I had no idea when I first reached out to this community so many years ago that I'd still be a full-time photographer doing what I love today. I knew the failure rate was stacked against me, but I was determined to make it work. It really is amazing how this self-taught artful skill has turned into such a great and flexible career. I just looked back at my last post here, thanking Photo.net for the support in the early stages of building my business and for all the people who provided feedback on images when I needed help solving problems. I had no idea at that time how things would change in the years ahead - I continued shooting weddings, but at a higher price point than ever before, including several clients over $10K, I wanted to do more weekday work and I ended up securing a regular contract with a university- photographing many of their events, social media materials, website portraits, and even spending the day with author Stephen King, I got to take a year off to travel the world, and just made another move- now living in New York City (Manhattan) and I'm now diving into interior design and architectural photography while still serving wedding and portrait clients as I always have. To anyone in the early stages of your business... tenacity, stick-to-itness and the willingness to grow, adapt, change, and learn are the key elements to making this career work long term. Another big factor is listening to what feels good for you. Learn what works for others, but then try it out and decide what actually works best for you. There's no one right way to go about this work or creating your business. Don't be afraid of failure, it's there to help you learn what NOT to do so that you can get closer to learning what you NEED to do. Be nice to EVERYONE you meet because you never know when that DJ with a camera, or that videographer who stood in your way, or that angry wedding planner is actually going to help you out in the future. Spend more time and money serving your clients and making them happy than you do on making yourself look good. If you look at my websites right now, you'll see that I have a bunch of mismatched branding because I'm going through a branding transition and trying to find a great web designer to help me out. My clients don't care that my sites and branding aren't perfect because they were highly referred by other clients who I did great work for and who recommended me as the only person they should work with. If I had spent more time and money on my branding than on serving my clients, I wouldn't have such great referrals that have carried me from state to state over all the moves I've made in my business. You can have the most beautiful website and images, but if your clients don't love you, staying in business gets exponentially harder. Just wanted to share some encouraging news to anyone who might feel down or unsure about the industry. It's easy to let naysayers and unsuccessful people shatter a dream before you've even given it a try- but if you keep trying, keep getting up over and over again, the only way you can fail is by giving up on yourself!