Episode 77: How a Mom of 3 Quit Her Career & Became a Boutique Photographer

Sometimes in life, we need to change directions.

And that’s exactly what happened with my student, Erin Lackey.

Photography was her side gig as she was going through x-ray school.

But she decided she wanted it to be more.

Erin recently did a huge thing.

She stepped back from her job as an x-ray tech and went all in on her boutique photography business.

Today, she’s sharing her story to show you what she did to make it all work.

Erin Lackey:

I am a registered x-ray tech.

I took pictures to put myself through x-ray school.

It was a sustainable income.

As the years went on, I just noticed myself wanting more and more to be my own business person.

I like flexibility with my hours and to be my own boss.

As my photography business was growing, I had more people reaching out and had 45 sessions booked.

I realized that I couldn’t do this and I needed to make a decision.

Am I going to keep working in a job that’s fine?

Or am I really going to pursue my business?

Then I found you, Sarah Petty, and I enrolled in Boutique Breakthrough

The Path Leading To A Boutique Photography Business

Sarah Petty:

You’d heard of a boutique photography business.

Did you think you were moving toward a boutique photography business because you had a hybrid?

You were digital, but you were also offering some products to your customers. 

Erin Lackey:

I thought that I was boutique because I opened up my studio and I would meet there with clients and I offered prints.

But I also offered digital files.

And usually, people would come and the most that I ever sold was my highest digital collection, which was priced at $699.

And I ended up having to edit over 100 photos. They never ordered anything more than the digitals. 

Sarah Petty:

You were, in essence, giving them all of the files so they didn’t even need to order anything because they had everything.

I hear from so many photographers that they think being in the middle is okay.

That’s that hybrid model of giving both digital files and offering prints and people don’t ever order.

And you’re not serving them.

Then, you found yourself with the opportunity to invest in yourself and join the Boutique Breakthrough workshop.

Erin Lackey:

Yes.

It was a goal, but I was still so scared to leave my job because that steady income is very appealing.

For me and my own personality, I wasn’t even so afraid of failing in my business when starting boutique breakthrough.

For me, I was more afraid of what if this works?

What is that going to mean for me and my life?

Can I handle that?

Can I handle being this different level of a business owner photographer?

Learning to Trust the Process

Sarah Petty:

So, you got in Boutique Breakthrough and you just have to trust the process.

Especially when we go to pricing.

I always tell my students to take the emotion out of the numbers you’re putting in for pricing and just follow through.

How was all that for you?

Erin Lackey:

That was really simple.

The steps were so easy, and there are sheets and checklists, and it’s amazing.

The live price list critique was awesome.

There’s this affirmation and it helps you believe that this will work.

Whenever I started to doubt myself, I would go to the people in the Facebook group.

Everyone is so supportive, and we’re all doing the same thing. I’ve never experienced anything like that.

Sarah Petty:

We teach you how to talk to your “Julie”.

That’s where you learn the 7 B’s.

And I know that you told me that you used the seven B’s on your first person who came in. 

Erin Lackey:

I had an online inquiry and I scheduled the phone call for after I learned the 7 B’s.

So, I was all prepared.

I decided to approach this client with this new model.

And she kept saying yes.

She agreed to come in and meet with me.

Then, we had the presentation, and I’m showing her all the stuff.

And she said, okay, I want that and that, and that, and that.

And I showed her the total, and it was over $5,400.

Sarah Petty:

That is insane.

And had she come two weeks earlier before you jumped into the class, what would her order have been?

Erin Lackey:

Oh, $699 tops.

That was my highest thing.

Sarah Petty:

Yeah.

So, you paid for the class right there, right?

With that one client, which is amazing.

You learned how to talk to people on the phone call.

And then, two days later, we teach you three different ways to go get a “Julie”.

And you did that also, right?

Erin Lackey:

Yes.

And I got two more Julies that way.

They were just over $2,000 orders.

Shoot to Sell Is KEY

Sarah Petty:

In the workshop we also teach you how to shoot to sell. 

Talk about what that did in your mind.

Erin Lackey:

Shoot to sell just changed everything for me.

And I think that’s why my first Julie had such a high order because we talked about everything that she wanted, and then, I gave it to her.

And she’s like, “Well, I want all of it.”

Sarah Petty:

Yes, yes, yes.

And then, in the presentation, that’s a big part of it.

How to sit down and hold the client’s hand.

How did what you learned in this class differ from what you were doing?

Because you were sitting down with them before, when you thought you were boutique.

Erin Lackey:

Yes.

I would approach a sales session hoping that they would buy something.

Now, as I approach these sales sessions, I am so excited because I know that I’m going to make money, and I know it’s going to be worth it.

I know they are going to love everything that I put in front of them.

There’s no weird sales.

One of my fears was that I was going to come across as this gross salesperson.

Sarah Petty:

I love hearing you say that.

Because that is my favorite part of the whole thing.

I’m sitting, showing the client images of their kids, pets, or whatever it is.

There should be no uncomfortable sales.

I just love that you just followed the system.

And you decided to leave your job?

Erin Lackey:

I left it.

I realized that me saying yes to a day as an x-ray tech was going to be a significant pay cut than me saying yes to a client.

Sarah Petty:

It is amazing.

Thank you so much, Erin.

Probably one of the most fragile phases of going boutique is that tender spot where you’re fired up about the possibilities, but you don’t have a ton of income coming in yet because you haven’t gotten your first $1,000 client, the person we call your “Julie”.

Going boutique really turns your business upside down in a good way, with new systems for selling, for marketing, and for pricing.

And it really can be heart pounding and nerve-wracking.

Well, one of the ways I’ve made the transition easier for photographers is my 8 week  online workshop called a Boutique Breakthrough where we scrub through your prices, your photography, your brand, and your selling system to make you boutique.

We only open this course up a few times a year to a small group of photographers because my team and I literally hold your hand through your transition.

A new class is starting soon.

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline

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!