I am not good at being bad at things, and “embrace the struggle” is the epitome of an eye-roll in my book. As many of us do, I like being great at what I do, and I have a hard time stepping out of that comfortable box.
I had forgotten how familiar self-doubt felt. It starts small and increases in size as the number of “likes” and engagement begins to dwindle. “Does anyone even give a shit about this??” “Am I being one of those people on facebook??”
I have found some moderate success as a wedding photographer, primary thanks to social media. The ability to create something, instantly share it for the world to see, tag and like. I didn’t need to convince you that I was a good photographer, you saw it. You saw what I could produce, before you ever spent a dime.
But then I decided to write a book. With absolutely no credentials or experience, I’m now asking those same people, to “take my word for it” when I tell you that there’s value in what I have created. But here’s the kicker; the only thing I can actually share with you is the cover page. Awesome.
I have no idea how to market a book. I watched a couple of webinars, read a couple of blogs, and attempted to tackle the Facebook Ads thing (with very little luck) I, Cristina Fenner, am completely out of my comfort zone.
I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve deleted in the past 2 weeks, because I felt like I was being “too salesy” or thought to myself “ok, you’re being annoying, no one cares.”
I LOVE to write. I always have, and I appreciate the fact that I can summon the courage to publicly share posts like these. The ones that are not flattering, probably not great for business, but are real and true. The stuff that I know someone will read and relate to, or at least have a good laugh.
But let’s be honest. Blog posts are FREE. The minute we put a price tag on something, it immediately ensues doubt in creator, and now, the worth we feel that we possess is now wrapped up in that price tag. It’s awful! And it’s one of the biggest reasons that people are afraid to start something of their own.
I know, to the core of my being, that one of the most important things that sets me apart from other photographers, are the resources, knowledge and willingness to be an active participant in the wedding planning process. My job does not start the day of the wedding. It starts the minute I get a PayPal notification, a date is blocked off on my google calendar, a contract is e-signed, and a girl officially becomes a CFP Bride.
There are so many things that these CFP Brides needed to know, which is exactly why I created the CFP Bridal Guide. So everything I wanted to remember to tell her in emails and during our consultations, was right at her fingertips. It was my way of educating, while welcoming them into my world. The CFP Bridal Guide has been very well received, and it has elevated me from just a girl with a camera, to a wedding photography expert. I won’t minimize it, I know A LOT about wedding photography. But more so, I know A LOT about wedding photography experiences.
I’ll be honest, there’s always a next step for CFP. There’s always something “in the works”, but this is the first time that I’ve introduced a “new thing” other than actual pictures with a price tag. AND IT’S TERRIFYING. I’m putting it out there, I am afraid to fail.
Over the years, I’ve seen this disconnect between photographers and brides. I’ll be honest, we stand on very different sides of a line, and it can be easy for the bride to hand over a check, and hope for the best. But there’s SO much “in between” stuff and the nitty-gritty that often gets overlooked. I’m sure some brides will read think to themselves, “yeah, like I don’t already have enough on my plate with wedding planning” but there is crucial preparation and conversations that you need to have with your photographer, if you’re going to have the experience and photos you’re dreaming of. Yes, I know this is the photographer’s job to make this happen, but I firmly believe that this is a team effort. Education is a powerful tool, and when it falls by the wayside, expectations and conclusions are often far from one another.
That’s exactly why I wrote my new book, What A Bride Really Needs To Know About Wedding Photography. I know that I am hitting all of the marks when it comes to my CFP Brides, with the CFP Bridal Guide. But there’s only 20 of them per year. What about the rest of the brides that I’m not working with? They need this resource just as much as my brides do, regardless of what photographer they’re chosen to work with.
When an idea hits me, typically it doesn’t take long for it to come to fruition. It took me just over a week to have the basis and all of the content points figured out. I started from step 1, bullet point A. I had to remember that I was creating this guide to be a resource for ANY bride, not my bride. General enough to apply to various situations, but specific enough to be helpful. I had to remember that I had to write this in a way that is also going to benefit other photographers as well. If we’re being totally transparent, I’m a little unsure if I’ll receive backlash from other photographers, feeling as though I’m stepping on their toes. But that’s not who I wrote the book for. I didn’t write a book for photographers, I wrote it for the brides.
I have ordered my copies of my new book, and as humorous as it sounds, I’m scared I’ll be giving these out to my family members as Christmas gifts because it turns out to be A HUGE FLOP.
So why am I telling you this?? Why am I slightly embarrassing myself with these thoughts I probably wouldn’t share verbally? Because I KNOW there’s someone out there reading this that has an idea that’s been brewing and they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of publicly flopping and limping away with a hurt ego. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be a success or not, but what I can tell you is that I’m in the same boat with you. I know this new book thing is a risk. I don’t have some fancy book book deal, and Barnes & Knoble certainly isn’t knocking down my door. This has been 100% driven by google-ing dumb shit like “how do I sell a book?”
Just get out there and do it. The magical thing about people is that we forget things quickly. If you try something and it’s a terrible fail, chances are, people will forget about it quickly. I know that’s not the most heartwarming thing you want to hear, but it’s true. Think about how hard we have to work to get people to see something we’re doing in the first place? I won’t even start on the social media algorithm, but worst case scenario, if your new thing does fail, your viewers have probably already scrolled down the page anyway.
Remember that ONE thing doesn’t make you a success or an expert in anything. Consistency does. One mistake does not make you a failure in everything else. If I sell a whoppin’ total of 2 books, I’m still a successful wedding photographer.
It would be ridiculous for me to sit here and tell you not to care what other’s think. OF COURSE we care, but what I will tell you is to not become distracted by it. There IS value in what you have to share, and don’t stray from that. If you’re anything like me, and you’re not good at being bad at things, you must push beyond that. Letting fear stand between you and your goal, dream or idea will hinder you far beyond anything else.
And what if you succeed? What if your new thing is a huge hit? Then what? First, I’m sure that you’ll be glad you read this blog post which gave you the swift kick in the ass you needed. There is power and pride in summoning the courage and ambition to do something in the first place. Even if you just open up a Word Doc, or grab a pen and paper and start jotting down ideas or thoughts, you’re already on the right track.
Know that I am here, silently cheering you on, hoping and praying that I don’t end up with a huge box of books sitting on my desk collecting dust. Cheers to that, and happy Monday!
p.s. if you wanna see what this whole book thing is about, you can check it out HERE!