When I first started my photography business, my ducks were not in a row.

I had ducks in South Africa, Belize, the Queen’s castle, Shanghai, Tucson.

I didn’t even know I had ducks that needed proper row placement, much less that they were globe-trotting feathered fiends.

I had owned my first DSLR for 6 weeks (stop laughing), taken some good pictures, gotten some good feedback, started a Facebook page, and decided I’d launch my business (seriously, stop laughing).

I figured I’d work all the “business” stuff out as time went on. Which is code for, I-hope-the-business-fairy-visits-my-house-at-night-because-otherwise-tedious-paperwork-makes-me-need-to-hyperventilate-and-I’d-rather-not.

I picked my prices out of thin air, hoping I’d accurately gauged the Price Temperature from other photographers, and landed on a hopefully good place for what those prices would include (session time and X number of edited images).

What I did was set myself up for failure.

As the old adage goes - Fail to plan, plan to fail.

And fail I did.

The pressure of the business of photography coupled with an underdeveloped confidence level due to lack of experience completely crippled me when it came to session time.

It took two back to back failed sessions for me to see I was in over my head and needed to take a step back.

So what were a few ducks that needed proper row placement in order to set me up for success?

1. Experience – I needed to get to a place in which I had a broader base of experience and also consistently took great photos.

2. Establishment – I should have registered my business first, gotten my tax license, created a website (still working on that one), identified a yearly financial goal to help me set my pricing, etc.

(A great resource for me was the e-book, Business 101: Setting Up Shop from Photographer Depot.)

3. Expectation – I needed to understand that these things take time.

Yes, I’d like to be Great Photographer Gracie and Wow Website Wilma yesterday, but that’s not reality. The reality is that experience and skill take time, as does starting a business. Start where you are and don’t rush the process. It’ll come but be persevering when it feels dry, difficult, and discouraging.

Well, I hope this helps you identify some wandering ducks in your life as it did for me. I prefer not to learn things the hard way but sometimes it’s what it takes.

How about you, what are some “rookie” mistakes you made that we could learn from?

Sara McNutt lives, writes, and photographs in Missoula, MT. You can find her on Facebook at Sara McNutt Photography.