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Meet Trailblazer Norma Simmons

Today we’d like to introduce you to Norma Simmons.

Norma, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all began with a list of the restaurants I wanted to visit in LA. The list turned into a personal diary about all the food places I had been. The diary turned into a food blog. Then I converted a personal Instagram account to a food account to help drive followers to my blog. The Instagram account took off and took up so much time that I had little time to focus on the original blog. Before I knew it I was an Instagram Influencer. As the months passed, some of the restaurants I had been blogged about asked me to take photos for their Instagram accounts. One opportunity turned in to two, three then four and now I do it full time!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I started, I never imagined I would be doing it full time 3 years later. My first few clients were easy and smooth. They came to me. I just had to name my price and they said yes. Unrealistically, I thought it was always going to be that easy. The struggle came when I started looking for more clients. The hardest part for me has been selling my services. When you’re a freelance food photographer, you’re essentially selling your vision and skills. I found it so hard to sell myself. I’m not a born sales person and I’ve really had to reach out of my comfort zone to make pitches to potential clients. Even today, I get nervous before a pitch. But I do it. I have to do it.

The best advice I can give anyone who is just starting out is to do their research. There is a ton of literature online about making sales presentations and pitches. Be confident in both yourself and your work!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Eat with Norma – what should we know?
I am a full time content creator and food/product photographer. I photograph both food and products in order to create visual content for different social media avenues. I try to challenge myself as much as possible by always practicing. Even when it’s not a paid shoot, I try different angles, different lighting, and different scenery. I try to be relevant and current while trying to keep my creativity.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
By far my mother is the most inspirational woman in my life. Since I was a child, we’ve had a love/hate relationship like no other. Yet at the end of the day, I know she’s the one who taught me to be the independent woman I am today. Somehow she took care of a dying husband and a bratty teenager on $21,000 a year. I never did without. She’s a breast cancer survivor and still calls to remind me to put socks on before I go to bed because it’s below 60 degrees outside.
Always know where your money is. Be cautious, but be kind. And treat others how you want to be treated. Are 3 phrases that I still hear her saying over and over. We still fight weekly, but she IS my heart.

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