What It's About
A single mom and former banker reinvents herself with a photographic focus.
Words of Wisdom
Taking time to think about pricing and goal setting is extremely valuable. Here's what Tanya suggests: "Do your numbers! You don't have to do a crazy complicated spreadsheet, but have some goals as to what you want to make and how you will get there."
As a firm believer that she didn’t need to heavily invest in her studio props and furniture, Tanya has gotten creative over the years. Recently, she found a pair of Victoria’s Secret angel-esque wings that she wanted ... for $3,000! Instead, she went back to her DIY roots, ordering $500 worth of ostrich feathers from Amazon and making them herself.
Notes from Chris
Episode 1035Tanya Smith found her side hustle as a boudoir photographer in the midst of a divorce. Prior to having children, she worked in the corporate banking world. While this gave her stability, it also stripped her of the freedom she wanted when it came to being there for her kids. When she quit her job to raise her children, she pursued art in a few different mediums. As a mixed media artist selling paintings at art shows, she began playing around with the DSLR camera she had bought after the birth of her first child. She would take photos of anything she could, and sell prints alongside her paintings. For years, she combined these two passions as both a hobby and a way to make extra money. Finding herself newly separated after 20 years of marriage and two kids, Tanya felt lost. As a woman, she had struggled being able to view herself as anything other than a mother. With her pending divorce, she was pushed into a new life chapter that required her to find a way to support herself… and she didn’t want to go back to banking. The first inspiration was personal. Stumbling upon an ad for boudoir photos, she was intrigued. She said yes because she thought it was something that could be good for her while she transitioned to a new time of life. She walked away from her session with a renewed sense of confidence. Tanya quickly saw the opportunities waiting in boudoir photography as a business. She already had the characteristics that would make someone want to hire her: she was trustworthy, knew her way around a camera, and was able to put herself in the shoes of her ideal clients. Since she already had a camera and would only shoot “on location,” meaning either in her clients’ homes or in her own bedroom, it didn’t take much to begin. She committed to keeping her initial investments to a bare minimum, only spending money on things she absolutely needed. Her marketing plan was low-maintenance, including a Facebook business page and a free website (tanyalsmith.com). Tanya did her first three shoots for free before deciding on a price—though one chosen arbitrarily. Her first real client paid her $382, a price she was over the moon about. In fact, she went home and cried out of happiness. She went back to her experience in corporate banking and began crunching numbers, to figure out how much she would need to make this side hustle profitable. She decided how much she wanted to work each week and how many weeks she wanted to work per year. Then, she came up with how much money she needed to net each year, giving her the average sale per client that she would need. With those numbers, she knew how many photoshoots she would need to book, helping her create packages at various tiers. She made her target average sale her middle, and most attractive package. Having these packages in place, her three-year side hustle became her full-time job. Today, Tanya’s business is bringing in a profit in the mid-six-figures. With her average sale being $5,000, she’s able to work less than ever while making more than ever. Her pricing reflects the luxury experience she gives women—including a styling consultation, use of her studio and wardrobe, in-house hair and makeup, and an in-person sales session. Though none of this happened overnight, she’s proud to look back on how far she has come. What’s next for Tanya? Helping photographers like her who are dreaming big on their side hustles. With an educational course and podcast, she’ll be teaching students the exact way she built this business for herself. Her journey taught her a lot at a slow and steady pace. With her own course, she’s hoping to help others take the quicker route to success.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- tanyalsmith.com: Learn more about Tanya and her boudoir photgraphy at her website and follow her on Instagram.
- Free profit calculator for photographers: Tanya provided this free calculator for photographers to figure out what they need their average sale to be to be profitable. (please note an email sign-up is required to accees the calculator)
- The Craigslist Wedding Photographer: A California government employee becomes a part-time wedding photographer by posting an ad on Craigslist.
- Brooklyn Photographer Gets Paid to Throw Confetti at People: A former graphic designer turns a personal thirty-day challenge into a growing photography brand.
- Famous iPhone Photo Leads to Series of Online Courses: A 365-day photo project transitions to a hustle teaching small business owners how to create videos using their smartphones.
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