In Oh Shoot! episode #81, Cassidy Lynne (@cassidylynne) and Lindsey Roman (@mrslindseyroman) chat about how to run a successful business while also being a mom and how to set up healthy boundaries. Lindsey is a photographer, business coach, podcast, wife, and mama to two little girls. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
How Lindsey Got Started in Photography
Lindsey grew up very creative and was one of the photographers for her school’s Yearbook. In college, Linsey majored in theater and film. She loved the creativity, storytelling, and acting. At the time acting was her favorite way of storytelling and using her art to share stories, and get people to feel emotions of some sort. Lindsey graduated college and in her mind, she was going to go off and be an actress in some capacity.
After graduation Lindsey didn’t feel fully ready to go off to L.A., because you have to be all in on that. There was a pause which she feels like was God saying He had a different path for her. She started interning at her church and in that year of interning, she started diving into learning how to use for little Canon Rebel camera and not shoot on auto anymore. She read the literal manual that comes with the camera!
Lindsey had roommates at the time, so she starting taking them out to do portraits and to play around. She discovered that she loved it! It was very similar in her brain to acting in the sense she was telling people’s stories through her lens. Starting photography was a slow burn. She knew she was really interested and felt like she was really good at it, so she just wanted to see where photography led her.
Lindsey started a photography business Facebook page and set up a website. She started photographing families and couples she met through church or who lived in her town. Eventually, a lot of her friends were getting married and asking Lindsey to photograph their engagement sessions and weddings. She discovered that photographing couples and weddings is what her heart loved the most and was what she was really passionate about!
Growing a Photography Business in Hawaii
During this time Lindsey’s husband joined the Coast Guard and their first duty station was Oahu, Hawaii. So they moved for her husband’s job, but Lindsey says it benefitted her and her business a frick ton! Before even moving, Lindsey was very attracted to the destination style of weddings that were adventurous, wild, and carefree. She was trying to book work that was strategically like that, so had traveled to Texas and Colorado for more destination work. When they moved to Hawaii she had epic destinations 10 minutes away from her door, so her business continued to grow!
How did The Heart University start?
While photographing weddings and continuing to grow her business in Hawaii, she started getting more messages from people about how she got started and did certain things in her photography business. Lindsey started offering mentor sessions and growing those. During this time her friend, Evie, who is also a photographer, was crushing growing her own business. Evie called Lindsey one day and told her about her dream to start a photography workshop with her. Lindsey loved the idea, but wasn’t sure how it was going to happen.
They hosted their first photography retreat workshop in Malibu in April of 2018. At the time 12 people came which was mind blowing to Lindsey and Evie. After the workshop in Malibu they did two more in Oahu later in the year. They had started an email list for people wanting to come to the next workshop. Soon their workshops had a 5,000 people waitlist, then 7,000, and even 10,000.
As their waitlist started to grow, they knew they could go all in on hosting photography workshops, but still wouldn’t be able to hit all the people on their waitlists. So they started dreaming of creating an online course in addition to the photography workshops. They launched their first photography course called The Heart University. Fast forward to today, The Heart University is their company name and their online workshop is actually called The Photo Major. As that grew, God gave them a total vision for a creative education company that served photographers and creative entrepreneurs. They wanted to share strategies for growing a photography business, and also the heart, mind, and soul behind your business. They eventually started a podcast called the Heart & Hustle podcast, and have since also added an online shop and a few more courses. This past April they hosted their first business conference called The Heart Conference, and are currently planning their 2023 conference.
Should photographers have an email list?
The immediate thought most photographers have is, “If I’m not selling a digital product or a course, why do I need an email list?” Lindsey wants you to stop thinking of an email list as always have a strategy, funnel, or sale behind it. Literally treat an email list like social media. It’s just another way of marketing, just like blogging, Instagram, or Pinterest. Instead of social media controlling who sees your content or not, you have a direct link to reach people. Reframe it in your brain as having an intimate conversation with people and building your community. It’s a great way to stay on the top of people’s minds, stand out, and connect on a personal level with potential clients.
Building a Team for Your Business
First, Lindsey wants to demystify the “superwoman” attitude or mindset. She has about four weddings booked this year, and as the The Heart University has scaled, photography has intentionally gone way down. She doesn’t want you to think she’s doing 30 weddings a year and all things with The Heart University.
Lindsey has built a team under her. Everything you see either coming out of her business or The Heart University, she’s mostly approving things aside from some things like copy and the podcast. She usually creates her own blog content, but sometimes has a ghostwriter for that and approves the post and makes tweak based on her own voice. She creates almost every single piece of her own social media content, but for The Heart they have an entire team under her and Evie. They send the reel ideas, audios, and have them film certain things. Then their team is writing the captions and Evie and Lindsey are approving them before it is posted. So that’s a big thing she wants to demystify is that she’s not sitting down and create every single piece of content for The Heart, it’s all a team effort.
“Elevate & Delegate”
Something to remember is that in order to actually balance all the things you have to elevate yourself. “Elevate and delegate” is a phrase from one of Lindsey’s favorite business books, “Traction” by Gino Wickman. Even if you’re just rocking your photography business, you’re still doing a lot. From marketing to actually performing the service and showing up for 12 hour wedding days, it’s a lot. Especially during busy season where you’re trying to edit and cull while give a good client experience. On the other side, you’re trying to get featured, blog, and post on social media. There is so much to do even in one business that you still need to “elevate and delegate” as you grow.
Outsourcing in Your Photography Business
If you get to where 100 percent of the time you are working IN your business, and you don’t have time to actually step out of it and give yourself perspective in what direction you want to grow, it’s time to think about outsourcing.
Going back to Lindsey’s photography business, she grew that first before adding other things to her plate which is important. Start with one thing and grow it and then you can start delegating pieces of that business while you slowly add on more things.
For example, Lindsey first hired a virtual assistant to help answer emails and send client gifts. She was traveling a lot for destination weddings so her V.A. scheduled all her flights, rental cars, lodging, etc. Eventually she started outsourcing her editing and had an intern for a time.
It can look like Lindsey is doing everything from the outside, but she has a team behind her to help make it all happen.
How Lindsey Balances Business & Mom Life
The years 2018 and 2019 were crazy for Lindsey’s business. Lindsey had her first baby in June of 2019. At the time they had launched the first course for The Heart University, and she was shooting 40 weddings a year and over 100 sessions. Before kids, Lindsey feels like she didn’t have good boundaries for her business. It’s hard when your business is growing and you want to be successful, and do the work, and all the things because you genuinely love it. That’s the kind of space Lindsey was in before her first baby, and it really gave her a reality check. She realized she had this whole other thing to balance and needed to get some systems in place. Setting up hardcore boundaries has really helped her work life balance a ton.
Set Office Hours + Communication Over Email & Slack
Lindsey started setting very strict office hours. When she has a meeting or a coaching call, she’s 100% in it. And when it’s time to be with her kids, she’s fully present with them. Even if that looks like being on a call for two hours or doing deep work, and then switching with her husband to watch the girls. They’re not perfect, but Lindsey likes to keep work and motherhood segregated in her brain, so she can her all to each thing when she’s in it.
Lindsey has moved all work communication to email and Slack. Slack is like text messaging for work and it’s been immensely helpful as her and Evie’s team with The Heart University has grown. Instead of checking email or getting notifications all hours of the day, she can turn off notifications when it’s outside of her office hours.
Setting Boundaries with Clients
Lindsey fully believe the boundaries you have with clients depends on what season of life you’re in. For example if you’re in a season of desperately needing to get booked and you are struggling with bookings, then your response time probably needs to be faster. In the world of photography, you can’t assume that you’re the only photographer they’re reaching out to. They’re likely booking whoever they connect with the fastest. On the other side you can’t run yourself ragged and be checking your phone constantly. There has to be some boundaries in place.
Put Office Hours in Your Email Signature
Add your office hours in your email signature and truly do not answer email outside of those hours.
Remove Notifications from Your Phone
If you’re having a hard time installing boundaries this is a good one. Instead of seeing a notification come across on a date night and shifting your attention to that, instead you’ll see it when you’re in office the next day.
Don’t Give Your Personal Number Out to Clients
Photographers often struggle with wanting to be best friends with their client, so they give their phone number out. However, if your client has a normal 9-5 job, they’re likely wedding planning at night. So then they’re texting you questions and asking for advice late at night when you’re trying to relax and not worry about work. If you love that relationship with your clients, then go for it. But if you want more work-life balance, and want a separation from work infiltrating your personal life then keep communication to email. As it gets one month away or closer to the wedding then feel free to share your number with your client and/or the wedding planner.
Your client might actually respect you more for setting office hours. But in those office hours take freaking good care of your clients, treat them well, and give them a really great client experience throughout the entire process. They’re not going to be upset if you’re not texting them back at 10 p.m. on Saturday night because they know you have those office hours.
How Lindsey Grew on Social Media
One of Lindsey’s favorite things to do is actually give a [insert expletive of choice here]. We’re always chasing more followers and more, more, more. She started asking herself, “Why do I want more?” There are so many things we’re chasing and we never asky why or does it just fill up our ego cup.
From the very beginning Lindsey has always looked at every single follower, comment, and direct message as an actual human being. From the beginning that helped grow her social media a lot because she was very genuine. She has always responded to comments and DM’s since 2015. And as your follower count grows, people are always surprised when you actually respond. It makes a difference no matter what your follower count is. Of course you can’t spend all day just messaging people if that’s not making you money in your business. At some point you do have to realize what’s actually moving the bottom line in your business.
Social Media Tips
One of Lindsey’s favorite Instagram strategies for direct messages is to actually voice message or video message someone back. They’re probably not expecting that, and honestly sometimes that can be faster then writing them all back. ESPECIALLY if you get a DM inquiry, straight up send them a voice message back and point them to your contact page and let them know how excited you are. It humanizes you a ton and makes you seem like more than some random vendor.
The other thing that really helped Lindsey’s account to grow and make an impact was trying not to be too” businessy”. She incorporated a personal brand pretty early on in her account and no matter what she’s doing whether thats photography or business coaching it’s self sustaining. All of that falls under the umbrella of who Lindsey is. She approaches showing up on like she’s just chatting with her best friend. She’s talking on Instagram stories just like she would while Facetiming a friend. People love personal stuff! People are obsessed with you and your story and we have to translate that to them knowing what you do and your work.
If you’re a wedding photographer trying to grow on Instagram, show up and share your bestie energy. When you post wedding or client work, humanize it and make it a story. Tell how the couple met or tell the story of their wedding day. Tell the stories behind your work and that goes back to the same reason people are obsessed with you as a human being and your story. You have to pull them into another story that you’re obsessed with like your clients. Especially for reels, to actually get somebody hooked to watch the full thing, you have to intrigue them and set up the story.
Lindsey didn’t view her social account as solely a photography account. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in Nebraska, and you are just posting only your photography work then only people getting engaged and married in Nebraska have incentive to follow you. That’s a very small pool! However, if you want to build a platform for yourself to in the future possibly pivot of photography, you have to make it personal too.
Thank you so much Lindsey for coming on the Oh Shoot! podcast!
You can find Lindsey here:
The Heart University Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theheartuniversity/
The Heart University website: https://theheartuniversity.com/
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