Episode 152 – How An Early Childhood Educator Replaced Her Income with Photography

How An Early Childhood Educator Replaced Her Income with Photography


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

When Wisconsin photographer, Shalicia Johnson, started her photography business, the preschool educator planned to just make a little extra money on the side.

Now, a few short years later, Shalicia has surpassed her educator salary with income from her boutique photography business.

She has raised thousands of dollars for her favorite charity and even has plans to walk away from her day job!!

Voted by the members of our Peak Performance coaching community as Member of the Year, here is Shalicia Johnson’s story.

Sarah Petty:

Shalicia, I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I knew who was getting this award.

We have a really close-knit community of photographers who take care of each other.

We lift as we climb, we love each other, and we cheer for people.

And there are some people who just raised the bar there… and Shalicia is one of them.

You are an example of what our community stands for.

So thank you for being here and sharing your story because it’s going to help so many people.

Introduce yourself to people who don’t know you and share a little bit about your backstory and how photography fits into your life.

Shalicia Johnson:

I have been an early childhood educator for 28 years.

I always thought I was going to retire as an early childhood educator!

But I’ve also always loved photography…

My first camera was not mine, it was my mom’s Kodak Instamatic.

It had a flash cube on it and I pretty much never put it down.

So I started blending the two things and doing photography in my classroom.

I became our school’s photographer for events!

In 2017, I was ready to start my own photography business but had no idea what I was doing.

I just thought it could earn me some extra income…. and that’s not the story now.

Sarah Petty:

I think a lot of people do this for a little extra money that eases their life.

And there is a place for that.

The challenge comes in when you start growing.

You’re working all the time, editing, and retouching, and you just feel out of alignment.

Shalicia Johnson:

It was harder than it seemed because I would come home from work, and then work at night and on the weekends on my photography business when I should have been resting.

I thought that was just the only way to do it because I didn’t know any better.

And then a friend of mine found you, Sarah.

I was like, “Who is this magical creature that I’ve never heard of in my life?” You changed my life, Sarah.

I took a program with you and I needed more, and more, and more.

Because I did not know that there was another way to do business and another way to be successful.

I jumped in with both feet in 2020 and here I am with you.

You showed me a different way.

Sarah Petty:

When you actually learned about the Boutique model, what made you think this could be a viable career?

Shalicia Johnson:

I started with a free challenge and of course, you were dropping nuggets and I was questioning what I was doing the last three years.

I just knew this was my path.

This is how my business is going to grow.

Sarah Petty:

I’ve loved watching you implement.

Talk about your journey a little bit because a lot of people get into our first course, and it’s intense.

You had to learn pricing, you had to talk to people, and you had to see what marketing was.

What was the hardest and what was the easiest for you in that process?

Shalicia Johnson:

The hardest for me was fitting in the lessons, because I was working all day.

I felt behind.

But you structured the course in a way that everyone can go at their own pace.

I was a person who took my time with it, because I had to honor the work and honor the clients that I was working with.

I also remember you telling me that I needed to turn conversations into clients.

Sarah Petty:

You have a personality type that just can talk to anybody!!

And you were creating all these relationships and I remember having that moment when I told you that it’s time to start turning this into business.

Do you remember your first situation where you were like, “Okay, I’m going to do this,”?

Was that scary, or what do you remember about that?

Shalicia Johnson:

It was scary, but it was exciting because it was something new.

I don’t like to do things until I know how to do them.

I learn by watching.

But I just got inspired by people in my program, like Mr. Darren Elias.

And then, finally, I got a gigantic order and my mind was blown.

I thought, if I can do this once, then I can do this again.

It’s just been exciting.

And I felt so wholly and completely that I was in the right place.

Sarah Petty:

As you got your “Julies” (a $1k or more client order), how did you feel differently about yourself and how you were serving your clients?

Talk about that internal conversation.

What came up for you as you were getting a huge order?

Shalicia Johnson:

Just from stuff in my childhood.

I didn’t feel capable.

I think at some points I didn’t feel worthy.

And I never in a million years would’ve called myself an entrepreneur.

But now your program has turned me into this capable, confident, just amazing human!!

I did that with your support and the program that you’ve worked 25 years to build.

And, I did it with our back-pocket community support.

I feel more confident in myself and my abilities.

I don’t feel guilty or bad when I find a right-fit client because I know that I’m serving them and I care about them.

My relationship with my clients is built on trust and on friendship.

I have clients who are probably going to be lifelong friends now.

I don’t feel like I sold them something, because I gave them an experience that they wanted and I handed them a piece of them that they will forever cherish.

I’m very, very proud of the work that I do.

Sarah Petty:

What I love about coaching and building this program is it’s kind of like when we’re photographing high school seniors and they come in all shy and nervous, but by the end of the session, we’ve built them up.

And watching you and coaching you is what brings me so much joy.

To see someone step into their greatness is what makes me feel so great.

Would you talk about how you’re showing up as a leader in your community?

Shalicia Johnson:

I did that because of your leadership.

I know that you believe that doing well in our business means we can do good in the world.

You’ve given me the tools to be able to raise a lot of money for charities and I love giving back.

It makes me feel whole and it fills my soul.

I’ve been able to help so many organizations through my work.

The grand total that I have raised for charities since 2021 is $12,350 because I’ve taken what you’ve taught me, and I’ve run with it.

I don’t know how I could have done that before.

You’ve given me the tools to really step up and show my community that I care about them.

Sarah Petty:

And you got featured in the newspaper and on the news!!

What is your vision now for the future?

Shalicia Johnson:

My vision now is before May 1st, I said I’m going to be leaving my full-time job, and I am going to be running my photography business full-time using the skills that you taught me.

I’m leaning on my back pocket for support when I make this scary, scary leap to work for myself full-time.

I’m nervous, but I know I can do it.

So I’m taking a leap of faith.

I am excited for what’s to come, and I never, ever, ever would’ve been in the position I am now if I hadn’t found your program and leaped in.

I put the skills to work, put my training to work, and leaned on my community.

I never would’ve done that if I hadn’t found you, Sarah.

So I love you and I appreciate you so much.

And I tell everybody, you’ve changed my life and I cannot ever repay you for that.

Sarah Petty:

Shalicia, I love you so much.

You want to give credit to everyone else, and I love that.

But also, I just want to celebrate you because your awesome self is out here lifting everyone else up.

This is what makes my career, and what I’m doing with my life so worthwhile to me.

Download the Episode Transcript Here 

How An Early Childhood Educator Replaced Her Income with Photography
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