I'm excited to have Yuliya back on the blog! You may remember her from a website review I did with her back in May. This time around she let me interview her about her experience as a small business owner. Yuliya is a wedding photographer based in Sacramento. She has a beautiful photography style that is moody and rich. She loves NYC, is a minimalist in many ways, likes pretty latte art, loves discovering new cities, and her perfect morning is with a book tucked in a favorite corner of a local coffee shop.
Read on to learn from her experience being a small business owner for seven years!
How did you get started in your field?
"Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life" a quote by Mark Twain that sits on my desk defines my passion for life, business, creativity and summarizes my journey as an entrepreneur. Business has not always come easy for me, but one thing does, and that's making the most of every day. I love fresh starts and I believe it's never too late for anything. I wanted to do something artistic all of my life, and I still can't believe that I get to do photography full time.
I studied abroad in Israel during college and wanted to recreate a lifestyle of traveling, taking photos, blogging and meeting new people when I got back to California. Wedding photography has given me just that! I started with landscape photography traveling around Egypt and Istanbul and when I saw a wedding photographer's blog, I had immense curiosity to try to capture photos like his.
Where do you find inspiration?
Any white space inspires me to dream, work and photograph. I also love J.Crew catalogues for ideas. A fusion of fashion and weddings is my happy place.
What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?
There are two things I wish I knew when I started a business, that there are rules and that there are no rules. Businesses have rules, and if you don’t abide by them, well you might not be in business for too long. Marketing, social media, referrals, client evangelists, profit margin, positioning and so on, are all important components of a business that need to be nurtured, constantly empowered, improved and evaluated.
On the other hand, there are also no rules when it comes to running your own business, because you get to make the calls. I used to think there are rules for what photographers should wear, when it’s appropriate to eat at a wedding, and how they handle themselves with clients... and yes, I believe in being extremely professional, yet my biggest asset is my personality and I want my clients to feel the care that comes through my tone of voice, my hand written notes, and on the days I’m super productive, my baked goods ;)
What has been the most effective strategy for getting new clients?
Taking care of your current clients. I get many leads, but it's the clients that come to me from referrals that tend to book much more often. People typically use services their friends have used, so taking care of the clients you have only makes them talk about you more to their friends!
What has been the best part of running your own business?
The flexibility with my schedule. I get to do coffee dates mid day when most people are at work. I can also take my work anywhere. It's also so rewarding to hear thank you's from my clients, I've never experienced that when working for someone else.
What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?
Not knowing how to get to my goals. Doing too many unnecessary things that don't actually get me to where I want to go in my business. Also, standing out. There are so many amazing photographers with gorgeous pictures, what makes me different is really hard to articulate to a client.
What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?
I'd love to become a larger company. Either outsourcing any task that is not photography related to other companies, or having a team of local creatives that will want to be a part of a bigger company. Also, working on projects that play best to my strengths so I can serve my clients better.
Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?
Being a business owner is not easy, but finding your skill set and creating even a small string of income from it, is very rewarding.