Meet the Mentors: Bethany Tubman Johs
My next mentor is Bethany. Glamour, boudoir, business, head-shots. Bethany also had built an IT business with her husband that was successful that she was working in, just like Emily. Also has children, work-life balance zero. Minus five, work-life balance. And teaches martial arts, kick butt. And so does Tammy, by the way. So, I like that all these martial artists that are in business. You know, the truth is is at the end of the day what I loved also about you, Bethany, was you were in the same situation. You had already built it, but there was a lot more self-discovery in the photography, right?
Because I feel like when you've already built a business, the core of getting paid and building a business and invoicing is already in you. Like you've already gone through those levels, but becoming a photographer means you're becoming Tammy Allen. You're becoming Emily London Miller. You're becoming Bethany Johs Tubman. So, you're actually becoming and putting your own name out...
there. And all of a sudden you're being judged. "And am I good enough? "And am I good enough for this industry?" And that sort of pops up as well. So, what was your biggest hurdle? Do you have a studio outside of home? What do you you charge? And what are you struggling with now?
Okay, I started with a studio in my home, and I wouldn't even technically call it a studio. It was just my living room. I had about a 7x7 space that I had available to shoot in. And that was it. Now, on the corporate side, like Tammy, in the creative side, the value was completely different. On the corporate side of my business, that was my knowledge. I had had years of knowledge. That's what I was selling. Very comfortable in doing that. Already had made a name for myself in the industry. Actually, my husband would go out, and he would be Mr. Bethany because that's who I... There I was already known. On the photography side, that's my creative side. That was my feely side and I think the more vulnerable side, so I didn't value that. And, so pricing was very much a struggle for me because I was selling my art or my creativity versus my knowledge of what I knew.
And so tell me, what do you struggle with now?
What I struggle with now is... On the chart, I would say it would be pricing and product. Pricing meaning I've just increased my prices, so I'm back at where I was when I started on valuing my work. The product side, not so much product as in what I sell as prints and packages. But on the production side, I'm going to have to outsource my retouching. That's what's really holding me back and keeping me from my family. So, I have the shooting time. I have the editing time. I have my other business, which I am still running. Plus I have two children at home and a husband that are wanting my attention. And I just, I'm stretched too thin.
Okay, all right. So, I don't believe in work-life balance. The best thing you can do is outsource. I believe that once you start getting a steady income, you then need to take a hit on the income to pay someone else, whether a makeup artist or a retoucher. Remember, the smartest thing I ever did in business was I taught my makeup artist to be a retoucher. Then I got a second makeup artist, and I taught her to be a retoucher, too. I had two makeup artists that were also retouchers. When one of them was doing makeup, the other one was retouching. When they were both doing makeup, they would be doing makeup, and then they would finish and both go to retouching. That is an extraordinary business model, when you have two makeup artists that can retouch. Now if anybody works with me, they have to be double skilled. There is always a way. There is always a young student out there trying to find their way that you can teach. The hardest part about letting go of retouching or design is control. The control of letting it go to somebody else. Because it is one of the single hardest things to do. But I'm telling you right now... And then, letting go of the money 'cause you just start making an income. And then you gotta shave off another $150 a day or a $150 dollars a week to pay somebody else. And you're like, "That money was mine."
But if I don't do that, I won't make my goals. And my goals are...
So, you've gotta spend money to make money.
Exactly, yeah because right now I can physically only handle maybe a session a week. That's going to cap me at my income level unless I outsource my retouching. I want to get to eight sessions a... or two sessions a week or eight sessions a month or 10 sessions a month so that my income keeps increasing.
Yeah, so that's great balancing... I feel like that's probably one of the hardest things. If you go back to the beginning, talk to me about pricing, how hard that was to evolve your pricing. What was your real startup scary bit?
The scary bit. When I first started in 2012, I was charging $250, and I'll meet you at the park, and you'll get everything on the CD. And then I discovered you on CreativeLive. And I started studying CreativeLive, and I increased my sales average to $250 to $600. And I was pretty happy with that $600. I about passed out bringing that check to the bank. It wasn't until your Reveal Wall, so I'm really excited for you to be talking about that later. It wasn't until The Reveal Wall that my very first sale was my top package at $2000. Now, there's a caveat there because I got really excited and nervous and I immediately discounted 20% off of that.
'Cause that's great, isn't it? You want to pay me $2000 for my work? Let me give you 200 back.
But I learned from that experience. I don't get all excited like that anymore. I kind of keep it under wraps. And so my sales average after 28 days on The Reveal Wall was at about $1300. And I've just now recently raised my prices. So, $1200 is now my first... my smallest package.
Your entry point. That's great, so you're all on that same boat. That's awesome. And this is Bethany's studio. Isn't that neat to see them all? Yeah, I get so excited.