Ep. 01: From Insurance Broker to Motherhood Photographer, with your host Dana Graham!

February 8, 2021

IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE, ITS LIVE! I can’t believe you are reading the show notes to my very first podcast episode!! This podcast has been on my mind for a couple of years and the fact that it is actually happening is a serious pinch me moment! I kept pushing off starting it but would get brought back to it, so decided it was time to step up and do it!

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01. From Insurance Broker to Motherhood Photographer with your host, Dana Graham

I dive into my back story this episode so you get a real sense of who I am! 5 years ago I had my dream job, financial stability and an awesome team that supported me.

I dive into my back story this very first episode so you get a real sense of who I am. Even if you already know me, there are some never before told secrets!

5 years ago I had my dream job, financial stability and an awesome team that supported me. After having my daughter Blakeslee and realizing I would be missing so many of her firsts, I dreamt of a day I could support our family financially… on my own terms. I pushed it aside (it just until I was pregnant with my sweet big boy Grady (and a few big career moves from my husband), which forced me to really take hold of my need to be with my kiddos. I took a leap of faith – thanks to some truly beautifully targeted FB ads – and decided to start (what I thought was going to be) a small photography business. 

Through the past 5 years, I have hit some major highs (my first fully booked month) and some big lows (questioning the decision to start this after leave my full time job and security), but all along, I have been able to gain control of my personal and professional life. I’ve figured out a process to make this business work and allow me to spend time with my kids, watch them grow, and be a part of their day to day –a little more than I thought I would this past year with COVID, but here we are! None of it is perfect, most of it did not go according to my initial plan, but it’s grown to something bigger and more fulfilling than even I thought it could be. 

I am not a professional podcaster (yet!), but I had to start this podcast for those women, mothers and budding entrepreneurs that were just like me 5 years ago — who need the tools and tricks with some confidence boosts along the way. There are so many resources out there about becoming your own boss… Just the thought of it can be overwhelming. And you can’t just google ‘how do I quit my 9-5’ to find the perfect answer.

This podcast is here to give you actionable tips from real professional and personal experiences in starting a career in an industry I knew nothing about, which I grew into a profitable and flourishing business. Every other Tuesday I will have a guest mom and entrepreneur to talk about their story, all the highs and many lows, as well as tips to start! In the weeks between guests, I will have a solo episode where I talk about tangible ways to solve common problems moms and entrepreneurs have in life and in business. I’ll give you something to do each week to make your life easier and thrive a little more running your business!

BIG OLE DISCLAIMER: I am fully aware that not every woman wants to be a mom and not every mom wants to quit her day job! This is so personal to each and every one of us, not to mention that there are so many perks to a 9-5 that should not be taken for granted! This podcast is not here to make anyone feel like they are not doing the right thing for their family or make you feel any less. I am not here to impose or imply any mom shaming, and instead want you to do what’s best for you! I want to uplift and inspire anyone who is not quite happy with their job, who may want to monetize a passion but isn’t sure how, or who has a side hustle they want to make full time. I’m here for it all!

I am THRILLED you are here and can’t wait for you to meet the women I have lined up; they’re from all walks of life and spread across various industries and professions!! I am lucky to be able to have this platform and hope this show does some good in your life, as it already has in mine! Enjoy the next episode and I’ll be in your ears soon!

Want more insight into my business, personal life and all that falls in between? Head to my Instagram or Facebook for ALL THE GOODS!

You can listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, iHeart Radio and Stitcher!

Full Transcript:
Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first I would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans from Health Insurance Program to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn in tow. But I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds while doing it all.

Hello and welcome to your very first episode of amidst the chaos. My name is Dana Graham and I’m so thrilled you guys have all joined me. I’m a newborn and family photographer in Northern Virginia, I have two little kiddos of my own I Blakeslee who’s four and Grady who’s to my husband, Sean is the biggest height man and cheerleader of me personally and professionally. Even though he is actually traveling right now and kind of away from us quite a bit. So just to give you a little bit of background on who I am, this podcast has been on my mind for a couple of years now, and I’m hoping it does the good in the world that it’s already kind of done in my head. For me it’s been a really kind of cathartic thing and really helpful and I’m hoping that everyone sees that too. It’s been brought to life for a few different reasons. And when you keep being led back to the same thing from a bunch of different directions, I felt like I just kind of had to go for it.

A couple of disclaimers before we get started, mainly because I can’t help myself. I’m not a professional podcaster yet. Visuals are my big thing professionally and this is all pretty new to me. That being said, I recognize that some of these early episodes aren’t the highest of quality and this would annoy the absolute crap out of me if I was a listener. So I do promise you that this will improve very quickly because your girl hates anything substandard, so hang in there with me for just a bit, second disclaimer, I know not every woman, number one wants to be a mom, and more importantly, wants to quit their day job, working a nine to five corporate day job is perfect for some moms, it gives them stability, they might be amazing at it and they may legitimately love what they do. Also, it gives you health insurance, don’t take that crap for granted. I am serious. This podcast is not here to make anyone feel like they aren’t doing quote unquote the right thing for their family by staying at their corporate job. It is not here to make any mom feel less because they haven’t started their own business,

I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, or to push you into anything, especially if it’s not right for you and your family. Please, please know that I have wrestled with this podcast for just this reason and this week reason alone, I never want to impose or even imply any level of mom shaming or judgment. So please go into these episodes with that in mind, I really just want what’s best for every mom. So, this podcast is here to uplift and inspire any mom or dad really out there who feels like they’re just aren’t quite right in the life they have as an employee, and to show them that there are other things out there you can do to live your life with a bunch of different other scenarios like casually support your family financially and spend more time with your kids, or maybe you want to turn your passion into a full blown career, or maybe you just need to monetize the skill set you already have and don’t realize you have in some way. But I only want you to do these things if it’s right for you and if it’s not, I think you can apply a lot of the upcoming content I have scheduled to your everyday life as a mom or as a woman in the workforce, or both. I hope everyone feels welcome here. So I’ll start with my story and give you some background if you don’t know me and some serious insight if you do, this is a lot of detail that many people don’t really know. So it starts about five years ago I was pregnant with my daughter Blakesley. I was living a pretty awesome life my husband had a great job I had an awesome job we’re doing well made plenty of money, we had our house that we were, you know, owned but slowly decorating, but it was a great great life that we had. Sean was job searching at the time. He worked in a great sort of outside sales job but he has always wanted to work with the government in some capacity he’s ex military and wanted to kind of transition back into something in that altruistic kind of level of life. He wants to give back and he wants us to travel all over the world someday, so that’s been his long game goal for a really long time and I’ve always been super supportive of that.

So fast forward I am you know pregnant with my daughter we. She was born in the fall. And when I was thinking about going to work back to work I was just a little bit anxious, I guess is the right word for it. I was nervous that I wasn’t doing the right thing that I wasn’t spending enough time with her, and, and for that reason, I actually have the most amazing team at my old job ever, and they worked with me, really, really well to be able to go back to work with two days at home two days at the office, and then I didn’t work on Fridays, obviously I took a pay cut to reflect that. But the flexibility to have the two days from home and two days in the office was amazing because I was still nursing Blakesley. So it was great to only have to go in and pump a couple of days a week. Obviously in COVID times that seems just normal for people, especially those of you that have had your baby in COVID life, but for me and at the time that was a humongous deal so I’m just super grateful to have had that opportunity, but was Shawn working in outside sales, he actually didn’t really have to start a job until a little bit later in the day. And so we actually didn’t need full time childcare, we really only needed it. A couple of days, you know, three days a week Shawn took one day to have a Blakeslee and then I had her on Friday, so we really needed three days a week, and really only in the mid morning to afternoons when Shawn was working, so it wouldn’t have made sense for us to pay for full time daycare. So we did end up hiring a nanny who is literally the most amazing person on the whole planet she’s has kids my age, and she just was the absolute best thing that we could have ever asked for, so it was amazing I had this great setup I had, you know, someone helping me with my daughter so that I can work, and was there you know on the days that I did go to work with her, but also I was there to be able to you know see her at lunch and things like that so I had this amazing situation going. This worked fantastic for us. Until Shawn got his dream job and was working in the city, which was a good commute for us every single day, that meant he was gone for multiple hours of the day and we needed, full time childcare at that point, when you’re looking at it financially, it’s very hard to have a nanny full time versus, like, half the time that you normally would have had. So, at this point I was actually already pregnant with Grady, and we were just trying to figure out how we were going to afford this. Once I came back from maternity leave to have two kids either in daycare or with a nanny, so we would have to daycare costs. I’d be pumping again it’s time away from both, you know, it’s at this point I’m thinking, oh my gosh it’s only a couple years until Flexi is in school full time, and I wouldn’t be able to be home with her, you know at all really I’d missed that whole you know first five years with her. So we kind of just left it as is, we paid for the nanny full time because there was no point to change it up you know just three months before I was going to be going on maternity leave anyway. And we figured we’d figure it out once Grady was born. So, we are at this point, Grady’s born, I’m on maternity leave with him without really a plan other than just to keep doing what we were doing and figure it out once we got closer to going back to work, I was sort of fine with it. I knew I was gonna go back, they were gonna have to get in daycare and something was, you know, that was just kind of what life was I figured there wasn’t really another option for us at that point, I was kind of a little ambivalent and had sort of given up there was anything else I could do about it. I was thinking, hey, is there some way that I could make money that I would be at home with my kids, the majority of the time or at least I could pick the hours that I’m home with them and make it work for us, but I really felt like I had no skill or any talent, anything that I could monetize and to get rid of my income was definitely not an option, especially with to going into daycare. So then all of a sudden, again, my husband’s work was sort of all over the place schedule wise, and he found out he’d be leaving for about six months, pretty shortly after Grady was born. So the thought of working, going back to work with a two year old and a newborn, working eight to five full time, and then having the kids shuffle on the back end with a partner overseas, and me being all alone all the time. It was not enticing definitely send me over the edge and I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown at that point, at that point with Sean, leaving I said you know what, I’m not doing this, I’m going to go to Virginia Beach when Shawn leaves, and I could you know I’ll be with my parents, and they can help with the kids I won’t be alone, you know, I’ll still work we can get a nanny or something to make it happen so that you know my mom can watch the kids a little bit and we could just make it work. So that’s what we did, we got up, took a whole show on the road and and up and moved to Virginia Beach, my team at my corporate job was legit amazing and knew that this was the right thing for us and we’re so supportive with, you know, realizing Shawn would be gone, they were just the best and said it was fine if I, if I worked majority, From the time from Virginia Beach, and again, this is pre COVID Life remember. So, this wasn’t the norm so I was so lucky and I, and I recognized that this was not a normal situation and I’m so thankful. So we get settled in at my parents and I realized it just wasn’t realistic for me to work there 40 hours a week, and put the kids all on my mom or even hire a nanny so that all of us are in the house all the time. Again looking back with COVID that’s what everybody’s doing now, but at the time, it just did not seem realistic or ideal at all. There were a bunch of other ways I could have played out the situation at that point, I could have put the kids in daycare Virginia Beach, we could have had someone come and help I could have worked out of the house part of the day I mean tons of options but I was nursing Grady and I was super selfish about not wanting to pump and leave the kids. I recognize that a lot of this stemmed from selfishness, for sure. I just really wasn’t willing to bend on this, there were and still are things I’m just not really willing to give up for money, I know that sounds stupid and a little bit reckless. And I also know that a lot of my moms make huge sacrifices every day.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do that, I was just at a point in my life where being home with my young babies was all I had ever really wanted to do. There was never some big career moves that I wanted to have and I never wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or be like, you know the most altruistic badass like my husband is topless not really something that had crossed my mind I just wanted to be a mom, and so I knew that this was it. This was the only opportunity I had for that. And again, I know that a lot of moms don’t feel that way or don’t have the opportunity to feel that way, but it is how I felt and I feel like I have to be able to tell the story honestly to for you all to understand where I’m coming from. So Shawn was getting to live his dream job and there really wasn’t an option for first starting that job when it would be best most convenient for our family and it wasn’t an option for us to change that our kids were born at this time either, so we were both kind of stuck and wrestling with it a lot, but Shawn was actually the one that pushed me and was like Dana, this is the only time you’re going to have this chance we have to make it work. We are both two people that end up making decisions with our heart, my head was saying this is a terrible idea probably pretty reckless. And both of both me and Shawn realize that and our heart this is the only way that we wouldn’t have regrets, even if it was going to be a little bit hard for a while, so I ended up letting my work, No, I wouldn’t be coming back after maternity leave. It was horrible, I’m gonna try not to cry right now but I cried my boss cried. My team was happy for me and probably also hated me at the same time. And on top of the interpersonal aspect of leaving which was brutal. I was also leaving behind my steady income, when you break it down financially though, getting rid of our mortgage, and you know rent because we’re running we were running out our house, it was okay because we didn’t have childcare expenses at all and we didn’t have to pay our mortgage at all. It’s a lot that’s a lot of money, and it really is totally fine for me to quit my job when you don’t have a mortgage or any childcare costs, Again, I recognize that this was totally drastic us moving down there so that you know Shawn could go off and do his trip and us not to have basically a home, but I’m okay with it. I still have no regrets. And we’re lucky that it worked out the way we did it could have been a lot different. I did realize I had to do something to bring in some sort of money for us, and all the sudden Facebook got me. It was a Facebook ad for photography education group called Cole’s classroom, their ad legit spoke to my soul and I was kind of like oh I could build a little photography business on the side, no problem. there was some sort of weird unwarranted confidence that I had with no experience, no clue what I was doing. I barely ever have picked up a DSLR camera at this point, I had legitimately no experience, but it must have been the port postpartum hormones, or maybe there’s just legitimately something wrong with me I’m not sure. I started playing around with my old crop sensor DSLR camera, my parents actually given it to us for our wedding present years and years earlier. I ordered an inexpensive prime lens off of Amazon. I watched some of the videos on Cole’s classroom that they had in their little $1 trial period. And then I pulled to your old Blakesley onto a park when freezing temps to see if I could do it, and let me tell you that tiny little session with Blakesley. I was so impressed with my. I can’t even tell you and the photos are, they’re really cute because Blakesley is like, just the cutest but I had no clue what I was doing, but at the time, I thought I was awesome. So I asked some of our family friends at that point if they’d be willing to let me take some photos with their family and they were so so nice and agreed and sort of, you know placated me a little bit on this, but Courtney if you’re listening, I still can’t thank you enough for that I keep it was such a game changer for me just confidence wise. I kept watching tutorials on that same website and then both Sean’s cousin and his sister were due to have babies like within two weeks of all of this starting and kind of coming to fruition. Both weren’t already planning to get newborn photos done so I volunteered and they were both so kind to agree to let me do it. I can’t say photos from any of these first three shoots are anywhere on my current website. But at the time I launched my business, they were the only shoots I had done, I launched my full business with a website and everything else behind it with just three sessions that I had done with three different families. I’ve gotten a cheap GoDaddy Website and designed a couple of packages, put up the photos from those three shoots along with a couple of Blakesley and Grady and my sister Emily and her dog, and I were to the whole website like I knew what I was doing. I made it super professional and looked pretty clean and clear wasn’t overwhelming. And it was clear way to get in touch with me and what the options were financially. So I plan out some social media posts talking a little bit about our story and I launched it, we were in Virginia Beach remember so not in Nova where all of our friends are. I told everyone where we were in life and what the plan was with the business, I totally intended to just have this little tiny side hustle in VB, do a few sessions a month, give us some extra cash, have a little bit of time to do something for myself. And, you know, have fun kind of building a business well as life goes, we got hit with another pretty large curveball, Shawn actually wouldn’t be leaving for much longer than we originally thought, and to spend more time away from him, and as our family to have a family apart than we already would be in the next few years, which turns out would be pretty substantial amount of time. I’m not bitter at all and it’s still happening. It just didn’t feel right, but we had literally already moved our whole life to Virginia Beach, and we’re at our house. There was nowhere for us to go plus on top of that, I had already quit my job so financially, it really wasn’t possible for us to have another you know to pay rent if we were going to rent out a place we couldn’t move back into our house because we’d already rented it out. And so we were kind of stuck financially, it was not ideal, but like I said I knew that this was the only you know, long period of time we would all have together as a family for the next couple of years so I didn’t feel right, spending it away from him. So my already announced kind of quote unquote side hustle in Virginia Beach had to become a full blown business really quickly and back in Northern Virginia, in the city I didn’t even launch it. So we found a little house closer to the city and move back. Sean was going to be there another six to eight months at that point so we had plenty of time to settle in and get my business going, and I was so pumped because I didn’t have to leave the kids for more than a few hours at a time. I met a lot a lot a lot of hustle, no real free time, because anytime that the kids were sleeping or napping or, you know, I had one break or Shawn could take them for a little I was working, I was getting everything set up and working on, you know, building my business, there were definitely some sleepless nights, between the business and a three month old, who loved his mama. He still does love his mama but at that point he basically wouldn’t sleep or eat unless he was attached to my body. So we’re struggling on that front. At this point you know Shawn was working eight to five five ish days a week, sometimes more than that sometimes six, And I was home with the babies getting my business going I was taking tons of courses, posting on social media, writing on my blog posts practicing shooting and editing, I kind of mistakenly in starting a business assumed that everyone you know would be super supportive and everybody says they’re super supportive and they are. To a certain extent, but it’s not like people are going to, you know, not waste but potentially waste a bunch of money on you to take pictures of their family if you have just started, I wouldn’t, I mean I totally get that. And so I assumed in starting the business that you know all these, this whole network I had in Northern Virginia coming back here would be so much easier because I knew everybody, and they would obviously hire me for their photos, but it definitely happened like that. It was winter, for one, so at that point in my business, sort of, you know, a little bit dead in the water I was doing you know I could do newborn shoots or I could do milestone sessions in a studio but nobody wants outdoor family pictures in February, that’s just miserable. So not only was a winter, but I was brand new. I think that some, you know people that I knew friends of friends, whoever probably viewed it as a hobby and something that was, did I was doing was really cute. And that wasn’t the case that had to be a full blown moneymaker for our family, because we had to be able to afford our rent. And I knew something had to change and I had to get some clients really fast so I kind of launched back onto the internet to see what I could figure out and to see how I could really get going. But when you’re starting a business and you’re talking about pricing. It’s kind of a hard conversation to have with yourself after going back and forth a ton, I ended up pricing myself on my website so publicly. I prices that were reasonable for the little to no experience that I had, but also to be worth the time that I would spend on their session. I generally think I’m a pretty decent person and in my heart I was like I can’t charge people for something I really have very little experience with. But at the same time, my time is worth something and they aren’t going to be getting something out of it. So how do I tow that line.

Well, at the time there were a few photographers, starting out that I was in a couple of Facebook groups with two and I saw that they were having success with model calls, no that doesn’t mean hiring actual models. They just wanted to shoot session types to get their portfolio built up and built up sessions that they wanted to keep shooting. They use these, but they weren’t totally free. I posted exactly what type of sessions I wanted to do and had each family pay a small deposit so they wouldn’t cancel but nothing other than that, I kind of told them up front that the session would be free and they would get their choice of three digital image and images in the end, no matter what they could have their deposit back if they just wanted to walk away with their three photos, and once they were edited and saw the whole gallery if they liked the photos after they were done, they could buy them for XYZ price whatever I’d said at the time, which I did tell them ahead of time, which was less than my full packages were listed online, so no matter what it was a win win situation. I could practice I could give people photos when they normally wouldn’t have booked a session, but I also had the potential to make a little bit of money at least, I posted the social media post about this model call and a bunch of local Facebook groups for moms and I asked a few of my friends to share it as well. I had about 35 Moms apply for the model calls, and I picked from there based on their duty the age of their babies their location a bunch of a bunch of things. And this is honestly the best thing I could have done for my business, I had maybe, I think a total of eight model call sessions or there were a couple of first birthday cake smashes some in home in home newborn sessions. And since both can be done inside it was the middle of winter, it was an awesome solution to the model calls who had applied but weren’t chosen I had offered regular sessions at a discount. But I actually looking back should have just taken everyone in the model call because it ended up that every single one of my model call clients ended up buying some sort of package on top of the three free digital images. I think I think actually all but one bought every single image in their gallery which because I’m so emotional at the time made me legitimately cry every time someone said they wanted them all. And also it was a huge confidence booster, I mean, it was probably pretty nice because their expectations were probably low ish knowing that I was new. So when they got a good amount of photos back a good amount of quality photos back, it was pretty exciting for them. So it was a good confidence boost. And I had enough sessions done at this point that I had a pretty good amount of stuff on my website and in my portfolio. It’s really nice to kind of beef that up a little bit, and even at this point I had gotten started to get referrals in for model call clients and started to book more session so those moms that have come in, you know, with low expectations realize that it was a much better situation than maybe they had thought and we’re actually already referring me to their friends, I made sure everyone knew I had a referral program, both the client who referred me and the clients who were coming to me, brand new would get a certain amount off of their next session, I was definitely ready to be ready to be busier though I needed to be busier and Facebook ended up getting me again in two ways. The first wasn’t had for a wedding photographer I had heard of Caitlin James, my fault started following her on social media after seeing an ad for her stuff and I immediately fell in love with her because of her blog and some of her stuff on Instagram, but quickly thereafter I invested in some for courses she got me really fast, guys, I am a marketer’s dream. If you give me anything that resembles like enhancing my life in any way or making a better me making a better product, or making my life easier. I will buy it, like I am a marketer’s dream so Facebook, like, please come at me because I, you will get me every time and honestly I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for that so I’m super thankful and will never hate on you know Facebook targeting ever again because I would never have the business I do today if it wasn’t for that. But after investing in some of Caitlin James’s courses, I knew that it was the right place, I needed to be and she had the exact type of editing style I wanted she serve her clients so well she does all these things that make her just stand out from the crowd. Now I never wanted to be a wedding photographer, it just doesn’t mesh with my lifestyle. I knew that you know I would have to be working on weekends when, you know, Shawn would be home with the kids and it’s a lot of pressure and also the stage of my life I’m in, I had a newborn and a two year old it was perfect for me to be a mother photo hood photographer, that’s right up my alley, but it didn’t matter, those horses from from Caitlin were life changing, even for just regular newborn and family style sessions. So after that I had, you know, worked a ton and worked through a lot of her courses and I could see my work immediately improve I was definitely leveling up the quality of content I was producing for clients and it was, it was pretty clear, and that was at the point that I started to be able to take some initial sessions off of my website and get some new things that looked a little bit more like what I wanted it to look like style wise on my website so I kind of found my style at that point and that was really exciting. And keep in mind this is like, March, April, so i less than six months after I launched, way less than six months after I launched the business. So after that Facebook got me again. There was a wedding photographer named Samantha grant and one of the Caitlin James groups, I was in on Facebook who had done it had a ton of success with Facebook ads. I really thought Facebook was sort of done as a platform at that point everybody says, oh, Facebook’s the worst. But it wasn’t and it really still isn’t those groups on there, and between the groups and the targeting ads, it is some powerful stuff. You can absolutely still find your ideal client on Facebook, no matter what market you’re in, and that’s exactly what I did. I gave in and bought Sam’s fully booked ads course and it totally changed the game. I wrote a really really honest Facebook ad copy directed at New moms, I paired it with some super super sweet images from some of the model calls I had, and put in the targeting metrics that would be my ideal client, something that was super awesome for me, my ideal client. It’s me, it’s exactly me, I basically had to say whatever I would say to myself to make me book a session. But the nice thing is, is that I meant every single word. And I think, you know, when you’re talking about Facebook ads or sales in general getting anybody to do anything you has to come from a genuine place, I would have felt sleazy otherwise. Honestly putting these ads out I felt zero amount of sleaze none, and I’m not saying I’m the least salesy person you’ll ever meet. But I truly believed every single thing I wrote and then hit such a difference. So, once I figured that out and kind of applied it to my targeting on Facebook, it worked like magic. I looked at my stats before recording just now, I spent $80 on Facebook ads over two months, so not that much. I booked over $12,000 worth of newborn sessions directly from that ad alone ad dollars. I put in, and I booked $12,000 worth of newborn sessions from just that ad, honestly, the rest is history. That’s the only paid marketing I’ve ever done, because right from then I sort of figured out this cyclical pattern that’s kept my business going. All this time, has three sort of distinct features that I’ve actually already touched on all of them but they kind of roll into each other. So the first, I kept up that referral program that I had started from the beginning. So those initial Facebook ad clients were so so kind and shared my name with their friends who were also in the newborn season of life. It’s nice to give a small discount to a new inquiry right off the bat and also remind them that I know and was trusted by their friend who recommended me, it’s just a great way to introduce yourself to somebody and to be genuinely excited to talk to them. And that’s the thing, it is totally genuine with me I’m so excited for every single client that I take photos of and I’ve become friends with a lot of them, but that sort of leads right into your experience with me when I’m at your home, as I mentioned earlier, I am ideal client. I had an infant and a toddler I speak new mom pretty well. I also speak toddler exceptionally well if I do say so myself, and keeping a toddler happy during a newborn session has been one of the things that moms have appreciated the most out of anything that I do. Yes, the quality of my work is important but the fact that they’re not stressed out about their toddler getting good smiles or behaving while I’m there and they can focus on loving on their newborn and making sure that Brandon baby is okay, it’s game, it’s a game changer. I knew I needed to make these sessions stress free for moms stress before the toddlers, and that realization is 100% paid off for me, I worked really hard to always do what’s right for my client and I think that shows, I mean I never want a mom to feel too stressed or like I didn’t get exactly you know what I wanted to get photo wise before they leave, I want to make sure that they’re comfortable, and I know from personal experience that that is the most important thing you can do is just to serve your client really well, and remember that she just had a baby, it’s a big deal, so treat her like that. So those are the first two things kind of that, that referral program which leads into a really really great client experience. Okay so let’s say the experience was great, like I said it was they were referred to me by somebody is step one, step two, they had a great experience. But what if I then returned like not an okay product on the back end, I knew that that totally wasn’t an option so I kept learning and investing pretty heavily in education. I saw a huge sense of responsibility and never ever ever wanted my clients to be unhappy with their actual product, a lot of photographers actually do really well because they have a great personality really good marketing skills are decent with kids. But what if they don’t have a really decent product on the back end. And not only decent but, Really really good. That is and was very important to me and if you don’t invest in the education to make your work, exceptional, it’s gonna be really hard to retain those clients right so it is great that yes I’m getting totally genuine smiles out of their toddler which is for most moms, the most important aspects. Sure, of course, but secondly they need to know that the work they see on my website is what they can expect from, from a shoot with me. So, the cyclical pattern I was talking about you spend the money on the education, which creates a really quality product, which gets your clients talking about you to your friends, which gives you the chance to shine at your session and get those genuine smiles, which again gives you the high quality product right it gives you the best shot at creating that quality product. It’s a whole cycle, and every time I feel unmotivated or like I’m in a rut, I just focus on one of those three things and I see so much reward immediately on the rest of my circle, it comes back around and just like that pattern every single time I do it. So here I am 22 years later, funding this business. It was really difficult getting started I used babysitters for my session time only for the first year and a half, literally, that’s the only time of help type of help I ever had, and Shawn was gone, you know, eight months into me starting the business right so I had even for my night and weekend sessions I had to have somebody to watch my kids, I never just said hey, I have a session I’ll see after dinner. That was not an option for me. And so I had babysitters all the time, a lot of family and friends did help to to watch some of the kids, the kids for us a little bit, but it wasn’t ever a steady Hey, once a week, this is when my kids are gone and I can work, because it wasn’t financially possible for us I mean like I said we had planned on not having a mortgage or rent at this point and we did so I did have to be able to cover all of that but we also were not counting on having childcare costs either. So we did it. And from there, we I edited at night I email during naps, I was still, you know, fortunate enough to be able to take the kids to do fun things go to the farm take them to the park, be able to see them, you know most all day every day, but I had to do some serious research and productivity techniques, I mean lots of self care, and which is hard when you’re by yourself, and personal development because it’s a lot to run a business and have two toddlers at home and then have your husband gone for a significant amount of time. It’s hard even with your husband home. But there are points that I was so exhausted I really wondered if it was even worth it, But then my daughter will wake up from a nap I just remember one day she just looked at me said, Mom, I’m so happy you’re here and cuddling with me, and I was like okay, well I can’t be this this is, I’m done. This isn’t for me. I’m so glad I’m doing this so, for me, I knew that I really was the right thing and that’s what kind of has kept me, plugging along. But about six months ago I was completely exhausted but really looked at at the finances and realized I was totally profitable enough to hire somebody study a few days a week to help. At this point, I’m totally fine emotionally spending three days a week away from the kids I don’t have to pump I’m not nursing Grady, honestly like they’re big enough to be playing and like hanging with someone other than me, especially in the weird COVID life and they’re not going to school or doing anything like that. So Sean’s brother Tommy and his wife Maureen, have a daughter Maggie that’s just a little bit younger than Grady. So we worked out this awesome plan where we’d have the babysitter come for all three cousins together. We love that these tinnies get so much time together and I’m unbelievably grateful to have you know Mo and Tommy as my two adults in my little COVID Bubble I really don’t know how it would have done this with Shawn gone this whole time without the two of them would have been, it would have been really, really much harder than it already is and a lot more lonely, so kind of withdrawn being overseas he’s actually been gone for seven months at this point and will be gone another five so it’s a full year, but having a, you know Tommy Mo has been literally life saving, we’re ready for Shawn to be home but are trying to kind of live our life to the fullest without him here and even with a pandemic going on it’s been, it’s been interesting, but if he’s gonna miss any year it might as well be the one where we can’t really do anything majorly fun without him so it’s been kind of nice, but there’s so many more details to our story, especially in relation to COVID, but hopefully this gives you a good overview of who I am as a mom who I am as a professional, Ramazan entrepreneur and a wife and a human if you don’t already know me but I really started this podcast because I really, really needed something like this. A few years ago when I was trying to figure out what I could do to make money but I have such little control over my schedule and the hours I spent with my kids. There are so many different entrepreneurial options out there but it feels totally overwhelming and ridiculous to just Google, how do I quit my nine to five job but still make money. That’s not really a thing. So, I just didn’t know what was out there, it was a stroke of luck that I landed on something I absolutely love, but I do recognize that it was luck, and Facebook also that match me so well with my motherhood photography journey. So, on this podcast every other Tuesday I’m going to have a guest mom and entrepreneur come on to tell you their story of jumping into entrepreneurship to provide a little bit more flexibility and income for their family and to talk about all the highs and many many lows of this lifestyle, and to give you tips on how to start something like they have. I have some super awesome guests lined up and some already recorded and so there’s so many things in the queue for you guys in the coming months. So in the weeks between guests interviews, I’ll have a solo episode where I’m going to talk about some actual tangible tips on common problems that mom and entrepreneurs seem to have both in their life and their business, and it kind of, it’s going to give you something that you can do an actionable item that you can do each week to help make your life a little bit easier and help you thrive a little bit more in running your business or starting your business and being a mom. Honestly these solo episodes are going to be so helpful for moms who aren’t entrepreneurs as well, so much of this content is going to apply to your daily life. Either way, I’m so pumped to be able to spread inspiration and motivation to anybody that feels hopeless or stuck in a rut, like I have and sometimes still do, no matter if you’ve already made the leap to entrepreneurship or you’re thinking about making that leap, or even if you’re just happy where you are. I know you’ll benefit from hearing stories of how mom has moms have made big changes in their professional life, and how they managed to do it amidst the chaos of motherhood. So if you’re still listening, I love you. Thank you for being here and supporting me as I touched on at nauseum earlier please don’t ever take anything I say in this podcast, personally, I know that what’s right for me, or what’s right for any of my guests may not be right for you and your family so please don’t think that I am judging you in any way, and it’s more than fine that we all have different needs and wants and things that work best for our family. So that being said though, I do think it’s important to give those that do feel the same way that I have a community where they feel supported and inspired to maybe do something like I did and like so many mother, other mothers have, and I hope this project will be that for some of you, so thank you all again for listening, and with that you can find tons of more information on amidst the chaos podcast, calm, including detailed instructions on how to rate and review the podcast I will love you forever if you do those things. Also, if you’re listening to this as we’re launching, if you do some if you do rate and review the podcast, there’s going to be a discount code emailed to you for my mobile presets, which are basically like filters for any of your mobile photos and they are really really practical presets, so I highly recommend on giving us a rating and a review and sending it over so we can shoot you with a discount code also on the website are going to be show notes with links to anything that we might mention in the episodes to come any giveaways, we might have anything, you know discounts on products that any of our guests may be giving us, and then links to me as a photographer as well. So thanks again so much for listening and get ready to hit play on episode two of amidst the chaos. I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and read more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com for show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it would mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to bring them with you. Thanks for joining me, Amidst the Chaos!

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