I think one simple expression of gratitude can go a long way.
Noelle Neff is a photographer living and working in Miami, Florida. She received her undergraduate degree from the University Of Miami, where she studied the visual arts and art history. Noelle is passionate about her art form, photography, and also about learning to operate a thriving business. She enjoys learning from more experienced entrepreneurs, and views every challenge as an opportunity.
As a photographer, Noelle specializes in weddings. She likes to spread joy through her work and has found wedding photography to be an especially gratifying niche. She is also inspired by nature, vibrant street scenes in Miami, and fashion photography of all kinds. Her work has received critical acclaim for being vibrant and alive.
She enjoys pushing the limits of conventional photography, and staying on the edge of her field in terms of technology and composition. This requires constant growth, which Noelle does not shy away from. Noelle has been taking photographs professionally for over ten years, but has only recently transitioned into owning and operating Noelle Neff Photography full time. The challenge of owning and operating her own business has pushed Noelle to new limits professionally. In the past two years alone, her business profits have tripled, and she attributes much of that success to the way she handles her creative process.
Where did the idea for Noelle Neff Photography come from?
I have always believed that an individual should do work that they love. I’ve never wanted to just “make a living” doing something that I didn’t care much about. So I focused on the activities that brought me joy, and for me that has always been photography. Friends started to ask me to take pictures for them, and as the word spread I started to build up a client list. Finally, a friend of mine who has several businesses himself said, “Hey, I think you have a business here!” and Noelle Neff photography was born!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts around 6 or 7 am. I usually take some time for myself before tackling business tasks. As an artist, I have to make sure that my creative juices are flowing. I’ve been writing three morning pages daily for as long as I can remember. I got that practice from Julia Cameron, who wrote “The Artists Way”. When I’m ready to do business tasks I rely on my to-do lists, which sounds boring but is really very effective for me. I correspond with clients, keep my books up to date, go to gigs, or work with the shots I’ve already taken. Every day is different!
How do you bring ideas to life?
With intention and willpower. It’s not enough just to have a vision or a wish. You have to have the willpower to get you through the challenging patches. When I first started my business, for example, I was a little bit overwhelmed. There was a lot about the logistics of running a business that I just didn’t understand. But I knew what my vision was, and I used every inch of willpower that I could summon in order to learn all that I could.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is the rise of women entrepreneurs. I think that women have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to business. I have met so many amazing and inspiring women as I’ve progressed through my own entrepreneurial journey.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My habit of writing morning pages has truly been a lifesaver. I believe we all have a lot of subconscious junk floating around in our minds. A lot of it has been fed to us by other people. I use writing to clear my mind every morning as I start the day, and that makes me more productive when I move into my business tasks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I used to be really hard on myself for being an artist. I envied the kids who wanted “practical” careers, like a doctor or lawyer. That was never me, but I wished that it was. I would tell that girl to value herself and nurture her artistic side.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
One truth that I hold onto is that suffering is optional. I know that for many, suffering is seen as a part of life, and almost a badge of honor. I live my life as if all of my learning experiences can be handled with grace rather than as if they are painful hardships to get through.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I learned early on in my career that relationships are key. When a person that I network with takes the time to help me, I always send a note of thanks. I find that I even send thank-you’s, hand written or just a quick email, to my clients. I think one simple expression of gratitude can go a long way.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
One strategy that has helped my grow my business has been digital marketing. I used to rely on word of mouth to grow my business, but as I stepped into a bigger arena I realized that I had to have a digital presence. The biggest way that this has helped me is it expands awareness about my products and my brand. I love to get messages from people who saw a photograph that I took, and want to know more.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on in my career I had a big mental block up about self promotion, especially through my online presence. That led to a lot of failures in my marketing strategy. I felt like nothing that I was putting out there was having any results. I never wanted to feel like I was bragging! But then a client of mine said that she feels joy every time she looks at the wedding photos that I took for her and her husband, and I realized that by self promoting I could actually give people more joy. That cleared up my mental block!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think video is going to be hitting the stage big time in the next few years. Videographers will be in great demand! Anyone who enjoys the visual arts could start learning about shooting videos for clients, and create Facebook video ads, video wedding invitations, or other cool products with a video format.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Experiences are where it’s at. I went out to an amazing meal with some friends, and we laughed and talked for hours. That is truly money well spent!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use FreshBooks for all of my billing, and it has been a huge time saver!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My favorite book is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.
What is your favorite quote?
Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, and I’ve always found that quote inspiring.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.