In the monthly Female Founder Spotlight series, I interview inspiring female entrepreneurs, business owners, and bloggers, asking them about how they got their businesses to where they are today. In this interview, we meet Renee Hahnel.
Renee Hahnel is an Australian travel photographer, blogger, educator, and author based in Seattle, Washington. You’ll usually find her hiking up a mountain or exploring some faraway place, forever in search of new adventures.
Her brand, Renee Roaming, inspires millions of travelers to live intentionally, place value on experiences over possessions, and to find joy exploring this beautiful world we call home.
Renee’s work has been featured by Lonely Planet, Today Show, Travel + Leisure, Cosmopolitan, New York Post, Condé Nast, among others, and her client list features some of the world’s largest brands.
What is the one book that you would recommend to every aspiring female entrepreneur?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I feel like this book should be required reading for everyone, but I think it particularly rings true for female entrepreneurs. There is so much risk, uncertainty, and vulnerability that comes along with putting your work out there to the world… and it can often feel like you’re not doing enough, someone is doing it better, you’re not qualified enough (hello Imposter Syndrome!) etc.
This book explores what is required to fully show up and live purposeful and meaningful lives. Although it’s not just focused on the business side of things, I think Brene’s principles can be applied to both our personal and work lives.
What behavior or habit have you adopted that has had the biggest impact on your business?
Learning what my skills and time are worth and then how to say no when something doesn’t align with my beliefs and goals. I think early on when you start working for yourself it’s easy to fall into the trap of undervaluing yourself and saying yes to everything.
In the industry of photography and blogging, I had to very quickly learn what I should be charging clients, how to stand my ground and negotiate a fair price for my skills and time, and also how to politely say no when a project doesn’t align with my goals. What I have said no to over the years has most definitely had a bigger (and more positive) long-term impact on my business than everything I have said yes to.
What’s one monthly subscription you could not live without?
For my business, probably the apps I use to create and schedule content (e.g. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, UNUM, Canva, Unfold, Buffer etc.) For my personal life, I would say Netflix and Spotify haha. I just binge-watched Season 3 of The Crown and don’t regret one second of it :p
What advice would you give to your younger self in relation to life and work?
It’s okay to try something completely out of your comfort zone that you may not initially be “qualified” to do. I have a degree in Speech Language Pathology, not photography or writing. Yet I have gone on to write a book, have my photos featured on the front covers of magazines, and make a good living in an industry that I had zero intention of entering when I was younger.
I didn’t really see myself as a creative person, instead, I had this idea about myself that I was a more practical, science based thinker. Because of that limiting belief I almost didn’t start my blog or believe in myself enough to focus on photography.
“So my advice to a younger version of myself would be to forget all those silly things I used to tell myself, and instead follow the path that makes me feel most alive.”
What is something that happened to you or your business, that felt disappointing at the time that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
I can’t pinpoint one exact example, but it would probably be the times that I was really excited about a potential project and then it didn’t end up happening or I wasn’t chosen by the client. In nearly all of those situations I feel like something better ended up coming along or instead it gave me time to work on projects that would end up being much more beneficial for my business.
What is a commonly held opinion in your industry that you disagree with?
Quantity over quality. With the way social media algorithms favors quantity of posts I see people more and more letting the quality of their content (photo, video, writing, etc.) go to the wayside. This strategy may result in more likes or comments in the short term, but in the long term it will harm your reputation as a professional or “expert” in the industry and subsequently lead to less high-quality client projects and opportunities.
Another is that Instagram is the be-all-end-all. I see so many people put all their energy into Instagram and not diversifying their business is any other way, which ultimately leads to less financial stability and potentially limited long term success.
If you could only work 2 hours per week on your business, what would you do?
I would do the part of my job that is the most fun – getting outside/traveling and taking photos!
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