This Organizer's Meetup journey started with being bored one weekend... and blossomed into a business!
Like many Organizers, Lynford started his Meetup Group to meet people with whom he shared a common interest. "I enjoy going out shooting pictures in fun locations, but that had always been a solo sport for me. Not many of my friends shared the same passion."
Bored one weekend in July 2008, Lynford started Shutterbug Excursions. "I chose my first location to shoot in Annapolis, Maryland at the harbor," Lynford said. "We had a blast at that first meeting. At that point, I knew we'd found something special. I still consider that first core group some of my best friends in my photography world."
Meetups center around visiting points of interest around Washington DC and photographing scenery, people and historic monuments. Past Meetups include Butterfly Exhibits and war monuments on Memorial Day.
Since he first began, Lynford's group numbers have swelled to over 600 members. What's the secret to this incredible growth? "I think we are all just genuine, friendly people who share the same passion...and that attracts similar kinds of people. A good Meetup organizes around a clear interest or passion. It also works best when it is organized around a spirit of giving and sharing."
A little over a year ago, Lynford took a leap of faith and started his own business, Photo Tour DC. "I've always been interested in the photo tour business, but I would have never tried it had it not been for my experience as a Meetup Organizer." Lynford said that during his Meetups, he found himself using the skills he would need to be successful in that type of business.
"Once I'd been running my group for about a year, it occurred to me that I was using all the skills I would need to be successful in that business. I come from a family of teachers, so I started thinking about what a curriculum would look like. It was literally back of a napkin from there. I started doing research and writing a business plan. Once I had that process in my system, I knew I eventually would have to do it."
Advice for Organizers? "You have to keep things on your calendar. I've not been as diligent with this... and when I've slowed down, so did my membership. You should always have about two to three things on your calendar to show that your group is vibrant."
Wanna see some of the Shutterbugs' work? Check out their Meetup Group's photo album or their Flickr page. And if you find yourself looking for more inspiration, find a photography Meetup Group near you!