Episode 40: How Allison Rebuilt Her Photography Business After Losing 75% of Her Clients

Episode 40: How Allison Rebuilt Her Photography Business After Losing 75% of Her Clients


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

When Allison Gallagher made the switch from selling digital files into a boutique photography business, she lost 75% of her clients and the rejection and self-doubt floodgates swung open.

She wanted so badly to be a good example to her 9-year old daughter as a business owner and felt like she was failing at that.

Over the last 3 years, Alison and I have been on a rollercoaster together.

In this conversation, we’ll chat about how she pushed through all the no’s and opened her boutique photography business and how her relationship with her daughter has blossomed along with her income.

Meet my student, Allison Gallagher.

Running a Boutique Photography Business When You Have a Young Daughter 

“I am held accountable every day by my daughter because I look at myself and my business through her eyes.

My goal is to show her that she can do hard things.

Being an entrepreneur is not the easier road, but it’s the most fulfilling, challenging and rewarding, and I want to teach her that..

On the days I don’t want to get out of bed, I think about her and how she watches every move I make.

I tell her,

“Honey, I’m nervous today. I have an appointment while you’re at school, wish me luck. When you get home, I’ll tell you how I did.”

Then, she gets home and asks,

“Mommy how did you do?”

I tell her,

“It went well,” or, “I made a mistake, but I learned from it and am stronger now.”

What Life Looked Like As a Shoot and Burn Photographer

When I was a shoot and burn photographer, I was successful, but I felt unfulfilled, lost, and empty.

I knew I was made for bigger things, but I didn’t know what they were.

My business was grossing over $100,000 and had clients that loved me.

I loved what I was doing, but I had an emptiness in me.

My camera owned me and I was a slave to it, shooting three to five sessions a week.

I was burned out.

There is no longevity to shoot and burn photography.

My intuition told me that there was something bigger that I could do with my life.

There is a quote by Jim Carey that says,

“Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you; it’s opening a door in your head, and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it”

When I discovered the boutique business model, I knew it was my door to something bigger.

I was scared to death, but I transitioned my business anyway.

When I called my old clients to tell them about my new business model, 95% of them did not come back to me.

Even though I lost almost all my clients, my gut was screaming at me to keep going.

I had one client at the time who transitioned with me.

When she saw the beautiful canvas I provided for her, she hugged me in a way that she never had before.

About two weeks later, I had someone book me for their session.

I took them through the whole process, and they cried when I showed them the artwork.

They loved and gushed on me.

I felt so fulfilled.

Getting Through the Hard Days Without Reverting Back To Shoot and Burn

2019 was a hard year for me and my business.

I read ten books during this time and I would cling to the words I was reading.

To keep moving forward, I knew that the only way through is through.

My boutique photography business coaching group helped me a ton because they showed me that I am worthy of success.

Living With the Boutique Mindset

My husband has noticed a huge change in me, and he has changed as well.

He loves the role model that I am for our daughter.

It is such a comfort for him that she looks up to someone who is willing to take risks to live the life they dream of.

My role in the family has also changed.

I can pay for our vacations and for my daughter’s private school.

We’re hitting home that family is first and It feels amazing.

Making More Money With Fewer Clients

At the end of my first year as a boutique photographer, my gross pay was almost the same as in years past, but I had half the clients.

In 2015 and 2016, I was shooting around 120 sessions.

In 2019, I shot less than sixty sessions and I made about the same amount of money. It blew my mind because I felt like I was hardly working.

When my desk got quiet, I thought, ‘I’m going out of business.’

I brought my numbers to my finance guide and he said,

“This is spectacular.”

I couldn’t believe he used that word.

I thought I was going out of business because I had so few clients, when in reality I was reaping the benefits of the boutique business model: having free time.

My daughter saw me spread myself too thin when I was a shoot and burn photographer.

That’s not what I want to think an entrepreneur is.

I want her to see a work-life balance and lots of family time.

I don’t want her to be a slave to a computer screen.

That’s not living.

The Future of My Boutique Photography Business

I see myself financing our family vacations, doing some upgrades to my studio, and becoming more involved in my community.

One goal of mine is to start a foundation in my father’s name.

Going into every challenge with joy is a priority.

I always want to keep growing and being challenged.

Only the Univerise knows the challenges that will arise, but I know that they are tangible and possible.”

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline

Resources mentioned:



February 23-25, 2021

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