The dust has finally settled after closing registration to my courses once and for all. It marks the end of a big chapter of my life. As such, a slew of emotions and realizations have pulsed through my brain. Everything from gratitude to regret.
First, the gratitude.
Quite often, people took a total chance on me and the idea of learning online. I’m grateful for their trust, and willingness to give it all a chance. I spent several years teaching online in person, and absolutely delighted in the opportunity to meet inspiring people all over the world. What a privilege to have our paths cross in such a personal way of being able to talk over pictures of your very life! When things progressed to a point that I could no longer sustain that personal interaction, I turned the courses into digital products. I missed getting to know people personally, but was grateful to have some space to start pursuing some other projects. I’m grateful to the many people who purchased the courses even without an active instructor. The income from these courses has supported our family for five years, helped get my husband through graduate school, helped sustain us while he looked for a job for 8 months, and provided many other opportunities for our family. I’m so grateful.
Ending a chapter in your life inevitably brings reflection. Even with all the amazing parts of this experience, I admit there has been some regrets. In sharing, I hope that other people in business might learn from my own experience.
1. I only sold higher priced products.
It takes a leap of faith to drop $300 for an online course. And for many, it’s not just faith, but a large investment. It’s my very nature to be “all or none”, and when I created my courses I included so much content that it needed to be priced where it was. Looking back, I would have been smart to offer some smaller scale options. The ability to buy just one video tutorial, or just an ebook, or sell small things as separate a la carte items that were not only more affordable when sold separate, but a great way to gain trust with people. Chris Guillebeau, in his book The $100 Startup recommends that every business have at least three pricing tiers. I completely agree, and were I to do it all over again I would have worked hard to find a way to do just that.
2. I didn’t see the opportunity to use my business to support a cause.
The day after my last sale ended, I stumbled upon an organization that blew me away with their mission. I was so emotionally moved to action, that I extended my sale for 24 hrs to support their cause and donated 100% of proceeds to their charity. I raised over $5000 in 24 hrs. It felt so empowering and thrilling to donate that much money to something I believed in. As amazing as that experience was, I regret that I never figured that out earlier. Most certainly I will be keeping this in mind for future endeavors. Aside from the personal fulfillment of that experience, I was astonished to see the customer response. I got several emails that said, “I wasn’t going to buy, but then I saw that it was for this cause and couldn’t pass this by.” Or another surprise, “I couldn’t purchase this for myself, but since this is a donation, it makes it a purchase for someone else.” From a business perspective, it made me realize that partnering in support of a charity brings different buyers that wouldn’t have purchased otherwise. An all around win for everyone.
All in all, I’m ending this year grateful and excited. What an adventure I’ve been on, and what an exciting new adventure awaits!
What about photography?
I must admit, that spending the past eight years with an extreme focus on photography and turning a profit with it, I feel great relief in letting it revert back to a hobby and personal pursuit. It has been delightful to just shoot for myself, and also document my family more intentionally. I’m late to the game, but I did finally join INSTAGRAM, and I love it!
I do have a few new photography courses that I’m finishing up right now that will be featured on The Photographers Element, but that is the extent of my involvement. They’ll be led by some amazing Teaching Assistants, which will truly give me the space to pursue my new adventure.
The New Adventure
The new online school for creativity and life–that I’m co-creating with Sarah Bray–is one of my favorite projects to date. We have a tentative launch date in early 2015, and I will surely keep you posted if you’d like to follow along for that adventure. We’re diving into something completely new to both of us–podcasting!
Sarah has always taught me to never create something that you wouldn’t buy for yourself. This school and every course offered comes completely from that desire to create things that we personally need and want in our life right now. As such, we are already benefiting from the things we create. That is exciting! And something that I feel is beautifully sustainable for a long time. It’s hard to outgrow a business that consistently creates experiences to improve our current situations. That type of strategy will not only keep us busy, but will grow and develop right along with us.
In deep gratitude, I wish you the most joyful holiday season. Thank you for being a loyal reader and friend.
Brooke Snow is a photographic artist and delights in the pursuit of a meaningful life. Sign up for her FREE e course “Living A Thriving Life” to learn more about how to find true balance in your life. Brooke lives in Northern Utah with her calm husband, adventurous 4 year old son and practically perfect new baby girl.
Brooke. Words can not explain the gratitude I feel for you as a person, and the total awe andrespect I have for you as an artist and foe lack of a better word a true Christ like person. Your inspiring words through your blog and uplifting things you share have carried me through the darkest if dark days, including moments I Couldn’t Carry Myself throught. Thank you for that! With my avoidance if the computer I was late finding out about your sales. If your online classes ever do open up please oh please let me know! I will be saving my pennies just in case! Thanks for the light you share and are in so many lives! Xo
My dear, thank you so much for your deeply thoughtful and kind words. I honestly feel like the same could be said of you. I am humbled to know that anything I may have written has helped you in anyway. Most of my courses will be emerging again on The Photographers Element in a streamlined manner with an awesome support team that are determined to make it a great experience for people. I’m grateful I can leave my courses in good hands 🙂 I hope your holidays have been a true delight 🙂
Hi, Brooke! I’m a portrait photographer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I’ve been “following” you for quite a while. I have 3 of your courses and I’m passing by just to say how special you are. For sharing your knowledge and personal thoughts with us in such a thrilling and honest way. I wish you all the best in your new adventure! Thank you! Yours sincerely, Thais Coutinho
What a lovely comment! Thank you so much for your kindness! I’m so grateful for your support and that you’ve enjoyed the courses! Best wishes to you on your own exciting journey!
I’m so late in this Brooke because my life took a turn away from photography and teaching too (after 19 years). I empathize with so much of what you write and have written. I know your divine path is opening before you and I look forward to following the parts you choose to share. Best to you, Kerri