Gemma, what is your purpose here on this wonderful earth?
To help people. I know that's a broad and rather lofty statement but it really is my modus operandi. But if I really boil it down in detail, my purpose it to tell stories through photography, help people become the boss of their own cameras, unlock their creative spirit and challenge them to live a rich and fulfilling existence. I'm big on the whole "We've only got one life, so let's live the $#%T out off it" spiel.
How did you come to be where you are right now?
Have you got 10 hours? Kidding! Like so many entrepreneurs before me, it all started with a little blog. But to take it one step further, I guess I can attribute my greatest life shift to the moment I met my dear friend "rock bottom". I can refer to hitting rock bottom like a mate these days because the best thing about hanging out in a pit of hell is you do a heck of a lot of soul searching. It's true when they say those moments can make you or break you. I didn't like the idea of being broken. I was also sick of floundering and feeling utterly directionless. My only option was to make something of myself. I picked up a camera and created my blog Gemma Peanut Gallery. It served as the perfect canvas to pour my messy imagination on. Ideas were born, discoveries were made, I became addicted to upskilling and suddenly I was thrust into a career as a photographer, storyteller and creator of my online photography school. It's been a thrilling ride ever since. One I wouldn't have appreciated if I had cruised my way through this existence.
What does your current business model look like?
Well now I'm seriously exposing myself as a hack-preneur. I don't have a business model but the equation to me is simple. I create something that is hopefully meaningful and useful to someone and I get to pay my mortgage (Phew!). I have three streams of revenue: I work as a freelance photographer, I have an online Gemma Peanut Prints shop and my online Photography 101 eCourse designed especially for women to get them mastering photography like a boss!
Tell us more about your photography course and why you created it?
I saw a gap in the market. If you type the words "photography course" into Google, you will be sent to multiple tech-based websites that are very slick and black in design. They are all the same. I realised that photography is still very much a male dominated industry. So I wanted to create a learning space that has full force feminine energy and taps into the artistic (as well as technical) side of photography. I also wanted to create a course that holds your hand through the creative process that feels intimate and personal.
Do you have a close group of entrepreneurial friends? How has this helped you, and what would you suggest to people looking for something like this themselves?
Indeed, I have a close group of entrepreneurial friends. We are each other's accountability partners and it works well because we cover completely different fields. Working for yourself can be a lonely existence so it's important to build a network of like-minded biz babes to not only throw ideas around with but to also vent about said lonely existence.
What mindset shifts have you had to go through to level up in your business?
I went through a massive internal shift quite recently. I made a deal with myself to stop being fearful about what could go wrong and start getting excited about what could go right! So with that internal shift keeping me buoyed, I just went for it and threw myself heart-first in the deep end!
Talk us through what typical day (or week!) in your world might look like:
I'm glad you said week because it's rare that any two days are the same. But a semi standard week can look a little something like this...
Mondays, Tuesday, Fridays are strictly reserved for working on my Photography 101 course. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for photography jobs and any post-production photo editing. Pepper in some visits to the post office to deliver my Peanut Prints, coastal walks with my hubby, a lunch date with some friends and a trashy reality show before bed (don't hate me. It's my guiltiest pleasure! Try as I might I can't devour TED talks every night of the week).
Down time, and the work vs. life balance deal. How do you make it work?
If I'm honest, I hate the word "balance". My inner perfectionist growls at the thought because achieving balance feels like an impossible dream and breeds so much pressure. Life is ever evolving and changing and we as humans are forever adapting. I feel like striving for balance is a losing battle. One minute I'm all about work and the next I'm all about living. It's a trapeze act without an end but as time goes by I'm starting to find my rhythm and flow and somehow manage to keep all the people who matter to me, happy.
What has been your most rewarding project to date, and why?
Hands down, creating my Photography 101 course! I'm a sparky creative, meaning I have a million ideas a minute, I either use them or chuck them and have the ability to move on swiftly. This is the first time I've committed to a long form idea that has required my attention and devotion for a full year. (I feel like I've tamed a beast). And while there were moments where I tangoed with distractions, I managed to steer the ship back on course. I think it was Marie Forleo who introduced me to the power of learning to say "no" to shiny opportunities that distract you from your end goal. That little pearl has served me well this year, so thanks, Marie.
What three key lessons have you learnt in your entrepreneurial path, which continue to carry you forward?
1. You can't do it all! Gosh have I learnt and truly understood the value of people this year. My friend Melissa Ambrosini was the first to encourage me to take the step to hiring someone to work alongside me. It's honestly changed my life. Two heads really are better than one and Corinne was the missing piece of my business puzzle. We get so much done, have a lot of fun and I can't tell you how lovely it is having someone to sound board your ideas with.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others. You have your own unique voice, gift and quality. That is enough to set you apart. Don't try to copy what someone else is doing. Instead, be inspired by their work and do it YOUR way. Do it better. And on that note, don't ever waste an ounce of your energy getting frustrated with copycats. It's unfortunate but there are people out there who will try to emulate your essence, your writing style or brand. The best way to deal with it is to keep trailblazing ahead, foster your tribe, stay innovative and create impossible-to-ignore content or products that people will love. I guarantee you those copycats won't be able to keep up and will forever stay in your wake.
3. If it isn't scheduled, it won't happen. My digits calendar has become my ultimate BFF. So start locking in deadlines for yourself and stick to them. I find announcing your product launch adds a healthy amount of pressure. You've put it out there so you've got to meet your deadlines and deliver.
What doubts or fears have you had to face during your entrepreneurial journey?
So many! I'm not a natural risk taker, so investing a lot of personal savings into my business was a tough pill to swallow. But once I took that leap and made the commitment, I haven't looked back. I also have those typical self-deprecating thoughts creep in from time to time. It's a mix tape of "you're not good enough, smart enough or brave enough" crap. Fortunately these days, I keep myself so busy I don't have time to listen to them. I just get on with it.
Please tell us your favourite:
- Book: Do Big Little Things by Bruce Pontoon.
- Website: Is it too cheeky to say my own? It's where I spend all my time so surely it qualifies as my favourite website right?
- Early morning activity: Thumb scrolling my way through Pinterest for some daily inspo
- Late night activity: A trash reality TV show. It's wonderfully mindless and helps me switch off and unwind.
- Gourmet snack: I'm addicted to chowing down frozen raspberries at the moment. Does that count as a gourmet snack?
Gemma Peanut is a professional photographer based in Sydney, Australia. She has photographed some of the most captivating personalities in the world including Margot Robbie, Teresa Palmer, Delta Goodrem, Jules Sebastian, Samantha Jade, Melissa Ambrosini and Anna Heinrich.
Gemma is also the founder of lifestyle/photography blog, Gemma Peanut Gallery encouraging women to chase their dreams and trail blaze a rich and adventurous life. She is also an actor and spent two years working on the iconic Aussie TV show Neighbours.
After getting so many questions from subscribers about her career as a professional photographer and asking her to teach, Gemma has created her own online photography course PHOTOGRAPHY 101 with GEMMA PEANUT. Find out more at www.gemmapeanut.com.