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 It’s only been a week since graduation, and I’m already doing some big time reflecting. I’ve hit the ground running with my new part time job and have taken on more weddings than I’ve ever photographed in such a short amount of time. God has been really good, and I think the busyness of this time is truly a blessing because He knows that if I graduated college and started off bored, my life would be miserable. I am a person that truly feeds off of a full schedule (like the ones we keep in school), and little did I know, life would get even busier after college (at least for this first few months)! Something that has been on my heart lately is helping other, growing photographers. I’ve been trying to go over in my mind the things I have learned over the past two years as well as the questions and roadblocks I’ve run into while starting and running my business. I want to be a resource and encouragement to other photographers just as the people who have mentored me have been. So today, I thought I’d share how it really is running a business while going to school full time. Plus, I wanted to share a little of my senior session that I’m in love with! Julia Rose Photography did such an amazing job, and it was so fun to be in front of the camera for a change!
Maybe you’re student thinking of starting your business while in school and you feel a little scared or overwhelmed at that thought. Maybe you’re a student who’s already started a business, and you’ve got so much going on that you feel a little discouraged and are reconsidering that decision. I hope my advice and reflection will be a help and encouragement to you!

  • You CAN do this! I can’t tell you how many times giving up felt like the only option. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my agenda for the week and thought it wouldn’t be possible. I can’t tell you how many sacrifices I made in school for my business and vice versa. But I CAN tell you that the hard work and long(er) hours paid off, and even tasting just a little bit of the reward of working with clients you love and who love you back proves truly why you’re doing all of this in the first place. So when you feel like giving up, push a little harder. I promise it will be worth it!
  • Don’t forget to use the buddy system! I can’t stress how important community is. If you’re anything like me, you’re a go-getter and a very independent, Type A personality as a result. But here’s the thing, running a business and going to school and working part time is a surefire way to get you burnt out. And that isn’t good for any aspect of your life. You need a buddy, or preferably multiple buddies. 🙂 Did you ever read the American Girl books? Like the ones that were more like self-help books? I LOVED those… a little too much probably. But I remember reading my daily dose of “A Girl’s Guide to Friendship” (embarrassing, I know) and coming across a spread called “The Friendship Buffet.” It described the different types of friends you typically find and how each one is important to have. I’d like to pass that principle onto you. Get a smorgasbord of friends! Photography friends who can relate to your business struggles, school friends that can get notes for you in class when you miss something, and mentors who can just keep you on track with your goals (parents are great for this). Whoever it is, get as many people on your team as you can, because you’re going to need it!
  • Learn to say “no.” On the same note, no matter how many people you’ve got on your team, you CAN’T do it all! I had to learn this the hard way because it’s so really hard for me to say “no.” Truth is, when you say “no” to what you can’t do or what you don’t absolutely love doing (ex. a style of photography you don’t particularly enjoy), it frees you up to say “yes” to the best things!
  • Write it down! I literally write down almost everything, and it has served my well. I have a main planner but also a calendar just for photography so I can track what I’m doing. After each session, I rate myself if different areas and focus on ways to improve. This has helped me grow personally and professionally, and I highly recommend you keep a notebook that’s tabbed into different sections with categories that would be most helpful to you, and just always write everything down. 
  • Make time for the important stuff. It’s so important to keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, what is really going to matter? Is it the pretty Instagram feed you have or the lives you’re impacting? While social media isn’t bad, it’s always important to keep what your business is really about at the forefront of your mind.
  • Invest in your education. I know photographers  who went full-time into their business right after high school, and it’s working so great for them! That wasn’t my path. College was not an option for me, and I knew I always wanted a degree for life outside of photography. Everyone is different. Don’t change your path based on someone else. If college is in your path, though, proceed with caution. That will always need to be a priority if you’re going to make it worth your time. You might not be able to take on as much with photography if you go this route, and you just need to have that mindset from the beginning.
  • Use your network. If you do go to college, it’s an AWESOME place to meet people who are like-minded, and if you’re a senior photographer you’ve got a never-ending pool of potential clients that graduate each year. Use it! Pass out our business cards like free money, tell your clients to pass along your info to their friends (they will!), print posters and hang them everywhere on campus, and have fun meeting so many different people in such a small vicinity.
  • Don’t forget to have FUN!! College goes by super quickly, and no one wants to leave these years with regrets. Having a life outside school and work is essential, so go into it knowing that you’re going to give 110% in all you do and that you want to make the most of every opportunity you have and you’re sure to rock it!

Posted in: Uncategorized

May 19, 2017

Running a Business while being a Student | Personal Post

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Nichole Lauren is a photographer & business coach in Greenville, SC & available for travel worldwide.

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