Business + Marketing

How to Pivot Your Photo Brand Towards a Second Revenue Stream

April 20, 2020

By Julia Kelleher

Julia Kelleher helps photographers pivot their business
Portrait photographer and creative business educator, Julia Kelleher.
Courtesy of Julia Kelleher

It’s so easy to fall into the “I’ll go back to work when this is over” trap. I’ve been on the motivation struggle bus all weekend, and it’s hard to get back into “think outside the box” mode when you’re tired, burnt out on staying home and negative Nancy keeps pulling all-nighters in your head.

I get it. But you know what that means? You’re working from the past. You’re stuck in pre-coronoa-ville and it’s not helping you kick this virus to the curb. It’s not helping you think ahead. It’s keeping you firmly planted in the frozen tundra of arctic wasteland. And waste away you will if you don’t start thinking differently.

“Great Julia. But how do I do that?” said every photographer out there.

Start working from POSSIBILITY instead. What does this mean? It means stepping back and looking at the big picture. It means thinking like a marketer, product innovator and researcher all at the same time. It means seeing opportunity where there never was a shot before. Mother Nature has put some pretty hefty parameters on you at the moment. You can’t leave your house. You can’t meet with clients in person. BUT, not all is lost. You have your camera and the internet. Two very powerful tools. You have your skillset in Photoshop. You have a creative brain. And most importantly, you still have the ability to communicate.

1. What does the market need right now?

So ask yourself, what are your ideal clients doing right now? What are their pain points? What’s keeping them up at night and how can you help? One of my online mastermind students came up with the creative idea of photoshopping her clients kids into Easter backgrounds. She bought Easter backgrounds on Creative Market and then asked her clients to take photos of their kids in certain lighting conditions. Then, she photoshopped the kids into the backgrounds, charging $29 a piece. She sold 86 in one day! Were they works of art? Probably not. But the parents freaked with excitement, and were so grateful. The photographer made $2,500 in one day with a last minute idea that had barely any prep just by pivoting her mindset. Mother’s day is coming up. Did this spark an idea? A possibility?

And what about other clients? Clients who may not, in the past, have been your ideal? Are you a portrait photographer who can help out the commercial world right now? Can you ask vendors to send you products you can shoot for them? What a great time for companies to be creating their online catalogs, and for restaurants to be pushing take out. And you can be there to help them, without even leaving your home. Shoot a fork, knife and a cute folded napkin on your dinner table. Write a charming message on a plate and make take out easy and ideal for stuck-at-home families. Restaurants will think you’ve saved them, and be forever in your debt. Gee, do I smell a future commercial client in your roster?

2. What skillset can you use to pivot your business into a second stream of revenue?

Let’s list your skills:

  • Graphic design
  • Photography – all genres 
  • Creativity & it’s journey
  • Website design – WordPress, Showit, Squarespace etc.
  • Online marketing
  • Social media skills
  • Zoom, Webex 
  • Collateral printing/design
  • Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • Camera skills
  • Video production & editing
  • Image/media printing
  • Communication skills
  • Email list – all things
  • Quickbooks, 17hats, Dubsado, etc
  • Business workflow

What an amazing list of skills you all have!!! And I know I’ve missed some! How can you help folks outside of the photography industry to do these things? To use these things? To help their own customers with these things?

Everyone is pivoting. And they need you:

  • Small businesses (brick and mortar)  are shifting to online models. They need help figuring out how.
  •  Service-oriented businesses that communicate with clients personally need help. 
  • Moms are looking to move their crafting hobbies online to make extra money for their families. 
  • Laid off workers or furloughed employees need resumes and skills improved.
  • Folks need websites to market their skills/businesses.
  • Email lists need warming up and life injected into them.
  • People need help knowing what equipment to get to do video for their business.  
  • Folks are considering career changes. What can you do to help them?

The ideas are endless and magnificent! There is literally an entirely new market that is opening up. Get in there. Start helping and growing YOUR second stream of revenue.

3. How will you execute?

There are plenty of businesses out there who happen to have a model that is thriving right now. Why can’t you partner with them to help their customers? So many businesses need help understanding video production because their businesses are now moving online. Partner with a landing page site, or a CRM, or online marketing education company.

Think about small businesses in your area that ARE essential and are still working, probably busting at the seams. What can you do to help their target customer?

Or do it yourself! Create an online course of video and product shooting for small business. Market it on Facebook and watch your secondary income stream soar. Create a course on designing marketing images in Photoshop and sell it to local small business owners. Build a service to help businesses update and maintain their email lists, and keep up with mass communication to their clients. Create a template product you can sell as digital download to your own clients. Can you make a coloring book page out of your clients images for their kids to color while at home? The Topaz Photo Effects Lab is awesome for this. And even if you decide not to sell this kind of thing, set it up as a free download when someone signs up for your email list— it’s a great way to build a list and market when the stay-at-home order lifts.

A second stream of revenue could be your saving grace right now, and thinking through what the world needs and how you can serve them will help. I call that revenue #bingmoney because it bings your email inbox with a glorious sound, the sound of cash hitting your bank account.

But most important, this shift changes your mindset—teaching you to stop working from the past and start working from possibility. What possibilities are out there for you? And how will you grab hold of them? You have the chance to leap ahead of what others are doing, simply by asking what’s possible.

Julia Kelleher is a Nikon Ambassador, WPPI speaker, international award-winning portrait photographer and creative business educator in Bend, OR. She is the originator/creator of the 5 Carat Collective, an innovative, online business mastermind membership for photographers.,