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Erin Schut || Guest blogger

Meet Erin of Arynn Photography.

frozen lemonade

You can find Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google +

“Everybody knows what it feels like to be new at something – stumbling along trying to figure it out, wondering if you’re ever going to progress or ever be as good as that one person you know.Wondering if it ever gets any easier.WellI have some hard news for you.When it comes to photography and running your own business, it doesn’t get any easier. But you know what?That is a good thing! I’m not saying your hard work won’t pay off because it will. I’m not saying you won’t improve or that you won’t find some aspects easier over time because you will. Something you struggle with today will be second nature tomorrow. But new and challenging things will always pop up for you to face head on.Those things make you a better person, a better business owner and a better photographer. But don’t worry (and don’t panic).You don’thave to face them alone.Today I’m here to help. I’m here to share with you four lessons I have learned in the past few years as I have grown my business. Because heaven knows I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone!

Lesson #1: Get in community!

I put this lesson first, and added the exclamation point, because I really feel like it is most important. For me, being a part of a community of photographers has not only changed my life but impacted my photography and business journey in almost every way. I mean I wouldn’t even be writing this post for you guys if I wasn’t a part of a photography community. First of all, it is an opportunity for learning. Being in a community of different people who are all at different points on their journey allows you to observe their businesses and to learn and to grow from them.You have countless chances to ask questions and network. Opportunities to second shootor assistcan come from this kind of networking. But over all, being a part of a community makes you a part of something bigger than yourself and reminds you that you are not alone in this crazy dream.There will be lots of days where you’ll need that reminder. Join an online group, check out your local camera clubs. Find those kindred spirits.

Lesson #2: Run screaming away from debt

AVOID DEBT! This one is serious. Debtcan truly and ultimately hamper your professional development. I seriously urge you to consider building your business slowly and debt free. I’ll admit this takes patience. Sometimes quite a bit of it.You won’t be able to throw yourself in completely right away but that slow growth is beneficial.The rewards from going this route are immeasurable. First it takes a lot of stress off! You have enough things in your life causing stress, am I right? For the first few years of your business it is unlikely you will be able to pay yourself and that’s okay. It’s even more okay if you’re debt free. Every cent you make can go into a bank account and used to grow your business. Buy new equipment, pay for your website, explore new marketing opportunities.This may mean that sometimes you’ll have to go without.You may have to rent equipment sometimes or you may find yourself needing to sell old equipment. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Consider it.

Lesson #3 Get yourself legal!

I would say that this point is on par in importance with lesson #2 so I threw in another exclamation point.You need to be running a legal business. It is important to sit down and research the legalities of running a business in the area where you live. Becoming legal shows not only your clients, but also yourself that you take your business seriously and you take their trust in you to preserve their memories seriously.Taking time to do this properly now will save yourself tons of headaches and drama down the road. First of all, you need to register your business with the proper authorities. Nextyou need to make sure you are charging and paying taxes properly based on your area and your income and you need to have comprehensive contracts, checked by a local lawyer, in place to protect yourself and your clients. You both deserve that much.The next step is looking into liability and equipment insurance if you plan to grow a successful business.All of this goes together to create a business that you can be proud of and I know that’s what you’ve been working so hard towards.

Lesson #4 Don’t undervalue yourself rockstar!

This is a hard lesson to learn butone best learned quickly. If you want your time and your talent to be worth while to your client, it needs to be worth while to you. Price yourself so that your business can grow and you can serve your clients to the absolute best of your ability.Take the time to decide what your skill is worth. How much is your overhead? How much is time away from your family worth? Remember you have to pay taxes too.You have worked so hard to be where you are and you are going to continue to work hard every day. Not everyone out there is going to appreciate what you do or feel like you are worth it. Somedays it’s going to feel like no one does. So it’s important that at least the most important person to your business does. You! Don’t under value yourself and under cut yourself so that you can’t grow. Allow yourself to grow tall you precious blossom!

These are justfour of the countless lessons you will learn as your grow your business. It is an exciting time for you. Running your own business is the scariest, most exciting and nerve wracking thing you may ever do but if your heart is in it, it is so worth it.The laughter, the tears, the heartache and the pain are so worth it. Every valley is worth walking through and every mountain is worth climbing. Face each challenge with the knowledge that each week you’ll be even better than you are today. I’ll be rooting for you!”

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