Going Full Time Month 10

Rigid.

That word has been floating around my head for a couple of weeks now.

For years I’ve been incredibly rigid in the way I do this whole photography thing. From running my business to how I show up online to the photos I post and the way I brand and market. I’d think that I HAD to have a website that looked super high end. I’d think I had to post photos that looked like they were taken by Julie Paisley or Jose Villa. I’d think if I just kept up this facade that I only shot luxury weddings then maybe I would make my way into actually only shooting luxury weddings. In reality, I don’t take photos like Julie and Jose. So I was sacrificing being a genuine Denise for being a poor imitation of someone else. How lame is that?!

I stepped so carefully everywhere. I constantly worried about what other people would think or say about me. I worried about upsetting someone online. I worried about everything I said or did or posted, so much so that there were full weeks where I ditched social media completely and my business would suffer from it. From the fear that someone out there would be offended or upset by something I did or said. One time I DID upset someone online and it was awful. They came after me with all they had and they brought their friends because I broke a rule that I didn’t even know was a rule (I actually don’t even think it was a real rule, they just said it was) and instead of thinking, “Gosh that must be awful to be so rigid and upsettable,” I got mad at myself that I wasn’t careful enough. It was pointlessly exhausting.

And then one day, all at once, I decided to let absolutely all of it go. From my website to whatever persona I thought I was creating to how carefully I stepped online. I let it all go. I decided that if I was really going to do this… this full time photography thing, I was going to have fun doing it.

So I built a brand new website not using a template. For the first time, I made a website solely because I liked it. Not because I thought my ideal client would like it or because I thought it looked super fancy. I made a website and a blog I thought was fun because I thought maybe if I have fun on my website, other people will too. I hid secret messages on my site. I put my favorite Doctor Who quote at the bottom of each page in the hopes it would inspire someone and then I linked it to my post about why you should watch Doctor Who. I made enamel pins my new business card so people who got my card would get a little gift when meeting me. I did a giveaway for my branding session marathon. I launched new freebies, I made quizzes, I created a template so that people who wanted to join me in launching their own employee of the month program could. I gave my employee of the month to my pet bird. And then to Carbs. And then to my editing software. I started offering video backgrounds so that my clients could add some fun to their own websites. I started a bite sized 5-7 minute podcast on IGTV because I am terrible at captions and decided if I was going to have a voice on Instagram, then it would be an audio one.

I want to bend. I don’t want to be rigid, I want to be fluid. I want to move freely and have fun and be happy in my business. I want to let go of all these expectations of what you have to do and say and be in order for other people to think you’re successful or good enough and I want to replace it with giveaways and memes and stuff that makes being online enjoyable.

Sure enough, once I started letting go, my website traffic went up. My inquiries increased. My bookings increased. My newsletter subscription went up by hundreds of percents. I hosted my first ever sold out event. Most importantly, I’m happy…and my clients are happy. After all these years, it just took letting go to see growth that I had been trying so hard for so long to foster.

This was month ten. A total game changer.

To make this whole “Leaving my career to pursue photography full time like a total maniac” thing even MORE fun, now I’m going to be giving away a gift every month to a random email subscriber! Every month! So if you want a seat at this table, friend, there’s one just for you! (To sign up, click here, scroll for a sec and put your info in the pop up box!)

See you in month eleven and thank you for being here for month ten!

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

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