We just announced the beginning of a new mini blog series, The Full Time Files, where we are giving you a look into the nitty gritty of what it took to launch A.B. Photo and build a business that has gone from 0 clients to more than 30 weddings booked in under than 9 months! And friend, I’m so excited that you’re here. If you missed the first post, The Full Time Files: Part 1, you can find that here:
Today, for the first time ever, I am sharing a full timeline of the launch and growth of A.B. Photo! Remember: this is just my story. My goal with this series is to encourage and enable you to build a life pursuing joy through intentional and careful habits – your story is not my story and your goals are not my goals. You may grow faster, slower, may make more or be content just supplementing an already existent income. And that is ok! Give yourself the freedom to develop your business in a way that is honoring to your gifts, your lifestyle, and your goals. And joy will come!
So let’s dive in!
May 2017: Just a few weeks after finishing my junior year of college, I married my husband, Seth, on the most beautiful sun drenched afternoon. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself, but when you get married, all of a sudden everyone is asking about your future. I may have only been 21 and still had a year left of college, but I was determined to have a plan for what was next. And I kept going back to photography. Seth and I decided I would work crazy hours in the month of June so I could use July to write a business plan, build a website, and start developing a portfolio.
June – August 2017: I did just that. I second shot several weddings alongside my dear friend and my own wedding photographer, Cassie, and fell head over heels for the wedding world. With my website built, a portfolio I was beginning to be proud of, and a business plan carefully drawn out alongside one of my favorite Entrepreneurship professors, I was ready to launch my business.
September – October 2017: I started back as a full time student and A.B. Photo went live! We’ll go more into detail later about the exact strategy I used to build incredible momentum that allowed me to book every single weekend through the end of November in just the first few weeks after launching. But for now, know these first two months were non-stop hustling, fighting burnout, but experiencing more joy and excitement because I was doing something I loved.
November 2017: I shot my first wedding as lead (Shannon and Graham – I am so thankful you trusted me with your big day and love you both! You can see that wedding here – Shannon and Graham). I also made the decision to stop working both of my part time jobs and fully focus on A.B. Photo and school. While this was a huge leap, not once did I worry about matching what I made. Claiming back my time allowed me to grow my business all the faster and stronger.
December 2017 – February 2018: While this is technically wedding photography off season, I was blessed to still book a few weddings as well as other sessions to help keep momentum, awareness, and my portfolio growing. But more importantly, I had a moment to revisit and develop my business strategy. Where the fall was all about building momentum and developing my technical skill, the winter allowed for me to hone my business skills. I developed email templates, overhauled my client experience, invested hours into updating my website and re-writing the pages (Spoiler: I’m about to do this again!), created a custom preset that allowed me to shoot and edit consistently, and re-strategized my business model for the Spring season. While I am a big believer in the importance of rest, I also believe it is crucial to continue developing your business during slow seasons. As tempting as it is to want to travel, re-organize your home (or life), and curl up with Netflix, try carving out just 2-3 hours a day during your off season to do intentional activities to grow your business and prepare for an even stronger, more successful busy season!
Some ideas for intentional activities during your off season could be:
Revisit and tweak your current business plan (don’t have a business plan? Keep following this series and we’ll be sharing our exact template!)
Catch up on blogging
Speaking of blogging, begin brainstorming and outlining blog posts for your busy season. If you have a drafts folder filled with outlined posts, it’ll be so much easier to keep up with it when life starts feeling like a blur again 😉 And trust me, there is nothing that will boost your SEO and traffic to your site like blogging!
Get your books and finances in order
Critically look at your website or invite others to look at it for you. Is your branding consistent? Are you sharing about your experience (we’ll talk more about an experiential business model in the future too!)? Are you telling your potential clients why they want to work with you? Is your portfolio reflective of your current work?
Revisit your pricing – it may be time to raise your prices for the new season!
Develop your Social Media Strategy
Invest in education (this is one of my favorite things to do during the off season! Take a course, read a business book, invest in mentoring – whatever it looks like for you, continue learning, always!)
March – May 2018: The official busy season. With weddings nearly every weekend (you can see one of my favorites here!), class during the week, at least 2 sessions on weeknights, and a quick trip to London to work with RiverCross (a nonprofit near and dear to my heart), this spring was pretty crazy! Seth second shot his first wedding alongside me in March and we haven’t looked back since (be on the lookout for a fun announcement about this in the near future!). We also nearly tripled our pricing to keep up with demand and quickly realized 2019 wasn’t going to be any quieter! With nearly all of May and October 2019 booked up by the end of April 2018, we decided it was time to be a little more exclusive and also encourage our brides to not wait to book! This has been one of the most fun things to announce and we are already so smitten with each and every one of our 2019 couples!
Today, June 2018: A.B. Photo’s current and projected income has officially passed my husband. After many, many long conversations and prayers, we’ve decided I will not be returning to school in the fall. Instead, we made the decision to take my position with A.B. Photo full time! 2019 is quickly booking up (if you’re a bride interested in a 2019 date, head over here to reserve your date! We’d love to serve you!). Sunday marks our last wedding for the Spring season. We’ll be traveling, resting, and doing some of those intentional off-season activities I shared above! And we’ve never been more filled with Joy.
Seth and I so proud of this business we have built. It may have my name, but it truly is the work of us both. We are so thankful for each and every one of you who have cheered us on, invited us to be a part of your big moments, and told your friends and family about our little business. Truly, we couldn’t do this without you. And now, we are so excited to share this journey with you. We are passionate about sharing the habits and methods we used to grow this business to the place it is today and believe that the business decisions we make should be centered around building a life of joy.
If you made it this far, goodness you’re just our favorite kind of person! Can you tell we’re just a little passionate about this topic? We so believe in what we’re sharing and cannot wait to continue giving you all the details to enable you to grow your own business in a way that gives you more freedom and joy in your life