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💡How long does it take to become a full-time photographer? Jenn Bruno Smith and Humberto Garcia from The High Rollers Club share their insights for making the transition, how long it’ll take, and the good news for anyone hoping to make the switch.
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About Jenn Bruno Smith:
After leaving a successful career as a speech pathologist and clinical liaison, Jenn moved into pursuing her business full time. She has been shooting boudoir exclusively for 4 years and teaching marketing and business to the photography industry for the last two.
Jenn is a featured educator in the Do More Forum and AIBP. She is a guest blogger for Skip Cohen University and her work has been featured on Fstoppers. Jenn enjoys mentoring other photographers and teaching them her ninja business ways. She also enjoys spending time with her family and three small children, as well as sleeping (when she finds the time).
You can catch up with Jenn in her group The High Rollers Club- IPS, Business and Marketing for Boudoir photographers
About the Interviewer Humberto Garcia:
Humberto Garcia is the world’s leading photography business growth expert.
Founder of Photography to Profits and high-performance coach to multiple 6-figure photography businesses. Humberto coaches photographers from his special operations military experience and photography sales and marketing experience. After years of high performance in Marine Special Operations and building businesses, he knows what works.
Humberto Garcia: [00:00:03] So today we are going to be talking about how long does it actually take to start a successful photography business?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:11] How do you know when you made it? And I’m here with Jenn Bruno Smith.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:21] Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s one that I get asked a lot. A lot of people are always wondering when is it time to leave your day job? And the short answer is it’s time to leave your day job when you’re losing money working it. That’s what I always tell students, because, you know, if you’re not booked out or you’re not solidly working and you put your day job too soon, it can really put you in a financial predicament. Right. So it’s important that you’re planning and that you’re established.
Humberto Garcia: [00:00:52] Yeah. And I think there’s also a much bigger cost. Right. Like, it’s not just the cost right now, but like if somebody is going to have the potential of making multiple six figures in the future like that. You also have to kind of weigh that against like your future earning potential. And I was actually talking to somebody the other day, one of our members that actually went through our program. And they may have jumped a little bit earlier, like earlier than you suggest. Right. Like having enough savings and having an alliance with them. But she was basically, you know when she was able to, like leave that job and start working full time in it and playing all her efforts, she got even more. So then like she actually did reach that.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:01:33] Right. Right. Yeah. When I was doing my full-time job. So the year I quit my full-time job well, the last year I was at my full-time job, my photography revenue was two eighty and my Full-Time job paid me about 90. And when I left my full-time job the following year, my studio revenue was five twenty-five. So I actually doubled my studio revenue by leaving the Full-Time job. So yeah, I mean there are definitely benefits.
Humberto Garcia: [00:02:01] Do you think you could have done that like still being at that full-time job or could have gone now?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:02:07] Because I needed the time and the reason I was losing money working my day job was that I couldn’t take shoots. And as soon as I left my day job, I was able to fill those days with more suits. If I was still in it, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
Humberto Garcia: [00:02:21] So I’m going to ask because I know when I left the military, I had to replace about. And I lived like super cheaply. So let’s just say somebody has like two thousand hours rent. They have some bills, maybe a small car payment. And they basically need a clear like four thousand dollars after expenses and everything, like take home like my number. Do you think they actually have to get to and like how long would it take to get there if they were starting from scratch and you knew like, you know what you mean?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:02:49] So I really. So I’m a big believer in data and metrics and, you know, planning ahead. And personally, I know what my sales average is to the dollar. I’m always pretty shocked when I ask someone that I have no idea or ask someone. What’s your year to date revenue? And they’re like, I don’t know. Oh, it’s probably around or my sales average is probably around if you’re going to make a decision like that. You should know right away. My sales average, is this my year to date revenue? Is this my cost of doing business? Is this like these are metrics that you should know off-hand and you should be keeping track of that data? And if you’re not, then I would be very cautious about leaving your day job because you don’t actually know how much money you’re bringing in that you know. So. But also, you know, we have a family and kids and things like that. So I really like to have that stability and know exactly where I’m going. And it’s hard to predict future trends if you don’t know what you did in the past. So I can go back for five years and know what my sales average was five years. I can go back and see my cancel rate because I keep track of that data and it’s pretty easy.
Humberto Garcia: [00:03:59] Right. So like for someone listening, how do I get that? It’s just. And I ask you that all the time and they don’t know. They’ll give me a roundabout number. I’m like, no, it’s only one number. So basically your total earnings for the month. So if someone had twenty thousand hours in sales and they had five shoots, their average would be four thousand. Right.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:04:16] So I actually go by my sales average. So I keep track in an Excel document of like the retainer fees and then the sales and then I average out the actual sale. But then I also keep track of actual money in because some of those people are on payment plans. So I like to know my sales average, but then I also like to know my monthly revenue coming in as well.
Humberto Garcia: [00:04:40] Gosh, that makes sense. I should clarify that. Of course, that would be from each individual, whatever the total is for that one that was divided. Yeah. So no kidding. Someone’s on the fence or maybe for a lot, but they don’t even need the income. Let’s say to live like it’s their hobby and they wanted more. Yeah. Someone asked you and I say Jan like my goal is to have like that is 180. A year like what can I expect? And let’s just say they have a good portfolio. Like, what can they expect? Like, what timeline should they give themselves?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:05:10] Yes. So, you know, I say that’s the biggest thing. What the biggest predictor of success is how hungry you are to reach it. Right. So if you are someone that needs someone to be telling you what to do all the time, perhaps going into business for yourself isn’t the best choice. But if you’re someone that’s a self-starter, if you’re able to analyze and make your own decisions, if you’re someone that can get out of bed really early and start working and start hustling and start grinding and not need anyone looking over your shoulder, then being in business for yourself is probably a bad thing. And as far as a timeline, it really varies for everyone if you’re starting from the beginning without anything. I would say at least 10 to 12 months to really get moving. And if you’re someone that’s in the middle of your business and you’re, you know, kind of have a portfolio and you’re somewhat established and have a following. And it should be a little shorter, like four to six months, because really what you need to do is start implementing your strategies that are proven to work. And once you do that, then you should start seeing results pretty quickly.
Humberto Garcia: [00:06:16] Yeah, I agree. Well, yeah. So I know, I know for a lot of people, that is a huge thing. And they’re always just wondering and you know, we’re one of the most cutthroat groups where we hold people accountable and like all people when we tell them the truth. Right. Like we’ll tell them, hey, you go work on your portfolio and you go work on. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s something that actually probably speeds up the process. Right. Like a little bit of tough love. And I hope this is an encouraging conversation for people because you have control over your own destiny. And the work you put in is the that’s the beauty of it. Is that result to create for yourself?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:06:50] Yeah. I mean, instead of when you’re working a day job, you’re working and making money for a company. Right. And working and making money for yourself is so much better. And also the motivation is there, right? You don’t work. You don’t pay your bills. You don’t eat. So I don’t know what better motivation there is than that. And on the other side, you work harder. You make more money. It’s cause and effect. It’s black and white. It’s if. And then you do this. You get that. So it’s very predictable, especially if your work is solid. If you have solid work, that’s a foundation.
Humberto Garcia: [00:07:23] Awesome. Thank you so much for the talk. And I hope this inspired some.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:07:27] Sounds good. Thanks. See you later, guys.