Episode 173 – Can Mentoring Young People Help Grow Your Photography Business?

Can Mentoring Young People Help Grow Your Photography Business


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

When I reflected on my last week, a week jam packed with so many things, I realized my favorite thing I did all week involved a two-hour session mentoring one of my college student interns.

It got me thinking about how most photographers do not even realize how much an intern can help their business.

Today I’m going to talk about why doing this lights me up and why it gives me so much purpose.

I’m hoping it helps you see if this can help your photography business.

I’ll share with you four unexpected benefits of mentoring, how I find and attract impressive young people, even in a small city, what roles they play and how to pay them so you can create these relationships, too.

I know you’ve heard me gush on my interns in the past, and if you’re new here, both of my companies, Sarah Petty Photography and Joy of Marketing are run by women who came into my life from job shadow days.

One day they came into job shadow for a college assignment, and really that was the start of something amazing.

This summer, my companies have had two part-time college interns as well as my 20 and 22 year old daughters helping us out a bit.

It has really lit me up in so many ways to have this young energy around.

I feel like so many people helped me in my career, I just always wanted to give back.

So that’s really where this desire started.

I never thought that those people would someday run my companies and be business partners.

I just thought it’s good to see what’s out there as far as talent.

What I noticed when they came in is their stories were all the same.

They’d come in talking about how hard it is in this industry and how they couldn’t find work.

And I remember thinking, what?

We have so much business, we love what we do.

We just all felt the complete opposite.

And I still feel that way with photography.

We all have a ton of competition, but the reality is all businesses have a ton of competition.

That’s what makes it great.

You can make really good money as a photographer and be able to put your family first.

My purpose in the world is to empower people to believe in themselves.

It’s what I do in my coaching programs, on social media and in this podcast.

I’ve been a photographer for 25 years and you’d think I’d have it figured out, but the reality is that I don’t.

I have a lot to learn, and I know that I can grow from having young people around.

I love their energy and especially now with social media they have something that I don’t have.

The older I get, the more I value having these younger generations around me, especially being a high school senior photographer.

I want to stay relevant and these young people are up-to-date on trends of social media.

We’re in a creative field, so coming up with new ideas as photographers can be hard.

The cool thing is that when you’re hiring these young people, if you’re pouring goodness into them as well, the value you’re providing is so much more than just a paycheck.

If you work it right, it can be a benefit to both them and you.

I want to share four unexpected benefits of having young people in your company.

You may not be thinking that you need this right now, but put it on your radar so that when you come across a talented young person, you can figure out how you can add them into your business.

1. Energy

They’re going to keep you fresh with energy and trends when it comes to music, clothing, words, social media, and activities in your city.

That is really powerful.

I love talking to them about trends with social media.

I like to know what social media apps they are using and how they are using them.

We had a get together here for young people, and one of them was showing her friend all these Instagram plugins.

And I remember asking what she was doing.

She was helping her friend have better Instagram posts.

And we ended up hiring her and she became one of my interns who was with us for several years.

2. It forces you to be your best self around them because they’re watching

When you’re a solopreneur it’s easy to throw on a sweatshirt and slap your hair up in a ponytail and grunge through the day.

What I know is that when we have these young people around and I say, “Hey, we don’t need you to dress fancy, but we don’t have shorts or cutoffs. And you can wear tennis shoes and jeans, but we want you to look halfway professional because clients come in and we just don’t want to look ratty.”

Because I am telling them that, that means that I can’t dress that way either.

It really just helps them up their game and realize that the world cares how they present themselves, but it also helps me stay accountable to be my best self.

3. When you pour into them, it pours into you, too.

There’s a book I love called How Full Is Your Bucket?

It talks about us all having this invisible bucket hanging around our neck.

The picture of this rope with a bucket hanging in front of you, and every interaction you have with every single person every single day either fills their bucket or it takes from their bucket.

The interesting thing is when you’re filling their bucket, you’re also filling your bucket.

If you’re a jerk and you’re treating people poorly, you’re taking from their bucket, but you’re also taking from your bucket.

4. Pouring into your bucket and their bucket is getting back into the community

We took my interns to events because I wanted them to know what it was like to go to the chamber after hours.

I want them, as young people, to know how important networking is.

And how going to places where you don’t know anyone isn’t scary and that you can build relationships.

I took them to several networking events this summer and it was amazing because it got me back in the community.

Getting back into the community stirred up so many connections and really made opportunities for me.

I gave you four unexpected benefits of having interns in your company.

I know you’re probably wondering how do you find these cool young people and how do you get them to come work for you and how do you pay them?

So here’s some tips on how you can find and attract these people into your life.

1. Put your radar up for impressive young people.

I’m always looking for them.

One of my interns I found at a CEO event and one was a manager on my daughter’s volleyball team.

There’s not just one type of student I can tell you to look for, but you can get involved.

If you don’t even have any kids of your own, you can go speak to the high school yearbook group, you can go to a photography club, or you could talk to the student council.

You could talk to team captains or band boosters about fundraising efforts.

You can find leadership students in a lot of different ways.

The biggest thing is just getting involved.

2. How to get them to work for you

I approach them for a project or a job shadow day or some little thing.

First I start with a conversation and ask what they are interested in.

And if they’re like, I want to be a marine biologist, they may not be a fit.

But if I can find something that they’re interested in that I could use help in, and they’re cool and hip and fun to be around, maybe they need a part-time job.

So you might even say that you’re looking for someone who can intern part-time and ask them if they have any interest.

Have them come by and you show them some things, see if they like it, and then maybe give them a project and pay them for the afternoon.

So that brings us to how do we pay?

There are some people who have a philosophy that interns are getting paid with job experience and a resume builder, and they’re learning some skills, so we don’t pay them.

I was an intern once and I know what it’s like to be a young person and need money and have expenses and have costs and different things.

I also know that I expect my interns to produce.

So I understand that at the beginning there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve and they’re going to be a little slower at new skills, and I’m going to have to spend more time teaching them.

But I want them to get things done.

I feel like if it’s an internship that’s unpaid, it’s less fair to ask them to do “grunt work”.

Some of my best internships were where I did that grunt work to get access to be in the room when the right conversations were happening and to watch how teams are built and businesses are run.

I want to pay my interns, and I want them to also get knowledge, experience and a resume builder.

Let me give you some bullet points on what interns can do for you.

First is organization process analytics.

We have one intern this summer who got her undergrad in two years and is going back for her Masters.

She’s a thinker and she’s looking for processes to make things flow better.

In your photography business, you get a thinker and you have them help you automate.

What do we do with our clients from the first conversation through the final, the intake form where we’re filling the things out about their family, through the consultation where we find out what they like, what they don’t like, through their ordering appointment and checking off, has the order been retouched?

Has it been edited?

Has it been ordered from the lab?

Has it been packaged and framed?

All of those types of things can come from a really great intern.

Second, we have a video content type of person.

This is Sammy and the Petty girls.

We just took them to summer camp in Nashville where we had our event, and we needed content.

They’re putting stuff on our social media, which attracts more photographers, but people also see what we’re doing in our studio.

These are young, creative, hungry, curious, eager to learn humans, and it’s really cool.

We didn’t even have to talk to them about what we needed and they did amazing.

They got videos and they uploaded all day and it was fantastic.

Third, creative studio sets.

This person could also be an assistant on your sessions.

We had an intern years ago named Maggie, and oh my gosh, the things she did for us.

She painted a door for a background and it is amazing.

She made backgrounds out of tissue.

She was fun and energetic, and she would pull session ideas, posing ideas, and backdrop ideas that nobody else has.

If you find someone who’s super into fashion, they could totally do that.

Four, social media. We had Marley write social media posts for me every day.

I would make audio recordings of them, and then she would put them into words and do the posting.

She did this for several years, and she took that to college with her and did it remotely, which was fantastic.

These young people grow up with social media in their palm of their hand.

They can help you just that little bit that you need to have out there to stay really relevant in your market.

I hope this has inspired you to go out there and pour into young people.

If you’re putting your best self out there and you’re lifting them up and you’re being empowering, they will be attracted to you and want to work with you and learn from you.

Keep going, keep leading, and so many great things are going to come into your life.

Download the Episode Transcript Here

Can Mentoring Young People Help Grow Your Photography Business?
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