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Episode #115

5 Steps to Turning your Conservation Photography Hobby into a Profitable Side Hustle


UPDATED: May 25, 2023
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON November 15, 2022


Turning your passionate hobby into something that not only pays for itself but brings in a sustainable income is not nearly as complex or confusing as you might think. Start with these simple, straightforward steps, and grow from there.


How to move from photography hobby to business

You have the dream of turning your wildlife conservation photography into a business but feel like it's a big, scary, confusing endeavor.

Take heart – you're so not alone.

It's super easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you think you need to do just to start earning a paycheck.

I need a cool biz name, a logo, a brand, a website, an email list, a social media following, an accountant, a lawyer, and I haven't even gotten to designing revenue streams and bringing in clients…

Whoooooooooah there. You don't need all that just to get started.

It was years before I was ready for all that.

I started very simply and added on layers as I needed them.

And that's how you can start, too.

The fact is, getting started as a conservation photography business really is simple and straightforward.

You can go from hobby to side-hustle in just 5 steps.

Can you make it complex? Absolutely! But it doesn't HAVE to be.

Start simple, and grow from there. And in this episode we walk you through exactly what simple looks like.


Resources Mentioned

Creating A Conservation-Focused Wildlife Photography Tour Company With Sebastian Kennerknecht

NOLO Books

For the last two decades, NOLO has been my resource for learning the legal ins and outs of everything from business structure to taxes to contracts. An incredible library of updated information, NOLO offers print and digital books and forms. I'm constantly recommending this as a resource for photographers, and imagine I'll do so for as long as the company exists.


Episode 115: 5 Steps to Turning your Conservation Photography Hobby into a Profitable Side Hustle

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/115

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
[00:00:00] Jaymi: Welcome to this episode of Impact, the Conservation Photography podcast. And welcome back, Joe.

[00:00:07] Jo: Thank you. I'm glad to be back.

[00:00:11] Jaymi: One of these days, we're not gonna sound cheesy when we start our

[00:00:14] Jo: I'm gonna, I'm just feeling so professional. Right. But see, I'm the sidekick. I don't have to worry about that.

[00:00:21] Jaymi: Well, I love that you actually, so you and I, I feel like we're kind of the same right now and that we've got the headphones, we've got the mic, and then you have your grandma sweater and I have my blanket with my heat pads.

[00:00:34] Jo: I literally have the grandma sweater on cuz it's my mom's sweater. That was your grandma that Yeah,

[00:00:40] Jaymi: Yeah, when you turned up I was like, Oh, I'm gonna get all warm and cozy cuz it's, you know, fall while they're here for getting ready to record. And then your video popped up and you had Nana sweaters on and I'm like, Yep, we're ready for this.

[00:00:52] Jo: It's Fall. We're ready to start.

[00:00:55] Jaymi: Yep. So,

[00:00:56] Jo: gosh. So wait, I have to tell you this one story. [00:01:00] So we have a. A joke in the family about the fact that one time when I was on a business trip and we took a break with some colleagues to drive up into the Rocky Mountains, the business trip was in Denver.

[00:01:11] Jo: And I was sitting in the back seat looking out the window and at one point I said, Man, these mountains sure are rocky . And the and the people in the front seat sort of took turn and gave me the look. You know, like, are you kidding me? So we have that scene in the, in the family, whenever anybody says something, , like, seriously, you really just said that.

[00:01:32] Jo: So yesterday, the weather was, , kind of cloudy. It was, it was on and off again, sunny or not. And the light is just different this time of year. You know, it's just a whole different angle and everything like that. And I started to say, you know, the light is just so dark right now. , I realize, no, I'm not, I can't say that.

[00:01:54] Jo: I can't say that. Gary said, What are you seeing? And I [00:02:00] told him, he goes, Yeah, you shouldn't have said that,

[00:02:02] Jaymi: No, but I mean, it is funny how you're, especially if you're trying to search for the right adjective for something and you're not thinking about like how it measures up to the word that you are describing or the whatever feature you're describing. Cuz that makes perfect sense to me when you set it up with the whole idea of, you know, it's a lower angle and

[00:02:23] Jo: And the clouds are

[00:02:24] Jaymi: and yeah.

[00:02:25] Jo: Yeah. So the light is just so dark. I don't understand

[00:02:33] Jaymi: Yeah. When we had the big eclipse, it was like, I, I don't know, four or five years ago and we, Nick and I were out. We had a cabin out in the woods that we lived in and he was doing something outside and I was in the cabin, I think, washing dishes or something and I was just like, Man, it's just what a dark day it is today.

[00:02:54] Jaymi: It's just so dark and the shadows are really weird. Like, look at what the shadows are doing and then like, Oh my [00:03:00] God, this is the middle of the

[00:03:01] Jo: Oh my gosh.

[00:03:02] Jaymi: talking about for months and months.

[00:03:04] Jo: I'm finally realizing

[00:03:06] Jaymi: That's why

[00:03:08] Jo: Oh

[00:03:08] Jaymi: light sure is dark.

[00:03:13] Jo: And I mean, you guys were like the center of the eclipe path. Oh my

[00:03:18] Jaymi: We

[00:03:18] Jo: That would've been, Did was, Did Nick give you the look?

[00:03:24] Jaymi: Luckily it all went on in my head, so no one else had to

[00:03:27] Jo: Oh, see, you're so much smarter because you know me, it just comes right out my mouth. So

[00:03:33] Jaymi: Oh goodness.

[00:03:35] Jo: But beyond that, we really do think that there are some good things about turning something into a business, and you've got a lot of experience to share that is not as ridiculous as we sound

[00:03:49] Jaymi: yes. , I do love sharing these, these moments cuz when you were talking about sitting in the car and then just saying something that, that you think makes perfect sensors funny and everyone [00:04:00] else is just like, No.

[00:04:01] Jaymi: I was leading a, a tour with three clients in the car and we had to drive past this field of cows and there were these really big bowls in the field and they were laying down, you know, having a TER or something and we had just had lunch. So we go out and we're kind of shooting and it's that part of the afternoon where, yeah, you've had lunch and now you're kind of a little bit on the sleepy side.

[00:04:24] Jaymi: Energy is a little bit low and so we kind of finished up shooting where we were and heading back and the bowls were still laying there. And so I'm like, Man, those cows haven't moved much and just it was not the right time or right energy level or anything for a good pun.

[00:04:43] Jaymi: And they just kind of turned and looked at me and were just slowly

[00:04:47] Jo: fell dead

[00:04:48] Jaymi: just, Oh, was

[00:04:49] Jaymi: so

[00:04:49] Jo: my God. And you And I love a good pun,

[00:04:54] Jaymi: Oh, I love a pun. I, it is my just sheer source of joy in [00:05:00] this world as. Dorkiest fun. But that said, like luckily I've been able to stay in business even with moments like that out in tours um,

[00:05:09] Jaymi: And so what we wanna talk about today is how to transition your photo hobby. Into a profitable side hustle cuz last episode we talked about the profit first method and setting aside some funds every month that go into a account set aside for your photography, your, your, I invest in myself fund or your creativity fund, or your I give back fund or you know, whatever you wanna call it.

[00:05:38] Jaymi: It is there to serve the purpose of reinvesting in yourself and your photography. Okay? So where does that money come from? So that's what I wanna talk about in this episode, is I have this photography hobby or it is something that I wanna get more serious about. How do I actually start to turn that into something that brings me some revenue?

[00:05:58] Jaymi: And then that revenue can [00:06:00] then be put toward investing in yourself. Some more reinvesting in yourself or paying bills, whatever it may be. Sound. Make fun.

[00:06:08] Jo: Okay. This is, this is, Yeah. I, I'm very interested about talking about this. Yeah. Especially because it seems like you've done a whole bunch of different versions of all kinds of things to make all of this work. So you've got definitely a lot of different experiences to share and ideas of what people could do.

[00:06:28] Jaymi: Yeah. I feel like a lot of the career from, even when I still had a full-time job and was running this as a hobby into making it work as a career, one of the more fun parts, aside from the photography itself has been shaping revenue streams. I'd be like, Let me show you that. Let me see what that looks like.

[00:06:52] Jaymi: Let me try this over here. Let me do four of these different things all at the same time and see what that adds up to.

[00:06:58] Jo: Yeah. And just [00:07:00] to, you know, you should probably have a little disclaimer or something, but you really like to nerd out around that kind of stuff that not necessarily, everybody thinks that that's the most fun

[00:07:10] Jaymi: I, It's true. I had a meeting with my editor cuz I was taking on some photo editing work. And so we were like, Well, let's get together for a happy hour and just chat about the stories. And so we hop on Zoom and he's like, What have you been up to today? And I was like, Well, I was building a new funnel for, you know, Boba.

[00:07:29] Jaymi: And he's like, No, just no marketing speak. No.

[00:07:34] Jo: Yeah. I it is. Like, what, Jamie, what's a funnel? What are you talking about? Are you, are we talking about tornadoes now or are we talking about, you know, how you're pouring oil in your car? What do you need a funnel for? I don't

[00:07:46] Jo: understand any of this. Yeah.

[00:07:48] Jaymi: Yeah. Well, and that's the great thing about this episode is we aren't going all complicated. We aren't gonna be overwhelming. We're literally talking about five steps [00:08:00] that help you move from hobby to side hustle. So if you're someone who is listening and you're like, I really wanna earn income of this, even if it's part-time, even if it's something I'm not leaving my full-time job or anything, but I want it to be bringing in revenue, how do I do that?

[00:08:15] Jaymi: We're gonna go through five very simple steps. Cause if there's one thing that I've learned in all of this is you can make things complicated real fast and then end up not having fun or feeling overwhelmed. And it doesn't have to be that complicated. You can keep it very simple. And so this is five very simple steps. So step number one, and Joe, you're perfect for this because you are my bookkeeper, my volunteer bookkeeper. Thank you so much. Um, Step number one is to simply create a very simple income and expense tracker. And all this needs to be for, for my business for two years when I was in hobby mode, trying to see if this would ever be a viable business [00:09:00] for me.

[00:09:00] Jaymi: This was really essential for me and it was a simple Google sheet and it had the date. A column for the income column and a column for the expense column. And that's it. And you can keep it that simple for quite a long time. And the reason why that first step is so important is because when you're trying to figure out if you can move from hobby into side hustle, you really wanna see how much money's coming in and how much is going out.

[00:09:30] Jaymi: Cause if you're not visualizing that, it's really hard to see how much you want to bring in to cover expenses. And in addition to that, like really seeing what are my expenses for photography? How much am I paying outta my pocket toward photography that would need to be covered by income coming in. But it also gets you into the mindset of thinking about it like a business rather than a hobby, because you're really tracking what's coming in and what's going [00:10:00] out just for the photography.

[00:10:02] Jaymi: Does all make sense?

[00:10:03] Jo: Yeah, cuz I remember you were, you know, having to remind yourself. Oh yeah. So at some point, using my car to go on these photography tours, I is going to be an expense to what it is my business is. So I need to be thinking about, well, how much do I really spend on maintaining my car? How much do I spend on my car insurance?

[00:10:26] Jo: What is my things? Well, they're all there in your checking account. I mean, it's not difficult to find, but you have to think about it in a different way as a line item that you look at, or like your insurance that you had on your photo gear. A lot of people don't necessarily have insurance on their photo gear.

[00:10:43] Jo: Do you wanna have insurance on your photo gear? If it's something that was gonna be for a business now, Because if that's a gone now, you can't earn money. So how, what does that look like? How much does that cost? How often do you have to pay that bill? Those, So those were the kinds of things that I [00:11:00] remember you were kind of having, Not, not you understood it and you knew what was going on, but it was like, Oh, oh yeah, I didn't even think about that.

[00:11:09] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. It's so easy to be like, Oh, I'm gonna go do this shoot, or I'm gonna go start this project. And, you don't really think about the expenses that go with it cuz you're like, Oh, well it's my car. I already own it anyway. Yeah. But now it's being put toward kind of a business use. So how many miles are you putting on it for that?

[00:11:28] Jaymi: Or how much gas is going into it, or whatever it may be. Or like, if you're gonna go have a three day landscape photography. Well, let's go ahead and find out how much that costs, because that might be then images that you license, or it turns into a photo story that you pitch.

[00:11:43] Jaymi: And so wouldn't it be nice that when you're a business, you have expenses that you get to deduct because you're earning that revenue? It went straight toward earning revenue as a business, so really? Oh,

[00:11:56] Jo: There was a, I also thought about, you know, when you started doing [00:12:00] tours, you know, and you hadn't committed full time to doing that. Well, I came and visited and then we practiced. So I was the client. And so it was great because

[00:12:10] Jo: we picked a thing that I was trying to learn and we went out and we did that. But what, what goes on during the day? Oh, well, she got thirsty and wanted some water. Okay, am I gonna have water in the back of my car? You know, and all of these kinds of things added up. I was just listening to a podcast about a woman who writes cookbooks and, you know, she said, It's one thing to cook dinner, it's another thing to build a recipe for something. So I have to be noting down every single step I did so that I remember what goes into it.

[00:12:40] Jo: Same sort of thing

[00:12:41] Jo: with turn something into a business.

[00:12:43] Jaymi: Yeah. Fantastic example. It really is that that exercise kind of breaking it down, and again, this doesn't have to be a complicated spreadsheet at all. It can be literally just those columns, four columns, the date, what it is. Is it [00:13:00] income or is it an expense? And write out the number and that's it.

[00:13:03] Jaymi: And I kept that for two years. Basically trying to see can I get into the black, I'm in the red for a year, I'm in a red for another year, and then finally there's a year where I'm in the black. Okay, well now this is a, a profitable side hustle and it's real helpful to see when that happens and what it took to make that happen.

[00:13:25] Jaymi: Or like, can you bring the expenses down a little bit to make sure you're breaking even? What does that look like? So simple, very simple, straightforward spreadsheet is step one. Step number two is to get a business license, and that is specifically so that you can open a business bank account. Now, this doesn't have to be really complicated.

[00:13:44] Jaymi: I know the idea, Oh, I'm gonna preface this whole episode. We are not financial advisors or lawyers. This is not meant to be construed as financial advisor, legal avi, you know, all that stuff. We're just a couple of people being like, Here's what I tried so you can try this [00:14:00] too. But anyway, get a business license.

[00:14:02] Jaymi: And it doesn't have to be super complicated. Like I know some people will spend a really long time trying to figure out the perfect business name for their wildlife photography or whatever it is. It can literally just be your name and photography, like mine is Jamie Heim, Buck Photography, and I'm an llc.

[00:14:20] Jaymi: And so it's like legally I have to have comma LLC at the end. But it can be very, very simple and you look at whatever regulations are in your area and follow those regulations. But in most places in the US anyway, I think it's as simple as just going down to your city hall and pulling out a, a business license.

[00:14:40] Jo: Yeah, and I think most of them, you go online and fill out a form and send it in. Now you don't even necessarily have to go down there.

[00:14:46] Jaymi: Yeah, it's super, super easy. Now, there is a really great resource called Nolo Books, n o l o books. I'm gonna put a link in the show notes. In fact, I'm putting my affiliate link in the show [00:15:00] notes because I love them so much that I became an an affiliate, which basically means that if you use my link to buy any books, you don't pay anything more.

[00:15:09] Jaymi: But they give me a little bit of a kickback, which I appreciate very much. So I'm putting that affiliate link in the show notes. But Nolo, I have leaned on them and their resources since day one, cuz they have amazing resources. So they have a book on forming a single member llc.

[00:15:25] Jo: So So what's an llc, Jamie?

[00:15:27] Jo: Because you said that term earlier.

[00:15:30] Jaymi: So this is where a lot of people get can, start to kind of get overcomplicated, but it doesn't have to be because the minimum that you really need is like a business license in order to open a business bank account. And I'm gonna talk about why that's important in a minute.

[00:15:43] Jaymi: But some people can get hung up on, Oh, so am I a sole proprietor? Should I be an llc? Should I be, you know, like, what structure should this take? Now I'm a single member llc, which basically is just, you are a limited liability company with one [00:16:00] person in it. So that's why it's single member. I can't actually be an llc, .

[00:16:04] Jaymi: There's only me, , LLCs kind of require multiple people, but so they call it a single member llc and all that is is basically the same as a sole proprietor anyway. You're, you're treated as what's called a pass through entity,

[00:16:18] Jaymi: it's not, it's not very fancy, it sounds like, Ooh, that's a fancy structure. It's not, but it can be a structure that you might wanna consider. I will link to a great book from Nolo about how to do it, cuz it's too, it's, I don't wanna overcomplicate or overwhelm anyone listening with like what a LLC is and what it does and how it's different and, you don't need it to be able to turn your hobby into a side hustle. But I know that that question will come up for folks. So head into the show notes, check out Nolo books.

[00:16:51] Jo: And usually when it comes to how you, how you declare yourself as a legal entity, as a legal business, it's really two different kinds of [00:17:00] pieces. One has to do with how are you seen by the IRS and the, and taxes, and how are you seen legally from a liability standpoint? And depending on what you're doing and how you're doing it and what risks there are or not, then you make choices about what kinds of ways that you want to register your business.

[00:17:21] Jo: And if you are just trying to create some extra cash on the side by doing certain things, more than likely you don't need to do anything. Special except just say you get a business license so that you can say that you're a business and that's it. And you're done.

[00:17:43] Jaymi: you said that so much more clearly than me. This is why you're on the show, Joe So, Exactly. Exactly. But the reason why you do want a business license as a step in turning your hobby into a side hustle is because [00:18:00] you want to open a business checking account. So that's step number three is opening a business checking account.

[00:18:06] Jaymi: And most banks, if not all banks, are gonna require a business license. And depending on the bank, you might need some other paperwork, but you do need a business license to be able to open a business checking account.

[00:18:20] Jaymi: Now, why that's important is because, and so few people do this, and I have heard horror stories of audits from multiple photographers including photographers who were running photography as kind of a side gig. Not really thinking about it as a career in any way, but kind of as a side gig and got audited.

[00:18:40] Jaymi: Like . I really want you to avoid that kind of headache. And the foundational thing to do to help avoid that type of headache is to separate your personal income and expense from your hobby or business income and expense. So if you're really trying to make a go of this as a business, you're [00:19:00] moving away from hobby into business, you wanna keep those two things very separate.

[00:19:04] Jaymi: And so that way you've got everything that you can attribute to business income in that checking account. Everything that you can attribute as a business expense is pulled from that checking account, and then it's not crossing over with your personal stuff that makes the I. A lot happier. It means like the IRS can look at that and say, Oh, we understand that you aren't commingling funds in a way that we then aren't really sure if you're taking this seriously or not.

[00:19:32] Jaymi: You're trying to evade, you know, paying your full share of taxes, whatever it is that they might think. This is like the number one way to be able to do that. And I definitely think that you should talk to your CPA about this because if you have any questions at all about, well, what counts as business expense or income, or how do I separate that?

[00:19:53] Jaymi: Or what should this look like? A CPA is gonna clear that up for you really easily and help set you up with the system, the works for you, [00:20:00] for your area. So if you have a cpa, talk to them. If you don't, you can reach out to a CPA and just have a consultation and they can guide you through this

[00:20:10] Jo: there's also a lot of times free business services that , better business bureau type organizations can point you in the right direction, and they'll give you the resources of where to go, um, to be able to stay. Okay, yeah. You can go talk to this group and they'll give you this kind of advice and go talk to that group and they'll tell you about this kind of advice.

[00:20:31] Jo: So that's always a place to start as well.

[00:20:33] Jaymi: definitely. Great point. Joe. The Small Business Administration, sba, is one of those organizations that is just chalk full of resources and more than likely will have articles or a class in your area that you can take that can help with this.

[00:20:53] Jaymi: But again, you can keep this super simple. You can simply say, I've got my business license, I'm opening up a [00:21:00] business checking account, and anything having to do with photography income or expenses. That is what that account is used for. And anything that is your personal stuff, that is your personal checking account.

[00:21:11] Jo: Right, right.

[00:21:13] Jaymi: So, okay, so there's that. So step number one, simple income and expense tracker that you will probably be able to use for years as you move from hobby to side hustle. Get a business license.

[00:21:26] Jo: every time you say side hustle, I was like, Do hustle

[00:21:31] Jaymi: I always feel like some

[00:21:32] Jo: or either that, or you're selling sunglasses outta the back of your trunk, you know?

[00:21:37] Jo: Sorry, I interrupted you. Okay.

[00:21:40] Jo: Step

[00:21:40] Jaymi: a, I do feel kind of cheesy because so many, business marketing podcasts and stuff, talk about, , do your side hustle and I'm just like, blah, whatever. But I, but it, it's

[00:21:51] Jo: it's a good description of what it is. It's just my old brain went back to the seventies and was like,[00:22:00]

[00:22:00] Jaymi: I mean, hey, wouldn't it be nice to have a theme song while you're doing your QuickBooks accounting? You're just like entering your income and expense trackers while singing, Do the hustle on your Okay, so we've got simple income business expense trackers, Step one, start that up then when you're ready.

[00:22:21] Jaymi: Step number two is get your business license and right away. Step number three is set up your business checking account. Step number four. Is to then decide on the ways that you're gonna earn revenue, because it's super easy to have lots of expenses at any stage of this hobby or side hustle. The revenue part's a little bit harder.

[00:22:40] Jaymi: So there are so many ways to earn revenue as a photographer, and pretty much anyone who is a pro these days will say, Yes, I have multiple revenue streams. There's no one way in which I earn an income. I mean, photography might be the umbrella, but under that umbrella, there's [00:23:00] all kinds of different ways to earn revenue.

[00:23:02] Jaymi: And this is one of the places that makes me really happy. My brain loves going into this realm. There are things like licensing, images and different ways to license images. I'm gonna actually kind of like list a few ideas and then we can go dig into some of them. You could run local photo tours.

[00:23:20] Jaymi: This is super common and they don't have to be complicated. I know that it can sound really intimidating. The idea of like, whoa, run my own photo tours. I don't know. But you can really start simple with like even signing up with Airbnb to be listed under Airbnb experiences and then people who are coming to town find you through that and you don't have to worry about setting things.

[00:23:42] Jaymi: We'll come back to that idea cuz I can totally nerd out on that one for a while. You could be getting your images into galleries and selling your prints out of galleries. You could be selling your prints out of cafes or gift shops in your area. You could set. [00:24:00] Memberships, for instance, on platforms like Patreon, which was built specifically for creatives to be able to set up memberships that are simple to run and to earn financial support.

[00:24:11] Jaymi: I've got lots of examples there. You could, of course, one of my favorites, pitch photo stories, create photo stories and pitch them to publications and be able to earn revenue that way. You could lead tours that are created by other companies and you are simply the photography tour leader that comes in.

[00:24:31] Jaymi: And that's actually a really nice way if you wanna do tours, but you don't wanna do all the logistics planning, you could find opportunities for being the photo tour leader for other companies. The list can go on and on and on, But before we like dig into any of these ideas, Joe, do you have anything else that comes up for you that you've maybe seen me do or seen other photographers do?

[00:24:53] Jaymi: That would be a revenue stream.

[00:24:54] Jo: Yeah, let me think. You could be getting grants and using that to fund , [00:25:00] some of all of these activities that you've been talking about as well. So you may be spending time writing for grants and then, and getting some awards and then taking that to add to it.

[00:25:10] Jo: So that's still considered income. So even though you haven't gotten paid for producing something specific at the beginning, it, you know, the grant has helping you produce that. So, so that you should consider. The other thing is you had talked about Being the photographer on somebody else's tour.

[00:25:29] Jo: And you've done that in lots of different ways in terms of, being on a cruise ship or doing that, in some land based thing or, you know, so there was lots of different ways that you were that photographer doing that. So there isn't just the one kind of, you know, I'm going to take Nat Geo two Antarctica or something.

[00:25:48] Jaymi: Yeah, and I mean even, so you mentioned there, there's lots of different ways to be the photo lead with tours or safari , but there's also lots of ways to license images [00:26:00] too. And so I've licensed images through photo projects that I've run. I've licensed images with the stock company.

[00:26:08] Jaymi: I've licensed images through my own website. So there's lots of different ways that earning income can look. But one thing to keep in mind is When you're moving from hobby into side hustle, it's important to earn an income. But at that point, I feel like it's important to earn an income in a way that you enjoy so that you can actually build a business that you're having fun in rather than feels like this huge stress burden.

[00:26:36] Jaymi: And so if you are trying to dive into all the things at once and throwing spaghetti at the wall, that's a quick way to feel overwhelmed and burnout. And if you're trying to make something work as a revenue stream that you don't actually enjoy doing, that's a quick way to feel overwhelmed. And burnout too.

[00:26:54] Jaymi: So you might be someone who maybe you're pretty introverted, and the idea of [00:27:00] leading photo tours just sounds like it makes your skin crawl. Like you wanna go hide in your room with a cup of tea and a episode of doubt nabby that might not be what you want to do as a revenue stream.

[00:27:12] Jaymi: Just be real about it. I enjoy creating like, elaborate concoctions. Like I like creating projects like revenue streams that are kind of like projects are figuring out how to put all the puzzle pieces together to make that revenue stream happen, which might not be what you wanna do.

[00:27:31] Jaymi: Like, that might not be something that you enjoy the complexity level to make something work. So if that's the case, a patron membership might not be the right thing for you because all the moving pieces in order to make that work well might. Really suit you. It might be something that you wanna tackle later on, but in the beginning, what's something that really just lights you up and you know that all you're waking hours will be spent figuring out how to make that [00:28:00] be a revenue stream. Choose that as the thing that you move forward with. What do you think about that, Joe?

[00:28:07] Jo: So I, I agree. I think though that you may have to come up with the realization that you might have to do. Two or three things for a while before you find what works. Because I, I watched you do that in terms of, Oh, I think I wanna do this, but while this is cooking or while I'm trying to get this up and going, I'm also gonna go do this thing over here.

[00:28:33] Jo: And so, you know, you might be starting your, your photo tour business and trying to figure out how you're gonna get hooked into Airbnb and trying to get those first bookings or figure out where it is. You're gonna take people in all of those. And that might take a few months to nail down. Or maybe it's maybe based on where you live.

[00:28:53] Jo: You, you don't have. You can do local photo tours, like similar to what you did, but then you [00:29:00] had to go discover the places or maybe it had to do with the time of year. So there might be things that, there's down times where then you switch gears to something else. And so I think that keeping an open mind that there might be a couple things that you're juggling at once might be useful.

[00:29:18] Jo: And then the more that you understand all of the ins and outs of everything, then you can really focus in on saying, Yeah, this is what I love. This is where my passion is. This is where I'm gonna really focus on building up this part of the business. And the other part is it gives you contacts. Even as someone who is an introvert or doesn't like this whole idea of quote unquote networking, the reality is the more photographers, you know, the more editors you know, the more people in the business, you know, the more gallery owners, you know, the more people that wanna go on tours that, you know, just because you happen to be standing there taking a picture of that owl on a snag and the tourists walked [00:30:00] by, then you, you start to, to build this network of people that, oh, you get invited to that bird club meeting and, you give a, 10 slide picture talk of what kinds of birds are in the area in winter.

[00:30:16] Jo: And now all of a sudden people see your work and then they do wanna buy that print that you brought with you. So. There's pieces of that that might be worth investing in, that you don't necessarily have to do all the time or forever, but can help with getting started.

[00:30:33] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. . Well said. Also, there's another one, speaking engagements.

[00:30:38] Jo: Ah

[00:30:39] Jaymi: Um, Being a keynote speaker or being a speaker at festivals or events that's another thing. . That's a really good point. And you're right. When I think back on when I was really moving into full from hobby to full time there was a lot of just kind of experimentation with my personality.

[00:30:58] Jaymi: Cause I am a huge introvert. Like [00:31:00] when I lead a tour I have a blast and it's a lot of fun, but I use all the energy I have and then I need to come back and just recharge for a while. And so I noticed that when I went from leading tours for other companies to leading my own, I was like, Oh, I have less time in between these to recharge, so how do I wanna shape that?

[00:31:22] Jaymi: And so you might find out like, Oh, I'm gonna try both leading tours for other companies and leading my own and see which one I like more. And maybe there's one that it just suits you better.

[00:31:34] Jo: Right. Yeah. And it's, that's a good, really good point because I never, because we're so close, I never think of you as an introvert from the standpoint of you need downtime to get your energy back. And. Going with you on some of these tours. I watched that happen where man, the clients themselves had no idea that when we got back to the, to the room or the cabin or whatever, you just went into [00:32:00] shut down mode of, I'm just gonna read this book for a while, or I'm just gonna look at what photos I took today.

[00:32:07] Jo: I don't wanna talk to you anymore. I'm done talking for the day. I've had enough talking. And, but boy, you know, you, you go out and then be with the group that you're supposed to be coaching or helping or whatever, Man smiles and you're engaged and that there's no falseness about it. It's just that that's all where you're having to put a lot of energy into.

[00:32:29] Jo: And I think knowing that about your personality is really, really useful in terms of figuring out what can you do and sustain over a long period of time. So I'm glad you brought that up.

[00:32:41] Jaymi: Yeah, I think that's a really good example of like, even though that's an example in the tours realm, it's a really great example to be aware of your personality as you're experimenting with these things and what really suits you and what doesn't. Let's say [00:33:00] it comes to creating a membership, a Patreon membership, you're shaping what that looks like.

[00:33:06] Jaymi: And for anyone who doesn't know what a a Patreon membership is, is Patreon is this platform and there's others that are like it, or you could even create one from scratch. But Patreon created this platform for creatives to be able to have tiered membership levels. So people can say, Oh, well I'll pay you $5 a month, or I'll pay you $10, or, you know, $25 a month, and then you give me these benefits.

[00:33:28] Jaymi: Like it might be. A print a month, or it might be a portfolio review, it might be, you know, you can come up with different ideas, but you can set these different rewards for these different tier levels for people who are giving you money every month. Like, Joe, you're in one for pottery.

[00:33:44] Jo: Yes. Yes. Her name's Carly Ford, and she does one for pottery and she does a lot of training videos and she even talks about, for instance, similar to what you do about how would, if I wanna turn this into a business, what would I do and what does that look [00:34:00] like? And I love it because you can be as engaged as you wanna be. It creates a community that's there that she doesn't necessarily have to manage. But it's, it gives people someplace to go to get help and to get advice and things like that. That's very informal.

[00:34:17] Jo: And, but then my son belongs to one where, yeah, he loves this woodblock creator that's in Japan, and he gets a print every month from this guy as part of his Patreon service. So it's just everybody does, seems to do it a little different.

[00:34:34] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And I know that with photography, there's one photographer who does, I think it's something like in the lower tier, you get a video of him post processing an image.

[00:34:46] Jaymi: So you learn tips and tricks and that sort of thing. And then as you go up higher in the tiers, you get group coaching or you get one on one. And so it can be very simple or it can be a lot more involved depending on how you want it to look. But as we were [00:35:00] talking about with tours, you could set up your membership to be like, I don't, I don't wanna spend a bunch of time teaching or coaching or doing mentorship or training videos. You don't have to, you, could set it up , for other things , and attract the type of people who wanna support your work through, Maybe it's print, maybe it's a digital file every month.

[00:35:20] Jaymi: Like it could be as simple as that. You get exclusive access to 10 high resolution digital files a month, and someone says, That sounds fantastic.

[00:35:30] Jo: Yeah. The one that I belong to depending on which tier you on, you get access to what she's gonna sell in her shop before anybody else

[00:35:39] Jo: does, you know? Yeah. So it's that kind of thing,

[00:35:42] Jo: You know, that brought up the, when you talked about Susie and being on the past episodes and the most recent one with her talking about how her relationship with that nonprofit and how she, she was very frank about the fact that she took a cut off the top.

[00:35:59] Jo: [00:36:00] But then, then the nonprofit got the rest for what, you know, whether they were creating a book or whether they were creating a calendar or whether they were creating images that are licensed. You know, she doesn't necessarily make a hundred percent off the image licenses for that particular area, but she still makes something off of it.

[00:36:18] Jo: She's not completely giving it away, but she has a strong relationship with this nonprofit and I thought that was very interesting that she was willing to be so open about that, that this is how this works and it benefits both of us. I thought that was really cool.

[00:36:32] Jaymi: And it has to, That's a really great, another revenue stream that you can set up that really matches moving from hobby into side hustle is, depending on how you are volunteering right now with an organization, they might need your help on some area where you can move that into paid work. So for example, I did a lot of volunteer work with an organization that I loved, and so I very happily donated [00:37:00] time, energy and donated images to them.

[00:37:03] Jaymi: But then they needed to build a new website and I was like, I build websites. Why don't I do that for you? Here's what it'll cost. And I gave them like a super discounted price, but at the same time I got paid to build their website for them. That was above and beyond volunteer work. This is why I feel so strongly about, even if you're volunteering, having kind of a business mindset with certain boundaries around what you do and don't do, it leaves you room to move from, Well, I volunteer in this area.

[00:37:30] Jaymi: you can hire me to do this other stuff that you might need. And since you're building such a great relationship with this organization, it can be really easy to have those conversations and have them be very enthusiastic about hiring you for, you know, other types of work. I mean, obviously it all depends on all kinds of relationship things, but that's very much an option for how you could potentially earn revenue as.

[00:37:54] Jaymi: So, yeah, there's lots of ways to do this, and that's step number four is like really thinking about all the different ways that you [00:38:00] might earn an income and then looking at one, two, maybe three to start testing and seeing, Oh, this is something I really like, or, oh my gosh, that is a type of work that I just do not wanna do.

[00:38:12] Jaymi: Like for me, I don't wanna have anything to do with galleries. It doesn't interest me. It's just not in my personality type. Whereas someone else might be like, Ooh, that is number one on my list, is how do I get my working gallery? So pick something and start testing it out and really like, try and see, okay, well what is the revenue I can earn from this?

[00:38:29] Jaymi: How does it fit into the rest of my life? Because again, it's side hustle, not full time. So how does it fit in with the rest of your schedule and other obligations? And then step number five is once you zero in on where it is that you're really enjoying earning that revenue and that it seems to really be working for you.

[00:38:47] Jaymi: Dig into what it takes to get really good at that thing. So what I mean by that is what are areas or skill sets that you need to really spend some time [00:39:00] honing and maybe learning more about, or getting mentorship or whatever it might take to like really zero in on, on mastering that type of revenue stream and giving it a really good try.

[00:39:12] Jaymi: Because one of the things that I notice is sometimes it's easy to put your energy into a revenue stream or a vertical, and it kind of is going well for a bit, and then it gets hard. And then when it gets hard, you wonder, Okay, am I just not good at this? Is this never gonna work for me?

[00:39:32] Jaymi: Like, should I just give up on this now? and I think that if you're willing to say, But I have fun doing this, so what else do I need to know? What else do I need to learn? What other things could I try and really give it a shot? You can kind of get past that hard part hurdle and get into another level essentially of that revenue stream working really well for you.

[00:39:54] Jaymi: What do you think about that, Joe?

[00:39:55] Jo: Yeah, I mean, it, I definitely can relate to the idea of getting [00:40:00] to the hard part. So, part of it is because when you start something, you expect it to be difficult or you expect to feel not insecure, but unsteady on your feet or you, cuz you're still discovering. And then there's also this excitement level that's going on because it's new, it's fresh, you're trying to, you, you know, you're thinking up all these cool ideas, you're doing all this stuff, and then.

[00:40:22] Jo: Start to turn it into a reality. And then some of the more difficult things come in, like, Oh, I guess I probably , should pay attention to my bookkeeping, and maybe I should actually make sure that I'm tracking where I'm spending my money.

[00:40:38] Jo: And, and so there's all these small things along with then the technical part of whatever it is that you're trying to do that can be overwhelming. And then it's like, is it worth it? Should I do it or not? But the more you do something over and over, just like anything, you get better and better.

[00:40:55] Jo: It's easier, it becomes more natural. It doesn't take as much [00:41:00] emotional. Brain power, I think of it is, is that, you know, you, you're always thinking about that, but somehow that energy level just doesn't have to be as high in order to make that happen, become much more comfortable. Then you kinda get over that hurdle and now of a sudden you can get back into having fun again and then you're at the next stage where, well maybe I'll add this, Oh, maybe I'll change it this way.

[00:41:25] Jo: And so then that in reinvigorates you and then you're doing the cycle again. So I, I think that's a great point that you bring up that it's like, pick an area focus, but you may find yourself getting to a point where, Oh, do I wanna keep going? Yeah, keep going. It's worth it.

[00:41:44] Jaymi: Yeah. Cause another result of that is not only do you get past a hurdle to a new level of. Expertise and flow and fun and all of that, but you also get to another level of building your reputation. You, [00:42:00] you can become more and more known for being good at that thing or being a resource. And so whether that is tours or a really stellar membership or your just, just selling.

[00:42:11] Jaymi: Prints like hot cakes off the gallery walls, or you are, you know, getting booked for speaking engagements every month or whatever it is. You get known for that. So it gets easier and easier to get opportunities. So it might be like, as you were saying, Joe, you might hit this new kind of level of admin stuff that might not be as fun.

[00:42:33] Jaymi: Like you might start some tours and then realize, well now I gotta get clients and so I need to build an email list. And so I need to learn how to set that up and then be really consistent on that front. So that's another level of complexity I wasn't really thinking about. I thought I was just gonna head out into the field with fun people and lead tours, but now I understand there's this hard thing.

[00:42:54] Jaymi: But if you stick with that and make that hard thing routine, And then you get to the [00:43:00] next level of like, Oh, well this is what this looks like now this is my level of ease and expertise with it. Then it's easier for other people to look at you and say, Oh, well you are that go-to person. Cuz you're consistently growing and getting, like, I kind of think about Sebastian Kenner connect a bit with this in the he like, so he's been on the podcast before, so if anyone who's not familiar with him, I'll put the episode with an interview with him in, in the show notes.

[00:43:23] Jaymi: But he was leading tours for a long time and then finally turned it into a company called Cat Expeditions. Yeah, He was doing great tours before, but by really kind of going to that next level of here's what this is gonna look like to be serious, it's a tour company called Cat Expeditions.

[00:43:41] Jaymi: He's the go to guy for going and seeing wild cats around the world and photographing them

[00:43:47] Jo: Yeah. When I look at his stuff from the an, from the Andes in South America, I was like, Whoa. Wow. That's just so amazing. Those Puma are so cool.

[00:43:55] Jaymi: Yeah. And it takes work. So not only is he like, okay, I figured out how to [00:44:00] make tours work well, and I figured out really what I want this to look like. Now the next level is build a website, keep my email list going, do my social media, expand the tours I'm doing, you know, there's all this other stuff. If he, what if he never did that?

[00:44:14] Jaymi: What if he was like, that part's hard. I think I'm gonna switch to this other thing. There's so many people who wouldn't be seeing phenomenal wild cats around the world and taking part in conservation efforts around, like during the workshops, taking part in conservation efforts. And so and he wouldn't have that reputation of like, if you want to see wild cats in a conservation focused toward, that's who you go to is Sebastian Kenner Connect.

[00:44:38] Jo: Right. And, and you're right about the whole building your reputation because it is a creative space. You know, when you're in a, when you're in a creative world, it is about reputation. It's not about how many ads can you put out there. It's not, I'm not trying to sell a widget, I'm not trying to talk [00:45:00] about how safe my product is or I'm not.

[00:45:02] Jo: It's all about no. This is a creative space and this is why I'm cool. And that comes through reputation, through word of mouth. And it's amazing how fast it can grow that way too. With, yeah, sure, you, you need all the promotion and all of that kind of stuff, and the email list and this and that.

[00:45:21] Jo: But the reality is when it really comes down to it, some of the opportunities that you've come across or others have done that you've told me about, it's because of the reputation that they've built up of the work that they've done.

[00:45:33] Jaymi: Mm-hmm.

[00:45:33] Jo: And so I think putting the energy so that you get that is, is well worth it.

[00:45:39] Jaymi: Yeah. And that's ultimately where, you know, we've been kind of calling this how to go from your photography hobby into a profitable side hustle. That's where it gets profitable. It's, you don't just move from hobby into side hustle. That's a struggle. You move into hobby, that's a side hustle that's profitable and potentially from there into business if that's where you wanna go.

[00:45:59] Jaymi: And [00:46:00] it really is it's reputation and it's being willing to do the hard work. And when it gets hard, being like, okay. How do I dig in and figure out how to get through the hard part into the next level? Cause everything is cyclical like that. Like you watch me all the time like, oh I need to bring a new tech platform and to, you know, make this thing work and now I have to learn another tech platform.

[00:46:24] Jo: Yeah. They changed this on me. Now I have to go figure it

[00:46:28] Jaymi: I know So okay. Gotta get through the hard part. Back into that flow. Fun state well, so those are my five steps from moving from photo hobby into profitable side hustle. And along all of these steps, especially as you start to figure out your revenue streams, like we are conservation focused. We are conservation photographers, and as you get into your revenue streams, there's all kinds of ways to really structure that around your conservation aims and ethos that you wanna have in your business.

[00:46:57] Jaymi: But ultimately, it looks the same as anything else. [00:47:00] You need to figure out your income and expenses and get a handle on what that looks like. Start tracking it. Get a business license. Open up a business checking account, Decide on ways that you might earn revenue. Pick one, two, maybe three, and go for it and see what happens.

[00:47:17] Jaymi: That's

[00:47:18] Jo: Yeah, it's not rocket science. It really isn't, but it's just keeping it straight in your head and knowing that there's resources out there to help you.

[00:47:26] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. , including resources like retired family members.

[00:47:30] Jo: There you go.

[00:47:31] Jaymi: Who, who you say, Excuse me. Could you do my bookkeeping for me please?

[00:47:36] Jo: And, and then they say, And that old camera that you're not using anymore, what, what are you gonna do with that

[00:47:43] Jaymi: Yeah, you just got your hands on a a what was it that I sent

[00:47:47] Jaymi: you?

[00:47:47] Jo: one dx. Yeah.

[00:47:48] Jaymi: one D dx. Okay, cool. yeah,

[00:47:50] Jaymi: I wanna eventually, I'm saving up for it. And by using what we talked about in the last episode about the profit first method, I'm saving up for moving into mirrorless.[00:48:00]

[00:48:00] Jo: Woo.

[00:48:01] Jaymi: So Joe she earned very much my old one DX camera body while I clear out the space to be like, Oh, I'm gonna save up. And so I'm on B and h getting alerts for the R three and when it'll be available and every two weeks I get an email from B and h and I'm like, Oh. And I open it and it says, Nope, not available. And I'm like, Oh, okay.

[00:48:20] Jaymi: Well that's good cause I haven't saved up yet. So you just keep being unavailable.

[00:48:27] Jo: Well, once you get it, then you can nerd out with me and tell me all about it and how

[00:48:31] Jaymi: fun, fun.

[00:48:32] Jaymi: fun,

[00:48:32] Jo: Yeah. And then you'll, you'll go click, click, click, click, click. But it'll be silent.

[00:48:36] Jaymi: Ah, it'll be so good. Yeah. Every time I'm out there on the kayak and I, it's like silent, beautiful, just bird song and I see some res or something and I'm like, Oh, take some pictures. And they just go, What the heck was that with all that clater coming from that kayak. So I'm very excited about the mirrorless

[00:48:55] Jo: Yes, Yes, definitely.

[00:48:58] Jaymi: Okay, Joe, well thank you [00:49:00] so much for talking business with me. Happy to. Glad I could be here.

[00:49:06] Jaymi: Wonderful. Well, everyone, we'll talk to you again next week.


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