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Five Reflections from 2021

This year has been one of major growth for me, personally and professionally. Looking back, here are five of my biggest reflections and the things I’m most proud of.

I found my niche.

Replicating what you’ve already seen done will only take you so far. You have to find what makes you you in order to stand out — and to become your full, authentic self. I’m proud to say that, as I reflected throughout this year, I became confident with what makes me and my work unique. All my life, I’ve strived to blend my passions into a career. I’ve focused on what I love to do and walked away from what doesn’t bring me happiness. 

In finding my niche, I solidified the number one aspect to any business: my brand. Eight years ago, I launched Sarah Arnold Photography. Since then, I’ve done a lot of growing: from building my client base to refining my artistic style to upgrading my gear. But what hadn’t grown with me was my brand. 

As many of us did, I learned a lot about myself during the pandemic. All of this gave me more clarity about what my brand is — and what it can be. With life as we knew it shut down, I realized how much energy I get from human connection. I find such beauty in the stories that people share. It’s why I became a photographer: using my artistic talent to document stories of love, family, and celebration is a dream come true.

In February 2021, I decided to take the leap and invest in a full rebrand: aesthetically, including new logos, color palettes, and brand graphics; and strategically through my new website. I love the final result and am so happy the rebrand has done a great job of telling my story. A huge thank you to Rachel Krumbach with Couple by Grace for her incredible work and talents! 

I took time to learn. 

Sitting still has never been something I’ve done well. Add something that I’m not fully invested in, and it’s a recipe for constant distractions. Thanks to the pandemic forcing me to sit still(er), I found that I truly absorb education best when I’m on the go — whether it’s taking a hike or driving to a photo destination. Being unable to be distracted by other electronics keeps me engaged and makes me excited to listen and learn!  

I asked for help.

Nobody ever said being an entrepreneur is easy. Sure, it has many upsides, like being your own boss, setting your own deadlines, and getting to call the shots. But when it comes to feeling burned out, unmotivated, or overwhelmed, you are solely responsible for pushing yourself to get it done. This year, I learned just how important it is to ask for help.

I have outsourced two key tasks consistently; blogging and advertising. I realized that I’m better off putting my efforts where I’m strongest and taking the things off my plate that I’m less experienced with.

I have found a way for the cost of outsourcing to work for my budget and most importantly, it has a huge return. Max Sadik said, “even in your busiest seasons, never stop marketing.” It’s easy to think that when business is doing well and the bookings keep coming, you don’t need to do anything to get more clients; but you do. And that’s also when the power of planning a season ahead came into effect.

I planned ahead. 

You know when you walk into the department stores around Halloween, and they already have the Christmas decorations out? I used to think it was crazy to prepare so far in advance, but now I get it. To make a steady living as a freelancer, I learned just how crucial planning ahead is. The only way to be able to predict my income in two or three months from now is to advertise and market the season that’s coming up, rather than the season we’re in now. In late summer of this year, I was planning my fall photo content, and before Halloween, I was promoting winter sessions in the mountains. This has been one way that I’ve been able to predict what’s coming and continue to make myself relevant. 

I worked a lot, and with no regrets. 

There are times to grind and times to rest. This past year has been a season of tremendous growth in so many aspects of my business because I was able to pour in so much time into it. Since 2020, I saw 110 percent growth in bookings, and I delivered a record-breaking number of sessions this fall. And not just because the world began to open up; or because I paid someone to teach me the tricks of the trade; or because my husband was deployed for five months. It came down to good ol’ Midwestern work ethic. During periods when I won’t have as much time, I know that I will still make steps forward because I’ve set the foundation for so many areas of my business this year. 

I’m excited, hopeful and encouraged with the progress I’ve made this year. I am constantly grateful to the clients who trust me and allow me to capture their special moments. Everytime I leave a session or capture a wedding, I realize why I keep coming back for more — the people, the energy and the fun I get out of being a photographer is irreplaceable.

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