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We help people take great photos and build profitable businesses that change lives. We’re high school sweethearts, former elementary school teachers and professional photographers. We're experts at making the complex feel simple and believe education is serious business, but learning should be fun.

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Dear A&J, 

I’m in the process of making the leap to full-time. Besides equipment, if I could invest in anything to help my business grow, what should it be?  

Sincerely,

KK

Dear Friend,

Before our “professional names” were solely Amy and Jordan, they were Mr. and Mrs. Demos, the newly married fourth and fifth grade teachers in next-door classrooms at the same elementary school; and, for a few years before we went full-time, we spent most of our time teaching long division, bandaging bloody knees after recess, and perfecting silent, single-file, straight-line-walking. Perfecting it. If you only could’ve heard the chorus of groans every time our kids got inches from the classroom door only to hear, “Unfortunately, fifth grade, someone chose to talk in line, so let’s go back and try that again!” Poor kiddos, they had hard-driving, overachieving, relentless teachers. But it wasn’t ever really about the line, it was about the discipline. Every task in our classrooms was never about the destination, it was about the journey, and the learning process that takes place along the way.

We taught for four years, so we probably only had 1% of other teachers’ experience, yet our test scores were in the top 1% of the entire state. Why? Because we taught our students that it was more important to know how to think, analyze, and problem-solve than just to know the answer. This is where your question comes into play. When we wrote Making the Leap: 10 Practical Steps for Going Full-Time, we told future full-timers that the first three steps are getting out of debt, finding a mentor, and getting educated about photography and business. Really, though, when you dissect those three, they’re really not that different. In fact, they fall under the same topical umbrella: education.

Now, coming from two former teachers, OF COURSE we think the most valuable investment you can make in your business is education, but the difference in our approach is that our recommendation doesn’t stop at the water’s edge, because how you get educated is just as important as actually getting educated. It’s just like in investing for the future. Everyone invests, but it’s the investment that matters most. In this highly competitive, saturated photography market that we’re all in, everyone’s going to invest in education (to a certain extent), but it’s the education you choose and how you apply it that matters most. We used to tell our students that learning in class mattered, but being lifelong learners mattered more. One of the biggest compliments you can get as a photographer isn’t, “I love your work! It’s perfect!” We smile at that compliment, but we prefer this one, “I didn’t think it could, but your work gets better and better every time!” That’s the difference between a stagnant learner and a lifelong learner. It’s what separates someone in the market and allows them to raise their prices over time to shoot enough and make enough to go and stay full-time, because momentum matters, in your image and your imagery.

So, if we were in your shoes again, friend, which we were not that long ago, we’d recommend that you invest in targeted workshops and online courses that’ll make you a master of your camera, so that you can adapt to any and every lighting situation. And it’s not enough to be a master of your camera. In fact, it’s actually more important to be a master of business, who happens to know how to use a camera really well, too. How do you do that? Read lots and lots of business books. Read one every week. Most small business fail in the first two years, and most of the ones that make it two years fail in the first five. We’ve got an in-depth blog post dedicated to exactly who we followed, what courses we took, and what books we read before we went full-time. It’s called Get Educated, so be sure to check that out for a concrete list of where to start.

In closing, friend, even though education is the most important investment you can make in your business, it’s just the beginning. Choosing what you learn and who you learn from matters a whole lot. Be intentional about where you invest your time and money. Because, like we used to tell our students all the time, practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. It’s not enough just to work as hard as someone else in this business. You have to work smarter, too.

Good luck, friend. It’s not an easy journey to full-time, but the destination is worth the price.

Hugs,

A&J

Erica and Kevin-6

More from the Dear A&J Series…

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  1. Lindsay Davenport says:

    I would loooove to be educated by you two! I will as I keep reading your blog posts with golden nuggets embedded in. It would be amazing to be mentored by y’all!

    • Amy & Jordan says:

      Aw! You’re so sweet, Lindsay! We’re hoping to make some announcements this summer about some other educational opportunities for photographers, so stay tuned!

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We help people take better photos and build successful photography businesses. We’re high school sweethearts, former elementary school teachers and professional photographers. We're experts at making the complex feel simple and believe education is serious business, but learning should be fun.

hey, we're amy & jordan!

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"I always look forward to your emails! I get excited every time I get an email notification that says 'Amy & Jordan!' Even though we've never formally met, you guys have pretty much become the photography mentor I've never had!" 

- priscilla T. 

"I LOVEEE the Monday Minute and I look forward to it every week!"

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"The Monday Minute has seriously changed the way I look at my business! In the last year, my business has completely changed and evolved and I know that it's greatly due to my time 'spent' with the two of you!" 

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Title

"I always look forward to your emails! I get excited every time I get an email notification that says 'Amy & Jordan!' Even though we've never formally met, you guys have pretty much become the photography mentor I've never had!" 

- priscilla T. 

"I LOVEEE the Monday Minute and I look forward to it every week!"

- brianna c.

"The Monday Minute has seriously changed the way I look at my business! In the last year, my business has completely changed and evolved and I know that it's greatly due to my time 'spent' with the two of you!" 

- nicole B.

"Best year of my life! (Photography-wise!)" 

- naomi D. 

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