The first thing that I needed to deal with was the change to my lifestyle.
After the concerns that I wouldn’t be able to generate enough income to support myself my main worry was adjusting to a new way of life. What if the reality of life as a full-time photographer was vastly different from my expectations?
I needn’t have worried.
Although it is still early days I am happy to report that I enjoying my new life immensely. It really is as rewarding as I had anticipated it would be.
I can honestly say that I haven’t thought about my old job once. That has to be a sign that my decision to move on was the right one.
Mrs Sale and I were both aware that is was going to take time to adjust to me being at home all the time.
Being able to spend more time together was the primary reason for leaving my job and setting up my own business.
Our marriage has always been strong but if anything the change has made it stronger. At times it has felt like being newly married.
Unfortunately in the last three months we have had some difficult family issues to deal with. But where as in the past we would have had to deal with them separately at least this time it has been much easier to support one and other.
One of the driving forces behind my decision to go full-time was the freedom to devote more time to developing as a photographer.
To begin with I took full advantage of this and was out shooting 5 or 6 times a week. However, inevitably as we move into winter I have found that I am getting out less and less.
This is partly due to the decision to start building my business earlier than I had initially planned.
Criticism on Social Media
One of the things that I was not prepared for was the criticism that my photography has received on social media, particularly YouTube.
There are many people out there who feel that the standard of my photography is not good enough to be a professional photographer.
This goes with the territory although I will never understand what a photographer would ever hope to gain from criticising another.
For the record I am very happy with my photography at the moment and with the rate at which I am improving.
In order to chart my progress as a photographer I have decided to produce a book every 3 months. These will act as a retrospective documenting my journey and hopefully providing inspiration to others.
I have finished the first volume, titled New Beginnings, which chronicles my first 3 months as a full-time photographer.
I am currently waiting to receive a proof copy. If everything is in order it should be available to buy on Blurb before the start of the new year.
Hand of Man Project
In order to give my photography some direction and purpose I have started a new project.
Titled the “Hand of Man” it aims to showcase the positive impact that man has had on the Lake District landscape.
Once complete I hope it will form the basis for my first exhibition and an ARPS panel for submission to the Royal Photographic Society.
Progress has not been as good as I would have liked. However, as I have been busier with 1-2-1s and workshops than expected I can’t really grumble. 🙂
It was originally my intention to spend the first 6 months adjusting to my new lifestyle and building my portfolio.
However, after just 1 month I felt ready to start building my business.
The move from amateur to professional photographer is the biggest challenge that I have ever set myself. It is a challenge that I relish!
1-2-1s have been the biggest success story since starting my business.
Providing 56% of my income not only are they my biggest earner but they are also the most fun!
Without exception I have enjoyed all of the 1-2-1s that I have run so far. I have met some wonderful people and surprised myself at just how much I have been able to help them with their photography.
It has been a fairly even split between providing photography tuition and location knowledge.
This will continue to be an area that I will focus on into 2020.
I made the decision very early on that I wanted to continue to run workshops with other YouTube photographers.
We are starting small, offering 1/2 day workshops that we will run at weekends. However, as this side of the business starts to grow we will offer longer, more ambitious workshops.
I feel that they are competitively priced offering exceptional value for money. Despite this they still account for 16% of my income so far.
If the teaching side of my business has been successful the print side has not.
So far print sales account for just 2% of my income.
However, I hope that this is simply because I haven’t done any work on it at all. I haven’t added any new photographs to my store in nearly a year!
In 2020 I need to start to develop this side of the business.
Social media is extremely important to the promotion of my business.
Since going full-time I have seen growth on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
However, I am still to develop a clear strategy for promoting my business. As it is not clear what I want to achieve it is impossible to gauge the success.
I am aware that I may have to develop a whole new approach and change the type of content that I am creating for each platform.
YouTube is the only social media platform where my strategy is clear.
Since going full-time the purpose of my channel has shifted slightly. Through my videos I aim to demonstrate my:
- competency as a landscape photographer
- competency as a teacher
- knowledge of the Lake District
There seems to be a lot of interest in my journey from amateur to professional. As a result I have seen an increase in the number of views that I get on each video.
Before going full-time I would expect between 2.5K and 3.5K views on a video in the first week. That has doubled to between 5K and 7K.
This has had an impact on the amount of money I make from ad revenue. I am now in the position where I am generate enough to trigger a payment from Google every month.
At the moment YouTube accounts for 26% of my income.
As I look ahead to the winter I have set myself the following targets:
- Overhaul my shop so that all of my latest images are available to buy
- Refocus my content for Facebook in order to promote my prints
- Publish my first photography book
- Capture enough high quality images to produce my second photography book