All posts by Sierra Grayson

About Sierra Grayson

I am a freelance photographer based out of Delaware. I specialize in all kinds of photography - you name it, I can capture it (to a socially-acceptable point, of course).

Business Budgeting Setup

I’ve had my fair share of financial highs and lows when it comes to my business. Photography is something I love doing and would do for free if I wasn’t hoping to someday do only that and work for myself. Just because you love doing something as a hobby, doesn’t mean you can’t organize yourself to hopefully make a profit off of doing that thing. Today, I’m sharing how I do just that – organize my business budget and accounting to (hopefully) make a profit.

Now, if I were to try talking about everything that I do with all the little pieces, it would turn into a series (which I would be okay with, so let me know if you want that in the comments below). There are literally whole university classes that teach only this subject – for multiple years in a row! I’m no expert or professor, but I like to think that I’m a pretty good self-starter and DIYer who has a few methods that anyone could use to get started.

Goals

You can’t have a budget without knowing what your goals are. I have a Google Sheet devoted to my year-to-date (YTD) budget goals (just some ballpark numbers based on the cost of new equipment I want to buy or photography expos/conferences I want to go to, and so on).

Expenses

Right now, expenses are few and far between in my business. I’m purposefully trying not to spend too much on the little things so that I can save more toward the big things. But I still track what few expenses I do have in another Google Sheet so that I can keep a close eye on those numbers – like a hawk, trying to make sure there’s still enough food rationed for each of her children (I know, weird analogy; I feel weird today). I use the app Expensify to log receipts quickly while I’m out and about so that later I have a good record to bring over to Google.

Income

Income is anything that I’m paid by an investor or a client – so money invested towards my business and clients paying their service invoices. I list all of that out with descriptions in a – you guessed it – Google Sheet. Even if someone is just giving me a tip in cash after I photograph them – I log that as income.

NET Revenue

This is where it all comes together. “Net” means different things for different businesses; some go all in and itemize literally everything and include their price reductions from last year and the cost of the sweater they bought for their great aunt Silvia as “loss.” I just treat “net” as a basic equation: NET Revenue = Income – Expenses – Taxes Paid  Basically, for a small business sole proprietorship like mine (I retain all of my revenue), net revenue is my profit that I get to save or spend on things. Simple!

Those are the basics of my budgeting and accounting setup. It’s nothing fancy, but it helps me keep track of my earnings and stay on target for my goals. Do you have more questions about business budgeting? Ask them in the comments below!

An Office Fitness Challenge

Fitness challenges have never really been my thing. Any time that family members or friends would invite me into one, I would maybe start it and then get over it and go back to my old habits because that’s what I know. But here we are – starting a “fitness challenge” in the office of my new full-time job.

When one of my coworkers came to me about this “challenge” – I keep putting it in quotes for a reason that I’ll talk about in just a minute – I was super hesitant. We have to pay money to weigh in each week so that there’s a prize pool for whoever “wins” and so that the participants feel a sense of urgency having tied up a bit of their money in the process. It’s extremely inexpensive though so that’s fine with me!

Now, I’m not thinking about this as a “challenge” right now. I’m thinking of this process as a reset – a way to retrain my mind in the idea that what I put into my body actually matters. Don’t get me wrong – I know that already. But lately, I haven’t been the best at making sure to eat well or move often, and I want to change that for the better and actually set some goals around that.

I like to think I’m approaching this in a very healthy way. Yes, we weigh ourselves each week, but it’s not focused on the number per se. It’s more so focused on the rate of change or the progress we’re making over the 10-week timeframe. I intend to focus on how I feel as the weeks go on; if I’m feeling like the “challenge” or reset is working well for me, then I’ll keep it up. If I start to feel like I’m thinking about things all wrong, then I’ll slow down a bit. And I’m gonna keep you guys updated through the whole process on this blog and on my social medias (linked in the About page of this site)!

Are you doing anything to keep your body fit and healthy? Let me know in the comments below!

Therapy and Me

What if there was a way for you to learn and reflect on your habitual mindsets and ways of relating to your fellow humans? And what if that thing – that way – could somehow help you to hone in on your deep-seated issues and consciously reverse negative thoughts over time? Well, there is such a thing; it’s called therapy.

I know – this is a little far out from my usual topics. But stick with me!

Even people who consider themselves “normal” (although I hate that word, but I’m working with the masses here) can benefit from going to therapy. It’s not all about finding out why you’re depressed – although it has been a giant help to me in managing depression and anxiety. Therapy is about learning more about yourself. You get to reflect on yourself with someone who doesn’t know anything about your life before you walked into their office.

When sitting with a therapist for the first time, a lot of participants will report experiencing “word vomit” all over the place. You tell your therapist that you’ve been feeling tired lately, then you regurgitate the entire argument you had with your husband last night which leads you down a rabbit hole of talking about your father and how you and him always used to butt heads, and then… You see where I’m going with this right? (Also, please note that all of that was just an example haha)

Therapy helps you get there. It can take someone who thought they knew everything about themselves and turn their world inside out with all kinds of new information. And sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

For me, therapy has been transformative. I have discovered layers of my psyche that I never knew existed let alone thought I’d be able to access. I know it sounds weird – sort of like hypnosis when you “wake up” not believing your friends who tell you that you just perfectly acted out the entire first act of Macbeth even though you’ve never even read the play. But it’s true – therapy has been a marvel for me.

If you’ve never been to therapy or if you’ve been out of it for a while, I would strongly encourage you to go. It may take some time to find the right person to sit and talk with, but it’ll be worth it in the long run!

Do you have any shareable experiences with therapy? Let me know in the comments below!

Photographing a Wedding: my most recent event

This is such a beautiful experience. I can’t wait to renew my vows! The colors they chose compliment each other so well in these photographs.

These are all thoughts that were going through my head a couple Saturdays ago while I was photographing one of the most beautiful weddings I’d ever had the privilege to attend. The brides looked stunning in their gowns, and the bridal parties were all dressed stylishly as well. But the most important thing is that I was able to capture the small moments throughout the ceremony and the reception that truly show the love these two hold for each other.

I’m in the process of editing these photos now, and the brides have given me permission to share some of these photos on my blog; I hope you will enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed making them!

Best Instagram-Worthy Photo Editing Apps

I’ve seen it happen all the time. Well, I haven’t actually seen the process happening before my eyes, but I have witnessed the backlash. I’m talking about the inevitable outcome of using poor editing on an Instagram photo. Photos with amazing potential get squashed under the weight of others that were more creatively or professionally edited. Well, you don’t have to be a “professional” in order to ensure this never happens to your Instagram feed. You just have to do a little research on the appeal of edited photos and then use the right technology to get the job done. To help you out with that, I’m sharing my list of the best apps to use to get amazing Instagram-worthy edited photos.

Camera+
You may have seen this one popping up in the Instagram world, and that’s because it is so great for taking and editing photos. The grid setup on the camera allows for even a beginner to learn perfect posing and framing rules. The camera also has the ability to use wide angle, telephoto, and duo-camera functionality. Once you get into the Lightbox editor on the app, you can use “The Lab” to enhance your photo to its fullest edited potential like I did with the photo on the left when I turned it into the photo all the way to the right.

Lightroom
I would be letting down everyone if I didn’t talk about Lightroom in this post. This is a photo editing app for your phone based on the ever popular software for your computer that you can download through Adobe. A cousin to Photoshop, Lightroom allows the user to flawlessly edit their photos with very minimal knowledge about the “fancy stuff.” There’s even a really helpful Presets function that makes theming your feed as easy as possible. If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a Photoshop screen like “What the hell do I do with this?” then you need to get Lightroom. It is more user friendly, and there are easy to follow how-to videos for Lightroom all across the Web.

Canva
Okay, so, Canva is mostly used for editing graphics. But it has some pretty useful photo editing tools too! And you might need to put a graphic on your Instagram. Let’s say you just started a meeting group (like a book club or something). Canva can help you take a photo of your first meeting and turn it into a beautiful promotion piece with pretty writing and doodles on it to make you stand out!

There are plenty of photo editing apps in all of the app stores. These three are the ones that work for me, but you might be able to find one that you feel functions even better for you. The most important thing to remember is that your style is your style. Apps and other tools are just there to help you bring it out.

Do you have any other apps you use to edit your Instagram photos? Let me know in the comments below!