One simple system for success

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on August 5, 2014

in This is Business

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There is no greater knowledge-for-the-buck value than books.

And there is no more self-destructive thing we do than failing to act on the things we learn.

You and I are going to break that cycle…

Right now.

STEP 1: Go buy a book on small business marketing. Any good one (whether from a list of recommended titles from a mentor, or Amazon’s bestseller list, or one of my favorites: Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Sales, Booked Solid, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook).

STEP 2: When that book lands in your Kindle or in your hands, STOP. STOP EVERYTHING. You are about to commit for the umpteeth time a crime against your business and your own success: you’re going to start reading, read here and there until you finish the book, then feel wonderfully inspired as you put the book aside and NEVER TAKE ACTION. I’ve done it hundreds of times over the last 15 years. STOP. Don’t read a page of that book until you can sit comfortably, focus, take your time. Make handy a writing surface, something upon which to write, and a good pen or pencil, as well as a highlighter.

STEP 3: Now crack open that book and read every page, one by one, slowly and comfortably. Set your ego and your cynicism and your skepticism aside, and LEARN. Take notes. Every time an idea for your marketing or your business pops into your head, WRITE IT DOWN. Do not turn the page until you are absolutely sure you have captured every possible idea and potential ACTION YOU CAN TAKE from what you’ve learned within. Write these ideas and actions out in your language, conversationally, just like if you were sharing with a friend over coffee. Don’t be technical or get bogged down in minutiae.

STEP 4: At the end of the first chapter, if there are any action items or questions presented to answer, DO IT. These authors are handing you the keys to success from their invaluable experience. USE THEM.

STEP 5: BEFORE you start the next chapter, go over your notes. Where are your action items? What ideas did you discover? Write each one on its own piece of paper. Then brainstorm all of the steps you’ll need to take to take that action, to make that idea a reality. WRITE DOWN THE BABY STEPS, one by one. No step is too small, or too insignificant to write down. If you only had five minutes a day to work on this, what steps would you take with that time? You are creating a roadmap to success. Do not start the next chapter until you have taken this step, and…

STEP 6: SCHEDULE YOUR NEXT ACTION. Block off an appointment on your calendar, starting with this evening or tomorrow, to TAKE BABY STEPS, to take action. “I’m too busy! This is happening too fast!” Horsesh*t. FIND FIVE MINUTES. Find fifteen minutes. Book it onto your calendar and you keep that appointment with the same respect and loyalty as you would dinner with your mom, taking grandma to the doctor, or meeting a client for a photo shoot. IT IS THAT IMPORTANT to your success as a part time photographer.

STEP 7: Turn the page. Go back to STEP 3. Repeat for every chapter, every chance you get to read, at least daily, even if just for five minutes, until you complete the book and have a new understanding of marketing, and every bit as important, a stack of action items and ideas you’re ACTIVELY BRINGING TO LIFE through daily baby steps.

STEP 8: TAKE IMPERFECT ACTION. Let go of your obsession with controlling the results, and focus on process; be an expert at the attempt. Do The Work. Don’t judge, don’t wait, don’t think about it, don’t go make a sandwich, don’t check Facebook, don’t doubt what you’ve read, don’t wait until you’re ready, don’t get scared, don’t worry about failure or doing it wrong, JUST DO IT.

STEP 9: Watch your business take off like you could never have dreamed.

This is simple.

But it isn’t easy, is it?

The wall of resistance gets taller with each step, where you take the leap from student to practitioner: where you begin to turn ideas into actions, then schedule and commit to those actions.

These baby steps move the needle. These are the ‘little victories’, the kaizen, which will take you from where you don’t want to be today, to where you never dreamed you could get.

The excuses are dwindling, my friends. Either you want this, or you don’t; either you’re willing to take imperfect action and make your dreams come true, or you’re window shopping for a life you’re not willing to earn.

Get In The Arena Today.

Next Steps

  • Brainstorm session: Write down 10 reasons why you can’t do this; why you can’t read one book, one page at a time, taking one note at a time, taking at least five minutes of action each day, taking responsibility for the success of your part time photography business. I’m serious: come up with 10 real reasons why you can’t, don’t, or won’t do this. This list is going to be a powerful tool for you to recognize the self-imposed limiting beliefs you have shackled yourself with in your journey toward success. Look over this list. Look hard at it. Get emotional if you need to. Recognize what’s holding you back. Recognize how you’re hurting yourself. Measure your dreams, your excitement, your inspiration, your enthusiasm against this list. Recognize above all that there is nothing on that list you can’t overcome. If you’d like, e-mail me your list; I’d love to talk with you about what’s on there. When you’re done, file this away in your Brainstorms folder.
  • My writing at exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
  • What’s the biggest struggle holding you back right now? E-mail me your answer (yes, right now!), and let’s make a breakthrough today.
  • If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Renea Hanna August 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm

this is an excellent article! i think this is so helpful. bookmarking it for some upcoming projects. thanks for the marketing book recommends as well, totally helps to know where to start. 🙂


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 17, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Thank you so much Renea, I truly appreciate you checking out and commenting on my web site! I don’t have to tell you what a fan I am of your work (and how exciting I am for your big life news! Congratulations!).


Steve Arensberg August 23, 2014 at 9:57 am

Really good stuff, James.

For many years I’ve been a “collector” – of books, of information, of learning. But for the same many years I didn’t do much, if anything, with all that knowledge (other than perhaps recommending one of those books to a friend…).

I think I was looking for the “perfect” system – the book that described my situation, and that would give me all the specific tools and guidance to actually break free of my comfort zone and do compelling work in the world. But – surprise! – that book doesn’t exist (unless I write it myself…), that system doesn’t exist that will spoon-feed me exactly what I need at exactly the right time.

I’ve come to understand in the past year or so that it’s up to me to wrestle the value from those books and courses and meetups. And there is tremendous value in them – if we’re willing to do the work to put those theories into practice in our own lives.

I love your steps for dissecting a book and taking imperfect action on the principles as you learn them. Awesome work!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor September 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Thank you Steve!

Momentum has incredible gravitational pull – the Resistance loves it when we stagnate and train ourselves through habitual inaction to look at progress as a dream instead of a process. The realization that we don’t have to wait for anyone, or for permission, or for the right moment or perfect system or anything else – is incredibly powerful.


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