Ep 114. How to Run Your Photography Business like a CEO

I'm Ashley!

My mission at The Purpose Gathering is to help driven momtogs like you level up, so you can build a sustainable business AND a fulfilling family life. I do that through authentic brand photography for mompreneurs and my signature program for mom photographers: Side Hustler to CEO.

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Are you running your photography business like a CEO?

Before we get started on running your photography business like a CEO, I want to give you an overview of what you can expect. We’re going to be covering things such as:

  • Employee mindset vs CEO mindset
  • What is a CEO date and why do you need one?
  • What you need to focus on as the CEO of your photography business

Four Keys to Becoming the CEO in Your Business

Let’s just cut to the chase, I’m going to just jump right in and give you the four keys to becoming the CEO in your photography business.

  1. Own your role as the CEO.
  2. Manage your time well, no matter how much time you have. Whether it’s five hours a week, 20 hours a week or 35 hours a week or more. Manage your time well.
  3. Streamline your processes. Get really crystal clear on what processes you need and how to make them as efficient as possible.
  4. Finally, focus on increasing profitability.

Key #1: Own the Role of CEO

So, do you own the role as CEO in your photography business? I really want you to think about that right now and really start to understand the concept.

Employee Mindset vs CEO Mindset

Let’s talk about the employee mindset. This is the mindset that I think everybody starts with.  You probably fell into a business, that’s why I call it an accidental business. You loved photography and then it actually turned into a business, when people started wanting to hire you and you just went into work completion mode. Where you had a list of things to do and you were checking it off. Or you were maybe waiting for the approval of other people to get things done. Maybe letting your inbox be your to do list, whatever people needed, that’s what you did. When you are in the employee mindset, you are really present minded, you are thinking about what is happening now. You are only focused on putting out the immediate fires in your business right now and you’re not thinking about anything else.

Now, let’s talk about the CEO mindset. This is where I want you to be and where I want you to shift. This does not necessarily mean working in your business, this is working on your business. You are future focused and thinking about the big picture. You’re obsessed with results and profitability and efficiency and you’re always trying to make things better for your clients and a better experience for you, as the business owner. You’re trying to streamline things and make sure that they are more efficient. and you’re always looking for ways to be better.

So which mindset do you have? Have you crossed over to that CEO mindset yet? Is that still something that’s relatively new to you?

You might also be thinking, I am a one woman show, like, how can I do this? I can’t even make time for this. First you need to consider the cost of running your business  as an employee. You’ll likely be living in feast or famine mode forever and just feeling like you’re barely treading water and never getting ahead.. You need to  commit to being the CEO, that you own this role and that today will be the last day that you stop winging it in your business. I need you to draw a line in the sand and say, that’s it! I am done treating this just like a hobby, and I am ready to own my role as CEO.

When I used to hear that word CEO, I used to think that was like some boring, stuffy, corporate title. Like I just thought, I don’t want to be a CEO like that. I do not want to work 40 to 60 hours a week on my business. I want to be clear: I don’t mean that when you own this role as the CEO, that means you have to do these full time hours. You are going to just go at this business thing from a different perspective. That you’re not going to be winging it anymore and you’re going to have a plan, and you’re going to own that you are in charge. Every business needs a CEO, and you are yours, whether you like it or not. Make this commitment today that you are going to be the CEO.

Key #2: Manage your Time Well.

Now, I want you to create a standing time block, that’s weekly, where you focus only on CEO work and make this fun. Now, I know this might be hard, because you’re like Ash, you don’t know I have such limited hours. Girl, I do know! I have limited hours too. I have all the roles, all the juggling, too. So, I get it, I totally get it. But if you do not make the time to own this role, then you’re always going to be living in that feast or famine mode. You’re always going to be wondering, what am I supposed to be doing? I’m sitting down to work, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. So, I want you to create this CEO block.

For me, it happens on the weekend. Three out of the four weeks in the month, I do a two hour block. I go to Starbucks; I grab my favorite drink and I focus on working on future focused tasks in my business. And then on the fourth week of the month, I do a four hour time block, which is just an even like more specific time where I dive deeper on CEO work.

So, a couple of examples of this CEO work include the following: strategizing, planning, streamlining and maximizing your efficiency.

This is where marketing comes in and you’re thinking about your client experience. The processes that you’re going to go through, the workflow. Looking for visibility and partnership opportunities.

Also, you’re going to be tracking metrics, evaluating your growth. Time tracking is one of the most important things that you can do as the CEO of your business. Because a lot of us, we just don’t know where our time goes, right. Time tracking might sound really tedious or  really boring, and you just don’t want to do it. But there’s this really cool app called Toggl.

If you go to, you can sign up for a free account, and then you can get a Google Chrome extension. Anytime you sit down to work, you just click on the Google Chrome extension, and it pops up and it allows you to write down what you’re working on. You just hit start and it starts to time track for you. If you don’t know where your time is going, you can’t really you know, easily assess what you’re spending your time on and if it’s actually driving revenue for your business, or it’s actually something you should be spending your time on.

Key #3: Streamline your Processes  

You’re also going to be working on managing your budget and your finances. Now again, that’s not a super sexy topic but it’s one of those things that as the CEO, you have to learn how to do it or you hire someone to do it. Then last but not least, you need to surround yourself with CEO minded resources., This was a big game changer for me, when I heard about the concept of owning this role as CEO. I started to surround myself with that verbiage and I read books and listened to podcasts and participated in online education. I also have business besties, who also own this role so that we can work together and talk to each other.

Key #4: Focus on Increasing Profitability

There are so many things vying for our attention, like, what should you even do? I want to just give you five really tangible areas in which I believe you should be focusing your time on and everything else that doesn’t fit into these goals should probably not be on your list right now.


I want you to focus on visibility and making people aware of what it is that you do. I think a lot of photographers struggle with marketing, because it feels really scary. But when you think of marketing as just being visible, it kind of like, lessens the scare factor. It’s really important that you are brainstorming ideas of how to be more visible. You could be doing Instagram takeovers with complementary businesses or going on coffee dates with wedding vendor professionals that you want to network with.

Another key component when you are thinking about growing your photography business is networking and engaging with other vendors or photographers, which fall under the umbrella of relationship marketing.

At the beginning of my photography career, I did not want to network with other photographers, but I found that those photographers are the ones who bring me the most referrals. So don’t shy away from connecting with other photographers who are not in the same niche as you as you may be able to refer clients to them and vice versa.

When you’re also thinking about relationship marketing, also think about connecting with potential clients. So really putting yourself out there as a friend, as an expert in the industry, but also as an approachable friend. I have had a ton of clients in the past, reach out to me and want to hire me because I took the time to just engage with them. When they engaged on my stuff, I engaged back and we just created a rapport and relationship. The more relationships that we have with people, the deeper our relationships go, the more likely they are to refer us when they know of somebody in the future. Remember, it’s not always wanting to get their business right now, it’s also thinking about future business as well.


This is about providing value and staying top of mind to those who are following you. We don’t want to get on our social media platform, or whatever platform that we are using, and just talk business. Because if somebody doesn’t need a photographer at that time, they’re probably not going to want to stick around. I want you to think about two businesses that you love the most on Instagram and I want you to think about why you follow them.

I guarantee or I will like to bet that it’s probably not because of what they do, it’s because of who they are.

Think about what platform are you using to nurture your audience. If you are only using social media, you need to pick another platform. I recommend always starting with a blog, because I think that’s easy for every photographer to have and then you can repurpose your blog content on to social media., Some other options are doing a podcast or having a YouTube channel.

Focus on Invite Strategy

You’ve connected with someone now what’s the next step? Are you going to have them fill out a contact form? Are they going to hop on a call with you? This is where your messaging really comes into play, your website copy, your client communication and your sales skills. I think a lot of people feel like they have a visibility issue but really, what they need to do is more inviting.

Invite people along with you to learn more about you, or even ask people. I used to do this too at the very beginning, I was asking people who I knew. Maybe they were past clients. I invited them to be a part of spreading the word that I had a new service or new offer coming up. I think sometimes we just wait for people to come to us and we are a little bit shy about stepping out and boldly inviting people to work with us.

Creating an Epic Client Experience

As the CEO in your photography business,  it’s important that you’re always thinking about this. How can I deliver an incredible experience to my clients? This is going to lead to repeat clients and amazing referrals. And so that’s where systems and workflows really come into play.


So how are you feeling right now Mama? I just gave you a lot of information and it’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed. Take a deep, calming breath right now. I want you to make a commitment that you are no longer going to be winging this business thing.

You are going to own this role as CEO of your photography business.

  • Write down three of your biggest takeaways from today
  • Write down some action steps that you need to be working on
  • Start with a weekly CEO date (do whatever it is that you have to do to get this on the calendar. I promise you it will be a game changer).

All right mama, you’ve got this. I am always here rooting for you and I know that you can do this.


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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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