I married my husband when I was 20 years old and was just finishing up my sophomore year of college. After our wedding, I moved to Nashville where he was attending Vanderbilt University and then only a year later moved to Knoxville so he could attend law school. As you can imagine, moving my business all while attending college full time was not an easy feat. After 3 years of being in Knoxville, I had finally found my style…a groove if you will…and had a steady clientele built up! But as I expected, we moved again. This time, to Gainesville, FL. I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t know a soul in Gainesville and knew we’d only be there for 10 months, so that meant we’d have to move yet AGAIN! I could never imagine that Chicago would be my next destination. This country girl is moving to the big city, y’all!
Needless to say, I’ve moved my business quite a few times over the past 6 years and having to start over in all aspects of my life (new home, friends, and clients) was tough at times…but also SO fun! I decided to take this time to really analyze my services and products as well as as fine tune my style, update my portfolio, rebrand, and learn as much as I could about running a photography business. I learned a lot in those years of “in-between” and have no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without that time. There were those days though…where I was stressing myself out, putting way too much pressure on myself, and trying to be perfect the first time around. If you’ve moved to a new city recently or are thinking of moving soon, don’t fret! With a little bit of positive thinking and a lot of hard work, you’ll gain more clients and make a name for yourself in your new city in no time!
Tip #1: Network with local wedding professionals. Don’t wait until you get there, go ahead and start networking as soon as you know where you’re headed! The first thing I did when I knew I was moving to a new city was hop on Google and search for local wedding professionals…other photographers, planners, makeup artists, etc. Check out who is around your new home and start reaching out, introduce myself and tell them that you’re moving to their city soon! Don’t be alarmed when some of them don’t message you back. That’s okay! I found that at least 75% of people I contacted would at least reply, and 1 or 2 of those people would be kind enough meet with me. The ones that met with me ended up being some of my best friends in that area. We stuck to each other like glue and, to this day, continue to support one another in our businesses. Ask them to go lunch or coffee, and be sure to treat them! You can also try looking through social media for local wedding groups in your new city. In those groups, you can ask questions about locations, recommendations on awesome vendors and even catch a referral every once in awhile! This helped me SO much when moving from city to city.
Tip #2: Ask for opportunities to grow and learn. Whether you’re an experienced photographer or still a beginner, don’t underestimate the power of asking to second shoot, third shoot, or even assist for a local photographer. This is a great way to build a portfolio that showcases your new city, learn from other creatives, and meet other entrepreneurs in your field! Often times, clients love to hear that you’ve shot at their venue before or love the fact that you know your way around the city. Second shooting provides a great opportunity to gain experience in those venues and locations, meet other vendors, and have pretty things to blog about (with the photographer’s permission of course)! Another great way to connect with local vendors and build your portfolio is to plan a styled shoot! Team up with vendors you would love to work with, share a similar style and that you get along with. It’ll be so much fun, and you’ll love the images you get (and so will the vendors)!
Tip #3: Be kind and be yourself. You would think this goes without saying, but I feel that this needs to be addressed. Each time I move, I find some people that just aren’t very nice. Don’t let them discourage you! Find people who believe in running their business like you do. Find people that believe in community over competition and that will encourage you. Remember that little things can go a long way! Here are a few things that I do and find very easy to do because I genuinely love to make people feel appreciated: Smile and hug people often, tell people that you meet with just how much you appreciate them taking the time out of their day to be with you, send hand-written thank you cards and gifts to them when you book a client from their referral, genuinely support them and, in turn, they will support you back.
My hope is that after reading this post, you are walk away inspired, encouraged, and able to put some of these tips into action…and more importantly, see your business grow! Cheers to your new adventure!