To my Clients, Fans and Photographers
Yesterday I found out that I was named 1 of three Favorite or Best Photographers based on our local paper’s readers. I am truly honored and know there are several not named who are better than even us named. They have worked hard to grow their businesses, have the numbers and Clients to show for it. This award is truly nice to receive, but I honor those who never receive popularity awards. Why? Because it is not a true Benchmark of one’s success. It does help us to know that many love our work, but I want to see all our local businesses succeed. I want Everyone to continue to work hard at what they do, because they love it and are inspired.
It also is a specific group or Client base of our local paper that voted. It is in no way a true Benchmark reflection of each Business’s Clients. If you were doing horribly as a business, then your doors would be closed. If all your Clients had voted or even knew about it, we might see a true statistical outcome. However, yes honor and pat on the back those who are noticed and doing well. Do not let it get you down if you were not in the top groups given recognition.
I sat down and thought about the 2, 893 current ‘Likes’ I have on my Facebook Fan page. I have never begged anyone to like my page. Apparently that is a number I would rather look at. This is where people see my work. I believe it is a little better at showing me how well I am received. However, it is still not a complete Benchmark reflection. I know at least half my Clients, maybe more, tell me they are not on Facebook or avoid it at all costs. They are busy hard working families that do not have time or do not want all the drama that can come with social media. I know many do not even read a tangible newspaper anymore, but view news as it comes up on their television, word of mouth, or internet.
Where are all my Clients coming from then? Well, when I first started it was more local. I was inexpensive and a new Photographer wanting to grow my portfolio. That is how most of us start right? I never paid for advertising. I simply poured out my heart in my work for every single Client who came in my door. That has not changed in five years. I believe that mixed with God given talent and a lot of hard work/hours my business is where it is today. I have never relied on Newspaper or Radio adds. Yes that works for some business and if I had the money earlier on, I might have tried it. My goal is not to be published or to win awards, even though I have done both. I am simply aiming at becoming the best I can at what I do. I know this benefits my Clients 20-30 years down the road as they look at their children and other milestones in their lives through my work.
What is the true Benchmark to a Business knowing they are growing and are successful? I believe it is the Clients who come through your doors. The numbers you total at the end of the year. The smiles and happy emails. The Clients who go out of their way to say I made family members cry tears of joy at the beautiful images of their Grand babies, when they are so far away and cannot hold them. It is the fact that, after 5 years, I remember in business school what my instructors taught me.
“Do not give up when starting out a business. The first 3-5 years are the forming years. Those years are when you figure out what works and what does not. You learn what you are willing to do for your business to be a success. Some will learn it is not for them. Others will thrive and grow developing into a successful business”
I sit here realizing that I made it through five long years of smiles, happy tears, long hours, GREAT CLIENTS, hard lessons and getting back up again. I learned that even though you pour your heart out, it is not always received. I learned that in my business specifically, my Clients travel from all over Illinois. Some even coming from out of State, repeatedly. I do not plan on quitting. I plan on continuing even when I do not win popularity awards from groups of people. It is wonderful, as I mentioned above and I love that I am considered a Favorite. However, my complete base of Clients are who I listen to and try to continue to give my whole heart.
Thank you and God Bless,
Jonae Cheger Photography
‘You can fly as high as you dream, you just have to believe’