Beryl Young is the founder of an online community for deeply feeling, giving moms who are ready to reclaim their identity beyond storyteller, snack maker, and boo-boo kisser, called Recapture Self.
She offers photography classes, both in-person and online, and has a fabulous community that helps moms capture everyday moments and make creativity part of their lives.
1:07 – Beryl’s Sad-But-Important Start to Photography
Like many moms, Beryl didn’t set out to start a business. Her story has a sad beginning, but we hope you will be able to listen because it’s a very important part. (Beryl's story includes infant loss.)
In 2009, she joined a 365 Project challenge with her friend. 365 Project is a visual photo diary that challenges participants to take a photo every day for an entire year. Beryl quickly began learning from the community of other 365ers on Flickr.
Around the same time, Beryl and her husband were talking about planning a family, and one thing she knew she wanted was amazing pictures of her family. A quick look at newborn photographers was enough to give Beryl instant sticker shock! Though she totally values professional photography now, Beryl was determined to learn how to take amazing photos herself.
Three months into the photo project, she got pregnant and wasn’t feeling super great, so her photography project was put on hold. Sadly, at 20 weeks gestation, Beryl found out that her daughter was very sick and she ultimately passed away. Losing her daughter, Bella, was hands down the hardest trial Beryl has ever had to walk through. But through that loss, she was inspired to start photographing again.
Eventually, Beryl launched a small blog and began to share her photography with short captions. People starting reading, responding, and eventually asked her to photograph their families. And a business was born out of this sorrowful chapter in her life.
5:25 – Sometimes The First Business Isn’t the Right Business
Beryl started to receive requests from friends and family for photo sessions. Though she booked sessions for a solid year, she knew it wasn’t quite the right thing for her.
The more she worked as a photographer, the more she realized that it meant the most to her to photograph her own sweet girl! (Yes, Beryl welcomed a second daughter!) Beryl knew something was lacking in the industry: photography workshops for parents.
6:34 – Teaching Photography in Person
During her entire photography journey, Beryl worked full-time as an elementary school teacher. She taught technology, which was a unique role in that she got to work with both the students and teachers, training each group in relevant tech tools.
She had an ah-ha moment! Business for moms is a place where skillsets and passions collide.
During maternity leave, she developed the idea for a class to teach moms how to take beautiful photos of their own kids. She developed the bulk of her class and then got to the hard work of promoting her newly developed course.
Initially, Beryl partnered with a local moms group and asked them to advertise the class for her. (Keep in mind, she was promoting her course before Facebook offered ads!) In the first hour, she had 12 registrations. That’s truly amazing for an in-person class!
She taught this in-person class quarterly and eventually built a suite of online classes.
9:36 – Teaching Photography Online
The transition to teaching online was harder for Beryl. Her very first online class was free, geared toward any mom who has experienced pregnancy loss. She learned a lot in that course creation process.
MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE felt a lot different to create.
Her baby loss class was a lot more heart-centered whereas MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE required far more technical details. It took two years to really develop her content.
Actually creating the content was fairly easy for Beryl. With her background as a teacher, she had lots of experience breaking down a complicated concept into its easiest parts. Finding time to put together the course (while holding down a full-time job!) and figuring out which tech tools could best help her execute the class were the hardest parts. Not to mention, how in the world would she market the class??
Beryl’s tech tool tips:
- Scrap together a combination of your favorites.
- Less is more.
- Beryl hires a web designer on retainer, so she always has the ability to change up what she needs. Her designer custom-built a framework for Beryl’s site.
- WishList Member is the plugin she uses to deliver passwords to her customers.
- Password delivery is run through ConvertKit.
- Beryl says her workflow isn’t super automated. Since her course runs live, she does benefit from a buffer time between cart closing and class starting.
Her very first course simply consisted of password-protected pages on her site. She put trust in her students that they would hold the password in confidence.
14:30 – Less Is More Marketing
Beryl’s very first MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE course ran the month between when her school year ended and her entrepreneurial journey began.
The stakes were high! Beryl knew it HAD to work to be able to quit her job.
Connection marketing works really well for Beryl. Knowing who your product is meant for, and where you can connect audiences in different ways, is key. She ended up connecting with a lot of parenting bloggers.
Beryl’s first launch went really well! Her system of connecting herself with the right influencers and people really worked! She did lots of free classes, webinars, and guest posting to get the word out.
17:37 – Analyzing a Webinar
Beryl recently did a webinar for our BBM audience. And while we had a great time, Beryl discovered that business owners aren’t really her focus. Though she delivered a great presentation, the sales just weren’t strong.
We both thought the class would be a great fit for you all! But while every mom might have the desire to take great photos of her kids, the time and energy of a business mom isn’t necessarily going to photography. You ladies are like, “If this won’t built my business, I don’t care!”
Not everything will be a huge win. And it’s OK! You have to see what sticks and what doesn’t.
We are happy to report that Beryl’s class DID find great success with Facebook ads. (And you ladies KNOW our feelings about Facebook!)
19:35 – Beryl’s Facebook Ad Strategy
Beryl’s ads for MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE run to a free 1-week experience. Then, she uses an email sequence to kick off a promotion of her 6-week paid class.
Beryl has discovered that marketing to parents is tough! Her live webinar attendance isn’t huge; most students usually watch a recording after. Her launches aren’t built around ‘how many sales can I get live?’ She finds her customers usually need a few days to get all the pieces of the free class, then be reminded to buy the paid course.
22:38 – Beryl’s Newest Business Venture
In the last year, she has been asked to teach MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE in many different places.
She’s explored creative coaching and mentoring, wanting to blend one-on-one help and teaching. Then she thought, “I bet I have alumni students who’d be willing to teach in their hometowns.”
Currently Beryl has 4 online course alums going through a 3-month training program to teach the local, in-person version of the class. These alums hail from California, Ohio, Florida, and Oklahoma. MOMTOGRAPHY™ will truly be a nationwide business. Isn’t that just brilliant!?
Beryl truly has played to her strengths, turned them into a product, and serves her customers.
26:45 – Business Training for Licensees
Beryl’s new venture is much like a business coaching program that allows other moms to start their own businesses.
The 3-month training course focuses on three primary areas:
Her students get lots of materials, like PowerPoints, and coaching along the way. They’re licensed for a year, and then pay a fee to relicense every year to stay an official teacher.
29:19 – Photography Tips
We couldn't let Beryl go without asking her this important question: what’s the biggest mistake new photographers make?
In her opinion, it’s overshooting. She finds that new parents are so invested in photographs, thinking, “I have to get this moment!” so they put the camera in front of their face and shoot away. The problem is they end up with thousands of picturess on their hard drives that they’ll never sort through.
As a photographer, Beryl remembers that she’s the director of her photos. If she can pause, take a step back, and sink into the moment, she can start to watch and notice more. Then bring the camera up when she senses the right moment coming. She remembers to shoot with intention and ask, “What is the purpose of the photo you’re about to take?”
(And this philosophy totally fits with Beryl’s less is more mentality.)
31:18 – Beryl's Adorable Mom Moment
You know these are always cute! You’ll have to stay tuned through the end to hear Beryl’s!