Some big shifts are happening in the photography industry that I want you to know about because if you’re like me, a passionate creative who loves working with your camera and you can’t imagine a career or even side income that’s any more fulfilling than that, then today is for you.
In the last year, AI has entered the building and that is changing the game in terms of editing, image creation, and marketing. Not only that, but the world is changing rapidly and the cost of everything seems to just be going up, doesn’t it? This has pretty big implications for portrait photography business owners and how we serve our clients. As I sit here at the beginning of 2024 and look at how the landscape is changing for photographers like us, we’ve made some pretty big changes here at my company to serve you in this rapidly changing world.
This huge announcement that I’m about to make won’t make sense without a little background. When I started The Joy of Marketing back in 2005, times were different. You couldn’t just open up your computer and find a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. When you were trying to grow your photography business, you had to either buy books that were mostly outdated or you had to go to photography conferences which could be great but expensive. I have an MBA in marketing and I felt like I’d gone to some of these conferences and I listened to people talking about marketing. Most of the advice they were given were just things they’d heard some other photographers say. It wasn’t based on strategy.
If you were a hungry new photographer, it took a long time to get the information you needed in a linear way, unlike today where you can hop online and you can get any answer to any question pretty quickly. Now, keep in mind it’s not always in a linear way, but someone out there is going to be giving you advice. Again, whether you want to take that advice or not, that’s a whole other issue. But back when I started, photographers were starving for information to help them grow their business and it was hard to find.
As I got my photography business running like a well-oiled machine, I was quickly making multiple six figures a year, very part-time. I applied for something that the Professional Photographers of America was doing where they were ranking everyone’s financials by profitability. I was named one of the most profitable in the United States by PPA. This was pretty cool because I got the chance to speak at national conferences around the country and share with people what I was doing and how I was making this money. I found that teaching photographers how to run a profitable business really lit me up. Little by little I was teaching what I was doing and I love being able to teach photographers so that they don’t have to learn things the hard way like I did.
That’s how the education side of my business was born and that little baby was named The Joy of Marketing. That name was meant to be a play on the greatest book ever written on how to cook called The Joy of Cooking. It was like the cooking Bible and I really felt like business is a lot like cooking because we all know that there’s more than one way to make a chocolate cake. We can overcook it, we can undercook it, we can leave out some ingredients, and we can have a flop or we can have the most delicious cake.
But when you’re learning, you really want and need to follow a proven recipe which is why people were so addicted to that cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. Once they mastered things, they could go off on their own, add their twist to it and they could be creative. The same is true in business. You’ve got to follow a proven recipe. Think about it, if you take a cake recipe and you take one ingredient from one recipe and another ingredient from another recipe and you put it together hoping for a cake, it doesn’t always turn out the way you want.
I wanted to create a business that had proven recipes to follow just like The Joy of Cooking and that’s why we became The Joy of Marketing. And as the chef of your business, you learn great marketing and then you customize it to your taste. I didn’t want to create a bunch of little Sarah Petty Photography lookalikes. Because your style and personality are probably very different from mine but you should still be able to follow a recipe using your style, your photography and your personality and all the things that make you you and turn it into a successful business.
For years, it was such a perfect metaphor to help hundreds of thousands of photographers move their business forward. But the thing is, there have been a lot of changes happening in the world of photography. It’s not just about marketing. It’s about pricing, selling and all of these other pieces of the puzzle that are important for the marketing to work. And now with AI coming into the picture, it’s even more important.
Last year in 2023, we quietly began offering photographers in our community the opportunity to become certified as boutique portrait photographers and to be held to a higher standard for themselves and their businesses. Our inaugural class of certified boutique photographers graduated in September 2023 and it was really around this time that we realized The Joy of Marketing no longer represents all of what we teach which is so much more than marketing.
We have now expanded from The Joy of Marketing to what we are now which is The Photography Business Institute which has positioned us as the number one premier online photography business school in the world. We have this unique insight that we are bringing to all of our training in 2024 and beyond. It’s no longer just teaching you things I’ve learned in my photography business but it’s about taking all of the insider secrets I’ve invested over half a million dollars myself working with experts and the hundreds of thousands of students I have worked with over the last 20 years who have collectively done over $15 million alone in photography sales since 2020 and packaging it all up for you in one place.
My top group of coaching students collected over half a million dollars in their businesses in December alone. No college or university in the world could make that claim and I want you to think of The Photography Business Institute like this because there are lots of great business schools in the United States and I have business degrees from two of them. But they teach you to crunch numbers and to prepare to have a job in the corporate world. They do not in any way, shape, or form teach you the nuances of how to run a profitable photography business where you’re not working all the time to compete in a very oversaturated, price sensitive market.
I created this school because there’s nobody out there who has the background I have and who has been running a profitable photography business for over 25 years. I believe this is better than a traditional business school.
Our main course offerings teach you how to build a profitable photography business with the support of coaches who are actually doing it and a safe community of people who are cheering for you. So you’re making money as you’re being coached. And the next step for you is to join our certified boutique photographer business program where you can show the world you’ve achieved a bare minimum standard in not just your photography but in your business. What does that mean for you? It means that by the time you earn this designation, not only will you have the skills and the confidence to run a profitable business and be doing it. It means that you are going to be worth more to the people who are paying for what you do.
When you get that certification, you will not only be able to but you will be running a business and putting your family first. I hope that you see this is the place where you can go from start to finish to change your life as a professional photographer. We are the coolest business school for creatives who want to be photographers out there.
If you are here and you’re listening to this and you’re looking for a sign at the beginning of the year that you have been looking for to make your life and your business better and make this the best year ever, I am here for you.