Lori Stead

Neil Patel

Lori Stead: Photographer & Founder, Wet Silver Photography: “If You Can’t Handle Risk, Then You May Prefer to Opt for a Steady Paycheck”

Lori Stead is the founder of  Wet Silver, LLC – the company for her local photography studio, Wet Silver Photography and Wet Silver Boudoir. This year, despite COVID, she’ll creep up on her first six-figure gross income year.

Lori’s Original Story: “If You Can’t Handle Risk, Then You May Prefer to Opt for a Steady Paycheck”

While I DID go to school and earn a Bachelor’s degree, I don’t use it for my business. I’ve always loved challenges and hated jobs that didn’t give me autonomy. I was destined to run my own business. It is both challenging and rewarding, and I learn more every year.

Growing up, I was very poor. This is one of the many reasons my parents chose to homeschool us. I was homeschooled until high school, which taught me to self-direct, self-manage, and learn without needing to be taught. By the time I entered public school in the 9th grade, I was ahead of the curve. I enjoyed school and went to college to become a teacher. I did actually teach for six years, but the education system is broken. Everything I learned went out the window because of the prevalence of standardized testing. Teachers were stripped of autonomy, student needs were neglected because everything catered to the tests… it became a nightmare.

Photography, on the other hand, was always a love of mine. I took classes and worked in a photo lab in college, but considered it a hobby. I had no idea it would become my livelihood. My oldest is now 15. When she was a baby, I started accepting pay for pictures. I realized then that it had the potential to earn money.

My business combines many of my loves, from childhood on… taking pictures, and even more so, working with women. My business caters to helping women to feel beautiful in their own skin. And I get to be entirely in charge of the way my it’s run. This is something I ALWAYS knew I wanted… to control my own outcome.

While photography was my passion, I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to business and marketing. As it turned out, that would be what I had to fight the hardest to learn. And it is ever-changing, so even now… business and marketing majors often enter the workforce without the skills they need. By the time they’ve spent four years learning, what they’ve learned is outdated. I tried hiring marketing companies, only to find they were not doing what I needed. Now I stay on top of it all myself and am on page one of search results. My business is thriving and booked months in advance. And my degree? Useless.

Some challenges I have faced… building up. You have to establish a reputation and online presence, and you MUST invest in your business. Paying for ads was something I should have done right away, but I didn’t realize how much more quickly you can grow when you purchase the right advertising. The second challenge was charging what I should have… I did NOT start off charging a decent amount. When you break it down, I wasn’t even earning minimum wage. It takes a while to have the confidence to charge what you’re worth.

Besides knowing your worth, you have to know your limitations. If you can’t handle risk, then you may prefer to opt for a steady paycheck, instead of the risk of running your own business. And don’t get a degree just to have a degree… figure out what you want to do and then determine if a degree is even necessary, or more importantly, worth it.

Find more from Lori Stead at Wet Silver Photography.