Twenty-eighteen was a year of change for Maddie Peschong of Maddie Peschong Photography. After six years of “side hustling” with her photography business, she left her marketing career and went full-time. The next year was full of growth and expansion, including launching her business podcast, Take it Personally, and offering coaching, workshops, and more, along with brand photography and partnerships.

605 chatted with Peschong about her plethora of revenue streams, reflections on the current pandemic and economic crisis, and even got a little free advice while we were at it.

PEOPLE MIGHT KNOW ME FROM… that one time I had a photo go viral and end up in People Magazine. Actually, to be perfectly honest it was a total 15-minutes-of-fame situation and no one remembers it—including myself most days. But it was definitely a wild ride.

I STARTED GETTING INTO PHOTOGRAPHY… when I took a class in college to fulfill my majors (mass communications and journalism and graphic design) and I hated it! It was too complicated and I thought for sure I’d never be able to move fast enough to adjust camera settings at the speed I needed to. Sure enough, toward the end of the semester I was just curious enough to be dangerous. I went home over Christmas break, bought a $300 camera, and YouTube’d and Google’d my heart out. My biggest educational breakthrough came from the Pioneer Woman’s blog! She had a series called What the Heck is Aperture? and it was one of the first things I read that was actually easy to understand. I probably read the whole series over a hundred times, but it stuck.

I KNEW IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE MY MARKETING JOB TO PURSUE MY PASSION FULL TIME WHEN… I didn’t feel like I was doing a very good job in my full-time job, my own business, or as a wife and mother. I was being stretched way too thin, and honestly, I probably had been for longer than I’d like to admit. I could also feel that I was at the point where my business could really take off (though at the time I couldn’t tell you what that meant), but I needed to be all in.

If you like Maddie Peschong, follow:

+ Amy Jo Martin //
+ Jasmine Star // jasmine
+ Jenna Kutcher //

ONE OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES OF SHOOTING WEDDINGS IS… any time I get to travel! My husband doesn’t typically shoot with me, but he does when I have a destination wedding. It’s been a huge gift to our marriage to be able to travel and work together once in a while.

I GOT INTO BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY AND STRATEGY… before I took my business full-time, I worked in social and digital marketing at a couple different companies, and I always loved it. It was never one of those situations where I hated my day job and couldn’t wait to leave; I found so much fulfillment from it. That was actually one of the things that made it so difficult to quit. To combat feeling like I was losing that part of my life that I loved so much, I started doing even more to grow my own brand. It was fun for me to design my own branding shoots, create a beautiful website, think through new ways to generate leads, and expand to new revenue streams. I started to get asked by others if I could help them with the same thing, and that’s how the personal branding sessions were born. I realized that my favorite sessions were ones where I’d almost end up coaching my subject through business issues they were having. Around the same time, I had hired a business coach for myself, and she helped me realize that ‘branding’ was the magic word and something I needed to explore more of. I’m so glad she realized that, because it’s changed everything!

SOME OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WITH BRANDING AND STRATEGY… making reactive decisions from a place of fear, instead of sticking to a long-term vision and plan. Don’t get me wrong, you have to be able to pivot. But I see so many people advertising quick sales or price drops and you can tell they haven’t thought it through past a way to make a quick buck. I think, especially in creative industries, people are so concerned that the market is too saturated and that they have to compete on price to stand out. The reality is, if you’re competing solely on price, you cannot win. That’s where branding comes in.

MY PODCAST STARTED BECAUSE…  I’ve always loved blogging, and I have all this content on my blog that I knew was good but wasn’t getting near the traction it used to. I knew people weren’t seeing it the way I thought they would because I would get so many questions and think, but I blogged about that. Around the same time, I was listening to all of the podcasts. Seriously, I’m a podcast binger. I loved that I could listen to them while commuting, working, cooking, cleaning, anytime! I started to think about what it would look like to pour my energy into podcasting instead of blogging, and I was terrified. I was totally overwhelmed by the tech. As it turns out, I was making it way more complicated than it needed to be, and I’m so glad I decided to just do it scared.

SOME WAYS “I GET PERSONAL” ARE…  I share a lot of my life online. I know that’s not for everyone, and there’s plenty that I won’t put on the internet. But since my family is a huge part of my life and why I’ve grown my business the way I have, it makes sense for them to be a part of my online life, too. I also try to show up even when things “get real.” Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t want anyone to look at my life and think I have it all together. I have no idea what I’m doing most days, and I’m fine with that.

MOST RECENTLY… on February 1 we opened White Space Studio, a 1,000-square-foot natural-light studio in western Sioux Falls for creatives to create, design, dream, build, host and collaborate. It’s the studio where I shoot when I’m working with my own clients, but my favorite part has been renting it out to others and watching what they do inside. The creative community in Sioux Falls is incredible.

A TOOL I REALLY RECOMMEND TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS IS… a customer relationship manager. I use Dubsado and there is no way I’d be able to run without it. It keeps track of all my clients, their contracts, invoices, email communication, and even some basic accounting. I have automations set up so every client experience is the same, and certain emails (like session prep, coaching questionnaires, office hours schedules, etc.) get sent out without me having to do it. Before I was able to hire an assistant, Dubsado was my assistant. It’s the bomb.

THE EDUCATION SIDE OF MY BUSINESS… my current favorite child (real children excluded, of course). I think as women, we often look past the things that make us magical and assume everyone has all the same gifts as we do. That’s just not true! It’s been my greatest joy to help other women realize this. By the same token, it’s been incredibly empowering for me to realize that these things I’ve been passionate about for years can serve a purpose and help others. Humans are so magical!

SOME OF THE TOP THINGS BUSINESSES CAN BE DOING DURING THIS SLOW TIME IS… update everything. Your contracts, your website, your portfolio, your client experience, your workflows, your organizational methods, your computer software— everything. Remember, during busy seasons you wished for downtime like this (minus the pandemic, obviously).

TO RELAX, I… drink tea, do yoga, meditate. Sometimes all in the same hour! I don’t naturally love sitting and doing nothing (unless I’m deep
in a Netflix binge), but making meditation part of my day has been a game changer. I genuinely look forward to it. I love the Calm app for guided meditations. I actually paid for the full version, and it’s been worth every penny.

SOME SOUTH DAKOTA BRANDS I’M LOVING RIGHT NOW ARE… the way Sioux Falls restaurants are pivoting (seriously, that’s the 2020 word of the year) to adapt right now is blowing me away. I love how they’re offering take out, and even adjusting their menus to serve families and small groups. This is something none of them could have predicted or expected, and instead of being angry and negative (which would be totally understandable), they’re figuring out a new, temporary normal and totally killing it.

SOMETHING I LEARNED FROM A GUEST DURING A PODCAST THAT REALLY SURPRISED ME WAS… did an interview with Chelsea Giedd a few months ago and we dove into the Clifton StrengthsFinder and it was so enlightening. I thought I knew a lot about StrengthsFinder, but I learned so much and it’s totally changed the way I hire people. I learned that while I’m a ‘head-in-the-clouds’ dreamer, my amazing assistant, Kensi, is a doer, which is why we work so well together. Basically, I need all the doers on my team so I can keep dreaming.

SOMETHING I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IS… having a baby in July and not being pregnant anymore! I’m the world’s worst pregnant woman. But I do love my babies!

SOMETHING I’M WORKING ON IS… re-launching my course, InstaBranding, this spring. It launched in beta last fall, and now I’m making some changes based on the feedback I got. Prepping for a launch during what’s happening in the world is really testing me, but I know the information is so important, especially as people are needing to focus even more on how to take their brand online.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE LAST MONTH IS… it’s healthy to use this downtime to be productive, but it’s just as healthy to feel your feelings and have crap days where you feel like junk. This is really hard, and while I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’m also learning to be okay with doing nothing but Netflix and couch sitting some days. It’s all part of it.

A SOUTH DAKOTA ENTREPRENEUR I’M ADMIRING RIGHT NOW IS… Amy Jo Martin. I don’t know how I didn’t ‘discover’ this woman sooner.

A FAVORITE PLACE I’VE VISITED IN SOUTH DAKOTA IS… I love spending time in the Black Hills. It’s one of those places that really is right in our back yard, but I forget how magical it is until I’m there. I think as soon as quarantine is over, we’re booking a cabin and going exploring West River!.

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