey?”
I definitely made my fair share of mistakes, which we all do when we start our own photography business.
My previous marketing plan had consisted of offering deals through Living Social and another company called Localery. Did it get my name out there? Yes. Would I do that kind of thing again? Absolutely not!
Like their big cousin Groupon, I felt that those cheap deals really started me off on the wrong foot, attracting clients because of price and not for my photography talent.
But somehow, I managed to get a lot of positive word of mouth marketing and personal recommendations, and I was constantly busy booking everything from family portraits to mitzvah’s.
So What Did I Do When I Moved To L.A.?
My first step was to join the local Chamber of Commerce. I figured that networking with other local business owners and getting to know them personally would help to build trust, and start making a name for myself here within my local neighborhood.
There are some other groups I’m looking to join as well, such as those dealing with wedding industry professionals.
I’m keeping busy photographing for other companies, working as a freelance photographer for two national photography studios that also have a market in L.A.
Little by little, I hope to start putting my photography business onto the radar of those who need my services.
My biggest focus, though, will be working hard on my website SEO and ranking for those keywords and phrases that people in my city are actually searching for. Especially when starting out, anything you can do for free is your best friend, and SEO is the best free marketing we can get.
I’ll be quite honest, and I want to be transparent in the hope that someone else reading this can relate to this situation, I feel lost.
I was the breadwinner for our family for over 6 years and, some days, I feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under me. It’s easy to feel hopeless or that I don’t have a purpose. I’m told this is normal, especially after so many years of working hard and being busy, but now having way too much time on my hands.
However, I’m starting to see this as a challenge – one that can really help to push me to a new and better level than where I was at in New Jersey.
How Much Do I Want This?
I will keep trying and learning from my mistakes to make an even bigger and better name here for myself in L.A.
I’ve learned through this process, too, that it’s not always about our businesses. The happiness of your family should always be a priority. Sometimes that means giving up what you worked so hard at and having to rebuild elsewhere. I’ve realized this is okay, and if I made it happen in New Jersey, I can make it happen anywhere.
My hope is to be able to report back in a year from now on how things have progressed in L.A. with some more tips for others in this type of situation.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you, or someone you know, been through a similar experience with your photography business?
Share your thoughts and comments below, we’d love to hear from you!