The last half-decade has brought us a shift in the definition of women's empowerment in business. I personally love this, because, for the first time ever, it is women who are driving the change. The old term with the new meaning; empowerment is being redefined by women, for women, and the waves of change this is creating in business are substantial.
Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses. Therefore, over the past nine years, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate fully five times faster than the national average. State of Women Owned Businesses Report
With this change in what it means to be an empowered woman, there is also a shift in how women, and also (especially) creative-types, approach business. It isn't enough to be just a photographer, or just a designer because the competition seems endless. With platforms popping up daily, just about anyone can create a website to sell their services or products. That is why this shift we are about to discuss is so important if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, and grow up in your business.
Are You A Business Owner or NOT?
Although I have been a Design Consultant for most of my career, as I sat through the recent Austin, TX freelance conference, FreeCon, I realized that I have never considered myself a freelancer. The most important distinction and mindset shift you'll ever make as a creative freelancer or consultant is whether you are a business owner... or not. I interviewed Courtney Ray, the owner and Head Photographer of Daybreak+Dusk and the Founder & Editor of #callmebossy, a media platform focused on bringing the practical and tactical to women business empowerment. As a photographer competing in a sea of photographers, Courtney Ray found herself struggling with being competitive, marketing, business education, and even being profitable. In her mind she was a photographer, and photographers don't handle those kinds of things.
Courtney Ray shared with me that her profound shift from photographer to photography business owner not only changed the way she viewed herself, but also how she did business. This mindset shift allowed her to embrace her inner entrepreneur, something that is vital to success.
Do You Want To Own A Business?
This shift isn't only about saying, "okay, now I'm an entrepreneur." The most important distinction you will make as you undergo this change is not whether you will shoot only weddings or portraits... it is whether or not you will be a business owner. If you don't want to own a business, that's okay. But knowing that will allow you to maintain your side-hustle as that without worrying about growth, marketing, etc. Courtney Ray knew she wanted more. "I couldn't just be another photographer, even winning some very prestigious awards, I knew it wasn't enough."
Branding + Your Story: A Quick Side Note
I know this isn't a branding article, but I have to share with you the genius angle Courtney Ray took, after this mindset shift, to allow her business to stand out and truly shine: she found her brand, her voice, and her why. "Pure love + raw emotion fuel my creative fire. Before I started my photography business, I was a journalist for nearly a decade. Just as then, the truest moments continue to inspire my work as a professional storyteller."
There's emotion, there's passion, there's a genuine statement, there's history... it is everything a creative brand needs to compete in the overcrowded marketplace. Courtney Ray nailed this and I had to share that with you.
Applicable Business Tips
While working on this shift, Courtney Ray had to find ways to merge and balance her business and creative sides. She found this balance and outlet via Instagram and she shared some of her genius tips. She has even started workshops for creatives to teach them how to take a better photo for Instagram, to better market their business. You know I love the nitty-gritty, so here are a few of those genius tips, just for you:
1. Prep: Harsh lighting creates hard shadows that are not flattering. Find your best light and if you don't know what that is, find shade.
2. Shoot: Make sure you know how to find your focal point. On an iPhone, you tap the item that is the main point of focus. Make sure you know how to use this to your best advantage for a nice clear and crisp image you can really work with.
3. Edit: Do not use Instagram filters. If you are using a filter, so is everyone else, and your photos end up looking just like theirs. Use the edit options instead. Crop your photo, play with the brightness, contrast, and temperature. Hone in on your own editing style by using the same editing tools each time to create a style that is unique to you and your business.