In this episode, Heather Chesky drops her 3 secrets to success and how she went from laid off to a 6-figure business owner. Learn how she overcame self-doubt, how she set herself up for financial success, and the three tips to grow your business.
After an unexpected job layoff, Heather Chesky transitioned into a full-time entrepreneur role initially serving her local area with photography services. Her photography studio quickly grew and Heather became a sought-after Photographer in her local market. She now not only helps her clients feel confident in front of the camera, but she also educates and empowers her fellow photographers to pursue their own photography passion, wow their clients, and build profitable businesses.
Website:https://heatherchesky.com/ and https://www.heathercheskyphotography.com/branding-headshots/
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Hey everyone. Welcome back to the elevated entrepreneur Podcast. I am here today with Heather Chesky. She is a photographer and she also helps photographers get booked with her online programs. And today we're going to talk about her awesome three secrets to success and how she went from laid off to a six-figure business owner. So Heather, welcome. How are you?
I'm good. Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor.
I know I'm excited. So Heather and I will go way back, actually. like three or four years ago.
I can't even remember now. I feel like three, four years. Yes. She was my very first coach when I started photography. And then I actually went to Washington DC last year and she did my branding photos. So, were definitely connected.
Yes, we go way back. We do. We do. It's all good. It's so, yeah, it's so fun. Every time, I see your photos pop up online. I'm like, Oh, like I just remember the fun we had in DC. It was just awesome.
We did have a lot of fun. We did. It was-- and it was like hot that day.
It was, yeah, very, not, it was very out of the norm, so it was like a beautiful, like towards a hotter day when it's supposed to be getting cold, but like it, we made it work. It was great. Lots of walking of course, but it was, it was fun.
Fun. It was a great time. All right. So Heather, tell us a little bit about you and, and who you are, who you help.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'll try to give the cliff note version here. So basically, back in 2012, I was working at a university, hating my job to be perfectly honest. And I was doing photography on the side and I had really wanted to do it. Full-time but just had so much fear around leaving something that was steady and doing something that was not going to be steady, or I didn't know, like how, like, if I could really make a consistent full-time income with it added to the fact that we had a baby, then he was just, you know, recently born. So it's just like, what kind of mom will give up a steady paycheck to go pursue her dreams? Like I felt like that was so selfish. But as it turns out my job that made me leave one afternoon, and I say this, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me because at the time I was just going back and forth about whether or not I should quit, whether or not I should pursue this.
And I was just really, really stuck. And so I went into work one morning and my manager just asked me to see him and he basically, you know, let me go, it was on good terms. And I remember being told to go to the HR room and I walked in with all these managers and I just, I knew like I was like, okay, something's not right here. And he just shared it with me that, you know, they had to let me go. And like, I'm not even kidding you. As the first words out of my mouth were thank you so much. And because, and then totally took them back because, Oh my gosh, like, nobody has ever thanked us for letting them go. I had just been stuck in this. Okay, should I do this? Or should I not? And it had been months that I was just going back and forth.
And so I felt like I didn't have to make this decision and because it was an applicant we'll split like I also got the severance pay for a little while. So it was a nice little bonus right there if you will. So that was in August of 2012. And so then I went home and I was like, all right, this is it. Like, I'm doing photography. And it was that first year. It was really hard. It was one of those things. And a lot of my students can relate to this where, you know, I didn't have a support that, you know, when you're in an online space or when you're doing your own business, like you would like to have, so like for example, my husband didn't think it was possible.
Other people are like, Oh yeah, you can't make a full-time living from photography. So with a lot of self-doubts, for sure, a lot of questioning, a lot of, you know, just up all night trying to, you know, continue building out my website, learning things. And you know, of course, I still had my baby, so I was very much, I couldn't like, focus on it as much as I wanted to. But like, as it turns out that first year as a full-time photographer, I ended up doubling the income that I lost from my job. Which was, you know, really awesome because I was like, I was like, nobody thought I could make, you know, the money that I made and then I didn't only make it, but I doubled it. And that was like a year where I felt like I was still trying to figure everything out.
Wasn't priced appropriately. I mean, I was working around the clock too, so don't get me wrong. I was working way too much and not charging enough, but, you know, the fact is that I really believe that, like, you know, if you have a desire and a passion, like there, there is a way to figure it out. So that kind of just launched me forward. And it hasn't been an easy journey by any means, but every year we've continued to grow. I've continued to learn things. And a couple of years ago I actually had a lot of photographers asking me for help. And, you know, just wondering how I was able to make this work. And I was so focused on my business. I just honestly thought that every photographer was making money. Right. Tell that that was not true at all.
And so I was like, Oh, wow. Like, yeah. And I really think that you know, one of the things that I used to hate, but turn it out, being a really great blessing is that like, I had to make a certain amount of money every single week for my family. Otherwise, it's like, we would not be able to pay for our bills and cars and, you know, diapers and food. So like there was no wiggle room whatsoever. And I feel like that really set me up for financial success and really, you know, knowing that like, Hey, my business is meant to, of course, you know, serve my clients well, but also be a financial blessing to my family. So I didn't, it was hard, but like, I feel like I didn't waste a whole lot of time, like wondering if I was worth it or in a sense, because there's like, no, like my baby's worth it.
And so I come to found out that like, you know, a lot of photographers didn't have that kind of mentality. So they were struggling with getting bookings or struggling to find clients who valued them. But really it was them not valuing themselves or pricing appropriately. So there was a huge disconnect. So that opened the door to, you know, do some one-on-one coaching, which we did, which was awesome. I did that with quite a few photographers. And then, after a year or so of that, I was, I've lived like, I'm like literally saying the same thing with every single person. And I was like, you know, I need to like make a course because, one, it would be more affordable for somebody to join because it's not that one-on-one interaction. And then two, like I would be getting back more time because I don't have to have like the same conversation, you know, five times in a row.
So I, Oh gosh, when was this? I think this was maybe 2018. I built my first course, it was super small. I'm just trying to test the waters. It was teaching them one simple marketing strategy specifically to high school photographs in high school seniors. I learned a whole lot with that and, you know, did that for, you know, it was a very short course, like a super short mini-course and I enjoyed it, but then I saw realized I was like, this is just not enough information like typographers need to know everything else that goes into it. So I have since built a really great program called the book photographer, and I feel like that's like my, my baby, my pride and joy. It really is like my goal with it is like a one-stop-shop for any photographer who really wants to stand out in their market, attract those clients who value photography, and really make that consistent income. And so that's been basically my focus for the last, you know, year and a half, two years. And I'm loving it. It is so awesome. Just seeing my students, especially this past year and the pandemic, they're still, you know, honestly having a really great ordering appointment, they're hitting their own financial goals. So it's just really awesome to see them have so much success even been when, the past couple of months to have, you know, circumstantially have been way more challenging than any other year.
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm going to go back just for a second. So when you lost your job, did you have consistent clients and photography at that point?
Yes and no. So at that time, I was actually working with another wedding photography company. So I started in and wedding photography. So I was actually one of them, they would hire me to photograph their weddings. And so basically they would book the weddings for me and I would just show up on a Saturday and photograph it. And it was great when I was working at another job. And so like, basically I was like, okay, Monday through Friday, you know, the nine to five type of style. And then on Saturday, I could go photograph a wedding and basically content, honestly, like I wasn't even good at photography then, like my skills needed drastic improvement. And so it was a really great way for me to hone in on the, I guess, the aesthetics of photography, learning how to, you know, which lenses I need to use when learning how to pose, learning, how to use off-camera flash.
So I was doing that and very sporadically would have like my own clients and then it wasn't until like I lost my job. I was like, okay, like now's the time to actually get to get my own clients. Cause I can't just rely on somebody else to, to get me books. Right. So let's talk about that for a second. How did, what did you do? Oh my goodness. What did I do? All right. So I'm gonna, I'll tell this one story. So I had a family from church. They had, you know, a toddler, and then she just found out she was pregnant again. So they actually hired me to photograph their maternity session. And I did, I was so happy because it was like one of those it's different when somebody wants to hire you versus you work for another company, the couple hires that hires the company and then basically you're you go photograph their day. There's not that personal connection. So this was one of the first clients whoever hired
Me for me. And I was,
I was so excited about it, but again, at the time, like, I really didn't know how to price myself. So I just basically told them, Hey, it's a hundred bucks. Right? Like I thought like, Oh, it was just, you know, it would take me an hour to photograph. It will be super fine, like no big deal. And so I went to this session and it was so challenging. Like I struggled the toddler wasn't listening at all though. I did not know how to use like opposing and like, it was a very harsh day. So like it, the images was not great. The couple was happy so that that's good. But looking back now, like I cringe at them and then, you know, driving home like I just remember thinking I'm okay. Like that was such a hard thing for me to do.
And I'm like, knowing like, okay, I still need to go home and download these images and edit them. And like, that's going to take me a couple more hours. And like, I basically gave them a disc of 117 digital images. And I just, I remember thinking, okay, I am so thankful that somebody hired me, but like, I can't charge a hundred dollars per session. Like that's not going to get me to where I want to be. That's not going to support my family at all. Because I'd finally had that realization that like, Hey, like there's a lot more that goes into a business aside from just showing up in that face to face time with your clients. So that started and I guess really me learning the basically separating the session free from what I provide clients in terms of their digital images and albums, and just really pricing myself for, I guess just to actually make a living to actually pay myself and, you know, provide for my family the first year I did.
I marketed through doing model calls and gift vouchers quite a bit, which is basically, you know, I gave an incentive for somebody to, to book a time with me. Basically, it was a free session, but then I would, they would get money towards their products and they're digital. So if they wanted anything, they would have to then pay for it. And so it was a great way for me to have that practice one-on-one with people. It was an easy buy-in because they literally didn't have to put down money first. But then like a lot of them would purchase their products later. And so like, that's really how I was able to book out my calendar and slowly like, and this is a slow process. Like it did not come overnight, but we're really trying to build up a portfolio. That was, that was good and not, well, not like bad. Also just practicing, you know, knowing how to share your prices with clients, knowing what to do when they might have some pushback or some objections, like how do you handle that? So it was a really great learning process.
Yeah. Yes. To all of that. Yes. I know exactly how that feels. And I know a lot of it, even if you're not a photographer, you know how that feels, right?
Yes, absolutely. We all have to talk about money at some point in time.
Yeah. And that's so hard and it's so funny. Cause I was thinking about this actually just the other day because even the money thing still pops up for me sometimes. Right. I mean, it just doesn't go away. You have these beliefs in your head from God only knows when and you know, no matter how hard you work on them, sometimes they still
They'll come up. Yeah. They rear their ugly heads. And so we got to deal with them. Yeah.
Yeah. And it's funny because I was you know, talking to somebody and I was telling them about this great membership website that I had been in previously and the way I shared it, it was just like that like, Oh my God, if you want to know that, then you have to go here and you have to check this out. And it's like, you know, I don't know, 35 bucks a month, but it's like, which is not a lot of money really. Right. That's for extreme value in this right membership. Right. Right. And I was like, what's the difference between me sharing my stuff and me sharing somebody else's stuff. And I really like sat and thought about it because we don't think about that. I didn't for a long time. I'm like, well, well, what is the difference? The difference is the story I'm telling myself about what I'm telling somebody or what I'm sharing. Right. It's just the story that you're attaching to it. And I was like, there's no reason that I have to have an emotional attachment to sharing my offers. Yep. Right.
Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the things that have really helped me specifically more with the teaching and the coaching side of my business is just realizing, you know, it's not necessarily like, you know, everyone says like, no, I guess, you know, value yourself and kind of like, you know, picking on like, like basically, how am I going to say this? Pricing is so difficult because we kind of think of it in terms of like, okay, I'm going to say like, self-centered and let me explain what I mean by this a little bit where like the pricing is all about me and how people value me or am I worth this? And so we have all these self-centered thoughts around the number we put on our products or our services. And I honestly, it was through the actual teaching side and honestly, a few instances with my, my photography clients, where I realized that you know, my service or my product to them helps them and their life.
And it gives them a breakthrough. It helps them see themselves differently. And so like the pricing, it should be more on like what you're helping your clients with any, you know, to give you an example. I have one high school, senior that I actually connected with. So well with. And she reminded me. I'm like, she reminded me so much of my stuff. Like back in the day when I was a senior and I, Oh gosh, I feel like so long ago. But anyway, it was one of those things where she honestly was struggling a whole lot with an eating disorder. And I struggled with an eating disorder when I was in high school. And so I felt like I connected with her on that level. And I just remember that one of the first conversations I had with her mom on the phone, I shared that with the mom and the mom, like literally broke down in tears when she was like, I just don't know what to do with my daughter.
I don't know how to help her. She's struggling so much with this. I just want her to be able to eat. I want her to be healthy and she's like, I just don't know what to do. And I having been through that experience and having the healing from that like I was able to share. And we had when we did her senior session and her senior session was so fun and she actually had a smile on her face and she actually looked at the photos and she felt like she was beautiful. And like, I just, it was one of those things where like one of the first time I realized that like, Hey, like what I provide as a photographer, it's more than just like pretty pictures. Like it actually had an impact on how this girl saw herself. And the mom just had this, like, not that an eating disorder goes away, you know, just because you take it a pretty picture, but it was just like this relief from all that pressure and that unknown and that uncertainty, it was just like, it provided this hope that like, Hey, if she can see herself beautiful here, then you know, maybe she can accept herself in other areas.
And so I realized that you know, pricing, when we kind of think of it more in terms of like, okay, what kind of change is your client going to experience as a result of this? Like is it going to be worth the price? Another example of this is one of my photography clients in my coaching program. She just had a $14,000 a month in the middle of September, this past September with COVID and shutdowns. She had 14,000 gross, $14,000. And her photography business when the world is like shutting down. When I hear that number and I hear what I charged for my mentorship, I'm like, Oh, hell yeah, it is worth what I charge because I just taught her how to make way more than that. And so, and knowing that she has a child at home, like, this is what she does. Full-time like, it's not just about the money. It's like now she has options with her family life. And she, she was just telling me like, now she's able to hire out a cleaner, I know somebody, I helped with meals and just like a babysitter and like all of these things, because she knows now how to market her business, how to stand apart and actually know how to sell with, you know, with class and not like being a sleazy salesman, but actually provide her clients with service and she gets a financial return.
Yeah. And I think another thing that a lot of people, whether, you know, whatever business you have is that they, and I didn't either, you don't realize how many nos you're going to hear before you're here. Yes. Yeah. That's a big one. There are a few of those. That's a big one. Because I know, I know what I provide. If I'm doing a branding photoshoot, right. I know what I'm providing. Right. I know what I am giving this person. I know how they're going to feel. I know, you know, just like, you know, that it's fun and it's like a day out and it's, you know, you, and you get all of these amazing images of yourself that you can get to go market yourself and your business with online, that isn't, you know, selfies, right. Their cell phone. Right.
They actually show professionalism.
Yeah. And you know, is it, is it expensive? Yeah. Yeah. It's expensive, but it's, it's for you to go make more money. Exactly. And to change your life. Right. Exactly. So, but I ha I did. And I still do, you know, like people will send in inquiries and I talk to them and we get on the phone and we talk and, you know, whatever. And then my prices are listed on my website, but sometimes people don't read your website. Right.
Yep. Yep. You got to tell them again and keep telling them,
So, you know, sometimes they'll be like, okay, well, you know, how much is it? And you tell them, they're like, Whoa.
I'm like, tell me more, you know, like tell me why you have that reaction. Like what, you know? But that's the coach in me too. So there's a lot of, you know, people that will hear that, Oh my God, that's so expensive. And just, they feel shame instantly. Like, because they think it means something about them, you know? Like they're not worth that amount of money. And I love everything that you just said that it's not about the money necessarily. It's but I also love when you said my business is a financial blessing to my family. Yeah. Like so many people think that because they want to make a lot of money and financially bless their family, friends, community, whatever it is that they're being selfish.
Yep. I have had to work through that lie quite a bit in my own and my own journey for sure. And one of the things that I realized, you know, early on in my photography business is that every time I left my house to go do a photoshoot, I was basically sacrificing the time with my kids and my husband. And that just didn't sit right with me unless I was bringing back something home that could benefit them. And so I was very, you know, like that, that kind of mindset, I feel like really allowed me to, to say no to the opportunity, or I'm going to say opportunities and I'm using air quotes. Nobody can see me, but I like, you know, when you get those people that, you know, why don't you go ahead and do, and you know, do it like give a discount or, you know, and you can use all these images and, or like, basically I'll share these images. So of course, like my friends are going to book you too, and it's gonna be worth it. I'm like, no, like it's, it's not like, I mean, unless I know like I know what I want to bring home for my family every single time I leave the house. And if it's anything less than that, then do it unless it's a cause that I feel super drawn to. And I want to give of my time
Yes. Or some type of a collaboration where you're, you know, time for time. And it's more of both of you, right?
Yeah. And I feel like every decision we make, we're gonna like every, yes we have, we're going to have to say no to other things. So it was just one of those things like if I say yes to a photoshoot or to, you know, whatever it is, I'm going to have to say no to other things at home or other opportunities and that's fine, but I think it's just realizing, okay, what do you, what aligns most with you and where you're at right now in your business, in this season of life and like, what are your priorities right now? And making sure that your yeses are aligned with your priorities, not somebody else's.
Yes, exactly. Yeah. I say that all the time. Like if you're saying yes, what are you saying no to yup. And if you're saying no, what are you saying yes to yep. Yeah. It goes both ways. Absolutely. Yeah. I absolutely agree with that. So tell me what your three secrets to success are Heather.
Yes. My three secrets. Well, first of all, there's a lot of secrets. But these are not really secrets now. They're really not secrets. But when, usually when I shoot, like everybody wants to know, like within my industry and I'm sure like this works for anybody who has any business, they just want more clients or more bookings and
And so as these apply in any industry, no matter what you're doing, I feel like these apply. And I feel like people don't oftentimes recognize these as keys that could be applied to like, could lead to success in their business because they seem so simple. But I feel like honestly, like these are the keys that I've applied in my business wherein both my photography and then also on my online programs where it wouldn't have been successful. Had I taken any of these outs? So like these are super tiny things that we can apply regardless of the time of year, regardless of whether or not we're in COVID regardless of, you know, how saturated the market is. I mean, like you can apply these in some way, shape, or form anytime. Like there are no excuses whatsoever. And I feel like you don't need to have, I guess, I feel like these keys take away all the excuses that we're tempted to share why we can't do something.
So, which is why I think they're so applicable to everybody. So should I just dive on in and share? Okay. Well, the first key is actually the key of love and I always get like a little red in the face when I'm sharing that or like, love really Heather, like, you'd be all. Woo. Like what does that mean? And, Oh, the, we were the better here. Oh yes. Okay. That's that is true. I have listened to a lot of your podcasts, so maybe your audience will appreciate that, but I really feel that you know, basically whoever loves the most wins the bottom line, like your clients or your potential clients are not going to say yes to you unless they know that they can trust you unless they feel like you get them. So I feel like love is one of the greatest business strategies at all, like of all.
And I don't want to say like, like in authentic, Oh, Hey, I'm just going to give so I can get, but I'm like talking about really getting to know your people, like way deeper than just saying, Oh, you know what, I photograph high school seniors. So like, you know, they're just high school seniors or like I photograph weddings. So like my ideal client is a bride. Like, they go way deeper than that. Like, there are more than just a bride. They're more than just, you know, an online entrepreneur or like a course creator. Like there's so much more underneath that I guess that first layer of their identity that I feel like when you love your, your ideal audience, when you love your prospects, the most you take the time to get to know, okay. Like what's going on in their mind. What are they thinking about?
What are they struggling with? What kind of thing? Like what kind of questions do they have? What kind of fears do they have? And then you Mark it from a place of like, okay, I'm going to help them with that problem. So like, your marketing is an essence, it's still like, not even about you. It's like, okay. Like I recognize my person has this problem. So here is a solution to that problem. And that builds that trust. And so I feel like a lot of times marketing can be so problematic for a lot of entrepreneurs is because again, we're looking at it from a self-centered point of view, instead of like, from realizing like all marketing is, is just helping your people. Like, that's it at the most basic level is helping your people. And I feel like once we can reframe marketing from that vantage point, we a lot of fear of like, okay, how do, how are people are to see me? Or am I good enough? Or can I really go live? But like when we come at it from a place of like, Hey, whatever, I'm going to put out there, it's to help this person, it gives us a little bit more unction to do it because we realize it's not about us. Right. It's not about us at all.
Right. Yeah. All your people want is to be seen, heard, and feel like they're cared for. Yep, exactly how I teach, you know, or teach and coach my clients in an audience to attract their soul clients. Yes. You have to get into their heads. You have to step into the conversation that they're having with themselves. Right. Right.
Yeah. And it's gotten to the point where like, I've been on the phone with a potential client, whether, you know, it's a photographer who wants to join my program or whether it's a brand client who needs photos done. And it's one of those things where it's just like, Hey, when I read this or like, if I even say, just say something on the phone and like, they have the responsibility of like, Oh my goodness, like you took the words out of my math. Or like, I was just thinking of that. How did you know? Like that's when you know, you've struck gold because it's just like, you want to be able to know them so well that you can explain their problem or their struggle or what it is that they want. And I'm so much better than they can.
Yeah. And it's almost, you're like helping them see that that is actually what it is
That then builds the trust. And when there's trust, then they're more comfortable and willing to invest.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So number one.
Yep. So number one is love. So we'll move on to number two. Yes. Awesome. So the secret number two is actually diligence and I think diligence is so powerful and yet, so like untapped, because we w we were talking about this before we hit record Jenessa, where we were talking about there are so many things to do, and we feel like we need to have our hands in all of them. And if we're not doing all of them, we're missing out, diligence, I feel like really kind of takes a step back and realize realizing, okay, you don't have to do everything. Just do a few things really, really well. A great example of this is when I, you know, was let go of my job, you know, eight years ago. And I had a baby at home and I was like, you know what, I really have no time to waste.
Like I can't do everything else that I see, you know, photographers in my community doing. I'm like, I just, I got to make money like a bottom-line cause I need to make money. And so I had had a lot of friends, you know, and the opportunity to do stylized sessions, would, we were just there and stylized sessions are great, but at the time, like I already had built up a pretty decent portfolio. So I didn't need to do the stylized sessions, especially if I wasn't getting paid for it. So it was just realizing, okay. There was a part of me that felt like, okay, I'm missing out because I'm not a part of that. But then also realizing, you know, what, that's not going to grow my business right now. I need to focus on that season, I was focusing on knowing my website and SEO, which was a huge thing in my business.
So I was being diligent with, you know, blogging consistently and really using my SEO keywords and all of that stuff and really leveraging that platform so that people, when they go to Google, they could, they could find me. I realized that you know, there again, there's nothing wrong with, you know, choosing one thing over the other. It's just a matter of like, whatever you choose be consistent in it. And then also realizing that like, consistency doesn't mean just once or twice. Like, I mean, like consistency over time. And like not giving up if it doesn't work the first time, or if you don't see the results that you want within the first two or three times, because, and if I were going back to that blogging example like it was probably a good six to 12 weeks where that consistently blogging, where I started to then get some inquiries that were a direct result from that, that then, you know, then o, you know, bookings and like my ideal clients finding me online. Yeah.
And I think another super important thing, like when we're talking about SEO and blogging and things like that, and being consistent, like those things is that, you know, you as a photographer or any other type of business owner, you don't have to blog about, or like you don't have to blog sessions every time you blog, you don't have to blog about, you know, five business tips to do this. Like every single time, there are a million different ways and perspectives that you can share on a blog that isn't necessary, you know, the tips and tricks or, you know, this or that it's like share your own perspective.
Yeah, exactly. And I feel like this is, well, I mean, it kind of ties back into the first key. The first secret key is with love. It's just like, okay, like what were your ideal clients like to read about? So, I mean, gosh, if you want to look back into my blog or if anybody wants to, I wouldn't suggest it so way back from like eight years ago. But like a lot of my blogs, especially the first, you know, year or two, I was just, you know, still trying to get that consistency in bookings. It's like, I didn't have sessions to blog about every single week. Cause it was like wasn't getting booked, you know, every single week kind of a thing. But I was just sharing tips for like my brides and like, okay, here's, you know, a wedding planning checklist or here's, you know, questions should, you should ask your, your wedding day photographer before you hire them.
'cause these are all things that my ideal client was already searching for online. And if I provide the answer for them, that's going to, that's going to like start building that trust in that relationship. So like you can blog things that are just, you know, I am blogging as just one example. Like, I'm not saying everybody has to do a blog by any means, but like whatever form of marketing you do, it's just consistent and posting, or be consistent with your podcasts or be consistent in your lives or, you know, whatever it is just be diligent in that, providing the information that you, our client, your prospect needs to know. And again, it doesn't have to be about you. It could be about you because a lot of times when we share our hearts, um, you know, that also connects with our ideal clients because oftentimes we're, we're like the people we serve. So that's not a bad thing either.
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, as you said, it doesn't have to be in a blog. This can be content. Yes. That you're like, you know, putting on Instagram, putting on Facebook, right. It doesn't have to be a blog sized post. It just has to be something that you genuinely want to share and we'll help somebody else. Like, that's it.
Yep. Yeah, exactly. It's just, and I think one of the things that like the key of diligence is really just kind of getting it down, like on a schedule and a calendar and like, you're not going to let anything get in the way. You know, in the early years of my business, my blog, I was committed to having a blog come out every Tuesday at 10:00 AM. And that was my goal to write one blog every single week and like come hell or high water that blog was getting out. And so like, that was one of the things that I committed to. And so I feel like that consistency in your calendar, like knowing like, okay, I had a specific day and I had a specific deadline that I had to get it done and the same thing with you like you're consistent with your podcast. And so like, you're going to see, and I'm sure you already have like the, see the benefits of that consistency over time.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I've, you know, the podcast is not even a year old yet. You know, we're getting there, I think the end of February, it'll be a year old.
Oh, almost perfect. I know a little bit.
I mean the first few months it's like, you're talking to yourself.
Yeah. I felt like I was writing my blogs to myself. I'm like, is anybody ever going to read this?
Yeah. And you, you don't know, but then all of a sudden, you know, things start happening and you're like, Oh, but you do, you have to share it. You have to let people know it's there. Yeah. Because they're, they're not going to just, I mean, they could randomly find it, but they're going to find it a lot faster if you tell them.
So, yeah. I think that's another thing, you know, make sure that you are being diligent about sharing your business. Like yes. You have a business owner the out of that.
Yeah. And I think, yeah. And I think oftentimes too, like there, there might be like, this is one thing that I've struggled with. And so maybe some of your listeners might feel this way. Like, and I still feel this way to this day where it's just like, okay. But I have nothing to share. Like nobody's going to be interested in what I have to say. And so it's like, you realize, okay, like what your experiences and what you have to offer can make a difference in somebody else's life. And so, again, like we have to remove that. Self-centeredness when it comes to, like, for me specifically, it was like, okay, well, what am I going to like, talk about, like, I have nothing to share instead of like, realizing, okay. Like, let me focus on my person I'm trying to help, what do they need help with?
And like, what is something that I can pull that will help with them? Like, I don't have to solve world hunger, hunger, or anything. Like, I'm literally just helping them with one thing this one time. And like, like really, it doesn't even have to be like that hard. Like, for example, for any photographer, one of the biggest questions we get asked is like, Hey, what do I wear to my photoshoot? Or like, you know, just feeling super self-conscious with women specifically, if they feel overweight or they feel like they have a double chin. So maybe it's just sharing some posing tips or sharing. Okay. Like if you have, let's just say a pear shape, you know, body here are some outfit suggestions. So let's say it's something super simple that they could like, be like, Oh, that was helpful. And then move on. That's it.
But you know what, when they say, Oh, that was helpful. They're going to remember
Your name. Yes, exactly.
And even if it's not, they're not searching for you to, you know, take pictures today. There, they could be at some point.
Yeah. They're going to remember the people that have popped up and have shared helpful information. Instead of being like, Oh, book me, book me, hire me, hire me, like I'm offering this discount and that discount, like, and they're going to remember the people who actually shared the valuable content versus the ones who are disliked. Um, it's all about me. So go ahead and hire me.
Yeah. And I'll tell you something that some things that I have shared, I have thought were so basic. Like, I don't want to say basic, like everybody should know this, but something that I, I know. And I know well, and I know to the point where it's just second nature to me. So sharing that and feeling like that is valuable sometimes. Yeah. You're like, Oh, but everybody should know that that's not right. But when you share it, people are like, yeah.
Oh my God. I didn't know that. Yep. Calling me. And you're like, Whoa,
What just happened? Yeah. That
Is so funny because I mean, I think of this, like with any photoshoot I'm on, or like any wedding, I've done, like when I'm photographing like a group of girls, like, I'll just go ahead and before I start photographing them, I'll just show them like some simple moves for how to look more flattering and photos. And so like I'll just show them like, you know, put all your weight over the knee and then like lean forward with your waist and like, put your hand right underneath your breasts. Like until like super basic stuff. And like the reactions you're like, Oh my gosh, like I'm doing this all the time. They were like excited. I'm like, literally it's three steps. Like
I know it's so funny because you do it all the time and you tell people how to do it all the time. Yeah. So to write a blog post about it, like, I think we, or even a regular post about it on social media, I feel like we think we have to like blow people's minds every single time that we create a post. Yeah. You don't.
And like, realizing that, like the experience that we've accumulated over all of our, you know, time and research and, you know, studying up on like what we do. Like most people don't do that or our clients don't do that. That's, they're looking for the information. So that's why
We have learned all of this to share with you. Aren't where we are right now. We want to like, reach our hands back to the people, and then pull them up to where we are and you can't do that unless you're sharing. Yep. Do you know? And then once they get to where you are, you push them forward. Like, you know, go, go do greater things, you know? Exactly. Oh, that's so funny. All right. So that was number two.
So yeah. Number one was love. Number two was diligence. And the third key is actually stewardship. And usually, when I say stewardship, people are like, huh, like, I've never heard of that. Like what in the world is that about Heather? What does that even mean? Cause like we don't use that word in everyday life. And this is honestly, I feel like it has probably had the most impact on my life and my business. And I feel like this is something we'll all of these secret keys can be applied in any area of life, but basically, steward speaks to stewardship, speaks to how well we are managing what we already have. And so I feel like a lot of times, and this was totally neat. So like, I'm going to point the finger at me and maybe your listeners can relate.
But in the early years of my photography business, I struggled hardcore with comparison and like, feeling like, okay, I can't do it as well as so-and-so because I don't have this gear. I don't have that. Or I don't have this in, like, I don't have, again, I was pretty selfish. I'm going to call myself out. But I was like, I don't have this. As I like, you know, I can't do this or I can't achieve that because I don't have what I feel like I need to have to be successful and confession. Like, I still feel like that from time to time. And I feel like, you know, that's normal. We all feel like we don't have, like, we might not feel like we have everything we need. But really stewardship speaks to the fact that like, we have something like, it doesn't matter where you are right now, or what kind of support system you have.
Like, you have something in front of you and like ask yourself, are you utilizing it to the best of your ability? If you don't mind, I'd love to give an example of this, just to kind of like share the impact that it has, but like the first couple of years of my business, like it was going great, but I honestly, I didn't know how to manage my money. Well, so you know, I didn't feel like I could, like, I felt like I had too many expenses like I was making great money, but like, it still felt like it wasn't enough for all of my expenses. So it was one of those awesome things, but like, okay, it's not awesome enough to put this like pointless. Like I remember probably I for the first, you know, four-ish, years of my business, I felt like I had a really low in-camera and like, I would be going to weddings and I'd be like these wedding guests have more expensive gear than I do hire a photographer.
And I felt less than I was like, this is crap. Like, you know, the high-end camera gear, like it's not cheap. It's a few thousand dollars. And then plus, you know, the lenses. So like it's not something that I could have just like, whew, like, I'm just going to go ahead and go on a shopping spree. Like I'm still legitimately having to pay. Like I still have to pay for like a salary for myself and support my family. So again, like, it just felt like I didn't have enough. I wasn't making it, like, I was still learning how to make enough to cover all the business expenses and also the family expenses. So like at that time, it just felt like it wasn't enough. And I remember just going into so many weddings, just feeling like, okay, uncle Bob over here has the nicer camera gear.
And of course, he has no idea how to use it, but here I am with its crappy gear. And like, why did this a couple hire me? Like I have such crappy gear. And I really, really felt like that until like I shifted and think, okay, you know what, I have a camera, thank God I have a camera. So let me figure out how to use it to the best buy ability and really get the images that the client will be happy with. And when I shifted to mine, my thought process about that, I wasn't just in, on this crappy camera gear, I learned to focus in on light knowing that like my camera could not handle low ISO or a high ISO whatsoever, low lighting scenarios. So like I had to really learn how to find light, because if it was a dark situation, then my camera would not perform.
So I learned how to use light. And that was like natural light. And that also led me down a journey of learning off-camera flash and learning how to hone in on that because I had to, I get my camera wouldn't perform otherwise. So like I was able to learn, like, I guess I'm not gonna say like so many photographers are scared to learn off-camera flash. They'll say like, oh, I'm a self-proclaimed natural light photographer because I'm too afraid to learn flash. It's one of those things where I feel like I didn't have the nice deer that would take a nice photo in any scenario. So I had to learn how to use light, both artificial and natural light to get good images. So like, it allowed me to Seward what I had well so that I could still get really, really great images that the client would be happy with.
So it just shifts, it shifts your focus a little bit, like, you know what? You have something in front of you that you could be probably using better. And I'm thinking, you know, I'm going to, again, point myself out here. And, I call myself out, like, I mean, we can use this in terms of like our time, like you can steward your time. Like how well are you using your time? Like we can say we're so busy or, you know, kind of time to do this, or, but like, how often are you binge-watching Netflix? Or how much time do you spend scrolling through social media that you could be spending in your business? Like, how well are you stewarding your time? Oftentimes, like, we want things to happen, but we're not what we have. Um, in a way that's faithful that says like, Hey, like we can take it to the next level.
One of my favorite Proverbs basically says I'm going to paraphrase it, but it basically says, like, if you're faithful with a little bit, you'll be put in charge of much more. And I have applied that in my visit. And again, it applies to whatever you're looking at. It can apply to finances. It can apply to, you know, a relationship with your spouse or with your kids. Like, you might not have everything you want, or it might not look like everything you want, your bank account might be lower than what you'd like, but you might have a few pennies, a few dollars. So like, how are you going to spend that wisely? Or how are we going to spend, you know, maybe the few minutes you have with your spouse, are you going to, you know, nitpick it, everything that you see wrong, are you going to say, you know, what, thank you for doing this, or thank you for that. Right. I appreciate this. So it was just basically, how are you stewarding those relationships, that money, the time that you have, what you learn in your business, and how you apply it? Like, basically everything. Like, I feel like this applies to every area of life.
I was just going to say, like your thoughts, your actions, everything, right. And so I feel like this is one of the biggest, it's again, like this is, the most impact in my business because it puts me in the driver's seat. Like, I can't say I can't do this, or I can't achieve what so-and-so has, because I don't have X, Y, or Z. Like, this puts me like, okay, there are no excuses here. How well am I doing with what I already have? And once I can manage that, well, then I will graduate to the next level. Amen. There are no excuses.
Yes. I love that one. That, and that's so true too. Cause you know, you can, you can run a business off your smartphone. Yes, absolutely. You know, you don't have to have, you know, nine bazillion things, computers and tablets and you know, whatever you need, you don't need it. If you have one of those things, you can still make it work. I know. And you know, it's funny because one of the biggest questions I get asked is how do you, how did you start your podcast? Right. And I'm like, you just, do you want the steps? Like sometimes it's like, Oh, like, how did you start it? And they want to know like the mindset thing, like how did you talk yourself into it? And for me, well, this isn't true for everything. It was true for this. I was like, I didn't have to talk myself into it.
I was like, I created a course and I was like, I talk. Right? Like I can talk a lot. I kinda like it. So I was like let's start a podcast. And I just did it right there. Wasn't any question. There wasn't any doubt, there wasn't any imposter syndrome. It was just let's do it. Yep. While that is not true in a lot of other things, because a lot of other things I've, all of those things have popped up. Right. But for this, it wasn't so, but it is funny. Cause they'll, you know, Oh, what, you know, what do you have for a setup? And I'm like my computer zoom and a microphone. Yep. That's it? Yep. Like there is no fancy software. There's no, nothing like the record, you know, the most difficult thing was picking out music for the beginning, like the intro, right. Because I was like, Oh, like that's, it's personal. Cause it's like, Oh baby. You know, it's like, you're a baby, and yeah. And you want people to, you know, you want it to be different enough so that when somebody hears that, they're like, Ooh, that reminds me of geneticists podcast, you know? Yeah, absolutely. But you know, so that, that's what took me the longest time. We overthink things so much.
We do. And I think a lot of times like you don't have to have like your entire life or business plan like laid out. You just need to know, okay. Like what are the next two or three steps and go take those. And like when you take those, the next few steps are, will like to reveal themselves to you. I'm going to go ahead and share this because like, you know, at the time of this recording, it's the end of the year and I'm sure it's going to be released in like the early 20, 21. So like, everybody's all about like, you know, the pig plan's up, you know, how do you plan out your next year and all of that. And it's so interesting. Cause I, I get so overwhelmed when I look at like 12 months down the road, like I have general ideas of like what I want to do, but I'm like, okay.
But like, that's like a big thing. Like, so I've always taken it as like, okay, I just like mini-goals. Like, what am I to do in the next 30 days? What am I going to like, what's my main focus for quarter one. And then I'm going to like, not even focus in on like the second and third month, I'm only going to let her focus in on the first month. Okay. Like, what's my main goal for this month. And then like I'm only going to take those steps and then I'm going to, you know, when the time comes, you know, the next steps will reveal themselves to me.
From action comes clarity. Exactly. It's so true. And that's what I tell a lot of people that like, but I don't know what to do. I'm like do one thing yes. And do one thing one and do it and you'll know what to do next. Yep. Exactly. Like the weirdest thing ever. But it's true.
The more we can simplify, the more, I feel like the more success we'll have, not that we can't do multiple different things, but like just being, being so focused on one goal and like, honestly, like one of my favorite books is, you know, the one thing, I love that book. And so it just made me think of it while you were talking, but it's just like, okay, like, what's the main thing that you want to get done. And then you don't and like, this is honestly, I've been learning this a whole lot. This past year is just like, a successful business. It doesn't mean that you like have to be working every waking hour of every day. Like when you're focused on what your one thing can be, like, it gives you a lot of time, freedom. And so like, I've had a really great business year, and both photography and then also in my programs and it's been an amazing year and I'm like, this year was like a crap show.
I'd be like, it feels so different to say that because like, it was a really difficult year for so many and like in a lot of ways. So I'm not like downplaying any of that, but like, I was clear on what my one focus was and I did the things that supported that said no to other things. And I've honestly, I've spent so much time with my family. I'm homeschooling my kids. I have this energy and this space to do it because I know like my, what my one thing is in terms of business. And so I don't have to do everything else because I know what my goal is for right now, my one thing for this next season. And so it kind of brings a lot of freedom because I don't feel the need or the pressure to do all the other things.
Yes. I can tell you that, you know, at the beginning of this whole thing, my, business, we bring the whole thing,
In the beginning, starting my business, I think I was on, so I was working full time and then would come home pretty much drop my stuff and get on the computer. And then I'd be on the computer until 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock, or God only knows when. Right. And got to the point where like, my fiance was like I'm still here, right? Yeah. You do.
I expect a guy to be like, we don't spend any quality time. Right. But it must be pretty bad when, when they start to say things like that.
But yeah, it got to that point and I was like, you know what, I'm shutting it off at, you know what, when I, at least by four or five, o'clock like, I'm done. And earlier, if I get the things, the three, I always have, like, not that I have to, but usually, there are three main tasks that I have to get done during the day. And that doesn't usually take long. Some of them take longer than others. Some of it's like, I like to like create content for days in like once a day. Right. So that might take a whole day, or it might take half a day. I got only most of what's flowing through me that day.
Depends. But when I am done, I am done. Like, I shut the computer off, I walk away and I go do something else. Right. You don't think about business. I don't, you know, not constantly checking social media, if I go on social media, it's because I genuinely want to see what my friends are doing, on social media. Right. Has nothing to do with, you know, did this one, like my post, did my posts get any likes yet? Right. Like how many people saw the post in my group today? No, I don't like it, it doesn't get me wrong. Those things I used to do those things. Right. You know, probably all did. But it took a little bit like, and discipline to be like, no, Jenessa, you are not going to open your group and see how many people commented on your, or, you know, saw just like, you know, how it says on the bottom, like post seen by 45th or whatever. Right. I don't so silly, but I know people do it. I did it.
Oh yeah. And I've been in that boat too. And it's so interesting. Cause I feel like it goes back to that secret key of like stewardship. Okay. Like that's your time, your time is your most valuable asset. And so like, are you doing it always like on social media and checking what people think about what you have to share versus like, I mean, I know for me like this has been a year of learning how to step away from more from my computer and be more present with my family. But like, you know, we've been doing so many hikes because the only thing we can do so many like outdoor stuff, but it's just, it's so nice to get that fresh air to be in nature. And just, you know, you come back so much more clear than, you know, if you were to spend that same amount of time, you know, scrolling through social media and you know, that like, that doesn't fill me up the same way as being out in nature with my family. Like, you know, talking about all the things that, you know, two little boys come up with, which is gonna be fun
And checking that, you know, number on social media is not growing your business. Yes, exactly. It's not something productive. It's just something to, you know, give you a good mind
Yeah. Right, right.
So, you know, stop doing that. If you are because it does, it clears up a lot, it clears up a lot of space. It really does. Yes. So, Heather, this was an amazing conversation.
It was fun. Thank you so much for letting me chat your ear off. I'll probably just keep going,
But you know, we do, we have to respect everyone else's time too.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Often as we were just talking, that is true. That's true. So tell
Everyone where they can find you.
Well, the easiest way to find me is just on my website, Heatherchesky.com. If you're a photographer, then I got loads of resources for you. And if not, like, I mean, honestly, I feel like it's so funny. Cause I like to know a lot of hair and makeup artists as well. And like they follow my coach and stuff too. Cause again, I feel like it applies to whatever it is that you're doing, because it's more like these, like, you know, these concepts were like you, you can take the concept and apply it to whatever area you're trying to grow.
Yeah. Well I think, you know, I know that what is the name of your course? The book photographer,
Correct? Yes. The book photographer.
So, but if you're booking anything. You know, it really applies, right. I mean, if you're booking any type of service.
Yes. You're absolutely right. It's really any, I mean, basically, the flow of the course is, you know, getting the mindset, right. And then, you know, step two is really learning about your ideal client and learn how you can love them. Well, and like honing in on who they are, where they at in the season that you'll be working with them, whether you're a photographer photographing them or whether you're, you know, gosh, a website designer and you're going to be doing their website. Like it doesn't matter. And then, you know, we talk about pricing, of course, your services, and then marketing, which is, you know, the beast of all subjects. But again, realizing you don't have to do everything, you pick the few things that would be, you know, resonate with your audience most. And then also that you feel, you know, like that you do well.
So like I don't market in every, I mean, to be totally like, I've talked about blogging and in this episode, I did that so heavily the first year of my business and it was amazing, but like, honestly, can't remember the last time I wrote a blog because as I've grown and changed like I found other areas of marketing that I feel, that I just enjoy more and like I'm doing those things diligently. And so, and then like the final part of the course is just basically that client experience and just making sure they get the best from you because oftentimes when we give our clients a great experience, it leads to referrals and that is a great way to grow your business as well. And again about stewarding the clients that you do have, how can you treat them and love and respect them in a way that just makes them feel heard and valued and loved. And oftentimes when they get, I mean, I feel like nowadays, like if you get an, a great experience, like that's, that's one of the best forms of marketing because so many companies don't offer that. So I'm just taking it to that next level. So yeah, like, I mean, it applies to any service-based business for sure.
Awesome. And are you in Southern Virginia, where are you?
I am outside of DC. So I'm about 30 minutes. Yeah. 30 minutes outside of DC. So in the Virginia side, Northern Virginia.
Yeah. Northern Virginia. Thank you. I'm like, I know you're in Virginia, but I don't know apart. Yep. You're in that Northern Virginia DC area and need a brand photographer. Definitely. She's awesome. Just go look at my images.
The one that is the cover of this podcast, actually, she took that one. So it's true. Yes. Look her up. And, Instagram, do you do Instagram, Heather?
I do. Yeah. So just Heather Chesky. I keep things simple
Everywhere. Just look her up. Awesome. And you have a YouTube channel too, right? I do. Yeah.
So I do have a YouTube channel. That one is actually the book's photographer. If you just search the book photographer on YouTube, there's a bunch of videos on there. So that's definitely helpful for any photographer
For sure. Awesome. Awesome. All right. So again, thank you. Thank you so much for coming and talking to us about all these awesome things. And to all the awesome listeners out there. We want to know what you thought. So screenshot this episode, tag us on Instagram stories, ask us questions, send us DM, send us, love whatever you want. We are here for it all. Awesome. Yes, we are. All right. So we'll see everyone in the next episode. Thanks, Heather. Thank you. Buh-bye.
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