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My Favorite Online Photography Courses and Educators

Favorite Online Photography Business Courses

Online photography courses have propelled my business forward and have let me network with so many amazing people. Before I got my first course I thought: Why even take online courses when we have youtube and Google? I had even taken photography courses in college so what else do I need to know? Maybe you think that too. We are so blessed to have access to an infinite amount of free information. So here is why it is a good idea to invest in yourself through online courses:

#1 Online courses give you motivation to learn and do. When you spend money on something you are way more motivated to use it. Plus your teachers want you to succeed so they will help you too!

#2 Save Time. You can waste so much time sifting through Google results and Youtube videos to find the correct info. Most of the time it will be out of order or missing something leaving you confused. Online courses are organized and give you the info you need to see results with very little to no fluff.

You can watch the course anytime, anywhere and best of all refer back to it whenever you need (most educators offer lifetime access or downloads).

#3 Community. Most educators create a community for their students so they can continue to learn from each other. It is a great way to network with like-minded people going through the same thing you are. It is so nice to be able to ask questions to peers about real life situations. Referring each other business is also a bonus 🙂

How do you know what online photography course is right for you?

#1 Do you like the teacher? This makes a huge difference! Follow their social media, watch or listen to them speak. Are you able to listen to them for long periods of time or do you not jive with how they present? There are so many educators out there teaching similar principles, you are bound to find one that suits your personality and learning style.

There are a few educators that I love that my husband just can’t stand. I love Jasmine Star’s energy and how she delivers information quickly, others think she talks too fast. On the flip side there are popular educators that I don’t like as much because they talk so slow. Both can be great teachers though!

PRO TIP: How to find the right teacher. Look for someone who is doing what you want to do – preferably just a couple of steps ahead of you. Do you want to shoot boudoir? Don’t take a course from a renowned landscape photographer – find a successful boudoir photographer. Search facebook groups, check on Google, ask friends, join local networking groups or national networking groups like WIPA or the Rising Tide Society.

#2 Does it provide the transformation you are looking for? In the beginning, it is hard to even know what you need to learn. Try to be as specific as you can. When I started I knew I wanted to learn wedding photography, then I knew I wanted to have a light and airy style with joyful posing, then I knew I wanted to do this full-time, then I knew I wanted to do adventure elopements and travel. As my learning progressed, the courses and mentors I took on became more and more niche (also more expensive, you pay more for specific niche courses over more general courses).

PRO TIP: To get the best deal watch the educators webinar (you can go to their facebook page, then view the ads they run), get a referral code from a friend, sign up for their email list, and/or wait until Black Friday.

Paying in full will always save you money too! Paypal offers no interest financing so that can save you some money versus doing a payment plan with the teacher.

Now that I feel like the online photography courses are getting repetitive for me…I know I need to invest in one on one mentorships and coaching.

#3 Will it work for you? Be careful looking at reviews, you have no idea how long it took to get a result, where people are located (how you market in your location does matter), how long they have been in business, if the reviews are even real, etc. It is best to research the educator, ask in facebook groups about people’s experiences with them, and contact the teacher before hand yourself. It is also nice to have a money back guarantee if it doesn’t work for you when you have implemented what you have learned from the course.

I have found that I LOVE learning from videos where the educator is speaking or demonstrating the skill and workbooks that keep me on a schedule to actually do the things I am being taught. Others might prefer audio only or to read etc.

An online course will only help you if you have the right MINDSET (believe it will work for you) and you actually take ACTION. Again, ACTION is key! Knowing information does nothing for you, unless you implement what you have learned. You get out what you put in so be ready to put forth the effort.

Avoid get rich quick schemes, like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true – IT IS. Long-lasting successful businesses are never built overnight! It usually takes 6-12 months for me to see a return on my investment. BE PATIENT.

To be honest though, I have never taken a course where I didn’t take away something valuable. Every course has been worth it! I’ve learned what kind of teachers I like as well as what works for me and my business. Many courses have helped me just to be a better person in general.

1. Creative Live – The Best Bang For Your Buck

I first found out about Creative Live from Facebook Ads for Jasmine Star’s 30 Day Wedding Photographer Boot Camp. Creative live is so amazing because they offer the classes free when they launch LIVE. I was able to catch some snippets of the class but was working full-time and didn’t get to attend the full course. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I purchased it as my first online course ever. It was so worth it! It helped me set the foundation for my business and I was able to get all the info I needed to take on my first wedding.

I also purchased ReStart by Jasmine Star, which was weird at the time since I was just starting my business but still helpful. ReStart is a course I reference back to a lot because she dives into refining your brand (or completely rebranding), your style, website and pricing.

I have a few other courses on there too. What I love about Creative Live is how affordable it is and how specific the courses are. They offer courses on all things creative ( photography, painting, video, etc) and how to build a creative business (marketing, finances, software, etc). Get $15 off by using my affiliate link here. They also offer a monthly subscription now so you can binge any and all classes for just $39/month.

2. Ben Hartley – The Confidence Builder

Ben Hartley’s education and tools have had the best ROI for my business. I bought his phone script for $7 and it has helped me book so many clients! For a soft-spoken introvert like myself, I don’t like talking on the phone and have a really hard time keeping a conversation going with strangers. His “script” (more like what questions to ask) made it super easy to show my value to potential clients.

Then I signed up for Booked 2.0 and Sold. A few months after finishing these courses I was able to quit my full-time job. Ben Hartley does an amazing job laying out all the marketing opportunities out there. I love that he shares his own experiences with them. He is especially great at networking, bridal shows, and selling prints/albums.

His group Six Figure Photographer will get you pumped! I have a way more confidence and abundant mindset because of him. I would love to go to his Abundance workshop one day!

3. Amy and Jordan Demos – The Simplifiers

Former elementary school teachers, these two really know how to break it down! I took their shooting and editing course and a lot of it I already knew like how to focus, take a proper exposure, etc. I took it because my photos were not consistent. I loved their light and airy look but didn’t know how to get that look for all my photos so they really helped solidify my style. By getting my photos correct in camera, it takes way less time to edit too!

Then I took their business course (opens twice a year), I love how simple and actionable it was. The main thing that helped my business was realizing that “Perception is reality”. Curating your work and brand is so important to attract clients that love you. You have to show what you want to shoot!

They have setup a facebook group for each course and they are the safest place on the internet! Everyone is kind and encouraging, this is a great place for new photographers to get feedback!

4. Katelyn James – Fun behind the scenes

After watching her posing webinar, she completely changed my client experience during photo sessions. I signed up for her posing course and now I am able to do a variety of flattering poses in just a few minutes and my clients feel so comfortable in front of the camera.

I love her bubbly personality! The KJ All Access subscription is amazing and affordable monthly subscription! She shows behind the scenes of her shooting a wedding or portrait session every month. Filled with quirks and she leaves in her mistakes, I love her honesty. I almost cried watching her drop the 85mm 1.2 lens on a wedding day, which she did break and had to replace. You will learn so much by watching her in action and feel human seeing what she has to deal with the same things you do. All Access helped me so much with lighting, styling details, talking with clients and their guests, and just problem solving in general. Each episode has tips and tricks you have probably never thought of.

5. Maddie Mae – Adventure Instead Elopements

I am blown away by this course. Maddie Mae is one of the most genuine educators out there and she isn’t using her online course to “retire” she still shots lots of elopements so she knows what is going on in the industry. You can see actual data from her business on what marketing channels are working for her, how much she has made and more.

Maddie brings in expert guest speakers in the course Facebook group from time to time. She is constantly providing new resources and answering student questions! Her main goal is for everyone to do what makes them happy; to be able build their own dream business, not a carbon copy of hers.

I love how thorough she is, how organized the course is from start to finish, and the workbook is super helpful to stay on track with an actionable plan. Maddie Mae goes in depth on finding your why whereas other educators brush over it. She goes through creating your website, marketing, and client experience to suit the kind of clients you want.

This was by far the most expensive course I have taken, but in 6 months I have already booked 2 elopements at dream locations with amazing couples that have paid for the course already and this is just the beginning. Before this course I had zero inquiries from Google or Pinterest, and now that is where most of my inquiries come from! I know that everything I am implementing from the course will build my dream business – photographing elopements in epic places! I feel so much more confident that I can build the business I want, not just copy of someone else’s business.

You can check out her free Facebook Group – Wedding and Wanderlust here or look at the course and free educational videos here (opens twice a year).

Mini Courses and Guides

Mini-courses and guides can also be super helpful and will help you a learn a specific skill quickly. I love Melissa Jill’s Flash course and Fuel Your Photos SEO guides (and Facebook Group). I just got Green Chair Stories copywriting guide and Sharee Davenports Pinterest guide and so far they have helped my write my copy and clarify my Pinterest strategy.

Free Online Courses

There are also free online courses as well out there you should totally look into. Here are some of my favorites:

Facebook Blueprint – Learn how to advertise on Facebook Successfully (created by Facebook)

Google Analytics – From Google, how to setup and read your analytics

Google Skillshop– From Google, how to run ads on Google, Youtube, and use other Google software for your business

Moocs – Massive Open Online Courses. Many colleges and universities offer free online classes : ) want to take a business course from Harvard? Just google “MOOC” then add the subject and/or University of your choice.

Most softwares have their own training and support articles – it is best to start there before asking in a Facebook group or Google in my opinion.

Also, it is a good idea to get inspired outside of your industry too. It is easy to fall into the comparison trap in the photography world. I really love Neil Patel (SEO) and Gary V (Marketing + Hard Work).

Online learning is so efficient and makes learning accessible at anytime in anyplace. In person workshops, mentors, masterminds and conferences will add to what you have learned and motivate you in a way online courses cannot. Every business should have continuing education in their budget every year to keep growing! #neverstoplearning

Thank you for reading this! I know it will help you and your business. Knowledge is power 🙂 If you have any courses or educational tools to recommend for photographers please list them in the comments! I love teaching other photographers and I want them to know that I am still a student myself.

***This article was written in May of 2020, my fourth year in business for wedding photography. I will continually take courses so there may be an updated article.

***This post includes affiliate links – they cost you nothing to use, in fact you will get a discount usually to purchase by clicking on my link and I benefit from that.

Business Tips, Photography Tips

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Kaci Lou

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My Favorite Online Photography Courses and Educators

Favorite Online Photography Business Courses