One of my favorite things to do at the end of each year is to lookback on everything that has happened and share some of the highlights with you! I love to reflect on the good and bad, the messy and successful, and to celebrate my business wins in a format that I can revisit down the line. Seeing how I’m just now getting around to posting this one in Q2 of 2022, it’s safe to say I wasn’t sure if 2021’s year in review was going to make the cut. I’m really proud of everything I accomplished last year (and the things I learned through trial and error), and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Below you’ll find my photography business’ highlights and celebrations from 2021! You’ll also find just a few of my goals for 2022 and some of the challenges I faced last year!
I took a year off from marketing my business and still grew by 46%
This comes in first on the list because the break is what I honestly needed the most. I love digital marketing and have helped many clients create a marketing plan that works for them and their business. While I know the importance of consistency, social media, and creating engaging content, I was past the point of burn out and needed to step back from one of my responsibilities. Thankfully, due to having a strategic marketing plan on the front end, I was able to take an entire year off from social media (and marketing in general) without seeing a hit on my business revenue or leads.
In fact, I paused on all marketing efforts during 2021 and I still grew my clientele by 46% and my revenue by 43%. In 2020 the Mandy Liz team served 82 clients and in 2021 we worked with 120 clients! I’m proud that the Mandy Liz brand was able to grow by so much, keep a consistently booked calendar, remain a 6 figure photography business and do it all while stepping away from marketing my business. (If this sounds dreamy to you, I’d love to help you develop a strategic marketing plan that can do the heavy lifting for you and provide a long-term return on your time investment.)
The team is still growing!!
Any other business owners struggle with letting go of the reins? I love my business and I’m proud of what I’ve created, but that has held me back from outsourcing and delegating at times. In 2021 I filled 3 roles in my business with ladies that were truly the perfect fit. First, I brought on 2 more contractors! My bookkeeper, Madison Dearly, and my photography editor, McKenzie. Both of these ladies have been true answers to prayer. Madison has freed up my time when it comes to bookkeeping and tracking numbers, and she helped me grow my mindset around business finances and profitability. I’m so grateful to have her speaking wisdom over my finances and expenses. McKenzie has been an amazing add on as well, and it’s truly only because of her help with client work that we were able to grow our clientele by 46% in 1 year.
The last hire I made came towards the end of the year. At this point I was pretty exhausted, struggling to stay on top of my inbox and administrative work, and really needed an extra set of eyes and hands to help me stay on top of my clients and leads. Enter Kirstin, my latest hire and virtual assistant (and also a complete God-send). Kirstin has been amazing since day 1 and I’m so thankful to have her on the team. She started working with me in November and it’s been really fun to find our groove together to create a more streamlined business, deliver an exceptional client experience, and to dream up this next phase of Mandy Liz as a team.
My brand photography got featured on Forbes and New York Post (and 2 printed magazines)
This one felt like a big deal (and was such a reminder that I work with really amazing women)! I completely freaked out when I woke up to an email saying my picture was used in a Forbes article. My brand pictures also made it in an article on New York Post! On top of those online features, my photos were printed in local magazines including Nashville Lifestyles Weddings and Mount Juliet Lifestyle.
the Mandy Liz brand got some major TLC with a new website and new brand design
My little corner of the internet got a major makeover in 2021! I launched a refreshed website with a greater focus on serving brand photography clients in Nashville. Mandy Liz was also rebranded in general. I worked with Kindly by Kelsea to redesign my logos, fonts and colors, and I’m so obsessed with how it all turned out! If I had to pick just 2 things I love about my new brand design it’d be the way it’s deeply connected to my Argentine roots and travel, and the symbolism behind the peacock feather.
The vibrant yellow color in my brand is directly from the sun on the Argentine flag, and the font used in the logo is Argentine-designed. I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, and that city will forever have the deepest roots in my heart. I’m grateful for this subtle nod to a part of my story that means so much to me. The playful stamp design also nods to my love of travel.
What I love about the peacock symbol is how it perfectly represents the way my brand photography clients stand out from the crowd with confidence and uniqueness. On top of being a symbol for confidence, I have a deeply personal connection to the peacock feather and all it represents in my life! When my husband proposed, he did so with a scavenger hunt with peacock stationery, and when we got married in Paris, we had peacocks freely roaming the park.
My favorite elements of my new website are definitely my Nashville brand photography client showcase page and the new layout of the blog. A lot of thought and trial and error went into redesigning the website, because I wanted it to stand out more for business owners while not having brides or families feel out of place. We achieved this successfully with the new and extensive menu designs and the drop down service options in the banner menu.
I owned the “educator” title
In July of 2021 I had a 1:1 strategy call with my business coach, Amber Housley. She said something on the call that stood out to me: “You’re an educator at heart.” This probably sounds silly to most, but before that call I hadn’t considered myself an educator. I knew I had a lot to offer and educate on, but I didn’t feel that the title fit me. It’s funny how imposter syndrome and comparisons make us play small. That call was pivotal in encouraging me to own the title of “educator.”
In 2021 I continued leading the brand photography mastermind I put together in 2020, I was an in-person speaker and strategist at the SOWBO Passive Income Mastermind in September, and I taught 5 sessions about SEO and Pinterest at the Website Traffic Secrets digital summit. These opportunities allowed me to strengthen my speaking skills while sharing about impactful marketing strategies that have grown my business!
I also got to work with a handful of ladies for 1:1 calls about pivoting into brand photography and marketing your brand photography business!
As a business owner I’ve always prioritized profitability and am proud of the fact that I’ve been profitable since year 1. So many business owners keep reinvesting money into their business without ever paying themselves or making sure they turn a profit. In 2021 I made a change to my accounting practices and implemented the Profit First method. Wow!! I was aware of the profit first practice, but I didn’t know what kind of impact it would have on me and my own business.
First off, Profit First completely unleveled my mindset when it comes to business finances. It took something that felt complicated and confusing and turned it into a streamlined and consistent system where I know exactly how to manage and payout my cashflow. Implementing Profit First took a lot of the stress and worry that comes with a seasonal and inconsistent business model and made it so I can pay myself the same salary every single month like an employee. This means that when slow season hits, I’m able to stay positive and enjoy the down time instead of stress. Thanks to Profit First at any given time I have 7-9 months of my salary in my Owner Pay account.
The second thing I love about the Profit First method is that it provides boundaries and expectations for expenses. You set aside your profit, taxes and owner pay, and only after that do you put money in the operating expenses account. Managing your business finances in this way helps you sustain a profit and not make poor spending decisions.
Switching to the Profit First accounting method truly had one of the biggest impacts on my mindset last year, and I’m so happy I implemented this principle.
Serving Nashville and Beyond
In 2021 I had 4 out of town brand photography photoshoots! Oftentimes my out of state clients will travel to Nashville for us to work together. But it’s always fun when I get to capture them in their own space! I loved working with clients in Boston, Florida, Chattanooga and Kentucky!
On a Personal Note
Here are a few personal moments that stood out!
We adopted our 2 kittens, Asterix and Catalina!
After saying goodbye to our senior cats in 2021, we were finally ready to rescue again in the spring. Asterix came to us in early May after falling from a truck onto a busy highway on a stormy day. Luckily my friend’s son was driving behind the truck and spotted as the tiny, grey tabby rolled onto the pavement. Just 1 month later we adopted our gorgeous calico, Catalina, from Last Chance Pet Rescue. She was rescued from a hoarding case not long before she was ready for adoption. It’s been the greatest joy to integrate them into our home and become a family of 6 again!
First time aunt
I got to celebrate my sister-in-law and brother by throwing them a virtual baby shower! Just a few months later I got to meet my niece, and I became a first time aunt!
Thirty, flirty and thriving
I turned 30 and my sweet friends threw me a picnic-style birthday party to celebrate! I loved having my different groups of friends intersect and meet each other! My mom made homemade empanadas and ordered a specific kind of bread from Argentina to make sandwiches de miga, a party staple back home. Obviously we couldn’t miss out on French macarons either!
2 weeks off from work and a surprise girls trip
The pandemic was hard in many ways. One of the most difficult things for us was the fact that it kept us from family and friends. One of our dearest friends who I grew up with my whole life lives in Argentina. Her last visit was in January of 2020. Unfortunately once Covid hit we weren’t able to see her due to travel restrictions.
In November she finally was able to visit and spent 3 weeks with us. One of my big goals was to take off a full 2 weeks to enjoy my time with her. That’s right around the time I hired Kirstin, and I’m so happy I was able to take time off! I set aside my tips and used them to plan a surprise trip for my friend and mom! We visited Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and saw The Biltmore all decorated for Christmas. As an extra bonus, the immersive Van Gogh exhibit was at the Biltmore during our visit, so we enjoyed that too! It was such a fun girls trip! I’m so grateful I was able to step back during busy season to intentionally focus on time with family.
Intentions for 2022
I invested in Powersheets at the end of 2021 to inform my goals and intentions for the new year. The word I chose for 2022 is “Ease”. Freedom from anxiety. Relaxed condition with an absence of effort or pressure. Quiet state of mind, quiet happiness and contentment.
My biggest hopes for this year are:
- Become a better CEO and continue seeking God’s wisdom in my business
- Launch a new branch of products and services to a new demographic (more coming soon!!)
- Prioritize the health of my body and mind… This means leaning into slower living, nurturing my relationships with greater intention, manage our household with care and warmth, and letting my personal needs take a front seat to my business.