The Mindset Shift that Changed EVERYTHING.

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With a combined 20+ years of experience as wedding filmmakers, we created the LEVEL UP brand to help filmmakers elevate their businesses and their craft, so they can make more and work less.


It’s so important to hear about other people’s experiences in the industry, so that we can learn from their mistakes, and decide what elements and practices we want to adapt to our own films and businesses. Today’s episode is an open conversation with you about my own experiences in the industry, the mistakes I’ve made, and what I’ve done to fix them.

Episode Transcript:

Before I get into the details, I think it’s really important to understand a huge mindset shift I’ve adopted over the last 6 months or so. And this is the one thing I largely credit for the direction I’m headed in now.

And that’s this: in order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

Revolutionary, right?

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

But that’s exactly was I was doing for the past few years. I was stuck. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to end up, but I wasn’t making the moves to get there. I knew the level of business I wanted to run, and the quality of films I wanted to produce, but I wasn’t actually doing anything different to make those things happen.

I lived with the mentality that things would just naturally fall into place, and that things were out of my control. That the only option was to roll with the punches and just do my best with each situation I found myself in.

But then, one day, it dawned on me: life is only what you make it. There is another option, and that’s to hop in the driver’s seat and really take a proactive role in where my business is heading. I’m the one who gets to choose the destination, and I’m the one who gets to put my foot on the gas. And it’s my responsibility to keep my eye on the map to make sure I don’t veer off course.

Sure, there may be exceptions to this rule, but by and large, this is the way the world works. This is the way business works. This is the way the wedding industry works. Those who are constantly learning, constantly improving, and constantly dreaming of the next step and the road to get there, achieve an entirely different level of success than those who allow life and business to happen to them.

If you’ve been listening to the podcast since the beginning, you may have heard me refer to the potato chip rule. This is the concept that the larger something is, the fewer there are of them. And the smaller something is, the more there are of them. Like a bag of potato chips. There are a handful of big, perfect chips, tons of broken medium sized chips, and a million crumbs.

This concept can be applied to tons of different scenarios, and I certainly see it being true in the wedding industry. For every huge, wildly successful name out there, there are 10 people in the mid-size market, and 100 in the low-end market.

It’s like a pyramid, with only a few leaders at the top and a huge number at the bottom who are just getting started, and an ascending number of filmmakers at all the different stages in between.

But the question is: how do you climb the ladder? How do you keep pushing forward, inching your way from the bottom to the top? The people at the top didn’t get there by accident. They didn’t get there by taking a passenger-seat approach to their lives and their businesses. They are driving with intention, with purpose, and that’s why they are successful.

And that’s who I want to be. I want to be the person who is constantly pushing forward. Constantly elevating my films and my business. I’m not sure where I’ll ultimately end up, but I do know that I have a long way to go to get there.

So I’ve been taking a good, long look at my business. I’ve been scrutinizing every detail, from my music choices in my films, my color grading, marketing, networking relationships, client experience: you name it, I’m picking it apart and figuring out a way to put it back together again in a new and better way.

Because in order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

So what areas were I lacking in, and what have I done to improve?

The first area that I believe was holding me back was my branding. I know that branding is such a hot topic, but that’s probably because it’s so incredibly important. Sometimes I cringe when I think of how many brides have landed on my website and immediately clicked off just because my branding didn’t match the quality of films I was producing.

But why is branding important? Branding is the first indicator that potential clients can use to decide if you are a good fit for them, and the value that you can bring. Before they even watch a single film, they are forming opinions about you and your business. And if you aren’t doing a good job communicating your value, then you’re losing out on clients.

So let’s take it back to the beginning. When I first started my business, before I had made a single dollar, I created my own logo. It was bad. Like, really bad. About a year into my business, I decided to change my logo, but here is when I made the mistake:

I took a shortcut and hired someone on Etsy to create my logo. Honestly, I think that logo was ok. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. I think I paid like $200 or something for it. I’m not exactly sure. But I didn’t get any vector images, I didn’t get a full branding suite. There are a lot of regrets here, because I didn’t have any other elements I could use across my business that would allow my brand to be cohesive and consistent, and really communicate my value.

In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

So, finally, 3 years in, I’m in the middle of a professional rebrand. I’ve hired a brand designer to come up with a custom logo, colors, fonts, and website, and this will allow me to be extremely consistent. I’m not a designer. That’s not my strong suit. I’ve never been trained in what to look for, how to think about the relationship between my ideal client and the way my brand communicates my value to them. That’s their specialty.

And when it comes to branding, I’ve been able to communicate with my designer and be super honest with my goals for my business. They know the direction I want to take things, and they know exactly how to communicate my value with my ideal client. It’s going to be game-changing.

I think we can all agree that it’s cringeworthy when a couple thinks they can just have a friend record their wedding with their iPhone. We can see the quality difference, and as videographers, we know the value of hiring a professional. So it’s the same thing here. Hiring a professional is going to get you much better results than trying to do it yourself. So that’s the first thing I did: stop trying to figure out branding on my own and hire a full-service designer.

The next mistake I was making was not being picky enough with what I was choosing to show on my website and social media. For a long time, I was showing nearly everything I shot. Whether it was a wedding I was proud of or not, I showed it. Whether it was the type of wedding I wanted to be filming, or not. Because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. And I just kept getting booked for the same types of weddings. Weddings I wasn’t interested in shooting anymore, weddings that didn’t fuel me creatively, and weddings that didn’t serve me and direction I wanted to take my business.

In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

I’ve since gotten extremely picky with what I’ll show. I only have a handful of weddings that I’m willing to display on my website or on Instagram, and as I continue to shoot more and more weddings that I’m proud of, I’ll be able to continue to refine what I’m showing. Within the next few weeks, I plan on deleting nearly all of my past content on Instagram, because I know that it’s not actually serving me and my goals. It’s not reflecting the types of clients I want to work with, or the weddings I want to film.

But that’s just part of it. Waiting for my ideal weddings to come to me was holding me back. In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

I’ve begun to seek out different opportunities for creating content that does match my ideal client.

This year I’ve done many styled shoots, and 3 of them truly match my ideal client and aesthetic, and1 of those I planned myself. I’ve stopped being complacent in this area, and I’ve started being extremely intentional and proactive. I was not invited to do any of these shoots – I actually reached out to vendors and practically invited myself to them. Because the reality is that most styled shoots don’t have a videographer on the team, so more often than not, there’s room for us.

So I invited myself to 2 of the shoots, which were absolutely gorgeous. And I full-on planned 1 of them from start to finish.

If you want to learn more about styled shoots, you can check out episode 18 of the podcast.

But my biggest goal with the styled shoot that I planned was to have content on my website that matched my brand direction + ideal client. I knew I wanted my website header video to look a certain way, and there are other places on my website where I knew I’d want the perfect video content for banners and canvas backgrounds, and things like that. So now i have content to make my website appeal to my ideal client, and as soon as that shoot is published, I’m going to have a ton of content to push out on Instagram – since Instagram at this point is where I get most of my clients.

And I want to be totally honest with you here. I spent a lot of money on that shoot. I spent about $800 – between buying the flower girl dress, contributing to the floral budget, buying champagne….it all added up, but I’m looking at it as marketing, and I think it’s well worth the investment. The photographer was on board with really elevating the shoot for her own portfolio and business as well, so beyond the cost of her film, she also contributed to the floral budget and different elements.

Styled shoots really helped me in another way as well. They are naturally settings that allow vendors to collaborate and get to know each other. Which is another area I was really lacking.

For a long time, I spent all my time only networking in videographer groups. It’s great to meet videographers across the country, or even across the world, but those relationships don’t serve you the same way that local relationships can.

I started paying close attention to the key players in my local wedding industry. I was seeing the same names pop up on Instagram over and over, and I started seeing the same vendors working with one another over and over again too. It was clear that they had relationships established, and it was even more clear that I didn’t have many close relationships that resembled that, if any.

Since the wedding industry is all about collaboration, community, and teamwork, it’s so important to have those key relationships, and to constantly be working on them and seeking out new ones.

In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

I recognized that having friends in the industry in my local market would be extremely beneficial, in more ways than 1. I recently did an episode with 2 photographers in my area who also have their own podcast – you can check out episode 32 if you want to learn more about what networking can do for your business.

But I started very intentionally seeking out these relationships. Styled shoots were a great way to do this, as I mentioned before, but I also started using Instagram to interact with them as well. And I’ve already started to see benefits from being social and networking in my market. It’s so easy to use social media to ignite new relationships. Follow vendors in your area, interact with their content, and start getting them familiar with you and your brand. Natural relationships will begin to form if you take a slow and steady approach with it.

Also, that was a second part of why I planned that styled shoot.

I had my sights set on working with a few of the key vendors who collaborated on the shoot. I had been wanting to work at that specific venue for the last year, and this shoot gave me an opportunity to work there, get some content from that venue to use to market myself to clients who are getting married there, and I was able to build a relationship with the venue manager.

Also, I had my sights set on working with a specific photographer because I could tell we were extremely similar with our shooting style, business goals, and personalities (Ashley, if you’re listening to this, you’re awesome. So glad we got to collaborate and that we’re friends now).

Another thing that I knew needed to change was the overall quality of my films. Since I knew I want to be pushing forward, I knew that the quality of my films should be part of that.

In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

Up until this year, I’ve been using the very first DSLR I ever bought for my business – and that’s my Canon 80D. Guys, I love that camera. It shoots 60fps in 1080p, and I bought it for under $800 on ebay. It was an amazing investment, since it helped me make my first $100k and beyond.

BUT – since I know I don’t want to be complacent, i knew that upgrading from this pro-consumer level camera would pay off. So I did end up upgrading to the 1Dxii. I’m not a huge gear person, and I don’t plan on being the type of person to be constantly upgrading. But I did recognize that if I really wanted to get to that next level with my films, upgrading my gear would really help.

And if I’m being honest, I can tell a HUGE difference in the quality of my footage compared to my 80D. There’s a big difference, and it was money well-spent.

The gear was the first step. But the second step in getting to the next level with my films was the way the film looked. Color grading has always been something I struggle with. I just never really had a knack for it, but I do think it’s something that plays a huge difference in attracting couples. They are attracted to a certain look and feel, and color is a key component in that.

In order to get different results, I need to change what I’m doing.

So after months of fine-tuning my ideal client and really doing some soul-searching on the types of colors and style they are attracted to, I began to realize there was a theme: they were choosing photographers who either shot medium format film, or who edited their photos to mimic that look.

And if I want to get clients who like that look for their photos, it only makes sense that they would be attracted to that in video as well. So I landed on Illume LUTs. These are a bright and airy, film photography- inspired video preset that would allow me to achieve the same look as my favorite film photographers in my area. And let me tell you – these LUTs have been a game changer. My clients immediately began to comment about the new look of my films, because they love the change. And photographers in my area have taken notice, too, because they know that my films could be a good fit for their clients, since they have the same aesthetic.

I am an affiliate for Illume LUTs, so if you want to purchase them, you can use the code LEVELUP15. There will be a link to their website in the show notes.

I’m going to pause right here for a second. I know that we are all in different stages of our businesses. Some of you listening might feel totally overwhelmed by all the things you see you can work on in your business. While others might feel totally solid, and feel like they have all these areas locked-in and perfected.

And to both groups, I would say this: there is so much power in micro changes. Earlier this year I read a book called Atomic Habits. In this book, the author James Clear, says, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.” – and I think this concept can be applied here – by making tiny changes on your business constantly, over time, they are going to add up to something amazing.

So whether you’re overwhelmed by all the areas you can improve on, or you feel like you’ve got it all figured out, making micro changes to your business is a great plan to continue pushing forward.

The final area I’m going to talk about today is education. I think we can all agree that education is important – from the moment you start your business to 10 years in, the world is changing, the industry is changing, and continuing to learn is vital to staying relevant.

I’ve invested a healthy amount into education. I’ve attended live workshops and purchased online courses. I’ve joined Facebook groups, listened to podcasts + watched countless youtube videos.

But it hasn’t been enough. There’s been something missing – a piece that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

So I’ve started to really branch out in the areas of education I’m consuming, and the format of that education. Within the last few weeks – yes, weeks, I’ve hit a new stride in learning. I joined a coaching group for wedding professionals across the country. This group is owned and run by 3 very talented luxury wedding planners who have a heart for helping wedding pros level up their businesses and eventually get to the luxury service level.

This group has been so incredibly helpful, even just over the short amount of time I’ve been in it. They put on weekly Facebook live classes on various topics, and let me tell you – it is so refreshing to hear insight and learn from other wedding professionals who are not videographers. Being able to see perspectives from other areas in the industry and apply it to your business is incredibly valuable.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement made by Jim Rohn, who famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So surrounding myself with 250 other like-minded individuals from across the country who all have a similar goal has been mind-blowing.

So I would encourage you all to seek out different learning opportunites. It doesn’t have to be wedding filmmaking specific – it can be about business, the wedding industry, sales, branding. Just branch out in how you’re learning, and it can really be eye-opening.

I hope that hearing about my own mistakes, mindset shifts and things that I’m working on has been helpful in someway. I do consider myself to be a pretty open book, so if you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram at thelevelupco or send me an email at

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