2012 was an awesome year for me. I was able to double my income and build connections I never thought would be possible. I wanted to share with you a few things that helped me achieve such an awesome year. Maybe you'll gain something, maybe you won't. I'll try and keep it short since I know you have a whole crap load of New Year's babble posts to go through. Happy New Year!
Go for hard - In life we are always presented with choices. It can be what we eat, how we work, what we build and where we go. Most of the time, there is the easy route and then, of course, the hard one. When you take the easy route, you are usually rewarded with mediocre results. When you take the hard route, the reward is usually much greater. It's simple right? Well think about it in what you eat. It's really easy to eat like shit. However, the reward is looking and feeling like shit. The harder choice would be to eat healthy. It might not taste as good as the grease-drenched chicken wings and it may be harder to track down a healthy alternative while traveling. But, the reward is a healthy body that not only feels good but looks good. Think about the choices you face with your business. What is the easy route getting you? Are you getting the results you say you want? Most likely, what's difficult and often avoided is what needs to be done. Once you start getting more comfortable with taking the hard route, you'll find it gets easier. Not because the choices are easier, but because you'll get better at taking on difficult tasks. They will no longer haunt you the way they used to. This has helped me so much with not only my business, but my fitness and relationships.
Master tiredness - We all say we're tired, in my opinion, way too damn much. For me, it started to become an excuse to not live life to the fullest. At the minimum it can prevent me from doing the laundry or dishes. At the maximum it can prevent me from launching a new idea or going after some really big goals. It can also prevent you from having amazing relationships. How often do you bail on something because you're "too tired"? Whether it's going out to see an old friend, cleaning up the house or doing your taxes? Think if you did all three of those instead of being tired? You'd probably feel pretty awesome is my guess.
Here's my solution: First figure out how much sleep you need at night. I have found that 6 hours of sleep is perfect for me. This could change, but for now, I feel the same after a 6-hoursleep as I do after an 8-hour sleep. Once you have that number figured out, you can use that to combat your "tiredness" all day. When you wake up to your annoying alarm clock, all you have to do is know if you slept your magic number. If so, you know you can get up. Talk to yourself about that when you roll over. You'll feel like a real loser if you go back to sleep knowing that you got enough sleep. Once you're up, take a quick survey on what feels tired. When I use the excuse "I'm too tired", usually I can't pin-point what it is about why I feel that way. To me, it's a mental block. When my eyes are heavy and my body is lethargic, I'm tired. I should go to bed. However, most of the time when we use the excuse "I'm too tired", we rarely- if ever- go to bed. We instead lounge around and do nothing. I want to do more with my life than nothing. Now I'm not saying you should never relax. I'm just saying, the next time you bail on something you say you want to do, ask yourself, "why"? Are you really tired? Are you planning on going to bed? Or, are you just being lazy and not living life to the fullest?
Stay busy - I've been an entrepreneur in business for about 6 years now. When I first started my journey, I made no money at all but always kept really busy. This allowed me to learn fast and create a demand. Not being available makes you more expensive. You can argue this as much as you want but from everything I've learned, people want what they can't have. Although the quality of work is very important, the busier you are, the more people want you and will pay for services. This isn't an overnight success. It's taken me 6 years to finally reach a year that I would refer to as successful. How busy I am hasn't changed too much over the years, but the clients I choose to take on and the prices I charge have changed DRAMATICALLY! Keep busy and create the work you want. Don't worry about what to charge just stay busy and you'll discover more and more what you're worth and what you like doing.
It's all about the experience - I've learned a lot from companies like REI. I find myself having no problem driving 15 minutes from my house and paying more for products than I would online. Why? REI provides an experience. They stand behind their products. If you have questions, they have experts who know the gear and can answer them. If you don't like what you bought, you can take it back with no hassle. REI sells the same stuff as Sports Authority along with Amazon and many other places. However, they provide an amazing experience that none of their competitors offer. I started asking myself, "How can I provide the REI experience?" "How can I create the Mike Folden experience?" Photographers are everywhere. What I do is so replaceable it's crazy. However, who I am is not. No one can be me and that's where I can be different. I strive to provide an experience for my clients that is un-matched and 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If the client doesn't like the finished product, let's figure out what we need to do to change that. If you're good at what you do and care about how you do it, back it up. Do an amazing job EVERY TIME! Be fun to work with. Figure out what it is about you that people like and go with that. This is so much more important than being a "good photographer" or a "good designer". There is "good" everywhere and I promise that won't be enough for a sustainable and successful career. Be unique and be different. Offer something others can't.
Make time for passion - This has been the biggest challenge for me this last year. I'm so good at staying busy but I'm so bad about taking on passion projects. Why? Because passion projects usually don't pay. It's hard to work 50 hours on something that doesn't bring home any bacon. SCREW THE BACON! Passion projects are so important. They are true reflections of who you are as a creative and what your mind can do. I spent a lot of time on a video last year, Greetings: Bryan Kachel. This brought me in zero dollars, then. That video has landed me some of the biggest and most rewarding gigs I've had in my career so far. I didn't intend for great success to happen, but that video is truly my best work because I gave a shit. I put everything into it and it shows. Amazing stories don't just show up at your door with a check in hand. Most of the amazing stories need to be searched for and done pro bono. Don't go broke doing too many passion projects, but do prioritize them because you will discover more about yourself when being truly expressive. Shoot for fun. Make something you've always wanted to make. Who cares if it takes all year. JUST DO IT. Have fun and remember that you're a creative individual with something to offer the world.
If any of this is useful, please let me know! This is my first post of this kind and I'm curious to hear what you guys think. Thanks!
*edited by Priya May.