Episode 38: How to Turn Your Struggles Into a Gift

It’s been a hard go of it for so many people in our world, with all of the chaos and uncertainty. We can’t even get out of our own heads to dream of what our photography business could be. We can’t see how our business could solve a lot of the problems we’re facing right now because we’re just trying to get through today. My student, Tracey Beer, went through this exact same thing. She was at a really, really low point. Her husband had just lost his job. But she decided to take a chance on herself. Well, Tracey went rogue and posted a video in one of my Facebook groups without me knowing it. But I think you need to hear what she has to say in her video today. It’s how you can turn a struggle into a gift. 

From Tracey’s Perspective

How She Built a Business From Nothing

To give you a bit of background, I started my business about a year and a half ago. I started out like most photographers: offering super cheap mini sessions, basically giving away digital files for free. But, I started off with a bang in my business– I got six really great sessions right away…And then nothing, no clients, no interest, absolutely nothing. I went out, I bought books on marketing. I bought every book you can find about owning and running a photography business. I bought books on sales and funnels, on generating leads. You name it, I’ve probably got the book. None of it made much sense to me. The stuff that did make sense didn’t work for me. I tried literally everything that I was reading. 

I started going on every single free Facebook course imaginable. Tried to implement the things they were teaching. Nothing worked. I tried giving away free sessions as part of a competition. Nobody wanted the free sessions. I couldn’t even give my photo sheets away to anybody. So, when lockdown came, I think I was one of the few people in the world that just felt this massive sense of relief. I was in such a bad place. My business was going nowhere. I wasn’t getting out. I wasn’t shooting. People weren’t interested. I was in a really bad place. And lockdown was a blessing because it meant for me that I didn’t have to go out there and hustle and make a fool of myself. 

The Free Photography Class That Changed Everything

In the course of lockdown, I decided to try and use my time constructively, yet again. Started going on free courses, and I realized by this time that I desperately needed a business mentor. I needed somebody who could explain to me what I needed to do, who could show me the ropes and help me get somewhere, and show me where I was going wrong. I found five mentors. Went on their free courses. Did the work. At the end of the course I would approach them for a consultation. They ghosted me. The ones that didn’t ghost me, turned me down. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s how bad a position I was in that even the mentors were turning me down. So you can just imagine the head trash that I had after that. 

And then I found Sarah’s course, one of Sarah’s free course on Facebook. Something about Sarah just really spoke to me. At the end of the course, I kind of let it slide. I wasn’t ready to book right then. I then found a webinar of hers a couple of weeks later. I knew that it was now or never, so I sat down with my husband, who isn’t into photography at all, and I really just opened up my heart. I explained to him how much photography means to me, how much I needed this to work. And I still remember, so clearly, I said, “Look, this is my last ditch effort. If nothing comes of this, then I will delete every photo I’ve ever taken. I will give the cameras away. You will never hear me speak about photography ever again.” That was the promise I made to him. That’s how desperate I was. 

I booked in a call with Jennifer Trepinski-Smith. I love that woman. I will love that woman for the rest of my life. Seriously, she is brilliant. But I wasn’t really expecting her to come back to me– I was expecting to be ghosted yet again. When she did come onto the call, I was a nervous wreck. I thought any moment now she’s going to turn me down like the others have. Not a chance. She was the most understanding, most caring, most patient person. She didn’t care that my business wasn’t going anywhere. She didn’t care that I was in such a desperate state. She just wanted to help. Her and the coaches just wanted to help.

How Tracey Paid for Boutique Breakthrough

Anyway, long story short, I borrowed some money out of our savings account, which was actually supposed to go as our mortgage. Yes, I had a lot of explaining to do that night when my husband got home. But I booked in on the course. The most frightening thing I’ve ever done in my life, seriously. 

Two days before the course was due to start, I was rushed in for emergency surgery. A week into the course, thanks to COVID, my husband lost his job. So when I started this course off, I was in seriously dire straits. Where I am now, having done this course, I have five sessions booked virtually back to back. I have serious inquiries coming in from people, wanting to book photo shoots with me. For the first time in a year and a half, my business is actually going somewhere. From absolutely nothing, to having five sessions booked, possibly six, depending on how the phone call goes tomorrow. 

Now I know there’s a lot of you in the group that are on the fence about whether or not you should actually do this course. There’s a lot of you who have been very shy, who haven’t commented or put yourselves out there. But you’ve been watching and observing. And you want to know if this is going to be worth it. Yes, abso-bloody-lutely, it is worth it. If it can take me from the position that I was in and put me into a position now where I have hope, where I’m actually excited to get up in the morning, where I’m so happy and so excited to talk to people. Seriously, you cannot put a price on that.

How Introverts Can Succeed in Business

You wouldn’t guess it, but I’m actually naturally very introverted. If you’d met me even last year, I don’t talk to people. I go into a panic state when I have to talk to people, I freeze up, and I don’t know what to say. My best friend of 35 years nearly collapsed the other day, because I started up a conversation with a complete stranger at the bus stop about photography and about horses.

This course can work for you the way it’s working for me. Is it a magic bullet? Is it going to cure everything? No. There is no magic bullet. You have to put the work in. You have to make that leap of faith. You have to put the work in and you have to put yourself out there. It’s definitely not easy. Sometimes it’s damn scary. But if you want it bad enough you’ll do it. 

This course is a foundation. Now, anybody who knows anything about construction knows that you cannot build a building and expect it to last without a good foundation. What this course has given me is a solid foundation upon which to build my business. Not only does Sarah give you the blueprint for the foundation, she gives you all the tools to build that foundation. She gives you her expertise and her backup, while you’re building that foundation and the support. And it gives you the confidence to go out and do it. So for those of you who are still wondering if you should do it, do it. It is worth it. You won’t regret it.

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!