Before the pandemic, our Peak Performer of the Year, Debra Lawrence, was shooting 550 sessions a year and running a six-figure photography business.
For many photographers, it would be a dream come true.
But Debra wanted more time with her growing family.
She was burned out by the late nights, long hours and weekend sessions.
In this episode, Debra shares her journey and digs into her numbers, like how she went from photographing 68 clients in August of 2019 and never seeing her family, to photographing 3 clients in August of 2020 while earning the EXACT same income.
This is my 20th year in business.
For the last twenty years, I have worked an average of 68 hours a week in my photography business.
This allowed me to build a successful business that grossed over $100,000 a year.
I thought I was doing great, but I was burnt out and needed a break.
When COVID hit and my business slowed down, I enjoyed my schedule and wondered how I could get paid more for having fewer clients.
Clearing Head Trash In Order To Grow
I saw photographers who were making tons of money through the boutique photography business model and wondered how I could do the same.
I met Sarah and loved what she was doing, but I did not think the boutique photography business model would work for me.
I told her,
“Those are great ideas, but they are not for me.”
I gave Sarah all the reasons why the boutique model wouldn’t work for my business, and she gave me every reason why it would work.
I converted my business, and in 60 days I grossed $13,000 with hardly any clients.
It was incredible.
Growth Is Uncomfortable
I finished Sarah’s 60 Day hands-on workshop Boutique Breakthrough early on in the pandemic.
Not long after that, my husband lost his job and I had to replace $70,000 in income.
I remember having a conversation with Sarah about joining Peak Performers, the next step after Boutique Breakthrough if you want advanced coaching.
I remember saying,
“I’ve grown so much, but I can’t do this.”
I was bawling like a baby because I wanted to join Peak Performers, but I could not afford it.
In the back of my mind, I knew that I needed to find a way because it would change my life.
I started doing every odd job possible in order to afford the deposit.
I helped the elderly clean their homes and lawns.
I shredded documents.
I even scooped poop for my neighbors.
I hated it so much, but I did it because it made me money and I was able to join Peak Performers without going into debt.
There’s always a way and Sarah helped me see that.
Switching to Boutique Made My Clients Happy
Once I converted my business, I was having far more happy clients who were willing and excited to pay for my art.
I attract the best clients who are grateful for what I do.
I have found that the clients who spend $5,000 with me are thrilled with everything I do.
They don’t need me to swap heads or Photoshop the crap out of every picture.
My clients are gushing and crying over me because they’re so thrilled with what I’ve done.
The more I charge, the better my clients are.
They are nicer and they appreciate me.
Becoming Boutique Changed My Mentality
The people in my life ask me constantly what I am doing differently because I seem so much happier and have a lot of free time.
I tell them that I started charging what I was worth and creating value for my clients.
I’ve had many conversations with other business owners about converting to boutique and they always say,
“That makes so much sense.”
Not only has my business improved, but I have also noticed positive changes within myself.
When I worked 68 hours per week, I was just trying to keep my head above water.
I didn’t have time to do much else.
Now, I am able to look at what is happening around me and make changes.
I am now able to be present in my own life.
Boutique Photography Business Finances
In August of 2019, before I converted to a boutique photography business, I had 28 clients, and I grossed $5,600.
My average income per session was $200.
Each week I was working 64 hours a week and making a profit of $1200.
I was working all the time, but hardly making money.
In August of 2020, after I converted to a boutique, I had three clients and grossed the same amount of money: $5,600. My average became $1,867 per client and I was working only 12 to 24 hours per week.
My profit also increased.
I was now profiting $4,300 every month while working half the hours that I used to.
I Lift As I Climb
When I joined Boutique Breakthrough, I just wanted to get my stuff done without talking to anyone.
When it was time to find a buddy I thought, Oh man, I just want to get this stuff done.
I don’t want to find a buddy.
Once I did, I realized, these people are a lot like me.
I learned that I may be more experienced in one area, but they’re more experienced in another.
I got to know these photographers and it was amazing.
I was able to ask them anything and they were so grateful, kind and loving.
We helped each other through everything and truly lifted each other as we climbed.
Now, I talk to everyone and have made lifelong friends through Boutique Breakthrough and Peak Performers.
I love them all so much.
There is nothing better than being around all of these incredibly talented photographers.
It’s been a huge blessing.
Having a community of people to help me run my business has been extremely beneficial.
Before I joined Peak Performers, I didn’t realize how much I missed the community aspect of running a business.
I love everyone so much and I am so grateful to be the 2020 Peak Performer of the year.
What Peak Performers Have To Say About Deborah
“Debra is the biggest giver I think I’ve ever known. She’s the epitome of lifting as she climbs. She’s always reaching out her hand to help pull us to the top.”
“Debra is our biggest fan. She lifts every single one of us up with encouragement and never leaves anyone behind.”
“She goes all in whatever she does. She supports and pushes us to do more and better.”