Professional photographer and PhotoFluent® founder Diane Evans shares her struggles as she started her dream online business, what she learnt from her mistakes and how asking for help was a game-changer for her.
Diane Evans of PhotoFluent
Facebook Group: PhotoFluent Travelers
Diane is a photographer and founder of PhotoFluent®, where she teaches other women travellers how to create photos they love.
She’s studied photography for over 20 years and became such a proficient photographer that others started coming to her for help. She found herself loving sharing this knowledge and decided to take her passion and turn it into a profession. She started PhotoFluent® and began her journey of coaching, online training and blogging.
She and her husband, Neal, lived in France for a year working online and improving their photography skills. Now they live in Sacramento, California with their sweet dog, Maggie. Diane now dreams of the day they can move back to France, where she plans to host PhotoFluent® retreats for women travellers who want to connect with their creativity and cameras.
In this interview, Diane shares the importance of not giving up on your dream, the value of failures and the impact asking your friends for help can have.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [01:10] What PhotoFluent is, how it helps people improve their photography skills and who Diane helps.
- [03:09] How COVID has affected Diane’s business.
- [04:46] How Diane got into photography.
- [05:26] Why Diane worked in the healthcare sector for so long.
- [09:38] How Diane gained the courage to start her own business.
- [11:40] How Diane’s husband responded to her idea of a total life overhaul.
- [12:53] How Diane prepared before moving abroad.
- [13:50] What inspired Diane to work online and to be location independent.
- [15:09] Why Diane chose to live in France for a year, and how she managed her costs of living.
- [16:58] The different online income sources Diane sought whilst living in France.
- [18:15] How Diane monetised her blog and how much she made from it.
- [19:05] How sustainable their lifestyle seemed after working online in France for a year.
- [20:40] What it was like returning to jobs in America and how Diane realised she shouldn’t give up her dream of an online business.
- [23:50] The first steps Diane took to making her new business profitable.
- [24:48] How a brainstorming session helped Diane define her business idea.
- [26:03] How Diane found people to help her with her brainstorming session.
- [28:35] The ways Diane ran her brainstorming session to keep it productive and focused.
- [29:13] What the results of the session were and how it helped Diane’s business.
- [31:30] What the business model of PhotoFluent looks like and the different training options that Diane offers.
- [32:57] How far advanced Diane’s business was before she quit her ‘regular’ job and focused on it full-time.
- [35:13] How profitable Diane’s business has become.
- [37:00] Diane’s long-term plans for the business.
- [37:47] How meditation has helped Diane stay focused and positive.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
- Afford Anything
- House Hunters International
- Breath of French Air
- Dining For Women
- Deepak Chopra
- You Are a Badass At Making Money, Jen Sincero
- Online Marketing Made Easy podcast
- She Hit Refresh
- Episode 67: How to adapt during a global crisis – with Ray Blakney of Live Lingua
- Episode 73: How to get better at your job and access the help you need – with Jennifer Fisher of Jen Loving Sales
- Two Exercises To Help You Find Career Happiness
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 75: Don’t give up on your dream career - with Diane Evans of bephotofluent.com
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Say you make a change, but it just doesn't work. You change jobs, you maybe try starting your own business, perhaps you move to a different country and see what it's like to live there for a bit. But it just didn't work. It either didn't generate the income you wanted or it just didn't feel right. For whatever reason, it just didn't do what you wanted it to do. So, what do you do in those circumstances? Do you just go back to your old life? That's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:45
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. This week, I'm joined by Diane Evans. Diane spent 30 years as an occupational therapist, but now she runs PhotoFluent, where she teaches travellers how to create amazing photos that tell the story of their adventures. Diane, welcome to the podcast.
Diane Evans 1:05
Thanks, I'm so happy to be here.
Jeremy Cline 1:07
Can you start by telling us a little bit more about PhotoFluent?
Diane Evans 1:10
I'm a photographer, and I struggled a little bit with the technology of creating photos. And once I figured that out, I thought I could go two ways, I could be a photographer, sell my art, or I could teach other photographers. I ended up really targeting – not targeting, but working with – travellers, I guess. Because travel is also one of those things that's very important to me. So, at PhotoFluent, I teach travellers specifically how to get over that overwhelm of the camera and the technology, digital files, and connect with their creativity, so that they can tell the story of their adventures and come out with photos that they love, instead of photos that are boring, and that they're frustrated with.
Jeremy Cline 1:53
So, who's your client? Who needs your services?
Diane Evans 1:56
Mostly, I would say my clients are mostly ladies in the 40 and above range. Although, I do get a lot of travel bloggers. Really, I would say travellers who want to improve their photo skills. But not professional photographers, more beginner photographers who are more there for the travel versus setting up a tripod at sunrise for the perfect lighting, for the perfect photo. And like I said, people who kind of struggle with the photography aspect, but they're really there for the travel. So, mostly travellers.
Jeremy Cline 2:33
And how long has the business been going?
Diane Evans 2:35
Just a year now, we just had our year anniversary.
Jeremy Cline 2:38
So, I have to ask you, we're recording this in November 2020, when things are possibly looking up in terms of the pandemic, reports of vaccines being developed and that sort of thing. But anything to do with travel at the moment just seems to have been whacked completely. It's not really good time, it seems, for anything travel related. So, you mentioned the business has been going for a year, so I guess it was about six months or so when COVID hit. So, how's the business been affected?
Diane Evans 3:07
That's a great question. It was fairly bad timing, but I didn't know. I started last fall with grand hopes of helping those travellers with their photography skills. And I do that with online classes, mostly, and some coaching. But just about the time I was launching my first trainings, yes, we all got locked down and COVID really hit. How it's affected my business is hard to judge, because I didn't have a business last year to compare it to. But I definitely think that people aren't travelling, so it's not at the top of their mind. And so, making travel photos isn't, also. And I really think this is a perfect time to learn that skill, so that when they do get to travel, they're confident with their camera, they're ready to take the photos, they know what they're doing. But I've definitely got some feedback that, hey, when we can travel again, I'm all about your training, but until then, I'll wait. I think it's impacted it. But a lot more people are online. So, it's hard to know.
Jeremy Cline 4:11
That's a shame, because your message makes perfect sense. You don't want to start learning how to use your camera a week before you go out. You want to use it before and practice in your garden or whatever it might be, so that whilst you're there, you can start taking these great photos.
Diane Evans 4:26
Exactly. Yeah. And some people have absolutely embraced that. Because there's editing components, there's the camera piece, some folks have gotten new cameras and want to learn how to use them, so it is the perfect time to do that. But you're right. I think the travel industry in general is soft right now, I would say.
Jeremy Cline 4:44
When did you start getting into photography?
Diane Evans 4:46
Twenty years ago, I took my first class and I was absolutely hooked. It's something that, I would see a scene or a subject or something and I would envision it as a photograph. And so, I finally took a class, I love to take classes. And that's when I knew, this is what I wanted to do. And I really, for years I thought, I'd love to do this for a living, but nobody makes money at photography. So, I just kept doing what I was doing, as far as career goes.
Jeremy Cline 5:17
So, let's talk about that. You mentioned when we spoke previously that you were an occupational therapist. So, how did you get into the whole healthcare and occupational therapy to begin with?
Diane Evans 5:26
You know, my dad was in the healthcare field, and I was young, and just thought, I'll go into healthcare. And I actually found occupational therapy title in a guidance counsellor's office, somehow. And so, I went and got a bachelor's degree, and I started doing it. It didn't really resonate with me. And so, I just switched jobs, thinking it was the area I was in, the type of job I had. So, I got a lot of different jobs. And then eventually, I even got a Master's in public health, because I thought, maybe it's just occupational therapy, and another aspect of healthcare would be better. And you get to a point and it's, that's my degree, that's my training, that's my experience, that's how I make my money. So, I just kept going, momentum just carried me through it.
Jeremy Cline 6:13
Because you were doing it for, what was it, 30 years, you told me?
Diane Evans 6:16
Thirty years. I was an occupational therapist for 10. And then, the rest of the time I did everything from clinical sales to project management. Like I said, I just would try a lot of different things to see if there was a connection.
Jeremy Cline 6:29
Okay, so you switched around in the health sector, so a bit in occupational therapy, and then in other things. When you were in that process of switching around, what was going through your head in terms of trying to find something which did resonate with you?
Diane Evans 6:46
It's one of those cases where I knew I didn't want to be doing what I was doing. But I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I got a lot of feedback from people that said, 'What do you want to do? What would make you happy?' kind of things, or 'You should be grateful for having such a good job.' And I'd think, I should be grateful, I should like this. You can always find work in healthcare, and I should like it, I should enjoy it. And so, I really wanted it to work. And I tried really different types of jobs within healthcare, but it just wasn't what I was supposed to do, I don't think.
Jeremy Cline 7:21
You mentioned two things people were saying to you. One was that you should be grateful for what you're given, you know, that's a fairly common phrase you hear people saying, particularly family: 'Why do you want to do that? It's a great job. Why on earth would you want to quit it?' But let's take as read that, yeah, people will say that. I'm interested in the other thing that you said people were saying to you, the 'Well, what do you want to do?' When people were asking you that question, what was your reaction? Did you think, yes, I really should be finding that out? Or did you just sweep it under the carpet?
Diane Evans 7:56
I constantly searched. It was like my life, I spent searching, researching. I took classes, I would try different things. You know, there were different personality tests or career type tests that I would take. I wanted to know, I wanted to find 'the thing', because I knew what I was doing wasn't a match, it didn't resonate. So, I truly wanted to find what 'the thing' was. It just took me a long time, I guess.
Jeremy Cline 8:24
Why do you think it took so long?
Diane Evans 8:26
I think fear, personally. I think I was afraid of failure. I listened to a lot of the feedback that I got, that I should be grateful, I should. And I, you know, the more you're in a particular field, the more kind of stuff you get there, as far as, well, that's the only experience I have. And to go from being an employee in healthcare and having job security to just starting my new business is terrifying.
Jeremy Cline 8:52
So, was it fear that stopped you doing it for this length of time, do you think?
Diane Evans 8:58
I think fear, definitely. I'm not much of a risk-taker. And I think also money, because I was single for a lot of my career and I had to support myself. So, quitting my job wasn't really an option for me. And, you know, when you have commitments – mortgage, car, just financial commitments like everybody has – it's difficult to be more flexible. I know I hear people doing it, downsizing their life, and I kind of envisioned that, I dreamed of it, like selling everything and starting over, but just never made that plunge.
Jeremy Cline 9:35
So, what changed that did make you take the plunge?
Diane Evans 9:38
You know, I got married later in life. We were in our 40s and we were both working in very high-stress jobs. And I thought, this is not what life is supposed to be about. And I think having a partner in life gave me more courage. And I actually prepared a PowerPoint presentation for my husband and said, 'I think we need to make changes in our life, and here, let me make my case.' And I helped him get to the place that I was, that we needed changes. And we decided to downsize our life, save money and take a sabbatical in France for a year. And I think that's what really changed my mindset as far as what life can look like.
Jeremy Cline 10:23
So, where was he at this point, in terms of his outlook?
Diane Evans 10:27
He is an architect, and he enjoys what he does, for the most part, but he's also done it for a really long time. And I think he was just ready for a change too, because he's done it for so long and it was a very stressful job. We were living in New York City, and the pressure that he was under, I think he was ready for a change, too. So, we basically thought of it as a reset. And we came back to the United States and thought, okay, so we had our break, we had our reset, and we both got jobs in our field again. And I think I realised that in the process of researching to do this sabbatical, because I looked into photography, having a photography business, doing that for a living, I just couldn't quite figure it out in that year. But when I got back, got into another healthcare job, I thought, I need to figure this out, make it work.
Jeremy Cline 11:18
I want to go back to the PowerPoint presentation, which I think is a brilliant idea. I love the idea of showing your significant other a PowerPoint about why you need to make some changes. So, when you'd finished your presentation, was his reaction, 'I'm not sure about this', or was it, 'Oh, my goodness, you're so right'?
Diane Evans 11:37
It was not the second, it was more, he looked at me like I was crazy. And so, I thought, well, I guess I better just... At the time, I was a consultant, I was flying out every Monday for work. I thought, well, I guess I better pack my bags and just keep working, you know, go into work every Monday, because he thinks this is crazy. But the next morning, I woke up and he said, 'I couldn't sleep all night. And I think we should do it.' And my plan was two to three years to prepare for this. And he said, 'Let's do it in a year.' So, we moved from New York City to Jersey City and sold everything we owned and moved to France for a year.
Jeremy Cline 12:16
So, the preparation was, effectively, to take a year out in France?
Diane Evans 12:22
It was to take a year, but if we could figure out how to make a living online, we would stay longer. And we didn't figure that out in a year. So, we had to come back.
Jeremy Cline 12:34
Take me to the start of the preparation time. You said that you were going to give yourselves two or three years to prepare, you ended up just giving yourself a year to prepare. So, at the end of the preparation time, what were your intentions? At the start of your action time, what were you planning on doing?
Diane Evans 12:53
I'm a project manager at heart. That's one thing that I was good at. And so, I created spreadsheets and checklists. And there's a lot of work involved in preparing yourself personally to move to another country, and the visas and that kind of thing. But I was also studying photography, studying online business, blogging, how can we create a life, an income. So, I did a lot of work, preparation-wise, in that department. So, that was really my year of preparation. And like I said, saving money. We did everything we could to spend less money. And at the end of the year of preparation, we were just both incredibly excited about the adventure and the experience.
Jeremy Cline 13:39
So, where does online business and blogging and that sort of thing come into it? Was this something that you had decided, as you delivered your PowerPoint presentation, that was what you wanted to explore?
Diane Evans 13:51
Yes. And where do you find good ideas but online. Like I said, I had to travel every week, Monday through Thursday I was in a hotel. And one week I just was really unhappy and I was googling something. And I came across Afford Anything. The Afford Anything blog. And it was kind of about the opportunities we have online, writing, photography, there's so many things we can do online that give us location independence. And that was a term I hadn't heard before that she talked about. Paula Pant was her name. Location independence. And I thought, that's what I want. I want flexibility, I want to be able to create my own life and be able to do that anywhere. And so, based on those concepts – and my husband is a writer, not for work, but as a hobby, and I thought, he can write, I'm a photographer, we can figure this out. And so, that was what the PowerPoint presentation was based on.
Jeremy Cline 14:54
And why also up sticks and go to France? I can understand, yeah, travel, that's nice. But, I mean, France isn't a particularly low-cost-of-living country. So, why go there for a year?
Diane Evans 15:07
Well, I love House Hunters International, if you want to know the truth, and I was watching it when my husband came in, we were really newly married at that point, and I said, 'Would you ever live abroad?' and he said, 'Oh, yeah.' So, that kind of got the wheels turning. And I had gone to France, it was probably one of my first travel as an adult trips. And I just fell in love with it – the culture, the food, the people, the language. So, I just always had a dream of experiencing a different culture, I think. And it was actually incredibly affordable compared to the United States. We did really well as far as living minimally in France.
Jeremy Cline 15:51
And how did you go about doing that? What differences were there in your lifestyle? Or was it just simply doing what you were doing just in a different place?
Diane Evans 15:59
The apartment that we rented was very low-cost. It was a small, maybe, well, 400 square feet, I don't know if that translates to everyone everywhere. But it was a very small apartment that we found. And we had a budget, we'll spend a certain amount on an apartment. And then just things like internet and phones were a third of the price they are here. And then healthcare there, I don't know how to compare it, because it's so much – it's a 10th of what we pay here. So, healthcare was just incredibly – we had to have health insurance, because we're not part of the French system. But their health insurance is almost nothing compared to what it is here.
Jeremy Cline 16:44
So, when you went to France, so you moved locations, you've got this idea of location independence and online business. What do you start doing in France to start making this a reality?
Diane Evans 16:58
Well, we started a blog called Breath of French Air, and there's a lot of courses about how you can make money as a blogger. And I think a lot of people do make money as a blogger. But it takes more than just having a great blog. There's a lot of marketing and networking in it. And it takes a while to get established. So, just starting a blog and moving to France, I think it was a little idealistic. And I don't think we really knew how long it takes to get all of that established. I don't regret doing it, it was a great experience. But the idea that we would figure that out and be sustaining ourselves within a year was probably a little far-fetched, I would say. I'm sure people have done it, maybe people can do it. So, we had the blog. And then I was also trying to sell photography online, which is doable, but also challenging. So, I did sell some stock photography, but that makes very little and kind of sporadic money. I wrote some articles and included my photography and made a little bit of money at that. But it was piecemeal, coming in here and there, not enough to sustain us.
Jeremy Cline 18:11
How were you anticipating making money from your blog?
Diane Evans 18:15
I, of course, took courses on that, because that's what I do. And I love online courses. But there are advertising options and I can't remember the other options. But I know that with blogging, you can get sponsors, you can have advertisements. So, there are different ways with just a blog to make money.
Jeremy Cline 18:35
Certainly my experience is that there's a lot of bloggers out there, but I get the impression that there's not many that actually are successful enough to make a living anyway.
Diane Evans 18:44
Just with the blog. Yeah. You can find them, and a lot of the successful bloggers you find are selling how to be successful as a blogger. That's kind of their product. Some of them, I think.
Jeremy Cline 18:57
So, as you're coming up to the end of the year, where are you and what's your thinking at that point?
Diane Evans 19:04
We had decided that we would re-evaluate at the year point, because then we have to renew our visa, we would re-evaluate, look at the finances, and when we did that, we decided we have to go back. We had enough to stay for another year, but if we didn't see some income coming in and the possibility of staying, we didn't want to just burn through our savings and then have nothing when we came back. So, we decided it was time to come back and I made peace with it. But there was a part of me that definitely was disappointed.
Jeremy Cline 19:39
'Made peace with it' doesn't sound terribly positive. It sounds a kind of a grudging acceptance.
Diane Evans 19:46
Yes, I would say my husband was relieved in some ways. I think it was really hard for him to see our savings number go down, because we were basically living off our savings. And I think he was relieved to come back. And I was disappointed that we hadn't figured it out.
Jeremy Cline 20:03
Did you get the impression that your husband saw it as the end of a bit of an experiment that no one maybe necessarily could expect you to succeed? Or is that unfair?
Diane Evans 20:12
I would say that's very, yes, very true. I'm the hopeful, we can do this, positive side of the relationship. And he's more the – he says he's not negative, he's just realistic. So, yes, I think that's probably a good summary.
Jeremy Cline 20:28
Is it, pessimism is what an optimist thinks of a realist or something like that? So, what happened when you came back? Did you both basically go back to jobs in your previous areas?
Diane Evans 20:40
He did, he found a job pretty quickly at an architectural firm. And we decided to move back to California, which, we'd never lived in California before. We just pulled out a map, and I didn't want to live anywhere with snow, and he didn't want to live anywhere that was too hot. So, we ended up saying, 'Well, let's give Sacramento a try.' And he found a job pretty quickly. And then very shortly after that, I found a job in healthcare, but it was in healthcare insurance. I was analysing healthcare cost trends with United Healthcare. So, I had never done that before. But there I was.
Jeremy Cline 21:18
And how long into that job did you start having thoughts about, 'Actually, no, I want to give online a crack again'?
Diane Evans 21:26
I really settled in and thought, I just needed a break. I was trying to talk myself into, I just needed a break, and this is good, I can make this work. It was a remote position. So, I didn't have to commute, I just worked from home. And I had a great team I worked with. But I would say about the two-year mark, I thought, life is too short. And I know that's an overused phrase, it's a little cliche, but it is too short to continue to plough through a job that you dread. You know, I would wake up and dread going to work. And on Sunday nights, I would have that knot in my stomach because the workweek was starting.
Jeremy Cline 22:04
Having had your experience of online with the blog that didn't quite do for you what you'd hoped it would, what made you think that there was other stuff out there? And how did you work out what that might look like for you?
Diane Evans 22:19
Another great question, because it was such a process to figure that all out. I knew I wanted it related to photography. And I actually studied with a mentor and worked on my photography skills, thinking that I would have a local photography studio, because that seems a fairly concrete and obvious way to make money as a photographer, to have a studio. And so, I actually started down that path, working with clients, having some local clients and making photos for folks. And I think I surrounded myself with people who were photographers, who had businesses like I envisioned having, and I kind of quickly realised, because I did spend some time with the local business idea, but I really kept going back to that location independence. I don't want to be stuck in one place. I want to have the freedom to go anywhere. And I had several friends approach me saying, 'I just bought this new camera, can you help me figure out how to use it?' I went to a workshop and had some people from the workshop say, 'I don't understand what the instructor is saying. Can you help me?' And what I realised is, as much as I love photography, I love teaching people about photography. And I actually had a brainstorming session with some friends and just said, 'You know, I love travel, I love photography', and in the course of talking through it with other people, that's how I figured out what this business would look like.
Jeremy Cline 23:44
What was your first step after having that realisation to make it happen?
Diane Evans 23:49
I don't know how to explain this without sounding really woo woo. But it felt like once I figured it out, I knew that was it. We came up with the name in the brainstorming session. I grabbed the domain, and I trademarked the name. I thought, this is it. And everything just resonated and synced after that. I'm not saying I just started making millions of dollars, I think there's still a really steep learning curve. But I really started putting every extra minute I had, when I wasn't at my job, into this new business and figuring out how to get an online platform. You know, you have to have a website. And how do you do courses online? So, I took a course in that, and social media, all of the components of a business that you have to have, I started figuring that out.
Jeremy Cline 24:42
Tell me about the brainstorming session. So, how did that actually come about?
Diane Evans 24:47
At the time, I started doing the local work, but I just felt like again, I loved the photography part, I felt like there was something missing. And I was trying to figure out what that was. And a friend of mine mentioned, 'I heard about this brainstorming idea for when women are trying to start businesses, like to support each other and help generate ideas, help grow ideas.' And I thought, I've been involved in those at work before, you know, where you have a meeting and all the sudden something kind of grows out of it. And I just thought, that's what I need, is to have somebody, an outside person look in and help me with my ideas. Because there are ideas, but they're disconnected. What is this going to look like as a business? So, I invited eight women, and we all sat around and probably drank mimosas. And I had a big whiteboard and I would write, here's my idea, here's a website, or you know, a name of the business that I thought of. And I put all the different pieces that I had in there. And then, they started coming up with ideas and kind of filling in some of the cracks, and it just grew from there. It was very exciting and very interesting how that worked. I highly recommend it.
Jeremy Cline 26:01
Who were these people? Were they just friends of yours?
Diane Evans 26:03
They were friends of mine, and I'm in a group called Dining for Women and it's about women getting together every month, and we support social causes around the world. And so, a lot of the women were in that group, women I had respect for, who had businesses before, who were travellers, because I knew I wanted to have some connection with travellers. So, people who I admired, respected, and I thought would have good ideas.
Jeremy Cline 26:33
And how did you frame the invite? I mean, you know, kind of, 'Hey, come around to Diane's, I'll provide the mimosas, and I want you to analyse my business ideas and help me work out what to do next.'
Diane Evans 26:42
I just threw it out there as a brainstorming session. Like, I need help, I'm starting a business and I would love your ideas. I value your thoughts and I would love to have your help. It was a little uncomfortable, and I'm not used to asking for help. I've never really done that my whole life. And so, to ask people to give up a couple hours of their day, come help me with something... I put it off for a few weeks. And finally, I thought, I need to do this, and I would do it for my friend, I would be happy to help someone else work through some business ideas. So, I just threw out the email and I got a great response.
Jeremy Cline 27:22
I was going to ask what the reaction of other people is, because you know, the idea, well, I mean from both ends, asking my mates around for a few drinks and saying, this is to talk about what I'm going to do with my future, or actually being asked that. I mean, yeah, I'd be happy to. But it just seems like such a – not a strange thing to do, but something that I've not really heard of anyone else doing.
Diane Evans 27:44
It was a friend that actually came to the brainstorming who suggested it, or kind of threw it out there, because she had heard it somewhere else. And I thought, that's a great idea. And yeah, they enjoyed it. Everybody got really excited. As we were coming up with ideas, and then we'd land on something and it was really fun. And I have to say, it really helped me figure the idea. It's like it grew out of that session, because I had, I like travel, I like photography, I had little bits and pieces, but I couldn't pull it together. And I think sometimes just saying out loud, talking through it with someone else, helps. And when you have a whole group doing that together, it was really pretty amazing.
Jeremy Cline 28:26
How did you run the session so it ended up being productive? I can imagine these things just devolving into a lot of chatter, to be honest.
Diane Evans 28:34
Back to my project management skills. I had an outline, I had the ideas that I wanted to cover and I had the whiteboard. So, I had that on an easel and I had written down certain topics, certain ideas that I had in my head, that I wanted their feedback on. So, I kept it fairly structured, so that it wouldn't just end up with a chat about life. Yeah.
Jeremy Cline 29:01
And at the end of that meeting, what did you have in front of you? Did you have a fully formed plan, or a few ideas or some food for thought? What was the result?
Diane Evans 29:12
I had the name of my company, which I'd been struggling with. And that's kind of one of the first things you have to come up with, because you need a domain and you need social media sites. So, I had the name that we all went, 'That's it. That's a great name.' And it just felt right. And then, I did have some ideas as far as retreats. That's something I plan to offer when we can travel again. And I talked through what a retreat would look like. But I also said before retreats, I want to have some online training, and got some input on what that would look like and what people want to learn. Because I also extended the invitation to, if you know someone who likes to travel and likes to take photos, they're welcome to come too. And so, one of my friends actually invited a friend of hers who I'd never met. And I was surprised that she would want to come to my house and help me talk through this. But she was really an incredible resource, because she's pretty much my ideal client, as far as the type of person that I like to work with.
Jeremy Cline 30:22
And was there an element, at the end of this, of accountability? So, you've been through this process, you've come up with the name of your business, what it's going to look like, have you now got half a dozen people, however many, basically saying, 'Okay, right, so we're gonna be expecting to get a progress report and seeing what you do'?
Diane Evans 30:40
They didn't expect any results. I think they know me well enough to know that when I'm determined to do something, I'm going to do it. And they could also see it online, they could see everything just form. And so, I'm still friends with all of these women and I've gotten a lot of feedback, like, 'I can't believe what you've accomplished in a year. From the time we sat and met, and came up with the name, now there's like a fully formed company.' Which is good to hear sometimes, because as a new business owner, you never think you're going fast enough or far enough. So, it's nice to hear that other people think I'm doing so well with how far I've come in a short amount of time, really.
Jeremy Cline 31:18
So, what does your business look like now? Is it all online training in person? Is it online courses that you've just set up and, you know, press play and have nothing to do with? What's the makeup of the business at the moment?
Diane Evans 31:30
I have one-to-one options, so people can get coaching, which now, anytime really, but especially now, it's online. So, they would send me some example photos, and I would look through them, and we would talk through what they're struggling with, what they want to learn. Or when we get back to travel, if somebody's preparing for a really big trip. Like I had one client who said, 'We're going to Africa' – they didn't go to Africa, but – 'we want to be ready to take good photos.' So, they hired me to coach, it was a couple, to coach them through what was wrong with their previous photos and what kind of camera equipment to bring. So, that's one option. But then I do a lot of live trainings, which I love. And it's more interactive. Those are then, of course, recorded and people can access them anytime. But I do a lot of interactive work. So, there are recorded trainings that people can just log in, buy, access. But I also have a really active Facebook group, where I go live every week and people ask questions and share photos. I like the interaction more than just recording my voice and people getting trained that way.
Jeremy Cline 32:47
And how does this all interact with the job that you took up when you came back to the US? Have you now quit that job? Or are you still doing that and doing this at the same time?
Diane Evans 32:57
I did quit that job. It got to the point, I was trying to do two jobs at one time. And it was actually my husband who said, 'You've always wanted to do this, to have your own photography business. And you're never going to know if it worked unless you just put yourself all into it and give it a try.' Which really scared me, which he was saying is, 'You should quit your job and put all your effort into your business.' So, I ran the numbers and it was one of those things, we could live off of one income. And he was willing to take that chance on me. It took me a while to come around. Because I've never not had a regular pay cheque. I've been an employee for my whole life. It was terrifying, for sure.
Jeremy Cline 33:45
How far advanced was your business at the point you made that decision?
Diane Evans 33:50
I had really just started it. It was hard to get it going, because I just didn't have what it takes, like the marketing part, I'm sure you know, of an online business is a full-time job just in itself. So, I'm creating content, and I just didn't have time to put into it. So, it was very, very basic level, there wasn't much going on in the business at all.
Jeremy Cline 34:13
And when you handed in your notice, was it fear? Was it relief? Was it excitement? Was it all of the above?
Diane Evans 34:21
I would say I was mostly overjoyed and excited and I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do. And I absolutely know that I'm on the right path and that this will work. I do have moments of fear and what if this doesn't work, but I think, a lot of life in general, but a lot of starting any new adventure is mindset. I do almost as much work on my thoughts and my mindset as I do on marketing. Because I think if we don't believe in ourselves, then we won't succeed. So, I push those thoughts of, what if this doesn't work out, what if you can't figure it out, I push those away pretty quickly.
Jeremy Cline 35:02
And in terms of what the business is doing for you now, have you got it to a stage where you're now not just relying on the one income, it is starting to contribute?
Diane Evans 35:13
I'm getting there. It's been a steep learning curve. But I'm getting to the point where I'm seeing some income, and that feels good. I want to get it to the point where it can sustain us, and that we can move back to France. That's kind of my end goal. My husband is not always on board with that idea. But I think we can get back there, and I'm definitely on a good path. And I do wonder, once travel opens up again, I think that will open my business to more possibilities. Like I said, I want to offer retreats and I've had a lot of interest in retreats and onsite workshop type things, but I just can't do those right now.
Jeremy Cline 35:52
So, is it still, you see the business as being very much in person, you're not planning on just automating the whole thing?
Diane Evans 36:01
I like both, and in person to me, it can be Zoom right now. I like the exchange versus just the recorded, I think it's a great marriage to have both. So, people can get the recording and they can study camera settings, and get the feedback on that, as far as learning. But then when they have questions, the recording doesn't always cover everything. So, I definitely see it as a combination, so they can get all the training they need as far as the logistics and the basics and even the creative part. Give them some great creative ideas. But then, yeah, I want it to be in person as well, because I think it's the perfect combination.
Jeremy Cline 36:42
And what will your long-term plans be for the business? Are you looking to build up something which is basically just going to sustain you indefinitely, build up something which you can potentially exit from? Is it something that you're going to do for as long as you can? Or is it something that you want to retire from?
Diane Evans 37:00
I don't think I ever want to retire from it. I love it so much. And honestly, I've never loved what I did before, ever. Like now, when I get up, I am excited when I wake up and I can't wait to get to work. And sometimes, at the end of the day, it's dark, and my husband gets home from work, and I think, oh, my gosh, I have to stop now? I read somewhere that entrepreneurs are the only ones that give up a 40-hour-a-week job to work 80 hours a week. And I think that's what I've done. I work a lot. But I love it so much I can't imagine ever stopping.
Jeremy Cline 37:33
That's brilliant. That's absolutely fantastic. You mentioned that you've done lots of work on your own thoughts and mindset. Are there any particular exercises or practices which come to mind to which you can recommend people give a go?
Diane Evans 37:47
I am a big fan of meditation. And I meditate every morning, and I'm not Deepak Chopra, I don't meditate for two hours, but even just sitting in silence for 10 minutes, I think it's such a valuable exercise to clear your mind and start to recognise the thoughts in there. Because it's not just about not thinking anything. I think a lot of people have that misperception about meditation. It's actually about recognising that you're thinking and then sending the thoughts away and coming back to that quiet place. But just that exercise of recognising that the thoughts are in there starts to make you aware of when you're criticising yourself, or when the doubt is creeping in there. If we don't recognise, it can take over.
Jeremy Cline 38:31
Meditation is something I keep on dipping into and then dipping out of again, and I agree with you, I think it is helpful. I think it's like many things, it needs to become a habit to really bring the benefits. And in terms of any other resources, books or anything that you can recommend people have a look at, have you got any suggestions?
Diane Evans 38:50
I did a lot of photography-specific kind of stuff. But as far as even the mindset, I went from an employee to an entrepreneur, and that is a very, very different mindset, and it's scary. Jen Sincero wrote a book called You Are a Badass at Making Money. And I think that is such a valuable book, I have the audio and the written version. I've probably been through it a couple of times on both ends. And the other resource, I think, as far as online business – I listen to podcasts constantly. I just fill my brain with every bit of information I could get and Amy Porterfield, Online Marketing Made Easy is one that I listen to regularly and took her training. And then, I also surrounded myself with people who are in the same mindset as me. So, people who are also looking to not just stay where they are, even if they're unhappy, but to make a change and to create a life that they want to live. And She Hit Refresh is another podcast and Facebook group that, in that regards, finding my community is one that I really enjoy.
Jeremy Cline 40:03
Brilliant. Well, I will certainly put links to all of those in the notes of this episode. And if people want to find you, where's the best place for them to go?
Diane Evans 40:10
bephotofluent.com is my website. And then on Facebook, I'm at PhotoFluent. And then, we have a fabulous private group on Facebook called PhotoFluent Travelers. If they're into travel and have cameras, that's the place to be.
Jeremy Cline 40:25
Awesome. Well, I'm really looking forward to seeing where your business takes you. Hopefully, things will go back to, probably not the same normal, but at least some semblance of normal where people can go out travelling and start taking photos. Yeah, good luck with the business as we get to that stage and beyond. And I look forward to seeing where you take it.
Diane Evans 40:43
Thanks, I do too. Thanks so much for having me on. It's been so much fun.
Jeremy Cline 40:47
It's a pleasure. Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Diane Evans of PhotoFluent. Diane's was a really interesting story. She'd been exposed to this idea of moving online, starting a business online, becoming location independent, which is something that we discussed with Ray Blakney a few weeks ago. She'd seen what other people had done and she thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give that a go.' And she took quite some serious steps to doing so, she talked about how she downsized, how she and her husband moved to France, how they started the blog and tried to make an income that way, and it just didn't work. But when she went back to her old life, it was clear to Diane that, okay, it hadn't worked that time, but going back to her old life just wasn't an option. It wasn't going to make her happy. She wasn't going to stand for it. And so, she tried again.
Jeremy Cline 41:36
She also emphasised a point that we discussed with Jennifer Fisher a couple of weeks ago, about the value of taking soundings from other people. I've got to say that the idea of essentially throwing a party and inviting some friends around to help you figure out what it is that you want to do, it's an interesting idea. It's quite a scary one as well. But in Diane's case, it certainly worked. It's in line with an exercise that I suggest in the exercises, which you'll find if you sign up for them on my website. If you click on the tab Find Career Happiness!, there's a link there where I've got a couple of exercises, which are designed to help you figure out what you like, what you don't like, what you want life to look like. And there's a third bonus exercise which involves asking friends and family what they think, what they think you are particularly good at. It's a bit of a scary thing to do, to open yourself up that way and to be vulnerable. But it certainly does pay dividends. The feedback you get can be really quite affirming, even life-changing. So, if you think this is something which might help you, then do hit that tab, Find Career Happiness!, at the top of my website, changeworklife.com, and sign up to receive those exercises.
Jeremy Cline 42:44
If you want to go back to any of the points that we covered in this interview, then don't forget that there's show notes, they're at changeworklife.com/75. That's changeworklife.com/75. You'll find there a summary of everything we talked about, a full transcript of the interview in case you want to dive back into that, and also links to all the tools and resources that we've mentioned. And as always, there's another great interview coming up next week. So, hit subscribe, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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