Welcome! This is the first guest interviewee in a series of blog style interviews I’ll be publishing on the site, so this week who better to kick it off than… Gemma! We’ve asked our special guest to tell us in their own words…
This is how I work.
Business Location: Henleaze, Bristol, but I work all over Bristol, Bath and the surrounding areas.
Current Venture: Gemma Shoots People
What one rule you stick to in your business: Show up. Even when you don’t want to.
Current mobile phone: Samsung Galaxy S7. Still going strong after three years, and given that I’m trying to be more conservative with buying things, I’m going to keep using it until it doesn’t go anymore : )
Current computer: Surface Pro 4
First off, thanks for agreeing to do this with me! Tell me a bit about your background and how you ended up where you are today:
I ended up doing a Computer Science degree at uni on London back in 2002, and because London was prohibitively expensive for student incomes, going out drinking wasn’t a constant option, I had to entertain myself with some hobbies, so I ended up picking up a cheap film SLR camera, and also designing HTML and CSS blog layouts for pals on the online journal website I was part of. This was even pre-MySpace, the halcyon days of MSN Messenger!
After uni, I ended up in several different web design and web development roles, never feeling like I fitted into one area particularly well. I always knew I wanted to go into business by myself, so in 2010 I jumped into freelance web, graphic and branding design for 8 years. I found myself really overworked and exhausted, though; I found out I was pregnant 6 days after I left the security of a salaried job, so my entire freelance career had been very parenting-heavy, and I decided at that point to stop taking on web design clients and take a few months off. Quite by chance in September of 2018, a blog domain I’d registered to put some of my photographs in came up for renewal. I loved the name so much, I decided to throw out a quick social media post to see if anyone wanted a family photo shoot. I made my first £100 within 24 hours and that was the birth of Gemma Shoots People.
I shifted quite soon into branding and business photography because it was still an area I loved and had a massive amount of knowledge about. That pivot created the most successful start to a year in business that I’ve ever had. I work with entrepreneurs and small businesses helping to tell the story of their brand through photos for their website, social media, printed brochures, profile images and anywhere else they need to use pictures!
What tools do you use to help get you through the day?
Google Drive for all of my documents and spreadsheets, Dropbox for my cloud storage, Pixieset to display my client photo galleries, Dubsado is my CRM and helps to manage everything from my leads to invoices, contracts, appointments and feedback forms. It’s made things much easier as I was planning on getting an assistant for a while.
Also the kettle 😂
What’s your working environment setup like?
I work with two monitors – my laptop screen, and an LG 24″ 4K widescreen. I always have a notepad next to me to note down anything important, and I use a bullet journal to plan my days. If I’m editing, I use the pen with the tablet screen of the Surface Pro 4 to make retouching a little easier.
What’s your best productivity shortcut or life hack?
The 5 second rule, popularised by Mel Robbins. The premise is that you count down from 5 and you then have to just get up and do whatever it is you’re resisting. Works for everything from getting out of bed, to sending that awkward late invoice email. Done is better than perfect, in my book!
How do you keep your to-do list in check?
I use a bullet journal to keep my weeks in check, and a notepad for quick thoughts, shopping lists etc.
What do you listen to while you work? Any Playlists you can recommend?
My musical tastes are quite eclectic – doesn’t everyone think that though?! Sometimes I’m listening to Bjork, sometimes it’s 90s pop, sometimes its classic rock and metal bangers, sometimes it’s Radio 1, other times I work in silence. I listen to podcasts on the daily dog walk, though.
What are you currently reading? Or what’s something you’d recommend?
I split my reading into business-related, self-development, and fiction. I’ve loved The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber and How To Be A Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell for business. In delf-development, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins is a must-read (AND listen because the audio book is wonderful, too), and Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach honestly changed my life. For fiction, it needs to be funny, smutty, cheesy or all three. My favourite go-to fiction author is Mhairi McFarlane.
How do you wind down?
Turning off the tech, sitting in the sunshine, dog walks in the woods – I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I have a couple: Never regret anything – it’s the most reductive feeling, and everything is a learning opportunity. Move faster than the speed of doubt, and take action before you feel “ready” because you’re never truly “ready”.
And there you have it, that was Gemma and that’s how she works. If anything you’ve read in this post sparks an interest – it’s something BrisTechTonic can probably help with! Our goal is to help entrepreneurs and small businesses make that leap and get their business moving.