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A podcast where you join me (Colie) as I chat about what it takes to grow a sustainable + profitable business.
CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
In today’s episode, I chatted with the talented Kristyn Miller, a photographer and coach who believes in the power of deep, connected work.
We first connected through the Family Narrative, got to actually HUG in person in Palm Springs at the Family Reunion, but I also worked with Kristyn last year to really created the systems of her dreams inside Dubsado.
Kristyn opens up about her love for shooting big weddings and the joy she finds in capturing intimate moments. She also shares insights on their unique approach to outsourcing and how it has transformed her business and personal life.
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Kristyn Miller is a lifestyle and documentary wedding photographer based in Connecticut, who documents the magic of real life for families and couples of all kinds. She is also the founder of the Documented Heart, an intimate 12-month group coaching experience for photographers at all stages of their creative journey and host of the Documented Heart podcast of the same name.
Today’s episode is brought to you by my Love Your Leads private audio training! Are you providing an experience for your leads that sets an expectation on when they’ll hear from you, provides them with tools that will help them easily say yes and book you, while also making them feel seen and heard? In my private audio training, you’ll learn how to love your leads and get more booked clients through an automated booking process.
Here are the highlights…
[00:43] Meet Kristyn
[04:09] Finding the Easiest, Reachable Apple
[08:30] There Are No Shortcuts To Build Trust
[11:52] Photography Work Turned Into Coaching
[17:01] Outsourcing In Business
[31:42] Having A Gatekeeper In Your Business
[39:03] Biggest Fuck Up
Connect with Kristyn
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello, hello, and welcome back to the Business First Creatives podcast. Today I am talking with Kristyn Miller. She is one of my clients guys, so at one point I’m sure we’re gonna mention Dubsado, but that is not why she is here. Kristyn, good morning and welcome to my podcast.
Kristyn: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me, Colie. What a delight.
Colie: I mean, Kristyn is, I mean, I’ve worked with people, guys who bring their virtual assistant to the setup calls, but Kristyn is the first photographer that brought a virtual assistant to her setup calls. So, Kristyn, why don’t you tell the listening audience where you’re located and all the facets of your business, because that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.
Kristyn: Oh my goodness. Okay. And you’re right, I, I brought my studio manager to the calls with you because I, that’s, I need help organizing. This is also why I was on the phone with you in the first place. Right. Um, okay. So I am in Fairfield County, Connecticut. It’s about 40 miles north of New York.
Kristyn: Um, I have, I do a lot of things. I mean, at the core of it, I’m a documentary photographer. And I am a creativity and mindfulness coach, but how that plays out in real life with actual revenue and actual business. I photograph weddings, I photograph families. I do a little bit of brand and commercial work. Um, I run a year-long mentorship program for folks doing a daily project, a 365. And then I coach one-on-one clients outside of that. Um, and I have a studio space, which is where I am right now, uh, which occasionally I will rent out to other people to be able to use when I’m not around.
Colie: Yeah, guys. Kristyn does a lot of stuff like, I feel like if I still had like all the facets of my business, I wanna be Kristyn when I grow up. So let’s talk about her core offer because I’m so glad that you worded it in that way, Kristyn, in that you are a documentarian. And it’s funny because I did a solo episode not too re not too long ago, where I was talking about nicheing down. And the one thing that I said was, you know, guys, I have a few commercial clients. I do families, I do homecomings, like I do a lot of stuff. But it’s all related to documentary photography, so I don’t feel like I do a lot of stuff because it’s all related to like this core. I wanna document you just like you are and not have to pose anyone, and I feel like you and I are kindred spirits in this fashion.
Kristyn: Yeah. I feel like it’s something that so many people miss when they’re thinking about doing more than one kind of work, right? This idea of like if you have the core nugget of what you do, And for me, my purpose on the planet is to reflect the joy and delight that is in someone’s, uh, creative life or in someone’s family and wedding life. Right? That is something that I can nuance and do in real life. Actionably in. A hundred different ways. So the details may be different, but the the core nugget of who I am and what I bring to the table for any kind of client is gonna be exactly the same. And I feel like sometimes that’s a step that we skip over because it’s, it’s harder work to do to get really, really clear with yourself about, no, the thing that moves me is X. And then I can do that in all of these different ways.
Kristyn: And the idea of niching. Nicheing nicheing bashing, right? It’s, it’s also, um, we get caught, I think in a lot of the trendiness of the idea of like, I have to niche down because that’s where the revenue is. But the revenue comes from knowing who you are and the kind of work that you love to do, and then being smart about how you do it.
Colie: Yeah, absolutely. And I know that when I was making your forms for your setup, you were the first person that I’d ever done, like multiple genres for that. I was like, okay, but your work is so seamless, like between the family work and the wedding work. Like literally the only thing was people were dressed up in wedding gowns like I felt. The same kind of emotions from both sides of your work, and that’s just not really common. Like I, I don’t think that I had ever come across that, but let’s talk about those different kind of genres. Kristyn, what came first? Oh, you’re so welcome.
Kristyn: Received that. Um, what came first? Uh, well, when I was two, no, I’m kidding. Um, I think, uh, the, in the paid work, what came first was families. Um, when I finally was like, okay, maybe this is the thing I could get paid for, uh, the easiest, like reachable apple was, I have a baby, other people have babies, let’s do this. Um, and then it didn’t take very long before I was like, but wait, there are babies at weddings. Why can’t I photograph weddings? And then it kind of slid from there. And then I think everything else that has. Kind of come into being in my work universe as, as vortex as it is, um, all has kind of unfolded in that sort of natural way.
Kristyn: It’s like, oh, but then there’s this thing that I’m super curious about. And then there’s this other thing that fits in really well with my business model here. Or then there’s this thing that doesn’t really work for me, so I’ll try it and then I’ll, I’ll move on. But families came first and then weddings. And it’s interesting that you, you um, mentioned the idea that my work is really seamless across genres because that is something that in my marketing, I’ve really had to think about. How do I explain to people? Cause for a long time I thought I had to justify it. How do I explain to people that I do weddings and families and I, I treat them with the same level of seriousness and service. And for me it’s because it is the same thing.
Kristyn: It’s just a different kind of day.
Colie: Mm-hmm. So tell me, and I don’t think I’ve ever asked anybody this, but I’m just curious about you. How did you book your first wedding? Like how did you get that particular client? Because that person that went from families to weddings instead of weddings to families, and so I’m just curious.
Kristyn: Um, I, how did I book my first wedding? I used to do CrossFit many years ago, and, uh, there was a, a couple in my CrossFit gym that I’d known for a little while, and they’d known me while I had my baby and my first son. And they decided to get married even though they had kids and we talked about us photographing their kids and the timing had just never worked out. And then they told me they were getting married and I was like, Hey, I could do that. Totally. So I actually went to them and said, I’d really love to photograph your wedding. Um, and shortly after that, another good friend of mine was marrying her college sweetheart. And so I said, Hey, how about I jump on a train and come to DC for a thousand dollars and photograph your wedding over New Year’s Eve? Of course. Um, and then it just kind of goes it, you know, then looking back on that, I’m like, oh, wow, I did that, that thing.
Kristyn: Um, but yeah, it just kind of unfolded from there, right? Like, I saw a thing that I wanted to do and try, and it wasn’t until I knew a little bit more about the wedding industry that I had more moments of like, oh, I don’t know enough, or, oh, I shouldn’t be doing this. I just blindly went in, was like, let’s try it. Why not?
Colie: I mean, I don’t blame you, but also knowing that you knew intimately, like the first two people that you photographed weddings, that also makes total sense. Because I feel like in our genre of work, like we get to know our clients very intimately regardless of like the situation or the scenario in which we are photographing them in. I joke around with people like no, they’re like, do you talk to all of your people on the phone? Uh, yeah. And for the full day in the life clients that I have, no, we have to have video chats. I’m gonna hop in bed with you at 6:00 AM. You have to be comfortable with me doing so standing over you in my PJs, photographing you guys as you kissed for the first time in the morning. Like, um, that’s a different kind of level of intimacy. So I do get to know my clients really well, and I know you probably feel the same way.
Kristyn: It. Uh, totally. I love, uh, I’m just envisioning you in my house at 6:00 AM Uh, I even, I would need coffee for that. Um, I think that the thing about being a documentary leaning photographer is that, um, and I would call myself purely documentary, but you know, everybody’s got different definitions. Um, I think is that you are inviting people to be. Wholly who they are. And that is far more vulnerable than asking people to perform for you. Because of performance, we can switch on and off, but to allow people on a wedding day or with a new mom, you know, a week after her baby’s been delivered or has arrived, um, that is a much more sacred space.
Kristyn: And I, I’m with you. I feel like there, there are no shortcuts around building the levels of trust and. Um, safety that come with asking a client to allow you to photograph them in a documentary way, and all of the workflow ahead of a session helps to set the tone for that. And then that’s kind of carried through even in your first five or 10 minutes with a person, right? So they can see, oh, it really is gonna be like, I’ve kind of been promised all along. You know, that’s a sacred, sacred space for me. I, I really agree.
Colie: And guys, I didn’t pay Kristyn to
Kristyn: No, not at all.
Colie: wanna put that out there. Um, and the funny thing is, when I worked with Kristyn, Kristyn was probably one of the people who came to me with like a really solid set of workflows. She just wasn’t automating anything. And like, she called me a magician, which I mean, I gave her a compliment earlier. She gave me many, many compliments while I was working with her. But basically I took everything in her brain. The things that she knew she wanted and the things that she didn’t know that she wanted. And then I just put it all together and automated it and it was great.
Colie: And she was, I mean, grateful is probably not the word, but like I
Kristyn: I was grateful, definitely.
Colie: I know. But she was just so happy that like finally she had this workflow. That like really indicated like the level in which she wanted to help her clients progress from, you know, the inquiry to the booking, to the delivery and the service and all of that. And so it was, it was really great.
Kristyn: Well, I think that, I feel like this is important to say a no co you do not pay me to say any of this. I feel like, um, you know, one of the downsides of being a quick moving human being who’s also a creative who runs a business, is that there is a lot going on up here. And I think that that is a wonderful gift, but it also is. Prohibitive when we’re running a business because it, I think it keeps us from slowing down enough to put things into place that then ultimately make it easier to do all of the stuff going on up here. And I think that there are a lot of creative humans like myself that are. Um, have the skills to, to hustle their way through creating the basic stuff, because that’s how we build a business is it’s not glittery hustle. It’s just like hard work, make it happen. Hustle.
Kristyn: Right. Um, but the actual. Okay, let me slow down and map this out and then let me do all of the magic things to make that just happen is not something that comes naturally to me. Even though I was a project manager before, I was many other things. So to have someone else come in and say, okay, let me give you a mirror and let me tell you exactly what you’re telling me you need, and then like, okay, it’s done. It’s like that’s magic. I don’t know how you define magic, but that was magic.
Colie: Aw. Thank you Kristyn. So let’s, let’s talk about these, all these different things because of course, one of the things that I hear a lot is that, you know, I have all of these different types of businesses and they all require distant different kinds of like systems and workflows. But how long were you doing the photography side of your business before you kind of expanded into the education space?
Kristyn: I am pausing for my like Friday math. Um, I started my business as a photographer in 2015 and I went full-time at the end of 2018. Um, and I started adding, Like individual coaching, like 20 17, 20 18 is something I did in my former corporate agency life as well. So it was kind of an easy slide in, um, but I didn’t really add it on in like a major way until 2020 when I launched my first group program. And that was the first time where, Taking the high touch experience that a client might have coming into that program. And throughout that program, I kind of realized that there was a bit of a disconnect just because I had a volume of people. I mean, there was 10 or 15 people in that first year that, uh, needed to be served kind of all at the same time with many of the same things, but in a personal way. And that was not something I was, I was prepared for.
Kristyn: I mean, plus it was 2020
Colie: I mean, I was about to
Kristyn: anything in 2020, like,
Colie: I mean, the first thing that I do when one of my guests is like, I did this in 2020. I’m like, okay. Before March or after March. Cuz that’s a very big difference.
Kristyn: Right, right,
Colie: I mean, the funny thing is I also created, not my first group program, but my first group program that was gonna be on my own. Yeah. I opened that in January of 2020. Needless to say, we never got our in-person retreat. We were planning for the in-person retreat in June. And in June, no one was still flying like the, the airports were still largely closed. I moved it to September. And then in August, I realized even though the airports were open, like my attendees did not feel comfortable
Kristyn: Yeah. Oh, the optimism we had
Colie: I mean, they were gonna fly, but then we were all gonna be in the same house coming from different locations. And so I just pivoted and made it virtual. And I have still not even a little bit thought about doing an in-person thing, but I know you’re doing one this year,
Colie: Um, so tell me about that, just cuz I’m curious about, you know, how perhaps putting on an in-person event like this is different and requires different skills than maybe the other sides of your business.
Kristyn: That’s such a good question. So I mean, I think, you know, if you kind of go back to like what is the core of what I, what I do and what I love to do, what I feel called to do, um, it’s like deep connected hard work, right? Like the intimate spaces, the smaller groups, the one-on-ones, um, whether that’s photography or coaching, I think that’s still true. Although I will say I do love to shoot a big wedding. That’s still a lot of fun. Um, and I think, you know, the. Program that I run is really centered around the idea that you can find a sense of confidence and clarity and ease in your own creative work by taking a photo every day and getting comfortable with that no matter what it looks like throughout the course of the year. Because what you’re really doing is attuning yourself to, to who you are as a creative and finding a sense of peace with that, and then being able to celebrate it at the end of the year. And, um, when I started the documented heart, it felt like.
Kristyn: I was looking for something that would create a vehicle to make that happen, not just for myself, but for other people. And so the retreat that we’re putting on this summer feels very much just like a full circle kind of evolution of that. Um, you know, we’ve run these programs. I say we, my program manager, my studio manager, Amy, same person. Um, team effort. We have run these programs now since 2020, and the thing that is maybe one of the most beautiful things is the level of connection that these women have after having spent a year plotting through a daily photography project and all of the highs and lows that life brings along with that in that container. And you know, I ran a day long workshop with our grads from last year. In this studio space, which was a really emotional thing for me because it was the first time I signed the lease for this space on March 9th, 2020.
Kristyn: And then Covid happened, and then I had a baby four weeks later. Um, and I have always dreamed since getting the keys to this space of having people here together to connect with one another. Um, empowering people to feel like they belonged in a creative community. And the retreat is just the next advanced level of that. So, um, You know, there’s considerations obviously, that are logistical. The where, the how, all of those things. How do you price it, how do you market it? Um, and I think that the big thing that we really had to get clear on at, at the get go was how do we want people to feel when they leave? I. And I think that’s actually like a parallel to what we do in all of the other things that you and I both do, right? It’s like, how do you want people to feel when this experience is over for them? And then kind of backtracking into then how do we create an experience that matches the feeling that we want them to have when they walk away? So I’m so excited.
Kristyn: I’m so excited. I’m a little nervous cuz you know, four days, these people are all coming from all over the country. But it’s gonna be really powerful I think.
Colie: I mean, and I could totally go off on a tangent on the systems that it takes to do that, but I’m gonna turn to your team instead because one thing that I’ve started asking everyone is, what do you outsource in your business? But I actually wanna start with a different question with you and then we’ll go there. How long were you in business before you hired a studio manager, or if you had some other kind of team member before that? Like, tell me how you, how your hiring has gone over the span of your business.
Kristyn: Such a good question because it’s really evolved. Um, I have worked with. A v a of some kind, um, since the end of 2020. But I shopped around and I’m not afraid to say that because I think we have this idea that we’re gonna find, we’re gonna outsource to a VA and it’s gonna magically work and I can pretty much work well with most people. So it was never a personality thing, but for me it was about figuring out. What do I really need help with? Not just what is a nice to have thing that I could be doing that someone else could get paid to do for me. Um, so I worked with a couple of different groups that did VA kinds of things, um, through 2020, the end of 20 20, 20 21. And then I realized in, uh, and I’ve worked with outsourcing in terms of editing for a long while.
Kristyn: I’m a big believer in, um, Even in the AI editing, I’ll be honest, right. Getting stuff to a point where you can, that you can then fine tune and not spending the time on the, the bulk of the other kind of more basic stuff. Um, and I do have an editor that I work with who I love on some of my weddings. Um, But I realized in the middle of 2021 time is a blur that I could better articulate what I actually needed in terms of, um, a studio manager or a program manager for T D H in the coaching side of things. And my needs were clear enough that I could write a job description. And once I was able to write a job description and I was ballsy enough and brave enough to actually like announce to people that I was looking for this. This magical unicorn of a human, um, the weird universal synchronicity with which Amy found her way into my universe. She and I have actually known each other for almost 10 years, so it was just like a, oh, ou.
Kristyn: Of course, you, but I had to get really, really clear on. What I actually needed and not just what would be nice to have because doing it that way cost me a good bit of money before Amy started working for me. Um, and probably cost me a, a good bit of time because I was trying to create work to be done that was not necessary at the time for my business. You know what I mean?
Colie: I do know what you mean. And it’s funny, I feel like every time I ask someone this, the reason that I like to ask different guests this question is because I did an episode on my own podcast on hiring my va and like she’s the first one that I hired and she’s great and I keep on thinking of more and more things to give her that really do match her skillset that I need to get off my plate. But I think that one of the reasons that I was so successful in like my first hire was she also worked with Carolyn Fong. And so when I saw Carolyn on her website, shout out to Carolyn. When I saw Carolyn on her website, I’m immediately DMing her. Hey, Carolyn. Like, what do you think of your va? What does she do for you? And the funny thing is I don’t think Sarah does anything for me that she does for Carolyn. Like we have hired her for two completely different types of work.
Colie: But when I found out that Sarah was well versed enough in Dubsado, I mean that’s a difference. Actually. I didn’t have Sarah when I did your setup. So a lot of that in between work that I did with you after we did the strategy, Sarah now does all of that prep work. And so I go in and I am literally just. Doing my magic to like make sure that it all makes sense in the strategy. And so that was a really good hire and I just got really lucky. And so I feel like if I ask other people, they can affirm the fact that, you know, when you make that decision to outsource or to actually directly hire, it might take a few times until you find your unicorn or you figure out exactly what it is that will help you grow your business.
Colie: Because sometimes we think that we need certain tasks done. But then it turns out that it’s like these other things that we’re not considering hiring for because we just don’t know who to hire or what to articulate that we need.
Kristyn: Well, and I think there’s a really big difference that a lot of us have to work to move through between, uh, running your business in the models that we do as photographers and being a boss or being a teammate. And I think, um, You know, I ran really big teams in a corporate and agency environment before I ran my own business, but I still had to learn, still learning. I am today years old, and I’m still learning how to be not a boss, like an overlord, but a boss, like a, these are our priorities right now. These are the things that are. At a high level, gonna drive revenue and gonna care for our clients. And when you, when you have a hard time with that, um, it is harder to just make a direct hire because it, being a, being a boss requires you to be clear. That’s hard sometimes.
Colie: feel like it’s cyclical though, because you don’t have the brain space to figure out that c e o role and figure out what will lead to growth and revenue and all those things if you’re still stuck doing the everyday tasks. So, I mean, in one way, It might be that you have to hire someone that’s not a perfect fit to get some of the everyday tasks off your plate so that then you can really think about the growth and the strategy of your business, and then you can make a more meaningful hire down the road. It’s not gonna be perfect when you first do it. I mean, it’s just like photography. I feel like all photographers should understand this. Like when you take your first 10,000 photos, there are gonna be some real shit ones in there. Exactly. Like you getting good ones in the first 10,000 is a.
Colie: Freaking miracle. Like that’s not, that’s not normal. And so, you know, we’re all building these skills and being a boss in your business is a skill that you have to like grow and it will continue to grow. I mean, I’m in my 11th year of business and I’m still learning shit, and I’m sure you, you are too.
Kristyn: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, and I think too that, um, I say this to my one-on-one coaching clients all the time as well. Like we have to think a little bit outside the box when it comes to outsourcing, because like you said, the everyday tasks, that’s a great example, right? There are many ways, many paths up the outsourcing mountain, you know, help in the first, um, couple of years of a business might be help not in your business, but help in your life so that there is room for. For help in your business. Right, and I like major shout out to our amazing nanny and the incredible community we have helping us with our kids and my hubs and all the things, right? It’s like we forget that our lives have such a, sounds so dumb to say it, but like, Our outside life has a tremendous amount of influence of over how much brain space we have when we actually sit down to do the critical big picture thinking. And that kind of outsourcing counts too. That kind of outsourcing counts as an investment in what you ultimately can create in your business because you are making brain space, right.
Colie: Yeah, and I mean, I’m not at the stage where I need a nanny anymore, but I definitely need a grandma who’s around. Um, I don’t know if you know this, Kristyn. We live in Colorado and we’re the only ones that are here. Like we have no family that are here. We had a brief stint of my sister-in-law being here, but she’s a workaholic. And so that wasn’t really helpful, like in terms of like taking things off my plate. But when we moved into this house, we made a very specific thought in keeping our other house, and that is where my mother now lives part-time. When she is here to help me with my kids, so when people are like, you know, Colie, I don’t understand how you went to four conferences in the first 90 days of 2023.
Colie: I’m like my mother. My mother is just here to take my kid to co-op and make sure that my kid gets fed and like do all these things because my husband no longer has a job that has the level of flexibility that he did when I was growing my business. I’m very thankful. For the job that my husband spent like the first nine years of my business at, because anytime I needed him to come home so I could go do a fresh 48 or you know, when I would fly to some other state to do a full day in the life. I mean, he was there to just rearrange his schedule. And we, we have some flexibility, but we don’t have that much flexibility. So we definitely need help. I have a housekeeper.
Colie: I don’t clean, I’ll, I’ll just admit that I don’t clean. And so we have a housekeeper that comes and she does her thing, and then my husband is the one that actually does like the dishes and the trash and all that. I just cook, I cook and I run a business. So we all have our special skillsets, guys, but you know, I’m really glad that Kristyn brought that up because it isn’t just about what you hire inside your business, it’s about what else you can take off your personal plate to also make space. To do business. And I’m not saying that you have to, you know, outsource all of your personal stuff. I mean, you need to find the balance that works for you.
Kristyn: Well, and um, I’m gonna climb right onto my soapbox here and just add that, um, there is no one else who will care for your. Our physical self, our mental wellbeing, our emotional wellbeing than us, and our body is our business. So, um, this is sort of my plea to every human out there who’s listening, like, taking care of yourself is actually. If you need to think about it this way, it is an investment in your ability to be a CEO. And it is, it’s so the sort of culture, um, norm that we have an expectation that we’ll be able to, to turn on and turn off when it comes to our business. And, you know, I’m a recovering workaholic, so I totally understand this idea that we should be able to just go, go, go, go for a while. Sure. And then after that, you realize it’s not sustainable.
Kristyn: So while you’re thinking about outsourcing, also think about insource. What do I need to do in my own sourcing of my own self with the food that I’m eating and the movement and the meditation and or whatever the, the modalities are that, that you might use that that counts because it then frees up the brain space to be able to say, Hey, Colie, can you fix this thing for me? Or, Hey, I got this big idea. Let’s make it happen.
Colie: Yeah, and I mean, I joke around about this guys, but I know you guys take it as a joke, but it really wasn’t a joke when people were like, why do you go to Disney every month? I’m like, that’s my self-care during the pandemic. That was my self-care getting, you know, out of the state, going somewhere, having fun with my kid. It’s a year that she’s never gonna forget, Hey, we went to Disneyland 14 months in a row. It was great. Um, but that was what I did for myself and I didn’t find it very stressful. I mean, it’s only like a 90 minute flight there. I mean, it’s great. But the other thing that you said is something that like, I don’t know that I’ve talked about this on the podcast, but I purposefully grew my business very slow while my child was little, because number one, I knew she was gonna be the only one.
Colie: But number two, I was definitely a recovering workaholic. I spent the entire 10 years that I was a professor and I was in grad school the whole time. I mean, 60, 70 hour work weeks, like that was standard for me. And so I think I had this. Mindset that I could not work in my photography business full-time. Number one, because I wanted to spend time with Chloe, but also I was worried about working again like I did before, and I knew that that was not sustainable. Now that I was a mother, I mean, before it was different. I was in my twenties.
Colie: I was newly married, it was whatever, but I would’ve never done that in my thirties and actually survived like any amount of time. So, I mean, that’s just, it’s so important that we remember to take care of ourselves first. Put your own mask on before you help others. Isn’t that the, the phrase from the airline?
Kristyn: Put your own oxygen mask on first so that you don’t pass out before you save everybody else.
Colie: So Kristyn, what’s the number one thing that you’ve learned in running this business that has so many levels?
Kristyn: Oh gosh.
Colie: You can pick
Kristyn: what category? In the category of delight. In the category of full on terror. I mean, there’s so many categories, right?
Colie: choose which ones you share.
Kristyn: Um, I mean, help I think is the big one, right? It’s like, uh, that’s, that’s crucial and it, whether you need to tie it to your ability to bring in revenue or you need to tie it to your mental wellbeing, help in all of the ways. Um, I think. You know, I think the other one is probably, um, about saying no boundaries, right? And this is something high today, years old, that I am absolutely still learning. Um, you know, I think a lot of people who get into business and are making their way in. Whatever that looks like for you, do so for longer than a hot minute because we’re capable of doing many things. And I think, you know, those of us who are, I’m, I started out as like a more business minded person and that’s probably why my business, uh, didn’t fail in the first 12 months. Not because I’m like some insanely talented photographer, but I think, um, that what came with that was just saying yes to everything, which is great, and it’s a wonderful skill to have because it teaches you how to do all this stuff. That you wanna do.
Kristyn: Um, but as my business has grown and I have all these crazy amazing, big and terrible sometimes ideas, um, I’ve really had to learn and I’m still painfully learning. Like it’s still a good idea if you don’t do it. It could still be a great gig for someone else if you say no. Right? And that, um, that’s hard. It’s really hard.
Colie: And I’m still today years old trying to learn that. I’m wondering is it easier with a gatekeeper? Because this is one thing that I’ve considered hiring someone to
Kristyn: say no.
Colie: right? Well, to review it first and like, cuz you know, sometimes I find myself, like, someone pitches me this and I’m like, oh, I wanna do this. And then they’re like, no, can you do this? And like, I really should tell them no, but I don’t. And then when it comes time for me to do the thing, I’m like, I really just should have went with my gut and said no the first time, but I didn’t, and I mean, I’m still learning this 11 years in and it’s, it’s super ridiculous. Um,
Kristyn: Welcome to being human, Colie. Sorry. Um, I think that, uh, so yes, Amy is an amazing gatekeeper for me. And, uh, when, when I say gatekeeper, I really just mean like bouncer for my own brain because I will have. You know, on the plane, on the way home from a gig in California two weeks ago, I came up with like what I thought was gonna be an incredible idea for a particular part of our business that we’re growing. And, um, I shared it with her and she was like, this is amazing. And like, not yet. Here’s the reasons why.
Kristyn: This is probably not the best time to do that, like right now. And I was like, oh, but it sounded so cool, right? Like it is cool, it’s just not cool for right now. But then I also feel like having a core group of really close friends who are in the industry who you can just say to them, I’m thinking about taking this job, or I got, I have an opportunity to bid for this thing. Um, and they don’t even need to be in the photography industry. Honestly. I think I can just be people who. Know you, who can say to you, are you asking the question because you don’t know the answer or because you know the answer and you want permission. And that, I think is like a, it’s just critical to have somebody who can ask you that back.
Kristyn: Um, because we gotta learn to be our own gatekeepers. And that’s so, it’s so hard.
Colie: And it’s interesting that you say that because right now, I mean, I do have a group of, they happen to be photographers, well, actually a couple of them aren’t, but I do have a group of people that I can bounce my ideas off of. But I also have a business coach. And so I really feel like she keeps me in line, not in, she tells me yes or no, but she really helps me flush out and decide for myself whether or not what I think is really like the best idea, like you said. But, so let me ask you a question, because you do business coaching. What is it that someone should consider in order to determine if they are ready to hire a business coach for themselves?
Kristyn: Such a good question. Um, I mean, I think a good business coach, I’m just thinking of the amazing coaches I’ve worked with. I think a good business coach can be, I. A really wonderful tool. Um, and business coaching in general can be a great tool regardless of where you are in your journey, because we bring all of our life baggage into our business and our mindset in general, um, influences how we function in our business as CEOs, as photographers, as artists, as well as humans. So we could all use that work anytime. And it’s not therapy, you know, it’s very different. Um, but in terms of.
Kristyn: Uh, you know, hiring, um, let’s say a one-on-one business coach or working in a small group setting. I think the best time to do that is when you have reached what feels like a ceiling for yourself. Um, when you feel as though in your bones you are ready for something bigger or ready for something different, but you’re not yet clear on what that is, but you know that it’s coming. Right. And I think a good business coach, um, I love that you said that your coach doesn’t tell you, you know, yes or no. Like ultimately a coach’s job is to make sure that you like your reasons for whatever your choices are, because there’s with few exceptions, there’s really no wrong choices. It’s just the choices that we make and then the things that unfold after that. The stuff that we try and, you know, the data that we gather.
Kristyn: Um, but yeah, I think, I think when you reach a point where you feel as though you are in a little bit of a plateau, but you know that there is something more. There and you’re just not sure how to get there. I think that’s a great time.
Colie: Yeah, and what you said about my coach, I chose her specifically because she is very data driven and you know, I am very data
Colie: so like when I bring something to her, she is really good about telling me what data to collect for her so that she can analyze it, so that we can talk about it. And so I don’t think everyone needs that kind of, that kind of coach, but I definitely do because I am very data driven and you know, my coach is, you know, Very experienced. And so, but like when it comes to like tracking the data, using the data, analyzing the data, she is at a level that I aspire to be. And so I really appreciate that when I come to her, she’s like, okay, but that’s not really related to the goal that you set. So then we discuss, well, is this like a new goal? Should we migrate or is this something that you should put on the shelf
Colie: and come back to after we’ve hit these other goals? So, It is really great. And sometimes I get people that are like, oh, but you have like besties. You could just ask them. I’m like, yeah, but they’re, they’re in the same spot as me. And sometimes there is just a benefit to getting that expertise from someone who is further along from you. And I will say, guys, my business coach is not even in the photography industry. So I mean, you know, it doesn’t always have to be that you’re looking for someone in your industry. Just further along,
Kristyn: Yeah. Well
Kristyn: I think you bring up such a good point. Um, you know, one of my, one of the coaches that I’ve worked with in the last couple of years who just like expanded my brain so much. Not a photographer, has nothing to do with photography. Right. And I think. You know, when is there a, when is a good time to start working with a business coach? It’s when you have run out of the models of possibility for yourself. Because when you choose to work with a coach, even in a, even in a one-on-one setting, but I think sometimes even more so in a group setting, um, you are giving yourself the opportunity to expand your conception of the models of. Possibility for yourself.
Kristyn: And whether that’s revenue or how you balance time or how you create business. Um, because we get in our little bubble and we’re like, oh, the only way I can do this is these two ways. But that’s never true. And we just don’t know unless we can step into a space and and see, oh my gosh, there’s all these incredible people who are doing it this way, whether they’re photographers or not. And I can learn so much from that.
Colie: And I feel like that’s true because I feel like as a, as an industry, I will specifically talk to photographers now as an industry. We really are very narrow-minded when it comes to how to run our business. And I mean, part of that is us, like we don’t think about the other ways, but part of it is that the mentors and the education that’s available are all in these very set ways of doing things. I mean, think about it all inclusive or i p s, like there’s, there’s lots of room in between, but like you only hear of educational opportunities that are one or the other. And so I do feel like when we compare our industry to others, There are like very clear paths that people take and I wanna see it messy. Like it’s not a path, it’s not a, b, c, there are different ways to get to see. Um, I mean I really appreciate that you went on that tangent with me, Kristin, cuz it is something that I get asked a lot like, when are you ready for a business coach? How do you pick one? Like, and I felt like I haven’t really had a guest yet that like was a really good person to like flesh that out with.
Kristyn: I could talk about this stuff. I love talking about this stuff.
Colie: So Kristyn, every person that I have on this podcast with a few exceptions, has to answer my question. So what is the biggest fuck up in your business? What did you learn from it, and how did you grow?
Kristyn: Oh, there’s so many. Um, The biggest one. The biggest one. Um, I mean, okay, so the, the like low hanging fruit answer would be, um, one time shooting a wedding. I let myself stay past the time because I was like, oh, it’s fine. I’ll just, I’ll just. Stay for another 15, 20 minutes. And, uh, the horah was never on my shot list and my battery was running low and my cards were getting full, and I shoot on two bodies.
Kristyn: And, um, as I’m starting to pack up, uh, the mom of the bride comes to me and says, we’re gonna do the horah. And I look down at my cards and I think, okay, I can, I can, sure. Like I had no time. And I ran out of memory on my. One body that had my 35 and had my flash. And uh, so I ended up shooting the horah, uh, with Fuji. So the I s o low light situation is a little challenging. Um, on an 85 with no flash and the dying battery, uh, literally, like I could not have been any closer to them.
Kristyn: Plus I had an 85, cuz that was just the camera that still had cards and, and battery. Uh, I got one usable shot. It’s a little gritty, but, but they loved it. Uh, I felt so awful leaving that venue. I think I texted every photographer friend I’ve ever had and said, oh my God, has this ever happened to you? Uh, so that worked out in the end, but in the moment I thought it was the end of the world. Um, I would say that. The other, the other thing that I would, I would include in the list of things that I’ve fucked up on, um, which I regularly fuck up on stuff all the time. Let’s just be clear.
Kristyn: Um, I have sent contracts out with the wrong name. and that is like not that big of a deal, but it is a really big deal because your contract is the thing that oftentimes, at least in, when it comes to weddings, it’s not just my couples that are reviewing them, it’s their parents. And I want their parents to feel really confident about the like four or five figure investment they’re making in this day with me. And when you start out with somebody’s wrong name and address, like you’re really not, Off on a great foot. Um, and that’s just like a small thing, but stuff like that happens less now. Much less now. But it
Colie: of smart fields in Dubsado account.
Kristyn: because of the magic of smart fields. It’s true. It’s true. Um, but I think anytime you take really big leaps, which just tends to be my mo, um, you’re gonna do stuff wrong. And the, I’ll tell you one more, one more. Fuck up. Just for fun. The first time that I launched the Documented Heart, uh, the mentorship program, uh, was the first time I’d ever used like a real, like a, a real setup cart that someone could purchase one thing many times.
Kristyn: And I like did the whole setup by myself, and it was kind of a last minute thing. Because that was just the way I was rolling and I was so excited that I got it all set up and I sent the announcement out on Instagram and over email, and then I went and got in the shower and I got out of the shower and there was already someone who’d purchased. There was already someone who was gonna do it. I was so excited until I realized that I had set up her. Payment as a 12 month subscription for the one time payment. And so that was gonna be like a $60,000 program, which I 20, I mean, no, no. Documented heart’s great, but it is not that, right? Um, so I had to send a flurry of emails and apologize, and she was like, I didn’t even notice. I’m like, oh, okay.
Colie: Yeah, I mean, Kristyn, I don’t know what cart system you were using, but you might not have even needed to confess. You could have just went on the back end and canceled the remaining payments. I mean, you know, it’s okay. And we
Kristyn: see there, there is maybe the biggest, there is maybe the biggest learning from that whole experience, cuz you’re absolutely right. Right. There are some things that we can fix that we can take care of without the over drama of letting anyone know that it was a mistake cuz we’re human and we make mistakes. Um, but I was so quick to confess my sins right away that, uh, you know, there it is. There it is.
Colie: Kristyn, this was such a great conversation. Like literally. I love, I mean, and I was so excited to give you a hug in person in California
Kristyn: Yes. It was so great to finally meet in real life after you’d re-engineered my whole business admin.
Colie: So tell everyone where they can find you. It’s gonna be in the show notes, but you know, just to have ’em to where they’re listening.
Kristyn: So, um, the best place to start on the photography side is just https://kristynmiller.com/. Um, and you can actually get to all of the places from there, but you can also go to thedocumentedheart.com or the documented heart on Instagram, and that will take you to the, the coaching side of the universe.
Colie: Because guys, she’s an amazing coach. Okay. Thank you for joining me on the podcast this morning, Kristyn. It was a pleasure.
Kristyn: you so much for having
Colie: See you next time.