Episode 146 – How to Balance a Growing Photography Studio with a Desire for More Family Travel

How to Balance a Growing Photography Studio with a Desire for More Family Travel


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

How do you juggle a growing photography studio and a desire to travel more with your family?

Chianne Coffman, my student and social media and design coach in the Peak Performance coaching program, cracked the code. 

She designed her boutique life to include road trips with her two kids WHILE continuing to photograph clients in her growing photography business… And did over six figures!!!

So today we’re chatting about how to build a boutique photography business that fits your desire to do more with your family WITHOUT having to work more or give up on your business goals.

Sarah Petty: I am so glad you are here, Chianne.

What I love about you is you’re not just doing it, you’re crushing it.

And you have your priorities straight with your family first, which we’re going to get into.

First, I want to start with where you were when we met.

You were a talented photographer and graphic designer, so your work and ideas were beautiful.

I remember you did a program of ours and you said you had this sofa made out of live moss that you made for a client and they didn’t show!!

I couldn’t believe it.

Do you remember what that was like when you did all that work for that client and they didn’t show?

Chianne Coffman: Yes, I remember that very well.

That was back in the day before I really put a value on the work that I was creating.

I was creating beautiful things but had no idea that anyone would ever pay me money for them!!

It wasn’t until I got educated on my own worth and started believing in myself, that things really changed my business.

Sarah Petty: You mentioned before that you realized that’s not a way to build a business… you were missing something.

And once you had a whole system, you could fill those little holes in.

So tell us your story, where you were, and how things changed for you.

Chianne Coffman: I come from a background of always wanting to create something new.

So that is woven into everything that I do, whether it’s with my family or with my business.

It wasn’t until I got my first “Julie” that I realized people would pay me for that talent and I started putting a value on myself as an artist.

I started using words like, “I’m an artist and I’m creating artwork,” and the language was being reverted back to me by my clients.

They started talking about the artwork that I created.

That little education was a real confidence booster for me and in saying my prices.

I ended up signing up for your program, Boutique Breakthrough, even though I didn’t have enough in my business account to cover the cost of the class.

I just knew this was the magic missing key.

That 30 days was all the hard work I needed to really push myself to my full potential.

It really changed the course of how I was thinking about where I was going with my business and how I could start the business that I always wanted. 

Sarah Petty: And you’ve just taken off and you hit six figures quickly!!

Now, you are a coach in our program, and it’s been so fun to watch you grow.

But I think what intrigues me about you is that while you had insecurities and doubts, like everyone else, you followed the system anyway.

And now you have no problem with what you’re charging.

Chianne Coffman: I think the more I found confidence in myself, the less I attracted the wrong client.

I love building relationships with people and was doing that prior to Boutique Breakthrough, but those relationships had not even been tapped into with the knowledge that I had after the program.

Over the last three years, I actually went from a $20,000 annual salary to $50,000 to $112,000 to $206,000.

Doubling your business that many years in a row was quite amazing.

Sarah Petty: One of the things that I think you’re really good at is the seven Bs of the first conversation.

We teach the 7 Bs in Boutique Breakthrough and it helps systematize the things to do in that first phone call.

Step four is creating value and step five is price.

You were quick to learn the lesson but it was like you just wanted to get through them.

Because then you got to the presentation and you were disappointed with the order.

You looked back and you said you should have been better about the first conversation and making sure the client really understood what they were investing in.

And now you’re leading the charge.

Do you remember that conversation and how that affected you?

Chianne Coffman: Yes. That was a lesson, again, where you grow through what you go through, you have to fail.

I had to pick myself up off the floor and dry my eyes and go find the next client.

I think in my whole three years of doing your program, I’ve had that happen to me maybe three times.

And those were all during the very beginning.

That doesn’t happen to me anymore because I’m very upfront and I want my clients to trust me.

Sarah Petty: Yeah, you don’t need to trick them or hide prices.

What are your goals in your life with your family and with your clients now?

Chianne Coffman: So 2021 ended with over $200,000 for the year and I was exhausted.

I looked at my portfolio and I realized I did 35 really low sales in headshots.

It’s just time-consuming and I’m still having to serve those people at very high levels but they’re capped out at a certain amount with the sale.

So I pivoted away from that and started putting “X” amount of time into families and the people who would continue coming back for more things over the years.

That was a change in my business that helped me free up a lot of time.

Because of that, my average sales per order skyrocketed because I didn’t have these low numbers lowering my averages.

Now I spend a full year with a family.

I’m invested in them.

I go to their house and help them pick wardrobes or go shopping for them.

That’s part of this high service that I love!

Because I serve a minimal amount of clients a year, I’m able to really serve them hard and that keeps them coming back. 

Every about three years, I get this rotation.

As I keep building those clients and keep attracting the right clients.

That rotation will be a well-oiled machine that allows me to spend time with my family and growing kids.

To me, it is the most rewarding and the biggest lesson.

Sarah Petty: Talk to me about your kids.

Chianne Coffman: I have a 13-year-old son who is really competitive in baseball.

This last year I took a month off and we got in our RV and we went to Cooperstown, New York. 

He got to play in the 12U tournament there, which is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

I was able to spend a whole month on the road.

And I think that that is where you truly find freedom as a small business owner when you can design a business that serves the people that you love most in this world first, family first.

I also have a seven-year-old daughter who is all about road trips because she gets us one-on-one.

We’re not busy on our phones or with work, we’re just being a family.

Recently we took a month off and we went through the southwest.

The coolest part about this is that my clients are all for it.

They’re like, “Yeah, that’s so cool that you get to take these vacations and go. I don’t even want to put anything more on your plate. Let’s do my framing appointment when you get back. I want to hear all about your trip. We’ll have coffee, we’ll catch up on things.”

Sarah Petty: I love that.

You’re really great at relationships in your community.

So what’s the next step for Chianne Coffman?

Chianne Coffman: I actually am working on forming my own charity called Glow Getters.

It’s a tween empowerment charity program, but it will also one day be for women as well.

So through the power of photography and design, I’m able to really boost the confidence of young girls in my community so far up to this point. 

I have funded it personally through my own business every year.

And it’s growing to be such a big thing that I really needed to pivot it into a nonprofit so that I can serve more girls in my community over the years. 

I love this program, it’s really my passion.

I’ve met so many amazing young girls and it’s been a great way to position myself as a leader in my community. 

It’s also been a good way to position myself as a generous business owner because I am willing to give back to young girls.

So that’s what’s happening this year and I’m really excited.

Sarah Petty:  Yeah, I think everybody really needs empowerment.

Words are so powerful and having someone pouring into the next generation is so important.

I love that, Chianne.

Thank you for coming and sharing your story.

Download the Episode Transcript Here

How to Balance a Growing Photography Studio with a Desire for More Family Travel
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