8 min 46 sec

Photographer Visits 30 Countries, Leading Tours & Getting Paid

After struggling to build an online following, a photographer changes course and finds the right lens.
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What It's About

A snapshot of a photographer's take on a second income stream.

Business Model
Skills Required
Photography & Communication
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

According to Darlene, you don't need to do something big, but do something! Furthermore, she says that you should take an action on whatever your idea or dream is—no matter how stupid it may feel or what others may tell you.

Fun Fact

Darlene barely traveled out of the country before she was 34. Now her side hustle allows her to travel to places like Cuba, Morocco, and India, all while getting paid. Having traveled to 30 countries and counting, Darlene is using photography to get a full snapshot of life.

Notes from Chris

Episode 741
Darlene Hildebrandt has always had a passion for photography. After graduating from a 2-year program in college, she worked with other photographers and did weddings on the side. As she gained experience, she ran a portrait photo studio before working as a rep in the industry for a company.

A few years ago, Darlene longed to make a change. She still enjoyed photography, but she wanted to teach people more. She had seen how writing could influence people and thought that a blog was the best format for her.

The first few posts she published were simple. Although she had almost 20 years of experience in photography at this point, writing about photography was a different ballgame from actually taking photos. Darlene got around this difficulty by sharing an image and how it was created. Not only did this allow her to tap into her personal experience, but it also helped her build a connection with her reads by sharing her views on the subject.

She was also teaching locally, and from those classes, she got a better sense about the type of issues that beginners often struggled with. These classes thus became a source in which Darlene got her ideas from as she targeted beginners and wrote guides that would benefit them the most. The explanations in these posts were then tested in her classroom, and when Darlene saw the “aha” moment on the faces of her students, she knew that she had hit on something.

But to turn her blog, Digital Photo Mentor, into a go-to photography resource on the web, Darlene knew that she needed to do more. She had gone around learning about the best way to build her blog, and one of the methods she had learned was guest blogging. Guest blogging was a way in which a blogger would write a guest post on another site, with links directing readers on that site back to the blogger’s own blog.

This had a huge impact on Darlene’s web traffic and email list as she was put in front of a large audience with the same demographic and target that she wanted to reach. Her email list began to grow by over 1,000 members a month, with one article, in particular, going viral and netting her 1,200 signups in a single day. By the end of that year, she had 9,500 email subscribers, with this number more than doubling to over 20,000 the following year.

Today, Digital Photo Mentor has over 150,000 monthly visitors and a highly engaged email list of over 20,000 subscribers. Aside from the digital course and products that Darlene sells on the sites, Darlene has also been able to offer unique experiences with worldwide photography tours. With locations such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Morocco, there’s rarely a dull moment when Darlene. This is one of the reasons that in 2018 she decided to go full-time and all-in on her blog.

From the tours to product sales to a whole series of new opportunities, the website and community has given her a complete snapshot of life.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Build a team of supporters. If your partner is not your biggest fan, find an online community of entrepreneurs that are trying to do the same thing."
—Darlene Hildebrandt #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau