07 Sep Sweet Shots: Give Teaching a Try!, by Amy Tripple of Amy Tripple Photography
Six-and-a-half years ago on a cold, snowy January afternoon, my husband and I found ourselves sitting and staring at each other across the kitchen table. Unfortunately, we weren’t staring at each other with stars in our eyes. Instead, we were filled with anxiety about how we’d ever create a sustainable, livable balance in our photography business.
We’d taken the business from a part-time hobby to a full-time, sole income business about year prior to this moment; those twelve months had been, hands-down, the most trying and exhausting years we’d ever experienced. Low session prices led to long weekends of shooting and late nights of editing; any family or free time we’d previously had disappeared into the black hole of the photography hustle.
That cold January afternoon, Jonathan and I decided that somehow, someway, we would turn the tide. Seventy hour work weeks were not going to be the norm for our family. Though raising session prices seemed like the most logical answer, we had a reasonable fear that doubling our prices would put us in danger of losing too many clients in too little time… a risk our family couldn’t afford to take in that season of life.
I brought up the idea of teaching DSLR classes to parents, an idea we’d entertained a number of times before but dismissed for a long list of reasons. We decided to list out all the risks and benefits of teaching these kinds of classes to our clients.
We felt there were to big risks to offering classes. First… what if our clients stopped coming to us because they knew how to take their own beautiful pictures? Second… would our class participants learn enough to become photographers themselves and create local competition?
There were also quite a few benefits that we could foresee, the biggest of which was an opportunity to bring in some extra income and lessen my session load.
We decided to go for it.
I put my first “Sweet Shots” curriculum together and announced the class on my blog and Facebook page. It filled up within an hour. We quickly opened up a second class, which was full by the end of that night. We limited the class sizes to 12 participants and charged $99 for each 2 hour class.
It was such a great experience that we decided to keep offering them… first quarterly, then monthly, then every other week! As the classes grew in popularity, we saw quite a few unexpected results that gave our business the boost it had been needing.
The demand for photo sessions skyrocketed because I was able to connect personally with so many parents in our area through our classes. Surprisingly, we found that the classes led to more, not fewer, bookings! The increase in demand led to (you guessed it) an opportunity to raise our session prices to be more sustainable.
The classes themselves brought in a fair amount of extra income, but they brought so much more than that! Paired with raised session prices, my schedule eased up considerably… and suddenly I was down to the 40 hour work week I dreamed of. The classes led to a number of other fun avenues in our business as well, including one-on-one mentoring, photographer workshops, and opportunities to partner with local fundraising efforts by offering classes pro-bono.
Six years later, I’m amazed by the fact that we’ve taught our Sweet Shots classes to nearly 2,000 students, and I love teaching more than ever! And yes, a good handful of parents have become photographers after taking our classes, but they have become both friends and allies in the industry, and our bookings never suffered as a result.
As someone who’s been down the road already, I love to encourage other photographers to give teaching parent DSLR classes a try! Remember… you’re the expert. Your clients are dying to know about photography… and they’re just waiting to learn it from you!