Ashley Freehan: Hey, Hope! Welcome to the show. I am so excited to have you here today. And I cannot wait to talk to you today about passive income, and how it’s changed your business. But before we get into that, I would love for you to introduce yourself and let our listeners know who you are, who you live with, and what you do.
Hope Taylor: Yeah, Ashley, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about. And so I’m really honored that you had me on.
So my name is Hope, as you mentioned, and I am a wedding and senior portrait photographer currently living in Savannah, with my fiance and my fur babies. And I started my business actually when I was in high school. So that’s kind of the unique part of my journey that some people don’t know is that I began my business when I was only 15, I was a junior in high school and started photographing my friends for fun.
And it pretty much like really quickly escalated into being a full-time job for me as a senior. And then I went full-time directly out of high school instead of going to college. So that’s kind of how my business journey got started. And I’ve since started adding in elements of passive income and education into my business.
So now 10 years later, the photography and service side of my business is actually a really small portion of what I do. And the education and passive revenue side is a much bigger part of my income at this point, which has been a really, really cool journey, and I think is a really important topic when we’re speaking specifically to moms and to business owners that would be to really have some of their time back. Because it’s what allows me to have free time and sets me up for building a family in a couple of years.
So little quick version of my story, but I can elaborate on any element of that that you want.
Ashley Freehan: That’s so great. Thanks for sharing that. And congratulations on your upcoming wedding. So excited for you. I love hearing all about like the bachelorette festivities. Like all that fun stuff. I remember that. But like I don’t even remember wedding planning. When I got married 15 years ago, I don’t even know how we did it. Because there was no Pinterest. I’m like, I feel gypped.
Hope Taylor: Even with Pinterest, it has been stressful. Like I have worked in the wedding industry for 10 years. And I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. And holy macaroni t’s like a full time job on the side. But we’re so excited. And it’s been such a fun planning process. And I can’t believe we’re like less than three months away now, which is bananas.
Ashley Freehan: Oh my gosh, that’s so exciting. And it’s probably so much harder, though, honestly, to be getting married now with Pinterest, because now you just have way too many ideas. And before it was like, I didn’t know what like all the possibilities that were endless. And so it was a little easier, I would say. That’s so exciting. Yeah, you were so excited. Awesome.
Okay, so let’s get into the passive income topic. So can you break it down for us? And let us know like, what does this actually mean for maybe people listening who are like, Okay, that sounds too good to be true. What does that mean?
Hope Taylor: I think that that is a very common thought process when you hear the term passive income these days, because I feel like it has become almost a buzzword like in the small business world lately, like passive revenue and making money in your sleep and like all of these phrases that are getting tossed around, but nobody really defines what that means.
And there’s kind of this misconception that it’s just easy money or quick money or money that you don’t have to work for. And that’s not necessarily true.
So to me, I define passive income as three things. One is that it is not a direct trade of time for money. And that is the biggest element that is obviously very important and incredibly valuable for those of us that have service-based businesses. Because in a service-based business, obviously, I’m a photographer, I’m used to only making money when I show up at a shoot or show up at a wedding or physically drive two hours to get to meet up with my client.
And because of that, I’m very limited on how much money I can make, right, because there’s only so much time. So in order to make more money as a service based business owner, I either have to raise my prices, or I have to commit to more work and be away from my family for longer.
So adding a stream of passive revenue means that you’re able to make revenue and income off of something that isn’t directly correlated to your time.
And because of that, the second thing that classifies passive revenue is that there’s no income ceiling, since we’re not trading our time for money. And we’re not only able to make money when we’re directly at an event or physically working, there isn’t really a limit. So in theory, I could make a product right now and make money on it forever. And there’s not really a cap on that.
And the third thing that quantifies what passive income is, to me is something that you have to work for upfront, but then you can scale over a long period of time. So creating an online course or a digital product is a great example of this. Because you work on it once you launch it one time. It’s obviously a ton of setup and a ton of work to create it. But then You’re able to kind of automate the process of selling it and scaling it. So it’s a lot of upfront hard work, but you’re able to make exponential amounts of money, because it’s not a direct trade for your time.
Ashley Freehan: And that was amazing. Like you just broke that down so well, thank you. And I think that just busted the myth that so many people have, as you mentioned, the fact that people think passive income is like, I don’t have to work for this. It’s like, No, you just don’t work as hard for as long.
Like you just said, so if people are listening right now, and they’re like, Okay, Hope this sounds amazing. Like, how do I get this passive income? What would you say? How can someone get started with this? If they are interested? They’re curious, and you’ve piqued their curiosity here?
Hope Taylor: Yes. Oh, good. I hope I did. So I would say that there are three types of passive income that are the most common, especially in kind of the creative and photography space that I’m in.
1. Become an Affiliate
And that is essentially everything that you see that’s like, reward style, and people tagging where they got their outfits from. And Amazon affiliates, it essentially means that you share something that you’re already using and loving, but you have a specific link that’s connected to you.
And anytime somebody uses that link to buy the product, you get money back, you get a kickback. So HoneyBook is a program that I use in my business for contracts and payments.
For example, I have an affiliate link, and if anybody clicks on that link, and signs up for HoneyBook, I make $200. And I have made a lot of money off of just talking about a program that I’ve been using for 10 years. And it was I was talking about it anyway, right.
So that’s kind of the first way to get started. And I’ll elaborate on these a little more. But being an affiliate is a good place to start.
2. Brand Deals
This is what you see a lot of influencers doing where you see them dedicate a reel or a tick tock to a specific brand or product. And you can call it UGC as another thing that people call it user generated content, where essentially you’re creating marketing content for another product or a brand.
The difference between that and being an affiliate is that you are typically paid a flat fee for that content. So maybe a brand reaches out to you. And it’s like, hey, I really want you to make a tech talk about this lipstick. And you say okay, well, my audience and my engagement and my interaction is worth $1,000. So if you pay me $1,000, I will deliver that one video to you. And then that would be what’s considered a brand deal.
And then the last form of passive revenue, which is the biggest source in my own business is education, like online courses and digital products, templates, things on Etsy that you see people selling. All of those things can be lumped into just the digital product and online course space. And I would say that that is the most difficult to get into and the most work, but it’s also the most fruitful for those of us that want to break into the education space.
Ashley Freehan: Those are so good. I love those. And I feel like as you mentioned, the affiliate marketing piece like that can be something that’s just so simple, just based on what people already use. And I think a lot of people don’t really a lot of photographers don’t view themselves as influencers, right? And so they can be like, Oh, that feels like weird or icky, like, but you said it like so well, like you are just talking about things that you’re using. It’s not like they’re approaching you and saying, Hey, want to try this. And then you know, try to sell it for us. Like that would feel more slimy to me, I feel like right if it’s not something I actually genuinely love. And so just start right there with products and programs that you already use.
Hope Taylor: Exactly. And it’s always so funny because when I talk to people that I’m educating on this topic, I say to them, Go back through your Instagram, DMS and your social media messages and comments, and see what questions people are always asking because it’s hilarious, but one of the number one questions I get asked is like what lipstick color I’m wearing, or where I got my shirt from.
It has nothing to do with my business or my education or any of my products. But I signed up for like to know it, which is just an app where I can link the clothing that I’m wearing and the makeup that I use and get a little bit of an affiliate income off of that.
And if you’re already being asked those questions, which most people are like people love knowing where you got things and what your recommendations are. It’s a great and really easy way to just add in a little bit of extra passive revenue.
Ashley Freehan: So smart. So are you an Amazon affiliate? Okay, so I just had to like pop this in here because I keep hearing that all the time. Like you should be on Amazon affiliates and like for me personally, I’m like, that’s just one more thing that I have to like sign up for.
Can you explain like, is the process to be an affiliate really hard for someone?
Hope Taylor: Okay, no, it’s super, super easy. You pretty much just fill out an online application. And since a lot of us are already business owners in some capacity, we kind of already have the like legitimacy that they’re looking for in order to qualify you and those qualifications do change now. And then so you can search what the current like stipulations are that they’re looking for.
But like to know, it is another one very similar to Amazon affiliate, you just fill out an application, you’re like, hey, here’s my website, here’s my Instagram, where I’m going to be talking about products. And a lot of them are looking for consistency and imagery, especially like to know it, like they kind of do a quick glance, and they’re like, Oh, she looks professional, because her images are consistently bright, or consistently colorful, or consistently, whatever.
So as long as you’re already representing yourself professionally online, you typically have a much easier time getting accepted into these platforms, there isn’t really like a minimum requirement. It’s just that they want to be sure your legitimate business and not a random person that’s just trying to like, do scammy things with their affiliate program.
Ashley Freehan: Love that. Thanks for making that feel like a little bit more manageable. I don’t know why I feel like it’s just one more thing. And like, it’s just daunting. Sometimes when you get started with something new. And you’re like, totally Is this gonna be like calling to make a doctor’s appointment like is it gonna take much longer than I originally anticipated.
Hope Taylor: So it really doesn’t, it’s so easy. And then once you get approved, you have a little plugin in your search bar up at the top of your computer, where you just tap, like, if you’re on Abercrombie, and you’re looking at jeans, you just tap this little button, and it automatically generates you a link that you can use to share about the jeans. So it’s that easy to use. Yeah, it’s super, super simple once you get approved.
Ashley Freehan: I love that. And I feel like that makes your business like just like so much more fun and personal, where it’s like, it doesn’t always have to be so serious. And like, we can make business fun. And I love that and I am such a consumer on the like to know it. Like I’m always looking at people’s like to know it. So that’s funny. Oh, yeah. So good.
Okay, so I wanted to kind of jump ahead a little bit on our questions here, because I kind of want to know a little bit about your education story. How did you get into that? How did you kind of make that shift from ‘I’m a photographer to I’m now going to sell some information that I have’, like, where did you start with that?
Hope Taylor: So for me, I when I talk about this, I almost laugh at myself, because I was way too big for my britches, when I say I actually think that that contributed to why my education grew so quickly, because it really was just always a part of what I did. And looking back and like, I don’t know that I was necessarily always qualified to be doing that.
But really, I was actually super intentional about what I taught. And I only ever taught on topics that I had been doing consistently for more than a year and seen success with. So my education basically grew like a year behind my photography business grew, if that makes sense. So after being in business for a year, I started hosting other educational workshops for other high school students that wanted to learn how to use a camera.
So I had been successful using my camera for a year. So I went back and was like, I could teach high school students use their camera, I think. And we did photoshoots in front of my parents garage at their house as the backdrop like it was so much work. And so like, in retrospect, it just seems like it was so minor. But it was so amazing at the time, like I just loved pouring back into people, especially other high school students that went to high school and just wanted to understand how I was doing what I was doing. And it just kind of escalated. From there. I was always sharing educational content online, I always had a very engagement based social media presence.
So I was always answering DMS and comments and just engaging with people. And I think that that naturally transitioned into bigger workshops, and then one on one coaching. And then my first online course was launched, I believe in 2018. And the demand for those things just kept growing. So I just kept creating new products and new offers that aligned with what my audience wanted to learn from me.
Ashley Freehan: That’s so cool. And I really appreciate that you mentioned like being one year ahead of someone because I think a lot of people listening are like, I don’t have anything to share, right. And I think that self doubt really creeps in especially as moms because we’re I mean just humans in general.
But moms I feel like are really hard on themselves. In the sense that it’s you’re you’re pouring out so much time and energy and attention to your kids that you do forget about yourself, you do forget to take care of yourself that you are worth a lot, right and your knowledge is more than people behind you. Right and so always thinking, who is a few steps behind me that I can serve.
And I don’t have to be an educator to teach. I think that’s a big misconception too is like, you don’t have to be an educator. First you just have to have that teaching heart and then you become the educator. So do you agree with that percent?
Hope Taylor: Yes, I absolutely agree with that. I always say that. When you are considering doing education, the number one indicator of whether or not it’s something you should be doing is just if people are asking for it, like, if you have people DMing, you asking where you got your camera, you can tell that you can educate them, you can help them.
And I know one of the questions we’re going to talk about is kind of how to get started in education specifically, but all you have to do is just show up and be willing to help. And you don’t have to claim the title of educator, you don’t have to post about it, if you don’t want to, if you just enjoy helping people and want to do one on one coaching at a coffee shop, that’s totally fine.
But your time and your knowledge are valuable, you’re always going to be a couple of steps ahead of somebody and a couple of steps behind somebody else. But you can always help the people that you’re a couple of steps ahead of and you don’t have to necessarily put this like stake in the ground of calling yourself an educator and committing to creating online resources if you don’t want to, but you can always always serve and help people if you have a heart for wanting to help.
Ashley Freehan: So true. That is so helpful. So for the people listening that are like, Okay, you’re giving me a little encouragement here, like I know, I probably do have something I could share, like what other like recommendations do you have for people with getting started as, as an educator as a teacher?
Hope Taylor: Yeah. So the best place to start is just to show up and show that you are willing to help. So back in those early days when I was doing those workshops at my parents house and things like that, I was basically taking any question that I got online, whether it was a DM or a comment or an email of people asking where I got my camera, or how did you take this picture?
I was taking that question and answering it in a blog post. So I was basically just answering and adding value publicly on my blog. And that showed people like, hey, if I DM her, she’s going to answer me or if I email her and ask where she got her lens, she’s willing to tell me what she shoots with. And it kind of started the snowball effect of because I was posting that I was willing to help more people were asking for help, which created more demand for education, which allowed me to start charging money for it. And that’s where that kind of snowball began.
So if you want to get started in being an educator, just show up and start adding value. It doesn’t have to be super strategic. It doesn’t have to be a specific platform. If you start showing up answering questions, adding value and consistency is a huge part of this, the more consistent you can be with that the better.
But just start adding value and just start showing that you’re willing to help. And I bet you’ll be amazed that just by posting that you’re willing to answer a question, you’ll get more and more questions and that demand will begin as long as you are willing to put it out into the world and add actual value to people in their businesses.
Ashley Freehan: I like that a lot. And I feel like it just brings it down to a really simple level. Right that I say this all the time in the podcast, but we overcomplicate everything, right, we want everything to be perfect right out of the gate. But the truth is that nobody ever starts perfect.
Nobody is perfect. But I think in our eyes, our kind of misconception is we do look at people and think that they are perfect in a certain sense. So it’s really hard when you are playing that comparison game of Do I really have something to share? Right?
Like, are people really going to care what I have to say. And I think that’s that self doubt again, and like we just we just need to let that go. Because we’re holding back the opportunity to help someone when we show up with that self doubt.
So I love that you shared just start simple, just start somewhere and just stay consistent, right? I feel like that is absolute gold.
So what about the person who is like, okay, but I really I do have something that I want to share, like, I know that I could create a course or at least a guide or something that I could sell. What tips do you have for those people of where to get started?
Because I know when I started the education space, I felt like it was infinite. There are so many misconceptions. There are so many different methods, there are so many things.
How could you maybe give someone some advice in that arena, they already know they have something they want to share, and they want to sell.
Hope Taylor: This is my favorite topic to talk about. I geek out about this strategy my fiance geeks out about like spreadsheets and excel, I geek out about this.
So I think that the biggest piece of education and actually creating a digital product that I did wrong in the first few years is that I heavily undervalued the importance of email marketing and having an email list and I know that this is going to just immediately some of you are going to tune this out because you’re going to be like that’s just another thing on my plate. And it’s another thing for me to do. And I know how that feels.
But when I tell you that this will make or break the impact of the product that you create I truly truly mean that.
I launched my first course by just trying to sell it to my social media audience. I had a very large Instagram following at the time and I put so much work into creating this online product. I just posted about it on Instagram. And it kind of flopped because I didn’t have the contact information for my customers.
So I was working against the algorithms and against how many things they were consuming on a daily basis, to try to get them to pay attention to this product that I had created.
But when you have an email list, and you have people’s direct contact information, you know that you can connect with them and talk to them and sell to them.
And the biggest piece of advice I wish someone had told me sooner is that you should start there before you create that product or that course. Because if you’re going to put a ton of work and heart and time into creating a product, you want to be sure that it’s actually going to sell.
And the best way to guarantee that it’s going to sell is to collect people’s emails.
So the easiest place to get started with that is to create some sort of free resource that you can exchange for someone’s email address. That can just be a PDF of maybe the top five tips that you have for photographers, or the top five tips you have for organizing or managing your time as a mom, top five self care must for every mom, it could be anything that you want it to be that relates to the product that you want to sell, and start giving that away in exchange for people’s email addresses.
And that’s how you will earn their emails and start collecting your emails. And then you’ll have their contact information to begin selling to them when you have a product ready to go.
Ashley Freehan: Oh, my goodness, hearing you speak about that just reminds me of the exact kind of process that I went through to where it was like, nobody, I can’t say nobody, but I didn’t really understand the importance of an email list as a photographer.
So now even talking to my own coaching students about that they’re like, why don’t you email us, that just doesn’t make any sense. It does, but so much more.
So when it comes to this idea of selling passive products, because you want to get in front of them and stay in front of them. And we all know that social media is finicky, right, and they do whatever they want. And we cannot just put all of our eggs into the social media basket, when they’re not showing our stuff to a very good percentage of our people.
It’s like very small that are seeing this. So it’s really important to have that email list. And I think I mean, can you think of other things, too, when it comes to passive income, I was trying to think of one thing that like came to mind that was like, Oh, my gosh, I have to like remind everybody, this one thing.
So you said email marketing? Is there anything else where you’re like, I wish I would have known this one thing?
Hope Taylor: Yes. Oh, my gosh, yes, there’s so many. I think that the other thing that comes to my mind, that is really, really important, whether you want to do education specifically, or just the affiliate and brand deal side of passive income, which I would consider like the influencer route, you can do both, I do both.
But no matter what you want to do, one of the biggest and most important elements of this is earning your audience’s trust.
Even if you’re just suggesting a shirt to buy, or a pair of jeans to buy or lipstick color to buy, they have to trust you, in order to be willing to make a purchase based on your recommendation. They have to be able to trust that it’s good quality, that you wouldn’t steer them wrong, that they’re going to fit accordingly.
And that they can just trust that your recommendation is going to be a sound recommendation. And I think the most important element of earning trust is having a personal brand and a personal connection with your audience. I think this is important in any business. But I actually think it becomes like 10 times more important when we’re talking about education and passive income. Because if your audience doesn’t feel like they know you, it’s very hard for them to trust you. That’s like asking them to trust a complete stranger, right.
And so if I’m not consistently showing up on social media, and building relationships with my followers, and talking to my stories, and posting photos of myself and letting them in on to the wedding planning process, if I’m not doing all those things, I’m keeping my audience at an arm’s length, but accessing that expecting them to trust me and invest in me like I’m their best friend. And those two things can’t really coexist.
And so I really strongly believe in the power of personal marketing and incorporating yourself and who you are into your branding and into your social media strategy so that your audience automatically trust you just by feeling like they know you and can relate to you on a personal level.
Ashley Freehan: So good. Yes, I agree with everything that you’re saying. And I feel like one of the things too, that I wish that I would have known when I was starting my passive income journey as well was to validate your offer before you sell it. Yeah. And actually sell it before you create it. Right. So all of those things.
I mean, there’s so much that goes into passive income and creating education, but that was one of the biggest pieces of advice was sell it first and then create it so that you’re not creating something you think everybody wants and then come to find out they don’t. That is a really big lesson that I hope that everyone listening can avoid.
I’m excited about this topic, I’m excited that you were able to come on here and share this and inspire our listeners, is there anything else that you want to leave them with before we wrap up?
Yeah, I would say, and I honestly love what you just said about validating your offer before you sell it. Because it’s so important to make sure that what you are passionate about and want to teach aligns with what your audience is actually looking for from you.
And I’ve never personally sold it before I’ve created it. But I always, always, always pull my audience and engage my audience and the content and the topic before I sell it, which is still kind of the same exact thing you just said, like, make sure your audience wants the product from you, and that they know that you’re an expert in that topic.
Because if you are always talking about like senior posing, and then you come out the gate with an accounting course, everybody’s gonna be confused. Like, make sure that what you’re launching is what your audience is asking for, and resonates with what you’ve set yourself up to be an expert in, because then you will know that your audience is ready to learn from you, because you’ve earned their trust, and you’ve added all of that value.
I think the other big thing I just want to leave everybody with is to just re kind of circle back to that concept that done is so much better than perfect, especially as you’re moving into this space, I think that it can feel incredibly daunting to move into the passive income world because it really is like a whole second business like you are relearning so much when you’re moving into the passive income world, new programs, new software’s new strategies, new everything.
And I just see so many people get paralyzed by perfection because they see people that have been doing it for 10 years. And they’re like, Oh, but I need it to look like that I need my sales page to look like that. I need my checkout process to look like that. And I need my course to be looked like it’s filmed by like a movie filmmaker, have you done is so much better than perfect. If you saw my courses and education. 10 years ago, it was a voiceover that I filmed in my parents basement of a really poorly made PowerPoint presentation.
Just start somewhere and you will get to where you want to be. But don’t compare yourself to the people that have been doing it for 10 years. All you need to focus on is one on one impact with the people that you want to help and you will always always, always come out on top when you’re focused on serving and loving other people.
Ashley Freehan: Oh, man, that was good Hope. Thanks for leaving us with that nugget. And like Done is better than perfect. Right? Let’s all just get that on a sticky note on the mirror everywhere, right in the house.
Like how can we just really hit that home where it doesn’t have to be perfect. And I love that you say like the iteration from when you started to what it looks like now is different, right? Night and day. We all say that about our photography too, right? Like, if you saw the first photo I took you would cringe, right?
And it’s just we all start somewhere. And we all learn and grow. And so we just have to be willing to start. And I think that is the most important part here.
Well Hope thank you so much for being here with us. This was so much fun. I would love for you to share with everyone where they can find you. Where do you hang out? How can they connect with you? And how can they work with you?
Hope Taylor: Yeah, Ashley, thank you so much for having me. So Instagram is probably the most fun place to follow me that’s where I share a lot of my life alongside of my education and my work and that’s just @Hopetaylorphotography.
I also have a YouTube channel where I share educational videos every week on this topic and on photography topics. So you can just search my name there and I’m actually going to be gifting you guys a free lesson from my membership where you guys can watch me photograph an entire senior session from start to finish.
So if you are a senior photographer or an aspiring photographer in any capacity and you think that will be valuable for you, I am going to drop that in the hopefully the show notes with Ashley.
Ashley Freehan: Yes, absolutely. I’ll have everything linked below that Hope mentioned and you can go check her out. I love following her on Instagram also personally can’t wait to see the wedding pictures and all the fun details that are coming with that but thanks again so much hope this has been fun.
Hope Taylor: Thank you so much for having me, Ashley. Have a wonderful day, guys.
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