Turning a Passion for Photography Into a Rewarding Online Income
About two decades ago, Californian Diane M. Evans took her first photography class. She was quickly hooked by the art form. Though she had a busy career in the healthcare sector, she continued to study photography whenever she had the chance.
Eventually, Diane and her husband, Neal, embarked on a year-long sabbatical to Toulouse, France. Their primary goal was to experience another culture and see more of Europe. But Diane also used her time in southwestern France to hone her photography skills.
“Before moving to France…I often struggled to get the photographs that I wanted,” says Diane, explaining that her exposure or focus were sometimes off. “I would end up so frustrated much of the time.”
During her sabbatical, Diane committed herself to filling in the gaps in her photography knowledge. While in France, she and Neal created a blog to share tales about their life abroad. To accompany the text, Diane captured photos of Toulouse’s attractive red-brick architecture, animated street scenes, and vibrant farmers’ markets. Soon, family and friends were commenting on her photography skills.
“After I returned [to the U.S.], I was getting a lot of questions from friends and family about how to take better travel photos… Every time someone else would ask me to help them with their photo skills, I would think, ‘I really should start a business,'” she says.
Having struggled herself, Diane was passionate about helping others figure out exactly how to take photos that they would love. “When we travel, it’s so important to document our experiences,” she says. “Also, by sharing our travel stories, we have the opportunity to inspire others to explore and try new experiences, too.”
In time, Diane started PhotoFluent, a company that offers an online course as well as private coaching via video-conferencing.
“I teach travelers how to master their camera settings, connect with their creativity, and tell the story of their adventures. I don’t think that being a good photographer is just knowing the technology. There’s also such a creative component to it, and once people start to connect with their inner creative, it’s so fun to see the photos that start to emerge,” says Diane.
Her online course lasts eight weeks and teaches students about composition, lighting, creativity, and storytelling. “The students go through the program together, and each week we come together online for a question-and answer-session, and then a photo critique where students submit their photos for feedback,” she explains.
Diane uses Kajabi for hosting her online course, Screenflow for recording her videos, and Canva for designing graphics for marketing and communications.
To reach customers, Diane maintains a website, Instagram account, Facebook page, and private Facebook group. So far, she says that most of her community has discovered her through Facebook or via referrals from other students.
“My community consists mostly of ‘mature’ (40+) travelers, from all over the world,” she explains. “I use Facebook ads as my primary advertising method, and have had pretty good success with those.”
Diane says that she loves the sense of community that her online courses have fostered. “People all over the world come together to learn, grow, and share. It’s just incredible to be able to facilitate all of this. The technology provides so much opportunity to teach and connect with so many different and wonderful people,” she says.
Based on student feedback, Diane has decided to also offer a membership. It will consist of a monthly training workshop, creativity challenge, question-and-answer sessions, photo critique, and community forum.
Diane says she’s excited about this development, because it will allow her to have an ongoing relationship with her community of learners. She also intends to host retreats in the future—perhaps in France.
“I’ve always wanted to host travel photo retreats,” she says. “We would learn travel photo skills, but there would also be yoga, meditation, incredible local food…and [time to explore] the local villages and culture,” she says.
“My plan is to grow my online business while we are here in the U.S., until it’s at a point we have the freedom to live anywhere. At that point? France, here we come.”
By Tricia A. Mitchell