Today's interview with Angela is fun, inspiring, and full of wisdom about life and business. So, friends, meet Angela Brown — she's a talent brand and portrait photographer based in Brighton, Michigan. She was a wealth advisor for 25 years before doing a 180 on her career to become a photographer — proving it's never "too late" to make a significant career shift. Angie also enjoys educating other photographers in building personal brands to attract their ideal clients. She's got plenty of tips for photographers reading, but we also talk about her remarkable career story, her EM Shop Showit template review, and much more.
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Why Angela Brown Decided to Switch From Wealth Manager to Photographer
"Right out of college, I started with a regional bank. Over the years, I moved into our wealth management area, selling investment management services and trust services for high-net-worth individuals.
I loved what I did and the clients I worked with — high net worth people with money decisions to make. Because I was in sales, I used to have older wealth advisors tell me, 'Someday you're going to be burned out, Angie.' And I thought, 'No, I like it.' But every year, I started at zero and had to achieve my goal. Over time, it got a little harder, and I hit burnout after doing it for about 20 years."
How Angela Brown Uses What She Learned in Wealth Management for Her Photography Business
"Especially with photographers and other service-based businesses, when you're selling your services, it's hard to make sure that you know that you're worth it. Working with high-net-worth clients made it easy for me to transition. I was never intimidated by a client wanting to hire me to do family portraits because I was so used to working with people with ten, fifty, or a hundred million dollar net worth; they are just like us. That gave me the confidence to start working with anybody in my photography business."
Why Angela Brown Chose to Become a Photographer
"I got a fancy camera back in 2008. One of my coworkers, who was in the same job as me, got a brand new Nikon, and I got a brand new Canon. So he called me one day and said, 'Hey, I'm gonna start taking these classes about 30 miles east of here at night.'
And I fell in love with photography. I just didn't know anything. The classes were supposed to end at 10. Sometimes the instructor went until 11 or 11:30 at night, and I was like, 'Oh, please don't let it be over.'
I started dreaming about it and photographing everything under the sun all day. Then I decided a few years later to go into the portrait business as a side hustle to what I was doing at the bank."
Angela Brown's Decision to Pursue Photography Full-Time
"That was a decision that my husband and I made together. We were in our early fifties because I had been with the bank for 29 years.
A few years before that, I started saying, 'I don't know how much longer I can do it. It burns me out. I love it, but I'm stretched too thin. I'm still dreaming about photography all the time.' My daughter was at the end of seventh grade, and my husband and I were talking about it, and he said, 'I think it's time.' He knew how stretched I was.
So I had a long goodbye at work. I announced that I was leaving in March 2014 but left in September 2014. It gave me a chance to explain to a lot of people why I was leaving because I knew that some of these people could potentially be my clients."
Angela Brown's Advice For Those Wanting to Leave Their 9-5 to Pursue Their Passion
"There are many reasons people will leave, and it's not always because they feel they need to replace their income. In my case, I didn't need to replace my income, but I knew a few years before I was going to leave the bank that this was probably in the cards. So during the last couple of years working at the bank, I tried to spend less and save more. Having that long goodbye helped me get out of the corporate mentality."
Angela Brown's Tips For Finding Clients as a Photographer
"The first thing I did was tell everybody I worked with. My first clients were people that I knew from work. I always worried that if I told too many people I was going into business, they would feel obligated to hire me.
People want to know, and they may not be interested, or I may not be the right photographer for them because of the type of photography they want, but they may have a friend that wants to do it. So word of mouth was the first thing. Having a website right out of the shoot was essential to help attract people I didn't know."
Using Your Website to Communicate Your Offer
"There are many people in the photography or service-based business that think they can do it just through social media. However, a website presence will immediately increase people's perception of you. From the beginning, I had a WordPress site. But, I wanted to do it right and hired a graphic designer who used ProPhoto to create a logo, color palette, and font palette.
I also knew I wanted to blog, so that's another reason why we used WordPress. It helped me a lot. So if I had friends that would say to me, 'Hey, I'd like to have you photograph my family,' I could immediately send them to my website.
They could decide if it was within their price range or not. What I found is it would take me forever to figure out how to make changes on my website, and I didn't want to go back to my designer and say, 'Hey, can I just change out this image, or can I change this or add this page?' It was just so hard.
Instead of living with a functional website, I was living with a to-do list of things that I needed to do to my website. At some point in time, I started listening to your podcast. My blog had become unresponsive, and I had to tear it down and redo it for it to work. My designer didn't help, so I started checking out Showit and your templates. I made the change about a year ago, and I love it. What I loved about Showit versus many other choices I had was that you can use WordPress for blogging. So I didn't have to start my blog from scratch. It was great because I could transfer over my existing blog posts."
Angela Brown's EM Shop Template Customization Experience
"I had so much fun doing it. In another life, I wish I had the skills to be a designer like you because I love it. I got the Jena template because the layout was a good start.
It took about three weeks to do my website from start to finish. Your Showit Blueprint Course that comes along with the template is incredible. I still refer back to it sometimes.
I was looking at it a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to make some changes to my about page, and I went back to the section on copywriting for your about page. So I sat there and got messy, as you suggested, and tried to play with the different canvases and had a great time doing it. It was a lot of work, but it reflects me perfectly. So if anyone is thinking of getting one of your templates, the Showit Blueprint course is worth its weight in gold. It helped me learn all things SEO. It's not just about how to move a canvas or copy a page. It's all-encompassing."
How Angela Brown Made The Jena Template Her Own
"I had my color palette done, and it's been consistent. I do not believe in rebranding all the time. So I've kept the same color palette for 13 years. So I've used the turquoise and other iterations of that.
My last name is Brown, so brown will always be one of my colors. When I was flushing out the brand colors in Showit, I added a couple of other blues that go along with my main color. What I like about the Showit platform is that I can add up to eight colors. One of them is white. So I knew I needed to replace all of the other colors you had in there, which spreads to the whole site automatically when you set your palette.
I always say photography is a personality-based business. People don't hire you because you do pretty pictures. They want to know the person behind the camera. You want them to like your work, but they also need to know who you are. I get very frustrated with some of my photographer friends who don't have a single image of them on their website.
I knew early on I wanted to build my personal brand and be the face of my brand. My name is on the brand, so it only makes sense. It's not fun looking at yourself and having photos of yourself very often, but I do get branding sessions done for myself even though I can do them. So I want my entrepreneur client to envision herself with me, looking at the back of my camera, being excited."
Angela Brown's Advice for Optimizing Your Home Page
"No matter what kind of business you're in, I recommend putting your location above the fold on your website.
People will go away if you're a photographer and you don't have your location shown. In my case, Angela Brown is a really common name, and other Angela Browns are photographers, so I want to say, 'Brighton, Michigan-based personal branding and portrait photographer.'
For the mission statement, I went through an exercise where I put 15 or 20 sentences that I wanted to consider, which would help my client see what I do quickly.
Angela Brown's Favorite Part of Her EM Shop Website
"I like my About page. I love what you integrated into the templates to help show your personality. I get to show my favorite things. I love how it flies off from the side; I like to update that every once in a while. I want people who visit my website to know more about me."
Angela Brown's Advice to Help New Entrepreneurs Avoid Burnout
"Early on, I wanted to photograph babies and kids. Over the years, I learned that if I wanted to be profitable and not run myself ragged, I needed to photograph what I wanted and make it work for me. For example, it only took ten newborn shoots to realize I'm not the newborn baby whisperer. From a business point of view, I had a hard time working with parents of newborns because they wanted to avoid taking the time to come into the studio and look at the images.
Over the years, I decided to let go of different aspects of my photography business. So I dug deep and decided I love working with seniors and entrepreneurs. My branding sessions are during the day. I like working during the day, and I stay energized from it. The other thing is, if you start getting burned out, it's probably because you need to get paid what you think you should. So having your branding in place will also allow you to increase your pricing to help you feel more comfortable with what you're doing."
Angela Brown's Favorite Business Book
"It's called Worth Every Penny by Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck. It is a book that is not just for photographers; Sarah is a photographer who educates new photographers on charging what they're worth. This book was a game-changer for me. I've given it to half a dozen other entrepreneurs. It talks about how to run a boutique business and add all the different touch points that your clients will adore that will also allow you to charge more money instead of undercharging what you are worth."
Angela Brown's Unpopular Photography Opinion
"Some photographers think they need to do whatever a client wants. Maybe you're a newborn photographer, but somebody wants you to photograph their family. I think you have the power to be able to say, 'That's not my specialty, but I do know another family photographer that would be fantastic for you.' I think people feel like they have to do any photography they're asked to do, and it's okay to say, 'I don't do that."
Angela Brown's Favorite App
"It is called One Second Everyday, and you film a horizontal video of something in your life daily. Then, at the end of the year, it will string them all into a six-second video. Part of you might look at it and think, 'Oh, I live such a boring life.' Other times you think, 'Oh, that's right. I did go visit so and so that day."
Angela Brown's Upcoming Course for Photographers
"I am creating a course specifically for photographers to help them build their personal brands and be able to attract their ideal clients. I'm excited to finish that up, hopefully by the end of the year. January and February would be great times to re-look at somebody's brand. I have a website challenge that you can find here. It's a five-day challenge full of things you can do on your website to make it more attractive for your ideal clients."
Thinking about getting a template from EM Shop like Angela did? Here’s more what she had to say about EM Shop: "I am so thankful I found Elizabeth and the EM Shop! As someone who has always hired a designer to customize my WordPress site, it was a big step to take that responsibility into my own hands. But Elizabeth and her team gave me support when I was stuck. Most importantly, the Showit Blueprint course was simply incredible. I got almost all the answers and best-practices I needed to create my dream site. Even Elizabeth's launch and marketing tips were so helpful! I would recommend EM Shop to anyone looking to up her game!"
November 8, 2022