Nobody wants to stay the same. There has to be growth, and challenges are required to grow. I’ve taken business courses here and there because I love to stretch and learn and apply the latest. This online business course, however was the most amazing and life-changing class (journey) I’ve ever taken. I was always one of those nerdy kids who loved school. I still find so much pleasure in researching and learning. Actually, I research to a fault and then find it hard to make a decision and just go with it! So, this Business Journey with Katelyn James was exactly what I was looking for. Yes, it helped me to make decisions for my business, but it was so much more than that. It helped me to know who I am as a photographer, and who I am not. It helped me hone in on the why behind what I do and focus on the people I serve. Katelyn gave us fresh video content each month, weekly Facebook lives, was active in the class Facebook Group, answered monthly survey questions on a podcast, and hosted a live event in December. Talk about leading by example! She went above and beyond! So, here is a summary of my what I learned as an entrepreneur from a one year online business course and ways I’ve implemented what I learned in my photography business.
This months content was super important because it reiterated what I tell the business clients that come to me for personal branding photos. It helped me to hone in on developing specific questions for my clients, such as “what fires you up” and “If your business had senses, what would it smell like, feel like, look like, etc”? It forced me to answer the questions myself to make sure I’m on target with my ideal clients and what they are looking for and needing. By tuning into specifics, it also repels the wrong clients. That’s actually a good thing! We can’t be all things to all people and the more specific we are, the more like-minded clients we’ll get.
February’s online business course content was fabulous because Katelyn taught us how she gets 60% of her business by marketing for free using community style marketing! She does such a great job on her assignments and with her relationships, that her clients (brides and grooms) and their families do most of the talking and referring for her! By not purchasing facebook ads for her wedding photography or not going to bridal shows, she saves so much time and energy. On the other hand, she attracts her ideal brides by being excellent at her craft and making her clients and those around her feel important and special. It’s not something she does just for business, either. See, KJ is a Christ follower and she follows the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. KJ loves and serves her brides and grooms with a selfless love that puts their needs before her own. It’s not something she does, it’s who she is and she is a great example of how to live out your faith in the business world.
This months module spurred me to move my blog and website from a platform that was not very engaging to a WordPress platform. It’s been five months since the change, and was a great decision! I have already started to reap results with more inquiries from Google. Consistent blogging helps SEO (search engine optimization) so people can find you! Blogging is a way to serve your clients with helpful information, not just sell your services. Consumers buy from people they trust and blogging puts you in a place of expertise in your field. I started blogging more consistently about a year ago, and to be honest, at first it was really hard to fit it in my workflow. But, like anything else, you soon develop systems and it becomes part of the process. Now, I find that I look forward to blogging after a session. I can feature my clients and give them a sneak peek of their session. KJ also encouraged us to blog some personal stories and business education as well. My goal is to blog 2-4 times a month.
Whew – social media – I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram and Facebook! The algorithm’s seem to always be changing and it can be easy to get sucked into social media and not get anything done! What I loved about how KJ approached this topic, was that she started with seasons of life and had us put ourselves in a category that we were currently in. Some people may have more time to devout to social media while others can only invest posting once or twice a week. We have to be mindful of what our season is. I love that because it took all the pressure off. I’m not one who likes to spend hours on social media, but I do realize how important it is for my business. Many clients find me there, so I need a presence.
This month’s online business course content wasn’t very applicable to me, as I am not a wedding photographer. However, you can always learn something, so I still watched the content. Actually, it happened to be the same month that my nephew was getting married in, and I did photograph his wedding because he’s family, so there were a few nuggets there. If I was a wedding photographer, there were lots of great things she said about how to take care of your brides from inquiry to after the wedding (think one year anniversary gifts). Many of her ideas could in some way be transferred to personal brand photography, so I listened with a creative mind!
This months content rocked my world! I ended up having a LOT of homework from this information! She mentioned Dave Ramsey and how his ideas were foundational for her personal and business finances. She also had an attorney explain the difference between sole proprietorships, LLC’s, partnerships, etc. I was moved to action and changed the structure of my business to an LLC! It was a lot of research and paperwork, but now that it is done, I’m so glad I did it! I also outsourced my accounting and taxes and am so glad! Now I have more time to do what I love!
KJ went above and beyond this month in the online business course! Not only did she provide us students with lots of content, she also spent an additional hour critiquing our websites! She showed us design flaws and and how some designs worked well. She showed how to pair a close up black and white image with a further back full image. She showed how high end designs have smaller fonts and fewer of them and how the colors are more muted! KJ loves design and it shows! It was my second favorite module after…
This was by far my favorite month! I love all things organizing and systems! If I could, I’d go to your house and open all the kitchen cabinets and towel closets and see what I could learn and implement from the way you do things! KJ let us in into the details of her systems – from how they store their camera gear (she works with her husband, that’s why I say they!) to how she makes lists, how she uses Trello boards and a client management software. It was so enlightening! I must say, I did try the way she does lists, but ended up going back to my own system. Some habits are hard to change, and maybe, just maybe, I actually had a good system that didn’t need to be changed! However, I am so excited that I finally purchased a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software program called Dubsado! This is one of the best things I’ve done for my business! It keep all my client information in one place! From the moment a client inquires from my website to scheduling, invoicing and everything in between! Not only that, but it is visually pleasing! As a photographer that’s super important! I looked at 17 Hats, Tave, and Dubsado, and finally chose Dubsado. I test drove them all, and they all had pros and cons. For the features and customer service though, Dubsado won out for me. If you would like 20% off, you can use my affiliate code: kellymcmullin.
Katelyn started off by addressing some of the typical thoughts people negatively think about networking. She emphasized how friendships and relationships are so important, but not if we are just trying to get something out of it selfishly. She told a story about when she consistently gave free images to someone and was never thanked, tagged on her accounts or anything of that nature. She felt used and slowly stopped providing the images for that one sided relationship.
Pricing! It can be a doozy! The first video Katelyn did was addressing confidence! She reminded us the three E’s of pricing: Education, Equipment and Experience. She nailed it because we as entrepreneurs often don’t think we are worth what we charge. However, when we look at all the time and money we have personally invested in expensive gear, training and time on the job, all of that counts! We just have to have the confidence to trust that we are worth it!
In this module of the online business course, Katelyn walked us through very specific details of how she is constantly thinking of how to pair curated photos for her blog posts and website portfolio. During the wedding day, she has the complete “color story” in mind as she shoots details and then pulls back to photograph scenes with a lot of white space. She shared all her secrets about how to plan for the blog, how to pair photos together (including clean edges and leading lines), and how to let go emotionally of photos that don’t carry as much impact for someone who was not there to witness the moment. She went back to her old work and showed us things she would change. Then she went over photos in her current scrolling gallery. As a bonus, she critiqued a website from a super talented couple in the business class. Here’s an example of two photos that don’t compete with each other looks. You can see more of Ashley’s post here.
This event was LIVE this week and it certainly exceeded expectations! Katelyn hosted the even at the Main Street Station, an incredibly beautiful 1901 train station in Richmond, Virginia! Not only did I get to meet up with fellow students I had known on-line all year, but I got to meet new friends in the industry as well. Katelyn spoke so passionately about the why behind what we do. She spoke to not only our business lives, but our personal lives. She shared the raw emotions that accompanied the loss of her infant son. She shared how tragedy led to the gift of perspective. She shared how God has been faithful through the tragedy and the day to day. She built in time to hug and get a picture with all 400 of us! She is not only a photographer and an educator, most importantly, she is an ambassador for Christ. She lives her life in a way that draws all people to the love of Jesus. She is truly an inspirational mentor.
Photographers, when Katelyn opens the doors for this online business course (now called Business Collection) once again, I suggest you sign up immediately! The investment in your business and life is life changing! What online course should I take next? 🙂