Mom Boss Interview: Lauren Golden from The Free Mama Movement

After taking last week off to regroup a bit, I am happy to say that we are back with a BANG!

Mamas: Today's Boss Mom is amazing, as she is not only sharing her entrepreneurial experience, but sharing a job/class opportunity with our audience! While I could try to put in my own words just how smart and business savvy this mompreneur is, I will let her tell you in her own words:

Lauren Golden loves helping mamas free themselves from the 9-5 grind. She launched The Free Mama Movement to show working moms that they don’t have to choose between family and financial stability.

Hundreds of families today are happier and more fulfilled thanks to Lauren and her online programs. Whether you’re a single mom, a military mom, or a mom in a two-parent family who doesn’t want to sacrifice your time with your babies in order to provide for them, Lauren wants you to know that you don’t have to.

Today, as the fearless leader of The Free Mama Movement and a thriving community of over 2700 women, Lauren is passionate about showing other moms how to start and run a successful freelancing business from home. In her upcoming book, she shares her own story — along with plenty of practical advice for anyone looking to leave the 9-5 behind and make a real living from home.

In addition to her self-paced program, Lauren also works one-on-one with motivated mamas who want to get their businesses up and running fast. Her talks on freelancing, building a business, and making over your mindset, and other relevant topics resonate with women around the world.

Lauren also runs The Free Mama Matchmaker Service, where she connects graduates of her elite online program with entrepreneurs who need their specialized skills.

Without further ado, here is Lauren!

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what your life looked like before having your sweet babies.

My name is Lauren Golden and I am a wife, mama, marketing nerd and iced coffee enthusiast (half sweetened with soy milk). I am also the founder of The Free Mama Movement where I help mamas work from home on their own terms and live a totally awesome, guilt-free life.

So how the heck did I get here?

My husband and I moved back to Kansas City, my hometown, right before we got married (that month living with my parents as newlyweds was fabulous, let me tell you) and soon settled into decent paying jobs that neither of us loved.

I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever and someone who glamorized “being busy”. I was involved in my job, always juggled a few side gigs, and volunteered in my community. I gained a ton of experience and met a lot of people in a short span of time, but I was beyond stressed out. In fact, it wasn’t until I slowed down and swapped jobs that we were even able to get pregnant.

My definition of “busy” quickly changed during those first few days with a newborn...

Fast forward to after you had your kids and realized the corporate world just wasn’t cutting it anymore: what was your “aha moment” in terms of working from home?

My husband actually had the realization first. He turned 30, lost a grandparent and had a daughter all within a few months and it spurred a bit of a quarter-life-crisis. Poor guy.

He went on to quit his job and we took out a massive loan for him to buy out the previous owner of a business. This was our first taste of entrepreneurship and the learning curve was mighty steep for two Political Science majors.

Suddenly I became the breadwinner, benefits holder and household leader while pregnant with our second child. Pretty soon after he was born, I remember telling my husband I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t spend 3 hours a day in the car shuttling my babies to coo and poo at someone else’s house. I couldn’t work in a place where I felt undercompensated and underappreciated. So I took my skills and applied them towards freelancing and made a plan to leave my job within the year.

Except sometimes God, the universe, higher power or whatever you believe has other plans.

We got pregnant again. After the shock wore off, I came up with a new plan that would allow me to quietly exit stage right after completing my maternity leave…

And then I had a miscarriage.

It sounds a little woo-woo, but in that devastating moment, I heard a voice in my head that said, “what’s your plan now?” I quit my job 1 week later and have never looked back.

You hit a few bumps in the road on your quest to work from home... can you tell us a little about them and how you overcame each one?

The truth is, I enjoyed the work I was doing everyday at my 9-5, and I loved my co-workers, but after my son was born I became incredibly resentful of my massive commutes, my employer and honestly - my husband who was off pursuing his dreams while I held down the fort as the “stable” one.

By this point I felt desperate to stay home, but I also still loved working and producing. I dabbled in network marketing and thought for sure if anyone could pull off a free car it was me, but the team model of MLMs was a huge turn off for me and so I capped at a few hundred dollars in profit.

Frustrated and feeling like a bit of a failure, I turned to freelancing as a social media manager, a skill I was comfortable with from work I was doing for my employer. I started a blog around the same time that would document my journey from working mom to work at home mom called The Free Mama. I had HUGE plans to monetize the blog, except I didn’t have any idea how! Luckily, the freelancing business took off...

How did you finally begin making stable money and how long did it take from the time you quit your corporate job?

When I realized that freelancing offered the chance to do things I was already good at and knew how to do, at prices and for clients I chose, I was all in. I definitely “looked before I lept” and had started supplementing nearly $2,000/month of my income freelancing before I quit my job.

I learned a lot of lessons the hard way - like the importance of contracts, charging what you’re worth, and crystal clear communication around expectations and timelines - but for the most part it was smooth sailing.

Until I had to start over again.

Yup, I actually built up my freelancing business from scratch twice, because we unexpectedly moved and the small local businesses I was serving in Kansas City could no longer get the support they needed now that I was in Katy, TX. That is when I became a 100% online-based business and made the strategic decision to only partner with online entrepreneurs.

In that first year, even with the move, I actually made almost $25,000 MORE than I did in my previous full-time job working about half of the hours. That’s when I realized I was really onto something and that if I could do it, other mamas could do it, too.

What is The Free Mama Movement and how does it help other parents who want to work from home?

The Free Mama Movement is a thriving community of over 3,000 women who don’t want to sacrifice time with their babies in order to provide for them.

I’ve taught hundreds of mamas how to build a freelancing business from home as a virtual administrative consultant doing admin, organizational and marketing type tasks for online businesses so that they don’t have to choose between family and financial stability.

You offer informative courses and training for moms interested in working from home... what can your virtual attendees expect to learn from you?

In addition to my self-paced 12 Week Program, I also work one-on-one with motivated mamas who want to get their businesses up and running fast.

All of my students can expect to walk away with the strategic and practical training, technical support and mindset coaching to run a successful freelancing business from their home, while taking care of their family and household.

Now that you work and teach from home, what does a “typical” (if such a thing exists) day in your shoes look like?

I’m a creature of habit and so are my kiddos! A typical day starts with my husband making our family breakfast before heading to work. He is gone a lot these days, so this is the one time of day he can really help me out and it is amazing. Plus, he is a much better cook!

Our older kiddos get themselves ready for school and have a few chores (they unload the dishwasher and take out recycling), while I get the youngest and myself ready and fed.

My oldest is in real-deal school now, while my younger two attend preschool 4 days a week for 4 hours a day. That is my sacred, uninterrupted work time. In order to show up as the mama I want to be while my children are home, I have to maximize this time as productively and efficiently as possible.

I use time blocking to manage my calendar and a technique called The Daily Five to make sure I’m always getting the most out of my work day. This is the time of day when I would schedule virtual meetings or interviews, coach my clients and create content.

After I pick up my youngest, we usually eat. Actually, we eat all the time - ha! We are very active and love to be outside, which in Houston either means a park in the winter or the pool in the summer.

We are getting to the activity age with our kids - so gymnastics and swimming fill many of our afternoons - followed by dinner, baths (okay, so I probably only bath them about 3-4 times a week) and bedtime.

Most nights I hop back on my computer for a few hours to take care of some administrative tasks and get myself prepared for the following day’s agenda.

I’m not a huge television-watcher anymore, but The Bachelorette is a non-negotiable in my life. Don’t judge.

Can you share your favorite work-from-home memory with us? (Ex: Feedback from a student, something funny that the kids did when you were on a call, etc.)

The first time I really remember thinking to myself - wow, I’m actually doing this - I was at Wonderscope, a Children’s Museum in Kansas City. It was a Wednesday morning. I had never gotten to take my kiddos anywhere during the work week before, and there I was in a near empty museum laughing and playing with my kids without the Saturday morning lines. I’ll admit, I checked my phone a few times to make sure I didn’t have any client emergencies or to field some social media comments, but I felt so proud in that moment of the risks I had taken in order to show up as the mom - and business owner - I wanted to be.

Isn't she incredible?! If you are ready to join the Free Mama Movement, check out thefreemamamovement.comTo follow Lauren -- or get in touch -- be sure to visit the Free Mama Facebook page and group, and the Free Mama Instagram

Mom Boss Interview: Laurel Ludwicki from Young Living

Funny story about today's mom boss interviewee...

Back in 2012, I started a cooking/lifestyle blog that turned into a family update blog that turned into a lonely blog that hasn't been updated since August (I really, really need to update all of Gabe's info... my poor second baby). Anyway, back when it was a cooking/lifestyle blog, I made some good blogging friends, including the lovely Laurel, who was pregnant/gave birth a few weeks after we had our Jackson. 

Fast forward FOUR YEARS and I get a message on IG from Laurel checking in and re-introducing herself!! So, so cool! Anyway, we got to talking and I found out that Laurel is a Young Living Independent Distributor, which -- aside from Usborne -- is the only MLM I will buy (Thieves Cleaner and Stress Away = life), so I was so excited to introduce her and her business to you all! 

Without further ado, meet Laurel:

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I always like to start these interviews off by finding out more about you and your background, so can you give us a little blurb about who you are and what you did before getting married and having your two beautiful children?

I have been a restaurant gal for most of my adult life. A flexible schedule and lots of interaction with my customers has always appealed to me. I loved being able to go to work, do my job and then not take any stress or responsibility home with me. It made the work - life balance manageable for me. I have worked for the same major brewery for the last 10 years, dabbling in many different departments. I tried my hand at marketing, educating, and managing, where I had the opportunity to take an 8 week long personal development course! Strangely enough, it made me realize that I didn’t want to work 40+ hours a week, late nights away from my (future) babies to just get by. I wanted something I could be proud of, something I could feel passionate about and challenged by, which led me to wanting to start my own business of some sort! 

Have you always been a stay-at-home mom or was there ever a time you worked out of the house?

Once our son came into the picture, I cut way back on my hours at the brewery. I had wanted to be a mama for so long, I couldn’t handle paying someone else to raise him. Luckily, my husband is a chef so our schedules are relatively flexible and we could move things around to have minimal childcare. Once our daughter arrived, my Young Living business was starting to make a major impact on our finances, and now I work 1-2 days a week out of the house, more for socialization and a break! It has made me appreciate that adult time and interaction a lot more, but I still miss my babies like crazy! 

With all of the direct sales companies out there, what about Young Living did you find the most appealing?

I never intended to grow a Young Living business when I got a Premium Starter Kit (the best way to get going). I just thought I was supporting a friend in her business, I wanted a better diffuser than the cruddy one I had from Whole Foods, and I wanted to see if oils would actually do everything I’d heard they could. 

As with most network marketing businesses, I got plugged into some Facebook groups right away and was blown away by the supportive and thriving community. People of all walks of life helping each other with daily issues we all face and business tools that were smart and not too salesy or in your face. Then I saw the Income Disclosure statement: https://static.youngliving.com/en-US/IMAGES/incomedisclosurestatement_image_us.jpg

And I realized there was a huge potential for this business to have a substantial financial impact on my family. A few things I love about YL as a business: 

  • don’t have to carry inventory. The majority of sales go through the website and involved helping people get their own accounts. From time to time, I’ll sell some oils or products in person but I don’t stock any for that specific reason. 
  • a culture and core values that align with my own. I’ve always been natural minded, and sought out ways to keep myself and my family well that are low impact on our bodies and the earth. The sustainability and community visions of YL are incredible and make me feel like I’m in the right place. 
  • the ability to build a business my way and in the time I have available. We don’t have sales quotas or required volume (other than approx $100/ month to qualify for ranks, which is easy to spend on products we use daily) Our team has a ‘share, don’t sell’ motto, which makes it easy to grown a business! I share what and how I use my YL products and go from there! 
  • The product line! Oh my gosh  I had no idea YL had more than just oils. It is easy to spend the $100 a month when I can grab household staples like Household Cleaner, laundry detergent, personal care products, makeup, supplements and even food! The company is transparent and conscientious in its ingredients, so I feel confident using them for our whole family and knowing we aren’t being inadvertently harmed.  

What has working with Young Living done for you and your family? Do you think it has given you opportunities you may not have had otherwise?

Definitely. I’ve stepped into a leadership and education role that I’ve always wanted, deep down. I feel much more confident in who I am as a person, so I feel much better equipped to serve others. It has allowed me to afford the things I want for my family, while allowing me to work from home and actually raise my children.

When you're a mom working from home, no two days are alike, but if you had to describe a "normal" day in your life, how does it look? How many hours a day/week do you dedicate to your business?

A normal day, HA! As you know, we try to have schedules for our kiddos, it helps their day go smoother if they know what to except! 

I always tell my team this business is built in 5 minute increments, because some days that’s all I can manage! I am starting to have my sitter come once a week for a few hours so I can work from home and actually focus. 

Here is a loose look at what a typical day may look like for me. 

7am ish - kids wake up. We make coffee and they have some snacks and water while I check the virtual office and catch up on group messages. I like to write a task list of 3-5 things I need to do for my business and team. Having it written down help me ensure it will get done! 

9am - take Henryk (4) to preschool and come back home. 

10:30am Give Annika a bottle and put down for a nap. 

10:31 - 12:30pm - shower, speed clean my house and then bust out as much work as possible. Things like follow up with interested friends, craft educational posts for my team, live videos, create and edit classes, pack giveaways, share business advice with my team, take and edit product photos, and so many other tasks that need accomplishing! 

12:31 - 1ish - feed Annika lunch and create social media post about what YL products I’m using that day and why! 

1-4pm: hang out with the kids. Go to a park, hike, build things at home, watch and movie and cuddle... I try to make a window of time during the day where I can be present with them and not distracted by my phone. I use it CONSTANTLY to stay connected. 

4ish - start making dinner for the family. Sometimes I’ll play a personal development podcast or listen to a tedtalk while I prep to keep my mind engaged. Hubby comes home around this time (YAY!) 

6:30 - Annika bath and bedtime routine 

7:15 - Henryk bath and bedtime routine 

8pm - kids in bed, wine in hand! I try to spend a few nights a week hanging with my hubby technology free, but I often run FB classes at 8pm! If I have projects to do, I’ll bang those or after bedtime! 

Even though it may not seem like much, I probably spend 1-2 hours a day on business stuff, sometimes more if I have a class running. I sneak in 5-10 minute work sessions where I can, checking messages, answering questions, helping where needed! 

What is your favorite way to market your business? Do you find one social media channel to be more effective than another?

I like using Facebook and Instagram, simply because that’s where I’m most active. It’s easy to reach a large amount of people for free, and create a culture they want to be involved in. 

I also LOVE to get together in person and teach! One on ones, groups, make & takes, whatever! Classes are VERY effective for growing your business, so people can actually smell and try the oils or other products and experience how to use them before diving in. 

What is the best part of working from home? 

Making my own schedule of course! I love not having to take a sick day if my babies are down, I love being able to call a sitter randomly for a date, and I love being able to make spontaneous plans! Working from home means my family is deeply woven into my brand and my business. H is always making guest appearances in my videos and it’s become something people love and expect. It also shows them that I’m just a normal mama and if I can make it work, they can too!  I love that I can have a real life with my family and raise them how I want. 

Do you have a favorite YL memory? 

Oh man, so many! A fave would probably be our Silver Retreat trip I qualified for last fall. Myself, James and some other women on our team stormed Utah and visited one of YL’s farms, ate some amazing food and just spent some quality time getting pampered and being poured into. I love YLs dedication to help their leaders develop to become impactful in all aspects of their life, not just for the company. 

To get in touch with Laurel, visit her website or Instagram.

Mom Boss Interview: Olivia Reiman from SimplyOli

It's another Wednesday, which makes it a great time to introduce you to another amazing mamma who is kicking butt and taking names in both her family and business life! 

Meet Olivia: An amazing wife, mamma, and business-savvy woman who is using her platform to change the world! To give you a little glimpse of her story, here is a snippet from the bio on her website, SimplyOli:

When I was 13 my bipolar disorder reared its head hard, and my world got very dark, very fast. I lost love for my passions, love for myself, my family, and love for life in general. I abused myself mentally, physically, and tried to end my life more than once. I truly didn't think it would end especially after being diagnosed with mild schizophrenia. Attempts at therapy and various medications never seemed to provide a long term solution for me personally.

I'm sharing with you my story, which led me to who I am today. I'm sharing with you my jewelry, because it's become my therapy just as nature has. I'm sharing with you my lessons learned, not to help you avoid yours, but so you can see the value in harder times. And I'm sharing with you my daily life, my family, my world, so that you can see with your own two eyes that happiness doesn't look perfect - it looks however you need it to.

You can read much more of Olivia's story here (which I highly recommend you do!), but in the meantime, here is what she had to tell us about herself and SimplyOli:

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Olivia, your story is seriously incredible! Can you tell our readers a little bit about your life and what lead you to create SimplyOli?

Aww thank you! So yeah, I'm a wife to my super inspiring husband Jim, a mom to two beautiful little girls - Piper (4 years old) and Paige (1 year old), and a pet mom to 2 dogs, and 3 reptiles. Life as it is right now basically is a typical stay at home mom life - I take care of the kiddos, am exploring homeschooling, cook meals, and I keep the house as tidy as possible (which someday's isn't tidy at all haha). Of course in the mix of all of that I run my business full time from home. SimplyOli really started because I became a mom. When Piper turned 1 I realized I wasn't feeling fulfilled and I needed a creative outlet. I had always planned on working in the corporate world and never really thought I would become a stay at home mom. So my work ethic got a little restless, I started playing with some metal stamping, then discovered resin, treated it as a business right away and the rest is history.

What are the different facets of SimplyOli? Unlike most blogs/websites (like mine!), you do not just do one thing, but many! I know that for me, writing and creating is therapeutic... is it the same with you?

Oh, it is most definitely a form of therapy for me! My curiosity paired with my love to just create whatever interests me definitely lead me down an interesting road. So SimplyOli started as pop culture spoon key chains with a little bit of nature jewelry (which has completely flipped), but now I have life vlogs, self help blogs, and short form podcast to help shift women to a more positive perspective within themselves and life. Things kind of went from just jewelry, to more of my life, to sharing my story and helping others in as many ways as I can. Each thing I do speaks to the same message but in it's own way, which is something I didn't plan intentionally but really love.

You are so warm and honest on SimplyOli; what has the reception been? Have you received a lot of feedback from readers?

Everyone has been absolutely amazing and so incredibly kind! I appreciate so much when people take the time to share what something I've said or made has meant to them. It also means the world when they feel comfortable enough to share their own personal experiences and stories with me and we can connect and have a discussion on topics that I know can be a little harder to share.

What are your tips for moms out there looking to begin their own blog/website?

Where should they begin? My tips would be:
1. Start out with something you love or are interested in (I had no idea what I was doing with resin but I had an interest and ran with it).
2. Don't get overwhelmed with what platform to use, just find a place to start and focus more on connecting on a real level with people.
3. Don't wait for validation. Being a mom is just one title you hold and it doesn't define who you are or what you can do with your life.
4. Do what works for you. Especially as moms we might think that we have to hire a sitter in order to work, or that if we can't be productive in business and keep the house clean in the same day that we're not doing a good job. Some days are wife, kid, and house heavy for me, and other days I'm crushing my work to do list but the house is a mess. There's no one way to do it so be okay with being flexible.

Has SimplyOli opened any doors that you weren’t expecting (whether it be financial, new friends, etc.)?

Oh yes! I've met some of my closest friends through starting this. It's also allowed me to be a part of big events and projects that have a special place in my heart, and showed me that really I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. Being able to help contribute financially is a bonus, but to be perfectly honest is something that can fluctuate and takes time to make more stable. But if you're only doing it for money then you're doing it wrong.

Tell us a little bit about podcasting: what inspired you to start one? What goes into making an episode?

I love listening to podcasts. I have a wireless bluetooth headset that I pop in my ear and no matter what I'm doing (work or kid related) I can listen and be inspired and educated by so many different people. I want to provide that to others and it ended up just not fitting well with my YouTube content. Everything I do has an essence of chaos and craziness to it and I love that the podcast removes all of that and is just me sharing what I've lived and what I know without any interruption and comes from a very peaceful place. The best part is that the podcast is the easiest piece of the SimplyOli pie! I write out an idea when it hits me (which typically becomes the title) and a one sentence description of the premise for the episode. Then at night when the kids are in bed I grab my inexpensive iPhone lavalier mic clipped to a small tripod, sit on the floor of my ridiculously messy closet and start chatting away. I do one listen through and edit out any long gaps where I had to think, then I convert it to an audio file and upload. Pretty simple!

Can you walk us through a day in your shoes? I’m sure there is never a dull moment with your two cute kiddos!

Oh never a dull moment! I just had to take a break from writing to let them use my body as a mini slide for a while haha! So our schedule is definitely not typical and is different every day, but works for us right now. We all wake up sometime around 10am-12pm, we have breakfast and spend time together. I look at my to do list for the day and see what I can do that doesn't need my full attention away from the kids or is a quicker task, and I basically squeeze in what I can while playing with them. Around 5 we go out for a walk and to the park. The girls unwind/nap when we get home and I'll squeeze in work that needs a little more attention. Then around 10-11pm we have dinner the girls go to bed an hour or two after that and I work on things like jewelry, writing, or podcasts that need more undivided attention. Around 2:30am I wrap up, make the next days to do list, and go to sleep around 3 - 3:30. Wherever I can I squeeze in meditation, yoga, reading, listening to podcasts throughout the day. It's all about finding balance with family, work, and self in each day.

Can you give us a little glimpse of what’s to come for your site? I think I saw something about courses coming soon...

Yes! I have plans to offer a resin course to help others avoid all of the trial and error I went through when first working with resin so that they can just enjoy it as a creative outlet as I do now! I also plan on offering a course to help shift women towards a more positive perspective in themselves and in life. I have another big project on the horizon that I haven't announced just yet so keep an eye out for that in the coming months. I'm just so excited to offer more things apart from jewelry that are geared towards helping others.

So amazing, right? To get in touch with Olivia, visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mom Boss Interview: Sharon Holck from Sharon Holck Photography & Blog

Alright moms (and dads) -- we've got a treat for you today! 

When you got engaged, married, had a baby, and/or hit any major life milestones, you probably hired a professional photographer to document the big moment, right?

If you are like me, you may have wondered what it takes to become a photographer (aside from gobs of talent and patience, of course) and whether or not it is a lucrative work-from-home position... well, today we are getting all of our questions answered, thanks to the amazing Sharon Holck! 

Sharon is a wife, mommy to a darling little girl, and photographer who lives in Hawaii (#goals), loves Fixer Upper (a girl after my own heart), and can always be found in a pair of mismatched socks :) She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Pratt Institute in New York and is THE person to go to for not only gorgeous photos, but also honest answers to all things business related. 

Cutest girls (and isn't Sharon's daughter the sweetest? I am dying over the pigtails)! 

Cutest girls (and isn't Sharon's daughter the sweetest? I am dying over the pigtails)! 

Sharon, please tell us a little bit about yourself: we know that you are an extremely talented photographer and busy mommy, but what else do you do in terms of either work or hobbies?

A little less than a year ago, I decided that it was time to get myself into better shape. I joined a local Stroller Strides group to get a chance to socialize with other moms as well as letting my daughter Riley play with kids her age. I know I'm not alone in saying staying at home can get isolating so this has really helped with me personally. We spend usually almost two hours with this group a few times week. I feel like I have this happy medium between stay at home and working mom because I work 3 nights a week at a restaurant being a photo host. They're short shifts that allow me to really only miss 3 of my daughters awake hours while still bringing in that little bit of extra money for bills or for building my photography business.

Have you always been in a creative line of work or is photography the first?

I have always been a creative person. I remember when I was little I was obsessed with making my own books. I would draw like as many zoo or water animals as I could and write little stories to go with my pictures. I also loved painting and drawing. I thought photography kind of came later but I was going through some old pictures and found that I've been kind of playing with cameras since I was maybe 7.

What got you into photography? Have you always had a knack for or interest in it?

 

My brother actually started me on my photography path. We are 10 years apart and so he was a big role model in my life. I wanted to be just like him. He always carried a camera around and when I was about 13 I told my parents I wanted a camera just like he does and they bought me this dinky little digital camera. I took a lot of pictures of animals and plants and my brother would always give me little lessons or projects for me to try and do. Over time, I started getting a lot of compliments from my family that my pictures were good but I had no idea I could make a living off of it. It was just a hobby. In college, I planned to go to veterinary school but I didn't get in. I didn't know what else to do so I took a photography class along side my other classes and fell in deep. I decided, this is what I wanted to do.

What inspired you to start Sharon Holck Photography? Can you share with us what it takes to start your own photography business?

 

When I actually started, my dream was to be a landscape and travel photographer for National Geographic. I kind of had this idea that I would shoot portraits for money but inspire to one day work and travel for them. That really changed though once I had my daughter. She was a complete surprise and honestly really scared me, but the idea of photographing her really got me through those first weeks and really helped my connection with her. I changed my focus completely to kid and family photography but my why was still missing. I knew I needed to figure out why my passion for photographing families was so strong in order to make me as a photographer stand out. It wasn't until one day at my restaurant job that I came across a man who I photographed a picture of him and his grandson. He loved the picture and wanted it but his wife didn't want to buy it. I couldn't bear to let him leave without it and printed him a small version of it before he left. I returned to my station knowing one day that little boy is just going to love that picture of him and his grandpa. I thought about my mom who passed away when I was a teenager and how I cherish every picture I have of me and her together and it all clicked. I photograph because I want to create a treasure that will only get sweeter as time goes on for every family.

There is obviously a lot more to being a photographer than just pointing the camera and clicking, so can you share what the process looks like and how much time you devote to most clients?

I think what it takes to start your own photography business is really knowing your why and your goals. It is one thing to love photography because trust me, I stayed there for years. Even when I already knew I wanted to be a photographer, my work still seemed flat until I figured out what drives me. You really need to take time to think about what makes you tick, what makes you special enough to make people want to hire you. You can take good pictures, but if you aren't passionate about the work you are doing, there will be always someone better they could work with.

 

I'll admit, that I am still in the beginnings of my photography business. So there has been a lot of testing the waters on my exact client experience. So far, I try to first bring all my clients through a small set of questions designed for me to get to know them, searching for at least something in common with them. We talk about locations, reasons for the session, and all that good stuff. While my packages all come with a time limit, I don't actually set a timer for these. My goal in the end is to create the best gallery of pictures possible for my clients. If I can get that done in 20 mins, that's cool. If it takes me an hour and a half then that is awesome too. After that I quickly edit 3-5 pictures as a sneak peek to deliver to them within 24 hours of their session and then depending on how much my daughter naps and sleeps, will depend on how fast I get through their editing. I give myself a 2 week turnaround but most times I'm done in a few days which equals probably between 10-15 hours of editing per job.

How do you market yourself and your business? Is there a certain platform (your website, FB, Instagram, etc.) that you would recommend to other mom bosses?

For the longest time I mostly used a facebook page. My business has had a lot of false starts so the page never did really well. I am really a little over a year of hardcore working on my business every single day to start getting it somewhere. I have been working really hard on my instagram and figuring out how to use instagram stories for people to get to know me. My brother and I are currently working on a full rebrand for my business and will be launching a new website hopefully in the next month or so through Showit.co.

Lastly, I started a blog a little under a year ago and since publishing it and keeping up with it, I have noticed a real build in my client base. I try to keep it pretty casual. On Monday's I try to focus more on mommy life going over what we've been up to as a family, or sharing tips, funny stories and all that jazz. And then on Thursdays I post photography related posts that deal with my photo sessions or thoughts on photography.

And now for my favorite question: Do you have a favorite work memory that you can share (whether it be sweet, funny, etc.)?

I am totally like the most clumsy and ditzy photographer ever I swear. I think in front of almost all my clients I either will have a time where I am about to start photographing and I forget the lens cap is on or I just don't watch where I'm stepping and trip or fall into something. It's a miracle I haven't broken any bones or equipment yet. But perhaps one of my most recent fun photo memories was I recently did an even through Stroller Strides where moms could donate toys to a children's hospital and I would take some Valentine's Day pictures. I had 12 back to back photography sessions in my home cause we got rained out. I had set up a studio in our dining room and set up a play room so kids could play and wait. My daughter (she's 2) has been photographed so much she is becoming my little mini me and it cracks me up. As families would walk in, she would greet the kids and tell them to come. She would bring the to the back drop and tell them where to sit and then to look at me and say "cheese!" Which I don't even know where she got that from cause I don't even tell her to say cheese but just to smile or look at me. At one point, I'm photographing a family and she comes and grabs her play camera and sits next to me and starts calling them and taking her own pictures. I really wish someone would have snapped a picture of it cause it was so darn cute! If any kids were a little scared she would even jump into the photos and hold their hands or pat their back and try to make them see it was okay. I just love how much of a little helper she is becoming and I wonder if one day we might become a family business.

If you want to get in touch with Sharon and/or just enjoy her beautiful work, be sure to visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram