February 1, 2021
After all these months of struggle and turmoil, I announced today on social media the upcoming launch of the gallery!
The response was wonderful – so many people congratulated me and made the jump to follow the gallery’s page. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support.
I am also freaked out! I started to worry people were going to be disappointed and that I was not going to live up to their expectations. And putting out into the world made it all too real; I can’t just take my sweet time anymore – I said the gallery will launch in the spring so it needs to be! The ongoing struggle to get their business to life just went up in intensity!
I spent the last few months working on this, learning a ton about marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, sales tax and all that fun stuff. Except for my close friends, no one knew was I was doing, I was flying under the radar in my little bubble. That time is over: people now know, and I’d better deliver!
Although I had a freakout moment after making the announcement, I know I needed to take that step. I had to dive in, otherwise, I would have spent the next 6 months researching and tweaking things ad nauseam. At some point, you need to go into the world!
February 8, 2021
As soon as I made my big splashy announcement, I learned the website would take a lot more time than anticipated! We went from launching in the spring to launching whenever the site will be ready. The struggle continues.
Pushing the launch creates a whole set of problems: from having to revise the exhibits calendar to cutting our yearly revenue (but not our expenses!), from having to sustain people’s interest during that extended gestation period to reassuring the photographers who already signed up…
The setback really crushed me. It felt like the rug got pulled from underneath me. I was so looking forward to launching, to making this dream a reality, and it was exciting to feel I was getting closer…
[2022 Insight: I now realize my expectations were completely unrealistic. I had no sense of how long building a custom site takes and didn’t do due diligence to really understand what I was getting into. Lesson #1: when venturing to new territories, like coding and websites are for me, ask questions. And then ask some more questions, and some more, until you feel you have a bit of a grasp of what’s happening.]
February 19, 2021
The struggle is still here, but I’m focusing on going onward and (hopefully) upward. I’m busy working on the non-fun part of the business – the business plan, financial planning and other fine print stuff.
[2022 Insight: although I found financial projections utterly pointless since there’s no way to know or even guess how much sales you will do, listing all the expenses your new business will face is incredibly helpful. Sobering, but helpful.]
I looked for new online groups to join. As a producer, I was part of a few amazing groups that would freely share their knowledge and resources, no strings attached. So imagine my disappointment when the female entrepreneurs’ groups I joined turned to anything but.
First, it felt like 99% of the people there were business/ marketing/ social media consultants. How many consultants does the world need? (no offense to consultants, some are incredibly helpful and insightful, particularly the one we worked with putting this business together, Stuart Goldstein!)
Secondly, most of the posts were either motivational a la, “you go, girl!” (empty words when you’re looking for concrete answers on how to launch and run your business), or sale pitches!
What was most disheartening though was how unprofessional and amateurish so many people sounded like. From cutesy avatars to bad selfies, from dated graphics and imagery to emoticons overload, most people did not know how to present themselves properly, even said consultants!
It’s a shame because online groups can be incredibly helpful and uplifting. I’ll just need to find the right ones!
PS: If you know any good ones, leave them in the comment below! Thank you!
April 15, 2021
I’m busy working on gathering all the content we need for the website, the images, price lists, descriptions, and artists’ statements. All the while working on creating some ads on social media to reach more people.
It is very interesting to see the platforms through this new angle. I never ran an ad before so I have a lot to learn. Me being me, I much prefer the creative part of the job to the analytical one. It’s fun designing ads and writing copy. It’s much less fun and more of a struggle (at least for me) to look at charts and decipher them to define my next step.
As much as advertising has evolved and improved since its early days, what David Ogilvy said 70 years ago still rings true today: “When you spend $1 on advertising, fifty cents go to waste – the problem is that we don’t know which fifty cents.”
That harsh truth used to make me laugh when I worked in advertising. Now that I’m an advertiser, not as much! Oh, how the table turned!
May 25, 2021
Our developer works on a separate server, which got hacked yesterday. When she was able to finally go back in, the damage was extensive. A lot of her coding got messed up, images disappeared, links got broken. It’s a terrible setback and another delay.
I’m so upset, I don’t even know what to say. The struggle with putting this website together is never-ending.
I know in the long run it doesn’t matter if I launch in May or July or even in the fall. These are self-imposed deadlines no one is really holding me up to (I’m forever grateful to the photographers who said yes early and wait so patiently and graciously for me to get this website up and out). What matters is that people love (and buy) the photographs I’ll feature.
But it’s hard to not feel discouraged. When is this thing finally going to launch? Will it ever? Urgh…
June 3, 2021
Social media: the thing I enjoy and dread in equal measure!
I did a Story today on Instagram to announce a new post about a photographer I love, Gregory Crewdson. I felt sleek and smart… until hours later (hours!), when a friend sent me a screenshot of my Story, which was just a blank space. The image was not visible for whatever reason.
I was so embarrassed and upset. I know I’m not a digital native, but, come on! That was such a rookie mistake (but I’m after all still kinda new at Stories – I’m a late adopter, what can I say?). I felt so deflated, and thought I would never figure social media out… But then, something amazing happened!
I was so thrilled and giddy, I was jumping up and down (in my head at least).
So, here was, in a nutshell, my relationship with social media: terrible and wonderful, all at the same time!
*For people unfamiliar with Gregory Crewdson, he’s a fine art photographer who stages eerie scenes in suburban locations. His work is strange, moody and melancholic – I love it! Read my post here.
June 10, 2021
Seeing the mockup of the website today. There’s still a lot to be finalized but I can (almost) see the launch!
On another note, I’m going through a bit of soul searching here. You see, I knew from the beginning I wanted the gallery to be very personal (that’s why I used my first name for it). This gallery is an extension of myself, of the years I spent working in the photo world, and of the many talented photographers I met along the way.
When putting the business together, it was clear to me I had to be the face of the business. It was not an ego trip. It was just this self-evident truth: I am Aurélie’s Gallery and Aurélie’s Gallery is me.
But I’m now facing a new struggle as I find myself fighting against doubts and stage fright. Granted, I’ve never been comfortable in front of a camera, but this is next level. As soon as I said I will be the face of the company, my old fears and shyness came rushing back and were like, “Ummm, are you sure?”
By the time you read this, I might have gotten over it. Or I might not. Only time will tell (so stay tuned!).
PS: this is a photo of me as a kid, before shyness and doubts settled in. I gotta go back to that kid!
July 22, 2021
What do you do when things are different from what you had envisioned? I had to undergo a major adjustment while working on starting the gallery.
You see, as a producer on photo shoots, I was used to being in control and having backup plans for all contingencies that came my way. I work with a tight-knit group of people who I know and trust. We all jump through crazy hoops to meet deadlines and budgets… no matter how impossible they are!
But with the gallery, I had to give some of that control to people who can do things I clearly cannot do, like our fine-art printer who does beautiful prints, or our web developer who is painstakingly coding our site as we speak.
As a producer (and Capricorn), not being in control of all aspects of the gallery has been quite the adjustment! (read: I’m driving everyone crazy)
Am I the only one who has trouble giving away control? I can’t be, right?
August 20, 2021
Our server crashed, wiping out most of the site, the coding, images and text. The backup is buggy so we basically have to start from scratch. Our September launch date is now pushed to whenever.
To say this is devastating is an understatement. Maybe I should give up.
[Spoiler alert: I didn’t]
Stay tuned for Part 3. Will I be able to launch? Won’t I? (well, we’re on the website so you know I did, but it was not without some more struggles!)
If you missed it, read Part 1 here.