What stories do you tell yourself about your business?
- "People won’t pay that much for my photography.”
- “The markets too crowded with cheap photographers and newbies.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “That good shoot was a fluke, I don’t know if I could do that again.”
- “People don’t value photography.”“I can’t take on more clients because I’d have to get help in my business and I don’t know where to start.”
Maybe it’s one of the above, maybe it’s something else, totally different.
Regardless, on some level, we all tell ourselves stories about our businesses and why we can’t succeed.
And you may not realise it, or may not like to admit it, but those stories have a huge impact on your business.
More so than any marketing tactic - because the stories you tell yourself influence your behaviour and actions.
In the worst cases, they lead to self-sabotage.
Like the photographer who was just starting out.
We’ll call her Amy (that’s not her real name). She was booked solid for the last 6 weeks of the year after launching her business 6 months previously.
Amy decided to redo her pricing after watching a "photography business expert” teach that you must use cost of goods based pricing with a minimum percentage mark up so that you are instantly profitable.
So she re-did all her pricing, increasing them quite substantially.
And her business crashed. No clients for 6 months.
Not because she was charging too much, but because her prices scared the crap out of her.
She started telling herself stories like:
- “My photography is not good enough to be charging this.”
- “I don’t have enough experience to charge this amount.”
- “No-one will pay this much for a framed print.”
And on the stories went. There were many of them...
So Amy stopped all of her marketing. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just sort of happened.
She hardly posted on social media and when she did it was mostly personal photos.
She didn’t blog.
She didn’t make offers.
She stopped networking.
She just sort of disappeared.
This went on for 6 months. She lost all of her momentum.
Instead of sticking to her plan of building momentum, gaining experience, getting known, having a constant stream of paid client work to blog and post about, steadily and regularly increasing her prices 10-15% every 10 shoots...
... she was back at ground zero. Having to start all over again, this time with her confidence and self-belief in tatters.
Because of the stories she was telling herself.
Here’s what Author Michael Lewis has to say on the stories we tell ourselves (from the Tim Ferris Show #427):
"As I’ve gotten older—I would say starting in my mid-to-late 20s—I could not help but notice the effect on people of the stories they told about themselves. If you listen to people, if you just sit and listen, you’ll find that there are patterns in the way they talk about themselves. There’s the kind of person who is always the victim in any story that they tell. Always on the receiving end of some injustice. There's the person who’s always kind of the hero of every story they tell. There's the smart person; they delivered the clever put down there. There are lots of versions of this, and you’ve got to be very careful about how you tell these stories because it starts to become you. You are—in the way you craft your narrative—kind of crafting your character. And so I did at some point decide, “I am going to adopt self-consciously as my narrative, that I’m the happiest person anybody knows.” And it is amazing how happy-inducing it is.”
So be careful of the stories you tell yourself because they really are more powerful than any marketing tactic.
Does any of this resonate with you? Hit reply and let me know.
I'd love to hear from you, even if it is just to say hello, this lockdown's getting a bit lonely :-)