July 3, 2020
Each year I personally set aside a piece of my business budget to invest in education to grow as a photographer and entrepreneur. When I was first starting out it was these investments that helped catapult me forward and grow quickly. Investing in education had such a big impact on my own career that I continue to invest in education each year. But over time I’ve learned how to strategically pick out what education is going to work best for me!. Here are a few things I always consider before making a purchase!
Personally, I think every small business owner should be investing in education at least 1-2 times a year. While you may be able to learn a lot from free content on the internet, YouTube tutorials or just guess work not everything will come easily. Sometimes the expertise and encouragement from fellow business owners and photography educators is worth the cost. They can give you vital tools to accelerate your growth!
At least once a year sit down and evaluate if it’s time to invest in some new education. Have you already purchased a ton that you haven’t finished? Focus on those first! Is there a big pain point you’re struggling with? Would a certain workshop or mentor session with another business owner help address it? If so it might be time to invest!
Perhaps you feel like things are going great though! That’s awesome! I wouldn’t say that means you don’t need to invest in any education though. If things are going smoothly and you feel unchallenged it might be time to consider where you want your business to go from here and what steps you need to take it to the next level. Education is also incredible at keeping you from becoming stagnant.
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to invest in education you’ll need to think through what type of education to invest in. This will go hand in hand with deciding ‘When?’! You’ve likely already come to the realization that there are areas you’re struggling in or could use some extra help. Consider what you need to improve and start searching for opportunities that pair well. If you’re a new business owner, education that is more general might be the best fit since there may be multiple areas you need help with. If you’re struggling to go full-time ask yourself why and figure out what needs to be addressed to make it happen. Maybe you’re lacking in a new skill or a task takes you a long time – it might be time to find a specialist who can increase your knowledge in that area so you can streamline more parts of your business or make sure you’re using all the tools you have correctly!
Just like there are many wedding and event industry professionals, there are also a lot of people who offer education. Do your research beforehand! I think many of us, including myself, can say we’ve been burned in the past by not making sure the person or workshop we were investing in was a good fit for us. And that’s not the mentor’s fault! Not everyone is going to be a good teacher for you! Make sure you consider what types of learning environments you thrive in (i.e. big conferences, workshops, online courses, one-on-one coaching) and narrow it down from there. I get the most out of smaller workshops and one-on-one-coaching so when I’m investing in education I focus on these. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t own online courses! I definitely have purchased my fair share, but have learned over time I have to work much harder to learn the content when I’m not a captive audience.
Next make sure that you’re investing in educators who’s are a good fit for you as well (not just their programs!). Are their brand values in line with yours? Do you feel like you can learn from them? Are they successful in the topic/s that you want to learn? How do you know that? Take time to read up on educators’ free content and reach out to them directly to have a conversation. If you’re interested in learning from them they should be happy to answer any questions you have about the educational experiences they provide. In the end you want to be investing in someone who is running a successful business, knows where their growth came from, and can provide you with new tools, confidence and encouragement moving forward!
Finally, ask yourself what do you want to get out of education? Is it just going to a workshop to capture the styled shoots or is it something else? It’s ok if that’s the reason! Just make sure you know that going in and how it’s going to help your business. If it’s to go full-time then make sure you’re going to leave with the education that you need. There are plenty of educational opportunities, but I strongly recommend investing ones that you’ll leave with actionable steps for improvement. Whether it’s a new skill or something to work on you want to make sure you’re leaving that investment knowing what comes next!
Investing in education is a crucial part of being a business owner and I highly recommend is for all photographers and fellow wedding industry professionals! If you’re thoughtful about where you are investing you’ll see a great return to your business!
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I'm a Virginia wedding photographer serving the DMV and worldwide. I strive to balance the composed with the candid and capture vibrant, timeless images for my couples.
Six years of wedding industry has taught me a lot! This quick guide is designed for you two to get your wedding experience started with just a few easy steps!