Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Liz Viernes, owner of Liz Viernes Photography, located in Burtonsville, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner of Liz Viernes Photography, with a focus on maternity, newborn, and first-year milestone stories. My clients are young families who value documenting the REAL moments of life, even the messy ones.
Tell us about yourself
In 2016, I started doing a One a Day photo prompt challenge after a year of taking online photography classes. For accountability, I posted each day's resulting photo on social media, and people started coming out of the woodwork and asking me to photograph their families. By this time, my children were just past the stage of needing me all the time - still young but gaining independence - so I took the leap, and my business was born in 2017! I love telling the stories of young families. Wedding photography is not for me - a mistake made on a wedding day is a hard mistake to come back from - but documenting the real life of families in a beautiful, artistic way is magical to me. My motivation comes from the joyful tears that my clients cry upon seeing the moments captured in their galleries.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Something I'm really proud of is overcoming the fear most new photographers have of charging "too much" by actually running my numbers and becoming a profitable business. I definitely spent too many years just giving my time away out of fear that no one would book me, but I have since pulled myself out of this mindset. If a client values your work, they will pay the price you ask. If not, they're not your client! There is a client for every price point, and being fair to myself and charging a living wage has gone a long way to helping me avoid burnout and become the best version of my professional self for my customers.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I'm it. If there's a problem or a dissatisfied customer, I'm the one to handle it. There's no customer service department or human resources team. It's just me. The good news is that I have a great support system behind me and lots of people I can turn to for advice - and thankfully, the problems are few and far between - but it is a lot of responsibility being a sole proprietor.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Run your numbers and know what you need to charge to be a profitable business.
- Do things correctly. Check with an accountant and a lawyer to make sure you're doing everything by the book. Keep records for taxes, have a bulletproof contract, and don't cut corners on the technology that you need to get the job done right (website, CRM, online payment system, etc.).
- Network with members of your industry. It can be very lonely to run a business, and it's invaluable to have people who understand what you're going through to bounce ideas off of, give advice, and share referrals and resources. Some of my biggest cheerleaders are fellow photographers in my community!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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