If you've ever felt like you should be "further ahead" than what you are now... That you shouldn't be making these kind of mistakes at "this part of the journey"... And you wish you could just get your ish together already...
...This episode's for you.
Our 4th and final guest on this mini series is Christina Louise, a personal branding photographer and visual branding mentor who started her business way back in 2007.
While I'm sure you'll be inspired by what she's doing today, what's more important is you'll see that there's no such thing as "overnight success". And that no matter how experienced you are, sometimes things just get really tough. Occasionally, plain old crappy. But getting through them is what really it's all about -- and can be more valuable than any course or qualification.
Delivered with plenty of truth bombs and a lot of laughter, you'll be hearing about:
In other words: buckle up for this epic finale of our mini series!
Simply Magnetic, the 5 part audio course
Enroll for free at: simplymagnetic.co
CONNECT WITH CHRISTINA
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LinkedIn: Kat Elizabeth
[00:00:00] Kat: We are wrapping up this fun little mini-series on the pod with a very special episode featuring a very special human. So Christina Louise and I have been working together for, hmm, probably three years, I think, which is crazy to me. And the thing that's really unique about her story and why I'm extra excited to share it with you is that, when we met, she was already an experienced entrepreneur, and has learned -obviously- a ton during that time.
[00:00:38] Learned lots of the things the hard way, which she very generously shares with us during this episode. And so there is a lot of practical wisdom to be gained. But the other thing is that we dive into some, some vulnerable stuff around some of the very real struggles that can come up, challenges that can come up, despite your experience level, despite the fact that you've been in business for, let's say five years, things can come up and feel catastrophic, and it's not an easy thing to share that publicly... because obviously, we're all just trying to put on our brave, happy faces to be on social media.
[00:01:23] But I really believe that because not enough people share the real stuff that goes on behind the scenes, the bar is set in a very unrealistic way for most new entrepreneurs, and experienced entrepreneurs who assume that success means getting it all right, never making mistakes, never feeling like you're falling in a heap, and it's just not true.
[00:01:46] And so Christina, who is, I should probably tell you who she is. Yes. So like many of my clients, she's also a personal branding photographer who got her start in weddings, but she has in the last 18 months or so, also not pivoted, but introduced a new arm to her business, a new niche, which is all around visual brand mentoring, which obviously complements beautifully what she does.
[00:02:14] But one of the topics of conversation for today is all about the challenge of breaking into a new niche and how it's tough, no matter how established you are because you are trying to build a reputation as something else and not everyone is ready for that. So you know, if you are thinking about pivoting or, or if you are in the midst of changing direction somehow with your brand or business, this will definitely be helpful.
[00:02:43] We also dove into what she calls hashtag lazy marketing and what it's really all about, essentially about finding your way of marketing. A way that allows you to get the results without compromising on how you wanna live your life, how you wanna spend your time.
[00:03:04] And again, she gets really honest about the journey that led to her being able to market in this way and how we do need to be realistic with ourselves about... where we're at in business and the fact that there are foundations that need laying earlier on, that can mean a little bit of extra slog, but down the track will then allow for all sorts of other awesome benefits.
[00:03:32] So that's just a tiny bit of what we talked about in this episode. I know you're going to find it... well, hopefully, like all of the others, inspiring motivational. A little bit of a relief to know that even someone is experienced as Christina still has some of these doubts and, and has dealt with some really tough things that she's had to overcome. And just all the practical stuff. She's gonna dive into what she's actually had to do to get to where she is now.
[00:04:05] So I will hand you over to... well, us in just a second, but while I've got your attention, I wanted to make sure that you knew about my recently -well, depending on when you're listening to this- released free course called Simply Magnetic, an Audio course, although it can be consumed in written form as well, that breaks down the five big pillars of building a personal brand and the ways we overcomplicate them.
[00:04:37] More importantly, walking you through the process of starting to uncomplicate them so that you really just lighten the load and make space for more magnetism and get clearer on what it is you're trying to achieve, how you wanna be showing up in the world, and how you wanna feel while you are doing it.
[00:04:57] So if you haven't already enrolled for free... did you hear that part, "for free"? Then you can head to simplymagnetic.co and I will also make sure the link is in the show notes. So grab yourself a, I was gonna say a seat. It's not really a seat, isn't it? It's a digital thing. But anyway, grab yourself an enrollment and make sure you don't forget to come back here and listen to this juicy conversation, cuz I am sure you're going to get a ton out of it.
[00:05:26] Well, hello Christina. Welcome.
[00:05:29] Christina: Hello. Thank you for having me!
[00:05:33] Kat: Oh my gosh, my pleasure. This has been such a long time coming, but everything happens just as it needs to, I feel. So I'm glad we're talking when we are because, spoiler alert here, but I feel like in particular this last 12 months and even the last few months of your journey have really revealed all of the payoff of the way that you've been approaching your business of late. I'm excited to hear all of the things.
[00:05:58] So, speaking of, can you give us a little snapshot of what you do today? What your, business looks like, and a little bit of a backstory of where did you start as an entrepreneur and what got you here?
[00:06:09] Christina: So I am a personal branding photographer and a visual brand mentor. So that's what I do today. Where I started was, I started my business in 2007, so many moons ago. And this August, it's been like nine and a half years that it's been full-time for me, which is awesome.
[00:06:31] So I started out probably doing whatever I could as a photographer. I took whatever gig. It's oh, you take pictures of families. Sure. Babies, sure. But mainly I focused on weddings and then, I slowly started getting into branding after I quit my job, just cuz people were like, oh, I need head shots.
[00:06:50] And I was like, oh I can do that. And then it was like, oh, but I need more than head shots. So then that turned into branding photography, which I didn't even know was a thing. And this was pre it being I don't know if I would say trendy, but a lot of people are doing branding photographer now.
[00:07:06] And I know why so many people are pulled towards it. So yeah, so that kind of, I was like, oh, branding photography is actually a thing. And so I started doing a little bit more of that. Still wanted to really build my, the wedding side of my business, but it never really took off.
[00:07:23] Also, I could tell so many stories about what not to do when you quit your job. I thought... I'll just build a pretty website and then that's cool. That's not actually how that works. So anyway, I could write, I, yeah, I could write a whole book you know?
[00:07:39] Right. So, yeah. And then when you and I started working together - around 2020 is when we met. Obviously we know what happened that year and I couldn't do weddings anymore. I couldn't work for a good few months. I couldn't work in person with people. Maybe it was only a month, but still no weddings.
[00:08:01] And I, even prior to the pandemic hitting, I had found that my passion for weddings was dwindling. And just really long days, like I love photographing couples, but really long days, weekends. And one-off clients, like they weren't repeat clients. I decided to not do family photography anymore because I just wasn't really excited about it.
[00:08:22] I don't wanna deal with children not smiling at the camera, because that's a very unnatural thing for them to do. So, I know lots of great family photographers and that's so awesome, but I just wasn't passionate about it. So prior to the pandemic hitting, felt my passion dwindling. And I was like maybe one year, you know, I was telling someone at the time, maybe one year I won't do weddings anymore.
[00:08:43] Well, hello universe, right? Let's not do weddings anymore... now. So that slowly phased out. Since the pandemic hit, I hadn't booked any weddings. I did do weddings up until 2022, just a couple a year because they were weddings, post pandemic had been booked in like 2019 kind of thing. So, yeah.
[00:09:05] Now I just focus on the branding side of things. I could go on. Do you want me to go on?
[00:09:11] Kat: Well, yeah, I'll have some follow up questions for you. So, okay. Let's start with, I think so many people have been forced to pivot in some way since the pandemic and even beyond, like obviously there is so much else that has spun off because of the pandemic, just the world changing and people's expectations and all of that.
[00:09:33] So I think it's a good thing for us to unpack. What was that experience like? Suddenly having the decision taken out of your hands and having that, oh my gosh. Okay. The way that I make money is not possible right now. Walk us through that experience.
[00:09:47] Christina: Yeah. I came out of it pretty unscathed, I like to say, but some people remind me of what it was like in that moment. Everybody I'm sure experienced. Okay. It was stressful. Yes. My business kind of shut down and I knew that getting a job wasn't an answer for me. I had been an entrepreneur for so many years at that point, I was still gonna do what I was doing.
[00:10:09] We didn't know how long it was gonna last, so I pivoted my ass off and I really, I, I... dreamed up courses. So I did a brand, like a boss with your phone course. So I taught people how to take pictures and edit pictures from their phone because at the time that was very timely, right? That's what people needed to do.
[00:10:29] Like you couldn't really do photo shoots. And then after that, it was an online course. It was like a six month program that I did all about, you know, random business stuff and visual branding that I just kind of threw together. Super helpful, but. Just, you know, a bunch of stuff. I think I did a workshop as well, so I did a bunch of online stuff really related to visual branding.
[00:10:56] And I was lucky enough that because I work one-on-one with clients, typically it's just me and my client. I was able to start doing branding photo shoots again, pretty quick after the pandemic hit. Obviously with like extra precautions and stuff like that, but, so I was able to start doing that sort of photography again.
[00:11:16] But yeah I pivoted hard to doing more visual branding and just on the personal branding, photography side of things.
[00:11:23] Kat: yeah, 2020 was the year of, okay, let's just cope. Like it's reactivity but in a healthy way. Cuz it's that forced creativity where you're like, okay, I'm just gonna have to figure things out. And it's amazing what can spring from that, but obviously you don't wanna stay in that mode all the time because it can get exhausting and chaotic and there's not really much routine or stability.
[00:11:44] So now that you're on the other side of this and you've had a couple of years to have things settled down. Where has your business shifted? What is it, what looks different compared to pre pandemic? And yeah, what you are proud of as, as far as how much you and your business has evolved in the last few years.
[00:12:02] Christina: Yeah, I would say so. One thing I stopped doing, so like one of my pivots during the pandemic was launching a program and I did what I think is referred to as a live launch. So there was like a date that you had to sign up by and it was like all the lead up towards it and all that kind of stuff. And my plan was to do that like a few times a year or something.
[00:12:24] At one point I had my whole year mapped out on my wall. It was probably for 20, 21, right? And I was like, this is what I'm gonna do. Every, you know, this often I'm gonna do this. And I scratch that very quickly off the list because live launching with those deadlines doesn't work for. So the last time I did a quote unquote launch, I called it a non launch.
[00:12:49] So for me, yeah, live launches are just anxiety inducing. What if you don't get enough people? I put all this work into it oh, that's, you know, means I'm a failure. And just too much pressure. So I was just like, nope. So I stopped doing that. I started working with you, which was excellent and I feel like what was really great was one of the, one of the things I remember you saying, which really stuck out to me was this program that I had done.
[00:13:18] I think it was just brand like a boss. This is when I was calling everything brown like boss, which I love. But this six month program, I was kind of trying to be cover everything. and cover little bits of everything and stuff that stuff that I knew about, but I would also bring in experts.
[00:13:35] And I remember you saying it's hard trying to be like not everything to someone, right? Trying to present all of this information without it being Yes, exactly. And so the program that I created is very much more niched very focused on the things that I love and yeah, just way more specific and clear.
[00:14:00] And so that I built, I don't remember when 2021. It must have been. And I did a non launch. And so it's a one-on-one program that I created and people can join at any time. So I might promote it throughout the year at certain times, be really intentional about talking about it. But anyone can join at.
[00:14:24] anytime. So that's definitely one of the things that I did was just no more live launching. That's just, no, thank you. So it doesn't work for me. I know some people love it, but I'm just like, I can't. And so that kind of feels a bit more at ease, right? I feel like live launches feel more like anxious and just having, you know, non launch launches , which is my term, that just feels more like at ease.
[00:14:53] So there's that. And then, other things that I've done, I'm pretty sure this answers your question, but one of the things I've been embracing lately is lazy marketing. And Kat, I know I say this to you all the time, I'm like, this is my hashtag lazy marketing. So my version of lazy marketing involves not live launching and also, really putting in the work so that I don't have the live launch.
[00:15:19] So it doesn't mean I get to be lazy all the time, even though sometimes it feels like it. But it means I put all this pre-work in to attract people that want to work with me and then I don't have to sit there and convince them that they need to work with me, if that makes sense.
[00:15:39] So one of the things I did working with you, as you know, is I created two very specific lead magnet with, really nice -with Kat's help, of course , this is not my forte- but with really great email sequences. So I have those really specific niche lead magnets and also landing pages that have all the details on it.
[00:16:03] And I feel like I'm such a details person. I like to know all of the things before I sign up for something. So I feel like because I have created, and I know that's not the way everybody does things, but that's how I like it. I'll ask you all the questions, I wanna know all the things so that I can think it over and then make a really informed decision.
[00:16:23] So, yeah, so all these landing pages that have all this information, like including the investment and everything involved so that by the time people inquire with me and get on the phone with me, they're pretty much sold already. Like they know they're gonna work with me. They just need to figure out which package works best for them.
[00:16:41] Kat: I love that. It's so good because I think it's related to the, to you having that sort of broad offer before that, yes, it was a bit of a catchall and yes, full of juicy goodness. But one of the things I think that you were finding, which is common for everyone who's trying to be all things to all people is positioning yourself to appeal to the right person.
[00:17:03] Like to actually attract that very specific person that you know you're best suited to help. And the broader the program, the more difficult it is for those people to self-select and then, you know, come and choose to work with you. But then the other thing that we were talking about is also trying to stand out from a sea of competition because there is competition.
[00:17:23] When you are trying to have that broad approach to teaching something, it's really difficult to say, oh, well here is why my version is so different to the 25,000 other generic, well, broad, I should say not generic, but programs out there... you don't come across as that expert.
[00:17:42] And when we started doing that work around, hang on, like what are you obsessed with? What do you really love talking about all the time? Where do you know that you actually have a point of difference? You actually have more knowledge and expertise than just every other, general branding person out there. And then that's when we started to find this niche.
[00:18:02] But... even then there is this challenge where, and I'm bringing this up because I think it happens to a lot of people. Once you've been in business for a while and you've got let's say you've, you have been a successful service provider, whether it's with photography or copywriting or something, and then you start to get to this point of being ready to evolve and introduce something new to your offering if it is going from being a service provider to a coach or consultant, or if you are shifting your niche in some way...
[00:18:31] it can be easy to assume, well, I'm already successful, I'm already an expert. Like I've got this audience... Why wouldn't they just come and get this new thing from me? But if it's in a different niche or it is showing off a different kind of expertise from you. It's a new niche, either way.
[00:18:45] And there is work to be done in establishing yourself in this new niche and also having to come to terms with the fact that a lot of the people who are following you right now, they may not be interested in this new thing if they've been attached to the other version of what you do. And so there's gonna also be work to attract new people into your audience.
[00:19:05] Anything you wanna add on that and I guess the mindset piece of knowing that while you're not starting from scratch, there is work to be done to build something new again, which can be a little frustrating at times.
[00:19:18] Christina: Yeah, for sure it can be. It's what, why aren't people flooding to me for this ? Right? I didn't think, I didn't have the expectation of people to be flooding to me for this. So the newer thing that I'm doing is visual branding, mentorship, and so people really do still see me as just a photographer, which is fine.
[00:19:40] So yeah, I feel like even though it's been a couple years of me offering this mentorship, I, it's still really new I would say. And I'm still teaching people that I do this and I bet a lot of people still don't know, like older followers or something. Probably still don't know that I really do it. You know, it's probably, cuz I don't talk about it enough, but there are little things that you can do, right?
[00:20:04] And it is scary. Yeah. I remember building the program and messaging you and being like who am I to do this? Like why would anybody come to me for this? Because I'm doing something so specific, I'm not a graphic designer. You know, my program we don't build your visual brand from scratch.
[00:20:22] We, we make tweaks to your current brand and then you know, so it's not a done for you, but it's done with you. But it is very specific and I guess not shockingly, maybe a little surprisingly, pleasantly surprised, like all of the people that have worked with me in this mentorship capacity have been dream clients.
[00:20:45] Have been the perfect fit, I would say. Because the way, you know, the landing page that Kat helped me write- that so perfectly says this is for you. If, it literally says that, but this is for you if, and this is not for you. So... I feel like I went off topic, but... new niches, yes, definitely scary.
[00:21:06] Kat: this is perfect though because I think we can block ourselves so quickly when we are thinking about building something new because we look at all the other solutions that already exist, and we're immediately comparing ourselves to those things that are not necessarily the same as what we're going to be doing.
[00:21:23] For instance, you going well, but. There's graphic designers out there and instead what you have actually proven what you are going to be proving to everyone listening is like you did the work to first figure out what is it that you have to offer. And then if we go back in time, I remember being very, I was probably a bit mean.
[00:21:44] I was very tough. Like we stayed in the research and strategy zone for a while with this offer to get it so specific that we figured out, okay, so you've got all this stuff to help people, but it's only gonna help someone specific, like in a very specific scenario. Who are they?
[00:22:04] how much money do they have to spend? Where in the journey of their own business development, are they like, what are their struggles? What else are they considering? And yeah, that part is a little bit painful and I think it's where most of us skip cuz it's just a bit tedious at times.
[00:22:20] But look at what has happened. What you are saying is you did that work. You now get to offer something where people pay you good money to do something that you love. And those clients that are finding you a perfect fit clients. So it's aha! There we go. There's the formula.
[00:22:34] Christina: Yeah, for sure. No, I know. And I knew that working with you and creating this new program, like I would do it the right way, which is always a thing for me. But it was, and I was like, okay, I wanna do like a six month mentorship program, or just something like long and blah, blah, blah. And you were like, okay... back up.
[00:22:55] Like what are you actually offering and how long does it actually need to be? So yes. Was that very frustrating to do that tedious work and really map it out? Yes. Do I want to skip it? Of course. But it turned out that I didn't need a six month thing. I don't know what I would've done for six months with this sort of offering... it's actually like six weeks.
[00:23:18] But that was good. And I do feel like that really helped to form it rather than being like, oh, I need to fill six months. It was, no, I know that this is going to be six week program and it's just, you know, a condensed version and... then it attracts the right people. So yes, it does pay to do things the proper way, even though it is very annoying and frustrating.
[00:23:42] Kat knows I am a bit impatient and I have these ideas and I wanna do them, and I have lots of ideas. But you wanna do them properly.
[00:23:52] Kat: And I come on, who of us isn't impatient? Like seriously, I am, I am terrible. I have never been patient in my life, but the reason I got to this point where I insist on other people's patience is I also know the cost of the impatience in my own business as someone who's created at least 20 courses, thousands of hours of content, all of which I've gone back and redone two, three times because I didn't do it the right way the first time.
[00:24:20] And it's not to say that you get it perfect the first time. That's not what this is about. Like you and I talked about this, there's refinement, like you get those first couple of clients in, you get feedback, you're able to get some more social proof. You can refine the messaging, all of that.
[00:24:33] But the doing it right is it's creating from the inside out I call it. Of okay, hang on. What are we actually trying to achieve here? What do I have to offer? And then let's build it based on that as opposed to let's pick an arbitrary amount of time, an arbitrary amount that I wanna charge.
[00:24:48] Which is what we're all taught to do though, because, well also because we doubt ourselves and we're like, well, okay, doing a six month thing. That seems to work well, maybe I should just do that cuz that's safer than trying to make it up as I go along. So it makes sense why we would approach it this way.
[00:25:02] I just have wasted too many years of my life doing it that way. So now I'm like, okay, I'm gonna slow everybody else down so they don't have to do a Kat!
[00:25:10] Christina: Yeah. Learning from other people's mistakes is just also a really good thing to do in business. People are like I would advise you against this. Also, just to speak on like taking the time to do things properly and get that, information that you need sort of lay that foundation.
[00:25:25] I also make my clients do that and I'm like, okay, I know this is the annoying part, but even before a photo shoot, I'm like, okay, what's your vibe? What are we trying to attract? We don't spend a long time on that, but we do spend some time on it. So I'm just like, if I make my clients do this, you know, why am I not doing this when creating a program?
[00:25:45] Because, or else, yeah, they're just like, oh, I just need some pictures. And you're like, okay. And a year later they were like, yeah, those don't match my vision at all. Like I have changed things. That wasn't me. I was trying to look like somebody else or who I thought I was supposed to look like, and now I need to reinvest in photos a short time later.
[00:26:02] which happens, you're allowed to evolve and whatnot, but it's frustrating when it's a lot of time and money to... yeah go back and fix things.
[00:26:11] Kat: Absolutely. I wanna circle back , to the lazy marketing piece and let's break this down a little bit cause I'm sure people are gonna be intrigued to know what does this really look like? And so I would say that this is another example of sort of the inside out creation process, because what you've essentially done over the years of entrepreneurship is you've gotten really clear on how you feel good marketing yourself, what platforms you're good being on, how much content you're okay to produce.
[00:26:38] And that's that you're not letting yourself any longer potentially. I'm not sure what it was like way back in the early days, but be influenced by, oh, you have to be on these platforms, you have to do this, you have to do that. You found your way now, but what does that really look like?
[00:26:54] How have you, landed on this sweet spot? What do you actually do? Like what is your strategy, your lazy marketing strategy? I'm sure people are gonna be interested in the process,
[00:27:04] Christina: Okay. Well, I wanna say I just do whatever I want, which is kinda true, but also not. Keep in mind I have a service-based business and most of it has been location based. So I've had my business and when I first learned about seo, it's been multiple years. So I know that some people are like, oh, overnight success story.
[00:27:26] I can just do whatever I want and I can do lazy marketing like Christina in the first second, right? I wouldn't say that, I would say I put in a lot of work to be able to do lazy marketing. So yeah, so what that looks like to me is, like I mentioned, like having things in place, good landing pages, decent SEO really good lead magnets with nurturing email sequences. And I have a medium small... actually really small email list.
[00:27:54] So I found that ever since I found this one platform, I've been pretty decent about sending out a newsletter, email, whatever you wanna call it, once a week. So I typically do that, but I repurpose the crap out of old things. I like change the gif in it and then whatever, like that's . I like do a little tweaks, but I definitely repurpose a lot of the same emails. So that I do consistently.
[00:28:21] And then social media is a tough one. I am on it a lot. Some of the times... like I'll just be on like a posting streak and then sometimes, I'm really not. I just don't feel it sometimes. So it's pretty inconsistent. Any social media managers are probably like, what so many missed opportunities but it's so easy to get caught up in, " I have to post five times a week and I have to only be doing reels" and oh, now they aren't actually pushing reels, which whatever isn't actually, reels aren't going away.
[00:28:54] But you know, like now they're promoting more static posts. So it's really easy to get caught up in oh, and I don't which hashtags. I had a friend who's also a business owner message me the other day. She's like, when do you find that it's the best time for you to post Instagram?
[00:29:09] And I'm like... I'll post whatever I want . And I know that there are like tips and stuff. Like I typically in the morning or in the evening is like a sweet spot, but sometimes I just post... I'm like, oh, I'm so excited. I just created this reel. I'm just gonna post it now. So again, social media managers are cringing for sure.
[00:29:28] but yeah, like which hashtags should you use? Are hashtags even relevant? She, I just don't get a lot of engagement. And I was like, you know what? Don't even concentrate on the engagement because people will still be watching. I'm like, I pose to show my work, to show that I'm still alive and still in business... not like I disappear a lot, but. You know, that I'm still just in business.
[00:29:49] And then they see that. And then even just seeing you show up, they might not like or comment all the time, but that still just keeps you top of mind and still just shows you're an expert, shows your work and just more proof that's out there.
[00:30:05] I've had people say like, oh, I saw you on Instagram. I don't even know if they liked any of my posts. Like maybe... but they just saw that in conjunction with my website in branding and all of that. So that's one of the ways that I do lazy marketing.
[00:30:19] And I also feel like this really, I don't know if this is where you wanted this to go, but this bleeds into how I do my business now and how... Kat and I, we've talked through this a lot, but taking a break when you need it and not pushing through. It's kind of related to listening to all the rules about posting.
[00:30:37] Yeah, they say you should put out like a newsletter email once a week. And I have mostly been able to keep up with that, but I'm like, even if it's once a month, that's great. Do what works for you or else you're just pushing yourself to produce content or whatever, that you just don't like, cuz you feel like you have to do it.
[00:30:57] Kat: Oh my gosh. Preach! And speaking of the social media strategists and everything... here's the thing. Yes, there is going to be an optimal way to post, and every single person probably has all these opportunities to get more reach and to whatever they wanna do on social media. It's also gonna involve more work.
[00:31:18] But first thing to figure out, again, inside out: what do I actually need to achieve as a result of the social media? And you're proof that okay, you've not got all your eggs in one basket. You've got SEO, which is working for you, you've got repeat clients, you've got referrals... you have got other ways that you are getting visibility.
[00:31:36] And you, you've had some speaking gigs going on. That's also been happening in the last couple of years. But the fact is, yes, you could do more, but it's gonna cost you more and do you need to do more on social media right now? Or are you in in a place that you are happy with?
[00:31:52] And that's what it's all gonna come down to. So having someone say, oh, you have to do this. If they are telling you what to do without knowing your goals, without knowing your capacity, and without knowing where your business is currently at. Question the validity of their advice. Because it's like, what is that based on?
[00:32:09] Oh, Instagram best practices. Yeah, great. If we followed everything that Instagram told us to do, all we would do is be creating on Instagram.
[00:32:18] How are you gonna have any clients if you're too busy on Instagram to look after them?
[00:32:22] Christina: Yeah. I don't know how people do it. I don't like, and I see people who are on Instagram a lot, but that's probably where most of their business is from. Or they have a totally different business model. Yeah. Like you have to look at their business models, right? Like maybe they do group courses, and they only do that once a week.
[00:32:40] And then they have all these evergreen things that... the, who knows what they do. And so then they can show up on social a lot. I do a lot still one-on-one with people. I do shoots and I do editing, and I'm just like, I'm tapped out and I just wanna sit a couch with my dog.
[00:32:54] Kat: Yeah. I wanna talk about how this is all paying off for you, cuz I know that you've been experiencing some wonderful growth. But first I just wanted to ask because I feel like right now you're talking from this place of you're so good with where you're at, like you are unapologetic about your approach.
[00:33:09] But I know you're only human and I know we all have wobbles and times where we are questioning ourselves and judging ourselves for how we're approaching our business. Have you had any mental blocks or things that you've had to overcome to get to this place of being really good about your sort of lazy marketing and just how you're approaching things today?
[00:33:29] Christina: Yeah. I, yes. Oh my goodness. Okay. So many things. I know I sound like I'm all like, Ugh, I'm so successful. I do this and it's super easy, and it's not. ...I don't know why that voice came out. But it's, it wasn't, it hasn't been. I feel like I am a late bloomer, to be honest. I feel like it's taken me so many years and I don't wanna be like, "oh, you have to work really hard".
[00:33:59] Of course I took a man's voice doing that. "Oh, you have to work really hard in order to make money". Gonna go on a little bit of a rant about that because I do feel it's kind of like flipping the middle finger the way I do things and helping other women do these things in business. Like flipping the middle finger to the patriarchy and you have to work Monday through Friday, you have to work eight hours a day.
[00:34:20] Like sometimes I definitely have weird guilt and thought of... " I worked for an hour today". And that's okay, but that's still hard. And you know, like my worth is tied up in my productivity. Those thoughts still most definitely come up and it's just, it's so not true. I know women who don't work that many hours and are killing it in business.
[00:34:44] And just so much about the freedom and you yeah, you don't have to do things a certain way and everybody has different hours. So also, keep this in mind, you know, people who are listening. I don't have children or a husband, so I also have different amounts of time. Just wanted to throw that out there because I know we all do not actually have the same 24 hours in a day.
[00:35:05] I know that I do have a bit of time freedom. But yeah, so anyway, just doing things the way you wanna do things.
[00:35:13] Kat: yeah, I think we often feel like the, this mindset, this new way of seeing things, it's like then everything clicks into place and suddenly you don't have any self doubt ever again.
[00:35:24] Christina: Oh no. Just go and do something new. Just become an entrepreneur every day. Like even after photo shoot sometimes . Like, probably after every photo shoot, I'm like I could have done better, even though it's lovely. Their photos are great. I always overdeliver and my clients are happy.
[00:35:40] I'm always like it could have been better. Oh, I should have tried this. I'm just no, it's okay. I mean, It's good to wanna keep, you know, being better. But also remember that it's okay. You're, you are actually doing way better than you think. But yeah, I mean, I also wanna touch on like struggles and being a late bloomer of, I don't know why I keep using that term, but I feel like it took me forever.
[00:36:01] Like I would see wedding photographers who booked out easily, 25 weddings, 30 weddings, 40 weddings, who knows every year. And I never did that. And so that was a struggle for years. I'm like, I don't understand. Like I would get 10 ish weddings a year. So I mean, that was, that sucked, right?
[00:36:21] And that also meant that my income was so seasonal. So in the summer I would be killing it. And then in the winter it was ooh, like bad, , like not great, barely any income. So that was super inconsistent. I ran out of money at one point. I ran out of money.
[00:36:42] I fortunately had RSPs, but it felt very crappy to have to pull money from that. And this was only, I don't know, like four or. I think it was five years ago now, so a while now, but still many years into business. So I ran outta money.
[00:37:00] I had to pull RSPs but I I made it through , so that's nice. But there have been so many struggles along the way, and yeah, I only feel like in the past, probably few years, like 2019 ish, that I felt like decent or that I'd actually consider myself to be like gasp, like successful in business.
[00:37:24] I think it's so many different things, right? And I think it's also believing that it's possible and seeing that it's possible. So I thought about this the other day and... you know, I watch other women show up and they're like, yeah I'm suc-- okay. Maybe they don't use the exact words, but they're like, oh, I'm successful or I've done this.
[00:37:41] And just showing up and showing that you can do it will actually have a huge impact on other people being like, oh yeah, I can do that too. So there's that as well. And just looking at the evidence as well. So that month that I ran outta money, it was an incredibly crappy period in my life.
[00:38:00] It was a horrible month. There was many other things going on. I felt like I didn't work at all. And cuz I was, yeah, also very depressed. Like in my bed. I remember doing like taxes in my bed cuz that's I couldn't really go to bed . Anyway, it was horrible. I had great support. I'm okay.
[00:38:19] But I brought in 10 grand that month. And I know the saying like, the universe has your back. and like that, like I still get a little like goosebumps thinking about it. That for me is I need that proof, right? I need to see it to really believe it. So it's like, look at the evidence. And I'm like, okay. So now I'm like, yeah, I've ran outta money before, so I can get through anything!
[00:38:43] So yeah, even though right now I'm like, haha, lazy marketing, do whatever I want. It was also years of being like, I have to work really hard. I have to work all the time. And that's all I did. And I feel like, circling. Back to the pandemic and being forced more or less to work from home -plus me getting a very cute dog- really shifted things and how I do things and how much work I'll take.
[00:39:09] Kat: Oh my gosh, so many. Good. No, not random at all. There was, there are so many things in there that I'm sure will resonate. And as someone who has also been through being so far into the journey and then running out of money and being like, what have you done? How are we here? How have we done all of this just to end up back here again?
[00:39:30] It is, it's tough. And I think like what you're saying, evidence, I think what we need is to see people who are, yes, doing well and to understand that they also went through this stuff and that having these temporary rock bottom moments does not define your future success. Like you, you can recover from these things. And it is part of the journey.
[00:39:54] And it's like this, just getting up each day and doing your best is actually all we've got. There is no secret, like there is no magic pill, there is no shortcut. It's just wake up. Yep. Do the thing. And you are just a beautiful evidence of this because like you, because you have had this kind of a journey, I feel like it's just so much.
[00:40:16] It's inspiring because it's also realistic as opposed to that person who's " oh, I came up with this idea and like I was booked out and I had to quit my job within three months because like I had a wait list and then I had a multiple six figure launch". And that is just not and yes, that can happen, but what that doesn't get you is the becoming that person who's going to be able to sustain that.
[00:40:41] Like to be become that person who knows that they can get through anything. And like you said, you can now look back and look at all the things, all of those horrible things I think we could all look back and go, well, I survived that client who was abusive. That person who didn't pay... that time I couldn't pay the thing. The time I made a fool of myself And you go, well, I'm still standing, which means I could do anything!
[00:41:05] Christina: Yeah. I know and you know this as well, but I will share just like sharing the dumpster fires that have been in my business. I came out of it really well, but yeah, in 2019 I hit a milestone goal, like income goal, but I crashed and burned hard. I burnt out at the end of that year.
[00:41:26] It was I don't wanna say it wasn't worth it, but it sucked. I pretty much had to like, take a couple months off. My mental health suffered. I wasn't sleeping. It was bad. All to reach this goal. And I mean like, yay me for reaching that goal, but also at what cost, right?
[00:41:44] At what cost. And so now learning the boundaries, how much work I wanna do per week, and actually saying, no, I'm not available, which is sometimes hard. And not taking just every little job that comes my way because, you know, just like feeling desperate. And so, yeah, 2019 reached that milestone.
[00:42:04] Crashed, burnt out very hard. And then last year, just to spin it in some positivity, I made 30% more than that without burning out. And I swear I worked less. It definitely felt like I worked less. And maintained that like good, steady sort of rhythm of business. Sometimes busier, sometimes not... but not burning out.
[00:42:28] There was a point last summer where I had a couple big shoots in one week and then I learned very quickly that I can't do that because I could just feel that like little hint of burnout and mental health decline happening. And I was like, oh, okay. Lesson: do not book those two big shoots on one week.
[00:42:45] So yes, that took a little bit to learn, but that's also a fun story.
[00:42:51] Kat: Yes, so good. And the best lessons if they take a while to learn, at least we end up learning it. So many people never do. That's the thing that we forget so many people just keep running their business until they do just completely burn out and then go quit and go back to a day job, which doesn't actually solve the real problem.
[00:43:10] Cuz we know that the reason we burn out is to do with so many other things. It's not because we're running a business. It's it's how we're running our business. So, no, I love this so much and I was kind of going here anyway to wrap up, that piece of, I guess the success that has paralleled the personal growth that you have had.
[00:43:29] So, when you think about setting goals for the year ahead, what does that feel like compared to before where there was a bit more like crossing your fingers and going, okay is this even possible?
[00:43:40] Christina: Yeah, I would say so... People who know me know I love setting goals. I once had someone say to me that I am a goal crusher. And I find that it's a combination of being realistic but also positive about it, right? I mean, I know you didn't exactly ask me about goals, but setting goals that are like, okay, this would be nice and this would be achievable, but you also map it out.
[00:44:05] So I really started paying more attention to my numbers, which I actually think helped me in this success, which is like a whole different podcast topic.
[00:44:14] Kat: Part two!
[00:44:15] Christina: Right?! So I'll have like good, better, best goals or a two-tier goal at least being like, "Ooh, this would be nice and this is super, super doable, but then be open to earning more. So now I feel like when I set goals, I mean for the last few years, I've hit this one certain level and so I know that it's gonna be easy for me to hit that again.
[00:44:39] I don't know why, for some reason, I don't know if it's like something that's ingrained in me. It feels like " oh, I know I can get that". But it's also evidence, right?
[00:44:48] Kat: it.
[00:44:48] It's evidence-based. You've proven it to yourself. And so it's like you stopped questioning whether it's possible. It's well, I've done it once. Why wouldn't I do it again if I just keep doing what I'm doing? We can still question it, like obviously it's cuz you've done enough of the inner work to not question that at least.
[00:45:04] Christina: Yeah. And so I guess I feel positive about setting goals and being like, yeah, this is super doable. And then again, but also realistic, like . You know, keep yourself grounded a little bit. But I do know I messaged Kat the other day and I was like, oh, I hit this amount in like gross income again, for the second month!.
[00:45:27] Statistically, like usually my winter months are quite slow, but that has not been the case this year. Like I feel shocked by it, but I told Kat I was like, I guess I should just start not expecting this, but kind of anticipating it or just stop being so shocked by reaching this amount.
[00:45:46] Like, I was like, okay, so, alright. And it doesn't mean every month is going to be some like skyrocket number and just like craziness. I know that there's still gonna be little ebbs and flows and stuff with the income that I bring in, but it's much... it's much more level, there's less dips in income.
[00:46:06] Like I think one year I brought in I don't know, over 10 grand in a month and then the next month it was like one or two grand. So I don't have that huge discrepancy, you know, just difference in income I'm bringing in. So,
[00:46:19] Kat: Nice Cuz I mean ultimately, this is the goal, right? Yes, we love the excitement and the variety and all of that entrepreneurship brings, but. The kind of excitement and variety we want does not involve one month earning a lot of money and then the next month not earning a lot of money. That is just anxiety inducing.
[00:46:37] So what you are doing right now... that stability in cash flow is what running a business is actually about. Because everyone's out there talking about these milestones they hit, but not necessarily talking about what they're bringing in month upon month and what they're actually taking in versus you know, what they're having to spend to achieve that.
[00:46:55] So this is what we're actually meant to be aiming for. And you're doing it and you're doing it without the burnout, without doing things in a way that you don't enjoy. Like it's amazing. Which brings me to, so this is something I'm interested to know. I don't know, maybe no one else is, but once they hear it, maybe they'll get on board with, So.
[00:47:17] So I feel like... at the very beginning of a journey it's always obvious that it's oh, of course you'd wanna like work with a coach or sign up for all the courses and do all the things. But we started working together, a decent way into your journey. Like you already had established so many things, like you had a great reputation as a photographer.
[00:47:34] I'm like, I did none of that. I played no part in it. You were on track doing well. So what I would love to know is with where you were at then what was it that you were looking for in a coaching relationship?
[00:47:48] Where were you seeing opportunities that, me in particular, obviously, but like a coach in general was going to be able to help you with where you were at that time. And has it been that way, did you get what you're expecting, were there things that you didn't expect? I'm just gonna stop now. You can hand it up to you.
[00:48:03] Christina: Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, when I decided to work with you specifically, I knew that... oh, there, there's just so many things and I will say before I start talking about Kat a little bit... I'm gonna become the interviewer. Yeah, working with somebody who's further ahead in business than you or working with somebody who has strengths where you are weak is very helpful in business.
[00:48:34] So when I started working with you in particular, I knew that your strengths were in things well, like marketing for one thing. And I know that you do stuff with mindset and you do it very subtly, by the way, cuz that's not why I came to see you. We know that I just try and avoid it.
[00:48:54] Kat: I just sneak it in because I knew you'd never ask, but I'm like if I see an opportunity like.
[00:48:59] Christina: Yeah, exactly. So she does it in a sneaky way for people who are like, oh, I don't want that. And so, and copywriting, so I know that you don't offer that as a service anymore, but you have that expertise and that's where I felt like I really struggled a lot and just to have that sort of game plan and direction when it came to like, copywriting and writing an email sequence and just like the marketing pieces and all that kind of stuff.
[00:49:24] So that's what I would say is I definitely knew that you had strength in, in the areas where I didn't, and you had so much more knowledge in the marketing aspect of things. And so that's why I now have not one, but two lead magnets that are very specific, very niche. Again, that nurturing email sequence.
[00:49:45] And I did hire Kat in the middle of a pandemic, like the beginning, scary stages of a pandemic, investing thousands of dollars. was like, why... Some of these things I do, I look back and I'm like, what to say out loud. But to to redo the copywriting on my website was so, so worth it because it just speaks to the people that I need it to.
[00:50:09] Yeah, and coaches are great and and you as well included in this because kind of keep you on track to remind you of how far you come. I'm one of those people who just I just keep going. I'm like, yep, that's good. Check. Okay, we got it done. Let's go on to the next thing. And they're like, okay, but remember how far you've come and you know, you also remind me that it's okay to not push through when you're not feeling like it.
[00:50:32] And listen, you have deadlines with clients and stuff. I reach those it's fine, but with those other things that you think that you have to be doing to be a quote unquote successful business owner. So I do have Kat in my corner and cheering me on as well. Which it's always fun to share super important like milestones and like updates and be like, ah!!
[00:50:52] You know, like when I got the first person who was perfect for my new mentorship program. That was so exciting. And to share with somebody who knows how much work that was and how exciting it is to get an ideal client in a brand new service offering.
[00:51:09] Those of you listening who know, and you're just like, yes. It's so exciting to tell somebody who gets it. Yeah, and I find when you invest in it, like I know when I invest and when I've invested in coaches, it has not been cheap. I'm not gonna lie, it's it's not cheap. But I know that I'll do the work.
[00:51:25] That's the thing is I know that it's more motivation of like, okay, I'm investing in this person. If I'm not doing what they're encouraging me to do or really using and taking advantage of their skillset and expertise and what am I doing with this money.
[00:51:42] Some people don't learn like that, but I know I definitely do. Like that's how I'll get stuff done is like the external factors of okay, you promised a client, this is gonna be done by this date, so you bet it's gonna be done. Yeah.
[00:51:54] Kat: Next level accountability.
[00:51:56] Christina: Yeah.
[00:51:57] Kat: Skin in the game. And I have to say when you send me the celebratory things, it's also my favorite thing, obviously. I'm just like... "eeee!!", and I know too because most people are not gonna get it. it's just a fact because if they haven't done that work to then achieve this specific thing and haven't been on the ground with you, like it's hard. Even if someone really supports you and it's just that, they can't quite see it.
[00:52:20] But what are the other things that I've loved? This is very random, but I'm just throwing this in. Is what started to happen... because we have been working together for a while now. I'd wake up cuz like we're obviously on a different time zone and sometimes I'll wake up to a message from you where there's like a bunch of questions but then you will have answered them yourself.
[00:52:38] And you're like, "I just realized hang on, like what would Kat do or what would Kat say? And then I decided that I would do this..." and I was like, that's exactly what I would've said. Oh yes, it's WORKED. I've seeded your brain.
[00:52:52] Christina: I do now I ask myself, okay, what would Kat do? Because I need to make a decision really quickly. She's in a totally different time, so okay it's the middle of the night for her. Okay. So put on my little like Kat thinking cap and what would Kat do?
[00:53:06] And learning how to trust myself has very, very helped. Like it's very helped. I speak in English, but it has been. Right? It's, that helps. So, yeah. And then when I get that little like approval from Kat, I'm like, yay!
[00:53:21] Kat: The stamp of approval. Yeah. And that's actually, that's a really good point. Because that is that is the big thing. Like everything that we've been talking about and the way that you're approaching things, it can't be done unless you trust yourself. Like it's actually impossible to stay in your own lane.
[00:53:39] And I think it's so funny. I used to, when I was first starting out coaching, like I'd give people the answers or I'd give my opinion straight away. And that's not actually coaching. I didn't realize that at the time. I was like, oh, but I'm being helpful,
[00:53:54] And I've become more and more annoying as time has gone on because I will usually answer a question with about three other questions to help you then get closer to the answer yourself. And I know that's not as satisfying in the moment, but it has led to this. You being able to just be like, oh, I actually don't necessarily need her opinion this time around because I now know how to figure this out for myself.
[00:54:17] And I'm like, okay, if I've made myself redundant, I have officially done a good job. Good night!
[00:54:24] Christina: Yeah, you do ask questions back. And sometimes I do not like it. But it, yes, it does help cause you don't wanna rely on somebody all the time and it's good to feel like confident, but...
[00:54:38] Kat: ... and look, it's not to say that I'm never gonna share my opinion. If I have very strong feelings about something, oh, I'll let you know. But yeah, anyways. Not that I ever go on a rant or anything like that. No.
[00:54:52] Christina: Me neither.
[00:54:53] Kat: Oh, never, never. Speaking of, we will now wrap up and I just want you to let us know what is on the cards for you? What comes next? What are you excited about for this year and beyond?
[00:55:03] Christina: Oh, I'm excited about, well, continuing this journey, smashing more goals. And there's a lot of things that I want to create this year. I might do some new programs a little bit around business and, tracking, seeing how much you actually make per hour and just, essentially helping people, but mostly women in business, have a successful business as well.
[00:55:29] Yeah, and a really cool guide that I'm gonna be creating as well. So, you know, I always have lots of ideas. So, and continuing to do my lazy marketing.
[00:55:37] Kat: Yeehaw!
[00:55:38] Christina: Leaning into that even more.
[00:55:39] Kat: Love it. Love it. And final question. If you could go back and tell past you, so think early stage entrepreneur before you knew all the things that you know today. If you could tell her one thing, what would it be?
[00:55:54] Christina: Yeah. You're gonna make it. Like, honestly, that's what I would like look for signs. Be like... I just I need to see -this is bizarre- I need to see like a yellow jeep. That is the universe's way of telling me that I'm gonna make it. I'm gonna make enough money, I'm gonna make it.
[00:56:12] So that would be the words that I like. You're gonna make it, you're gonna make it through all the shit. You're gonna be bringing in money that you didn't actually know was even possible. Yeah. And what I would say to other people starting out is -what I think is super important- is finding a community or a coach of people that get it.
[00:56:34] Because I know that I wouldn't have gotten through the pandemic, you and I were in the same coaching program. I wouldn't have got through the pandemic as easefully if I didn't have a community of people that get it. And yeah, that might mean investing in a program, but I know that there's free meetups and stuff like that and online and just having a community of people that get it is very helpful.
[00:57:00] Like it's beyond. And then when you can afford to invest in a coach or mentor of some type that is further ahead than you. And, yeah just soak it all in.
[00:57:12] Kat: Perfect note to end on. It's so true. We are not meant to do this alone, and we are like, we are our own worst enemies. If we're left alone too long, oh my goodness. The negative mindset... the self-talk will take over and convince you that you are doomed, that you are destined to fail, but it is not true.
[00:57:31] Like if you are listening to this right now, you have absolutely everything that you need to succeed. It's about finding the support that's going to just make sure you, you stick at it long enough because success is inevitable. If you can set yourself up for the long game.
[00:57:47] Christina: Yep. For sure. I totally agree.
[00:57:49] Kat: Well, thank you so much for this chat. This has been awesome. I'm sure people are going to love all of your insight and just the inspiration. I'm sure you're gonna be like, on people's vision boards of " I can be like Christina!" So if they want to get some real time inspiration from you, where's the best place for them to go find you and follow you?
[00:58:09] Christina: Instagram, so I'm @ChristinaLouiseBranding, that's the easiest place that links to my website and my newsletter and all my freebi es and stuff.
[00:58:20] Kat: Awesome. And I will link it in the show notes so that it's easy for everyone to find. And who knows, might chat to you soon for part two.
[00:58:29] Christina: I know, right? Stay tuned. Stay tuned.
[00:58:31] Kat: Yeah. Bye for now!
[00:58:33] Christina: Thanks!