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Home > Archive: December, 2014

Archive for December, 2014

Christmas - and some Big News!

December 26th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

So I had mentioned weeks ago that I've been shopping for wedding rings. I guess it's not terribly surprising then to announce that I'm GETTING MARRIED Big Grin

This past Saturday BF (now Fiance!) took me out to a nice dinner, to get ice cream (a tradition of ours), then "casually" drove me out to a park near our place, walked me to the cute little gazebo with the view of the city skyline, and then got down on one knee. It was very expected, but very special Smile

When you're a photographer, you can take silly photos of your ring on tree ornaments... it's a blue sapphire, if anyone was curious Wink


The last week has of course been a whirlwind of congrats and well-wishes. It made the holiday even more special, which was very nice.

Christmas Eve was like a little staycation for us - we relaxed, watched movies, drank a bit, ate a lot, cooked a really nice dinner, and opened a present every couple of hours or so.

BF got all of his gifts - except the big, exciting one. Which is being delivered today (!).

Yesterday consisted of 3 houses, about 5 hours in the car total, and lot of talk of weddings. BF's cousin is also getting married this year - actually, the week after we are. So October is going to be a busy month for their family! We didn't necessarily want it to be that way, but my schedule is all kinds of hectic because I photograph weddings for a living and we wanted to do it this year. So that's the way the chips fell.

It was great seeing everyone, but phew. It was a long day.

Today has been pretty low-key. Laundry, dishes, putting away presents, calling wedding venues. BF decided to work so he didn't have to go in until after the new year. I'm hoping his gift gets delivered soon so I can have it ready for him when he gets home. So pumped to give it to him Big Grin


Now for money news. haha. I spent too much on presents, of course. Kind of the nature of the holiday, I suppose. I'm feeling a lot more pressured to earn more this year now that things are solid in the getting married department. Now that I'm starting to look at costs of venues, I'm thinking we may just have to elope Wink haha.

I have the opportunity to work part time through the spring election for a company I've contracted for previously. I wasn't going to pursue that option, but I think it would relieve some of that pressure to book a crazy amount of work. It might make me crazy for a few months, but they pay me well and I think it'll be worth it. So I'm going to get in contact with my old boss there.

I also have some spending to do business-wise. I rented a lens early this month that I'd really like to get for weddings coming up. The problem, of course, is that it's $1,300. Thankfully, I have some equipment I need to sell off. So that'll cover the majority of that cost (hopefully). Also thankfully, I don't really *need* it right away. If I don't end up purchasing it in the next few weeks, I'll just rent it again for this wedding coming up and purchase it before the bulk of my weddings start in the summer.

We'll see how many people book at this bridal show next month, and whether my nonprofit client pays their invoices anytime soon :/


At any rate, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Christmas Shopping (Almost!) Done

December 19th, 2014 at 06:26 am

I have to admit, it feels really nice to have actual presents under the tree. Did a bunch of shopping yesterday and put in my last couple of orders on Amazon. All I really have left to do is buy a gift card, figure out how BF and I are splitting/getting his dad's gift, and then heading to the library to use the laser cutter to make my friend's necklace. I got the chain and clasps yesterday.

*phew* feels good Smile

I was kind of freaking about BF's gifts, because up until yesterday I really didn't have any idea of what I wanted to get him, aside from the few little things he asked for. He always completely outdoes me when it comes to gifts - financially and creatively. And he takes a bigger share of the bills on than I do, because he can afford to. I appreciate it so very much, so I always want to go above and beyond for xmas or his birthday. But he's just so darn difficult to shop for.

I think he's going to be pretty blown away this Christmas, though.

BF is a soccer fanatic. Not like someone that sort of likes it. The man lives and breathes it. He loves the MLS and the EPL. But most of all, he loves the US Mens National Team. World Cup time at our house is something rather sacred.

We had friends over for dinner on Monday, and we were discussing our favorite moment in sports history. My dear BF's is the last minute goal Landon Donovan (who retired this year) scored to win the game and push the US forward in their group in a 2010 World Cup match against Algeria. I kid you not when I say he'll watch a video of it every so often just to live the moment, and gets teary-eyed every time.

It's really cute. I don't know a single other American who is so involved in the sport. Or so in love with Landon. If the guy's married, my BF would give her a run for her money.

So. I managed to find a photo of that game-changing last minute goal... signed by Landon Donovan himself. And I can't express how excited I am to give it to him. BF keeps saying he'd love a vintage soccer poster of sorts, so as he's opening it that'll be what he's expecting. I can't wait to see the look on his face!!!

Gifts have been something of a burdensome thing for me these past couple of years, but knowing how happy he's going to be is making Christmas feel really exciting. Now I'm just hoping it gets here in time... that's what I get for procrastinating!

Setting Finance Goals for 2015

December 16th, 2014 at 06:21 am

It's that time of year. When I start taking a look at what the next has in store. The other day I broke down my monthly expenses and some of the other spending I'm anticipating to get a hold on how much I need to make. That gives me a more tangible goal to shoot for - which is needed, because as a small business owner, "As much as I can" is honest, but insufficient as a goal. This exercise also put me into a slight panic mode. haha.

Following my last blog post, where I was celebrating the comparative success and how much grown I've seen in my business since starting it in October of 2013... my projected needed bookings are still a bit scary.

To be able to afford what I (semi-realistically) would like to spend next year, I would need to book:

- 5 more weddings for 2015
- 10 portrait sessions
- 15 Event/commercial shoots
- 2 website designs
- 10 weddings for 2016 (deposits)

Really, this could be in any combination that makes up $27k.

It's certainly doable, but that doesn't leave any wiggle room - for things like exceeding my monthly budget (which I do regularly), and any unexpected expenses that may pop up. It also doesn't account for any savings.

What it does count for (beyond monthly expenses):

- Photography Classes ($750)
- Travel ($2,000)
- Extra student Loan Payments ($3,000)
- Photo Equipment ($1,000)
- Wedding Expenses ($2,500)
- Bridal Show Fee ($350)

These obviously encompass a lot of money, and would be where the sacrifices start taking place if my bookings don't make the mark. But to me, they are all worth the spending and worth sacrificing for. So it's going to come down to really stringently following that budget this coming year. And making the dollars stretch as far as they can. At least until I make my booking goals.

So at least I know where I stand and what I should expect. Now to get to the action Wink

I hope you all are making progress on your goals and ready to start out the new year right!

Business Progress!

December 10th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I started my photography + design business in October of 2013, on a sort of whim just to "see if I could do it." I looked over my spreadsheets today to get a feel for where I'm at now. And it was a rather invigorating exercise! I took a look at how many jobs I covered each year, how much I made (or will make), and the average per job at this point.

19 jobs (in 3 months, 1 wedding)
$79.28/job average

27 jobs (9 weddings)
$608.00/job average

2015 (contracts signed and deposits made)
10 jobs (9 weddings)
$1,740/job average

Granted, there are a lot of things to keep in mind - In 2013 I was portfolio building, and did a couple of shoots for free. The rest were dirt cheap (a portrait session was $50 and I shot a wedding ceremony for $220. ha). This was only a side gig for me, and most of the marketing I did was for friends and through Craigslist.

This year I operated my business as a side gig until May, when I quit my two other part time jobs (it was a rough spring) to operate full time. I've been pretty exceptionally busy since. I was shooting weddings this year with 3 pricing options between $1,000 and $1,500. A lot of my revenue this year also came from doing work for political candidates (referred exclusively from a friend I used to work with) and real estate photography for a local nonprofit (also referred by a friend who works there). Word of mouth really makes a difference!

As for next year's bookings... I changed my pricing structure to reflect only one real option and upped the price to $2,000 for a wedding (including an engagement session). That was a huge, difficult step for me. I tend to drastically undervalue my work. But here's the thing... people are still hiring me. *Cue amazingly big smile*

My projected earnings outshine this year's already, and that doesn't include everything I'll book throughout the course of 2015 itself. My goal was to book at least 12 weddings for the year, and I'm well on my way.

I'm not saying it's time to retire or anything. I'm hoping to hit only $35k total in earnings pre-taxes next year. But that's a pretty solid living doing something that I just thought I would try out. It's certainly still really hard work. And owning a business is horribly expensive all by itself (I'm looking at $10,000 in expenses this year - over half of which was equipment). But it feels good to know that it's starting to come together. And I really think next year it's going to really start paying off. Which is something that I'm incredibly proud of.


November Recap, and looking ahead

December 2nd, 2014 at 09:06 am

I'm consistently blown away by how fast time is moving these days... ah well.

I sat down this morning to pay my bills and go over spending for last month to see just how bad it was. haha. I went ahead and purchased my new camera last week, so that put me $1,800 deeper than I expected to be for the month, but it was going to be purchased sooner or later, and with two weddings in the next week that are super low-light, I felt sooner was better. So my business spending was way above and beyond what I had budgeted. Thankfully, I've got that Amazon rewards card - so I now have $58 of credit. There was also a $300 rebate. I'm mailing in the stuff for that today. I also have an excess of one camera now that my backup has been replaced by my former main camera. So I'm hoping to get $500 out of that. Let's hope!

Other places I went over budget in November:

- Groceries
- Restaurants

I think some of the items accounted for in my "grocery" budget weren't all actual food. Target pops up a few times, which is most certainly a mix of food and crap I don't need. Oh, Target... Actually, $50 of that was the Christmas tree we picked up at Target. Mystery solved... haha.

I only budget $30 for restaurants a month. I really need to rethink that. Because I never ever actually stay within that. But honestly, we've been really good about cooking this month. So I'm surprised to see it over $150. Part of that was the lunch I had with my brother ($30), one stop at the burger place that BF and I always hit when we travel down to my hometown ($21). The rest of it is just little things here and there - a coffee, a tea, an icecream, a stop at Arby's after the wedding I shot (they didn't really feed me). Just goes to show that it all adds up.


As for this month... I crunched the numbers and made sure I'm going to be good for making my goals. It's going to be a rough one. It's a fairly slow month considering. But I'm hoping to book one or two weddings by the end of it, which would help considerably.

I also have to make sure I don't go crazy with the xmas spending. I've already got a few people crossed off my list. Trying to keep it as simple as humanly possible. Really, it's just BF and my mom that will be larger gifts. And as usual, I'm struggling to figure out things to get both of them. I'll be designing a retro-style soccer poster for BF. That's going to be his big gift, I think. And then some smaller fun things. Mom I've got no clue. Nonetheless, I'm *hoping* to keep my total spending under $300 for remaining gifts. We'll see how that goes. That $58 in Amazon rewards credit + the $25 Amazon gift card I purchased with PNC points should help.


Goal Update:

- Transferred $525 to my savings account for taxes, bringing the total up to $3,141.03.
- Transferred $219 to my Ally account for travel savings, bringing the total up to $546.

I'll by paying additional on my Sallie Mae loan once I get a couple more payments from clients. Don't want that account to get too low!

That's about it for my update. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!