You're about to get the confidence you need to fill your calendar, get paid what you're worth, and finally live a life of your design.
THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION
(And why it's so cringeworthy.)
You've probably been asked this before.
Maybe dozens of times.
By your neighbor, your mother-in-law, even Dave in IT at your husband's company (you know, the one who wears a plaid shirt every single day).
They ask it with the best of intentions.
You try not to flinch, but it lands like a gut punch.
Especially when you've worked your tail off, doing everything you can to improve your skills, gain traction, and cross off the next item on your miles-long to-do list.
So...what's the question?
It almost makes you grateful that parties have been cancelled, that you're anonymous behind your mask at the grocery store, that COVID offered a handy excuse for not having a full roster of clients.
In my mind, there's no question more anxiety-provoking for a pet photographer in the first few years of business.
It's a question that can make you feel like a total fraud (or worse, like a flat-out failure).
But even still...I'm glad that people are asking you.
Because that uncomfortable question, and the ACTIONS you take to finally answer it with unshakeable confidence, hold the key to your flourishing pet photography business.
You've put in the time to learn how to shoot. You've gone through modules, you've watched tutorials, you've studied what sometimes feels like allllll the things. You've done the free model calls — given away so many free images (it's okay, we've all been there).
With all the effort you've put into mastering your craft, now you deserve the reward.
Can you picture it? Can you imagine yourself landing on the promised shores of the Isle of Awesomely Successful Pet Photographers?? (It's balmy. There are coconuts.)
Imagine the morning sun beaming through your curtains as you wake up to a fresh stream of inquiries from your rockin' new website, feeling 100% confident that you can knock the socks off of all your new clients.
Imagine seeing your work — on a giant acrylic, framed canvas, whatever lights you up — hanging in a place of pride in their homes.
Imagine your friends (heck, we'll even invite Dave from IT) raising a glass of champagne to toast your success, when you report back that "Actually, my pet photography business is totally kicking ass!"
First, let me ask you a question:
What's the biggest difference between a thriving, profitable pet photographer with a full schedule of clients...and one whose inbox feels like a ghost town, with tumbleweeds blowing down its dusty, deserted streets?
I'll give you a minute.
Think you know the answer?
If you guessed the quality of images, you'd be wrong.
If you guessed living in a large, affluent market, you'd be wrong.
And if you guessed wizard-like Photoshop skills, an extroverted personality, or a closet filled with $20k of the latest, greatest gear? You'd be wrong.
Cause while all those things can come in handy…
They're only part of the equation.
So, back to the question at hand.
What is it that differentiates the most successful pet photographers from the rest of the pack?
It's not their images.
It's not their zip code.
It's not a rich husband, showering them with the fastest, creamiest lenses and enough Profoto strobes to light up an elephant.
No, it's something much more elemental — something that's available to you whenever you're ready to show up and do the real work...
Successful pet photographers learn how to get out of their own damn way.
They hear the voices of fear and self-doubt, but choose to ignore them. Instead of staying stuck or paralyzed by perfectionism, they take imperfect action. They finally decide to stop playing small.
Unfortunately, these aren't the kind of things you learn in school. Not even in the Academy, where we focus on the hard skills to master your craft and market your business.
That's a great foundation...but sometimes you need more.
More support. More direction. More accountability.
More hand-holding. More ass-kicking.
Sometimes, you need Elevate.
It's time to level up, pup.
Elevate is a six-month coaching program where you'll be guided by some of the biggest names in pet photography. You won't get bogged down in more content or curriculum. You'll spend your time doing. Setting goals, taking the specific actions that will benefit your business, getting feedback, refining and repeating.
You'll move forward, every day. You'll banish self-doubt. You'll bid farewell to feeling stuck. It's like adding rocket fuel to your business.
Nicole is the heart and soul of Hair of the Dog — not to mention the brains behind the operation. She has enough photography certifications to fill a bowl of alphabet soup: M.Photog.Cr., CPP, BA (that last one stands for bad-ass). So, sure, she's a great photographer, even authoring the sold-out "Pet and Equine Photography for Everyone."
But Nicole's true zone of genius covers all things business: creating profitable price lists, sales processes that aren't slimy, automation to get your life back, and marketing that propels your business to success.
After spending too many years shivering under layers of blankets in the northeast, Nicole and her family moved to sunny Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018. There she shares a home with her husband, two small humans, and a Puerto Rican rescue dog named Zoey. Oh, and she's also Chief of Staff to Emma the cat. Nicole admits to being addicted to both travel and chocolate martinis, and is the creator of the #selfiedog series.
If Heather was a superhero, she'd be Wolverine. With her gleaming talons she'll shred your self-limiting beliefs, freeing you to not only dream big, but to actually achieve massive success.
While it seems like giant finger-blades would be incompatible with a keyboard, Heather's also an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop. No stranger to teaching, she's helped students with Lightroom and Photoshop for years and is the founder of Flourish Academy. Although she comes from the world of wedding and portrait photography, Heather loves animals, especially cats and chickens, just as much as the rest of us.
Heather and her family live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An entire closet in their home is filled with the toasty quilts Nicole dropped off as she sped south in the Uhaul, laughing maniacally all the way.
You might know Kim from Pet Photography EDU, the place to master studio lighting. She also teaches students how to feel confident using off-camera flash in outdoor settings. Let's put it this way: If it's kinda dark, and you have a camera in hand, you want Kim's broad knowledge base downloaded into your head.
She's also a wiz with branding, client experience and marketing, all things that have contributed to her own success and recognition within the photography industry. When she's not teaching (or shooting), Kim consults with studios all over the country.
And we hate to sound too braggy about our instructors, but all those fancy photography certifications? Yeah, she's got 'em too.
Kim and her family make their home in (pleasantly scorching) Houston, Texas, where she's a regular on the karaoke circuit.
Megan is another Houston-based certified professional photographer, which might leave you wondering...do she and Kim ever pair up Salt-N-Pepa/En Vogue-style for a karaoke rendition of "Whatta Man?" They'll never tell!
A numbers nerd, Megan worked as a chemical engineer in corporate America for 15 years before jumping into entrepreneurship. Not surprisingly, she enjoys the business side of photography just as much as the creative side. Give her a spreadsheet and a Starbucks latte, and she's happy to talk strategy to make sure you're profitable.
Under Megan's guidance, you'll define your ideal client, get them in the door, create a knockout experience so they'll sing your praises, and then sell them products guaranteed to make you money. Because you ran the numbers! With her help!
Marika is the Spiderwoman of the group, effortlessly spinning webs of connection within the pet community. She'll teach you to do the same, but be forewarned: You'll have to invest in your own lycra suit.
Her gift for collaboration has elevated the profile of her business, Dirtie Dog Photography, within the greater Seattle area. Not one to sit still, Marika founded the Seattle Pet Collective podcast and is the co-founder/producer of The Limelight Pet Project, a multimedia campaign focusing on hard-to-adopt animals and the folks who care for them.
You'll benefit from Marika's ability to see the bigger picture, her experience of creating connection through collaboration, and her ethos of taking action no matter the circumstances.
One of the OGs of pet photography, Charlotte was creating her signature vibrant work long before Instagram made "pet photographers" out of anyone with a dog and an iphone. She's an award-winning master of natural light, something that's enviably abundant in her hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
You know how you feel smarter just by hearing David Attenborough, with his perfect British diction, narrate a Planet Earth documentary? Same kind of thing; you can't help but feel uplifted when listening to Charlotte speak. And she'll talk to you, all right, simplifying tricky concepts and making the technical and artistic side of photography just plain fun to learn. Charlotte's created hundreds of "lightbulb moments" for students over the past seven years, both through in-person and online education. She looks forward to doing the same for you.
Former hostage negotiator and rodeo clown, Kim now works as a copywriter specializing in email marketing, website copy, launch messaging and outrageous biographical lies.
She's also an award-winning pet photographer, so she really gets what you're trying to say...even when you're at a loss for words. With Kim's help you'll learn the secrets of persuasive copywriting, dial in your messaging and put your words to work as a 24-hour salesman. (Just don't go looking for her own business, Lint Roller Productions, online. Cobbler's children, no shoes, etc. etc.)
With pup underfoot, Kim loves to wander the hills around her beautiful mountain town of Missoula, Montana. She's surprisingly lively for someone who drinks decaf.
"Before Elevate, I was in the startup phase of my business for a lot longer than I'm proud to admit. I put myself out there a little bit on social media, then wondered why I wasn't getting any bookings and no one was taking me seriously.
I wasn't even taking myself seriously! I feared that my photos weren't good enough. That I wasn't business-savvy enough. That *I* wasn't good enough. That random people were going to judge me. That my friends and family would laugh at me. I feared that everything had to be completely perfect before it became anything more than a hobby.
With a lot of encouragement and accountability over the last five months from the Elevate group, I really started putting myself out there. I started taking myself seriously… and I've gotten more inquiries during the COVID lockdown than I ever had prior to it.
I've gained so much clarity not only about my business, but about my life, and about myself."
Kristen Murray Photography, Richmond, VA
"I was previously in the Academy and I'd done all the videos of the Business of Pet Photography. But I hadn't done anything on the list. It was when I got into Elevate that I was really pushed to get out of my comfort zone and inspired to take action in my business.
One of my biggest realizations was that I needed to put boots to the ground and reach out to people that I didn't know, which was really scary for me. But, with the talking points and tips from the experts, I managed to find a marketing partner with a non-profit.
Since starting the Elevate program, I created a website with video and automations, my client information and workflow, a lead magnet, a podcast and a blog!"
Kim Hoshal Photography, Portland, OR
Each of your Elevate coaches will host a monthly call. After sharing their expertise on the topic at hand, they'll open up the call for "hot seats." This is your chance to ask questions specific to your business, dig in deep, and get exactly the support and guidance you need to move forward.
The hidden magic of these group calls is that often someone asks a question you hadn't thought of. As the discussion unfolds, you discover that the coach's suggestions offer a solution for a problem you hadn't yet realized affects your business, too.
And if that's not enough? New for this session of Elevate, you'll get two 1-on-1 coaching sessions with the coach of your choice. Whaaat?! It's true — you'll have their undivided attention to help solve the stickiest of your problems.
This application-based program is for people who mean business in their business. We only accept people willing to take imperfect action. People with an open mind. People willing to take radical responsibility for their business. And their life.
Once you join Elevate, you're invited into a private Facebook group where we'll support each other and celebrate our victories, large or small. This will be the hub for what will become your "business family" for the next six months, and probably beyond.
You'll exchange ideas. You'll solicit feedback. You'll challenge your beliefs, test actions and find solutions. There might be virtual happy hours. Who can say what madness goes on behind those closed doors?
These alone are worth the price of admission. Inside Elevate, you'll receive period marketing plans. I'm not talking about a high-level marketing strategy overview — though we'll talk about that, too. No, these are actual step-by-step, ready-to-implement marketing processes, complete with detailed action steps and plans for communication with clients and marketing partners.
Calendar contests. Charitable marketing fundraisers. Sample press releases. Social media swipe files. Everything you need to grow your business with proven strategies - and we're adding more all the time.
It's easy to hide from the work when you're going it alone. Your dog won't know. Won't ask if you've completed that one thing you swore you'd finish months ago. It's safe. And often, it's stagnant.
Elevate isn't about curriculum, but it is about assignments and follow-through. There's no busywork in Elevate. You'll be busy, sure, but with the 5% of the work that actually makes a difference. The things that transform your business. The things that get you where you need to be. So you can finally say with pride and absolute confidence, "Yeah, Dave...my pet photography business is crushing it!"
"Through the six months that I've been in Elevate, I decided to build my own website. I knew that it was going to take time, and was probably going to aggravate me. If I wasn't in Elevate, I can honestly say I wouldn't have done it on my own.
Now I have a website that looks like me, is automated, I'm capturing leads, my phone is ringing, and I'm putting people on my schedule. I'm eternally grateful."
The Dog-Tog, Clearwater, Florida
To join Elevate, you need a basic level of technical proficiency. Meaning, you're able to consistently create sellable images of pets.
Whooaa, Tiger...I can almost hear your self-doubt kicking in!
You're an artist, and as a rule of thumb we're ridiculously hard on ourselves. Here's what I mean by sellable: Are your images in focus? Properly exposed? Do they have the correct white balance?
Then guess what? They're sellable!
The second requirement is that you're actively pursuing a pet photography business. This does NOT mean that you have it all figured out. It does NOT mean that all the parts and pieces are ready to go. You don't even need to be accepting clients yet.
What it means is this: Elevate is only for people who want to make money from their pet photography.
Last but certainly not least, to be eligible for Elevate you need to be open and coachable. If you blame your current circumstances on things beyond your control, this probably isn't the best program for you. We're going to ask you to re-evaluate your beliefs. To check your ego at the door. To try new strategies. To explore the outer edge of what's truly possible.
The Hair of the Dog Academy membership is included in the Elevate program. If you're on the monthly rate, your payments will be suspended during your time in Elevate. Once you leave Elevate you're welcome to resume your membership at your previous rate, regardless of any price increases that might have taken place.
If you're a yearly member, we'll add six complimentary months to the end of your Academy membership. When it's time to renew, you're grandfathered into your old rate regardless of any price increases.
You'll score some MAJOR victories inside Elevate if...
Ready to take your pet photography business to the next level? The Elevate coaching program is for those photographers that are serious about business, and ready to make an investment in theirs.
"I had been with another group before, and it was very disappointing. I didn't get what I was hoping to get out of that — I felt like I wasted my money and my time.
So I scheduled a call with Nicole just to make sure Elevate was right for me. And...it was. It has been. It's been amazing.
I see this group as a dragon boat. I feel like myself and the other members are teammates on the same boat, rowing as hard and as quickly as we can toward the common goal of being successful in our pet photography businesses. And we have this amazing lineup of coaches standing right behind us, drumming us along and creating this amazing rhythm that propels everyone forward. And they don't leave anyone behind."
Paws and Play Studio, Belmont, CA
"I love to learn and research, almost to a fault. I'll research something all day long, but I might not take action. I think sometimes the learning is just safer and more comfortable. Elevate has helped me select a task and set a goal, and go for it. That alone has really helped me grow, both personally and within my business.
A huge benefit was the opportunity to learn from the different coaches and what skills they offer. It's hard to know how to invest my time and money, which courses I need to learn some new technique. The beautiful thing inside of Elevate, depending on what my needs are at one particular time, I can ask a specific coach for advice and really learn from that.
On top of all that, it's a phenomenal group. We help each other out, it's a safe place to bounce ideas off one another, get some great feedback.
I can't wait to see where the second half of 2020 takes me and my business. I'm so thankful for Elevate."
Shadow Dog Photography, Whitewater, WI
Shoot us a message here and we will get back to you. Please note that the next round of Elevate starts in January, so applications will open in December.