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Wedding Photographer & Educator

Tioga, nd
Manhattan, KS

chelsy weisz


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If you have ever worked with me before in any capacity, you know I hate when things are inefficient. I cringe when I can see a better way of doing things, and people are wasting time energy, and resources when simple tweaks or tools can speed things up, and make things easier.  — I’m talking […]

Wedding Photographer + Educator

WElcome to the chelsy weisz BLog

resources and tools to help you up level your business and life

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My New Photo Culling Tool | Narrative Select

Photographer Education

If you have ever worked with me before in any capacity, you know I hate when things are inefficient. I cringe when I can see a better way of doing things, and people are wasting time energy, and resources when simple tweaks or tools can speed things up, and make things easier.  — I’m talking nails on a chalkboard cringe! 

As a work-from-home mom, every minute counts when I’m working.  I love my business but I started this business to be able to be home with my kiddos have a creative outlet, and contribute to our household bottom line. Spending hours in front of my computer culling thousands of images after a wedding was not the reason I started my business.  

Best tool for culling photos 

I thought I had hit the jackpot when I found photo mechanic years ago. While it’s still a great tool, it’s not the best tool for the job anymore, and I’m so freaking excited to share a new gem with you today! 

Introducing Narrative Select! Narrative Select uses AI technology to speed up your efficiency and accuracy when culling images. I’m gonna be totally honest I was not looking to replace photomechanic when Narrative reached out to me to trial their product, but I booked the demo call and gave it a shot in the middle of my busiest week of the year! Guys this MacOS program is freaking magic! Scroll below to see it in action! 

How it works

So here is how it works, Select shows you when faces are out of focus or blinking – so you can quickly eliminate those quickly. Personally, I didn’t really find culling to be that big of a chore it was just something that had to be done, so there was no use fussing about it. 

The thing about Select that I like the best is the focus detection. I hate when images aren’t as sharp as they should be. And after hours of staring at a computer sometimes it’s just hard to tell how sharp of a focus you got on images. This has increased the accuracy of my culling, and I’m not going back anytime soon! 

The other thing I love about Select is its scene tool. This tool basically groups images that are similar so you can ensure you aren’t including too many of a certain thing or too few of something else. This is incredibly useful for both wedding photography as well as portrait sessions.  I love ensuring my seniors get an equal number of images in each outfit and location and the scenes tool helps. 

Check out this video to see all these tools in action plus a bit more! 

Free Plan Available + Discount Code Below! 

Narrative Select has to options a free plan which is essentially the free version of photomechanic. Their paid option grants you access to the AI technology that sets Narrative Select apart. Narrative Select was kind enough to let me hook you up with a discount code! Click here to get access to a 10% discount code if you decide to upgrade to their paid version. Otherwise, you should totally use their free version! Code: chelsyweisz10
Got questions their support team based in New Zealand is phenomenal, make sure you read their emails in a kiwi accent!

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Finally Understand What ISO is, and How it Affects Photos

New Photographers

When you first get your camera and want to learn how to use it you probably took to the internet.  Because who has time or patients to read a user’s manual?!  Trying to figure out how to use your new camera can be frustrating. There are all these terms like ISO aperture, shutter speed, white balance, exposure compensation, the list goes on By now you may have stumbled over something called the exposure triangle.  

What is the exposure triangle? 

The exposure triangle is made up of three things ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. Today we are going to be focusing on ISO.  For me, this was the tricker one for me to wrap my head around especially when you see most people explaining it simply as how sensitive your camera is to light.  

While technically that is correct, that explanation didn’t really make sense to my very visual brain. I had to reach back into  the filing cabinets of my brain to a photography class I took in 4-H when I was 8.  Now this was back in 1999 so while digital cameras were available they were still very expensive so this was actually a film photography class at a local camera shop in Salina, KS. 

Our instructor was explaining how film worked and what the numbers meant.  Choosing your film is very much like choosing your ISO.  The higher the number the more sensitive your film or your camera is to light.  – Now this doesn’t really help because that’s the same exact explanation you see everywhere else.  

A visual for how ISO works 

The way I learned is you can think of a sheet of paper as your photo if you choose an ISO or a film of 100 you can imagine 100 circles on a page.  Each of these little circles soaks up light.  The more circles there are, the more light the photo soaks up. 

this represents an ISO of 100
This represents an ISO of about 400
This represents an ISO of about 1500
side by side of ISO 100 left and ISO 1500 right

This also helps to visually see how grain in photos happens. 

Camera settings: 1/200 sec f2.8 ISO 1250
Lens: 105mm 2.8

As you get more and more little circles they start to crowd each other, and that crowding causes little distortions in your photo called grain. All the little circles get a little smooshed, and they start to almost overlap. Here is a photo example of what grain looks like if we were to zoom in close.

Camera settings: 1/200 sec f2.8 ISO 1250
Lens: 105mm 2.8

See how on the photo above on the wall there are little specs? That is grain. That is where these circles are squashing up against each other to capture enough light to expose the photo. This photo was taken at a courthouse wedding with very little light.

Why higher ISO?

So why would you ever crank up your ISO to something like 2000?  Well sometimes you are in situations where you need to balance out your exposure triangle with a higher ISO. This can happen when photographing a quick moving subject in a dark setting. You need your shutter speed quick enough to freeze the motion, and your lens is already maxed out on how wide it opens with your aperture, so you bump up your ISO in hopes of not getting too much grain, and having a photo turn out. 

Photography is an art form!

Some photographers love the grainy look, and this is where your own shooting style comes in.  The one thing about photography is you have to know the rules to break the rules, this is true in any art form really! — I think new photographers start to dig into what technically makes a photo correct that they often forget that photography is an art form and it’s okay to break the rules.  But you have to know how the rules work in order to get the photo you are trying to achieve, so you know what to change or adjust. 

DSLR vs Film

One of the beautiful things about DSLR or digital cameras is you can change your ISO whenever you want. On film cameras you set your ISO when you choose what film to use, and you are stuck there for the entire roll of film. 

Whenever I am getting my settings set for a shoot, or to take photos of my kids, I always set my ISO first.  Often I won’t need to change it once I get started, especially if my lighting situation stays consistent.  If however the sun starts to set, or some dark clouds roll in I may have to bump up my ISO.  

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts all about aperture and shutter speed! 

So did this visualization help you to understand ISO a bit better? Let me know in the comments!

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Start a Photography Business on a Budget

The Wise Photographer Podcast

Starting a photography business can be expensive when you really start to look at the cost of things like equipment, advertising, and education.  It’s crazy how fast things can add up, $12 monthly subscription here, new lens there, oh, and you probably need some new props right.  Before you know it, you’ve spent more money then you made this month, which is not the point of a business right! We go into business to make money, not lose money, yet I often hear about photographers who are losing money on their business. That is no good, my friend!  In this episode, I’ll share the top ways you can start a photography business on a budget, so you can feel savvy and confident that you are being responsible, and get your business up and running now! 

We have all heard the phrase you have to spend money to make money.  While that is partially true, it doesn’t mean you have to spend all your money! Today I’m sharing the top 5 categories where you can save money and share with you the things that have made the most bang for my buck as I started my photography business. 


So let’s start with Learning. One of my favorite things about photography is there is so much to learn.  New techniques, best business practices, and ways of controlling light and your education inside the photography world are never truly finished.  You will always be growing and learning as a business owner and artist. That’s a good thing in life if we are not growing, we are dying, and the same is true for your business.  Eventually, you are going to pay for your education.  That is where I spend the majority of the money I reinvest in my business these days.

eventually you will invest

By investing in online courses and workshops, you are saving yourself a lot of time.  Because all the information you are looking to learn is ready and waiting for you in one spot, instead of bootstrapping your education and piecing together things from places all over the web. 

free education for photographer

  However, there are some fantastic free education resources out there, it just takes some time and dedication to find them and squeezing all the excellent knowledge you can out.  First off if you haven’t already subscribed to The Wise Photographer Podcast scoot over to your favorite podcasting platform and click that subscribe button The next place I suggest checking out is CreativeLive.  On CreativeLive you can watch classes live for free, and then you have the option of purchasing them to rewatch them after, over and over.  They also offer a monthly and annual pass that gains you access to over 15,000 online classes, which is a pretty amazing deal.  

YouTube is another excellent spot to find information and tutorials on all types of content. My biggest advice for YouTube is if one video isn’t making sense to you try the next, sometimes you might not get someone’s teaching style, and that’s okay; just move on to the next.  

Where you will learn the most for free!

However, the number one thing that is going to teach you the most and is absolutely free is practice.  Practice learning your camera. To be a photographer I truly believe you need to be able to shoot in manual.  Digital cameras are free to practice on too compared to film cameras since you don’t need to pay to develop your film rolls. So practice away.  If you are just starting to learn manual, I created a free camera settings cheat sheet you can print off and take with you on your next practice shoot.  You can find it in the link below, or by heading to thewisephotographerpodcast.com 

Equipment and props 

When it comes to equipment, please understand that the top of the line cameras are something you work towards, not something you need from the get-go.  I personally shot my first two years of my business on a Nikon D5100  I learned everything I could about that camera.  Then I upgraded to a used Nikon D3s.  Purchasing used gear is a great way to work your way up. When I started shooting weddings, I didn’t have two cameras.  Because the last thing you want to happen on a wedding day is for your camera to break or malfunction and not have some type of a backup camera, so I actually would rent a second camera body making sure to include that in the price of the wedding.  This let me try out different camera bodies to decide what I wanted to upgrade to.  I live in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota, so I used lensprotogo.com to rent gear. 

sourcing props for your shoot

When it comes to props, they can add up fast.  The first place I always look when I need some type of prop is my house.  Shopping your own home is a great way to save money on photography props.  A white sheet can be used as a diffuser for a window or used to bounce light. A white poster board also makes a great reflector and only costs a couple of bucks! Eventually, you will be able to reinvest in props for your business but always shop your house first! 

Marketing + online presence 

Alright, let’s chat about marketing and your online presence.  When it comes to your website, I highly suggest using WordPress.  With WordPress, you will have the cost of your domain and hosting.  WordPress is the most used and trusted platform for blogging.  You can find WordPress site templates at almost any price point.  I use Showit for my site design, which integrates with WordPress. Showit is a great platform and is extremely easy to drag and drop to create beautiful websites, but it’s pretty spendy right out of the gate. 

email marketing

When it comes to email marketing, my favorite company hands down is Flodesk.  Flodesk makes it incredibly easy to create branded emails on a budget.  They have a ton of pre-designed and pre-written emails to help get your creative juices flowing.  Their emails are easy to customize with your brand colors and fonts.  You can create workflows, welcome sequence, and so much more.  Flodesk is Best of all its all included in one flat fee of just $38 a month.  No getting penalized for growing your list or sending more emails. I’ve got something super exciting for you too, Flodesk is giving listeners of the wise photographer podcast 50% off their first year. Yep, you can get Flodesk for less than $20 a month with code WISEPHOTOGRAPHER.  Or You can head to the show notes below for a direct link! What’s even better is you get to try Flodesk for free for 30 days.  You don’t even need to put in a credit card!  Remember the code is WISEPHOTOGRAPHER to get 50% off after your free trial 

Graphic Design tools on a budget

Now that we have you looking like a professional email marketer, its time to make sure the rest of your graphics look just as swell! That’s where my favorite and free design tool comes in! Canva.  If you haven’t checked out Canva yet, you are missing out.  Canva has replaced photoshop when it comes to design work for me.  I can create graphics, Instagram quotes, marketing pieces for Facebook, pins for Pinterest, and my website all from Canva.  I love that it’s all stored online so I can access all my designs and templates from any computer with internet access. 

Leveraging social media

Speaking of social media.  Social media is the number one spot to market your business for free!  You can use native scheduling tools inside Facebook to batch your work.  Just remember you don’t have to be everywhere.  Pick one or two platforms and rock them.  Get consistent at showing up, and your audience will grow! 

Eventually, you may want to invest in tools like Tailwind or Plann to get more strategic on your marketing plan, but when you are just starting out just focus on using the scheduling tools already built into the platform of your choice. 

Gaining experience 

When it comes to gaining experience and building your portfolio, personal projects are a great way to get started.  A personal project is something you are doing for yourself and your business; no one is paying you.  If you are looking at planning a styled shoot or portfolio building shoot head back to episode 29 where we walked through the process from start to finish. 

Once you start booking clients 

So business is starting to pick up, emails are coming in, and the phone is starting to ring.  Now it’s time to start investing in things that will help your workflow and ensure you are providing your clients with a consistent and efficient experience.  The first thing I suggest investing in at this point is some type of client management software.  I personally use HoneyBook.  It’s effortless to use and navigate.  It also looks great since you can customize your client portal to reflect you and your brand.  HoneyBook stores all your contract templates gives you the ability to send questionnaires to your clients, keeps all your emails, invoices, and notes in one place.  They have an easy to use app that even notifies you when you receive payments! Honeybook is giving listeners to The Wise Photographer Podcast 50% off just head to honeybookwithchelsy.com to receive your 50% off discount! 

Legal Things

Once you start getting people wanting to book a session with you, you will want to invest in contract templates.  ShopCreativeLaw.com is my go-to spot for all things legal.  You want to ensure you are keeping yourself and your clients protected legally; that is why it is so important to have every client sign a contract.  It’s also going to make you look legit to your clients because you are! 

Welcome Packet

The final thing you will want to invest in is some type of welcome packet for your clients.  A welcome packet will clearly explain your policies, what your clients can do to prepare for their session, and what to expect during the session.  It also is a place to let them know how things will go down after the session. You can include things like what to wear tips and tricks, how you will chat with their kids for a bit to get them to warm up to you before you pull out a big camera and stick it in their face.  

The goal of the welcome packet is to help prepare your session to work with you and answer any questions they might have before they even ask. A welcome packet can be as elaborate as you would like.  It’s a great way to reaffirm your clients made a great decision by deciding to work with you.  

digital welcome packets are a must and only cost is the first investment

Welcome packets can be printed in a magazine. It can even be made up of multiple separate cards inside a nice folder. Or they can be digital.  To save money, I highly suggest going digital right away.  You can use Canva to create your own, or you can check out the welcome packet designs at ChelsyWeiszShop.com. The beauty in digital welcome packets is you can change things as often as you need. This means you can update images or change wording, and it won’t cost you to reprint anything.  You can store your PDF on google drive or as an attachment to an email and just email it over as soon as your client has signed their contract and paid their deposit.  

Once you start raising your pricing, you may want to consider going with a printed welcome packet or welcome magazine. But for now, there is no excuse not to do a digital one. 

Wow, guys, that was a lot! It’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to starting a photography business. There is so much to do.  That’s why I created a simple little checklist with the 12 things you must have to start a photography business.  Grab your copy of the checklist, head to the show notes below. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. I hope you feel armed with some savvy tips on starting a photography business on a budget.  That’s it, for now, I’ll see you guys in the next episode! 

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5 Things I got Right When Starting My Photography Business

The Wise Photographer Podcast

Starting a photography business can seem so overwhelming.  There are a million things to do and learn equipment and editing techniques to master. Then you step back and wonder if you’re even doing any of it right, or are you wasting time and money on things that don’t matter in the long run.  I get it I was there once.  It’s completely overwhelming! I got really hung up on making sure I was doing things right. While I did a lot right, I also got stuck in research mode and didn’t actually do anything to move my business forward. Have no fear, my friend today. I’m flipping back to my business’s early days and sharing the five things I got right when it came to starting my photography business. Tackle these things and you’ll up and running in no time, already checked some items off the list, way to go, keep up the good work! 

Make It Legal

When you first get your camera you want to Practice practice practice on your friends, your family, your dog, it’s what everyone does when they get a camera.  But there comes the point when you decide you are going to turn this into a business. You are going to exchange photos, whether digital or prints, for cash money! That’s awesome that’s amazing you are about to enter the world of entrepreneurship its fun, its exciting, its scary sometimes. But to make that transaction, ya gotta make it official with your state! That means legally creating your business.  I highly suggest getting your LLC, limited liability company, especially if you are going to be photographing people of any kind.  

An LLC is set up to protect you. If heaven forbid something crazy were to happen, and you lost all the photos from a wedding, or someone got bit by a snake and died after you told them to stand in tall grass, and a client decided to sue you, they could only go after the business and not things like your house or other assets. For more information on LLCs and to learn what an article of organization is head to episode 18, where I sat down with Paige, the lead attorney at shop creative law .com oh and grab a pen because Paige shared so much in that episode you will want to take notes! 

Each state is a little different on the paperwork required to create your LLC, but a quick search on google will get you started in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to call your state, too, with any questions you may have! 

Thinking Through What You Want to be Known for

Once you have your business all squared away with the state, its time to figure out precisely what you want to photograph, what you want to be known for photographing.  This is called finding your niche.  Your niche is basically a narrowing your focus.  You could be a newborn photographer, but you could niche down to a lifestyle newborn photographer who only shoots in clients’ homes.  You could be a wedding photographer who loves photographing tattooed brides, or maybe a beach destination wedding photographer. By narrowing in on your niche, you can be extremely specific of who your ideal client is.  When you really nail down who your ideal client is, you can stop screaming to the masses and speaking to the heart of the people you are here to serve with your talent and creativity. 

I did a deep dive into finding your niche back in episode 2, but here are the basics to consider when you are trying to find your niche.  First, it’s okay to not know right off the bat what you want to specialize in.  I’m guessing you change your mind a few times, deciding on what you wanted to be when you grew between the time you were five and now. You may need to try a few things to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.  If you think weddings might be your thing, then second shoot some.  If you want to try food photography, try it.  Remember you don’t have to share every single image you take, you are allowed to try things make mistakes. 

Once you find a subject you like to shoot, start to narrow in on how you can carve out your own niche in the market. When you get to identify your ideal client, you want to get crystal clear on who that person is and who they are not.  Then you have the opportunity to start gearing your marketing and branding to speak directly to them instead of screaming into the crowd, hoping anyone will hire you! 

Curating your Portfolio 

I started pulling out the best images from ever shoot I shot and uploading them to an online gallery title portfolio.  This did a few things for me.  First, it gave me a sudden confidence boost because I got to see all of my best work in one spot. I got to see how I was growing as an artist.  I was able to look back on images and see what I did right and where I could improve.  This was almost a way of tracking my progress.  Ya know when you start working out the tell you to take before and after photos. As human beings, we thrive on achieving goals. We get a nice little hit of dopamine, the happiness hormone when we achieve something. Research has proved time and time again that we are at our happiest when we are improving. By keeping all your portfolio images in one spot instead of scattered around, you are able to see that progress.  

Another thing you can do is see if there is anything you want to add to your portfolio. Take a step back and see what is missing.  Do you always use the same two poses, maybe you need to focus on learning more poses to create a more diversified gallery for your clients?  When you take that step back and see something is missing, you have an opportunity to plan a portfolio building photoshoot.  These shoots are designed to help you learn and grow as an artist.  You can use them to brush off the dust at the beginning of a new season or practice a new technique if you are interested in learning more about how you can get strategic in planning and executing portfolio building photoshoots tune into episode 28! 


I started using a client management software, or CRM I started using one almost right out of the gate, and it made me feel and act like I had a legit business. Nearly a year ago, I switched companies and switched to Honeybook.  It took me a while to make the decision to change since I had so much data stored with my other provider, but Honeybook made it super simple!  

Whatever client management system you decide to go with, it should be capable of these things at a minimum.  

  • Store contact information
  • Allow you to create a questionnaire for clients to fill out
  • Keep all your emails back and forth in one spot
  • Allow you to create and store email templates
  • Allows clients to sign contracts and book online 
  • Accept payment online

Honeybook checks all of these boxes, plus it is super easy to customize with your branding colors and elements to provide your clients with a polished and professional look! 

Honeybook has a special offer for listeners of The Wise Photographer Podcast.  You can get 50% off your first year of honeybook by going to honeybookwithchelsy.com 


Did you know I was in business for two years before I upgraded to a full-frame camera?  Yep!  I did invest in a couple of full-frame lenses before I upgraded my body, but I wanted to absolutely master my camera before I upgraded. This meant I had to learn how to shoot in manual mode.  You can not fully become a photographer of any kind if you can not master the basics of shooting in manual.  

I use to take my camera and go for a walk around the house, making sure to go into different lighting situations.  I would go from dark to light and back again, practicing finding my settings quickly.  Now my camera is an extension of my hand almost.  I can set my settings before I even take a single test shot.  But it took a lot of practice to get to that point.  Don’t rely on auto ISO or aperture priority; make it a goal to learn how to shoot in full manual everywhere you go.  Get to know your camera like the back of your hand.  A camera is only as powerful as the person holding it.

I promise when you finally figure it out and really understand how you can use your settings and manipulate them to take this idea for a photo and turn it into a real photo, you will be ecstatic.  It’s like unlocking this secret. It’s incredible and wonderful and gives you the ability to stretch yourself as an artist, so you can propel your business forward leaps and bounds! 

You guys, that was so much fun taking a look back down memory lane to the early days in my business.  I didn’t do everything right, I made some mistakes, but these five things really set me up for long-term success.  They helped me get a jump on my business, and I hope these items will do the same for you!  If just started or you’re thinking about starting your own business, grab this free download the 12 things you need to start a photography business. You can get your copy by going to the show notes below.

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Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the Curb with Dr. Tiffany Eurich

Photographer Education

Welcome to episode 25 of The Wise Photographer Podcast. Researchers say that imposter syndrome has a tendency to affect women more often than men. Today I’m sitting down with Tiffany Eurich to share 10 ways you can kick imposter syndrome to the curb!

Dr. Tiffany Eurich is passionate about helping entrepreneurs stand out in saturated markets by increasing their brand’s visibility, authority, and impact. Tiffany has a Ph.D. and over 20 years of experience in the communications industry, as a university professor, strategist, author, and the host of several TV programs. She’s seen imposter syndrome rear its ugly head in many different forms, and she realizes sometimes it takes someone else to help you see your genius and keep pushing forward.

how to stop imposter syndrome as a photographer, get the skills, and tactics from Dr Tiffany Eurich on episode 25 of The Wise Photographer Podcast with Chelsy Weisz

She’s slightly obsessed with high heels and anything research-driven, and when she isn’t helping clients create PR strategies or get confident in front of the camera, she’s probably trying to keep a sourdough starter alive, or working in the family vineyard (which she affectionately refers to as farming with a better publicist).

How would you explain what imposter syndrome is?

Tiffany: (05:58)
Well, the funny thing about you asking me to talk about this, which thank you so much for inviting me. It was quite an honor, is it? At first, I thought I’ve got a little bit of imposter syndrome about talking about imposter syndrome. It was very meta in truth, I feel like I’m very qualified because this is something I deal with all the time and it’s something that I’ve seen in my students and the people I work with all the time. And I know that many researchers say that it has a tendency to affect women more often than men, but I do know men that it dramatically affects the part of my story. I didn’t tell you at the beginning was my very first time in the television studio. I was sitting there in the television studio going live and I forgot my own name.

Tiffany: (06:38)
It was on the teleprompter. So the fact that my entire career has revolved in one way or another around public speaking and being on-air and being a media personality is kind of a miraculous thing in and of itself. But at that moment I learned I can push through and keep going and getting better at this, or I can let this humiliate me and never do this again. And so I think there’s a lot of power in pushing through, but imposter syndrome has been described by people differently in different ways. Um, I’ve heard some people describe imposter syndrome as the inability to internalize your accomplishments, so you aren’t able to look objectively at what you’ve done and say, okay, I’m good at that. I’ve heard it also described as your imbalanced or inaccurate perception of your abilities compared to other people who are doing similar things.

Tiffany: (07:27)
I have a mentor who described it to me once and this really sort of transformed the way I looked at imposter syndrome. She said, imagine that you decide that you want to run a half marathon and so you train and you train any train and you run that half marathon successfully. Then you do a couple of them successfully and then you decide, okay, now I’m going to run a full marathon. And so you look at where you’re at and where you need to be to run that full marathon and while the skills that got you to the half marathon are going to help you, it’s not enough to get to that full marathon. We look at step one and then we look at step 10 and we can’t imagine how we’ll ever be able to do step 10 when we’re only equipped with the skills for step one and she said that imposter syndrome is the space in between step one and step 10 where you can’t imagine how you’re ever going to learn the skills and the knowledge and get the ability that you need to finish step 10 and truth.

Tiffany: (08:26)
She said it’s not that hard. If you look at step one and then begin to focus on step two, it makes it so much more manageable, but at that space in between wondering how am I going to go from what I can do comfortably to that thing that seems almost impossible to attain over here. And when we focus on so much on the skills that we’re going to need at that, that far end, we miss the fact that it’s just using the same skills, the same knowledge that we have in growing a little bit at a time, one step at a time. And so that imposter syndrome happens in that gap when we’re looking too far ahead at what we need to do rather than the next step. And that really kind of transformed the way that I understood that self-doubt, that imposter syndrome or fraud complex, whatever you want to call it.

Tiffany: (09:08)
But when you can look at step two and three, he goes, Oh, okay, I can do that. I just keep showing up doing the things that I need to do, doing the things I’ve already been doing, and it’s going to be a little bit of stretching, a little bit of stretching, a little bit of stretching. I remember kind of at the lowest point working in my PhD, which it’s an incredible honor and a blessing to get to have that education, but at the same time, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life until probably I started a business as any business owner knows, that’s tough and it has tough days, but when I was working on my PhD, I was in midst of my dissertation and pushing towards the end of that dissertation and I was just so frustrated and so down and it just seemed to be taking longer than I thought.

Tiffany: (09:49)
I remember my mom saying, I want you to think about the fact that you’re being stretched in this process just because you’re going to be stretched and stretched and stretched, and when it’s over, you’re not going to snap back quite all the way back to the original dimensions. She said, you’re always going to be a little bit more stretch than you were before you said, and you’re going to need that because the next thing in your life, God is going to use that to stretching more and more and more, and she said, so you need this stretching so that you can be prepared for the next season. And at the time I thought, I hope nothing is ever as hard as this, but it was good advice and it’s something that I’ve kind of kept close to my heart. That idea that each season is tough because it’s preparing you for the next season, that’s probably going to be tougher.

Tiffany: (10:29)
Oh, I love that. I love that analogy of the space in between step one and 10 I’ve never heard that before, but it makes a lot of sense and I can definitely see how that’s shown up for me in like my photography business, but now stepping into the educational side has been, there’s definitely been that thing like, Oh, I see these people that are been doing this for years. How do I get to that? I’m just starting here and it’s like I’ve got this look at step three and four and not step 25 right. I love that. I really do. So do you have any like strategies and techniques? You kind of said looking at, you know, the next steps. Is there anything else that you suggest for people

What strategies and techniques do you have to help people stop imposter syndrome in its tracks, and is it something you only have to do once?

Tiffany: (11:22)
can absolutely 100% tell you it never goes away entirely. In fact, I think the, the bigger your goals, the bigger your ambitions, the more you’re stepping out and the more you try to do new things or things that haven’t been done before, the more likely you are to begin to experience that. So I think, unfortunately, I hate to tell everybody this, but I think the more you grow in your business, probably the more likely you’re going to see it pop up. And I think it’s important to understand the effect that it can have on your business. You probably have seen this, you probably, your listeners have probably experienced too, but when you’re dealing with that imposter syndrome and that self doubt, if you don’t get it under control, if you don’t make a habit of kind of reigning it in, you can begin to see some detriments to your business.

Tiffany: (12:05)
You’ll see that you keep waiting for permission. That was the big thing for me. I’d spent a lot of my career in the university setting, you know, and so waiting for grades, waiting for that approval for the next step. And I was at the Illume conference actually and was talking to Katie salvage and catch Moyer and I remember they said you keep acting like someone is going to give you permission to step out and really start that business and get it going and like you’re hesitating. No one’s going to give you that permission. You have to decide, okay, this is a business I want to run and I’m going to step out. And that really was a kick in the seat of the pants for me to say, okay, you know what, I’ve done these things. I have these accomplishments in this background and I need to make the decision that I get to start my business and really start moving forward with it.

Tiffany: (12:50)
But also you’ll see that people become paralyzed. They don’t know what to do and move forward because they feel like they don’t know enough. They aren’t skilled enough, whatever enough, um, you know, they get paralyzed. People will stall. I know I’ve been guilty of that. You keep tweaking your website or figuring out just the perfect grid on Instagram and you’re stalling rather than moving forward and taking action or they play too small. They try to, to keep things at a very small level or they only want to do work for free or things like that because they aren’t sure that they have the qualifications necessary to do the work that they want to do. They’ll keep striving for perfection. You know, I’ve done this to have a friend that we’ve talked about this a lot. You keep redesigning your packages 13 times without ever actually selling one.

Tiffany: (13:33)
So that imposter syndrome can keep you just tweaking for perfection rather than getting clarity through taking action and doing the work and whatever it is. The result is that your business suffers and you just really struggled to get things off the ground and your business may never really get off the ground. So I do, I actually have a list of 13 things that I would love to share with your audience and strategies for dealing with imposter syndrome. And don’t worry, the audience doesn’t have to take notes. I haven’t got a PDF ready for them that they can get that has all of this written out for them so they can kind of keep it and pull it out when they need it. Perfect. But I do think there are some strategies for nipping it in the bud. I think you also need to understand that again, it’s probably going to be recurring for most people.

Tiffany: (14:19)
Some of the biggest names in business that I know deal with this on a regular basis. So it’s you get the mindset that you’re not trying to eradicate it completely. Although that would be fantastic. And if somebody learns how to do that, please share with me. Just let me know too. But if you take the mindset that instead of trying to eradicate it, we can actually manage it and harness it to use it to our benefit. When I would teach public speaking, that was one of the things I told my students. When you get nervous, don’t try to eradicate the nervousness, get rid of it entirely. Instead, learn how to manage it so that it’s at a manageable level and then harness it so it creates some dynamic, charismatic energy in your speech rather than derailing you from it. And so I think imposter syndrome can be treated the same way.

So the very first thing I would tell people is to take inventory.

When you notice that that imposter syndrome is creeping in, when you really feel like, I can’t do this, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not good enough to do this. I’m not skilled enough or knowledgeable, take inventory and understand what are the triggers that are creating that response in you. So why, what makes you doubt yourself or feel like a fraud and pay attention to those things? For me, the seed of doubt usually starts in one of two ways and then it wants to spiral out of control. I don’t grab it by the throat, right. And manage it.

So the first is when I start spending too much time looking at what people are doing, who I perceive as my competitors.

I start comparing my situation with people that I admire who are much further along in the process than I am and I’m looking at what they’re doing and begin to wonder why I’m not that far along.

And I don’t take into consideration that they’ve been doing this three or four times longer than I have or I’m taking too much time scrolling on Instagram and looking at all the gorgeous business accounts that I follow. That’s one of those triggers for me.

The second is when I get too far removed from the actual work of my business.

So when I am not working with people for a long time and I’m instead getting caught up in tweaking things endlessly, like my web copy or my email sequences or my opt-ins or my Instagram feeds, that kind of thing. And I’m not actually doing the work that my business is built around. That’s again when I start to feel that sense of imposter syndrome because I’m not in the midst of it putting my skills and my knowledge to work. So once you take that inventory, look at things and ask yourself some questions like what can you do to encounter a few of those triggers?

Maybe it’s shutting off Instagram, giving yourself a timer, maybe it’s unfollowing certain accounts. That’s okay, you’re allowed to do that. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like them or appreciate them, it just means that it’s not beneficial for you in your life and your business growth. Think, figure out what’s your plan, and we’ll talk more about this, but what’s your plan to stop the spiral and get back on track more quickly? And then finally, what can you learn from the doubt that you’re experiencing? How can you make it work for you? Is there something that you’re saying, Hey, you know what? I feel the sense of doubt because I really don’t know how to do this thing. I need. I need to learn how to do it. So how do you make it work for you? So once you’ve done that, I think the next thing we need to understand is we really have to process the difference between feelings and truth.

So as much as you’re able stop thinking about what you feel, I feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like I don’t know enough. And when you start to say that a lot out loud, I feel this, I feel this, this is a really good time. I think to stop and go back to objective truth and say, what do I know is true? Because our hearts are fickle. They swing. I don’t know about you, but I may go through 127 emotions in any given day, maybe more. And so instead of focusing on what you’re feeling in that moment, focus on what is true and what you know is truthful in that moment and start asking what is objectively true.

how to stop imposter syndrome as a photographer, get the skills, and tactics from Dr Tiffany Eurich on episode 25 of The Wise Photographer Podcast with Chelsy Weisz
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The second thing is to get the right perspective.

Realize that no one knows everything. That amazing photographer that you follow had never shot a wedding before she shot a wedding.

Kate Middleton wasn’t a Duchess until she was one. Bill Gates didn’t own a billion-dollar company and run it until he did and they just did what they needed to do at each step and they stepped into each new season and each new challenge as it came. Bertrand Russell once said that the fastest path to a nervous breakdown is believing that your work is the most important thing in the world. And I think sometimes you know that we can take a wrong to the word you do, that it is the most important thing in our lives than anyone else’s. And so understand that you don’t have to know everything. Your heroes didn’t. The people you look up to didn’t know everything at once and they learned along the way. So give yourself the grace to learn and grow along the way. The next thing is to be honest about what you do now and what you don’t know.

And there’s some advice out there that says that if you want to start a business, you just show up and you say, I’m an expert at this. And if you believe it and you step into it, you will be an expert. I think that’s actually really detrimental because we’re not all experts at everything. And just because you woke up one day and said, I’m gonna do this thing, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert. It’s like Elwood say, I think I’m gonna go to law school today. And so I think it’s important to really truly recognize what you are able to do, what you are not able to do and what you’re willing to learn how to do. And if you can separate those things, I think it will help because you don’t have that stress of trying to live up to this level of expertise that you’ve claimed to have simply because you want to be that thing.

So for instance, if you’ve never shot food before, you’re not a food photographer, so you probably don’t want to say that you’re a food photographer, but can you learn to do that? Can you take the next two weeks and set up a couple of food shots and improve your skills and get better at it? Start posting those things online and recognize that, okay, I am getting there. I’m on my way.

But also recognize that there’s probably a good chance that you’re better at things and you’ve given yourself credit for, for most people, that seems to be the case.

Dr Tiffany Eurich

They are a lot better at some things than they give themselves credit for. So be honest about those skills and be honest with yourself about what you can and you’re willing to learn to do. I think that photographers sometimes have more of an advantage because you’ve got beautiful images to prove your skill and your ability.

You have a tangible product there. When you’re a business coach or a PR coach or something like that, it’s harder to say, yeah, I’m brilliant at this and so great at this. But when you’ve got great photos and images, it’s proof in and of itself. So really embrace the fact that you have proof of your skill and you can put that out there for people to admire and to appreciate.

Happy folder.

I keep a happy folder. So these are things I’m really proud of, work that I’ve done that is beautiful or that is impressive or that helped people. These are compliments, praise notes, testimonials that just make me smile and encourage me. And I keep a folder of those and I keep it close by. In fact, I’ve got a letter from one of my students that I taught him all the way through his college years. And when I left the university, he wrote me the most kind, the sweetest letter. And I keep it in a sheet protector or write in the top drawer of my desk. And when I start to struggle, I pull that out and I read it. And not only is it a sweet letter about how much I had an impact on his life, but it was also words of encouragement from scripture that said, Hey, the Lord is working in your life.

He’s doing this, you’re following the Lord. And so continue to be obedient to the calling God has put on your heart and he will continue to go before you. And so that is just a tremendous blessing to me. So I keep that letter right at the top of my desperate and I pull it out on pretty much a weekly basis. So yes, I love the idea that you keep your pictures that make you really, really happy. I think that is just an incredible thing. What’s it tell you?

Be teachable.

Acknowledge that there’s more that you can learn and be willing to learn from people, but also acknowledge what you have learned. And here’s the thing. A lot of times if someone is self-taught, and I see this a lot with photographers, if they are self-taught, they think that there’s something there that is less than or makes them less qualified than someone that has, has been trained formally in photography or in whatever the skill set is.

And I think that it’s important for us to begin to realize that being self-taught is no less valid. Think about history. Think about the great people who’ve made a tremendous difference in the world. How many of them had college degrees? How many of them had gone to formal schooling? Many of them were schooled at home and just learned by doing. And I think that it’s so valuable to understand that when you’re self-taught, you learn the hard way so you understand what works and what doesn’t work. And you may very well have a deeper understanding than someone who’s just been told, Hey, this doesn’t work. Don’t do this. You know? So it’s not anything less than a formal education would be. So being self-taught is absolutely just as valid as any other kind of education. So be teachable, but acknowledge what people learned.

Next, I’ll tell you, make a plan, not just a goal, but a plan for how you’re going to improve in certain areas.

So if you realize that you do have an area that you need to expand your skills in, or you really want to get better at something, create a plan for how you’re going to learn and how you’re going to get there. Know I have a PhD in communications. I’ve taught the people who are professionals in this industry for a decade. I’m still going back and I get as much education as I can. I have a mentor that I’m learning from right now who’s been in this field for longer than I have because I constantly want to be growing. So I encourage you to cultivate that lifelong learner mentality and know that there’s always something more that you can be learning. So here’s a big one. At least this is the big one for me.

Stop absorbing information.

Just stop bringing it in indiscriminately. This doesn’t mean that you stop learning or bringing in info entirely.

It just means that you’re very discerning about where you’re bringing in that information consumption from. So limit what you’re taking in. Pick two mentors that you really respect and learn from them and don’t keep looking at all the other different shiny things and all the other different new people who are hitting the scene. Pick a couple of people. Spend some time just learning specifically from them, deep dive into their resources. Get off Instagram for awhile. That’s probably just good life advice for everybody in any situation or circumstance in life. Just get off Instagram for awhile and stop reading every email newsletter that comes in. You can quiet those in silence. Those for awhile. Definitely stop looking at the people that you perceive as your competition. There was one business owner who is incredible at what she does, and when I first started my business, I perceived her as my competition.

I have since realized she’s not. We have totally different services, totally different clientele, but it really was hard for me because every time I saw what she was doing, it was hard for me to celebrate it because I should be doing that. I should have those clients. And when I realized that I could learn from her rather than perceive her as my competition, I have learned so much. I can celebrate her victories and enjoy learning from her and I can stop comparing myself to her. But it’s okay for a while to sort of step away and stop looking at what other people doing. Put blinders on, put your head down and do the work that you can do that you are called to do. All right, so here’s the next one that we talked about. The happy folder, keeping those, the things that make you happy, the complements, the praise, the work that you’ve done.

But I also encourage you to create a victory list.

So look at your whole history, not just what you’ve done with your business, but with school, with former jobs, with life experiences, with parenting, whatever it is, and create a list of those big and small victories, things that you’ve done at times that you’ve been stretched and you came out on top and you worked hard and you did it well, and really focus on keeping that list close by so that when you begin to struggle, you can go back and say, no, I actually have achieved some things. I’ve done some things well, and so you can look at that list and keep it close right now. Here’s the stuff that to me makes the biggest difference. When you start to feel that imposter syndrome creeping in, do something, volunteer your work, do a sample project like a styled shoot.

Take on a passion project,

something related to the work that you do, even if you’re not getting paid for it, that’s going to help you improve your skills and get your feet wet and really start doing something related to your business. You don’t have to be paid to still be getting better at it. So if you’re in a season where you’re not getting a lot of clients, and that’s part of may be why you’re feeling that imposter syndrome, because you aren’t getting a lot of paychecks coming in, take that time to improve your skills, to be actually doing something. So you have that product to show out the other end. It doesn’t always have to be a paid-for product for you to still be fine-tuning your abilities. And then I would say do something for your business, but then create something unrelated to your business.

Try a new hobby

Try a new hobby pick up an old hobby, try something completely new, plant a garden, get your hands dirty, whatever it is. Do something unrelated to your business and you will find that at least I find, um, you know, that if I’m out there working in my garden or planting or getting my hands dirty or working, you know, that’s something totally different. Knitting socks, you know, whatever it might be. Working with my nephews and my nieces, that helps me get my mindset sort of reset and out of that constant loop of constantly thinking about that imposter syndrome in my business.

Get some exercise

Sometimes it’s just burning off the extra adrenaline and the energy and just wearing your body out so that your mind can focus a little bit better. So get your body moving, burn that stress out and you’ll be improving your physical and your mental state at the same time.

The second one would be to serve someone rather than working on trying to get a client.

If you’re struggling with that or you’re just really struggling with that self-doubt, see how you can serve. And my pastor recently said something that I love. He said, when we start to serve others, we finally stopped feeling like a phony because when we’re serving where the closest to imitating the character of God that we can, but we’re also doing what we were created to do. When we serve people, we can see how the skills that we’ve been given and created with and the knowledge and the tendencies, how it can help meet the needs of other people. And I think that’s the fastest way to stop feeling like you’re less than or you can’t do it or you don’t have enough or you know you’re not, whatever enough it is.

Fill in the blank when we can serve people. And then the last one, and this was a huge turning point for me, so I was, I’m not really an emotional person, like I’m pretty even keel, so I’m not prone to huge mood swings. I remember talking to my mom one day and just crying and crying and crying and I said, I don’t know what to do with this business. And I feel like I don’t know enough. And she said, do you have to know everything there is in the world to know about this business to still be able to help people? Can you help people with what you know right now? She said, you know more than you give yourself credit for knowing, but can you help people with what you know right now? Are there people who need that help? And that hits so hard that when you can recognize that you don’t need to know everything. You don’t need to be the world’s best to be able to help people. You can still provide value with what you know now. So there’s room for you to continue growing your skills and your knowledge, but you still know enough now to make a difference in the lives of people around you. And I think sometimes we get caught up in this idea that everything we do, it needs to change the world rather than realizing that what we can do and what we do know can make a difference in people who are right around us right now. I think when we can really internalize that and capture that, it will make a tremendous difference in the way that we feel about running our businesses and our ability to do that.

Oh, I love that. So many good tips in there. I’m like, I’m so glad that you have a download for our listeners and we’ll make sure that we link that below. There are so many good ones. I was kind of looking back while we were talking here and in episode three of the podcast, we did an episode on combating and avoiding the comparison trap. And a lot of those tips are some of the same ones that you did.

Do you think there’s power in identifying imposter syndrom early on in your business when you’re first starting out?

I think it’s absolutely important for you to identify imposter syndrome when you are in those early stages of your business. If you don’t, what happens is that you are perpetually trying to figure out why you can’t get your business off the ground, why it’s not working. And so I think for your own emotional and mental health as well as the health of your business, it’s really critical that we understand what’s happening early on in that process and then begin to develop a plan to manage that and take care of it. So you have a fighting chance for that business to get off the ground and really serve people through it.

Do you have any other, I guess, wisdom or tips that you’d love to kind of share with our audience this episode?

I would say it’s important, especially in the early stages of your business, really at any point in your business and in truth, the point in life that you begin to see this sense of, of self-doubt, foster syndrome of fraud, complex, whatever you want to call it, popping up to really develop a mindset and a plan. So I think it’s important for us to get into the right mindset. Now, you’ve heard me talk about this throughout this episode, but I’m going to tell you something that really is fundamental and foundational in my life and the way that I deal with this. And that’s it. I’m a follower of Christ. And so I know that I am created with a purpose, um, that there is a plan and there is a purpose for my life. And so when I start to struggle with self-doubt, for me, I know the first place I need to go is into the Bible. Uh, it gets me recentered on my purpose and then my on, on my priorities.

And it really has a way of how powerfully shifting my perspective. Um, Richie Simons, who owns grace laced, she’s an artist and just incredibly talented artists. Um, wrote a book called beholding and becoming, and she wrote this and she said, if your hope is in Jesus, the savior, failures, and inconsistencies, do not define you before a Holy God, but drive you to gratefulness for his saving grace that doesn’t leave you there. And this is what I love. She said God allows us to feel our shortcomings so that we can behold the abundance of his grace. And that was so powerful to me to read when I can loud to feel like we come up short so that we can turn to Christ and see his grace there. When I was struggling with this issue of imposter syndrome, my dad told me a story and I love this story.

He said, there was a man, and this is a real story, who bought a claim to a gold mine during the gold rush. He went out and got some gold out of it. So he invested a whole lot of money to start being, and he kept digging, kept digging. They’d exhausted the gold and they kept going, kept going, kept going, just couldn’t find any more gold. So finally, in frustration, he gave up so there’s no more gold here, sole stake sold or the claim and the mind for pennies on the dollar and left. And he went back East. Well, the man who purchased that gold mine went in and started digging and realized that it’s some point in the past, an earthquake or something had shifted the the topography there. And so he did some calculations and decided to shift where they were digging about three feet in a different direction.

And when they dug three feet in the other direction, they hit the Motherlode and the main vein that went through the mountain. And he became in today’s dollars a billionaire pretty much overnight. When the man who had first owned the goldmine heard the story, he was sick over it and he said it from then on, anytime that he dealt with difficulty in business or he came up against a wall, he just reminded himself three more feet, three more feet. And so there are times when I’m struggling, I’m up against a wall, my business, or I think I just, I’m struggling with this imposter syndrome. I don’t know if I can do this. That has kind of become a mantra for me. Three more feet. Can you go three more feet? Can you push just a little bit further until that, that breakthrough? And I’ve seen that a couple of times in my business that just those three more feet made the difference in what I was doing.

And so creating that mindset I think is important. Know that running a business is hard. It’s so much harder than anybody expects, I think when they go into it and take time to develop a plan to deal with it. So first ask yourself, how are you going to limit the influences that really exacerbate that self-doubt? What makes it worse? And how can you limit those influences if possible? That doesn’t mean that we become hermits, we lock ourselves up entirely and we don’t see what’s going on in the world. But there are some unnecessary influences that are probably coming into your life right now that you can get rid of at least for typing to sort of getting that under control. Then what are you going to do when self-doubt pops up? What are you going to create or do that helps you improve your skills?

What are you going to learn what’s going to make you a better business owner? Can you go do something? Can you make something? One of the things I tell people I work with, can you go pitch a great story to a blog or a podcast? Because those conversations really help you realize your knowledge and your skills in a new way. You will realize that you know more than you realize that you did or that you thought that you did. When you have those kinds of conversations, what can you do that’s going to move you closer towards the professional that you want to be? And so create that plan and then finally ask yourself, what is it going to work for you? Like I said, how do you turn that nervousness and excitement? How do you turn self-doubt into something that makes you better at what you do? How can you use that to drive you to become a more skillful, more savvy professional and really use it and manage it to your advantage rather than letting it paralyze you in your business?

Oh, I love that so much I feel like I say that a lot. I love that, but I really do. Well, I’m so glad. Um, I think as new photographers we do get kind of caught up in that comparison thing. And mindset isn’t something that I think it’s talked about or taught even in school and business school or college at all or high school. But it’s something that is so important to kind of identify where you’re at right now, where it is that you want to go and you know, writing out the plan on how to get there. Not just looking straight ahead, but you know, those little steps on how to get there. And I really appreciate you coming on the podcast today to chat a little bit about all those little steps and really giving courage to our listeners to, you know, you don’t have to know it all right off the bat. You know, you just have to one step at a time, three more feet and then you know, you’ll, you’ll get it to that goal.

I have one last question for you. So I’m a big plant lover. We have a greenhouse in our backyard that my mother-in-law runs. And so this is a question that I ask all my guests.

If you were a plant, what plant would you be?

Oh, I am also a plant lover. I am still trying to get the dirt out from under my fingernails. They were planting cabbages earlier. So I’ve been in the media industry for a long time and have been a college professor. So I get hard questions. This is probably in the top five questions. I’m not sure what I would say, but I will tell you, my mom said that I remind her of a pea, like a sugar pea and she said, it’s because you’re light and airy and you can grow and adverse conditions with even snow on the ground still stretching and still growing. But the reason I love these, and I think that this is maybe not what I would be, but what I would hope to be is that um, where I lived for many years when the winter kind of went away, the sweet piece were the first things that would grow and produce fruit and it was a delight to just watch how quickly they grew and how they twine it.

The trellis is, and when it was still cold and there was still snow on the ground or ice, they would be producing fruit, AB producing peas and they were refreshing and delightful after a long winter to be able to eat those and be refreshed by fresh food from the garden. And what I would like is in my own life and in my business, I want to be refreshing and delightful to people in that same way to the people I encounter. I’d like to be able to bring joy to their lives and to point them to Jesus who is the source of strength and purpose and confidence. I think for all of us that know him. And so that’s I think what I would like to be.

I remember Shay Cochran I think said that she would like to be succulent.

All right, well I think that was it. Thank you so much for coming on the episode today and I cannot wait for our listeners to go ahead and get the download. We’ll have the links down below and we’ll have links to all of Tiffany’s, social media, her website and Instagram and all of the great spots you can find her. Um, and either working out with her individually or even just diving into her blog. She has so many great articles that she’s written to help you out as you continue to grow your business no matter what stage you’re in. So, all right, Tiffany, thank you so much for jumping on with us and we’ll see everyone later. Bye.

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