67: Guest Annemie Tonken: When Things Are Slow

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67: Guest Annemie Tonken: When Things Are Slow 3

How can you make the best use out of the slow season? Today I’m chatting with Annemie Tonken of This Can’t Be That Hard about what to do when things are slow. Annemie is sharing her tips to avoid stress as business slows down and how to intentionally use the season. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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This episode is brought to you by The Round Table, a community built for female photographers who want to continue growing their business while forging industry friendships along the way! Every month, you get access to three new pieces of content covering a vast variety of topics from myself and guest speakers. Come join us and get access to the content and private Facebook community!

Review the Show Notes:

Get to know Annemie (3:54)

It’s normal to have a slow winter season (5:54)

Resting versus stressing through slow season (9:17)

Intentional financial planning for the slower months (19:14)

How to use the slow season (23:04)

Losing momentum and motivation (32:42)

Words of encouragement (37:34)

Rapid-fire questions (39:25)

Connect with Annemie:

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Instagram

Podcast

What’s Next Decision Tree Freebie

Episode Links:

The Round Table

Root to Rise Mastermind

Aligned Photographer Course

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67: Guest Annemie Tonken: When Things Are Slow 4

Review the Transcript:

Sabrina Gebhardt
Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gephardt. Here I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur. while balancing business motherhood and life myself along with my guests will get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in yet willing to talk about the hard stuff to to shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight. Welcome back to the shoot it straight podcast my friends today i am so happy to share that my good friend Annemie Tonken is joining me. And we are talking all about what to do about slow season. If you’re a photographer, you are hitting the time of year where the hustle is over. Things are having a dramatic slowdown. Maybe your calendar is lighter. Maybe your inquiries feel like they’re drying up. And oftentimes we think to ourselves, now what? So on Amy and I are discussing kind of the thoughts behind slow season and we’re discussing what to do with your time what not to do with your time on me gives us a really great reframe, about how to think about this time on our calendar. And I will be honest, when Annemie and I get together, we tend to go off on a few tangents here and there. But trust me, those are great in this episode too. So let’s dive straight in. I promise this is a great episode. Today’s episode is brought to you by the roundtable a community built for female photographers who want to continue growing their business while forging industry friendships along the way. learn practical ways to move your business forward while finding community and accountability with like minded photographers. Every month you get access to three new pieces of content over a broad variety of topics. In the past, we have covered topics like pricing, editing, goal setting, website reviews, social media and videos from me behind the scenes at real sessions. Members have also had the opportunity to learn from incredible guest speakers and industry leaders on a huge variety of topics. I pride myself in giving you just enough education every month to keep you growing and moving forward while not overwhelming you with content. Oh, and the private Facebook community is absolutely incredible. Consider it your space to ask all the things, get all the support and make real life business besties. If you’re ready to join us, you can head over to Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash membership and enroll today. And now back to the episode. Welcome back to the student strike podcast friends, it’s so good to see you. Um, today’s gonna be a really fun episode because one of my best sweetest industry friends that I’m I have such an honor of knowing and just getting to be in the room with her. She’s the best human. She has such a wealth of knowledge. And I think this is your third time on the podcast. And I’ve been on yours several times. So this is an old hat by now. But today we’ve got on Annemie Tonken and she’s just this is going to be a great chat. We can have a great chat, talking about like literally clouds, water, whatever.

Annemie Tonken
Yeah, you wrote and we’re like, do you want to come on the podcast? And I was like, yes. If for no other reason than to just get like a scheduled time on the calendar to catch up. I’m very excited.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yes, yes. It’s gonna be it’s gonna be a great chat today. Just in case anybody is new to the podcast new to your world hasn’t heard us chat before. Brian, why don’t you go ahead and just introduce yourself to the audience.

Annemie Tonken
Oh, yes. Thank you. My name is Ana Mia Tonkin. I am a let’s see 14 year veteran of the photography industry at this point, I feel like that somehow snuck up on me. And I’m based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and I do a fair amount of business education through my education brand, which is this can’t be that hard. I’ve got a podcast, all those kinds of things. But yeah, that’s That’s me in a nutshell. Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. Friends, if you have not participated in animes world and education, whether it be one of her free course things that she does what she does a lot of like challenges and fun things, or her Facebook group or her longer courses or heard her speak or I mean, there’s so many different ways. Listen to the podcast. You need to start following her and participate in everything she does, because everything she does is just magic. So she’s she He’s a great person to know in this industry. So, okay, let’s dive in, we’re going to talk about the fact that we’re at the end of the year, which is wild. I feel like that’s something that we say all the time, how did the year go by so fast, but here we are at the end of another year, and things are starting to slow down for a lot of photographers, right? Like summer wedding season is over fall family sessions are over. This is when things get a little bit quiet. And that can feel scary to both newer photographers and seasoned photographers, right, like everybody tends to see the calendar and go, Okay, you know, and have a little has a little moment of maybe panic. And I feel like especially the newer photographers, whether they’ve only been in business a few years, they can see that and they think, Oh, my gosh, and there’s a little bit of fear there. So I want to start at the very beginning. First of all, do you think it’s normal? For calendars to be lighter as far as bookings and stuff in December, January, February that that timeline?

Annemie Tonken
Oh, gosh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule. Obviously, I think that wedding photographers have a bit of a buffer, because this is often a really popular time, like to get engaged and start to book photography. So So I think that they have, they may not be working as much, but they’re definitely like, the phone is ringing, and the emails are pinging and all that sort of stuff. So that is good for them. I think newborn photographers obviously have less seasonality, although I absolutely feel like you know, babies are born all the time, but people reach out at certain times of year. Yes. And then and then I think that you know, brand photography doesn’t necessarily have a season that is associated with so some of those photographers are remain steadier through the year, but for those of us certainly in the family space, and then any other kind of like actual wedding work engagement sessions, things like that. Yeah, the January, February, March season. It depends on where you live, it depends, you know, there are some factors, but I think that more than anything, post the holidays, there is like a spending well, there’s a bit of a like, Okay, we just did all this stuff, where we were like booking stuff and spending money and going places and whatever. And now we’re just going to kind of hole up and you know, get back to our, you know, I’m doing air quotes normal life. And, and photography just isn’t top of mind for a lot of people. So I think, you know, it’s, it’s a blessing and a curse. Like many of us, if you’re coming on the heels of your busy season, there is a sense of relief between getting through the busy season and then getting through the holidays that we have that sort of intention to write like, okay, great, I’m just gonna cuddle up, you know, here in the northern hemisphere by the fire, and like, take a load off for a little bit, maybe I can actually set my camera down for more than two days. But then very quickly, maybe a week into it, you start to sort of drum your fingers on the table and think like, Oh, I wonder if I’m going to get enough clients this year. What’s gonna happen? You know, I feel I’m I am both worried about the fact that I don’t have any work and I’m feeling a little like, I don’t have anything to do with myself. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
yeah, definitely. I agree. There’s, I feel like there’s those two paths that people have, right, they either, you know, they feel they have felt that, that intent, that intense busyness, right of just like you said, not being picking up your camera every day, every other day editing every single day, just the constant, the constant busyness, they’ve been that and then all of a sudden, it’s like, halting stop. Very, very quiet. The holidays, inquiries are down, shooting sessions is down. And they immediately go into that panic mode of like, okay, so now what am I supposed to do? Right? Or they on the other side of the coin, they see the blank space, like you said, and they think, Oh, this is a great time to just set it down, walk away take like a really big sabbatical because they’re exhausted. They’re creatively burnt out. They just are like, now I’m going to put this on the shelf. When you think about those two opinions and those two sides of the coin that people tend to have, do you do you find yourself in one camp or the other? Do you think one is more common than than the other?

Annemie Tonken
So it took me longer than it should have to sort of recognize the pattern. I think that I was probably a solid four or five years into my business before I was like, Oh, yes, this is the slow season. And because otherwise, when I wasn’t putting a name to it, it would just be this weird like slow creep, where again, at first I would be like well who I have some time to myself, but it was not long before the kind of I don’t know lizard brain fear kicked in. And I was like a Oh, what’s going on what’s going on? Again, intellectually, it makes sense why this is a quieter time. But that doesn’t necessarily do anything to quell those nerves. And that sense of, Am I missing something is something wrong is Is this the turning point that I was always worried was going to happen in a bad way in my business. And it wasn’t until I actually started to kind of track my data a little more closely, which took me a shockingly long period of time, once I did, and then I could go back and see like, Oh, my numbers are right on track with where they were last year, even though it feels so small, especially if you’re coming off of a busy season where like, you’re doing much bigger numbers, and then it comes to a screeching halt. It is just jarring, I think, in your sort of deep seated psyche. So. So once I recognize the pattern, and especially once I was able to see the numbers along with that, and know, reassure myself that like, no, no, this is normal, it will come back. And here’s when I can expect it to do that. That was the time that was when I started to really be able to honestly enjoy this season a little bit more and lean into the fact that this is, you know, we all have those periods of energy and creativity, etc. But in order to maintain that you have to sort of balance them with a season of rest. And so that’s, you know, I try and embrace this season as much as possible. But I even today, like still have to kind of mentally prepare for it and plan for it. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I definitely agree. I also think there’s almost, there’s almost a component of like addiction, like we get addicted to the busy and the dopamine hit of clients, loving our images, and paying invoices, and all of these things that are positive, that positive feedback that we get, and the hustle mentality is a little bit addictive, because you’re like doing things and checking things off and moving forward and making progress. And and then when you come to a halt, it’s like, whoa, wait a minute, nobody has paid me in a while. Nobody’s told me I’m fantastic. And while nobody’s reached out to want to work with me in a while, you know, and you, that’s when you start to mentally, it’s that addiction, you’re like, Okay, and so I think that, that newer photographers, more than experienced ones tend to try and pick that addiction back up with that panic of like, maybe I should run a sale, maybe I should do a new thing, maybe I should like something to drum it back up to get back into that state, when actually, like you said, the more experienced photographers have learned that it is that it’s a cycle, and that your business is not dying, and that we should embrace this time, this slower season to prepare us for being busy again, right? We kind of we don’t crave the addictive part as much, because we just we know, it’ll come back, you know, or

Annemie Tonken
maybe we still have that addiction to a certain degree, but we learn how to channel it in a way that we can be successful with it. Because, you know, when I see people, sort of running desperation, sales or something in late January, let’s say, I have to wonder, you know, I mean, I’m sure some people do okay with those. But I would think that that is a big hill to climb, and you are probably sort of doing a bunch of extra work for nowhere near the return on investment, it would be if the timing were better, right. So my, you know, recommendation solution in my own business, all that other stuff is just to channel that energy elsewhere and figure out how we can reward ourselves. I mean, it may not be that your bank account directly grows, as a result of your actions. It may not be that you get love notes in the mail, although absolutely something that you can do in January is reach out to your clients from last year and say, Hey, I know the holidays, were crazy time, I hope you had a wonderful time. I am working on you know, some of my marketing materials and my website, I would love it if you would take three minutes to write a review. Like it’s a great time of year to ask for a testimonial. So if you’re needing that validation, like set that aside as something a task to do this week, but there are other ways to kind of ping those or satisfy the dopamine receptor gods and and give yourself a sense of productivity of forward momentum of planning of you know, all those kinds of things in this quarter that don’t require you to be up until one o’clock in the morning editing photos that don’t require you even necessarily to be making photos unless that’s the way that you want to sort of build your you know, work on your stuff.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. I love that. I so when you speak to like the the scarcity sales, right? The the panics, the panicked offers that you see on January or early February, I have 100% done that many times over the years. And it just doesn’t ever go well, you know, like you said, it ends up being so much work. And so much kind of negative energy goes into it, because it’s fueled by this panic and the scarcity. And you know, to be a little woowoo, when you put that energy into something that is the same energy you get back. And so that’s why those sales don’t go well. That’s why those offers don’t land. And instead, it is so much better to put that same work horse energy into something that will serve you better later, just like you said, even if it doesn’t bring you immediate dollars or immediate traction down the road, it is going to be so much better for you than just whipping together a sale whipping together an offer throwing it out there and not marketing it intentionally. You know, again, I’ve learned that lesson many times over the years. Yeah, so

Annemie Tonken
and I think, you know, obviously, money is a real thing. If your bank account requires an injection of cash, there are many ways to solve that problem. And they don’t all necessarily have to even do with your business. If you don’t want them to you can, you can make money a lot of different ways I feel like keeping a really close eye on is what I’m doing right now, serving the overall brand and business that I desire for my business, let’s just say this coming year, right? If we’re if we’re in the first quarter of the year, we are trying to build the framework or set the tone for the entire year, right like this is a time of year when we pick our word for the year and set our goals for the year and all that other stuff. Setting a goal doesn’t mean achieving that goal in this minute, it means looking at the big picture. And if you’re looking at the big picture, and you say, you know, this is what I want, by the end of the year, what are the building blocks that need to be like the foundation pieces and those foundations, in my experience in photography, the foundation that you lay in the first quarter is rarely super lucrative. It is immediately it is that you are setting yourself up to have that financial success over the course of the year. So whether you are putting together a really solid marketing framework for the year, or the thing that I ultimately did when I when I started to recognize that pattern and see that like, Okay, the first quarter of the year is really pretty slow business wise for me. And I get antsy, like no two ways about it, I get antsy I started to in November, December, and certainly early January, basically look at the year and say, here are the goals and work backward on that to like, this is what I need to be doing right now. And I would pick a big project. And I would like map out that project, I do the whole like, okay, in order to achieve, you know, this thing, these are the these are the steps along the way. And that was sort of the way that I dealt with my own dopamine needs is that I would map out, let’s say three or four weeks worth of a big business project. And then just check all those boxes, which I’m such a list maker and a box checker. I love that I totally get a lot of joy and satisfaction from that. But it was the sort of thing where like, I could curl up on the couch with a blanket on my lap and you know, work I’m on my laptop or pull out index cards and like make a big map and channel my creativity in that kind of a way and still feel like I was doing something for my business.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, you and I are so similar in that like when I think about because I’m such a I love the tasks I’m checking and the completing projects. And it to me that kind of work in the first quarter like serves me in both ways I can rest and snuggle up and not get out of my PJs. And also, you know, achieve some really big projects, things that I’ve been putting off or wanting to do or whatever. I love that. And then I also wanted to say going back to really quickly, when you said, you know, if the panic you have is based on your bank account, and you’re like, oh, man, this is this is an issue. Let’s be a little reminder for you that you should constantly be checking these things and let it be a reason to actually look at your numbers on a regular basis. Get into your Stripe account, get into your PayPal account, get into your business checking have a spreadsheet so that it doesn’t ever come up as a surprise. Yeah, because you can see it coming you’ll know if it’s going to if it’s going to be that way and then instead of this scarcity fear offer, if you can see it coming a few months out you can plan something really intentional, that will be successful that will help you as a opposed to all of a sudden, oh my gosh, my bank accounts at zero. And what am I going to do now? You know, so we all

Annemie Tonken
have that ability to when the money’s coming in and your Stripe account is pinging all the time, whatever, it’s really easy to be like Christmas presents for everyone I know, you know, whatever. Like it’s easy to spend, right? When anybody who’s familiar with my story knows, I got divorced in 2017. And I wasn’t we didn’t have a lot of money before the divorce. But I definitely didn’t have much money after the divorce. And one of the things that prior to that time I hated with a passion was like looking at my bank account, I was always afraid, like, I was just constantly afraid. But when that happened, and I had to be the one like I couldn’t pass it off to my partner and say, How are things like, I had to go look at it and know whether I was going to be able to pay my mortgage. When I started doing that, like it. I mean, it talked about like putting your big girl pants on. Like, it was just like, Okay, I guess I’m gonna do this. And it was almost like I got desensitized to it. It really did become more like I was looking at numbers instead of like, I was opening some sort of, you know, judgment book on my life or something. And so doing that, really, it was the turning point to where I started to manage my money better. You know, I was actively trying to teach myself or learn how to do that. And then and then it was like, everything got smoother from there, because I was doing more planning, it was not this, like, Great times are good. So I’m gonna spend a lot and now that times are rough, I’m gonna get desperate. It was like, well, times are good, great. I’m gonna put money toward the time that I know is coming when it won’t be so great. So yeah, sorry, that was a sidebar, but like, oh, yeah, we’re in that place. It is not a place that you can’t get out of. But it does require that you just become intentional about it. And maybe that could be your project that

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah, it’s I know, this is not where we were going today. But I think it’s important to know that like, Yeah, I’ve been in those shoes to 100% where I’m like money. Okay, now we’re poor. Okay, now we’re rich, you know, and, and getting out of it. It just takes intention and building a habit. And it’s scary at first, but it’s so empowering after that. Yeah, it is so empowering. And I’ve read something once somewhere that, like, millionaires look at their money every single day. And I’m like, well, then dang it, I shouldn’t be too, you know. And, and it’s true. And I started this little small habit like, two or three years ago, where I don’t get into all of my bank accounts every day. But I get in and track how much money I make every day. And I have a little spreadsheet, you know, November 1, November 2, November 3, and I track it. And it’s a fun little game. You know, it’s a fun little game. And it has made such an impact on knowing what’s going on in my business and seeing those patterns, you know, so Okay, let’s go back to talking about slow season. Practically speaking. Do you have some recommendations for how we use this time what we could or should be doing?

Annemie Tonken
Yeah, well, I have my own personal preferences. I like I said, always take on a project. And I typically, once I decide what that is going to be, I do some research about like, okay, so how am I going to achieve this goal? You know, is it is it something that I need to take a course for? Is it something that I need to, you know, make a read a book about or do some sort of, like, practice for all kinds of, you know, there’s different kinds of projects and different kinds of methods to get into that. But there’s sort of like a planning and research component to that process. So like, first you choose, then you do some planning or some research, and then you do your planning. And I like to map it out on the calendar. So, you know, this is the date by which this project is going to be complete. And you know, this is the perfect time to dust off the old, SMART goal definition and be like, is my goal that I’m setting measurable? Is it does it have a time boundary to it? Am I Am I creating something that I can sort of specifically accomplish? Because that’s where you get that dopamine hit? And it’s really where you get something that you actually complete? Because if you’ve just got like a, I’m going to make more money this year. Right? Best of luck. Right, right. It’s not the way to set a goal. But yeah, typically for me, it’s like once I’ve decided what I’m going to do, and I’ve done some research, I almost always end up taking some sort of course, because I just find that I time and again have like, made more progress faster and had some Buddy out when I have somebody else’s framework for how to accomplish that thing. The hardest part, of course, is doing the research and like figuring out which one is the right one or whatever. But once you do that, you know, and then I set that intention I marched through, and then I try to bite off enough that it is going to carry me through to when I anticipate starting things starting to pick up again. And it that’s been amazing. It’s how most of the major building blocks have been kind of set in my business over time, whether it was like setting up a new piece of software that I was like, how am I going to what is the CRM and how am I going to put that together, or whether it was a new system, or even if it’s something, you know, on the art side of things, like I need to get better with off camera flash, like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m super intimidated by it. So you know, Monday through Friday, from now until the end of February, I am going to make a self portrait using off camera flash, you know, until I know it backwards and forwards. So all different kinds of goals and maps to get there. But but the planning and setting the intention are really key. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I think that’s huge. And, and I love the obviously I love the setting a time bound date to it. And I think that is where people can get really intentional with how much they can actually accomplish. Because I think there is a little bit of a tendency to when you shift over to the side of oh, I have all this time to do all this work inside my business. You create this really long list that’s 100% not practical, you know, I’m going to completely redo my website and build a new CRM, and you know, start a new email platform and do a personal project. And then you’re setting yourself up for failure, because that obsesses too much, right. And so I think it’s really intense. It’s really important to have that intentional list, like you said, thinking through the building blocks of what you want for the whole year, what’s the most important thing? Okay, let’s start with that one. And how long is it going to take you realistically? Okay, if you think it’s going to take you a week, it’s probably gonna take you two, and then slowly working from there. Maybe you can get a few things done within the first quarter if you do them one at a time start to finish.

Annemie Tonken
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And that actually, I’m so glad you raised that, because that it’s not. I’m all about setting a deadline. And I like to be reasonably aggressive with my deadlines, because if I set them too far out, I will take that amount of time. So either go over a little bit, but let’s say that I don’t think that whatever my primary project is, is going to take me until things start to pick up, I will have a second and or a third one ready in the queue, but not and they don’t get to get touched until I’m done completely with step one. And I feel like it that almost helps motivate me because what happens, of course, when you’re in the messy middle of like a boring, and I say a boring project, because everything gets boring in the middle, you can be really excited about the vision of like a new piece of software, or like a new system for your business. And you’re like no the promise, and this is what it’s going to bring for your business. But when you’re like sitting there with your YouTube videos, or your online course trying to like, wade through the actual technical setup of that piece of software, it’s not fun, like nobody has fun with that. Exactly. When I’m in that messy middle. Instinctively, I’m like, Okay, I’m just gonna take a break from this, and I’m gonna start working on the website redesign, I was also going to do, if I do that nothing gets done. So I use it as my carrot, where I’m like, Okay, I just have to push through this, because when I finish it, then I’ll be able to move on to the web redesign, and that’s going to be so much more fun or whatever. So yeah, that’s, I think you raise a really important point there.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. And I think so many, it, you know, they have the best intentions. But so many people get stuck in either the, you know, distraction, shiny object syndrome, because all of the courses sound good. And all of the projects sound great. And all of these growth, it’s all is good and wonderful and will take you far and it’s worthwhile. But if you don’t narrow it down to one thing at a time, that’s where you become the professional course buyer, you know, the one that got the right, the graveyard of courses on their computer, and and you’re not doing anything, and you’re just constantly in that, in that mindset of like, wishing you were more professional or wishing you were better at off camera flash or wishing you did this thing in that thing instead of actually accomplishing the thing. Yeah.

Annemie Tonken
And none of these things are on accomplishable. Right? Even if your goal is to become a better photographer, which seems kind of vague and Like who judges and whatever, like, if you have a goal, you can break that goal into action steps with measurable milestones. And I feel like that is, as creatives, it’s not always the way that we’re wired. But being a business owner means that you have to develop that discipline muscle around this and say, I am going, you know, in order for me to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish this year, there are certain things that like need to get done so that you don’t end up in the situation where you’re like, smack in the middle of busy season again, and you’re like, I wish I had set up that CRM last January. I mean, right is it’s like I was talking to somebody recently about adulting. This was like a young 20 something. And she was like, Can adulting did it out? We were I was laughing about it. Because of course, I’m double that age. Right. And, and I said, I think you are an official adult, when you make good friends. With future you were, to the extent that like that giant pile of laundry, you’re like, I’m gonna get it done now. Because even though I don’t want to, I will be glad that I did you know, this weekend or whatever. So. So I do feel like it’s sort of just, I’m gonna go back to putting on your, your big kid pants and saying, Okay, this is what’s best for my business. I’m going to make it happen, even if I do it kicking and screaming.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, yeah. You mentioned earlier, like the messy middle. And that is so true. I see this quite often, when I’m coaching photographers, and teaching photographers, they’re in slow season, they’ve decided to do this project, this, whatever work through this thing, or maybe a couple of things. And they’re showing up on their computer, they’re watching the video, they’re writing the marketing emails, they’re doing the planning, they’re, you know, showing up on social media, well, they’re doing all these things, but nothing’s happening, right? Because like you said, generally speaking, the economy as a whole goes on a spending freeze, and people are just checked out on spending, they’re checked out on doing, they’re in that everybody’s in a quiet season. And so you can feel like you’re doing all of this work for your business and in your business. And you’re not getting inquiries, and you’re not getting responses to emails, and you’re not getting new followers, and whatever it is that your goal is. And that is a mental game like that is truly a mind game about consistency and continuing to do the thing, knowing that it’s okay that nothing’s happening because it’s building momentum. But I feel like only experienced business owners really understand that. What do you have to say to the newer business owner that sets all these goals has all these intentions, but falls off the wagon maybe? Or is losing momentum and motivation? Because nothing’s happening yet?

Annemie Tonken
Okay, so this, I don’t know why when you were talking, it triggered this memory for me of when I was pregnant with my older son, who was nearly 18 Now, and so there’s a long, long gone memory. And during that period of time, when I was pregnant with him, I learned how to knit, which I don’t do anymore, but I did it a lot for a couple of years there when I was a an expecting a new mom. And so I was you know, like if anybody out there is a knitter. You know, I learned how to make scarves. And then I learned how to make hats. And, and so I was making a lot of baby hats. And hats are nice, because you just sort of like make them and then they’re done. And then I decided to take on a sweater, and I knit this little sweater for him. And he will you know, he was still in my belly. And I was like, Oh, your little baby sweater, whatever was so cute. But I had never pieced together a sweater before. So I knit the the back and the two front panels, it was like a little cardigan. And then I knit the sleeves. And if I go up to my attic, today, I will find the back and the two front panels and the two sleeves, which never got assembled because I was like, Oh, I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t want to learn this next thing, whatever. And then he was born. And of course like at that point I didn’t have the bandwidth or the whatever to sit down and like learn how to piece it together. So it literally never happened that’s what would never got finished. It was the only spider I ever made. And I there is that it’s the same kind of messy middle concept where like you will hit a point out in any project where you’re like, Hmm, I don’t want to this part isn’t as fun as the rest of it or this part doesn’t feel like whatever. But if you don’t push through, you will not the baby will come and you’ll never have anything to put them in the you know the busy season will come around or whatever and the thing that you did all that work for won’t be there for you. So, a i would say use that again. I feel like I’ve done backtracked a little bit. But to really drive home the point of like, you need to take the project all the way to completion for it to serve you the way that you intended to in the beginning. And if you are in a place where you have accomplished everything, or you’re getting close, but you’re losing steam, or you’re just feeling like I’ve done all this work, and I’m not getting any payoff for it, that’s really where I would lean into, I would encourage anyone to lean into your community of other photographers, artists, self employed people, I think, specifically photographers, because they’re likely going to be on a similar kind of season as you. But that is, it is so helpful to have a little bit of accountability, say, I’m working on this thing. And this is when it’s, you know, I’m supposed to be done. But also just to have that kind of camaraderie and reassurance that, you know, we’re all in this low season, right now, we’re all kind of working on our things. So whether you have the benefit of an in person community in your local area, or if you’ve got a really solid online community, and if you don’t, you should set building your community as one of your goals this season.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah, I love that advice. Because the accountability is huge, you know, having business industry, friends, peers that are in the slog with you, they’re in this low season with you, they’re working on a project, maybe they’ve already done the thing that you’re working on, and you can complain or ask questions, or commiserate with is so important. Because if if everybody sets a goal together, and then you’re checking in on one another, you’re so much more likely to actually do the thing absolute than if you’re holding yourself accountable. Like yeah, that is one of the things that is surprisingly hard about being a business owner, is that we’re in charge of ourselves, and we have to hold ourselves to account we’re our own boss, and we don’t have somebody checking over our shoulder to make sure that it’s done. It’s done. Right. And so that’s where finding peers and community matters and makes the difference. Because that projects you forward always.

Annemie Tonken
Absolutely, yeah. I mean, it’s like going to the gym, or, like if you have a treadmill in your house, and nobody’s watching, do you really do the whole run or walk? First is like going with a personal trainer or in a class at the gym, where like your ego at minimum will keep you going a little bit further. So

Sabrina Gebhardt
yeah, yeah, exactly. So if there’s a photographer out there, who is listening, and she’s wrapping up the year, she’s looking ahead and things required on her calendar, and she’s starting to build up that little bit of a sense of panic, or Oh, my gosh, now what? Let’s just leave her with some words of encouragement. What would you say?

Annemie Tonken
I would say that this time is really all about how you look at it. And, and one of the biggest turning points in my own business really came when I started to view this period of time in my business, as a gift. It’s a gift to my energy. And it is a gift to my business. Because the it really is when I make the biggest strides each year, even if those don’t show up as money in my bank account at that time. The payoff is coming.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Yeah. It’s, that’s amazing that you say that, because that’s exactly how I have shifted. The first quarter is a reward to myself. Yeah, it’s like the president at the end of doing this amazing thing. And you know, now as educators, we’re a little bit different, because we don’t quite get the same, the same quiet season, right? Because there’s so much education in the first because I miss it. I know, like we are wearing both hats. And so we come out of busy season and then go straight into a different different busy season. Yeah, but it’s still, it’s still I still see it as a reward because it’s a shift in my energy, like I’m done with this part. And now I get to put on this hat, you know. But before I really stepped into education, I had learned to view it as the reward as the gift as the price, you know, and that mindset shift is huge to staying out of the fear and the scarcity. So we’re going to end with a few little fun questions. This has been such a great chat. I knew it would I knew we would kind of get off on some good little tangents we always have

Annemie Tonken
me excited honestly like I’ve been so breakneck that I feel like this is the first time that I’m like oh yeah, it’s coming. I love this.

Sabrina Gebhardt
Alright, now Me too. Me too. So what’s your current favorite coffee shop order these days?

Annemie Tonken
Oh, I am very static and boring. I am an oat milk latte fan.

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love it. I am like hit or miss on oat milk. It depends on like which kind you’re using brand.

Annemie Tonken
The brand is important. I am Mostly I’m an old lady drink full fat ugly drinker. Okay.

Sabrina Gebhardt
It’s funny because I don’t think other milks vary as much from brand to brand, but oat milk is very, very

Annemie Tonken
different. It’s very different. Yeah, when I get a bad one, I’m like, Look, what is yeah, what is going on. And I have one of those, I make most of my coffee at home. And I have one of those frothers, which was like a gift. I got myself during the pandemic, because I was like, if I can’t go out and get coffee, and, and certain oat milk doesn’t hold froth very well. So

Sabrina Gebhardt
noted. Noted. Okay, um, you want you’ve traveled some pretty cool places in the last couple of years. So this is a hard question. But dream vacation Money’s no object. The boys aren’t going to just you and your husband. Are you in some girlfriends?

Annemie Tonken
Yeah, sure. Any and all of the above? I, yeah. Antarctica is on high on my list. So if you were like Money’s no object, that would probably be like, Get me down to Argentina. And then I don’t know if that is to outside the box, I would even even then I would go to Argentina. I haven’t been since I was 19, or 20. And, and I loved it so much. And I have an uncle down there. And I’m just dying

Sabrina Gebhardt
to get back. Oh, that’s cool. So you totally have an excuse to get there. I know. I know. It’ll happen. Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, thinking back over the course of your business, and all the changes it’s made from when you first started, you know, and then now you’re so just such a big name in the industry, education space. What do you think the biggest decision or investment that you’ve made? was the biggest game changer for you? Hmm.

Annemie Tonken
I’ve been in this long enough that there are a few. Honestly, you know, it’s weird. Like, it wasn’t a fun time. But my divorce probably was the biggest game changer for me, just because it forced me to get really like, I’m getting serious, or I’m getting out. And I look back. I mean, you could not have convinced me at the time that this was like a positive path that I was on. But in retrospect, it was the it was the turning point. So. So I’ll call it that. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
I love that, that that really points to the whole thinking that, you know, so many people in the personal personal development space, say that, like, you know, when things go wrong, or bad things happen. It’s opportunities and people that haven’t been through something like that kind of roll their eyes. Sure, you know, and they’re like, Sure, okay. But people who have been through something like that, and have gotten to the other side can attest to Yeah, that’s the thing. That’s the thing that changed the trajectory. So I love that. Okay, um, if you were not in the photography, slash business, coaching space, slash podcasting space, what do you think you’d be doing?

Annemie Tonken
I don’t know. I’m, like, oh, gosh, I hope she doesn’t ask me this question. I am a super jack of all trades, master of none. I have had career like, early in my life career aspirations ranging from food writer to architect to like, you name it, I am fascinated by all kinds of things. There are times when I get really, like, stuck into technical stuff. And I’m like, I could be a software engineer, but I don’t know. I’m just gonna stick with what I what I’m currently doing and continue to enjoy that. Yeah,

Sabrina Gebhardt
that’s so funny that you say that, you know, like an elementary school. I don’t know if in my elementary school, there was always a project every year that’s like, kind of like a questionnaire like an About Me thing. And it was always like, what do you want to be when you grow up? And every single year my answer was so wildly different than the year before? Because it’s kind of the same, you know, I was like, I want to write a book. I want to be an architect. I want to be a singer. I want to, like, do this thing. Yeah, totally. And I still am missing lay, you know, I could totally envision my life 25 different ways

Annemie Tonken
meaning to and which is kind of like I used to head on No, not hate that about myself, but feel like that was some sort of something that was wrong with me. And these days, I’m like, That’s my magic. I am, you know, we’ll we’ll just we’ll leave it with that. Like it is endless fascination. And I suppose if one thing falls through, I’ll be able to find something else that I love. Totally. Totally. I

Sabrina Gebhardt
love that. So I knew this is gonna be an awesome chat today. I’m so glad you were here. Please let everyone know where they can connect with you online. Yeah, absolutely.

Annemie Tonken
So again, my podcast is called this can’t be that hard. And everything is this can’t be that hard. So the website, the Instagram, etc, etc. But I do have as we were talking, I was like, Oh, I’m gonna share a freebie if that’s okay. Because I made this a while ago, but I feel like it’s a really good one. If you are listening today, and you’re like, Ah, I know I should take on a project. I just have all these different projects that I want to do and I don’t know which one I should do first. So I create did this thing called What do I do next? And it’s like a decision tree that sort of walks you through. It’s super quick and easy. It’s just sort of like a one page or worksheet. That gives you some ideas about like, if this then this so it’s a little bit of a, an algorithm and you can pick that up at this can’t be that hard.com/next As in what do I do next? I

Sabrina Gebhardt
love that. I love a good decision tree. It’s the first time he ever used one. I was like, This is so simple and yet so magical.

Annemie Tonken
Sometimes we just need clarity. Yeah, I love it. Okay,

Sabrina Gebhardt
we will absolutely have that link in the show notes. Thank you my friend. This was a great chat always and friends. We’ll see you next week. Bye. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash podcast comm find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gephardt photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review. Until next time, my friends shoot it straight.

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