How To Look At Your Money Life

A couple of years ago, we began looking at our life a little differently.

The economy was heading downward, with little end in sight. Businesses were changing, with many of them going out of business, or simply putting little value on the traditional “employee” model.

And we started looking at where our money was going, and what we wanted to do with it in the coming years.

Yep, we had a great life. Large house, great school system, lots of things to do in the area, and the occasional vacation. But when we really started analyzing our life, we discovered we weren’t quite where we wanted to be.

What Does The Future Look Like?

I often mention here on this blog that you should plan goals, think about where you want to be in the future, and then take the necessary steps to achieve it.

When we did that for ourselves, we discovered that even though we had the American Dream, our vision of the American Dream had slightly changed.

Sure, we had a great house. But did we really need that much space?

And we went on the occasional vacation, but were two weeks here and there really enough?

The answer was no on both accounts.

So we started looking at what it truly means to own a home.

Part of the American Dream was to own a home, have it go up and value, and use that appreciation to finance different phases of your life. But is that even possible anymore? In the short term, we found ourselves saying no.

Owning a home today means paying a mortgage, knowing full well the value might just come down. We’ve owned for almost 10 years, and as we are leaving, we’re walking away with a small profit. That profit has dropped considerably over the past 4, yet we’re happy to walk away with some.

Is owning a home truly where its at? Or are there other opportunities?

We started digging a bit deeper.

Where Is The Money Going Today?

Have you ever sat down and calculated where your money goes each month. And then really sat and thought about it? While we “write the checks” and knew exactly what we were paying, we never really thought about it.

Then we started putting it down on paper. [Read more…]

Its A Stupid Philosophy

So you’re trying to grow a business. What are you thinking?

Didn’t you know:

It’s not smart to take risks…
Its stupid.

How many times have you heard that? That’s why this video resonated with me. Because if you move away from the norm, if you try something new or different, its viewed as risky. And risky is just plain stupid.

So the more you hear it, the more you believe it, and the less likely you are to move forward and try something new.

Don’t do it. Jump at the new opportunity. Don’t give it 10% or 20%. Give it 110%.

You can do it if you just, well, do it!

Only stupid can be truly brilliant


Is There Any Such Thing As An Impossible Goal?

This post is Day 2 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

Throughout this series, I’ll use a variety of questions, stories and comments that were presented by my readers. Let me start out today’s post with a story.

“Luci” wants to start a specialized portrait photography business. I won’t get into all of the details here, but because of issues within her own family life, she hopes to build a portrait studio catering to families with unique family dynamics. She’s been thinking about this for a long time, and has done quite a bit of planning. She has designed a logo, has business cards, created a website and has worked on marketing ideas. She has no studio space in her home, but she’s decided it would be best to work on location and in her clients’ homes, so she has that worked out in her mind. She’s well on her way to starting her business.

But she faces some real challenges as well.

1. She has no reliable means of transportation.

2. A very low income, which means she doesn’t have disposable income to buy a ton of camera and studio equipment.

3. A limited timeframe to photograph. She has family obligations that require her attention, so she only has the opportunity to meet clients around 4 hours per day.

4. She has no portfolio, no client list, and no true idea of how to approach gaining her first client. How can she entice folks to use her services?

She finished her story by asking:

Is this pretty much an impossible goal I am setting for myself or do you think there is hope? [Read more…]

Are You Creating Your Own Future, Or Waiting For It To Come To You?

A while back I read some interesting statistics.

“Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.” source

I’ve kept that in my draft folder for blogging for the past few months, and have read it at least once a week. And every time I look at them, I wonder if it all can really be true. I know the answer is yes. I myself know many people who have been unemployed or underemployed for well over a year now, and really no end in sight.

I’ve also talked with a bunch of these unemployed or underemployed people, trying to find out a little more about their mindset. And while I would never classify everyone into one category, I did start noticing a trend – people become focused on how they perceived their lives from the perspective of several years ago, not from where we stand today. So if they have a degree in engineering, and worked as an engineer in a traditional environment for a number of years, they can’t pull back the mindset and find a different direction to go now that things have changed.

Have you ever read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?Great book. It follows the life of four little mice and men – Sniff and Scurry, Hem and Haw. While they all work in a maze of cheese, two realize that the only way to get more cheese is to find more cheese. If a room empties of cheese, you have to find another room. Two take the opposite approach; if the cheese was here in the past, it surely will come back at some point. So they wait and wait in the empty room, knowing someday the cheese will return.

Of course the “cheese” is meant to symbolize anything you choose it to be. Jobs, relationships, opportunities – you name it.  If you wait around for the old way to return, you will surely be disappointed. But if you always realize change is going to happen, and you’re out looking for a new way to do things, you’re sure to find opportunity.

Right now things are changing. We will never go back to the way things were even five years ago. Jobs have changed. Business has changed. Marketing has changed. Education has changed.  Financial security has changed. Even the way we live and approach our lives has changed. And the change isn’t over yet.

Which means the only way to move forward is to change and find a new way to approach things.

Just as many people become millionaires in good times as in bad. Just as many people are building successful businesses right now as they were ten years ago. It all depends on how you look at things and how you approach them.

So how are you looking at your future in photography? Are you looking at it as a way to make a few bucks until you get a real job? Do you see it through the way you knew photography to be five or ten years ago? Or are you looking for a way to change the way people perceive photography?

Do you truly see photography as your key to success over the next five years? Or do you see it as side venture until something better comes along?

There is a difference. And it will affect how well you do today, a year from now, and five years from now.

The Four Phases Of Photography

Phase One – The Dreamer
Every photographer remembers that one point in their life where they fell in love with their camera. You might have been taking pictures for a while, but there was some point in time where you just “got it” and it went beyond just snapping a few photos.

Then you started dreaming about what’s possible. What if you could do this every day? What if you could travel with it? What if you could make money with it?


Whatever questions you asked, you started dreaming about the possibilities photography could bring into your life. Unfortunately, most photographers stay at the dreamer level. They have a job that pays just enough to be comfortable. They are too settled in their lives to make a drastic change. They have a family.

Phase Two – The Doer
This is your heavy growth period. This is where you quit dreaming, and start doing. You start following role models, and doing things to build the business, not just your talent as a photographer.

[Read more…]

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

Do you remember this song from Santa Claus Is Coming To Town?

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

When I was a kid, I just loved watching the show. It was fun, made me smile, and the tune was catchy. But now I see the hidden meanings in the lyrics. 

When you were a child, you had to learn how to crawl before you walked. You had to learn how to add and subtract before you could multiply and divide.

As a business owner, you have to learn the basics before you can become the leader in your field.

We all look at the success stories, and dream about emulating them. If they went from $0 to $1,000,000 in 30 days, surely we can do it too.

But for every case of the million dollar success story, they always have their beginnings. A time when they learned to crawl before they could walk. Whether it was growing up in an entrepreneurial home, and learning a ton from their parents. Or working for a successful business owner for 10 years before they went out on their own.

[Read more…]

A Blast From The Past

Well I just noticed I reached a milestone. I have 340 posts on the VirtualPhotographyStudio blog, and well over 150 pages of articles, information and resource pages. Which means with over 500 pages of content – there are A TON of resources for you to go through to help build your business.

But as I reflected on my milestone, I also got to thinking about the amount of overwhelm you may be feeling if you’re new to photography, or looking for ways to build up your photography business.

So I went through my most popular posts, and I’ve linked to them here. Enjoy.

Do The First Thing First – In this post I talk about how to prioritize your day according to what will help grow your business most.

Is A Studio Necessary To Start A Photo Business? – In this post I talk about getting around the idea of needing to have a physical location to run your photography studio.

Mindset Your Way To Success – Do you hate selling? There is no such thing as a born salesperson. In this post I look at how to change your mindset, and make your business more successful.

The Pendulum Swing Of Photography – From the best of times to the worst of times, I discuss how to create a business that can weather both.

10 Ways To Grow Your Senior Photography Business – If you photograph high school seniors, take a look at this list and start the new year out right.

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals – If you have decided to make photography your career, make sure you’re on track to showcase yourself as a true professional.