Rachel Brenke: Hey guys! Welcome to this episode of The Business Bites Podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke, and today I’m joined with Cyrissa Carlson from Sparkle Society. She is one of my favorite business consultants and online entrepreneurs. I absolutely dig and love her Facebook lives and all the content that she has. She’s also a fellow photographer. She owns Immerse Photography. She has been on the CreativeLiive stage, nationally published work, and she has thousands of sparkly photographers in her online communities. I absolutely love her encouragement, education, and empowerment as she’s on the path to help you guys be more strategic and make more informed decisions for your business. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Cyrissa: Heck yeah. I’m actually standing here with a big old stupid smile on my face because I think I have as much adoration for you as you do for me. So this is like all the feels already. We’re just at the top of the broadcast.
Rachel Brenke: Big old love fest. I love it. No, I just love having people that I admire and that I enjoy talking to on here. The energy is so much better and I hope its infectious for you guys listening. We are taking this topic of business and we’re gonna go in a little bit different direction than The Business Bites normally is. I’m normally hammering you guys with legal and tax and all that boring stuff. We are gonna talk a little bit more about diversifying your business and all that goes into that so you guys can make more money and have more interest and passions in what you’re already doing.
Cyrissa: Absolutely. When I ask my photographers in my community, and you probably hear this as well, the number one things that they say is, “Oh, I need to get more booking. I need to have more clients.” I think that is so short-sighted. So I am so excited to unpack this and dig into this with you ’cause it is some good stuff.
Rachel Brenke: It is good. I’m gonna look at the statistics and I’ll stick it onto the podcast show notes, which will be at rachelbrenke.com, but they talk about they being these Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and the big names in media when they’re talking and assessing millionaires and billionaires, one of the key things that they state is that for people and businesses to get to millionaires and billionaires is through diversification, different streams of income. Hardly ever is it just from one specific income stream. As a mother and as an entrepreneur myself, I freak out at the idea of only doing one thing and only getting money from one avenue.
Cyrissa: Oh my gosh, same. Especially when we look at our businesses, I teach social media and a lot of times we have to remind people, you don’t own social media. You cannot put all of your eggs in that one basket because at the end of the day, that’s someone else’s website that we’re using and so diversifying is not only a thing that brings us a little bit of comfort, but is just smart strategically. Absolutely.
Rachel Brenke: One of the things I’ve been seeing within the last few years as online education becomes more prevalent and as online influencers, and they’re more in your face, ’cause you’ve got Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, whatever it is, Snapchat, that’s out there, but more and more people … Girl, I can’t even keep up with all the social media platforms.
Cyrissa: All I think of when I think of Snapchat is the cute filters. Let’s be honest, that’s the priority right there.
Rachel Brenke: I feel like a grandma ’cause I’m like, “How do I load Snapchat, sonny?” I don’t even know how to use it.
Cyrissa: This is why I have interns. There’s a new app that’s kind of coming out right now and I texted all my interns I was like, “Hey, what do you guys know about this? Is this gonna be a thing?” And they were all like, “Well …” I was like, “Okay. That’s all I needed to know, thank you.”
Rachel Brenke: Yeah, right, right. We’ll watch it. And that’s the thing. These new things coming out and one of the new things that all these influencers and online personality brands are offering is teaching. Teaching other business owners. What is your opinion on that and why should creatives, not even just photographers, or anybody in any industry, why should they consider adding teaching and education into part of their business plan and diversification plan?
Cyrissa: That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?
Rachel Brenke: I know.
Cyrissa: It is so incredibly smart to add on a different stream of income and as Rachel said … I was actually sitting here snickering as you were talking about the millionaires because they say on average that the average millionaire has seven different streams of income.
Rachel Brenke: Look at her. She’s got the statistics. I don’t even have to go look it up.
Cyrissa: Yes. I am such a nerd about data. But seven streams of income. So I would just challenge you guys right now, look at your own business. How many different streams of income are you bringing in? Because when I speak to photographers, they say, “Well, I need to book more photo shoots.” And what you really need to do is say, “Okay, so, why?” Ask that question. This goes back to goal setting. “Why do you want to book more photo shoots? “Oh, because I want to be able to support my family.” Okay, great. Why? “Well, because my kids need to do this, this, and this.” Okay, then why do you want to do photo shoots? “Because that’s how I get paid.” Okay, but by saying that you can only do your craft or only you just do this photo shoot, or you only design floral, I don’t know, archways or whatever it is that you’re creating, if you just do that one thing you’re limiting yourself. By opening up and considering teaching, you are literally opening up the doors and there are, when it comes to online education, when it comes to in person education, especially for us that are creatives, those of us that are creatives, we have a skill that people want to learn.
As adults … I used to teach art and I used to have elementary art and I would have parents come in and volunteer with our kids’ classes and there would be so many times I’d be doing a project, and I’d have the parent look at me who was supposed to be helping and they’d be, “Is it okay if I just sit and make this painting with the kids?” Because it is intimidating to be creative. We’ve been taught that there’s a right and a wrong way to do it and so as adults, to go to a fun class, a two hour or one hour class, learning how to bake a cute cupcake, learning how to take an amazing photo, learning how to design a floral spray for your front door. Those are the things that empower people and add value to their lives.
As you start to get older, as Rachel and I were talking before we went live, you’re looking at your kids and you’re measuring the things in your life that have value and these little extrinsic things, these pretty things, these creative things, these are, at the end of the day, what makes our days worth living. So if you can be someone … Man, I’m off on a tangent right now.
Rachel Brenke: I was gonna say, we don’t get this touchy feely on this podcast, but it’s good. It’s good.
Cyrissa: Do we need to have a therapy session afterwards? But it matters, you guys. You can enrich people’s lives. They are gonna be coming back to you over and over and over again. It might not just be for a workshop, but it could be to hire you to have that photo shoot or to have whatever it is that you do offer otherwise. It is just a smart business move.
Rachel Brenke: Before we dig into more of the adding of teaching as one of our income streams in business, what would you suggest … ‘Cause for me, you guys listening, the rest of you know, I am multi-passionate. There are so many things that I want to do in my business, but infamous Pam has to tell me sometimes, “Okay, you can do that later. You have too much going on.” ‘Cause I have a tendency to want to do everything, but then you kind of become spread too thin and nothing ever really gets driven forward. What would your tips be if someone’s thinking right now, as they’re listening, “Oh, I would love to add teaching, but I don’t know how I can manage one more thing. How can I really successfully implement this?”
Cyrissa: So I would kind of go at this from two different way ’cause this is a really big hesitation that a lot of people have like, “Oh my gosh. How can I add one more thing?” And I get it. Our lives are busy, but here’s the thing I want you to consider. When you are doing something like teaching, if you were doing a small group format, so let’s say you have five people take a photography workshop with you and you charge each of those people $100 a head, and I’m just throwing out a number, not saying that’s the number you should use, maybe it is, maybe not, but you guys, look at that. That is $500 that you just brought in.
Let’s say you teach in the morning and in the afternoon. That’s $1,000 you just brought in in one day for just a few hours of work. So the number one thing is kind of like shake your brain and say, “You can’t afford to ignore this.” You can’t afford not to do that. So that would kind of be the first thing that I would say is, “All right. Figure out why this matters and why you need to pay attention to it.”
The second thing that I would say, is look at your business and look at what it is that you offer and your specific strengths and then listen to your community. Because if you listen, they will tell you what they want to know. The first step that I would tell you guys to take as you’re considering teaching, any kind of teaching, is do a survey. Poll your audience. What is it that you already know? What would you like to know? What do you struggle with? What is your confidence in this? Would you call yourself creative? When you get those survey results back, you suddenly have all kinds of data.
I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make, not the biggest, but one of them, is that they’re like, “Well, I’m just gonna teach this because this is what I think people want to know.” When at the end of the day, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. So I think you have to find this place of combining what your clients want and need and what strengths and gifts you bring to the table as well.
Rachel Brenke: And you know on top of that, I come from a little bit different perspective than I think the majority of educators out there because nobody likes the legal topic because it’s overwhelming or it’s scary and they don’t know what they want to know or need to know so I struggle with everything you just talked about right there because I want to serve the audience what they want to know, but also it’s my responsibility to step in and say, “You’re not gonna like this part, but this is what you need to know.” And some people listening may be in a field that’s like that.
So my piece of advice with that, especially when it comes to teaching, is to balance it together. Don’t go completely the one direction, ’cause I’ve tried it, don’t go completely one direction of saying, “You have to know this. This is all I’m gonna teach.” You need to partner it with some of the more fun stuff.
For example, what do a lot of people love to learn about? Marketing and social media. So for me, and I believe that I’m relatively good at it even though I’m not well known for it, I present that and then I include the legalities and the not-so-fun stuff that people necessarily want to know, but they need to know with it. So it kind of all compliments each other.
Cyrissa: Absolutely. Kind of going along with what you just said, I was again giggling. It’s like I’m reading your mind and you’re reading mine. It’s absolutely crazy right now. But one of the things that I tell my clients is, “Hey, when you’re considering teaching a photography class, what are some of the things you have to have?” And on that list of things, one of them is Mimosas. And that sounds so silly, but I think a lot of us take ourselves way too seriously. We take it too seriously. So if someone’s coming to a class, or they’re looking to learn legal advice, get legal advice from you, that’s intimidating and it’s scary. So if we take the time to say, “Hey, this isn’t just like that other online class you saw or that thing you saw for sale at a big box store. This is different. So come on in, get a Mimosa, let’s get to know each other, let’s chit chat, you can ask me your questions.” And when you break down those walls and actually start to play and have fun and disperse your content and educate and tell them those things that they probably don’t want to know, they are so much more receptive to your message because you softened them up.
So whether it’s Mimosas, whether it’s chocolate, whether it’s coffee, or Goldfish, or Capri Suns, whatever it is that disarms … Side note, I offer all of those things at my workshops and every time the Goldfish go first. Little side note.
Rachel Brenke: Goldfish are the best.
Cyrissa: Oh, heck yeah. All the moms are sitting out there with their Capri Suns and Goldfish.
Rachel Brenke: Oh my gosh.
Cyrissa: “This is what we normally have at home and I’m stressed out so I’m just eating what I normally eat when I’m stressed out.” I’m like, “You do you, mama”. But those little things provide that little bit of comfort and that little bit of playfulness, and it breaks down those barriers so people are not afraid to ask the hard questions and they’re more receptive when you have to give those hard answers. Does that make sense?
Rachel Brenke: It totally does. So basically I’ve learned I need to get people drunk in order for them to listen to my legal talks.
Cyrissa: There you go, Rachel. Everything you need to know in a nutshell. Bam.
Rachel Brenke: Bam, done, episode over. No. All right, I think we convinced people. Diversification, good. Multiple income streams, good. Get people comfortable, “I’m gonna teach something that I’m knowledgeable,” ’cause that’s really important, you have to have a good knowledge base in order to teach, but how hard is it do you think? Because I know that some people are natural born teachers, others may be more introverted or paralyzed by that, or some just aren’t sure about their skill set. How hard is it to teach a class?
Cyrissa: So I think one of the things that it’s really gonna come down to is how humble can you be. If you are willing to admit, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” If you’re willing to say, “You know what?” before class, “I don’t really know the answer to this so I’m gonna do some research and figure it out.”
I think that’s the difference between the teachers that are successful and those that are not. The ones that are willing to say, “You know what? I need to strengthen my knowledge base in this area,” or, “You know what? I only work with Nikons. I’m gonna invite a Canon friend to come to class with me so that I’ve got someone else who can help me figure out all these different cameras.”
And someone who’s not afraid … And I did this in the last class I taught two weeks ago. I sit in front of my class and they asked a question, I said, “You know what? I don’t know the answer to that, but let me do a little research and I’ll follow up with you and let you know.” If you are willing to be humble and to do the work before class, prepare your slide deck, prepare your workbook, to figure out exactly what it is that you want to teach and how you’re gonna put it all together, if you’re willing to do the work and you’re willing to be humble, it’s actually a lot easier than you may think.
And I know, like you said, the whole introvert thing. I’m married to an introvert, my kids are introverts, my best friends are introverts, which always makes me wonder like-
Rachel Brenke: How? How did you attract all of that?
Cyrissa: Right? How? Why do you all like me? I don’t fully quite understand. But as introverts, one of the things that I’ve learned about the introverts in my life is that they like to think.
Rachel Brenke: Yeah.
Cyrissa: And mull things over and have the right words. And even for those of you that are introverts and the thought of standing in front of a class is terrifying for you, do the work beforehand. Literally. Have that workbook that you can flip through. It’s almost, almost like you’re reading a book. Don’t lecture. For the love of all things holy, please don’t lecture.
But you can flip through that workbook and you can have your slide deck and you can refer up to that and look at that. And this kind of becomes your place to have your perfect words that you’ve curried in your head already. You’ve already written them down and you can refer to them. So it’s about learning, not only how your students learn best and what they need to know, but also how you can best present the information.
Rachel Brenke: I like to approach it more like a discussion. And I know everyone has their own kind of teaching style. I just came home from a large industry conference and I had the privilege of being able to teach a smaller class, because usually I’m in the huge auditorium, I can’t take questions, and I actually find that I prefer the questions and being able to say, “Okay, that topic’s done, do you have a question,” and then move on. I haven’t always been able to do that. I used to get thrown in the very beginning if someone asked a question, but once I started framing it in my mind as a discussion then it also allowed for the audience to feel like they were investing into the class as well instead of just taking. And anytime that someone feels like they have skin in the game or a little investment, I need to look up this psychological study, but it’s like when you have a conversation and the more that one person talks about themselves they think more highly of the conversation and of the person they’re talking to.
And the same thing goes in education. Whenever a student can give as much feedback or insight or lend some of their experience helps them to feel better and more invested in the class and it gives you, the instructor, a huge insight into more questions, examples to use for the future, how you can tailor your future classes. I love and welcome audience and student discussion.
Cyrissa: Same. When I teach my class, I usually will take about 6-10 people depending upon, let’s be honest, how I’m feeling, like, “Oh, yeah! Let’s do a big person.” Or, “Let’s just keep it at six people.” But I love that small group interaction. It’s exactly what you just said. When you stand up and you lecture and you disperse information, people are gonna get some takeaways, of course. But, when they have a chance to apply what you’ve learned, so maybe you teach a little bit and then you’re like, “Okay, so I just taught you about aperture, now go experiment with it.” They’re gonna learn a whole lot more. But, that next step, which so many people miss, and you kind of just touched on it, statistics show that those who help teach learn better than those that don’t. So here’s what I mean by that.
So I taught my little segment on aperture and what that does to your photographs, I said, “All right, here’s what depth of field is, go practice. You’ve got 10 minutes, go with your buddy, go practice around the room.” And so I had one girl, and she couldn’t figure out this one thing, and for the life of me I can’t even remember what it was right now, but she’s like, “I don’t know why this is happening.” So I sat on the floor next to her, we worked with her camera, we figured it out, and in about 60 seconds later someone walked up to me and they were like, “Hey, Cyrissa, this thing is happening and I don’t know why.” And I was like, “Oh, you know what? Hang on. Joanie is gonna teach you how to solve that problem.” And Joanie looks at me with these big old eyes and she’s like, “I’m what?” I was like, “No, no, no, girl. Think about what we just did. Listen to this question again.” So the other girl re-frames it and Joanie says, “Oh! Okay. Did you look at this?” “Yes.” “Okay, did you look at this?” “No.” “Ah, there’s your problem.” And she taught this other girl.
And one of the things that I tell my students all the time is, “Don’t be afraid to ask those stupid, what you think is a stupid, question. Don’t be afraid of that and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Because your mistakes are opportunities to learn and I guarantee once you figure out what you’ve done, you’ll never forget it and you’ll be able to teach someone else.” You’ve formed those synapses connections in your brain and they’re not going anywhere. I think that’s one of the best is in small groups, welcome the questions. Welcome the discussions. Allow people to get on Google. We ask Siri all the time, “Hey, Siri, how do I do this?” you know?
And tell people to plot their manuals because when you create a learning community, everyone learns and grows together and, let’s be honest you guys, that takes a little bit of the stress off of you-
Rachel Brenke: Oh, for sure.
Cyrissa: -because you have a moment to breathe and that is tremendous when you’re up there teaching.
Rachel Brenke: What do you believe are three successful things that every class should have?
Cyrissa: I think the first thing that we need to do is when we are teaching a class, we need to recognize that there’s gonna be a lot of different people in our classroom and they’re gonna learn in very different ways. So I think you need to have multi-media options for people so that they can learn whether or not they need to see it, whether or not they need to hear, or whether or not they need to experience it. So I would definitely say need to have some sort of workbook or worksheet for people to follow along. Definitely have some sort of PowerPoint slide or visual representation and then an opportunity for learning activities built in so that people can actually get their hands on what it is that you’re talking about and can actually apply it. So I always say that would be the first thing.
The second piece, the second thing that I think every teaching course needs to have, be it photography or not, would be some sort of nurturing. Because before people show up, there’s gonna be some questions, like the normal stuff. “All right, well, where is this class? What should I bring?” But, a lot of times what I will do is because when people come to our camera class, they don’t even know what a lens hood is. They don’t know why a filter matters. They don’t know why they should or should not format their memory card. And so I actually have a 20 minute video that goes over all of that basic stuff before class. So I don’t burn class time going over the basics for those people that already know it.
I also let them kind of get to know me because they’re watching me on video and they’re already feeling disarmed. I’ve had people walk into class and be like, “I feel like I already know you.” And I’m making sure that everyone’s coming in with the same basic knowledge. So when you nurture them a little bit and you can anticipate their needs, just like you would for any type of photo shoot or anything that you would do for your business, that really helps grow your company and your word of mouth marketing.
In that third piece, I’m telling you it’s Mimosas. It’s the fun part. It’s the playfulness. I tell people, “Hey, grab your phone, walk around the studio, find some cute little trinket, and take a photo of it, and then we’re gonna take a photo of it again later.” Or, “Take a selfie of someone else making a silly face.” We play. We have fun and at the end of the day, I think the heart of it is you’ve got to find a way to differentiate your class from every other thing that’s online because for me teaching a photo class, one of the questions, the struggles, people have they’re like, “Well, I know if I go buy a camera, this big box where they offer a free camera class and there’s Google and there’s YouTube, why would someone work with me?” And the thing is it’s how you present your message. It’s how you make them feel. It’s how you package it all together. If you can make their life easier or better or simpler, you’ve got a client for life.
Rachel Brenke: Well, that boils down, this is going off the path a little bit, but that boils down into who the client or the customer avatar is. For me, because I’m so busy, I’m willing to spend money for someone to deliver to me one or two hours, tell me how to do this as opposed to, “Yeah, it’s free online, but the reality of me sitting down and Googling and finding it is probably next to none.”
Cyrissa: You wanna hear something crazy? In that survey … I’m a big data research person. I love numbers. Actually, I hate big numbers. If I had to do our family budget we’d be living in a pretty cardboard box. But, when it comes to research and making informed decisions, I get really geeked out about numbers.
So I did a survey about, from photographers, like, “Hey, what are your fears in terms of teaching a class?” But I also did a survey for new photographers and the prerequisites were you couldn’t be a pro or an amateur and you couldn’t have taken a class in the last five years, okay? So we asked them all these questions and one of the questions that I asked them was, “Hey, if you had to change your aperture on your camera, would you even know what button to push?” Do you know what the percentage of people who said, “No,” was?
Rachel Brenke: Oh, no.
Cyrissa: It was 79% of people said that they didn’t even know what button to push. Not that they didn’t know what aperture, not they didn’t understand depth of field. They didn’t know what button to push and I think we forget that they already have Google. They already have YouTube. They already have their manual. They already have these free classes. But they’re not using them. They’re not using them. So that argument, that fear, that concern is a moot point because they’re not taking advantage of it. Isn’t that crazy?
Rachel Brenke: I struggle with that as an educator myself and when I am going to create a class, one of the very first things that I think about is how can I combat that. How can I make sure that people are actually going through the class? How can I make sure … ‘Cause getting them attracted I feel like, is easy. I feel like putting out the messaging and selling the class, and I say easy, I know it’s still a lot of work, but I want to create a class so that people learn something from it, take away from it, and can implement it. And I find, especially in the online sphere, maybe it’s a little different when you’re in brick-and-mortar, but I guess it’s kind of the same. You don’t want someone to sit and listen to you for an hour, engage, you do all this fun stuff, drink a couple Mimosas, and then when they go home don’t do anything more with it. So for me, when I create a class, I always try to think, “How can I inspire them to not just learn, but to do x, y, and z after?”
Cyrissa: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. And I think that’s the biggest mistake. This would be my best tip that I could give you guys. People look at class creations and we’re like, “We want to give them all of the things.” But the reality is in a one hour, two hour, even a full day course, you can’t. You simply cannot and if you try to overwhelm them with really high level content, so many photographers are like, “Let me teach you about your light meter, let me teach you about exposure.” And they’re still sitting there like, “I don’t … What button do I push?” You know?
So you have to ask yourself, “What is one goal I want my students to accomplish? What will make them, at the end of this class, however long that is, at the end of this class, what is one goal my students can accomplish to feel that success?”
Rachel Brenke: Yep.
Cyrissa: Because if they feel that success, (1) they’re gonna come back again, (2) they’re gonna tell their friends, and (3) I’ve just done something positive in the world that’s not just about me and it’s leaving a legacy beyond my classroom, beyond my family, and beyond myself. And I think at the end of the day, that is something that makes us all feel good.
Rachel Brenke: I feel like I need to queue some sentimental, emotional music now.
Cyrissa: Because you’re good enough and you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.
Rachel Brenke: But it is true. Because really, and this circles back around to anything in business and I fight this as, well, it works for me, let me say that. As an attorney, anybody can teach legal stuff. People come to me specifically because of how I teach it, because of the personality and the follow through that I’m gonna have with them that they may not get from the attorney down the street, you know? Anybody can get the knowledge. Anybody can regurgitate something and teach you a skill, but it is really all about the experience and what comes before. You’re talking about prepping them before they come in the door. Teaching them while they’re there and then what are you gonna do with them afterwards, continuing the community and the education. Yes, it does end up coming back around that it serves me from the standpoint that they might buy into other products or services that I have, but like you said it’s about serving the person so that they can go then serve themselves or others as well.
Cyrissa: Hashtag preach.
Rachel Brenke: Preach it. All right. Actually, I love the fact that we had this conversation and it’s so funny that we did it on the podcast ’cause it clarified some things that I have been trying to work with myself on the education that I offer, so I hope this helped you guys. I know that it did. It’s a lot of information. Please feel free to come back and listen to it as many times as you need. I am going to link all of Cyrissa’s stuff, her social links, she has Facebook, Youtube, Instagram. Her workshops are amazing. I watch her Facebook lives. She is full of information, so full. But you guys can find all of this at rachelbrenke.com/epi51, five, one. And also iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, Google Play, wherever you guys are listening, thank you and thank you Cyrissa, any last tips that you want to leave with them before we wrap up this bite for today?
Cyrissa: Oh my gosh. Thank you guys so much for having me and no, just find your confidence, find your voice, stand on your two feet and say, “You know what? I might not know how to do this now, but just like everything, everything is difficult before it’s easy.” So put the work in, put the time in, and it will pay off, literally will pay off, ten fold down the road.”
Rachel Brenke: Diversify, diversify. Awesome. Thanks Cyrissa. You guys, good luck.
Featured Guest & Resources
Cyrissa owns Immerse Photography and is a business coach at Sparkle Society; known for her contagious energy and social media savviness! With a Master’s in Art Education, experience on the CreativeLive stage, nationally published work, and thousands of sparkly photographers in her online communities, she is well prepared to help YOU shine online! Get ready to be encouraged, educated, and empowered to make strategic and informed decisions for your business!
Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.
Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke
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