When I started telling people that I wanted to focus on coaching freelancers and solopreneurs regarding their brand, marketing and positioning, a lot of people were confused. Why would that be necessary? Why did I think I could tell others what to do? And, above all, why would creatives actually need additional guidance – isn’t it precisely because they wanted to work on their own that they went freelance in the first place?
I realize this idea may take getting used to, but here’s the thing: I know everyone can need a little outside guidance, because I’ve been there. The fact that it’s not exactly easy to receive feedback on your work is why there are so many Facebook groups of freelancers and solopreneurs helping each other out! Sometimes though, you need more: More time, more focus, more attention. That’s what I offer in my one-on-one sessions, which can look completely different depending on who I am working with and what their actual goal of working together is. To give you a little more insight, I decided to walk you through my sessions with Karin from Lichtpixel.
Karin has been working as a photographer for a few years now, and if you ever have the pleasure of working with her you will see instantly that this is someone who has found her true calling. She’s incredibly passionate about the whole process, from preparing for a shoot, gathering important information to the handmade and extravagant presentation of the analogue pictures you receive after the shoot.
As with many freelancers and solopreneurs, Karin found herself facing a few particular issues last year: While starting out as a photographer, she quickly said yes to everything and anything that meant getting more exposure, a paycheck and more experience. Because she’s good at her job, this resulted in her doing a lot of work, sometimes even being too caught up or even buried under it. I bet a lot of us recognize this feeling, too: Sometimes you focus so much on the hustle, you don’t realize there isn’t any time left to focus on anything else - apart from getting work done. If you never really stop, it can be hard to see the bigger picture.
When she decided to work through a few issues last year, this is what Karin came to me with:
- She wanted to get a clearer sense of what she wanted to focus on as a photographer. There few things she thoroughly enjoyed, and others she did not really felt suited her anymore.
- She wasn’t sure how to communicate this change or how to attract more clients of the sort she wanted to work with.
- Additionally, she felt a little overwhelmed with the countless ways to market oneself on social media. Which channels work best for photography? Which can be left out? How often should she focus on producing content and what has the most effect?
In our first session, we analyzed every single little detail about her business together. Not only did I quiz her about how her clients found her, we also had a look at her website and talked through the things she liked and did not like about it anymore. Then, we honed in on Karin’s core values, needs, wishes and the things that drive her as a photographer. We discussed which part of her work she loved – working with people, being part of something memorable – and which parts she did not – the admin work or the tedious editing process, for example. These exercises and sessions led Karin to a more precise vision of how she wanted to build and run her business in the future, and it also allowed her to be more honest with herself and admit certain things that held her back.
During our second session, we worked on defining what her business should look like in the future. What sort of clients does she want to work with? What niche does the primarily want to focus on from now on? We figured this out by working through several exercises discussing her dream clients, her favorite projects and her ideal working environment. Defining these points is the first and highly important step in the process of changing – once you have written down what you want to do, it becomes a lot clearer and easier to visualize the other steps it takes to reach your goals.
Thirdly, we took a good hard look at Karin’s content. With her website, blog and Facebook page up and running, she had a solid foundation to present her work, but without a strategic approach on what to share on which platform, how often to post and what topics to focus on, it left her more frazzled than determined. I asked Karin to send me a few websites and profiles of people in her industry that she loved, and after discussing them together, we came up with a cohesive strategy for Karin’s online communication. We determined that while her blog and website were definitely the main tools to attract new clients, it needed to be overhauled to represent more of the projects she wanted to work on from now on. It’s such an easy but nonetheless vital learning: If you decide you don’t want to offer certain services (anymore), just take them off your website. Don’t display examples on social media, don’t include them in your portfolio – simply put, stop advertising them. We also completely reworked her Pinterest channel in order to show more of her work and brainstormed ideas on how to incorporate both her mood boards and previous work on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
When Karin mentioned that she would love to do more couple and engage-ment shootings, I asked whether she had specifically asked for people who were interested on her website or social media channels. It was no surprise when she declined: Too often, we are so caught up with working on projects people contacted us for that we forget it’s possible to turn the tables and demand a certain kind of work from your clients too. When Karin posted a mood board for a fall-themed couple shoot on Facebook, she actually received several requests from new clients within a few days. All just because she took the initiative and decided to ask if someone wanted to do this kind of thing!
It was such a pleasure to work through all this with Karin – not only is she talented, she is also very purpose-driven and careful about her work, which sometimes can hold us back a little because we don’t dare to try and experiment. After finishing our sessions, Karin was a lot more confident of what she wanted from her business and how she can work on getting it.
I hope this explains not only what I do, but why it can be really helpful to talk things through with someone else - it's like therapy for your creativity.
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