I'm a big believer in finding people who inspire you, and really listening to them, absorbing their knowledge, and using them to drive you. However, it can sometimes feel hard to decide what is inspiring, and what is entertaining. Previously, I would follow just about anyone who I thought "inspired" me, but would only come to find that, actually, they were making me feel worse about myself. Worse about my body image, worse about my work ethic, or worse about my photography. Whatever it was that I thought inspired me, actually dragged me down. You may recall a blog post I wrote a while back about unfollowing people on social media, and the power that can have. Please give it a read, because I still very much stand by everything I said in that post.
But this post isn't about those people, it's about the people that I DO feel inspired by. The people who give me drive, and the people who make me feel like I can tackle my dreams head on. There are plenty of people, and some of them are my closest friends, but today I want to talk about 3 people I've never even met who have become huge influencers in my life.
I don't know where I'd been, but clearly I was living under a rock because I'd never heard of Jenna Kutcher (no relation to Ashton Kutcher), until October or November (I can't remember exactly) of 2016. I actually discovered Jenna thanks to a Facebook ad which popped up, inviting me to watch a free webinar all about "How I Doubled My Photography Income in Less Than Two Years (While Working Less)." Now, I understand marketing tactics, and I'd listened to free webinars before, so I knew that at the end of the free webinar, she would be pitching an online course of some kind. But regardless, something was drawing me to sign up... So I did. Between the days that I signed up for the webinar, and it actually happening, I browsed Jenna's social media. Then I ended up on her website (which has to be one of the most incredible photographer websites I've ever seen by t the way - go see it if you haven't already!), and I signed up to her newsletter where I received two free templates: one about refining your "About Me" page, and another on "Profitable Pricing" as a photographer. I downloaded both, and read through them.... and I knew already that there was something quite different about this girl. I worked my way through both the free templates, and learnt so much, that I found myself incredibly excited for the webinar. When the webinar came about, I sat there, listening to her amazing Mid-West American accent, and absorbed as much knowledge as I could, taking loads of notes. Now, I should tell you now that I went into that webinar with absolutely NO intention of signing up to her online course, The Photo Lab. I didn't think I needed it, and I didn't really want to spend money on an online course. But by the time the webinar was coming to a close... I felt like I had so much left to learn from Jenna. I wasn't done. Before I knew it, I'd agreed to join her course, and yes it was expensive, but thanks to monthly payment plans, it made it manageable. It's the first time I've made a big investment in myself like that. It was scary, but I was incredibly excited. I signed up, logged in, and watched the first lesson.. and from that point on, I knew I'd made the right choice. I've since signed up to all of Jenna's other courses, and I have learnt SO much in the last six months, that it has totally changed my business. I'm seeing growth, I'm feeling excited, but I'm also feeling incredibly grounded. Jenna has a way of teaching business that isn't all work and no play. She has similar values to me, in that she believes in rest, in time off, in time with your family. And I think that may have been where I felt such a strong connection. I know I'm going on and on, but I genuinely feel so thankful to this woman, that I can't help but need to thank her! Jenna's educational content is not only geared at photographers, but at all business women, anywhere in the world. She recently started a podcast, Goal Digger, on which she releases two episodes a week, so if you're interested in getting to know Jenna better, this would be the place I'd recommend. She gives out SO much education, provides so much value, and gives so much, that I really can't fault it. Thank you so much, Jenna! I don't think I'd be where I am today without you.
Well, that got emotional, didn't it! Jenna isn't the only female photographer/entrepreneur who really inspires me. Jasmine Star has to be mentioned too. If you're a photographer, particularly a wedding photographer, I don't doubt that you'll have already heard of Jasmine Star. She's kind of photography royalty, and she's been an educator for a really, really long time! I've followed Jasmine for years, but I'll admit that I hadn't really spent a lot of time listening to her properly, or absorbing any of her knowledge... until recently. You see, you I am a very strong believer in the idea that we should never, ever stop learning. I love to learn... maybe a bit too much actually - I can find myself spending too much time learning and not enough time doing! That's something I'm working on. However, I feel really grateful that I love to learn so much, because so much of the way I now run my business is stuff that I've learnt in the last year. Jasmine Star is an educator who I not only really admire, but also find extremely entertaining. I love to watch her videos, giggle when she talks a bit too fast, love her witty captions on Instagram, and get super excited whenever a new blog post goes up! She is a huge wealth of knowledge on the photography industry, as well as business in general, and is another woman I'd recommend anyone follow who is interested in growing their business, even if they aren't a photographer. Her Facebook page is brilliant, as she regularly does Facebook Lives, and if you miss them, they get uploaded to her Youtube channel! One of my favourite ones so far? This one, all about creating your ideal client profile! I spent a few hours working on this over the Christmas period, and it really, really helped me hone in on exactly who I want to target within my business. Thank you so much, Jasmine!
I've got a confession to make. The very first time I ever consumed any of Gary Vaynerchuk's content, I hated it. He was too loud, too fast, too brash, too in your face. He was just TOO MUCH. I'm an extremely quiet person, very introverted, and I don't tend to bond well with excitable people, or enjoy their content much. So my initial reaction was to just say: "Nope, he's not for me." However, everywhere I went, Gary Vee kept popping back up. I couldn't escape him! Everyone was telling me to listen to what he had to say, to read his books, to listen to his podcast, to pay attention. I resisted for a while, until one day I thought to myself: "OK, I'll try one more time." So I did. I sat on my sofa, with my iPad, dragged up his Youtube channel, and watched an episode of his DailyVee show (essentially, a short documentary of his day to day life - created daily. Sounds like a lot of work? Yes, it is). It took a little while, and some dedication, but pretty quickly, the "crazy" became less crazy. The loud wasn't quite as intimidating, and the things he was saying began to click. I'm happy to say that I'm now a huge Gary Vee fan (if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed this on my Instagram Stories by now!) and I've read one of his books, am on to my second... and I have learnt so, so much. He's definitely of the mentality of: work very hard or don't try at all, which I sometimes struggle with. I strongly believe in balance, but his passion for hard work definitely gives me the push I need, and I have felt myself work harder in the last few weeks since I began to follow him. He is also the main reason for me becoming much more active on Instagram Stories, for starting to vlog more, and for trying to share myself as much as my work. I'm so thankful I gave him one more go, and whether you believe in this stuff or not, I'm so grateful that the universe kept pushing his name in front of me so that I could no longer ignore it! I've progressed so much in such a short time, and I'm sure that Gary Vee has had something to do with that!
So there you go, there are three people who are truly inspiring me at the moment! You might notice a trend there.. they're all educators. They're all people who spend time teaching... and funny enough, this is something that I'm feeling more and more attracted to, as well. I don't know if that's because I come from a family of teachers (my grandma was an English teacher for children from foreign countries - and still teaches English now... she's 78 years old! And my Aunt is a primary school teacher), and although I don't feel ready to write books, create courses, or start podcasts yet, I'm dipping my toe in wanting to help people more wherever I can, and a lot of that has to do with being inspired by all of the people mentioned above.