My Thoughts on Courses

I buy courses like my mom and I bought workout gimmicks in the 90’s.

She’d buy Step Areobics and we’d excitedly open the box and solemnly swear to do one video a day. For about a week and a half, we would stay true to our promise, but six weeks later, the steps would be gathering dust underneath a side table in our living room. Then a new infomercial would catch our eye and we would order Dance Your Pants Off from Richard Simmons and solemnly swear all over again. The cycle would continue to Tae Bo, The Thighmaster, and later, in my twenties, I found myself buying Pilates and Tracy Andersen.

Did any of these give me the body I wanted? No. Why? Because I never really did the work needed for these things to actually give me results. So I would find something else to inspire me and give me hope and I would turn over my money to whatever new thing was in front of me, hoping it would be the game changer I had been looking for since I was ten.

This is how most of us buy courses now.

We see shiny slogans from women we admire promising to get our business to the next level and we hand over our money with stars in our eyes. Then three months later, we quietly face facts that we never even got past the second module. So we blame the content, not ready to admit that it was us that didn’t do the work, and we get our credit card out to pay the next course that makes beautiful promises, thinking “Finally, this is going to be my dream in a box!”

I’m not here to tell you to never invest in another course. I am here to tell you my own experience and hope that it points you in a better direction if you, like me, have found yourself in a cycle similar to the one mentioned above.

I believe in investing in education… when you really need it. If you’re new to the photography world, invest in a good course! You’ll probably learn a lot! If you’re six years into your journey and have attended four workshops and purchased ten courses, then you probably have everything you need and it’s time to start doing.

Last year (and some of this year) I blogged for photographers every day for 100 days and one of the things that found it’s way out of my brain and onto my notepad was this exciting realization:

All the best ideas I have are my own.

I have notebooks full of ideas from other people. From conferences I’ve attended or workshops I’ve gone to. From Podcasts and bundle deals and articles and ideas I’ve had that have actually inspired action and turned into something real, have all been my own ideas.

Denise Karis Photography Blog

So first, I hope you leave this article feeling inspired and empowered to come up with your own ideas. And I want to leave you with the “how.”

We all have that one aunt, cousin or Grandmother who just does not know how to Facebook. She comments on literally everything you post and even replies to all the comments your friends leave on your post. She also leaves comments that are totally irrelevant to the post. So on your post about your thoughts on The Game of Thrones finale, she’ll comment “Hi honey, we miss you!” She leaves sparkly GIFS on your wall and bless her, even sends friend requests to your friends.

That aunt who simply doesn’t speak the language.

You have a very fortunate advantage of speaking the language that your clients speak.

You know what people are looking for on Instagram because you yourself are someone who goes on Instagram.

You know what people are drawn to on Pinterest because you yourself are someone who gets drawn into certain things on Pinterest.

You know what sucks people in on Buzzfeed because you are a person who gets sucked into quizzes that will tell you what type of shoe you are based on your breakfast food preferences.

And that’s a superpower, my friend.

Think about what your ideal client wants and give it to them!

Maybe your ideal client is a very bohemian couple and you have that dark & moody wild style down. So you create a video tutorial for these brides on how to make a macramé wall hanging favor for their wedding and you place it on a page that requires an email to access it. You create a Pin you know will circulate and promote the heck out of it. As the emails start coming in, you email them your little black book of vendors who specialize in creating gorgeous boho weddings and you invite them into your studio for a consultation. They show up to your studio and you gift them one of the favors from your video along with a rose quartz for “romantic love, self-love and acceptance.”  They’re so drawn to everything you’ve given them, from the tutorial to the vendor list to the gifts at your studio… it’s all in line with who they are and clear to them that you speak their language. At that point, they’re yours to book.

Be thoughtful, be intentional. Write out a few paragraphs like the one above that is targeted to your ideal client and see what comes out.

Sit, write, brainstorm, bounce ideas off your friends, allow weaker ideas to evolve into stronger ideas. Once you start to flex those muscles, those ideas will come to you more easily and more naturally and then you won’t have to rely on someone else telling you how to be creative in your own business, you’ll be able to rely on yourself.

You are creative. You are going to be the winning card in your business. Not someone else.

All the best ideas are yours.

Feeling stuck? Check out a few of my exercises in creativity from Day 47 here!

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris