Brisbane-based Amanda Campeanu is a brand photographer and Instagram strategist who turned a redundancy into a launch pad for an exciting new career and a brand new business.
We recently chatted with Amanda about her transition from corporate accountant to passionate photographer, how to work for yourself and overcoming that dreaded cycle of self-doubt.
Madeleine: Amanda, we love your photography work and your online accounts – your Insta stories especially! Was a career in photography and social media something you’d always planned on, or was it something that developed later in life?
Amanda Campeanu: Definitely not something I planned for growing up! Photography and social media were never career options for me.
I actually studied accounting at university and was working in that industry before starting my business.
But while I was focusing on my corporate career I was also really interested in having an online blog as a hobby. I eventually started one about finance and career related things and that introduced me to the amazing online world and really set the foundation for my current career path.
Madeleine: We loved reading your blog posts about the lessons you took away from your redundancy a few years ago. You used it as an opportunity to move into part time work and launch your current business (which you now work on full time, yahoo!). Can you tell us about that experience and what the transition was like?
Amanda: I won’t lie, it was pretty hard at first and I couldn’t believe it happened to me. It took me a few weeks to get back into the swing of things. After a time though it allowed me to realise that I can’t rely on anyone else but me to earn my own money.
I mean, what if I’d been made redundant when I had a whole family to look after?! With running my own business I can take my money matters into my own hands.
In terms of making the leap from accounting to photography, it might sound extreme but it all happened kind of naturally.
I have never done any formal photography training so I’m very much self-taught.
When I was running my online blog I would take all the photos for my posts and I started to fall in love with the process. I love styling and editing an image, it really allows my creative side to run wild!
Once I started getting into photography I did a call out on a Facebook group asking if people would write me a testimonial in exchange for images of their products. It was the best thing I ever did! That kickstarted building my portfolio and learning how this whole brand photography process works.
Madeleine: Now that you’re a fully-fledged photographer and Instagram strategist, can you tell us what that type of work is all about?
Amanda: The photography side of my business really focuses on product photography and shooting portraits. I also do Instagram management for people where I curate their feeds and do Instagram audits to help them figure out where to improve and how to grow their profiles.
When I first started my business I had hopes of shooting stock photography and having an online membership for people to access my photos. That idea went down the drain pretty fast when I realised how much work was involved in building up a big catalogue of photos!
Madeleine: Building your own business is a pretty big deal. How was that experience for you and where did you learn the skills you needed?
Amanda: Working on my business is so much damn fun! No day is ever the same and it’s actually so fulfilling to know you’re building something of your own.
It definitely has its challenges and I’ve had so many moments of self-doubt. But the skills you’ll acquire by building a business are invaluable.
I’ve worked in a lot of small businesses over the years so I had a good idea of how businesses are set up and run. I watched my brother closely when he was building his business too.
I think as well you just have to wing it sometimes. Go with the flow of things and just start on the idea that you have.
Madeleine: Working for yourself would have its highs and lows. What do you think are the biggest benefits and biggest challenges?
Amanda: The benefits are that I get to wake up whenever I want and work from bed. I get to dictate my own time and I actually just love working from home and being in my own space.
Not only that but the best thing is I’m actually doing something I LOVE and making an earning from it. To me that’s so fulfilling.
The challenges would definitely include time! I have so many things I want to do, so many ideas to bring to life but I only have 24 hours in a day.
Burnout has also been a real struggle of mine. I tend to work for a couple of weeks without really taking a break and then I get stressed out and overwhelmed. When I have a lot of client work on I want to get it done as soon as possible but it can be a vicious cycle.
Madeleine: What has working for yourself taught you, and what have been your biggest career highlights to date?
Amanda: Working for myself has definitely taught me that I need to actually schedule down time for myself. I’m pretty good at juggling priorities but my number one priority is always my client, so this lesson has been an important one to learn.
It’s also taught me the power of networking. I’ve had quite a few clients comes from referrals because of the relationships I have with others so I know it’s really important to foster those relationships.
In terms of career highlights, definitely transitioning from a day job to going full time in my business is a huge one. That was a pretty big deal for me, but it felt so right when the time came.
And launching a product based business last year, Aera Bottle. That had always been my ultimate dream!
Madeleine: Doing a career 360 and launching your own business is a massive deal which I’m sure came with moments of fear and self-doubt. Do you remember a time when you felt a lot of self-doubt or stress? How did you overcome it?
Amanda: I’ve definitely struggled with self-doubt in the past, but not as much anymore because I’m growing more confident in my abilities.
I think sometimes burn out can play a big role in it.
I remember a time when I was super stressed out before heading overseas. I was trying to get a heap of last minute client work done in a really short amount of time. Because of the time constraints I really couldn’t do my best job.
There was a lot of back and forth with one of the clients who didn’t like some of the photos I’d shot and needless to say I really needed a break!
In hindsight I should have actually said no to doing the work because I couldn’t give my all without having the proper amount of time.
But after taking a break and getting back from my overseas holiday I felt completely refreshed and ready to go!
So I think sometimes simply taking a break will help you overcome some of those niggling self-doubt thoughts.
I think you also need to understand WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. I have a very strong ‘why’ which keeps me 100% motivated all the time. We’ve got to dig deep and figure out what our why is for ourselves.
Madeleine: What advice would you give to other young women who want to start their own business?
Amanda: Do your market research to see what’s in demand and get your branding down at the very beginning.
I see a lot of small business not do well mainly because they’re extremely niche and it’s harder to find a target market, or they haven’t nailed their branding.
If you want to successfully portray yourself on social media, branding is the number one thing you need to pay attention to.
That, and just freaking start! The more you think about something and don’t take action, the more chance you have of not reaching your goals.
A massive thank you to Amanda Campeanu for sharing her thoughts and lessons on building a career on your own terms.
Amanda is a powerhouse at sharing her lessons and tips online, so head over to her Instagram or YouTube to pick up some more gems. You can also check out her photography and strategy biz online at amandacampeanu.com
Want more interviews with real life career girls? Read our latest interviews: Meet Kate Williams, 25, Senior Corporate Finance Associate and Meet Jae Schaefer. 26. Speaker, writer & life coach.
Until next time,