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You’re rushing to get on an airplane.  As you sit down and pull out your headphones, the stranger next to you asks what you do. You answer, “Photography.” And they say “oh what a nice hobby!” and launch into a story about their niece who got a nice camera for Christmas, and is getting “pretty […]

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  • Derer - Thank you for this nice article Jenika!
    Great advice which reminds me a bit of martial art where you deflects your attacker’s move by using his energy to hit back 😉

  • Charlotte Reeves - Great blog post Jenika! I have this issue so often – I usually just say “photographer” to start with, and then when they ask what kind of photographer and I say “pet photographer” – the most common response is actually that people laugh! They seem to think it’s a bit of a joke. That’s usually followed by a question along the lines of “how much of a demand is there for that?” like they doubt I am making a living from it. I actually dread people asking me what I do these days. Lately I’ve been adding that I teach photography too – which seems to somehow legitimise what I do. But I feel like I shouldn’t have to do that!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Gaaaaaaaah, I have been hearing that from a lot of pet photographers. I mean you can play with the words (“animal photographer”?) but ultimately people who have never seen your gorgeous gorgeous work are the ones missing out. My husband gets different reactions if he tells people he’s a musician, a composer, a conductor, a choral conductor, a music teacher, a college professor – all evoke different, incomplete ideas even though it’s all under the same job umbrella.

      Glad we’re all on the same team though about putting creative work into the world and hopefully teaching others there are many ways to make a living!ReplyCancel

  • Claire - Charlotte, that’s AMAZING that you are such a niche photographer and WORK IT! Way to go! That’s gotta be 1.) tough to shoot 2.) tough to market to your specific perfect clientele!

    I am absolutely sure that when people laugh, it must really hurt. That stinks, but man I would just love to hear you set people back in their shoes and straight up tell them how successful you’ve been. I know that’s the opposite of Jenika’s advice- but I would just love to hear, “I know it’s crazy- but we’re actually going gang-busters! I’m booked up until May and loving every minute of it! I get to make people happy, preserve memories of their best friends, and steer a thriving business that keeps growing every year! I’m really blessed.”ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Love your thoughts + support. And if someone asks “how much demand is there for that?” I think it’s a perfectly reasonable reply “I’m booked up until May!” Gentle education is totally within the realm of letting them sort out their own opinion. It’s mostly, I think, about the emotion you feel when you’re doing it. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Charlotte - Jenika and Claire – thanks so much for your replies, ideas and support! I am sorry it’s taken me so long to respond – I’ve been overseas. I do actually usually respond with how busy and in-demand I am haha – though I feel then like I am bragging and that sets off another bout of awkwardness within me! I guess it doesn’t matter what people think anyway, right?ReplyCancel

  • Rachael - Oh, Jenika, I love everything you write! I love this non-defensive this approach is, and I’m just thinking about how applicable it is in so many difficult situations.

    Also, I want to point out that a lot of creatives can do this to ourselves. I’ve heard so many people say “I don’t feel like I have a real job”. And always what I say to these friends is “real money, real job”. If you’re making money, then you certainly have a “real” job (whatever that is!). It’s hard to do something atypical, and I struggle with feeling valid in business myself sometimes, and I think this valuation starts with us.

    Love your posts, lady! xoReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thank you for the kind words! It’s lovely to hear from you!

      “Real money real job” – I like that motto! I completely agree with you that it has to start with us. In fact, I didn’t get into this in the article for space’s sake, but part of the reason it can sting to hear this is because we feel self-conscious about it. Like if someone said to me “Jenika you have weird short hair” I’d be like “huh? what are you talking about?” because I have super long hair. It would totally register as untrue and I’d blow it off. Some people who are struggling to feel validated about their work would be even more cut to the core by invalidation. (Though invalidation stinks even if you’re confident.) Anyway I hope we can all embrace the ever-wider landscape of employment including self-employment and feel good about that!ReplyCancel

I stared at the ticket website on my phone.  Then called out to my husband – “I absolutely cannot make one more decision.” We had arrived in Oslo, Norway, and pulled up to our Airbnb in a rental car.  We wanted to go downtown to see an art museum, so I found the public transit […]

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  • Jeff Dean - Wow that realy hit home. I just finished my website after 3 years working on it. I haven’t liked it but could not figure out why. Now i know why! Its not simple. Thanks for the help!!!ReplyCancel

  • Dave - Sometimes figuring out the optimal isn’t worth the delta from the less favorable choice. If it takes you 10 minutes to figure out that you’d save $2 on the best ticket option, after spending $3000 to get to the place… Maybe it’s better to just get the easiest ticket and go about enjoying the trip.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - If that were the situation, then I’d agree since I’m not one to quibble over $2. But daily sum total margins of error of $20-70 or more on a 2.5-week trip add up fast. Thankfully I didn’t spend $3k getting there, I used points. Smart travel = more travel. 😉 But at any rate, lots of the hurdles faced weren’t really about the money but the pure logistics of tickets and buses and trains and parking, all in translation on the fly, creating a cumulative situation. And that is a lesson well-applied when we want people to make decisions favorable to us. Thanks for reading!ReplyCancel

 Have you heard this line from prospective clients: “I don’t have time now, I’ll have to book later” – ? Frustrating, huh? “I’ll do this later” is sometimes the last thing they say before they disappear into the night.  Putting off a decision can be, effectively, saying no. Also, you know that “later” doesn’t always happen like we imagine.  Babies grow.  Houses and situations […]

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  • Linnae Harris - Your blog post are amazing! I get so much value from them. Thank you so much for giving away so much of your talent.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - I love this blog because it combines two of my favorite arts – photography and psychology. I have a psych degree and can read relevant articles all day long. I’m just learning photography – or learning manual shooting. I’ve been taking photos forever but not at the level that is apparent in this blog. Your writing reads like silk and I just really enjoy the topics. Thank you for creating this awesome blog!ReplyCancel

After watching a new movie, I always hightail it to Wikipedia and IMDB to check out all the behind-the-scenes trivia. Do you do this, too? I especially like reading about Easter eggs I might have missed in the film. (An Easter egg is a message, reference, or joke hidden in the background.) Like how R2-D2 and […]

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  • Charlotte Reeves - Love this Jenika! So simple and yet so effective… now just to try and think of something clever I can use on my site. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Always love hearing from you, Charlotte! Hmm, well I feel like you will probably have an easy time since you love animals and they’re such a big part of your life and what you do. I’d start by just looking at your FAQ or contact page and thinking how you might say something to a good friend who is also a pet owner! 🙂 Good luck with it!ReplyCancel

  • Ceci Flanagan-Snow - Wonderful ideas! It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of site organization and providing the necessary facts that we sometimes forget that people need a reason to stop and actually read what we wrote. Thanks! (and yes, I got the Easter Eggs!)ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - You nailed it. We have so much work to do and I don’t blame any website creators for just trying to get it done! Hope this helps everyone bring back some life and humor. Have a great week!ReplyCancel

  • Albert Palmer - Such a great tip!… now for the hard part – thinking of something unique!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Yeah – the best ideas often come when you aren’t expecting it too, don’t they? I hope something perfect pops up for you! Thanks for reading.ReplyCancel

  • Jen Dean - Love you. Always! Seriously. Such great ideas. On my contact page I used a photo of me on the phone when I’m abut two. Mouth open wide and knee socks pulled up to my diaper cover. It’s pretty fantastic. Always makes me laugh when I see it. I have done other small things to make the text lighter here and there, but love your ideas! I am going to go look around to see where I can add some now.
    Feel better!

    • Jenika - That is making me laugh! What a great image to have on your contact page. I bet it makes emailing you feel more natural. 🙂 And thanks for your kind words! I’m happy to be a little (hopefully helpful) part of your week.ReplyCancel

  • Jen Dean - I didn’t leave the right website link like you asked the first time. I missed it! ha (:ReplyCancel

  • Tianna Yentzer - Love this! Some fun easy ways to make the sites stand out. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kim Forman - I love this. Thank you.

    “Release the Kraken” is so ME. ? I’ll be over here furiously working to come up with things to add to my site.

    And BTW, I recently signed up for and your newletter is the only one that now comes directly to my inbox. I want to see it as soon as it comes out! It’s my *favorite*. ?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Hahaha I love it!! Hope you find one or two that feel fun and “you.”

      And truly, I am honored to be in your inbox. I know how much email noise there is even amongst stuff you want to receive so thank you for giving me a place. Hope the emails continue to help! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Fabiana Huffaker - Take a look at They have taken this principle and implemented it everywhere. I like to go there, just to see what crazy things they are saying this week!

    coupon code: SAVESOMECHEDDA
    (I get nothing for sharing this, but the coupon code does work)

    Thank you for EVERYTHING! Love love love all things Jenika!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - I love that you have an example!! 🙂 More evidence of how much people remember this stuff, even not taken to big extremes. Thanks for sharing and for the kind note! Have a fabulous day!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Venter - Love LOVE this article. Really made me think about my website and what I would need to rethink/redo/restart. Makes me think my website may be a tad Blah blah snoozeville. Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome. You are keeping us Creatives sane so please keep up the wonderful work, emails and love ! We So need it !! A BIG Thank You !!!! If I could see you, I would hug you for sure !ReplyCancel

  • Chris Thomas - Jenika, great work as always. With the Twitter and Facebook addiction habits engineered to keep people engaged, it is critical that we state novel enough to keep people engaged. You are absolutely right about adding some surprise to our sites. I have some work to do this week. Thank you.ReplyCancel