So what does it take to make photography a full-time business? Today I want to tell you my journey of how it became my full-time career and what steps I had to make sure that I had in place so that it could be my full-time career.
I know a ton of you have this dream of making it your full-time gig and you have my support 110%. If that’s you, I highly encourage you to tune in, take these steps and put them into action.
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Welcome to the frame your way. Photography Podcasts. I'm your host, Brooke Jefferson. I'm a wife, Mama to two and full time photographer and business coach. I created this podcast with the aspiring photographer in mind to bring you inspiring stories. Strategies to help you go from zero to multiple figures and tips and tricks to help you get one step closer. Toe work. Life harmony. Are you ready to frame your way to your dream career? Let's die Then
you're listening to the frame your way. Photography podcast. And this is Episode 46. So what does it take to make photography a full time business? Today? I want to tell you my story and my journey of how it became my full time career and the steps that I had to make sure that I had in place so that it could be my full time job. I know a ton of you have this dream and desire to make photography your full time business, and you have my support. Ah, 110%. Same. When I first started in photography, it was just because it was something that I was passionate about and I enjoyed doing It was a fun hobby for me. I didn't ever think that it was gonna be something that turned into my everyday career. And it wasn't until probably a year after I was already taking pictures, that I got a glimpse of what it would be like to have a photography business. So let me take you back to 2014 where it all started for me. I was a 20 year old brand new mom with a six month old baby, and I had borrowed my mother in law's camera. Actually, she wasn't even my mother in law yet She was just my boyfriend's mom, and she was nice enough to give me her really nice canon rebel at the time. And so before I knew it, I catch the camera and she never asked for it back. So for the 1st 2 years, I didn't take pictures on this canon Rebel pen built a business from it. But in the very beginning, my whole purpose of getting the camera was simply to photograph my daughter much like a lot of people. D'oh! So I was your typical mom who picked up a camera, thought she was pretty good at it at the time, which makes me cringe because when I look back, all I can do is cover my eyes like the little monkey emoji on our phone and just I want to burn the images, which I think we all do that looking back at where we started, not to mention during 2014 and 2015 there were some weird editing trends that just happened to be in style at the time. And thank goodness for growth. I feel like we always get better as we grow. So it wasn't until one of my friends reached out to me and asked me to take pictures of her and her daughter. She was my best friend, so of course I wasn't going to tell her. No. And I have been scrolling Pinterest at the time, and I was starting to get really inspired by photography. So I was on Pinterest and I would screen shot and save supposes that I thought were going to be cute for this mommy and me session. So I've got my phone and I got my cannon rubble and we head to the downtown area where I am taking her pictures and she loved them, which was great. And I love them, too. In fact, I was pretty darn proud of myself if you'll let me toot my own horn. Like I said, Looking back today, I'm not as proud, but I still keep a couple of those images from that session to remind me of where I started. So during this time again, I'm 20 years old. I'm not married. And so basically, my one goal in life at that moment is to get engaged. So I started taking pictures for people to build my portfolio to kind of get my feet wet and start building a client base, even though I didn't really realize that's what I was doing at the time. So thankfully, so many people saw the good in me and gave me a chance, and I did a ton of free sessions that first year. But then I came across someone who was the very first person that really opened my eyes and made me realize that Oh my goodness, photography is actually like a really job. I could actually make a lot of money from this, still never thinking it was gonna be my full time thing because at the time I was in college pursuing an education degree, this person was Jenna culture, who I'm sure almost every person listening knows who that is. This was back when she was just getting started in the education Rome with photographers, and she was super encouraging. And she hosted a webinar, which I hopped onto. And I listened all about how she went on her own journey to building a photography business. And it was in that webinar that it started to really dawn on me that photography could be a career option. And so I just held on to this little glimmer of what could be. And I just went on with my life and into my sessions, knowing that maybe, just maybe one day I could be the go to photographer. And, honestly, that's where my heart has been. Um, other than just connecting with people, I've just had a heart thio grow a successful and profitable photography business, but also a photography business that truly impacts the lives of others and makes them feel good. That's what I wanted to do since day one. So that was a brown 2015 which was the same year that I've finally got engaged on Valentine's Day and then I Woz basically taking one sessions to save money for my wedding. That, I mean, that was my ultimate goal. Book sessions take the money that I got, even though it was small at the time, but I took on hundreds of sessions. In fact, I took on 200 sessions in my second year of photography, and I saved all of that money for my wedding because I was also working jobs at the time, part time jobs. I was working at a car dealership, and my goodness, I'm still so grateful to them. They would let me bring my computer to work. And when I wasn't busy, they but me focus on my college work, editing my pictures, and they always get need bonuses that would go towards diapers and formula. And my goodness, I'm still just so thankful for them so And thanks be thankful for the people who are cheering you on, even if they don't know that you're wanting to make photography your full time career because it is these people that you will remember and ultimately working at this car dealership for me was a stepping stone if they would not have been as willing You give me the space to build what I wanted. Thio. I would not be here today even though building a full time business at that moment wasn't exactly what I was after. I was still after having a profitable part time photography business. So just a little side. Now be thankful for those who were on the journey with you. So then I eventually started going to college at a university. So I got a degree at a community college and now I was working my way into going to a university and I wanted to be a teacher. I love to teach. I mean, I am so passionate about teaching that when I look back throughout my life, my favorite things involve teaching and mentoring. Which is not surprising that I do that to this day now helping photographers build their dream businesses. So I love how everything eventually aligns. But I wins again. My teaching degree while still running a very profitable business on the side. I didn't want to get rid of it. I'm still passionate about it. And even when I wasn't actively thinking about having this full time photography career. That glimmer of hope that Jenna Good Jenna culture first gave me was still hidden away in my desires, like in my heart, like it was still there, and it always will be so eventually I graduate from college. I had my dream wedding, by the way. And so here we are. I get my teaching degree and I am not pregnant with my second child. And I knew that I wasn't gonna get hired for teaching because who hires somebody at the beginning of a school year who's nine months pregnant? So it was no surprise to me that I probably wasn't going to put my degree to immediate use, and I didn't. So I sat that first semester out in 2016 an stayed home with my three year old and my newborn baby boy, and during this time I found myself in an extremely like depressed state. My finances were not good at the time because I couldn't take sessions because I had a baby and I ended up getting put on bed rest a couple months before he was born, and so I wasn't able to take sessions than either. So I'm probably about four or five months since I've had a photography session, and I'm just in a really low place and I just feel so confused. Like, why in the world did I bust my butt to not only build a profitable business, but then now have a degree that I can't even use? I just felt very confused, and I just rustled with myself. I did a lot of crying, a lot of praying, a lot of talks in the car with God, and I just prayed that an opportunity would open. So January 2017 I get a phone call saying that a teacher at one of the local schools in my area ended up having a family crisis and was no longer able to be employed by the school. And this was for a kindergarten teaching position, and I was like, Oh, my goodness, here we go Like I finally got the answer to my prayer. I get to go be a teacher, so I take on this kindergarten teaching position and I mean, I love it. I do. I enjoyed those kids so much, but I still couldn't figure out what in the world was missing and I started taking on sessions again. And I just started this whole balancing act of being a teacher, being a mom, being a photographer, being a wife and all the extra things that come. I was being made. And so during this semester I learned so much I learned how to balance things which, actually, by learning it, I failed miserably. I would be really good in one area and dropped the ball and so many others, and it just felt like a juggling act. And I was exhausted, and I didn't know what I was going to. D'oh! I felt like God was asking me to take a leap of faith and to do this photography thing full time. But I just did not trust myself. And I will be honest. I did not solely rely on God to be my security and my provider. I relied on finances the tangible, um, money, tangible money. That is where I put my trust in my security. And so I got called in to the superintendent's office. I think it was during the month of March, maybe the month of April, the same semester that I was teaching kindergarten and what they told me Woz all the schools were going through major budget cuts and they had to start finding room in their budget for other things. So because I was the last person hired, I was going to be the first person fired. And so I was told that I did not have a guaranteed position for the next school year and that they were very, very sorry, but would let me know if anything changed. And so sitting in that office, I felt like this is it. This is that sign that you wanted so badly to pursue this full time. But like I said, I didn't trust myself. So I took the news and I was like, Okay, I can do this. I can do this. And so for about a month and 1/2 the plan was I was gonna go full time with photography. I was booking the sessions. I was doing everything I could to get the clients on my books. But still, I wasn't 100% trusting myself or I just didn't, huh? It's just the doubt, and you guys know what I'm talking about. It's the doubt that you have that just plays over and over in your mind telling you you're not good enough. You can't do this. She could do it better, so therefore you can't do it at all. So that voice is what played on Repeat Well, in June, I got the opportunity to go apply for another school. They were hiring for teachers, and like I said, I didn't trust myself. So I went to the interview and I ended up getting hired two weeks later. Then I was preparing to go back to the classroom and run a full time photography business. Now you're probably thinking to yourself, How do you have a full time photography business and work a full time job? Well, to be honest, you totally can full time to me. In my definition, waas a booked out calendar in not having the need to want more clients for the month. So at a month to month basis, I was making my goal of what I wanted to make in booking enough clients, so that, to me, was full time. So I was, I mean, and I was I was putting in Justus many hours in my photography business as I was going to school, clocking in and being a teacher. Here's where the journey comes to an end, and I are comes to a crossroads and I have to make a decision. I went throughout that semester and realize very quickly that I was miserable. I was absolutely miserable and I was not fulfilled doing both things. I'll just leave it at that. It was just very exhausting. I was teaching middle school and had a group of high schoolers that would see me on the daily, and it just wasn't what I set out to be. In fact, my degree was actually in elementary education, But the way that it worked out, I just ended up having to teach middle school and then have ah group of high school kids in my room every day for enrichment. So I just It was just miserable, and I felt like I was letting them down because I knew my heart wasn't 110% in it. But I felt like I was letting myself down because I opted to take the position because I didn't trust myself in this photography business and what I found out very quickly was I was going to have to make a decision and I was going to have to choose one or the other. It could no longer be both. I did not have room in my life for both. So I decided and made a commitment to myself that I would finish the year out because I wouldn't ever just leave and not finish something that I made a promise and signed a contract for. So I began preparing and making away to make sure that everything was set up for me to be successful when my time came to end the teaching career and go full time with photography, and that's what I did. So what does that look like? I had to give you a glimpse into the whole journey, the whole picture, and there's so much more I could say. But I don't want to be on this particular episode for two hours, So now that you have kind of seen how it works for me, what did I do to make sure that I was prepared? The first thing I did was I educated myself. I listened to others who have gone before me because I knew that it would be a matter of time before I started doubting myself and my abilities and whether or not I could actually make it doing the full time gig. It's crazy. What are insecurity will do to us. Our insecurity most often will convince us to stay in a job that we don't even like, one that makes us go home and cry and wish that we add a different job. That's what insecurity does. And that's what it was doing to me. If I didn't keep inspiring and educating myself and listening to stories of other people who had gone before me and made it happen, then I knew that I was gonna give in to that doubt in those voices that would be lying to me, telling me that I wasn't cut out for it, and then I wasn't going to make. So that was step one. So what did that look like? That looks like listening to podcasts of other people who have gone before me now. They were not all photographers who had left their careers to do something else. I listened to anything and everything under the sun as long as it had to do with leaving a corporate 9 to 5 job, then becoming your own boss and entrepreneur and running your own business. I did listen to Jenna Culture on the daily. I have probably devoured all of those earlier episodes of the Gold Digger podcast 3 to 4 times each in some episodes 10 times just because I wanted to make sure that I was set up for success. It also looked like reading books that we're going to prepare me to have the business knowledge in running a business because it's not just how good a taking pictures you are. You also have to be skilled in no marketing, how to bring people in how to create funnels so that people come in and that you're keeping track of your leads and you're bringing people back and you have a retention right And all these things were so much that goes into running a full time business. And I don't say that to overwhelm you. I say that to prepare you. If this is something that you want, then you have got to be number one committed all in and then to you've got to start learning the steps to making it happen. So you've gotta have a plan. This is the next step is you've got to make a plan. You need to look at your numbers and decide what am I currently making in my job right now? And what do I need to meet? What is it gonna take for me to meet this salary for me to feel confident that I can do it. So just as an example, I won't really give you real numbers just because just out of just out of privacy and respect. But, um, just to make easy numbers here when I was a teacher, I was bringing in about two grand a month. And so, in order for me to feel confident and to create a plans, where are I? Wouldn't you know, given to that doubt, I knew that I needed to match $2000 a month and photography. Now, depending where you are in your journey, you're either gonna be like, oh, wow, like I already do that now, or you're gonna be like, Wow, I can't even imagine making that much money every single month in my photography business. Like it just depends right around your journey and where you live. So I knew I needed a match 2000 and at the time it just seemed impossible. It seemed like I was never going to get there, but I did, and it took. I mean, it definitely took a little bit, but I got there. So the first thing I had to look at was how many sessions is that going to equal? So look at what job you're in now. If you're looking to replace it, what salary do you need to me? What is the monthly income that you need to meet or overcome in order to be successful? That's the first thing I did. And then I started mapping out. Is that realistic? So I started looking back. What am I currently booking? How much more work needs to go into it? If I leave this job, will it open up more hours for me to put in the marketing, put in the editing, put into my whole client experience in order to get more on my books. So I definitely had to do a price change when I left and I actually started the price change before I ended my teaching careers that I could start getting people used to my new prices. I think I ended up changing my prices, Um, the new year. So I turned in my resignation letter, letting them know that I would complete the year. But I would not be coming back the next school year. I turned that resignation letter in in November of 2017. I believe Yes, 2017. And then, you know, maybe it was 2018 0 my goodness, I don't even know. But I turned it in that November of the year I was teaching, letting them know that the last day of school in May was going to be my last day. So that January's the two months later is when I ended up raising my prices, and I wanted to start compensating and showing myself that I could book enough sessions, and this is a really great way Number one challenge and push yourself to raise those prices and to see the response you get from other people. Yes, every time you raise your prices, you're going to hear knows more often, but you need fewer yeses, so it totally evens itself out. So After I raised my prices, I started bringing inconsistent income in the months March to November, and it's still that way to this day. Actually, this has been the first January because I'm recording this in January. This has been the 1st January I've had as many sessions booked as I have had, typically all the years prior. So five years before this, I would have anywhere from 1 to 3 sessions for January, and I'm not kidding. This month I have had her. I am scheduled to have about eight or nine. So it's crazy and my prices are obviously way more than they used to be. So there is hope. There is hope in the wintertime after I raise my prices. I then started getting really smart in my marketing and how often I was talking about my journey of leaving my full time job in doing photography full time. You have to make it a big deal and let people know that, or they're never gonna realize anything has changed. So I let my Facebook friends and my photography fans and pages I let all those people watch me go through this journey so that they would get excited and prepared and know that they could book me for additional sessions. So before I couldn't really take on certain sessions because I couldn't do in home sessions, because that would have to happen during the day. And I didn't even, like, get home and ready for a session until 4 30 or five in the afternoon. So I knew that wasn't going. That wasn't anything I could offer while I was teaching. But I knew once I was no longer teaching that I had a brand new avenue of sessions that I could offer to people, so that was going to increase my revenue as well. So make yourself a game plan. First of all, what salary do you need? A match? How can you adjust your current prices? Can you add anything extra? Will there be different offerings once you leave your job and then you need thio? Use your marketing and align everything together to where you are talking about booking your sessions. But it's not just the generic. Hey, I have this, like three family sessions available this month. Let me know if you want to book it right. You have to get very strategic and start, you know, story telling and showing more of your work and showing that you're available and asking for the reviews and and the referrals. And there's so much that goes into it. And that's why I Honestly, that's why I started number one, this podcast, but to the membership site, because I knew people were gonna have in depth questions. And I knew that I wanted to be able to help people one on one that was specific to their business and their journey. And so that was really the whole idea of, like, creating this community inside of my membership site. And so anyway, so if that's you, if you want, you know about one on one help if you want the community and the courses that teach you how to do all of this, that definitely check out the frame, your business membership and I can give you more information about that. And, of course, you can check the show nuts, too. But I know that so many of you are longing to have a full time business, and I think that really for you, number one is going to start with your mindset and you're going tohave to tell the doubt to be quiet and you're going tohave to fill your mind with people who have done this before you and just get into two podcast and get into books and heck your Bible and start reading the truth about who you are much capable of. And then the second thing is to look at your finances and make a plan. Make a plan financially, make a plan through marketing, figure out what you're gonna be able to offer. And I know the leap is scary. It is very scary. But I'm here to tell you that you can do it. And I would never ask you to turn around when you're done listening to this and go quit your job and just make the leap. I absolutely don't ever recommend anyone do that. You need. I have a plan in place and you need to start showing yourself. You can book client. You can do this, your marketing can get better. And once it does, then you kind of proved yourself Okay, like I'm ready to make a week. And that is when I would suggest that you actually make believe in a full time photography. Now, to this day, I still struggle from time to time. Am I going to book clients this month? And you know what? You're going to struggle with that, too. But when I look back at my planner, the planner doesn't lie. My planner shows me that people booked me regardless of what the month is. And so I know there's going to be income coming in that I still need to show up. I need a believe in myself, and I need to keep on doing what I'm doing because it's working and you'll figure out what that looks like for you. So if you're looking to turn your business into your full time photography business, I highly encourage you to take these steps, put them into action. If you need further help, check out the membership site. I'm seriously I'm here for you. I absolutely love to teach and educate on this specific topic. You know you can trust me. You know I'm cheering you on, and if you guys need anything at all, please come pop into my D EMS on instagram at birth. June a photography and I'm so thankful for you guys you can do this. Keep telling yourself you can and I will see you guys on
the next episode. Spring will be here before we know it, and I want to set you up for success when it comes to booking clients. The
number one thing I hear all the time is I need more clients. I want you to come hang out with me inside of a Facebook group as I walk you through. How to book out your
calendars and get more clients on your books. This five day free training serious is
going to take place beginning February
third. But before that kicks off,
we're gonna be hanging out, discussing our businesses and life together leading up to the Siri's. You could join us by clicking the link in the show notes for by typing in, booked out photographers on Facebook and searching under groups. Hope to see you inside