the prosperous photographer

Ep 15. Our Relationship with Money (1 of 3)

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My mission is to help you create a business and life that you want: profitable, inspired and on your terms.  Give yourself permission to have the business you truly want. 


Well, welcome to today’s podcast. This is my first attempt at actually including video. I clearly did not get my own memo because I did not do my hair, but I want to give it a try.

So here we are. I am now ready to record this episode. (you can see the video on my YouTube Channel)

Anyway, guys, bear with me for my inaugural episode using the video camera. So I am a little nervous, of course, but anyway, I’m going to jump right in. I am going to do a three part series on money and thank you. You are here for episode one. In my opinion, this is a very big topic and I do believe it’s front and center to having a photography business that makes money and makes you happy.

For me, understanding who I was and what my relationship was with money was a game changer for our business and honestly, for our lives as well.

I consider myself financially literate, but on a personal level, there were a few things boiling beneath the surface that I had never taken a really close look at. Maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe I never thought I needed to. But for whatever reason, I was really naive as to what my relationship was with money.

To start, I want to introduce a few words or phrases that I think will play a role in how we discuss money moving forward.

If you listen to last week’s episode, then I already mentioned one very important phrase: limiting beliefs. And I think that limiting beliefs can be at the core of many people’s relationship with money.

This is a really good first phrase to start with. So if you’ve missed it, then tune to last week’s where I give Tony Robbins definition of what a limiting belief is and I use it in my own stories about limiting beliefs that I have had in my business as well.

Second I would like to talk about is:  Scarcity Mindset. This is the belief that there’s never enough of anything to go around. Money is limited. I found this definition on a blog from Chetfield Old Financial and I really like their definition. This is their quote from their site: your money mindset refers to the attitudes, beliefs and emotions that influence your financial habits and behaviors and is shaped by your upbringing, your personal experiences, your cultural background and overall attitude towards money. But despite our money management being so impacted by our money mindset, many of us might not take the time to consider our own thoughts and beliefs around our finances,

To identify our own money mind mindset. So that kind of encapsulates everything that I’m really trying to do here. We’re trying to understand the connections between behaviors, thoughts and feelings, our personal experiences, things that we learned as children all the way through to adulthood or wherever you’re at. I’m 54, so for me, I carry around a lot of – definitely some scarcity mind set from childhood.  

That  as I mentioned in my opening line, that I really just never even thought I never thought about it. I literally never thought about my relationship with money. Never, so trying to understand what a scarcity mindset is and what limiting beliefs are and how that contributes to my overall relationship, I feel is wildly important to the trajectory that my business was on and my personal life as well.

I don’t know about you, but it took me a long time to put these two thoughts together. My money management was directly affected by my beliefs around money. My life changed. It was like this AHA moment, like putting these two things together. I know to some of you might be like, is she crazy?

But no, I don’t know. Putting these two thoughts together really just opened my mind to what was possible for me and my business. Well, my family and my business. 

Having scarcity around money meant at different times in my life that I was an underearner. I definitely was an underearner.

Didn’t mean I didn’t make a lot of money, but I was an underearner. I should have been making more for the positions that I had.

I didn’t value myself correctly, that I was in debt. I was hugely in debt. Why did I have no emergency fund? I was a chronic overspender and an underserver. Like, the perfect disaster, the financial disaster, that was my life. I was generous. I was always giving to a fault.

It seemed like I always had a slightly chaotic relationship with money. If I look back, I mean, from childhood till ten or 15 years ago, there was chaos in my life around finances, and again, that’s scarcity mindset. But for me, it was overspending and not saving. 

For other people, scarcity mindset is the exact opposite, some folks are penny pinchers, they’re hoarders, they can’t spend money at all. All they do is save, they can’t let go. And even I don’t want to say reward yourself, but even make a small purchase that they are the other extreme.

My point in saying this – that scarcity mindset shows up in different ways and for me it showed up as under, earning overspending, creating debt, and creating chaos in my financial life.

I promise there’s a reason I’m talking about all of this. 

I’m laying out the pieces of the puzzle that I was lacking years ago and how does this fit into photography? Keep with me because this mindset definitely plays a major role in the prosperity of your business and how you attract money and how you keep money.

So the third thing I want to mention is the Abundant Mindset. This is another one of those very important pieces in the puzzle and I may have had a few of these characteristics, but not enough to consider myself going back a few years to really have had an abundant mindset.

I’m going to use the definition from Masterclass, which is always a great place to learn. They actually have something called Seven Characteristics of an Abundant Mindset.

Number one, you tend to be an optimist. Your glass is half full when conflict arises. You think win win scenarios are possible and ideal. Number two, you’re generous.  People with an abundant mindset see plenty of time, money and resources to go around and are happy to share theirs with others.

This generosity often manifests through charitable giving or volunteering, but can be as simple as investing in relationships with those around you.

Number three: you celebrate people. You see the best in people and relish the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of others. You see new and exciting life experiences, whether yours or someone else’s, as cause for celebration. 

Number four you embrace new opportunities. You see the world as full of infinite possibilities and take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.

Number five you have a high level of self awareness. You have a balanced self image and recognize that everyone is a combination of strengths and weaknesses. 

Number six you focused on personal development rather than fixate on the shortcomings of others. You focus on your personal growth and work to become the best version of yourself.

And number seven you practice being present. You’re able to identify anxious thought patterns rather than fixate on future things outside of your control. You seek a positive mindset and practice being grateful for your circumstances. I think that is a really nice definition. Mission of not only what it is to be in an abundant mindset, but for me, I wanted to live my life from that place.

I wanted to run my business from an abundant mindset. I wanted to live my life from an abundant mindset. I just appreciate so much in those seven characteristics that just seems like a very healthy, very healthy life to be living.

So why are these three terms or phrases important for your photography business? 

Because we need to understand our relationship with money. And by understanding these three terms, it really opens up our eyes to a relationship with money and how that relationship with money affects our photography business and in my case, the rest of my life.

If we don’t understand this relationship, then it can be really hard to build a successful business. In fact, I would argue it’s impossible. Impossible for the long term, anyway.

You might get by, you might book enough clients to keep the lights on. But what I’m talking about is the real, honest understanding about what you were taught. Your money, your capacity to earn money, to accept money, to keep money, and what you feel about money and how you think about money.

That’s a lot to digest. But all of those components are really, at least to me, they helped explain there were times I felt like, especially with debt or not working with the right clients, that I was actually rejecting money. 

And that how and why would I be doing that when alot of us want to make more money in our business. But the real truth is that if we’re unable to accept it, if we can’t accept making more money, even if it was dropped in our laps, some of us, I’m definitely talking about me here, need to clean up a lot of the thinking that we have around money and making money,

And we also need to do a little discovery about how we limit ourselves, how we limit our money? How do we underearn how do we not accept clients that could potentially be wonderful clients? How do we keep accepting the wrong clients that you know are going to be a headache or fight with you on your pricing or challenge you on time or just be generally difficult?

Why are we okay with that when we know over here is another group of clients that we would love to work with and that love what we do? Why do we continue to accept not working with the right people?

We also need to do a little discovery about how we limit ourselves, how we limit our money, and how we underearn. Maybe some of you are not going to want to hear this. I know that I was not happy when I had to admit this to myself, but the reason your photography business might not be earning enough is probably because of you.

And when I face that back myself again, this is another one of those moments. It’s a game changer. Like to stop blaming everybody else and everything else that’s happening in your photography world or your town or your environment. You’re too busy with your kids or you can’t attract the right clients. There’s too many photographers.

All the things that I’m talking about that we have to reflect back on ourselves.

This is really hard to hear, I know. When I realized this, I was mad at myself, angry that I was. Financial disaster, upset with my overspending and my debt. We were earning money in our photography business to pay our bills. But honestly, that was it. We were just getting by.

We literally were just getting by. We were expending all of that energy, all of that time, time away from our children family, not going out on Saturday nights, not having the typical family life. We were giving that all up just so that we could get by, just so that we could pay our bills.

No, that was wrong. There was something so wrong about that. We were busting our asses week after week to just get by. This had to end, honestly. I had to take a look at myself finally and say, look, I’m the common denominator here.

I had to understand the traits that kept me here. I had to learn to embrace the business owner and person that I wanted to become. I had to start learning more about me and then practice and practice having different thoughts about myself and how I interacted with money.

I had to answer this burning question, what did I need to be doing differently than I was doing now?

Clearly something.

I had to take a look at myself. Now, I don’t mean for you to beat yourself up, because honestly, I did not beat myself. I did take a long, hard look, but I knew it was with such an eye for the future, though, because I wanted to change. I wanted us to be working hard and working with purpose.

And I knew that now, now that I was someone who was living with more of an abundant mindset, I really wanted to discover more about myself, and I wanted to grow. And I wanted to figure out why was it okay for me to be working so hard and just getting by?

That really factored into all of this. And this is, again, not about telling ourselves we’re horrible or we’re terrible because we can’t handle money or this or that. Not at all. This is about having an eye opening experience and trying to realize what it is about who we are at the core that’s either rejecting money, not keeping money, keeping too much money, and that’s pretty much at the core of what I want to talk about.

So when I say I don’t want you to beat yourself up or I didn’t beat myself up. Honestly, though, having debt hanging around and overspending and not planning for the future was counterintuitive to having the life that I wanted, that I wanted an easier life.

I was doing was not sustainable. I mean, we could work our asses off. Till when? Till the kids got to college and we had no retirement savings. And what were we doing?

We literally. Had to stop the merry go round of our lives and question these limiting beliefs for myself and my mindsets that were clearly not working for me at that time.

I had to figure out what to change. If I didn’t try to figure this out, then we would keep spinning our wheels, working with all the clients, not the clients that we necessarily wanted to work with, not the clients that loved everything that we did. We were spreading that wide net.

We were working with everybody and not working with the right clients, working all the time. Hustling. I had to stop doing this. I had to stop all my old thinking in order to move the business forward.

Why was I blocking an easier relationship with money, right? This is like the $10 million question why was I doing this? 

The feelings I had associated with money were fear, stress, trapped, overwhelmed. And I chose to have these feelings around money. 

But the feelings that I wanted to have around money were much easier.

Like, I wanted to feel abundant. I wanted to feel free. I wanted to feel generous. I wanted to give,

I wanted live a stress free life. Those are the feelings that I wanted to have around money.

I know we’re all in a different place, but I have worked with enough photographers to know that the burning question most of them have – that they ask me is, how can I make more money in my business? Can you show me how to make more money? Can you show me how to attract more clients, more of the right clients?

The more photographers I work with and because of my own relationship with money, I now recognize that the answer to this question of how to make more money comes with the understanding of a person’s relationship with money.

Let’s begin here with an exercise. Grab your journal and a pen. My favorite two lines to say.  

Answer this question – what do you think about money? What pops up for you? Let’s just free write.  We don’t need to be right or wrong. Or no one’s grading you and no one’s looking except for you. 

So on that paper in your journal, just write what pops up for you. Do you want a lot? A little. Is there a certain number that you want to make in your photography business or have in your life? And why is it that you want to show people what you can do? Is it that you want to show yourself what you can do? Is it that you’ve been undervaluing yourself? 

What are the reasons why when a photographer comes to me and says, I want to make more money, what is holding them back from making enough money?

Question I’m going to throw back at is, why do you want to make more money and how much do you want to make?

Then continue to talk about your past. What were you taught about money as a child?  What are some of your first memories about money or what you were taught about money? Write them down. 

As you write, you’re going to start to see some patterns developing from early on that you’re probably still carrying with you now.

How do you feel when you spend money? What is that feeling? Is it hard for you to spend money? Or is it easy? because I know that’s how I am. Some things are so easy for me to spend money on and other things, and I’ll say, oh, I feel so cheap. I won’t spend money on X, Y, or Z. I’m blowing money over here for something that someone else would question. 

So can you spend money easily? Where is it difficult for you to spend money? Then what immediately comes to mind when you think about all of these things?

Then let’s talk about money specifically related to your business. What is your current thinking about money in your business?

I know that’s a very general question. What is your thought?

For years, I would just trade time for money. That’s where we were like we were 15 years ago. One job comes in, it’s 1 hour equals this literally trading our precious time for a dollar amount not realizing that it wasn’t providing enough value. 

And that is going to be in the next installment, episode two on Money. We’re going to be talking about value and how it relates to photography.

I always felt compelled to work hard to deserve more money. I even had a beautiful framed print in my bathroom. And anyone who had ever come to the main bathroom in our house that we sold before we moved to France, there was a beautiful framed graphic print that said ‘work hard and be nice to people’

I think that pretty much summed up my life. That to me, as a blue collar person who grew up in

a very working class city, that you worked hard and you got your money and you were nice to people. I mean, that was literally it. Show up, work, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. There was never any discussion about dreams or earning a crazy amount of money. No, you literally did the status quo.

You worked hard, you showed up, and you were nice to people. 

And that was my mantra for years and years. And really most of my life. And that doesn’t mean I still don’t work hard and I’m still not nice to people. And in fact, I think that’s really one of the main reasons that we’ve had such a successful photography business for so many years, because we do work hard and we have integrity and we’re nice to people. We’re very easy to work with. 

But what I mean about that is more in the general sense, like we’re trading time for money, just working hard and being nice to people in order to get by.

That was one of the stories that I had to shed.

I mean, I was stuck in this earning loop of getting paid for time for money, time for money, time for money.

Answer this question. How do you feel when you create money? Think about what you want to have with that money? What do you want in your checking account, in your retirement account? 

Just look at the big picture of your business, what do you want it to look like, what the future looks like, how much you want to have that means to you and what that makes you feel like. How does that make you feel? Does it make you nervous to think that you could have a million dollars in your bank account? We’re going to dive in deeper to this again as we move forward, but for now, I’m going to leave you with that for your exercise, because in the next two weeks, I want us to be able to discover what we might need to change in order to have a better relationship with money.

Take a minute and answer the question, what would I be doing differently than I’m doing now?

This is a big one, because to have that transformation of having. Business that you’re not 100% satisfied with, that you don’t feel like you’re attracting the right clients or making the money that you think that you deserve you have to answer this question. You have to know how to begin by understanding what you want to change. And this is all going to come together. 

I know this maybe is a little bit long winded, but these three episodes will all make sense when you listen to them back to back to back. And I’m going to have some really good exercises about how we can discover this about ourselves.

This is different for all of us. There’s no right answer or wrong answer. Just answer honestly. What would you be doing differently now? There’s no judgment. No one’s looking. What would you be doing differently now?

Start diving in deep to figure out this relationship with money so that we can stop blocking the money we want for our business. And this is the core of where I want to go with this money and this is something that will continue the more that we dive into these money discussions. 

But there’s blocks that we put up. We’re literally blocking ourselves from having the business that we want. And it doesn’t seem that way.

We think it’s just everything that’s happening around us. That those are the reasons why we don’t have the business that we want. We’re not making the money that we want.

Now what we’re going to do is some self discovery and figure out what’s blocking us from accepting that money and creating that money for our business. 

So thank you and I really appreciate you sticking in and maybe this video format will work out. I don’t know. I promise. Maybe I’ll do my hair next time.

But anyway, thank you so much and I look forward to number two in this money series. Thank you so much. Have a nice day. Bye.

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