When most people see a sloth – those languid, smiling creatures moving through life at a slower than slow pace – they laugh. They laugh because they seem so ridiculous and strange. They just don’t fit in with the rest of the animal world with their human-like expressions and their care-less attitude towards their lack of speed.
Years ago, when I told people that I was going to transform my photography hobby into a business -quit my day job and create my dream job of taking photos of babies and children – most of them laughed, too.
“You can’t make money doing that.”
“No one will pay you to take pictures when anyone can do it.”
“Stop dreaming and live in the real world with the rest of us.”
It was a hard, lonely struggle, but I was determined to make it work. I did whatever I could to make it happen: I worked for free, I took jobs I didn’t want, worked for people I didn’t like.
I shed buckets of tears as I drowned in self-doubt.
I saw dozens and dozens of other women (photography is a heavily female dominated occupation) try to do the same as me – and fail (85% of photography businesses fold within 2 years).
What made me and my business different?
4 things were in my favour:
- I had gone to college to study photography and film before I decided to leap into business. I had the technical know-how that set me above the rest who were learning as they went.
- I was a business owner, not a hobbyist. I got my business licensed, got some professional accreditation, continued to study and train, kept business hours, offered professional products and services.
- I grew up with 2 generations of entrepreneurs. My grandparents operated a funeral home for forty years. My parents ran a business venture out of our living room when I was young. I was exposed to the realities of self-employment for my whole life
- I am resilient. A difficult upbringing with very little family support taught me to rely heavily (if not, solely) on myself.
It’s been 8 years since I decided to pursue my photography dream. Eight long, hard years. I’ve endured the struggle and lasted four times longer than the average photographer in this industry. My business is strong and stable. I have a strong following (2300 followers on Facebook) and a large group of loyal and repeat clients who often refer their friends. I say no to jobs I don’t want, (and to people I don’t want to work with!), I work around my family’s schedules and have grown a healthy college fund for my kids in the process.
It has taken 8 years (!!), but I am now where I wanted to be when I first made my decision to go into business – and, damn, I’m proud of it. All the hard work, all the struggle. It has all been worth it to see the sucess that has resulted.
This past spring, I decided to do it again.
After finally writing that novel that had been in my head for the last twenty-seven years, spending a year querying to agents and publishers and getting nothing but rejection, I decided to turn my hobby of writing into a business.
In the last few months, I have grown my writer’s platform – creating this website, creating content, growing a social media following. I learned about self-publishing through KDP and Youtube videos.
My previous years of writing starting in my childhood and stretching into adulthood; being a member of the Canadian Author’s Association, being traditionally published, studying English in university, will all be in my favour for this venture.
Like photography, the process of becoming an indie (independent) author, has been a mostly lonely, hard struggle and yes, many have laughed, but in my first three months of being an indie author, I have:
– released 2 titles (Elegant Execution and Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird)
– sold 94 books (both e-book and paperback).
– have gained close to 800 followers on Instagram.
– have accumulated 7 five star reviews of Elegant Execution and 4 five star reviews of Hope Quest on Amazon
And that’s nothing to scoff at.
Like my spirit animal, the sloth, I am slowly but surely working towards making my dream of being a successful indie author into a reality. It will be a long hard, mostly lonely struggle. It will likely take years to get there, but I’m determined and I am willing to do whatever it takes.
The sloths and I will continue to be laughed at.
But we will continue to keep a smile on our faces as we keep moving at our own, slow pace.
Eventually, we always get to where we want to be.