Sylvia Cuillo joins us from Photos Organized in Riverview, Florida…
Share your story about how you became a photo organizer…
After working 20+ years in the social services field, the office I was currently working at was getting ready to merge and I was going to be laid off. In preparation for that event, even though I had the option to stay on after the merger, I decided that I was ready for a change that would allow me to do something new that I would really love while giving me freedom and flexibility (and fun) to attend to our family of seven.
So I did some soul searching and asked myself these 2 questions with these answers, prefaced by “if nothing else mattered”:
What am I good at? organizing/managing
What do I LOVE doing? working with photos and scrapbooking
I was brainstorming the possibilities where I could embody both of these and make good money. That’s when I googled “photos and organizing” and was shocked to see this thing called the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO)! It was really a thing! Before I got too excited I called a few photo organizers on the APPO list to ask if APPO and the field were “legit,” and I spoke with great independent business women, including Cathi herself ! That was it for me! I’ve been in ever since!
Primary services and which do you most enjoy?
Remote digital photo organizing is my primary service and has been since the beginning. It is what makes me smile. In between I also do photo scanning, digital photo books and some slide shows. But my main bread and butter is definitely remote digital photo organizing.
How did you find APPO and how long have you been a member?
Please refer to previous question above for how I found APPO and I’ve been a member since 2011.
Favorite tool or vendor you use for photo organizing?
My favorite photo organizing tool is Photo Mechanic. Anything that gives me speed, maximum control and the ability to deliver awesome magical results is what I’m all about!
Side Note: I’d heard about Photo Mechanic but it wasn’t until I WON it at an APPO Conference Intensive lead by Sherra Humphreys & Rita Norton, that I started using it! Thanks Sherra and Rita.
What is a big (or small) mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
I started out part-time and failed to balance my schedule between work and family. This led to allowing my work hours to steadily increase until it became more than full-time. That was not the plan! The plan was to have flexibility and fun! I was missing out on prime time with my kids and husband, never-mind eating and sleeping.
So I’ve been working hard on creating and following an ANNUAL service/marketing/financial plan that has more built-in time off around my kid’s school schedule, including lead time before the time off, to make sure I am completely free, body, mind and soul!
Best client success story…
This is a bit of a twist on this question, but 2 clients I will never forget:
My first printed photo client – After about 1 hour of working side by side client, sorting through bins and bags of printed photos, I wanted to puke – literally! Here I was all excited about finally embarking on this new phase of my life and I thought I was going to die, right there in front of her in her dining room! When I left 2 hours later, I was beyond exhausted and feeling light headed and physically sick.
My first digital photo client – At first I was absolutely petrified that I was going to accidentally delete or “break” her digital photos or computer! And on top of that, that something technical would come up that I would not be knowledgeable in and she would see my ignorance. But as I got going, even though I was working side by side her, I realized how much I actually knew and how HAPPY she was by what I was doing and teaching her. I left after 3 hours feeling invigorated and still wanting to do more! It was a breakthrough moment for me!
My Immediate take-aways: I would work exclusively with digital photos! And since my personal preference is to limit going into a client’s home, and I demand of myself freedom and flexibility, there was no reason I could not work with digital photos REMOTELY. It was a done deal from then on!
Side Note: I’ve since learned that apparently feeling physically sick can happen when working with printed photos if there are allergens involved, which I think may be the case with me. But regardless, I am SO thankful I listened to my body and instincts and niched in remote digital photo organizing basically from the start. I love it MORE and MORE everyday!
What is your favorite family tradition?
Saturday pasta dinner! I cook hearty meals Monday through Thursday for our family. Friday is Fun Friday and we eat pizza and take it easy. Saturday and Sunday my husband cooks. He is Italian and for the past 17 years of Saturdays, he has been cooking an amazing pasta dinner and we look forward to sitting around the table together and enjoying it every week!
If you weren’t a photo organizer, what would you be doing instead?
I would be spending a lot more time volunteering at my kid’s schools and working on my own photos and digital photo books.
Are your own photos organized?
For the most part they are organized but not as well as I would like them to be. They were always organized before I became a photo organizer (ironically enough) and then ever since my divorce with iPhoto, I’ve been working on putting the pieces back together again in Lightroom. The basics are solid but the fine tuning is an ongoing project.
Best tip for a new photo organizer…what you wish someone would have told you sooner?
Start narrow but deep. Pick one or two main money making aspects of being a photo organizer that you love doing best and focus on just that. Dig deep in your knowledge and keep practicing (repetition.) Create your own secret sauce. Own it, systematize and monetize it! Then expand your menu of services gradually, if you want. You will experience less overwhelm and more productivity and net profit = success, in less time. Plus there’s a saying: “There’s riches in niches.” Believe it!
Anything else you want our readers to know?
As someone who constantly struggles with work/life balance, here’s a good read: “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss.
Say hi to Sylvia in the comments below and share something you learned from her interview…