Episode 137: How This Single Mom Built a Photography Business That Allows Her To Stay Home With Her Son

Is it possible to be a single parent and a stay-at-home mom who brings in income? Elizabeth Covey is proof that it is! 

Her boutique photography business is giving her everything she ever wanted and more. 

Today she’s sharing how she schedules her sessions around her son so she can have

“no-work days” WHILE building her photography business.

Sarah Petty: 

I’m so stoked to have you share your story, Elizabeth, so other people will believe in themselves and believe in the possibility of their business. 

Why don’t you share your backstory? Where did you come from in your business?

Elizabeth Covey: 

I was pretty new when I found you, Sarah. I had just left a job of nine years and decided to jump in with both feet into my photography business. 

But I’m a single mom, so it was pretty scary to do that… 

I started as a shoot and burn photographer because that’s all I knew. I got some sessions, so I was feeling good, but I wasn’t charging much. 

I was like, “How am I going to live off of this? I’ve got to make a change. I’ve got to do something else.” 

And then I came across the Pricing Challenge, and I said, “Let me give it a shot and just see what this is all about.” 

After that, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Because I couldn’t live off of $75 mini-sessions and $165 regular sessions. That wasn’t going to work. 

For a while, I thought I might have to go back and work for somebody… 

Sarah Petty: 

What was the conversation in your head? Were you thinking, “I’m a single mom now and I’ve got to either get a full-time job and leave my child, or figure out how to make my photography business profitable”?  

That was your goal, right? 

Elizabeth Covey: 

That was my goal, yes. 

I was getting to a point at my job where it was better for me to leave. And I was like, “It’s either leave and go find another job or start my own photography business.” 

I have a lot of support from my parents, so my mom was like, “Just go for it. Do your photography.” 

So I was lucky to have them to help me… But it was still so scary! It felt thrilling at first to leave my job and think, “Okay, I’m my own boss.” 

Then I thought, “Ooh, I’m my own boss. Who’s going to pay me now?” 

My mom would be like, “It’s five pm, stop working.” 

But when I was doing the shoot and burn, I was like, “No, I just did five sessions. I have to keep working so I can get five more sessions!”

Sarah Petty:

And how old is your child? Do you have a boy or a girl?

Elizabeth Covey: 

A little boy. He’s four.

Sarah Petty: 

Yeah. I mean four-year-olds need more time with their mama, right?

Elizabeth Covey: 

Oh yes. And now that I’m working from home, he loves it. He actually tells me, “Mommy, it’s a no-work day today!” sometimes. 

We have a little schedule going. Tuesday mornings are playdates, and Friday is family day! 

I like it because I don’t have to ask off. I just get to schedule my sessions around our lives. 

My sessions are usually on the weekends and in the evenings. And 45 minutes is my max. 

Sarah Petty: 

So what is your long-term vision for your photography business?

Elizabeth Covey: 

My long-term vision is to one day have a studio. And I don’t even care much to shoot in the studio, I just want to have a place to meet my clients. 

I also have equipment that I’d like to set up and just be able to leave up. 

And then my kid’s long-term vision is for us to build a house. He keeps asking if we’re going to build a house yet. I’m like, “Not yet. But we’re getting there!”

Sarah Petty: 

Yeah, for sure! I love that dream, because your photography business can afford you the opportunity to do the things that you want to do. 

So what made you convert your photography business to the boutique model? Because that had to be scary for you when you didn’t have a lot of security at that point. 

Elizabeth Covey: 

It was scary! After I did the challenge, I knew I needed to make the change though. 

Something in my body told me, “Sign up for Boutique Breakthrough.” I just got the chills. And I was so excited that it didn’t bother me that I had no income coming in. I was investing in myself because I knew something amazing was going to come out of it. 

Sarah Petty: 

I’m so proud of you. That’s hard to do! 

Elizabeth Covey: 

Thank you! It was. It was very hard.

But I realized that I could either keep struggling and making $75-$165 a session or I could invest in myself. 

After I told my mom about it, she was like, “This is what I keep telling you to do. Why are you giving away your pictures?” 

Sarah Petty: 

Yeah. They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. So you must have been ready, and your mom knew it before you knew it! 

Elizabeth Covey: 

Yeah, she did. I mean, she’s been telling me to do my photography for years. I just never had the courage to do it. This is just all the right timing.

Sarah Petty: 

Yeah. The fact you have that support at home, that’s amazing. Because not everybody does, right?

Elizabeth Covey: 

Yes. Yeah, I feel very fortunate about that. Very fortunate.

Sarah Petty: 

So you went all in, you took Boutique Breakthrough, and you learned all the steps… What were your biggest ah-ha’s or challenges?

Elizabeth Covey: 

Even though people see me as an outgoing person, I think I’m very much introverted. So the marketing, getting out there, and talking to people scared me the most. 

But having that community and knowing all the struggles that everybody else was going through helped. And we even created our own little Texas group!

Sarah Petty: 

Good for you! It’s so important to get yourself out there and remember why you’re doing it. 

So you can raise your child in a hands-on way and have control over what you do all day. I’m so proud of you! 

Elizabeth Covey: 

Yes. That was always my dream. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home parent. 

But being a single mom, that’s not really in the cards for most people. You have to go to work and you have to take care of your kids. 

So when this happened, I was like, “Wow, I’m getting everything I ever wanted.” Photography and being a stay-at-home mom.

Sarah Petty:

So, talk about your first Julie!!  You did the session and you were getting ready to go into the presentation… How were you feeling?

Elizabeth Covey: 

I was super excited!! This client was awesome. It was a couple celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. 

And when I talked to her on the phone, she mentioned that she loves artwork. In fact, she and her husband have tattoos all over their bodies. 

One image that I did was just of their arms and tattoos! 

So when they saw their images, they were like, “Oh my, how are we going to choose?? What are we going to do?” 

But we just went through the process and dwindled them down. And they invested almost $2,000. The total was $1,930! 

Sarah Petty:

Wow. And were they so happy with you?

Elizabeth Covey: 

They were stoked!! I actually saw them yesterday and they are going to send me pictures of everything all hung up! 

Sarah Petty: 

What did your mom say when you got this first big order?

Elizabeth Covey: 

Every time I walk in the house, my parents are like, “How much did you make today?” They’re just so excited for me and they’re super proud. 

They’re such cheerleaders, and so are my grandparents. 

I actually took pictures for my Gigi (my grandma) and she paid my full price!!  She’s like,

“Nope, nope. Don’t get me any specials, Elizabeth. What is it?”

Sarah Petty: 

I love it. I love it. I love your dream. I love that you’re doing it. And what do you say to the people who are saying, “I’ll do it when I get married again, or when I get another job, or when I win the lottery”

Elizabeth Covey: 

Don’t wait, just do it. I waited for 20 years, so I know what that’s like… but if it’s something you really want, go for it. 

Don’t hold yourself back. 

Sarah Petty: 

Where are you on the confidence meter right now?

Elizabeth Covey: 

So high!! The confidence comes to me when I see people’s faces when they see their images. 

Before all of this, I was too scared to show them… But I have so much confidence in myself now, that I don’t worry. I have my style. 

Now I’m just going out and building it and finding my clients.

Sarah Petty: 

I love it, Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your story. I know so many people are going to be inspired by this! 

Download the Episode Transcript Here

Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

Hey, there!