Grab this Quickstart Guide to start using Dubsado today.
A podcast where you join me (Colie) as I chat about what it takes to grow a sustainable + profitable business.
CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
The community you’re surrounding yourself with is one of the most valuable assets you can build as a business owner. In today’s episode, Natasha Sewell shares how investing in education and community is ultimately what allowed her to build a business that serves her while simultaneously moving her business to a new location! Listen in as she shares how she prepped her business for the move and why community played such an important role in that shift!
The Business-First Creatives Podcast is brought to you by CRM and Dubsado expert Colie James. Join Colie each week as she discuss how to build a business that brings you joy and a paycheck! From business advice with fellow entrepreneurs to sharing automation tips and tricks, Colie and her guests are sharing industry trends and resources, along with a little bit of sarcasm.
Natasha Price Sewell has been a photographer for over 10 years. The former elementary school teacher, wife and mom to three grown kids recently relocated her business to the Washington, DC area. Natasha’s focus is capturing the unscripted JOY in your home!
Here are the highlights…
[:15] Get to Know Natasha
[1:45] Major Changes in 2022
[2:50] Natasha’s Background
[3:48] Photography Business Origin Story
[6:27] Investing in Education
[8:05] From 17 Hats to Dubsado
[10:45] Proposals in Dubsado
[11:38] 17 Hats vs. Dubsado
[12:36] Learning Dubsado
[17:41] What’s in Store for 2023
[20:14] Tips for Moving Your Business
[23:25] Best Investment in Business
Want to avoid a blank screen while setting up your Dubsado templates? Steal mine 😍
The Template Shop is now open with templates created specifically for family photographers for use inside Dubsado. You can copy and customize for your own brand + offers in no time. Save yourself hours per client with these templates 🌈
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello, hello, and welcome back to The Business First Creatives podcast. Today I am chatting with Lifestyle newborn and family photographer Natasha Sewell. Natasha, welcome to my podcast. How are you this morning?
Natasha: I am great Colie and I am thrilled to be.
Colie: I am super excited to chat with you because I feel like your journey to opening a photography business is very different than the rest of us. So first of all, let’s, let’s give the listening audience like an intro, some context. So early 2022, where was your business located?
Natasha: My business in early 2022 was in North Carolina, Pinehurst, North Carolina, which is rural North Carolina and Washington DC but it was mainly in North Carolina.
Colie: Yeah, so you were, you were pretty much, your business was located in North Carolina. You were taking sessions in Washington, DC because that’s where your husband was based. You were basically bouncing between two states, and then you came to me and you were like, Coley, I’m interested in changing my systems to Dsto, and in between you hiring me
and us actually doing your system set up. You made a full move to Washington DC. So how’s that been for you?
Natasha: That has been amazing and was the right decision. It is very challenging to run a business as a single entrepreneur. So I have no employees, no nothing, in two different locations that are as different as Washington DC and rural North Carolina.
Colie: I mean, and. Yeah. So you, you’ve located, you know, you relocated, you changed your systems. Did you do any other major changes in your life or in your business in 2022?
Natasha: So we did a major renovation. You can see my kitchen behind me. This is the best light in my teeny tiny apartment. And so we did a major renovation. That was on the personal side. On the business side, I actually just hired a copywriter to revamp my website because, my clientele is a little different in those two locations, and I tried to change it myself, and I think I’m missing the mark slightly.
So I decided to invest in a copywriter.
Colie: Well, that’s amazing. So in the last year you have moved locations changed from 17 Hats to Dubsado, and now you are hiring a copywriter to do a website rebrand. Ah. . I mean, the other major thing, Natasha, is you did turn 50, let’s just say
Natasha: I did.
Colie: To 50 and I mean, I, I talk about how old I am all the time. I feel like my photography business is winding down, but I feel like yours is just really getting momentum.
So what did you go to college for and what did you do before you became a photographer?
Natasha: So I studied elementary education at Miami University in Ohio. I taught first grade. I loved it. That’s a really fun age to teach. And then got married while I was teaching and got pregnant like immediately. And so my husband at the time was in medical school and we were very fortunate because he was active duty military, so he was being paid in medical school, which is not always the case.
Colie: Not common
Natasha: no, not common. And so I was afforded the luxury of staying home with my kids. We had kids, boom, boom, boom. And yeah. So I was a stay-at-home mom for many, many years.
Colie: Yeah. And so when did you open your photography business and how did you decide to actually help open a photography business? Because I know everybody has a different story. But it usually starts with, well, I had kids and I love taking photos of them, and then I figured I could do it for other people.
But what is your photography business origin
Natasha: So mine’s a little bit different. So my husband deployed in, 2009, 2010 to Afghanistan, and I, my kids were in school full-time and I was a little bit bored. I was volunteering a ton at their school, but I was a little bored. I’ve always loved taking pictures, but honestly, it was an auto mode. I literally had no idea what I was doing.
I never edited a picture before, so I took some online classes and, by the time my husband got back I was buying a lot of equipment that was expensive. And so he’s like, yeah, I think maybe you need to evaluate this hobby So that kind of pushed me to open a business. I also was doing tons of sessions for friends or, you know, taking their holiday card picture and all that stuff, and wanted to give it a shot.
Colie: now, have you always focused on families and newborns or did you try any other genres before you, you know, got your sweet spot? Because in home family and newborn photography is definitely your gift.
Natasha: Well, you are super kind. So I was opposed newborn photographer until, summer of 2019.
Colie: Okay. Oh wow, that’s so recent.
Natasha: yeah, six years in my business I did, I had a studio, I used lighting. It was like a very different genre, I did specialize in newborns, families, but it was definitely more of a posed, experience.
And then when my husband took a job in DC I knew I could not afford a studio in DC, because real estate’s super expensive. So I had to figure out a way to bring my photography to DC affordably, . So that’s when I hired Sabrina.
Colie: Okay. And so was Sabrina the, the way that you transitioned from having a studio into in-home photography. Oh, that’s so fascinating.
Natasha: a hundred percent. That was it. I have followed Sabrina on Instagram forever. Like literally she laughs when I tell her things that, like, I remember her posting from years ago and I used to DM her stuff and she would always answer in the kindness of ways. And so when I decided to do this, I reached out to her and mentored with her.
Colie: and you went to Dallas to do your mentorship?
Yeah. I mean one of the things that I love about you, Natasha, is the value that you place on education in terms of, you know, furthering your business and going far. And so I do love that Sabrina was the way that you transitioned from your studio into in-home photography.
Have you done any other major education opportunities? Mentorships?,
Natasha: I have. It took me a long time to realize the value of in-person education so long. Like if I could go back and kind of. get a refund on all those online posing classes for newborns? I would, but when I decided to jump in with in-person education, I mentored with a posed newborn photographer there. I also did something called the Baby Summit, which was done by Kelly Brown. It was in Atlanta and it was a conference, of all newborn photographers.
And I wish I could go back to that and take the classes that were all lifestyle newborn photography, cuz there were some, and I didn’t take one because I just was concentrating on post. I’ve done WPPI, but. More recently, I would say in the past year, I’ve done a lot. I’ve done, mastermind and retreat with Brooke Schultz, mastermind and retreat with Sabrina Gebhardt.
Morgan Williams I’ve mentored with and also love Daphne. May. In literally the past 18 months, I’ve done all. So there’s just so much value in in person education. It just took me a long time to get there.
Colie: I, you know, and, and now that I know that you were a first grade teacher, your value of education makes so much more sense to me. I can’t even tell you. I, I didn’t know that about you, and now I do. So let’s talk about systems just for a minute, because that is of course how you and I know each other. I mean, we knew each other on the internet, but then you came to me and you said, well, Colie, I wanna leave 17 hats and I wanna go to Dubsado.
So what prompted that change in your business?
Natasha: So I have been with 17 hats since I went to the baby summit , so I don’t, I can’t remember what year that was. Maybe 20 16, 20 15. It might have even been before that. I honestly can’t remember. But. I was very fortunate in that I know someone who works for 17 hats and so I got assistant setting that up, complimentary assistant setting that up, which I was very fortunate in.
But I, because I did that, I did not learn the system fully. And so I was sort of wing it , as you maybe know, from going in my back end of 17 hats.
Natasha: Um, yeah. And then because I was making a move and because. I just needed like a, a redo . I thought jumping systems was honestly the best answer for me. Like I didn’t wanna go into 17 hats and basically delete everything and start from scratch.
But I also, knew I needed something else. And to be honest, the proposals are what sold me on Dubsado. They are just so beautiful. What I mean, what you put together for me is so gorgeous. Clients comment on it all the time. And so that was honestly what really sold me on it. And you, of course,
Colie: Well, thank you. I mean, I say often, like the actual automations available in 17 hats are really not bad. The fact that 17 hats will let you import all of your bank transactions and basically use it like QuickBooks makes it, you know, a top tier product for solopreneurs. But where I always break it down, particularly for us visual artists, is if you are a visual artist, DTO is probably the best choice for you because of all of the branding opportunities So that you can deliver a proposal that feels very on brand and aligned with the rest of the service that you’re providing. I mean, cuz as photographers, as you just said, you know, you’re investing in a copywriter to give that website an upgrade, but I think every single photographer that you and I know.
Puts a lot of effort into the images that they choose for their website, the layout, how it bleeds them. And I always think that people are missing something. If they hand somebody like a computer generated invoice when they’re asking for money, it’s like, no, your website was beautiful. The consultation call with you was probably amazing, but then you like send me this very plain proposal and you’re like, pay me all of this money.
And I’m, I just, I think it’s a disconnect. Most people do you say that the proposals are what bring them over to Dubsado?
Colie: I I was gonna ask you what your favorite thing I created for you was. But it’s probably
Natasha: It is most definitely the proposals. I mean, they’re beautiful and the thing I love about them too is that it really in a visual way, again, photographer, as you just said, we like visual, walks you through the process before someone. Says yes, I wanna accept this. And I think that that’s the plus. Cuz before I was sending people an email that just reiterated what the process was in like a very small paragraph.
And then an invoice was generated that as you said, was just like a random, here, give me this money. And you know, so it’s just a better process for my.
Colie: So what about the process? How do you feel about the system that you’re using now in Dubsado versus 17 hats? I mean, proposals aside. Is there anything good or bad that you feel that you want other people to know if they’re considering a switch from 17 hats to Dubsado?
Natasha: I will say I do think 17 hats is a little bit more, intuitive. Like there’s less steps, sort of, you have to do , which I do appreciate. However, I do think Dubsado is very easy to use. I did a model call because I’m doing a personal project and I set up the questionnaire and the workflow and everything by myself.
Can you believe that?
Colie: Ah, ah,
Natasha: That’s what was even better. It worked.
Colie: Now, did you start from scratch or did you use one of the ones that I’d already created and then duplicate and customize it?
Natasha: so I duplicated. Some emails and, I did not do a proposal for this because it’s a complimentary session, so it wasn’t really necessary. But, I did duplicate things and then make changes, but I did it and I was really proud of myself and it worked seamlessly, and so that was great.
Colie: That is amazing. Because I deal with two different types of clients in my business, I deal with people like you who come to me and they’re like, Colie, I don’t wanna learn this. Can you just set the whole thing up for me and make it beautiful? And I of course do that. And I offer you the support and I answer you questions.
You know, I answer your questions when you have them. . But then I also have the other side of my business, which is the course. And so people in there tend to be a little bit more D iy. But every once in a while I get someone that I ask, well, why did you choose the course over a VIP day? If budget is not an issue?
Cuz of course there’s a very big difference between the course and the VIP day, but it’s often that I get the response, oh no, I wanted to learn. I need to learn to do it so that I can make changes, and I’m always like, but my VIP day clients do learn how to use it , and they are capable of making changes, but it’s like a, objection.
that I don’t quite know how to address because people are like, well, no, I mean, if I just have you do it, I’ll never learn it. And I’m like, yeah, but I mean, I really wanna make sure that you learn it when I hand it over to you, because I encourage all of my VIP day clients, you know, every six months you should be looking at your emails.
You should be figuring out if there’s anything you need to change. If you have new offers like Natasha did with the model call, you should be totally be able to set up the new work. and the new forms without coming to me for additional support. So I love that you were able to do that, Natasha?
Natasha: No, I didn’t. And I will say it was easier to do that than in 17 hats. 17 hats does not let you delete things very easily. And so that’s why my account was just so insane because I had like emails from like years ago. I was sending like, it was just. Anyway. So I will say in Dubsado it’s a lot easier to do that when you change something, you know, they let you delete it, which I appreciate, and like that does make it, because it just is less overwhelming when you go into it.
Colie: I agree. Sometimes I go into people’s accounts and I’m like, you have 33 proposals. Why do you have 33 proposals? And occasionally, and I mean, you know, tip for the listening audience. Sometimes people don’t know that when they’re hitting save and copy. that it’s actually saving a brand new copy every single time.
And so I’ve had actually multiple people that I’ve gone into their accounts and I’m like, I just looked at 10 proposals and I can’t tell what the difference is. Why are there 10 copies of this? And they’re like, oh, well I just needed to do this one thing. And like, I don’t know, it just kept on making copies and I’m like, you just hit save.
Not save and copy, save . So, I mean, that is one of the things that I do when I go onto someone’s account. And it’s overwhelming. It’s, it’s overwhelming with the number of duplicate and, you know, templates and all of the things in the account. So I really do like streamline things as you know, and I know that you love streamline
Natasha: Mm-hmm. . No, it’s very easy and I do not have 33 proposals. You’ll be glad to know
Colie: So, I mean, you’ve already admitted that you’re mostly a solopreneur. Is there anything in your business that you outsource?
Natasha: So I did hire an SEO expert when I added DC as a location, and then also she revamped stuff when I fully got rid of North Carolina. That was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Most of my inquiries right now are from Google, so that means I, I don’t know where I’m showing up. I kind of don’t wanna know, so I haven’t looked, but
I obviously am in a good position because I am getting Google inquiries. Um, So that was great money spent. But no, I know Sabrina’s on me to send out my editing, but to be honest, I’m in a different stage in life. I don’t have kids at home. My kids are grown, so I have the time to edit and I like editing, so I have not, I onboarded, but I never followed through
Colie: I mean, I’m gonna say I, I don’t think everyone needs to outsource everything. I mean, I know that you guys all hear me on the podcast, outsource, outsource, outsource. But it really is about the season in your life, and you are definitely in a different season than the rest of us that have, you know, I mean, mine’s 12
She’s not so tiny anymore, but particularly for photographers that have tiny children around. I mean, every minute that you spend editing is probably a minute that you could spend with your children. So unless you really enjoy editing, that is usually the low hanging fruit where, you know, people like Sabrina and I suggest that photographers get time back in their business.
But I will say, Natasha, even though you say that, you know, you’re not outsourcing your editing, you outsource the big projects, you know your limits. So you hired me to do systems. You hired, um, someone to do your s e. You just hired someone for your copywriting. I was surprised that you did your own website, but I was like, you go girl,
Natasha: I did. Now, I did use a template and my SEO. person, Stephanie Morris did tweak some things on my website, I won’t lie.
Colie: Thinking of all of the changes that you made in your business in 2022, what does 2023 look like for you? What, where are you gonna be focusing your efforts in your business in 2023?
Natasha: So I am working on a personal project that I actually started last year, but it’s sort of failed to launch because my execution wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be. So I’ve reevaluated that, project and that is actually gonna be a big focus of the beginning of the year is, my motherhood project on calm and chaos.
Colie: I love that.
Natasha: Mm-hmm. . It just feels my soul. So motherhood to me is, I grew up with a sister, this is very stereotypical, but I grew up with a sister. We were very calm, , like my mom had it a little bit easy, my mom and dad. But I raised three boys and my house was chaos, like all the time. So those are the two sides of motherhood to me.
So, I’m doing this project to capture the calm and the chaos, hopefully in two frames. With, I have nine models, families set up moms and kids. So that is gonna be my focus at the beginning of the year, but really just expanding my DC business and, really focusing in on what gives me joy. And not saying it’s hard to move your business and not say yes to every project that comes your way.
And I have been very intentional about not saying yes to everything. I have actually sent out a lot of nos,
Colie: Ah, good job.
Natasha: So building a business that just makes me.
Colie: So let’s just tap into that one more time because I do feel like you know, lots of people, there is a lot of anxiety around moving your business and I think I’ve been fortunate like. The year that I was, I should say, my pre-business year. So the year that I shot everyone for free to build my portfolio was here in Colorado.
But I specifically did not start a business while I was doing that portfolio building because I didn’t think we’d stay here like James was on the back end of a postdoc. I was just literally waiting to see where he was gonna get a job so that I could then, you know, open a business there. And so I remember the day that he came home and he is like, I got the job.
and I was like, okay, Colorado Department of State , fill out my business license, enter. I was like October 27th, 2012 is when I became a legal business in Colorado. But what tips do you have for people who are considering a big move? I mean, cuz I mean your move was quite different, rural North Carolina to like metro dc but do you have any tips for people who are contemplating a move of their.
Natasha: Yes. There are a couple things I did. First of all, the DC photography community is amazing. They are so supportive. I would send an Instagram DMS questions to people because, let’s be honest, the DC government. is a mess, So it’s a little confusing. And I have an accountant and I hired an attorney to move my L l c, like all of that stuff, all the businessy stuff, but there’s still questions that come up.
So I reached out to people in the community. Everyone was so welcoming and so wonderful. so I highly recommend doing that. And then honestly, hiring the SEO person was huge for my business. I mean, you can do it yourself. Absolutely. And I had been somewhat like, I had been blogging for DC pretty much nine months before I moved.
But putting some money in SEO is a big deal. It just is. So that would be my biggest, my, the two biggest things I would re.
Colie: I mean, those are great. I think those are awesome. I, I’m, I think I should reach out to Stephanie to come onto the podcast because, You know how much I value seo. It’s funny, I mean, I’ve never talked about this on my own podcast except for when I had Selly on here. But from day one, I put a lot of emphasis into Google.
I would say in my first three years of business, 90% of my inquiries came from Google, cuz I didn’t know anybody here, at least no one that was willing to pay my prices.
Colie: When I opened my business, so I solely relied on Google, and then it was about year three where I started to get the referrals from the current clients.
And then the current clients were like rebooking because they were pregnant again. And so, . It was pretty much a snowball from there, but I spent so much time and energy on blogging and you know, adding all of the images to the websites and making sure that they had alt tags and doing all of the things so that I could get my page ranked as high as possible.
And I do love that for people who are not really into learning all of those ins and outs, that there are professionals that you can outsource that.
Natasha: Absolutely. And there are SEO courses too. I mean, certainly people could take a course probably and figure it out themselves, but like I don’t touch anything on my website that has to do with like a headline, a title, a page name. No, Stephanie basically don’t touch it like she did it and it works. People question it.
But you, I mean, there are a lot of courses out there for seo,
Colie: Yeah, I took.
Natasha: do it themselves.
Colie: I took fuel your photos and I will link that in the show notes. I mean, Corey and Dylan are awesome and amazing. They have resources whether you’re Squarespace or your show it, or your regular WordPress or any of those things. I did really go through their course when I moved my photography website from Profoto WordPress into show it.
I wanted to make sure that I was maximizing the seo. that I was doing things properly, you know, that kind of thing, so, yeah.
Natasha: Yeah. Good resources out there.
Colie: Yeah. Well, Natasha, I’m just gonna ask you one more question, but I think you, I mean, you said that the SEO was like the best investment that you made in your, in your business, to move.
What’s the best investment that you’ve made just overall in your business?
Natasha: Education For
Colie: Just all of the education,
Natasha: the education, but I, I think the big thing for people to remember is education is not just about learning, it’s about connecting with other people, and especially for photographers, it’s a lonely business. . I mean, it really is like, your clients are awesome, you see them, but a lot of the time you’re just doing everything on your own and not interacting with other humans.
So, I feel like I really have a, a great community of photographers in my life and it’s really all thanks to education and taking part in it. So education by far is the best thing I’ve ever done for my business.
Colie: Awesome. And I am so happy to be part of your community.
Colie: Well, Natasha, tell the listening audience where they can find you on the internet.
Natasha: yes. So my website is nps photography.com and that is where you can find me on Instagram. I am really bad about Facebook. You can follow me, me there, but you may never see me there. So, NPS Photography.
Colie: Awesome. Well, Natasha, thanks you so much for coming on the podcast. This was a blast. I love every conversation that I have with you. And while this is going to air after we are together at Photo Native, I can’t wait to see you in three weeks in Palm Springs.
Natasha: Oh my God, I’m so excited. Cannot wait.
Colie: All right guys. That’s it for this episode. See you next time.