This week’s Kajabi Hero is unique in that she not only has the privilege to work with people but with their pets as well. Nicole Begley is a pet photographer and she also offers courses training others in how to become pet photographers as well.
Make sure you pay close attention to the interview today, because Nicole has made over 6 figures since launching her courses on Kajabi, and so you’ll want to grab all the great nuggets that she has to offer.
Nicole has had a pet photography company for about 7 years, and she used to meet with clients in person to teach them the ins and outs of starting and running their own photography businesses. While she loved meeting face to face with clients (and still does), she found that she was repeating a lot of the same information over and over again. Most of her teaching focuses on the business side of running a company, and she realized she could reach many more people all at the same time if she put that part of her teaching online.
Nicole offers a substantial training course with 6 individual pieces for clients to access. Once she found Kajabi, she was able to consolidate everything she was offering onto one platform and as mentioned before, she is doing very well for herself. Gone were the days of plug-ins, updates, and website crashes, because Kajabi offered everything she needed to run a successful online business.
Formula for Success
One of Nicole’s first pieces of advice is to make sure that everything you are offering online is all working together and of the same caliber. For example, marketing, price points, and product offerings should all be harmonious and on point in order that you are attracting the right kind of clients for your business.
I love how Nicole really has the perfect formula for being successful online: she was already working in pet photography, she started teaching people her methods, and then she put everything she was already doing and passionate about online to reach thousands more people. People often ask me what niche they should be in, and I always tell them to find what they love or are passionate about and to pursue that. You will be much more successful talking and teaching about something you truly love than being concerned with finding some niche that you don’t really care about.
She is providing a service that someone needs, and then they are enabled to go and make money off of what they learned as well. Some of Nicole’s favorite emails are the ones from students that tell her they just made their first sale or they are celebrating their biggest order yet. She truly finds joy in helping others pursue their passions.
Nicole shared another piece of advice for online success; her free Facebook group for per photographers. At first her motivation was just to have a place to get some conversations started, as her paids ads weren’t seeing a lot of reach. It’s turned into a wonderful resource with members from all over the world sharing advice, asking questions, and being open and friendly with one another. Another positive thing that has come out of the group is that it’s a place where people get to know Nicole, form a relationship with her, and therefore start to trust her. This then leads to people visiting her website and taking her courses.
She also puts high quality content out on her blog every week. So people who visit are getting great, actionable steps for free just by reading what she posts, which in turn continues to build trust. You can check out Nicole’s blog at hairofthedogblog.com.
The Dream Job
I asked Nicole what it feels like to wake up and put her hand to her ‘dream job’ every day. She said that there are really no words to describe how wonderful it is to pursue her passions, and sometimes she has to pinch herself to remind herself that it’s real! She was also very honest in saying that there are still some aspects of her job that feel like ‘a job’ and require hard work. Still, the benefits far outway the drawbacks.
There really is nothing more rewarding than being able to create your own schedule, be your own boss, and create your own opportunities for success.
A very unique offering that Nicole presents to her clients are training retreats in foreign countries and here in the US. These sessions are open to a very limited number of people, fill up quickly, and are an all-inclusive training session and vacation wrapped into one. Her and two other photography teachers rent out spectacular houses with incredible amenities for these retreats and they’ve seen great success with them. Some of their locations have been ‘Barkelona’ in Spain, ‘Barkarica’ in Costa Rica, and ‘Barkjour’ in France. Nicole mentioned that a huge perk to attending these retreats is that the client actually ‘gets away’ from their real life for a week and focuses mainly on the business and skill set of pet photography. When you take an online course from your home there’s still all the real-life responsibilities that comes with being an adult there to distract you.
Nicole is based in Pittsburgh and so for the winter months business tends to be rather slow because of the weather. To help offset this problem, Nicole holds her retreats in the winter but she plans them in places where the weather is nice, like her next one which is in Florida. These retreats are all-inclusive, with a chef for the week, transportation, and an amazing location and atmosphere.
She has really tapped into something special with these retreats. So many entrepreneurs could do this in many different veins. Setting up a destination of vacationing, learning, brainstorming, and collaborating together is a very powerful tool and Nicole is doing it wonderfully.
Almost all of the guests who go on the retreats have first taken her online courses, so when they get together for the week they are able to dive so much deeper into techniques and conversations as a group and the guests really pull a lot of value from it.
Change Can Be a Great Thing
Nicole’s background is in something a lot of people only dream about doing, which is animal training and zoology. She’s worked with seals, monkeys, birds, and all kinds of animals for 13 years. After the birth of her second son, she found that she wasn’t loving her job as much as she used to which made he reflect on what she really wanted to do.
She had always loved photography and especially taking pictures of the animals that she worked with, so she started her own business which served both families and pets at the time. After a few years she dropped the family side and most of her clients are dogs, with a few horses and the occasional cat thrown in. She joked that some photographers have the patience to work with babies and toddlers, but her gifting is clearly with pets.
Nicole has two main business offerings available online. Her flagship product is The Business of Pet Photography and it includes everything from starting up a business to marketing. Another product that goes hand in hand with the 8 week course is Office Hours, where people can log onto a webinar, ask questions, and receive actionable advice for their situation specifically.
Her other online course is a post processing class in which she partners with another photographer friend who is well-versed in Photoshop, and together they take clients through Lightroom and the basics of using Photoshop for photography specifically.
Nicole polled her clients on how they would want to receive the 8 week course and the overwhelming response was to have a weekly drip as opposed to all at once. The structure of the course is a slow build, laying the very important foundation of legalese, pricing, and website design, and then tackling marketing and the rest. She made a great point in reminding us that no amount of marketing will make up for a lack of preparation and taking the proper steps to ensure you’re setting up the business the right way.
Providing value to people who are paying for your services is imperative.
I asked Nicole to share with us a few secrets to get our pets at home to pay attention for pictures. Food is a huge motivator. Hearing novel sounds is also another tool she uses to get dogs’ ears to point forward and to keep their attention. She actually uses an app on her phone that emits certain sounds that dogs will respond to.
Looking to the future, Nicole’s goals are to grow her Facebook group and to spread her message and content to more people online. She points out here that you don’t need a giant list of people to be successful online. She started with about 1,500 email addresses and now has about 3,000, but is making more money that she ever thought possible. The important factor is to supply your people with regular quality content which helps them to remain engaged with the message. Stay focused on your niche and make sure that it’s in line with your passion.
Nicole encouraged us to get to know our customers. She has done a lot of polling and asking questions to her clients, because she wants to figure out what they need and how she can then meet that need. This is fantastic advice for anyone out there just starting out or already established in a market. Customer’s needs change and it’s important to be able to adapt to those changes. It’s important to train people in every component of what you offer.
A common misconception is that giving away free advice, training, tips, or resources will keep people from buying into the deeper, more inductive program you may be offering. The opposite is actually true! When you freely offer high quality and valuable information that people can use, they are much more likely to pay you for the in-depth steps or the video training course that walk them through the processes.
Price point is also an important factor to consider. Nicole has raised her course prices with each round (she’s done three so far), and this last group was the most engaged because they had to invest a little bit more. The result was having a wonderful, committed group of clients and that’s a win-win for everyone. The more you pay for a product, the more serious you will take it and the more value you will place on it.
One of Nicole’s biggest challenges was figuring out how to lay out the courses and arrange the information in a way that was easy to digest and not too overwhelming for her clients. If she just dumped all of her knowledge into two massively long video courses, it would not be as easily digested. She needed to communicate the most important information for her clients in order to help them effectively continue on in their journey.
Nicole has this business running so well and I love seeing what she is doing with her gifts and passions.
To visit Nicole and see what she offers, go to Hair of Dog Academy here.
Remember that this success story is not just for Nicole. This is possible for anyone who is willing to put their doubts aside, take their passions and share them with others online.
Try Kajabi for free today and see what can happen when you step out in a new direction.
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