Episode 25: 25 Unexpected Lessons for Photographers Who Want More

with Sarah Petty

lessons for photographers

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lessons for photographers

For today’s podcast, I’ve got a little twist for you.

Ten years ago, I applied for the trademark of the word Joycast after doing a few random episodes without purpose.

It took me 10 years to finally figure out the purpose of this podcast and get this show out into the world.

Needless to say, my team and I are pretty stoked to have made it 25 episodes, considering how long it took us to get this launched.

I’ve heard that the average podcast doesn’t make it to 15 episodes.

So to celebrate this milestone of 25, I’m sharing 25 unexpected lessons for photographers that helped me grow my photography business into more than I ever dreamed.

I hope you write down your favorites and implement them into your life so that you can increase the speed at which you succeed. 

When I started my photography business I was scared to death, but I felt ready.

I’d watched my dad build his business from fixing cars in a one-bay gas station to building his dream 17-bay, state-of-the-art, auto facility.

While I learned a ton of lessons for photographers and entrepreneurs from my dad, when you’re running your own business, there are many more lessons for photographers to be learned.

I’m hoping that some of these tactics will help you achieve your goals faster. 

#1 Keep an Idea Notebook and Write in it Daily.

If I have an idea, I write it down.

I put projections, dreams, goals and my to-do list in my notebook.

I keep my notebook with me at all times.

All of the things I want to stay in my long term memory go there.

When I’m sitting with a new photography business project and can’t think of ideas, I pull out my old notebooks and my past ideas come flooding through. 

#2 Start a Database.

Your database is your biggest asset.

If you have 10 people in your life that you talk to, you have to expand it.

I don’t just mean having numbers in your cell phone.

I mean, mailing addresses, phone numbers, kids’ names and all of their contact information so that you can keep those relationships.

#3 Protect Your Personal Brand. 

All you have is your reputation, so do what you say. Be good to people. 

#4 Read Seth Godin’s Blog Daily. 

I couldn’t start my day without him.

Subscribe so that in your email every morning, you’ll get a thought from him.

I always read it thinking,

Is he listening to my life? How does he know what I’m thinking about?’ 

#5 Thank Everyone. 

Have an attitude for gratitude.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Peter Principle, but it is a principle talked about in corporate.

It says that you get promoted until you’re one step past your qualifications, then that’s where you stay.

I think that that position is not the ceiling of your career.

I think the ceiling is directly correlated to the amount of gratitude you have.

So be grateful and thank everyone.

It makes a huge difference. 

#6 Be Reading a Business Book at All Times. 

I have something in the queue, whether I’m driving in a car, sitting by the fire, or laying by the pool.

I always have something to pour into myself.

I’m big into personal development and growth.

I hope that you adopt a growth mindset too because you’re the best thing worth investing in. 

#7 Have a Mentor. 

Michael Jordan always had a coach.

Oprah had a coach. Any successful person has a coach.

I have a coach because I want to be the best version of Sarah Petty that I can be.

You should want to be the best version of yourself too.

A coach helps you do that.

#8, Invest in Yourself.

You’re always worth it.

Think of all the money you spend on junk.

You go to Costco or Target and leave having spent thousands of dollars.

Retail therapy is not investing in yourself.

Personal development, however, is.

You don’t need a new car.

You don’t need a bigger house.

Invest that money on yourself, it will always pay off. 

#9 Listen To a Podcast While You Get Ready.

This podcast drops every Tuesday.

I hope when you take your shower, get dressed, or you go on your morning walk, you listen to this Joycast.

The thing about podcasts is they are timely and relevant.

Podcasts are a great source of inspiration to start your day with. 

#10 Write 10 Notes of Joy a Week. 

My students are taught this the first week they join my classes.

We write handwritten notes.

Not texts or emails of joy, handwritten notes of joy that thank people, lift them up and let them know you see them and are celebrating them. 

#11 Talk About What You Do. 

Talk about your business to everyone you know, every day.

If you only hang out with four people, that’s going to become a very boring conversation.

Expand your network and go back to number two to build and grow your database.

#12 Don’t Give Energy to Outcomes You Don’t Desire. 

This is what anxiety is.

It’s worrying about an outcome you don’t want to happen.

When you see yourself doing this, tell yourself,

“No. I’m going to put my energy on my goals and my dreams, not worrying about things I don’t want to happen.”

Stay focused on the things that you want to happen in your life.

#13 No’s Help You as Much as Yes’s. 

No’s are just as great as yeses.

If every potential client told you,

“Yes, sure. I’d love to come to you.”

What would that teach you?

Nothing. You’d become a lazy, boring entrepreneur.

On the other hand, the no’s force and encourage you to create a better product, be different, hustle harder and learn more.

The no’s are just as important as the yeses. 

#14 Find a Local Group That You’re Passionate About and Go All In. 

If you’re thinking,

“I don’t have enough time to get my own stuff done.”

Yeah, you do.

Start being abundant with your time and sharing it with others.

Once you do this, abundance will come to you. I give my all to two groups.

Then, I’m able to turn things down and not feel guilty because I know I’m giving my full heart to two groups I’m passionate about.

#15 Lift As You Climb. 

I was raised listening to cassette tapes of Zig Ziglar as we drove to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

He always said,

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

I live by that.

It’s not just about looking ahead of you, it’s about grabbing that person behind you and helping them.

#16 Adopt a More-The-Merrier Philosophy. 

You don’t like to be left out, so always be thinking about how you can include others that don’t get included.

#17 Take Action. 

I don’t have a tattoo, but if I did, I might get

‘I’m an action taker’ on my arm to remind myself to go and do.

If I fail, who cares?

I try to be the best action taker there ever was.

I love watching action takers and I love being one.

#18 Simplify Your Life. 

Having physical clutter in your world gives you mental clutter as well.

Simon Cowell wears the same black shirt every day.

He doesn’t have to make a decision, he just does it.

Make your life easier. 

#19 Pick a Pony and Ride It. 

I love that saying, and I apply it to my business model.

You can’t be a sit-down restaurant and sell happy meals with French fries.

You just can’t.

So, in your business, you can’t be boutique and sell wall portraits as well as hi-res digital files.

You have to pick one pony and ride it.

#20 Have People in Your Back Pocket. 

You have to have friends and family in your front pocket, but you also have to have a community of people who support you in your back pocket.

That’s why the groups at our event Go Boutique Live are so important for you as a boutique photographer.

There’s nowhere else for you guys to collaborate.

Sure, you’ve met a boutique photographer friend here and there, but being with a group of people who believe the same thing is powerful.

#21 Be a Sponge.

Don’t go through life on autopilot.

Take notes and review them every night.

Don’t just settle for going through life numb.

You have to be a sponge and always be learning.

#22 Take Personal Responsibility. 

This is a big one.

You are 100% responsible for your decisions, actions, and results.

Only you.

I get it, maybe you have very little going in your favor.

You can be angry and blame others, or you can say,

“I got here as a result of the decisions I made, whether it was my fault or not. Now, I’m going to pick myself up and take personal responsibility.”

Take personal responsibility, I believe in you.

#23 Live Below Your Means. 

Do this so that you can say yes to opportunities.

Quit spending money on stuff that you can’t afford and instead, invest in yourself. 

#24 Fail Faster.

Failure is learning.

Let go of the head trash that says,

“You’re a bad person if you fail.”

It’s not true.

The biggest successes are the ones that fail.

Fail fast, fail a lot, learn from it, implement, and keep going.

#25 Be Your Own Diehard Fan.

I think high school ruined us all.

It tells us that we’re too tall, too goofy, too silly, that we’re not smart or pretty enough.

We start picking ourselves apart.

At the end of the day, we are who we are. Let’s just accept and love who that person is.

I want you to decide right now that you will be your own biggest cheerleader.

You are amazing.

Sometimes things take longer than you expect, but you’ll get closer to your goals if you follow these 25 unexpected lessons for photographers.

We know that we can always make more money, but we can’t make more time.

So I want to help you get where you’re going faster.

That is why I do everything I do at Joy of Marketing.

I love teaching you how to make money, but the thing that pumps me up the most is seeing you put your best self into the world.

You got this.

connect with portrait photographer Sarah Petty on instagram to

Sarah Petty Podcast How To Save Your Photography Business

I'm Sarah Petty

I’m a photographer living in the middle of a cornfield (central Illinois), momma of three teenage kiddos (plus a cat & dog) and an educator for all things photography business. Favorites: Earl Grey Tea (not coffee!), anything orange and clothes that are made for tall girls 

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