When Virginia photographer, Amy Yang, got into photography, her husband was deployed.
She was a new mama wanting to share images that made him feel like he was a part of their baby’s life.
Eventually, that love of photography turned into a high end portrait photography business.
Once Amy took a hard look at her numbers, she realized that she wasn’t charging enough.
She didn’t believe in herself or believe she was worth the prices she needed to charge.
Today, Amy is sharing her journey from underpriced and selling digital files to earning six figures in her photography business.
And being voted by members of our Peak Performance coaching community as Sherpa/Coach of the Year.
I’m so happy for you to be here with me, Amy.
I want to share some of the things that people said about you.
And I hope that you just let it pour over you.
People saying, she’s constantly shown up to lead Joy Sparks, which is our daily accountability program.
And it has been the single most consistent Peak Performer thing in my life.
I love her and her commitment.
Amy continually serves, by looking for the needs of the community.
One example is how she saw the general overwhelm after Immersion, the two days where our community comes to my studio.
She decided to get with everyone in our community Monday morning and put together a plan-your-week.
I didn’t even know it was happening.
I love when my leaders decide to do something to benefit the community as a whole.
Amy, share with everybody a little bit about that time in your life when photography wasn’t cutting it.
And how were you trying to justify the work you were doing?
I was not the person that always carried around a camera.
I have two college degrees and was a marine biologist.
My path was to be a marine mammal vet.
And then the army decided to deploy my husband and all went out the window.
I had a brand new baby and I started hiring photographers to take pictures of him every month.
Because he was changing so fast and my husband had idea what he was going to look like.
I was rapidly blowing through money and so I decided to get my own camera to document his milestones.
So, that’s what I did.
I stayed up late at night on the computer, nursing my son.
One of my friends had asked me to take pictures of her kids and I decided I was going to charge.
I got the business license and for the remainder of that year, I ran the business in the place that I was.
And then when my husband came home, we moved across the country and I had another baby.
Everything stopped for probably two years and then I decided to start it up again.
I caved to the digital pressure because I thought it was easier because I wouldn’t have to worry about printing things.
I ran my business purely digital for probably a year and then I wanted to add some product in.
My clients still just came and only bought files.
So, I built the business and then I had two more kids, twins in 2015.
When I had them, life halted a little bit because four kids five and under are a lot of kids.
But looking at the amount of time that I had and the numbers of what was coming in, I felt like I had grown the business as much as I could in the hours that I had.
I thought that this was as good as it gets.
And this isn’t good enough for what I was paying a babysitter to be with my twins every day.
I was paying her more than I was paying myself.
That’s when it’s painful.
You have four little kids, and you’re working and not really making any profit.
I was constantly up, not sleeping because I would be editing forever or nursing a kid.
Did you ever consider quitting or getting a job?
I thought about what am I even doing?
In 2018, I decided I have to either go for this or I’m done.
Because, it’s too much stress on the family and I didn’t feel like a good mom.
I went and got the studio and gave myself a year to do it.
I’m not feeling good about my contribution to the family monetarily, for this work.
So I would like to actually make good money for what I’m doing, because I thought it was decent.
I deserve to make a decent amount of money.
In your mind, was it 50 grand?
I have two degrees.
If I went to work right now, what would I make?
65K. That’s entry level.
So that was my number.
But you weren’t making that.
Especially if you had a studio, that’s an expense.
So now you’re putting more pressure on yourself.
So then Covid hit and what changed?
Covid hit and I didn’t know how I was going to pay for anything.
I needed more clients.
So I was scrolling Facebook and one of your ads popped up.
I watched the training because I had nothing else to do and I ended up doing Boutique Breakthrough after listening to the whole thing.
I thought that maybe I did need to look at my pricing and start selling more products.
So you jumped in, and what happened?
What was going through your head during that time?
I will be honest and say, I didn’t 100% buy into no digitals.
Even after Boutique Breakthrough because we have family overseas and I want to be able to share those images with them.
So that was a struggle for me.
But then my mom passed away during Boutique Breakthrough.
I don’t have any pictures of me with my mom, so that started the change of realizing that these prints do matter.
Existing in the photos do matter.
It needs to be out, for you to see every day.
So that started my shift.
So you started seeing that, and then you started getting bigger orders?
A culmination of some of the clients that I’ve had in got me big orders.
I had a mom come in to do a photo session with her daughter and we did a big canvas for her.
It’s just a culmination of those types of clients that have come in.
They have touched my heart extra and helped me realize why I do this.
Now three years later, I’m all in.
You don’t need a file that is going to live on your hard drive somewhere.
You need it out where you can see it.
This is how you can make that living, instead of being a marine biologist that would start at 65K.
It doesn’t have to be salesy.
People have a lot of choices of how they can spend money, and what they can pay for.
And I believe like you.
To my death, there’s no better place people can invest in.
So Amy, how long did it take you to pass that first $65K?.
It was the second year.
The first year, I wasn’t even in the program a full year, but I matched what I had made the previous year in the studio on the old method.
And I was in less than six months of that year.
And so the second year, the studio hit six figures.
We’ve been six figures since.
Isn’t that crazy?
Six figures from someone who is completely capable, but underperforming.
I think people may think that it was easy for you, but it hasn’t been..
That’s where as a coach, everybody has their different place that they need to be nudged or pulled a little bit.
And you got over that hump.
Will you talk a little bit about that progression for somebody who’s listening who is scared to charge more?
I really fought against it for a while because I thought I would never pay that.
I was hung up there for a long time.
More than a thousand seems like a lot for people to be spending.
But then I found myself in the same position where ‘m making a little bit more money, but not enough.
And I couldn’t serve my clients the way that I wanted to.
I had to take a hard look and realize that I have to charge more to make it work.
It’s just math.
If I need three times as much time to do that, I need to charge three times as much money.
Then the other part of it is just accepting that I am worthy of making a decent income.
I am worthy of making money, no matter how much that is.
I do have a skill that is valuable and I am giving my clients a gift.
And it’s okay for me to make a living from that.
I love having a front row seat at this progression.
So how do you feel you’re showing up as a mom, a wife and a leader of your family, as your orders are going up?
How do you feel different as a person?
I actually am proud of myself and what I do.
I was able to pay for my family to have a week-long beach trip last summer, which we had never done before.
And the kids know that’s because mommy made the money to do that.
Just knowing they’re proud of me too, it’s amazing.
I think having that family time was the biggest game changer for me.
I was showing up as an exhausted mom not as my happy, normal self.
If you’re listening to this and you’ve been telling yourself this story that you can’t run a business and have a happy family life, look at Amy.
Amy, thank you so much for being here and sharing your story.
And being vulnerable.
We all go through hard things, so thank you.
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