Episode 157 – How This Small Town Photographer Got $30K in Portrait Orders in 3 Months!!

How This Small Town Photographer Got $30K in Portrait Orders in 3 Months


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

Sarah Petty: Kristin, thank you so much for being here.

Give everybody a little bit of your backstory. 

Kristin Gowan: I first picked up a camera about nine years ago, and I officially opened my business in 2016 and I was only offering digital files. 

I was doing a lot of cheap mini sessions for $175 where you give them all the digitals and not really making any money. 

The last two years I started offering prints and a few products just because I thought there had to be more than digitals.

But, I was still offering digitals so why would they buy the print products from me?

Sarah Petty: Most people won’t buy prints or anything when you are giving them digitals.

And if we are just giving digitals, we aren’t serving our clients. 

What changed?

What happened next?

Kristin Gowan: I was scrolling on Facebook and you popped up and I’d never heard of you before.

And then just something you said, it just was like, “Okay, I need to look into this.” 

So I signed up for one of your challenges.

Sarah Petty: You did a Booking Boost challenge, which we do once a year.

Then you jumped into Boutique Breakthrough, which started just in January.

Was that a hard decision?

Kristin Gowan: It was because I normally don’t invest in myself.

It was the fear of spending that kind of money on myself and not knowing if I’m going to fail or not.

Sarah Petty: Tell me about your family at this point.

Kristin Gowan: I do have two daughters and they’ve been my muse since the beginning.

My husband was never really that supportive of my business.

He thought my photography was just a hobby.

Sarah Petty: And you were actually bringing in some money with your photography business, right?

Kristin Gowan: Yeah, on average between $30,000 and $50,000 the last couple of years.

But I didn’t have the support that I really needed. 

I was drawn to the community with you and everyone.

So that’s also one of the things that pushed me in that direction.

Sarah Petty: What did your schedule look like when you were doing all these sessions, being a mom and doing everything?

Because you did digitals, were you late at night working?

Kristin Gowan: It was pretty much every waking moment.

I was editing digital files back to back, mini session after mini session, and I just felt like I had no time and that I wasn’t making a profit to support my family. 

Sarah Petty: Crazy.

So we’re going to go through your transformation of how you went from being a digital file photographer to a boutique photographer. 

When your husband wasn’t supportive of this, how did you make that investment in yourself? 

Kristin Gowan: I paid for Boutique Breakthrough on two credit cards and I did not tell him how much the course was.

Just knowing him at the time, I knew he would have said no.

 And I needed his support and not his permission, because my goal in life is to succeed so I knew I had to take the step.

Sarah Petty: Let’s walk through this.

When you first came in the first thing you worked on was branding and style.

Was that easy for you?

Kristin Gowan: I was really fighting to stick with the name and logo that I had.

But I am so glad that I changed my business name to my actual name. 

There’s no question of who I am and it was a good decision.

Sarah Petty: Then we got into your “what and why”.

This is one of several ways we create value for your artwork. 

This creates value because we’re teaching you how to charge more, but then how do you make it worth that in people’s minds? 

One of the ways we can do that is by telling our clients why what you do is different and why you’re in business. 

How did this land with you, Kristin?

Kristin Gowan: I actually had a different “why” when I first started, and it is still my “why” now, but it wasn’t really the “why” that people needed to hear.

My real “why” is a little bit more difficult to say just with a lot of the tragedy I’ve had in my life.

But just having those images and memories up on the walls is really important when time is not guaranteed in life. 

Sarah Petty: Then we work on pricing and products.

When you learned what went into pricing and cost of sales, what went through your head?

Kristin Gowan: I was just like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m doing this. Is anyone going to actually pay me these prices?”

Sarah Petty: Talk through how you accepted those prices or did you just trust the process or what happened?

Kristin Gowan: Honestly, at that point, I was just so excited to do everything differently that I was all in.

I followed all the steps and trusted the process.

Sarah Petty: I love it.


That’s the hardest part of the course.

Now, step four is what to say on the first phone call, we call these the 7 Bs. 

This is where we do marketing.

So when you learned the 7 Bs, how did that feel for you being an introvert?

Kristin Gowan: This was probably the scariest step for me.

The first handful of calls I made, I probably sounded like a robot, honestly. 

It just didn’t really come naturally to me to talk to people, and then after a while, it just was like second nature, I guess.

Sarah Petty: Interesting.

So that was your toughest one, and I’m surprised to hear you say that too, because you’d been working with clients before.

How did you overcome that?

Kristin Gowan: With my past clients though, a lot of it was through just messaging back and forth, and I’d meet them the day of the session and then send them their digital gallery so I didn’t have too much communication with them. 

So yeah, that’s the difference now.

I ended up practicing with a few friends that I made in Boutique Breakthrough, and that was really helpful.

And just reading my seven Bs out loud to myself and actually to my kids. 

Sarah Petty: The next thing we taught you was how to go get a Julie ($1k or more client order).

It’s not just marketing, we send you out there and you go get a Julie.

You learned about eight different things.

You started doing it.

Was that scary for you?

Kristin Gowan: It was.

I ended up actually calling a bunch of my past clients because I was like, “Okay, I feel like this is a good first step.” And I just did my little robot seven Bs to them.

Sarah Petty: Oh my gosh, this is so exciting.

So you went out, you got your Julie.

How long did it take you?

Kristin Gowan: A week maybe, not even.

Sarah Petty: You did a week in Boutique Breakthrough and got a Julie!

I think you might have the record. 

So you called these people and had a pre-session planning meeting.

And how did those go?

Because you probably hadn’t done those before.

Kristin Gowan: No, I definitely have never done anything like that before this.

I was nervous but everyone was very understanding.

Sarah Petty: What opened up for you when you learned that piece?

Kristin Gowan: I’d have the conversations with my clients at that point, and I’d ask them all the different questions, so I knew exactly what they were looking for, and I felt more prepared for every single session knowing what items they were going to want.

So I would make sure to get the different images that I knew they would want.

Sarah Petty: In this session part, we have a worksheet that we have everybody fill out of what the plan is. You don’t ever just go in with, “Look at all these pretty images.” 

You have a plan.

What was the hardest part for you about the ordering appointment?

Kristin Gowan: The first few, I was definitely really nervous, and I’m sure they could tell, and I didn’t really have everything in order like I do now. 

I have a pretty clean system now that I do for everyone, but the more you do, the easier it gets.

Sarah Petty: You were still making more because your first Julie was $1,400, right?

What were you making on average before that?

Kristin Gowan: Yes.

Before, I was averaging around $300 per session.

Sarah Petty: So here you followed the system imperfectly because it was your first time, and this was a past digital file client and they invested $1,412?! 

That is so amazing.

And you sat with them and you walked them through ordering.

Was that scary?

Kristin Gowan: I know I feel confident in my work now.

You have to have confidence because they can really tell if you’re not. 

Sarah Petty: That’s amazing.

Then the last step is maximizing the order.

The order isn’t done at the in-person presentation.

How do you feel about that, Kristin?

Kristin Gowan: Yeah, I love it. And all of my clients love that I go drive to their house and I present them with their artwork, and we just go through it together and I help them hang it up on the wall, and it’s a really fun experience.

Sarah Petty: Can you share where you are between January 1st and now in revenue?

Kristin Gowan: $42,000!

Sarah Petty: WOW!

And so tell everybody what your goal is for this year.

Kristin Gowan: My minimum goal is $100,000 but I feel like I can do $200,000 now this year.

I feel like that’s possible.

Sarah Petty: Oh my gosh.

It’s so possible.

So now what does your husband say?

Kristin Gowan: He is really proud of me.

He definitely believes in me now.

My goal is to make more than him this year.

Sarah Petty: Awesome.

How do you feel about yourself as a mom, as a wife, as a business owner, how you’re showing up and how your days look as you’re showing up in them?

Kristin Gowan: I finally believe in myself.

I know that these things are actually possible. 

I feel like I’m able to spend more time with my kids, my family.

I don’t have to be as worried about my spending.

I buy what I want.

Sarah Petty: Oh, that gave me chills.

And when you were in Boutique Breakthrough, did you make some friends?

Kristin Gowan: Yeah, I made some really good friends.

The community has been amazing. 

You guys are basically my family.

I’m tearing up because I really needed the support that I have now.

Sarah Petty: I love that.

That makes me so happy because man, even when you are married and you have a family, we feel so alone when we’re entrepreneurs because people don’t understand us and what we go through. 

Kristin, I am so proud of you, and I appreciate you taking time here to come and share your story with so many people who are stuck.

You are proof that they can do it. 

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How This Small Town Photographer Got $30K in Portrait Orders in 3 Months!!
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