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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.
Motherhood can change the way you do business—we’re talking about the good ways it does in today’s episode! Amy Sanusi joins us to share how a move, motherhood, and a shift in business model changed the way she did business. Listen in as Amy shares how implementing a revenue on repeat membership service allowed her to better navigate motherhood and business!
The Business-First Creatives Podcast is brought to you by CRM and Dubsado expert Colie James. Join Colie each week as she discusses 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.
If you’ve tried setting up your Dubsado account, yet aren’t actually utilizing all of the features it offers, I want to invite you to check out The CRM Blueprint. My course includes templates for all of the forms, emails, and workflows that you need to get paid in one easy step. Ready to maximize your use of Dubsado, enroll in The CRM Blueprint today! Use the code PODCAST for 10% off.
Amy Sanusi has been photographing families for close to 10 years now, and loves it more each year. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family and two dogs. Having got her start in the wedding world second shooting, she loves documenting the I between moments that tell the story of your family. She currently works with families in New York City, Brooklyn and all over the Hudson Valley. When she’s not working, you can find her checking out breweries or working on projects on their house, and yard, creating the perfect upstate oasis.
Here are the highlights…
[2:07] Get to Know Amy
[10:54] Planning for Maternity Leave and Parenthood
[14:17] Revenue on Repeat
[21:26] Exploring Other Work and Niches
[26:41] Inside Amy’s Membership
[29:50] Amy’s Current Focus
[34:12] Biggest Fuck Up
[35:57] Best Investment
If you’ve tried setting up your Dubsado account, yet aren’t actually utilizing all of the features it offers, I want to invite you to check out The CRM Blueprint. My course includes templates for all of the forms, emails, and workflows that you need to get paid in one easy step. Ready to maximize your use of Dubsado, enroll in The CRM Blueprint today! Use the code PODCAST for 10% off.
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello, hello, and welcome back to The Business First Creatives podcast. Today I am chatting with fellow photographer and my personal friend, Amy Sanusi. She used to be a family and newborn photographer out of New York City, which many of you know is my favorite place on earth. But recently she relocated to the Hudson Valley area with her family. And so today we’re gonna be chatting about motherhood, relocating your business, and just everything in between. Amy, good morning and
Amy: Hi. Good morning. I’m so happy to be here. So excited.
Colie: I had to think about it. It is still morning for you.
Amy: Oh yeah. This is like second cup of coffee. I’m ready to go.
Colie: second latte here. So I’m interviewing Amy on a Friday, which many of you may know is my husband’s day off. And so this morning he’s like, you know what’s on your den today? I’m like, okay, well I have two podcast interviews and he thought I said six 30 and I said, no, seven 30.
And he’s like, that’s still really early. I’m like, she’s East Coast babe. I interview all of the East Coast people really early in the morning for me, which is okay.
Amy: Yeah, it works out. I appreciate it.
Colie: Yeah, I mean, who wants to interview at like one o’clock in the afternoon? That, that doesn’t sound like
Mm-hmm. So, Amy, first of all, tell me about how kinship photo got started. Like how did you become a photographer? What did you do before you were a photographer?
Amy: Oh, fun.
Colie: interesting too.
Amy: Yeah, so I, it’s, I kind of have perfected my elevator pitch. Um, I went to college for many different things. I studied abroad in Switzerland in high school, and so I decided to get my degree in German. So I’m fluent in German. And I tried so many different things in college and finally just landed on German.
Cause I couldn’t really decide what I wanted to do. So I graduated in two and a half years and it went really fast. And then I was like, okay, what am I gonna do now? My sister at the time was making wedding dresses and selling ’em on Etsy. She had a very popular and very successful Etsy shop that she’s like, come help me.
And so I helped her with her boys who were little, little, little, little at the time. and I helped her run her Etsy shop. I answered emails, I did all that stuff. And then one day I met at a photo shoot she was doing for her dresses. I met her photographer who was also a personal friend of hers. She did shoots like that and she also did weddings and she’s like, I need you to do that same kind of stuff for my business.
And I was like, sure, I’ll do whatever. Like I’m a young kid outta college. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. Like why not? I go work for a wedding photographer. And so I did, I. All the errands, I answered emails, I sent contracts, I sent, invoices. I saw the whole behind the scenes of a photography business before I actually knew how to take a photo.
Eventually she started taking me to weddings as an assistant and taught me how to use the camera. So I learned photography by shooting weddings. So I was a second shooter at a lot of ’em. Did a lot of cocktail hour details, all that fun stuff. And she eventually had me start. Doing families cuz she’s like, I don’t really wanna do families.
I’m more on the wedding side. And I was like, I love kids, I’ll photograph families. And after that it was like, that was, the rest was history. Like, I was like, this is, this is what I’m meant to do. This is so much fun. I enjoyed it so much and I really, I lived in Arizona at the time and I I didn’t know how to run a business.
I kind of knew from running her business, but I. Didn’t, I couldn’t seem to make it work there, as a full-time job. So I got another office job doing random stuff. I don’t even remember. I think I was making like fancy PowerPoints pretty much. I sat in a
Colie: sorry guys. I mean, I’m laughing at Amy because as many of you know, like I don’t know what it was like to be carefree and young. I mean, I was married at 21. I was a college professor at 21, so like I didn’t do any of this. Let’s just test this out and see how it goes. So I’m always fascinated to hear from Amy about her adventures.
Amy: yeah. I, I mean, I worked for an environmental consulting agency. And I, a friend of mine worked there and got me hired. I did something in the realm of like, education, e-learning, I like ba Basically she, she pitched the job to me like, oh, it’s just making fancy PowerPoints. And I was like, okay. So I did that for a few years and it paid really well.
And after my sister moved to New York, she’s like, why don’t you come? And I came and visited a few times and I was like, I should just move here. And so I did, I moved to New York and they let me work remotely for the first year after I moved, which was a godsend cause I didn’t have to pay rent. And I lived with my sister and it was really the only way I was able to make it in New York.
And I slowly started building, trying to build my family photography business up again. And I got on the radar of one local photographer who was like number one on Google, and she just started sending me referrals. I’d never met her before.
Amy: And it was,
Colie: heard this part of the
Amy: yeah, it’s my, my, the first T F N I went to Family Narrative.
A few of us went and they knew us as like this Brooklyn photo group, cuz we all like did stuff together. We had, we had meetings all the time. We went and got coffee together. We did a little retreat together and mostly because. What was so special is we all just sent each other referrals like crazy.
Like there’s no competition at all. There was none of like, oh, that’s my person, or that’s your person. We actually had one family who booked all of us within two years. She is like, oh, I’m gonna try you out. I’m gonna try you out. And she knows that we’re all friends and it just, I don’t know, it was just really fun.
But it. That she is like one of the sole people responsible for me. Her and Nikki Sebastian actually are some of the people who really got me a lot of referrals in the beginning. And, made my business work and after like, you know, six months of doing that, I was able to go full-time and quit my other job.
Colie: Amy. That’s awesome. Okay, so I, I did not know that part of the story. It is amazing. And after your episode airs, I actually have a different episode about, building community when you move. And so this is just really
Amy: Oh, yay.
Colie: did this at the beginning of your career in New York.
So, You know, thriving business outta Brooklyn and then you decide to move to Hudson Valley. And so to, we’re gonna actually talk about this from two perspectives because first of all, you moved your business and then you got pregnant. I was gonna say knocked up, maybe that’s not appropriate, but it’s
whatever. She got pregnant and now she has a one-year-old named Willa who is adorable guys. Um, She is, but like that’s a lot of transition for you, Amy, in like a two year span. I mean, so let’s talk about, first of all, let’s talk about the relocation first. So when you relocated, what was your plan for your business like?
Cuz when some people move, they’re like, oh, I gotta, I gotta build new clientele, I gotta do all this stuff. But Hudson Valley is not that far from the city. So how did you handle moving you, moving you. And not really your business.
Amy: So I, we moved in October of 2020, and that should, that plays a huge part in it. So we were in the city during the pandemic and we had always like dreamt about moving up here someday, my husband and I, and we’re like, oh, that’s just like, it’s so magical up there. But my stepdaughter was in the city and.
You know, we’re like, oh, we gotta be closer to her. But after sitting through, my husband works in Long Island City and we were living in Brooklyn and the commute was still like an hour and a half sometimes with traffic, and you’d only go 11 miles. And it was ridiculous. And we’re like, oh, we could go the same number, same amount of time, just more miles and have a house in a backyard and space.
And so we did. We like jumped in in the worst time to buy a house. Like, really there was, you know, people fighting for houses up here. We found this one that had this amazing potential and it was painted all these crazy colors inside and we just decided to go for it and it’s been the best. But I did, like, I, during the pandemic, I slowly started shooting again and I was driving down for shoots a lot.
And so it definitely has been an adjustment and, but it’s made me kind of rethink, I guess, like even before having Willa, it made me rethink like how full I pack my weekends, right? Because I used to pack them like, oh, I can do a shoot in Manhattan this time and then go over to Brooklyn and do a shoot at this time.
And really like jampacked from Friday to Sunday. Or like any day of the week. And so then after moving I was like, well, I need to kind of be a little bit more strategic about this, because it’s not worth it if I’m gonna be traveling up and down all the time and not spending any time in this house that we bought and spent so much time working on.
Um, but it worked out a lot of the people that I, I raised my prices. I was able to, like, I tried out simple sales and it didn’t really work for my clientele. They just were more about like, just tell me the full number and I’ll pay it. New Yorkers are very straightforward. Yeah. They just like, I tried it for a year and my clients were just like, what, what’s happening now?
Like, what, can I just send you an invoice or can you just pay you? And I was like, yes, you can. Let’s just do it. And so it, I’ve worked with a lot of these families for at least four years now. Some of ’em were, and. They’ve all been super supportive of like me commuting down and not being super worried about timing if I’m running late in traffic.
And it’s worked out. It’s worked out. And then, you know, after having Willa, that changed everything too.
Colie: I mean, so let, let’s just get to that. So tried simple sales, didn’t work, moved north of the city, continued to service your New York City clients. I mean, with a pretty full schedule. I will say, guys, we might get into the numbers, but then you got pregnant. And so what happened? Like what was your thinking about your business as you got closer to your delivery date?
Like what was your planning? How long did you wanna take on maternity? Like I wanna hear all of those kinds of things.
Amy: So this is where revenue on Repeat comes in my membership, because before, after the pandemic, I think 2021 was my first year of the membership. Cause I was like, what can I do to like keep my income sustainable and not be working all the time? And that’s when I introduced my membership and I think I had.
15 to 20 members the first year. Which I, I, I’ve talked about this a lot in the revenue on repeat group, but I paired that with a price raise and so it kind of pushed everybody into the membership. So everybody I’ve worked with over and over and over,
Colie: and guys, she actually did a podcast interview with Annemie on this Can’t be that hard. I am going to link that podcast episode inside the show notes in case you do want to get more into the numbers of her membership, cuz it is absolutely fascinating about how she paired her membership launch with a huge price increase to get people to join the membership rather than pay the new prices.
So that part was also kind of amazing.
Amy: Yeah, and it’s continued to just be amazing and we can go more into that, but it’s I decided, like after starting my membership, I got pregnant and I was like, Oh, well this works out perfectly.
Amy: I know, right? So I got, I found out I was pregnant in July. And I had a kind of a complicated pregnancy. I had some pretty large fibroids and dermoids on my ovaries and on my uterus, and it, they weren’t really sure how it was gonna go.
Um, but my birth is perfect. It was great. Everything was wonderful. And then I actually had to have surgery in August to have a bunch of it removed. So it kind of through my whole year, I didn’t really start shooting again for reels until September. I started leave in February because I was like, I’m gonna take a month off before having the baby.
And I just sat around and did puzzles all day. Um, seriously, it was, I have a stack of puzzles that I have not finished because I. I had a baby and now I can’t have puzzles anymore. It’s not a thing
Colie: Well, you’ll, you’ll eventually be able to get your puzzles back.
I mean, you’ve got another like three years, but you will be able to do puzzles again, Amy,
Amy: yeah. I hope so.
Colie: so you went back to work
Amy: Yeah. So
and I mean that’s, that’s fall, Amy, so I mean, you jumped right in.
And then at that point, how many people had already been paying for the membership that you, I guess, quote unquote, owed sessions to?
Amy: I think I was, I had 30 people
Amy: and I had, this was in 2022. And so then I, yeah, I had 30 people and some of them got their sessions in during the summer before, like after I, cuz I technically finished leave in June. I think I, when I said I was gonna sh go till, and then I had surgery in August, so I had that little time in between that we were able to, I was able to get in a bunch of shoots.
I went to the Hamptons to do some, I,
Colie: She went to the Hamptons guys.
Amy: it’s, it’s really fun, but it’s a lot more of a hassle to get out there than you think. But it’s, yeah, so I did, I was able to cram in a bunch in July, in a little bit of August, and then I had my surgery and I was out again until September. So it would come time for a fall though I was booked, like everything was done.
I didn’t have to book anybody else. I. I didn’t book anybody besides my yearbook people, my
Colie: I mean, but you’ve been getting paid this whole time. Like I feel like I have to emphasize that for every. One. So for the people who don’t know what revenue on Repeat is, it’s an idea that you get people to book you like for a membership. So they pay a monthly fee. So if your session is like, let’s say $1,200, which Amy’s is not, but if your session, if your session was $1,200, they would pay you a hundred dollars every month towards their session.
And then at some point in that year, they redeemed their session. So Amy was fully booked even before. Her maternity leave started and she got paid every single month from the 30 people who were in her membership, which is amazing.
Amy: and I was able to cover my, my mortgage. It was able to cover my, like everything I needed to cover basically, and then some and still be able to do fun stuff, and not have to really take on too much extra. I did look at my numbers after doing taxes this year, and I did make a decent chunk, less than I usually do.
But I looked at that and I was like, oh, but we were still okay. Like, we still were able to live on that. So it’s, it’s created this whole shift of like, okay, so really how much more do I need to add back in now that I don’t have surgery, I don’t have pregnancy, baby, all that stuff. So yeah. But it’s, it’s
Colie: But I will also say like, you looked at your number Amy, and you made a lot less, but you, you had time with Willa. You had time as a family. And so I mean, I would argue that, you know, as long as you were able to get your needs met, that you were just super happy to have been in that position.
Amy: Yeah, it definitely, I got a lot of time at home with her. I’m able to like maybe have one shoot a weekend. I don’t have to stack it full every weekend. It’s definitely, it’s been very grateful that I don’t have to do all that, and it’s still able to work just because, you know, you know, as a photographer your February and March is usually like, Nothing, at least for me, you don’t do anything in February.
In March, and maybe you have a newborn here and there, but it was after 10 years, I can’t believe I finally figured it out after 10 years.
Colie: I mean, it only took a move, a baby and that amazing
membership. I mean, but all, I mean, Amy, I really do feel like you’re a unicorn. I mean, all those things came together for you at like the perfect time. And you are also like a lot of other people, even though the pandemic. Didn’t play a part, it also played a part because you also had that time to like just sit and think about your business.
Cuz I joke around with people. What I got from the pandemic was that I started actually paying myself a regular salary.
I mean, I’ve always made money, I’ve always taken owner draws. But for the three months that we were not able to pick up a camera in Colorado and I did collect unemployment. After the unemployment was done, I
Amy: Yeah. Same.
Like I need a check every two weeks. And so then I started automatically transferring money from
my business account to my personal account every
Amy: I’m gonna do that now. I just, I have not gotten around to figuring it out, and I feel like it’s necessary.
Colie: I mean, I felt like that was like the push that I needed, because when I was a professor, I also never really had a regular paycheck. Like I’ve never been a regular paycheck kind of person because I was an adjunct. You know, doing so many things and the times of the courses were, you know, some were longer, some were shorter.
I mean, I had amazing spreadsheets, guys don’t judge. This was in the early two thousands. I had spreadsheets so that I knew when everyone was paying me and like what days? Because I had like five payday every month. Like it was super ridiculous.
Amy: I still have a crazy spreadsheet and I can tell you about it.
Colie: I have Airtable now. So now the craziness comes, I mean, not, not me paying myself because like I said, I do that every two weeks now. But like course income for example, I have some people that are on payment plans and some people that are not. And so like in order for me to wrap my head around, you know, how much.
Cash I was going to get so that I could project it. I have that in Airtable now
and it’s amazing. So if I look at May, I know how many people I’m going to get from course payments versus, you know, whatever else I make from photography or dodo setups or any of that jazz.
Amy: That sounds similar. I created a, because I love DSA and I love my C R M and everything, but I created a crazy intense spreadsheet for all my yearbook club members where I can see everything at once and I can see how much they’re paying, how much is going to fees, how much is going to taxes, and then how much I’m left over with.
I. Each month, so I have that number, like able to see it all in one place. I’ll show it to you sometime. It’s
Colie: ah, we’re, we’re gonna, we’re gonna look at it after we stop. Hit recording guys. Um, I’m sorry you don’t get a peek of it, but maybe if it’s really fantastic, I’ll tell you about it in a solo episode. Um, so what else has changed? So less clients. More time at home, you’re still, you’re still servicing clients in the city, girl.
Do you have any like local clients? Because you know, I moved too and I didn’t move as far as you did, although technically, I mean, I don’t know. It feels really far. Like the first time that I went to one of my clients, like my furthest client in Denver, I felt like I needed a nap after I drove to her house.
So I know you probably feel like that with a commute, but do you have clients near you yet? Okay.
Amy: some, so a lot, like because of my price point, I still really only appeal to people in the city. I’ve created a price point for people up here and I’ll get the occasional like once or twice every once in a while. But I really appeal to people who are in the city that maybe have a house up here or have a.
Co on vacation up to an Airbnb. Like I did one the other day where somebody had rented an Airbnb up in Rhinebeck, which is like an hour north of here. And that’s still considered like upstate for me. That’s like an hour is nothing. That’s like easy. Yeah, because it’s like everything is 25 to 30 minutes away from here, like no matter where you go.
Colie: it’s hour. At least. It’s not an hour in city traffic. I mean, that’s what would kill me. Like driving, driving North from you must be a breeze cuz you could
just pop on a podcast. Yeah.
Amy: I was listening to yours the other day actually, I was listening to, I, I don’t even remember which episode, but yesterday I had to drive down to Brooklyn for a shoot and it’s a good two hour drive there and two hour, two and a half hour drive back and yeah, it’s, it’s a lot.
Which is why my prices are what they are, cuz I build that into my pricing. Like if you’re in the city, this is the price because I have to travel that far. And I think I’m ready to raise those again. But, you know,
Colie: Good for you.
Amy: uh, yeah, it’s, I have some people up here. I would like to have more, but at the same time, like I’m not willing to negotiate on my prices.
And so I have a hard time. Like every once in a while I’ll be like, oh, somebody needs a photographer for this. You should just go do it. And I’m like, Nu-uh,
Amy: no, no. That’s not how it works. Because I have like been through so much of trying to build this business and I used to do everything. I used to photograph for influencers.
I used to photograph events. I used to photograph for blogs and I would take anything and everything. I did head shots for a dentist once upon a time like.
Colie: but Amy, let’s talk about that. I wanna talk about that very briefly cuz for some reason people keep asking me about my one single commercial client. I don’t know if you know this. I have one commercial client, they’re a dentist. In Dallas, but when I say dentists, they’re a conglomerate. Like they have two main brands and each of those brands has like 10 to 20 locations.
I mean, I’m not talking about a single dentist, but what they hired me for, Was to show how much fun it could be for the kids to go to the dentist
Colie: they have a playground, an iPad stations, and a movie theater in all of their locations for one brand. So it’s called Smile Magic Guys. You guys can look it up and then you can see all my wonderful images,
Amy: Oh my gosh.
Colie: I mean, they presented it to me and I was like, dentist photos. Yeah, I’m not doing that. But then, you know, I thought about what it could be and I was like, okay, no, this really is my kind of thing. And so it’s really funny that you’re mentioning, you know, you used to do all the things and now you just do families.
Do you feel, because Ning down Amy, like everyone, everyone says you should do it. And then people are like, well no, I like doing all the things. But like how did Ning down help your business?
Amy: I, when I, what was it? I think it was after the first T F N I went to, Dana Pugh was talking about pricing and this light just clicked for me and I was like, this is the only way I’m gonna make. My business make money like and the minute I stopped saying like, I went and paired down my website, and it might have been after a conversation with Nikki Sebastian at one point, cuz we had these meetings and we would look through each other’s websites and things and I was like, no, I’m gonna take off anything that I don’t wanna photograph.
And it seriously, after that, I really noticed that I started to get more people that liked me and I liked them. And they came back and they came back and they came back and it’s, it was just so much more enjoyable for me. Like I didn’t have to, it took the guesswork out of all of it, and I didn’t have to worry about like, oh, are they gonna pay me what I want?
Am I gonna have to negotiate with them? Like, I’m very transparent. My pricing’s on my website. If you can’t pay that, then I might not be the right fit for you because I don’t offer discounts. I don’t offer like special payment plans unless you wanna pay me monthly.
Colie: Mm-hmm. And then you get a little bit of a discount through her membership.
Amy: Right. And I mean, I can tell you a little more about that too, but it’s really, it helped me kind of focus in on the people I wanted to work with.
Cause I got to a point where I was like, I don’t need to work with everybody. It’s okay. I really, it makes me so much happier to work with people I like and that like me
Amy: and see the value.
Colie: you have the freedom though, like when that dentist job came up, I mean, nowhere on my website does it say commercial, but the project manager still reached out. He sent me an email.
Amy: And I feel like that’s a good thing though, right?
Colie: And in all honesty, I ignored his email cause I was like, I don’t think they meant to, you know, that’s, that’s not a good fit for me.
And then he called to follow up. I mean, so without that I wouldn’t have had that amazing job. I mean, cuz I’ve worked for them for a couple years now.
I mean, and I’ve made a lot of money from them, so it was a good thing. But like, just because you niche down in public, It doesn’t necessarily mean that if someone contacts you or you see an opportunity that you could go back to shooting like one influencer.
Cuz Amy, what if the influencer was about motherhood
Amy: I just,
Colie: do you know what I’m saying? Like I
Amy: had a feature, I just had a feature released on Mother Mag yesterday, that I did for, yeah. So I have another one coming up with them next month. And those are the kind of things that yeah, I will do if I want to. And that is some, like Mother Mag is one that I’ve wanted to work with for a long time, and.
A friend of mine recommended me and it just has been working out so far. So it’s like those kinds of things, if like you’re saying, when it comes along and it just fits, like, and it’s not something you necessarily have to show on your website, but like it, those are like the things that make you money in the behind the scenes.
Colie: Yeah, and actually I keep on forgetting. I did get hired by Isabella and Ingrid the maternity, I mean, I did a video for them for Mother’s Day, the
photographer. The videographer that was putting together the commer, like the, the reel, I guess he told her to check me out. And then the owner contact, actually she wasn’t the owner, I don’t know what her title was, but she contacted me and like they basically just licensed a bunch of my footage to put into that video.
So again, guys, I always talk about parenthood, I talk about motherhood and. If there are things outside of a family session that align with that, they’re gonna contact you anyways, even if you’re not talking about commercial work all over your website.
Amy: And those are the people that you wanna maybe look into a little bit more because they’ve seen something in you. Like Every once in a while I’ll get a wedding inquiry, which I do advertise for some weddings now, but for the most part I don’t. And the people who have booked me for weddings based off my family work, I know that they see what I’m about and they aren’t expecting something that I’m not showing, which is really cool.
Colie: So how many members do you have now? Because I am curious.
Amy: I’m up to 40.
Colie: Oh my gosh. I wonder if you win the prize inside the revenue on repeat group. I’m, I might just go poll and be like, guys, can you just tell me how many members you have? I just interviewed Amy and she said 40.
Amy: So I have, yeah, I have a lot. So I, the two of them are people that I’ve booked in, what me and Jess Kayla, have talked about is, a baby club, right? So it’s like a maternity and a newborn kind of thing. But instead of being like, okay, you pay for these two sessions and you get discounts, I’m like, Hey, it’s March.
You’re booking this. Now I’m gonna prorate the rest of your. Payments and you just pay through the end of the year. So they’re gonna pay monthly just like everybody else in the yearbook club, but they’re just getting their two sessions like they would for a maternity, newborn and combo thing. So I count them as part of members cuz it’s still monthly income that’s coming.
Colie: Well, also. Those people are more likely, just from my experience, those people are more likely to become family members and then they’re probably gonna pay you slight. I mean, they’re gonna feel like they’re paying you less because they’re not paying you for the two sessions anymore.
They’re just paying for the one or, yeah. Um, so I did have two people that did that. They were on what I call a yearbook, and they were paying, I mean more than double what my, what my regular members paid because they had more sessions and then after that they just converted into family
Amy: Yeah. And I think that’s what’s gonna happen or what I’m hoping for. And I had another person email me yesterday being like, oh my gosh, I totally forgot to renew. Do you still have space for me? And it’s somebody I really love. So I was like, yeah, sure. Here hop in. And so I think it might even be 41. I’d have to look at the numbers.
Colie: Amy, I’m so proud of you.
Amy: Thanks. I’m proud of myself. Like honestly, it’s, I, every time I tell somebody about how my business model works, they’re like, that’s an amazing idea. And I was like, I cannot take the credit. But it’s worked really well for me and it allows me to have a lot of freedom in my business throughout the year,
Colie: Yeah, so 41 sounds great. Like what’s your, like, when will you cut people off? If you haven’t cut people off already? Girl.
Amy: Um, there, I don’t think I would take anybody else right now just because I’m looking at my calendar for fall and I have to release those dates soon for people, and I think it’s gonna be just full. So I think I’ll be done. Yeah, I think usually my cutoff was like March because I opened, I opened it in December, January-ish.
So right after the season is over, I’m like, okay, you gotta join back in to start up for next year. So you can especially like af One of the other things that really helped with my launch at the beginning was that I had a very busy fall and I had a lot of people like saying, oh my gosh, you don’t have any dates available for me?
Like, what are we gonna do? And I was like, well, this is what will help. And I was able to kind of really restrict it that way and people saw the value in it and I was like, you wanna date that you really love Next year join the yearbook club. And now they all get first choice, so
Colie: That is amazing. I love it, Amy.
Colie: so what are you focusing on right now? Are you focusing more on families or are you focusing more on like newborn, maternity baby club kind of thing? Because I could see you really killing it and bringing in the newborns and the maternity, and then just keeping those people long-term as family clients.
Amy: so I am curious to see how long some of my family Yearbook club members stay. You know, like as their kids get older, some, most of ’em still have pretty little kids right now. There’s some of ’em that I’m like, I’m curious how long you’re gonna keep. Coming back, you know, because there’s some families that when the kids re reach a certain age, they’re kind of like, yeah, we don’t need photos every year, which I don’t agree with.
I think you need photos all the time, but
Colie: I mean, me
Amy: like, yeah. But I’m curious to see how that works out. But I really do put an emphasis on maternity. I’m actually working on some educational materials for maternity stuff.
Amy: I. I’ve really found my niche in that along for a few years now, and it’s something that I think is kind of overlooked in the photography world and really kind of.
Stereotyped into this big extravagant, thing when it really doesn’t need to be, it can just be simple and about who the people are. And so I do get a lot of maternity inquiries and a lot of them end up booking me for newborns. And so if I can, I would love to get some more, baby clip people, cuz I would put them in probably on weekdays when I don’t have as many family clients booked.
So, yeah, I would totally take more of those. I can definitely see myself kind of opening up the doors for that a little.
Colie: Well, just to go back to like the, how long do people want annual photos? I will say one of my longest clients, I mean, I started photographing them when their youngest was born, and their youngest is, he just turned 11, so,
Colie: I don’t see them every year. I see them every 18 to 24 months now, so it’s not every year.
They were never part of my membership. Well, actually, I guess they were, they were part of my membership, but I don’t see them, every year anymore. I would say the next oldest set of kids that I have, they have two kids and their oldest, I started photographing them when their oldest was born, or their first was born, I guess.
And he just turned eight.
Amy: Oh, that’s like similar to mine.
Colie: Yeah, and they’re still getting annual photos and I actually have, I don’t know, like three or four families that are in that same range. Like their kids are, you know, elementary age and none of them seem to be slowing down.
Amy: Yeah. I have one family that like was one of the first families to hire me when I moved to the city. And I did her maternity shoot for her first born and it was like the first maternity shoot that I like fell in love with maternity photography. And there’s still one image that goes viral on Pinterest every once in a while.
It’s still out there. You’ve probably have seen it. Who knows? It’s around a lot. But it’s a. I did their maternity newborn. I don’t know if I did a second maternity with her. But then we’ve done photos every year for a while. We did ’em twice a year because we would do one close to the daughter’s birthday and one close to the son’s birthday.
But now we’ve kind of paired it down to just once a year. But I think the oldest is seven, yeah, he’s like seven, which is crazy.
Colie: It is cra. I mean, I don’t know how you feel. I do feel like every time I go to the kids’ house though, they are way more interested in like playing with me and showing me all the new things and telling me about their school, and I have to remind them, yes, but Ms. Coley has to take pictures of you while you tell me
Amy: Yeah. Well, and it’s, that’s one of the coolest things though, is like, especially with this membership, is I’m getting. To prioritize the families that I love and I’m getting to really show them the attention that I want to show them without like having to rush through a session. And you get to know the kids over time and they get more and more comfortable with you and they like want you to stay and hang out and like it’s just, I love it.
It’s been probably my favorite part of the job so far.
Colie: Yeah, growing with, I mean, cuz you know, I only have the one and she’s 12 and right now she’s full of attitude and so I
Amy: Oh, I know that my stepdaughter’s 11. My stepdaughter’s almost 12, and
Colie: It’s rough guys. It’s rough. For any of you with young children, there should really be a support group for moms of preteens. Let me just tell
Amy: Oh, it was fun. Yeah.
Colie: me ask you the question that I ask everyone, and you know what it is.
What’s your biggest fuck up in your business? How did you learn from it and how did you grow?
Amy: Would probably be underpricing myself in the beginning. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s honestly like I haven’t, knock on wood, had too many technical failures. I haven’t had too many like things where I screwed up, but it, I really was undervaluing myself and really selling my stuff. When I moved to the city, I was charging like 400 bucks a session and.
I was burning myself out like crazy. And it’s crazy to look at that and be like, oh my gosh, I’m charging a thousand dollars more than that now. And like putting value I, oh, Val episode with Val is the one I just listened to and
Colie: Oh, money.
Amy: yeah. And I was like, oh my gosh. It’s so true. Like putting that value on yourself.
It’s so hard, especially when it’s a creative field cuz it’s, you think your work is great, but having somebody else affirm that and confirm that by paying your pricing without question helps confirm it even more. And so when you have people question your pricing, you question yourself and you’re like, oh, am I really worth that much?
I don’t know. And so not listening to how much I wanted to make and not knowing my numbers in the beginning. It was huge. I knew a lot of stuff going into a photography business, but I, the pricing part took a little bit of time just like it does with everybody. Which is why anytime I meet a new photographer, I’m like, raise your prices.
Well, no matter what, they’re, raise ’em. Raise ’em right now.
Colie: I mean, cuz you know my philosophy. I mean, if anybody tells me they have a problem, like raising your prices, we’ll probably fix that. I’m just saying.
Amy: It really will.
Colie: So Amy, I think I know what you’re gonna say, but what’s the best investment that you’ve made for your business?
probably family narrative.
Colie: I knew that was what she was gonna say. Guys, don’t worry. The, she’s never technically hired me for anything other than a few mentoring calls. So I wasn’t fishing for compliments, guys. I knew she was gonna say the family narrative. I was very sad that you didn’t get to come join us this year. It
was great, but I
Amy: right around Willow’s birthday, so
Colie: I mean you can’t miss that.
But so the education and in particular the family narrative, I feel like that was really helpful for you because it helped you shape going forward that you were only gonna shoot families. And you know Dana Pugh, she
Amy: Uh, she was just like,
Amy: it was, I remember listening to a podcast episode with her and I can’t remember what podcast it was, and then knowing that she was gonna be at the family narrative, I was like, This is it. Like this is what I have to do. And I went into that with like, I remember leaving family narrative or like sitting in the hotel room and being like, Kristen Miller was one of my roommates and I’m actually going to her retreat in July and I’m very excited.
Colie: Uh, fun fact, I’m actually interviewing Kristen in three hours. So
Colie: will get to have an interview with Kristen. Uh, hers will air after Amy’s, but she’s mentioning
Colie: I just put that out there.
Amy: Love that. But yeah, she, like, I remember just sitting there and being like, There is so much information buzzing through my head right now that I didn’t know was possible. Cause I’d been to, I’d been to a few different like photographer workshops in Brooklyn that were aimed at wedding photographers and there was nothing for
Colie: For families.
I know I say that all the time.
Amy: And there was maybe like W P P I, there’s different events that just seemed like too big for me and I was like, I want something that just talks to me, you know? And like after I missed out on the first year of Family Narrative, which I was bummed about cause my friend went and said it was amazing.
Amy: But then I went to the second year and I was like, oh, this is like magic. This is like exactly what I need to come home and feel rejuvenated during my slow season and actually feel motivated to get stuff done. And I’m sad to hear that it’s ending, but I know Posey has some amazing plans for it, so I’m excited to see what happens.
Colie: So, I don’t know if you know this, but when I went this year, it was my first year.
Amy: Really. Oh, cause you went to the
Colie: correct? No
believes me when I say it was my first year. And there, I know I stood up at the end and I was trying to talk and it was really awful. I was crying and babbling and there was snot involved.
so, I mean, I thought I was gonna be able to be eloquent with my words and I was totally not eloquent with my words. I hope no one recorded it. But if I’d known how fabulous it was, like I would’ve pushed my husband to just come with me, cuz the reason that I didn’t attend for years, it was on my anniversary every single year.
Colie: so this year Posey was like, okay, we’re gonna do it the week after. I said thank you, and then I went, and then I was like, nah, if I’d known how great it was. I mean, I love my husband. It’s the one day a year that I refused to not be with him, but I would’ve just made him come wherever it was.
Amy: Yeah. And honestly like I got to go to New Orleans twice, which was the best. I went 2017 and 2018, I believe. Where the, or no, 2018 and 2019. I don’t remember. But it was, I loved the hotel we were at. I loved the food, I loved the location. Um, and it like getting to talk with Ike and Tache the second year, and they helped me break down my whole pricing.
They like, I don’t know, there’s just. It was like a hive mind and it was so cool. And I got to meet some really great people like Mary o Tanyas. We met a few, I think at one of the family narratives and you know, Posey and Omy and it’s just, I feel like I have everyone. I’ve had a community with all of them.
Colie: Is that the word you’re looking for?
Amy: It really is. It is. And it’s, I love knowing that I have those people out there for me in cuz this business is lonely and I. I love having, I used to have a studio manager and I just hired a VA again, um, because I need it really bad. Um, but I miss like, working with people. I miss like having somebody to talk with and I, it’s them creating that community, even if it’s just on Facebook for now.
Colie: Yeah. So guys, I just wanna interject because you know, we’ve been going down memory lane about a
conference that we both love. It’s okay. But what I wanna put out there to you is that I have heard this kind of story over and over again for almost every conference. Every conference, except for something like W P P I.
Cuz I mean, that’s so big. I doubt you find your best friend at W P P I. But I had Alison Hatch on to talk about Photo Native earlier this year, and she was talking about how she met a few of her very best friends now at Photo Native. And so just because we’re talking about the family narrative doesn’t mean that you can’t find your people at conferences for whatever it is that you shoot.
So, you know, search Google, ask your friends what, what workshops and conferences they’re going to because they exist. And they help us feel like we’re not alone in this online photography space. And I mean, you know, it’s always better when you do it together. And so, oh my God, that was so cheesy. But if you can find someone to like push you and you push them, it does make growth in this business that much easier and that much more like productive and just awesome.
So Amy. If my listeners happen to be in New York and they wanna learn more about you, even though they can’t hire you, sorry guys. Or if they wanna like keep their eye out for this maternity photography education that you dropped, where can they find you on the internet?
Amy: Yeah. So Instagram, it’s at kinship.photo, and on my website is kinship photo.com.
Colie: awesome. And I’m gonna have all of that linked in the show notes. Amy, this
was a blast. I loved having you. I feel like there could be a part two to this, so stay tuned everyone. I might bring her back just to ask her about this price raise cuz you know, I love asking people about prices, so I think
Amy: I love talking about
Exactly. So that’s it for this episode guys. See you next time.