Episode 149 – $100k in 6 Months: How This Single Mom Photographer Pivoted From Weddings to Portraits and Crushed It

When Amy Wellenkamp set up her photography business 16 years ago, she made mistakes that limited her income potential.

Once her wedding and corporate photography businesses disappeared during the pandemic, Amy decided to go all in on photographing families and seniors.

She changed her business model and became a boutique photographer!!

She started in June of 2022 and by December 15th, Amy had sold over $86,000.

She ended the year with over $100,000 in sales.

Today, Amy and I are chatting about the changes she made to get where she is today!

Sarah Petty:

Amy, you’re one of those people in my community who was just out there silently crushing it.

Let’s just start with your backstory with photography!

Amy Wellenkamp:

I officially got my business license about 16 years ago, and stepped out of corporate America into photography.

I was a young mom, so this wasn’t my full-time thing.

I wasn’t supporting my family with photography.

Mistake number one is I didn’t set it up to be a full-time thing that could support my family.

Sarah Petty:

What were your thoughts?

Did you not need a full-time income?

Amy Wellenkamp:

My husband and I at the time had just planned on whatever I made as being extra money for us.

He was the breadwinner and we could live off a single income.

But I couldn’t foresee the future, that marriage wasn’t going to last, and that I was going to need to support myself.

Sarah Petty:

So you kind of saw it as a hobby and a way to make extra money.

When did that change?

Amy Wellenkamp:

It was more full-time for me when I launched into weddings in 2010.

I would do some corporate work because that was my background and I had a big dance studio I photograph every year.

I had all these different moving parts and the problem was that all of the different business models were separate.

I was giving all the digitals for weddings.

On the portrait side, I was trying to have IPSs.

But in the middle of the week, I was still editing weddings and trying to be a mom and everything else.

It just wasn’t working.

Sarah Petty:

Were you doing digital or were you kind of a hybrid, on the portrait side specifically?

Amy Wellenkamp:

I was a hybrid.

Several years ago I started listening to you and adopting some of the things.

I started transitioning into encouraging my portrait clients to wall art prints from me and I would set digitals at a pretty high price point, and only 10% of my clients would buy them from me.

However, what I was charging for my wall art wasn’t going to bring in significant amounts of income.

I just wasn’t able to get over that threshold that I needed to for my time and what I was earning.

Sarah Petty:

How many years did you go that way?

What were you telling yourself?

Amy Wellenkamp:

Eight years.

I was trying to see where the money was.

I knew that I couldn’t do weddings forever, and in corporate work, it was more and more competitive.

Portrait work was really where I needed to claim my space, especially in my area.

I live in a destination wedding area.

And the competition in the wedding photography industry here is huge.

However, there’s a lot less of us in portraits.

Sarah Petty:

So talk about what happened when the pandemic hit and how it affected your business.

Amy Wellenkamp:

I’d already started thinking I didn’t want to do weddings anymore, but I hadn’t quite made that jump because of that income safety net.

The pandemic hit and I lost 30% of my business in five days, so that was really a hard thing to swallow and look at.

I signed up for Boutique Breakthrough, and I was in a space where I didn’t do it because I think it was the middle of a busy season.

I just wasn’t mentally ready to do what I needed to do.

In early 2022, I signed up for Go Boutique Live, and after the first day, I was in a pile of tears because I knew this was going to take a lot of work.

I was scared it wasn’t going to work.

But I had already looked at going back into the corporate arena.

The job I would need to have was going to suck my life away.

So I needed to make this work.

The next morning I woke up full of new energy and I signed up for Peak Performers.

Sarah Petty:

Peak Performers is our 12-month coaching program.

You invested in the two-month program, but didn’t do it.

And then you came to our event and you bought the 12-month program.

I’m curious, if you didn’t do the two-month program, why would you invest in the 12-month program?

What was your thought process?

Amy Wellenkamp:

I was at a point of “do or die”.

I needed some serious help with my business.

Because I came from the event, I really understood the value, and I didn’t have to create it on my own.

To have people walking beside me, have all my questions answered all the time, and a team next to me for the year, I saw huge amounts of value in that.

I needed to do that for me.

I jumped in and did Boutique Breakthrough first.

I didn’t skip anything.

I took out all of my wedding samples, got all new portrait samples, made all my new prices, and printed them out.

My goal was to be ready for the high school senior season.

Then I got a phone call from a mom who was interested in my photography for her high school senior son.

And I was like, “Okay, here we go!”

I set up the first phone call, talked to her, and she heard all my prices and was fine.

Then she agreed to come and meet with me in person and I did the 7Bs with her.

We talked about what she liked and kind of planned out the session for her son.

She saw all the pricing, put down her deposit, and picked the date.

I just keep acting like this is all normal.

We did the session, and she came back and placed a $2,400 order.

Then a month later she placed another $1,700 order!!

Sarah Petty:

That is amazing.

So when she placed that order and you added up that first total did you think she may cancel some of it?

Amy Wellenkamp:

I was pretty confident, because we had done all the steps.

I wasn’t afraid.

She wanted another several prints which was another $1,700.

But in the midst of all this, I had another meeting with someone else and the dad came in and saw the prices and was mad.

And I had the confidence and the calmness just to say, “I’m just not for everybody.”

Sarah Petty:

I’m so proud of you.

Because a lot of people give in and give things away.

So you had this great client, then you had a wrong fit, and then what happened?

Amy Wellenkamp:

So there was a perfect storm, really.

I was set up to succeed because I had a process when I was getting these calls.

People are able to find me on Google easier than before because I fixed my google listing.

I also have a relationship with an orthodontist in my area, where he gives people a mini session with me when they get their braces off.

And now I have a new system that when these leads come in, I can take advantage of them.

Sarah Petty:

You come from marketing, you’re an art director, so you get design and things.

But it sounds like when you overlaid a process for pricing and the sales system, you have the missing pieces now.

Amy Wellenkamp:

Yes, exactly.

And it wasn’t like going back to college and doing all of these intensive things.

It was two months of Boutique Breakthrough.

I was off to the races, and it showed up in my bank account immediately.

I’m just so grateful that you are willing to share your knowledge with us, coach us, and encourage us.

We all need cheerleaders and we need to believe in ourselves.

Having a community of other photographers across the world is huge because we aren’t competitors.

We’re able to really share behind the scenes with each other and see people’s successes and challenges.

Sarah Petty:

I love that about the community too.

I’ll teach a lesson or bring out a new campaign and people will take it and run with it.

And make it their own!

When people come into our program they instantly have a family who is going to check in on them.

What is your favorite part of the program?

Amy Wellenkamp:

I love the organization of the silos and the whole website where we can go and get resources.

The education is there so I can watch it and pause it when needed to take notes.

Sarah Petty:

Yes, I love that!

I am so grateful for you and for your story.

Thank you for being here and sharing it with everybody today! 

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!