What does your business do?
I am a full time professional lifestyle photographer based on the borders of Manchester and Cheshire. My main website is www.suewestwood-ruttledge.co.uk, I am also in the process of launching an equestrian photography website called www.horsephotographeruk.co.uk. I cover commercial, corporate, families, children, maternity, babies, boudoir, pets, fashion, model portfolios. I am predominantly a natural light photographer and prefer shooting on location rather than in a studio. The equine website has developed through a love of horses, being a horse owner myself and through demand for beautiful images capturing the relationship between horse and owner.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I have been self-employed since my early 20’s, first having a fitness business, then a construction company for 6 years until I decided to take the plunge and do what I am passionate about and started the photography business 12 months ago. I don’t think I could ever work for anyone; I love being my own boss, and have helped several other new business owners learn the ropes as it were.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest challenge has to be pricing, If I could I would not charge and do this for free, my husband wouldnt be too happy with that though! Im certainly no sales woman, and do find it hard to upsell.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Good question…I don’t think I have as yet…it’s work in progress, I’ve always hated the car salesman technique, I prefer to suggest ideas and options rather than cajole! I want my customers to be happy, recommend me and build a long-term relationship with me, that’s more important.
What advice or tips would you give to other business owners?
You need to constantly market your business in different areas. For me social media is fantastic as I have such a visual business, lots of my work comes from my Facebook business page, I also use Twitter and LinkedIn. I am a member of several networking groups and also do collaborations with other businesses. Advertising in magazines etc doesn’t work for me; there are plenty of other more cost effective ways to spend your marketing budget! Make sure you have a professional website and a blog, blogs are great for search engine rankings as if you regularly update your blog, Google sees this as new content and puts your page higher up the ranking.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland
Who inspires you?
In business Richard Branson for his “Lets give it a go” attitude and when things don’t go quite right he has the ability to dust himself down and move on to the next project – dogged determination. In life – Stephen Hawking for his amazing passion and dedication for his subject and for finding a way to communicate and continue to work through his adversity. There’s many more inspirational people, but these immediately two stand out to me.