“I only work 4 hours a day”
In 2008, I started working as a photographer from my dorm room. My goal was to become a professional photographer. It wasn’t easy, especially in the midst of a recession, but I’m glad I never gave up.
Today, at 35, I am a millionaire and am in wedding photography and the education business. Caitlin James Photography. Together with my husband Michael, who joined us as CFO in 2013, we have helped over 100,000 people learn about photography.
In 2022, we generated $240,000 in revenue per month, 80% of which I returned to the business. Approximately $230,000 of our monthly income is passive income from online courses and learning materials.
Now I only work four hours a day and shoot about four weddings a year.
$750 to $160,000 in one day
My first year on the job, I was a full-time college student, but I still worked 40 or more hours a week.
My rates started low: $750 for six hours of photography and editing. As my skills improved, I started taking more. By 2013, I was making six figures.
I was lucky to have a wonderful mentor, Jasmine Star, who photographed my own wedding. I also took several online courses, attended workshops, and took on projects for free to build my portfolio.
But there wasn’t that much photography training available, so I started sharing tips on blog. About eight years later, I realized that teaching photography online could be a scalable business.
Through word of mouth and a constant presence on social media, I grew an email list of 7,600 photographers who wanted to learn from me. All the while, I’ve been designing diagrams, designing a workbook using Adobe InDesign, and recording and editing course content with the help of a videographer friend.
In November 2015 Michael and I launched our first online training program to teach photographers how to edit and streamline their workflow. The course cost $397, which was much more affordable than a semester of photography classes in college.
Our goal was $15,000 in total sales. But on the first day, thanks to the trust we have earned from our clients over time, we made over $160,000.
Bridging the Photography Knowledge Gap
The success of my first course showed me that there is more value in making photography education affordable than just shooting weddings and constantly raising prices.
We’ve created over a dozen downloadable courses, e-books, and templates for a variety of photography skills. Our resources are based on questions submitted by our online community of over 70,000 people and cover topics like couple posing and natural light photography.
We also have a membership product, KJ Full Access. For $29 a month, photographers of all experience levels can follow me as I shoot events and deal with all sorts of unpredictable situations like getting wedding dresses in the mud or weather delays.
New videos are shot by my videographer, edited by me and released every month. Members also have access to a library of past videos.
Our goal is to change people’s lives
I love my job. Taking complete control of our schedule has allowed my husband and I to spend more time with our three children and work on projects that we love.
This year we co-founded a school for entrepreneurial families called Acton Academy West End. We are focused on equipping kids ages five to eight with the tools to enable them to discover their unique passions through hands-on activities.
Whether we’re creating tools that teach photographers how to build a career by supporting their family, capturing wedding moments, recording podcasts, or simply sharing the ups and downs of our daily lives on social media, we want our lives and our businesses to change lives.
Caitlin Alsop is a business coach and founder Caitlin James Photography. Over 100,000 students around the world have used her platforms to learn about photography and entrepreneurship. She is also a co-founder Acton Academy West End. Follow her on facebook, Instagram And Youtubee.
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