We are just one week away from the big one year anniversary of the Lemonade Stand Photography launch. Wowsa. One year?!?! How on earth has it been a year?! As it is with most big life events and changes, time this past year has both breezed by in a whirlwind of a blur, yet it’s hard for me to think of the days when I didn’t have LSP. I have met so many amazing, wonderful, beautiful families, made lifelong friends, and learned more than I ever could have imagined possible. And, to be honest, that last one was kind of an understatement – starting, running, and maintaining a successful business has been WAY harder than I thought it would be. While I’ve taken thousands of beautiful images of my clients, I’ve also made some mistakes and haven’t done as well in certain areas of my business like I had hoped. In fact, there were some days I thought I’d become another start-up statistic; a part of the 50% of small businesses that don’t survive their first year. Days of, “Oh my gosh, how on earth did I think I could do this?!” doubt and stress. Days where I forgot why I started this in the first place because I was just so unbelievably overwhelmed. I know I’m not the only business owner to ever feel this way, but oh wow – I wasn’t ready for that!
But, the good news is, the rewards and benefits and joy I get from this business far outweigh the stress and anxiety. I truly love what I do and love this job, and looking back at all of the beautiful images I’ve captured for my wonderful clients, I know I have found my niche. So, I am determined to learn from the hard times, make the good ones even better, and truly make LSP run in its second year more like a polished, well-oiled machine.
So, when thinking of ways to improve this business and make it an even better experience for everyone involved, I had to first keep two big things in mind – there are only 24 hours a day and I am only 1 person. You see, no matter how much time I spend working, it’s still just not enough time to get everything done when I want it done and when it’s fair and reasonable for my clients. So the answer was to start cutting back on the amount of stuff I do daily and maximize the time I do have. I have spent a lot of time going over the changes I think will have the biggest impact and really improve the whole LSP experience.
So, are you ready for the big changes?! There are 4!
1 – I hired an assistant! Yippee!! This is the one I’m most excited about because my wonderful assistant is my amazing sister, Lindsay! I won’t get all gushy about how much I love her and for all of the reasons why, because I wouldn’t be able to stop. Let me just say she is probably the only person in the world that I feel 100% confident handling all email communication, doing my scheduling and basically being the organizational master of the business. She has worked in customer service for over 6 years and she really is an expert. So, when you send an email inquiring about a session or have a question regarding the details about your session, Lindsay will be the one to respond. She will also send out all session reminders and links to questionnaires, as well as return phone calls. If you have specific questions regarding pictures or something I need to answer, of course I will still be reading all emails and keeping up to date, but this frees up a ton of time and is such a huge help for me! Say hi to Linds when you send your next email and to find out more about how amazing she is, click here!
2 – I will be reducing the amount of sessions I take a month to an amount that’s much more manageable. I have learned the hard way what is “too” much, and as I’ve said before – it’s not good for anyone when I overbook myself! By limiting my session load, I’ll be able to spend more time on each session, get your final images edited sooner, post more blogs highlighting the families I meet, and just give that extra special touch to each session. As most of you know, it’s verrrrrrrrry hard for me to say no – I truly do want to take everyone’s pictures! But keeping my sessions in check is like having a low class size as a teacher – with fewer sessions per month, I will be able to spend more time one each one, giving my clients that personal attention that is so important. As a result, your total experience with LSP will be of much higher quality!
3 – To try to avoid being booked up years in advance, I will only schedule sessions in 3 month blocks, kind of by season, which I will open up 2 months before the beginning month. I know that’s confusing – for example, I am currently scheduling January, February and March of 2013. Then, February 1st, I will begin scheduling April, May and June, on May 1st I will open up July, August, and September, and on August 1st, the big fall scheduling of October and November will begin. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is to keep things as fair as possible for all of my clients. I had to turn away quite a few requests this fall, as before I even realized it, I was all booked up. Also, I don’t know about you guys, but I have no idea what my kids’ schedules are going to be like next spring, summer, and certainly not next fall! The only exception to this scheduling policy is your newborn session – that one we can plan for! Due to the extremely time sensitive nature of newborn sessions, let’s get those on the calendar ASAP! I will make all scheduling announcements both on the website and on Facebook, so please make sure to “like” the FB page to get all important updates!
4 – This is the change I struggled with the most, but I must raise my prices. As I mentioned before, I have learned more than I thought possible during this year, and one of the biggest things is that good custom photography takes a lot of time and costs more than what you would spend at a department store. Right now, I’m not putting a high enough value on that time. I have worked very hard to come to prices that I feel are still affordable and reasonable, yet more on par with what good custom photography should be. This change is taking place immediately, but any sessions booked under the old pricing will still pay those prices. To check out the new pricing structure, please click here.
As we get closer and closer to the big one year anniversary, I get more nostalgic and emotional every day. We are almost at a YEAR! I truly feel that I have the best clients around and am so honored that you all choose me to capture your precious memories, and I know that year 2 is going to be even better! Since I can’t do a blog post without including some pictures, check out some of the beautiful families I’ve had the privilege to spend time with recently. It has been a chilly yet beautiful fall, and we are just having so much fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you all for being so wonderful!
Have I mentioned that I love my clients? Just in case I haven’t, I do – thank you!