01| ABOUT US

02| BRANDING & WEB DESIGN

03| WEDDING STATIONERY

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Meet Bernel and learn more about our journey to serve creatives through one of a kind design.

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01| ABOUT US

02| BRAND & WEB DESIGN

03| WEDDING STATIONERY

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Explore our offerings, view our previous clients and learn which custom design experience best suites you.

learn more

01| ABOUT US

02| BRAND & WEB DESIGN

03| BUSINESS RESOURCES

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Free branding and website resources plus our favorite tools of the trade.

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14K and Growing: Building a Collaboration Based Community – feat. Carrie Allen39 min read

Do you want to build a collaborative business that allows you to work with other amazing vendors? That’s exactly what my guest, Carrie Allen, did with the Let’s Collab Community. In this episode, she’s explaining how she grew this amazing community and gives advice to other entrepreneurs who want to do the same thing.

The Branded by Bernel Podcast is brought to you by Bernel Westbrook, lead designer and founder of Branded by Bernel, a design studio dedicated to building strong brands and Showit websites for creative entrepreneurs.

Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!

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Let’s Collab brings together photographers and small shops

Carrie launched Let’s Collab in 2017 as a way to connect photographers with small shops. The collaboration is an exchange of services for goods, which means that photographers take brand photos for small shops in exchange for products. The goal of the community is to elevate both businesses, and it opens the door to networking and building relationships with other small business owners. In just a few years, Let’s Collab has grown to over 14K members!

Carrie launched the group as a way to advocate for photographers who were being taken advantage of by bad “brand rep” deals. She saw a pain point in the photography community and decided to create a program where their time would be respected and everyone involved could benefit from the collaboration.

There is no such thing as “free” in collaborations

Brand deals that exchange free products can get a bad rep, but there is no such thing as “free” in a collaboration. When you work with a small shop, which is often owned by a solopreneur, they have smaller budgets. Most of them take hours to hand make their products, so it’s a sacrifice to contribute to the collaboration. On the photographer’s side, they are also giving their time, skills, and equipment use. 

“In order for this to work, we have to see the value both ways. So that’s why I say there’s really a shared interest in both industries, the small shop industry, and the photography industry.” -Carrie Allen

Carrie ensures that all of the collaborations are done in the right spirit by making sure that both the photographers and small shops who join Let’s Collab have respect for each other. Both the small shops and the photographers go through a vetting process to make sure they’re a good fit for the community.

Carrie’s experience as an early photographer helped her come up with the idea for Let’s Collab

When Carrie was first starting out as a photographer, she was a stay-at-home mom who wore several hats. The best resource she utilized to get started was other people. From the beginning, collaborations were a huge part of what helped her learn and grow her business. She used her community as an echo chamber to bounce ideas back and forth, and she always valued their feedback for her. For Carrie, the best place to find her community was through Facebook groups. 

“The best way to accomplish a goal in business is to just find people who will be brutally honest with you and take their feedback to heart.” -Carrie Allen

3 Action Items from Carrie

  1. Seek a network of support. You need a like-minded group of peers to support and challenge you while you grow your business.
  2. Build your portfolio. If you’re a new photographer, your portfolio is extremely important. You can check out the Let’s Collab portfolio review service to get help with this.

Value yourself every step of the way. Valuing yourself will give you the confidence you need to scale your business up when you are just getting started.

Get to Know Carrie

Carrie Allen  started Let’s Collab as the answer to that void, providing shops with access to hand-picked professional photographers and providing photographers with access to custom, handmade, or unique items that they might enjoy. In essence, it’s a group of like-minded small business owners who share a common interest in elevating both the small-shop world and the photography industry.

Connect with Carrie

https://photosforshops.com/

https://www.instagram.com/letscollabofficial/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1696332110667914

https://www.facebook.com/letscollabofficial

Connect with Bernel

brandedbybernel.com

instagram.com/brandedbybernel

Review the Transcript:

Bernel
Hey, hun. Welcome to the Branded by Bernel podcast. I’m your host Bernel. You may know me as the branding and web designer who obsesses over the details so you don’t have to. We all desire to be great at what we do. Although once we get there, no one seems to talk about the messy middle. This motivated me to set the table and invite industry peers over to share stories about living and working in the creative world. So grab the OJ and champagne, pull up a chair, join the creative community and be prepared to build a brand you fall in love with. This is the Branded by Bernel podcast.

Bernel
Hi, so on today’s episode of the podcast, I am joined by Carrie Allen and I am so so excited for you guys to get a chance to meet her. She is an amazing photographer and community leader here in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carrie is a professional headshot and branding photographer. When she’s not shooting and editing she’s planning bigger and bigger things for the let’s collab community. She’s fueled by helping shops and photographers work harmoniously toward a common goal. Gorgeous, well branded image. Oh, my goodness, we have so much to talk about. Carrie, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Carrie Allen
Thank you for having me. And hi, it’s so good to see you.

Bernel
Yes. Likewise, for those of you listening at home, Carrie and I met probably about two years ago, I would say, and I know it’s crazy. We have had the opportunity to work together. I was her clients. She was my client. So we’ve definitely built a client vendor friend relationship here. So yeah, super, super glad to have you. So one of the things I mentioned in the introduction was the let’s collab community. Can you tell the people at home what that is and how long you’ve been doing it?

Carrie Allen
Yes. Well, first of all, we’ve been doing it since 2017 By now and I think we got started actually in April of 2017. So it’s coming up on four years. And let’s collab is just at a glance, it’s it’s a community that is has become a platform for connecting professional photographers with small shops. And a common goal is to elevate both businesses. So it’s just a community where we network, we collab, obviously. And so, in essence, the way it works is a photographer would trade their time and talent and photos for these amazing handmade or unique, small shop products. And so it’s a really good way to invest in each other’s business. And it’s just a really addicting platform. Is that answer your question?

Bernel
It does. Oh, my goodness, yes, it is so addicting. So just a little bit of background on how I found let’s collab, I was doing wedding stationery at a period in time. And I stumbled across your Facebook group. And I was like, wow, this is the coolest concept ever that you can sin, you know, a quality small shop like tangible item, you can introduce it in this platform, and then photographers will offer to take pictures of it. Like that just really blew my mind. And that was years before I actually met you. So I didn’t realize that you were the founder of let’s collab. Yes. Which is

Carrie Allen
awesome. That was such an interesting, first meeting you like just that moment of recognition. It felt so weird in my position, just like you know, you know what I built? And yeah, just, it was really energizing to meet you not only because you’re just full of energy and good vibes, but also just because you love what I do. So it was just such an amazing connection that we made.

Bernel
Yes, indeed. Well, as a web designer, specifically, imagery is so important. And I’ve talked about that you actually were a guest on a blog post about brand photography, and I will link that in the show notes. But having excellent brand photography, it goes a long way. And that’s not just headshots of you, but that’s also pictures of your product. So yes, your community I am definitely a big fan. How many people are in that community now? Do you have an updated number?

Carrie Allen
Yeah, I think it’s coming up on 14k If we’re not there already

Bernel
14,000 People carry? Yes. Oh my goodness. Well, congratulations. You are definitely doing something right. That’s what that proves to me. So tell me a little bit about your journey and the purpose impact of this community. Why did you start let’s go lab.

Carrie Allen
I love this question because it brings me back to a time when we There was just so many uncertainties about whether or not this idea would be accepted, or even just something that would be on anyone’s radar at all. But I was actually I was a stay at home mom mice. At the time, I only had one kid. And he was like, one or two, he was super small. And, and so I was just starting my photography business, but I was pretty dang good if I do say so myself. And so I came across these rep groups. So it’s called Brand repping. And it’s just this exchange where you, you have people who would be, you know, customers, or fans of a small business, trade product discounts for, you know, customer images. And so it’s really a promotion tool, because these brand reps are supposed to post photos that they take on their feet, and they’re supposed to say, you know, use my code and shop, so they’re really promoting, okay, but I noticed, I noticed that I really wanted to force that into something that would work for me, because it’s like, I love small shops, I love taking photos, and I want to help them. But I’m not a promoter. And I don’t want to I don’t want to do that role. But is there a way that I could create this opportunity to build a culture, if you will, that that wants that and acknowledges that, that there’s a value for working with photographers rather than, you know, customers, or just people with cameras, who are willing to promote but people who are first of all professional photographers, and then the kind of value that that brings? And so I thought, well, you know, I take I take photos that are much better than a customer would, would there be a place to trade a product for free, because the value is there for the actual photographer’s time, that’s way more than then it would be in terms of what the discount is being given to burn wrapping. So I’m kind of talking like all over the place. No,

Bernel
but that makes so much sense. And just to jump in here for a second, because I want to hear the rest of this story. This is a super interesting story. But I love how you, you kept the integrity of the photographer’s time. Because a lot of times with these discount codes, as a customer, you know, I’ll send you some sunglasses, and you post them on your Instagram. The photographer’s time isn’t being valued, there is more so and then with just posting coupon codes, a lot of times your audience, the trust factor, isn’t there, either. Because they’re wondering, Well, what did you get in exchange for this product? So you end up with not quality images, a lack of value for the photographer. And so what you did was you saw this need in the industry, and I really love how you feel that but anyway, I’m gonna let you keep talking. So you saw this need? And then what happened?

Carrie Allen
No, I love the way you said that. And I totally agree. So yeah, we hoped there was a need, we really gambled when I say we it was like me, and then two other people who are in this thread. Okay, so it was a comment thread on Facebook on one of the brand repping groups. And to be honest, I don’t even remember which one it was. But we were just in the comments like arguing with these people that were saying, you know, if there’s no way anyone would ever trade, a free product, and I’ll get maybe we’ll talk more about why I hate that word free when we when we talk about collaborations. Because both people are paying in one way or another if you’re paying with your cost and your materials and shipping and sending the product, if you’re a small shop, and you’re paying with your time and your gear and your photos and the editing and the uploading. And so there’s really an equal exchange, and nothing is free in this trade. But I wanted to acknowledge that, hey, I mean, if you’re gonna work with photographers, these brand repping groups, there’s photographers in there, and I just wanted to stand up for them and say, if you’re going to work with a professional photographer, that value is way higher, the images can be used not just to promote your shop one time on an Instagram post. But that can be the base of your website, like a really quality website, right? There’s a lot of value there. That’s not being acknowledged. And I wanted to stand up not only for them, but for myself, because I felt kind of hurt by that culture. So I really took a chance by creating let’s collab with a couple other people on that thread that were really upset with me. And I said, if I made this group, would you join, so I knew at least two other people in the world agreed. But what blew me away was that in no time, that was 1000 people that was 5000 people. And now it’s it’s 14,000 and growing. And so it’s like, not only did I did I prove to myself, my work again and again, but I’m doing that for photographers every single day that come into our group.

Bernel
Oh my goodness, yes, that gave me chills. I love it. I love when people build businesses that advocate for others, and you are definitely an advocate for photographers, and I love that I love that so much. So, tell me a little bit about you touched on this word free. So tell me why you don’t like the word free and what the spirit of collaboration really is at let’s collab.

Carrie Allen
I think it’s really important that the people in our group acknowledge that in order for this to work, we have to see the value both ways. So that’s why I say there’s really a shared interest in both industries, the small shop industry, and the photography industry. And if you don’t have an equal interest in both, you’re probably not going to be a great fit for our group. Because you have to acknowledge that small shops, you know, they’re working on a small budget a lot of the times, and they’re a solopreneur, a lot of the time there, they already wear all these hats. And so for them to send a product, especially one that they might have handmade and have, you know, $50 in materials, and then plus hours at making a garment or, for example, you know, or candle or something, these businesses work so hard, they’re sending something very valuable. And so I wanted to make sure that the photographers in the group are people who just love small shops and want to be a part of growing that business and believe in what they’re doing. But that has to go both ways. And this is where let’s collab is really special, because you won’t find any other collaboration group out there. And there’s been a lot now created to kind of try to replicate what we do, but without this special element, and that is that we value photographers at a professional standard, there really has to be this understanding that photographers are giving their time and talent and also sometimes 1000s, and 1000s, and equipment, and sometimes hours of work for one image in exchange for this product. So what we do is we make sure that there’s an understanding of value on both sides.

Bernel
Yes, and that is so good. And I, I have seen some of these like, groups mimicking you now. And they let quality and they like value. And so it just really reminds me of the fact that like, people can imitate the sauce, but it won’t taste the same. And I love that you really put your heart into this community. So speaking of value, and quality and equal Trade and Partnership, tell me who is a good candidate for this, because obviously, everyone is not the ideal candidate for this.

Carrie Allen
Right? Right. So our group is kind of a magnet for people who are, are at a place in their business that they are looking to grow, and they’re missing a certain component. And so for that, for the small shops that want to enter a group, the best way to describe where you are to be a good candidate for us is that you’ve started your shop, you have some images that you might have DIY, but they’re just not, they’re just not selling your product, that’s a really good time to step it up, come in, come into our group, and let let a photographer, let a professional photographer, take that and elevate your business on that. And then as far as photographers go, we really want to see people who are professional and have been a professional long enough to have that website, that portfolio, and just a breadth of images that demonstrate that they’re high quality and know what they’re doing. They don’t actually necessarily have to be a professional product photographer yet. But we found that people come into our group and before you know it there, have professional family photographer, turn professional product photographer, because they have that love for it, but they have the background there. So we definitely vet people to make sure that whatever kind of portfolio they have, whether it’s portraits, or family, or sometimes, you know, we’d love to see the product portfolios, too. So if you have that you’re still welcome to join. But we just want to make sure that the photographers are professional and at a very high quality of whatever it is that they’re currently specialized in.

Bernel
Yes. Oh my goodness. Yes. I love this vetting process. And so I have a lot of photographers as listeners to the podcast and I really appreciate you guys at home for that. So if you are a family photographer or a wedding photographer or a branding photographer, or what have you, and you’ve been desiring to get into commercial photography, or product photography, this is an excellent way to get your feet wet. Granted, we’re talking to the professional photographers, but we and Carrie were talking at the onset of this about a special service that you have for was ographers who might not quite qualify for the let’s collab group at this point, tell me what you offer for for those guys, the people who are maybe just beginning.

Carrie Allen
Yeah, so for those that want to be a part of our group and just can’t wait to build their portfolio more, since we’re not really a portfolio building group, for people who aren’t already professionals, we do want to have a way to help those who are trying to get in and need some actionable items to become at the level that we required to join. And so what we developed is a portfolio review process. So they can purchase this right on our website photos for shops.com. And it’s on the market page, which is our store. And it’s just a portfolio review for $50, you get expert advice from our team that’s pointed toward your seven to 10 images that you submit, but also for your portfolio at large. So we recommend that you at least have some photos present to us so that we can judge them meticulously. But this portfolio review guys is so useful. We pour ourselves into this to make sure that it’s what we would say to ourselves, you know, years ago to make sure that we give them as much direction as possible. I mean, things from processing to your exposure to your white balance. We there’s nothing that is missed here. And not only will it help you get in the group. I mean, we want to help you grow your business, we want to help you want to even if you can’t get into the community right away.

Bernel
Yes. Oh, my goodness. So you guys know what to do that will be linked in the show notes. It’s less it’s photos for shops.com backslash market, correct? Yes. Okay, perfect. Yeah, that is so good. Um, so if you are just starting out as a photographer, or even just want some tips, I feel like the big push is community here. And it’s mutual growth. And I love that because entrepreneurship is a very lonely place, or let me say, it can be a very lonely place until you find your people. And so this is a good way to meet other photographers, and to meet other business owners and to meet Carrie, because she’s pretty awesome. If I must say so myself. So it’s just a good way to, as I say, get your feet wet and, and just a good place to start. And it’s not an unattainable investment. Um, this is something that she has made very affordable. That pretty much anybody can utilize that service. Right? Yeah. So awesome. So Carrie, tell me a little bit. I know, you told us that when you were first getting started, you were a new photographer, you were looking to Facebook groups. You were a new mom, you were a stay at home mom. So you were you were wearing a lot of hats at this point? What are some of the best resources that helped you along the way?

Carrie Allen
Oh, gosh, that’s an easy one of my best resource ever hands down is people. My best resources have been people that have just been an echo chamber for feedback and growth. And I would not be where I am today. And I would have not ever, ever had let’s collab be where it is today. If it weren’t for just these gem of human beings, who, who shared the same goals as me and who wanted to grow and who wanted honesty like I did. But I think in a more general sense, the best way to to accomplish a goal in business or hobby or something, like anything along that lines is to just find people who will be brutally honest with you and take their feedback to heart.

Bernel
Yes, I love that. Finding people that share your vision, but also will bring a different perspective and give you So tell it like it is honesty. Yes, um, I believe in talent, like it is honestly, we need more of that. Um, I agree, do not surround yourself with people who are just there to tell you yes. Because you won’t grow. You won’t grow. So I love that. And so finding these people, how did you go about doing that? Because it’s pretty hard. Like when you’re first getting started to find people who have your values and your level of work ethic and you’re like, like minded vision. So how did you find them?

Carrie Allen
You know, I don’t know how other people are doing it. But for me, I always do the same thing. I go on Facebook, I go to the little group search and I see what kind of support groups I can find for whatever it is I’m doing. Some of my best friends today are people who I met on support groups on Facebook. And I’m so glad that that has come full circle and that I’m making those introductions possible with this platform today too. But you Gotta find your people. And Facebook is just a place that I found it easy to do. So there might be other ways to go about finding your people through social media, or through what do people do? Do people go outside anymore?

Bernel
Well, prior to the pandemic, I feel like there were good, like creative groups and co working spaces. I know I’ve met some awesome creatives that co working spaces, but now due to, you know, restrictions and safety. I love that idea about Facebook groups. So this is something just wanted to speak to the people listening at home, this is really something you could do from your couch. Like, while you’re sitting there, instead of you know, binge watching Netflix, you could be making connections that are going to elevate your business. And that possibly will one day put you in a place to build a community. So yeah,

Carrie Allen
I made it all the way from the couch to my home office. Yes.

Bernel
Yours. I love that. I love that so much. And yeah, very similar story with me. I remember just like direct messaging people. When I first moved to Charlotte, like I was that weirdo that was like, Hey, I’m new here. If you’d like to grab a coffee, that would be great. Here’s what I do, what do you do? And out of that came so many good, you know, relationships of just authentic people who wanted to talk about entrepreneurship and talk about making each other better. So

Carrie Allen
I love that I love that you are like that. You are definitely a natural born connection maker. So we need people like you. Because if it weren’t for people like you, the introverts like me, would have no connection to me.

Bernel
Well, thank you, thank you. Well, you are definitely an inspiration to me, I work to really facilitate community and I truly feel like you live that every day through let’s collab. Um, you mentioned having kind of like this small team of people or these these admin people who helped you get started. Do you want to tell us briefly how that came about? Like, how did you find your internal people? If that makes sense? Does that question yes, it’s okay.

Carrie Allen
How did I build the the inner circle that yes, let’s collab as admins and also as now business partners. I think there’s like five of us now. But I started the group with with two others, and they have since gone a different direction, very amicably. I love them. The people that have stuck around are those who I reached out to two years ago now, when we were looking for moderators, as the group was just exploding past the capacity for me and the two other admins at the time to handle. And so we reached out for moderators. And so that’s how it really began, we made sure that there were people that were posting frequently that had a good kind of sense of how the group works and wanted to be there. And so I thought, it’s important to find people who are passionate about what I’m doing and have shown that. So it’s actually quite easy to find these people. But what has really blown me away is that they’ve stuck around just every single day. I’m so grateful for them, because this handful of people continue to volunteer their time and dedicate so much of their life to running this group. And it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a lot of that messy middle that you like to tell him. Yeah, yeah. So we are we are really in the thick of the messy middle right now. And I just make sure that to thank them as often as I can, because they share my passion. And I don’t have to worry that they don’t want what I want. Because it’s our vision at this point. And they’re an extension of me. And so I’m just so grateful to them. And I can’t wait to see their dreams come through through the group to as you know, business partners and beyond. So they’re they’re really good group of friends, but I found them because they were already expressing their passion and their interest in what I do.

Bernel
Oh my goodness. So so many gyms, they’re like, I feel like you just dropped so many gyms, too, that really stuck out to me was just the growth that you’re experiencing in the messy middle because I would look at you or you know, just someone who doesn’t know you would look at what you’ve built. And we would call that the end goal. You know, we wouldn’t call that like, wow, she has accomplished what she set out to do. But the fact that you consider that the messy middle, the fact that you’re still evolving and you’re still trying to you know, grow it and impact more and more people love that. So that was the first thing.

Carrie Allen
Thank you. The things we have planned for let’s collab are just light years beyond where we are now. And it’s just something that is, is it goes way beyond a Facebook group for us. We want to we want it to be not only a community but a just a plethora of resources, yes, a place where people can, can go and find what they need to grow in so many ways. But also, we want to, we want to just continue to give back to our audience and share with our community. And so we’re, you know, we’re, we’re featuring people on our blog, we are telling people the answers to their common questions for all the small business owners in our group. So we really, were trying to evolve to something much, much bigger, and I don’t want to give too much away, because I don’t have the ETA on these things. But man, we have a lot in store. This is definitely the messy middle where we’re at now.

Bernel
Oh, my goodness, I love this. Well, you guys heard it here first, like, you might want to go join this community. Now before you know it, it really takes off, and then there’s gonna be a waitlist. But, um, I love that. And the second thing that really stood out to me was you talking about building your team, your inner circle, eventually, they became your business partners. But what really stood out to me was you look to the people who are already supporting your business. Yeah. And I think that’s such an amazing way to grow. I have recently expanded my team. And I found that the best team members are people who are fans for your business, people who are cheerleaders for your business before they were getting paid, if that makes sense. The people who were like, hey, great post, I love that, hey, this is how your business has impacted me, hey, this is what I learned from your blog or from your podcast, those are going to be people who are already champions for your business. And so you want to make sure that when you’re looking to expand, and when you’re looking to hire and grow a team, like look from that pool of people, so I love that. Absolutely 100%.

Carrie Allen
And I’m so glad to hear that your business is growing too. I had a great a great communication process with with your team member who reached out to me so I just I just love to see you grow, because you have so many ideas. You’re so my

Bernel
goodness, it’s crazy. I tell people like if you’ve ever had the internet open with like, 20 tabs, that’s what the inside of my brain feels like? No, I

Carrie Allen
can tell, I can tell because you are just, you are the Renaissance woman you really do so much for for your clients, but also to fulfill yourself and your passions. And you’re just you’re just this big idea person, and I love it.

Bernel
Well, thank you. Yes, it would not be possible without you guys, without other entrepreneurs who tell me my ideas aren’t crazy. So we need that get up. Like, if you’re listening to this at home, get a group of people who does that for you, who will let you express yourself as you like, I can show up authentically to my community and you guys support that. So that kind of leads me to my next question of How did you find your business community? And it’s kind of a two part question because it sounds like you built your business community. So when building your tribe, what piece of advice would you give people at

Carrie Allen
home? That’s so funny, I actually I did build it. If I think about, you know, where can I look to people who have a common interest in building a platform like mine, it’s zero, I made that. So I’m still like I said, I’m just astounded that it’s become something that people have flocked to, and it’s created this culture where people are like, Oh, this is the thing that is very valuable. And addicting is this collaboration, culture. But what it all comes down to is that I had this little voice in the back of my head saying, If you build it, they will come. It’s such a cliche, but I really poured myself into that hope. And that little voice led me all the way there. And I thought just keep building it, they will come and I knew every step of the way, what I sort of wanted, you know, I had this vision that was clear, but there was nothing else like it out there. So I just had to keep building. It just had to keep building and building and building. And sure enough, people started looking to me for the answers and saying, you know, so what do we what do we do here? How do I do this? How do I do that? Where are the resources? And so I just kept building it. And I continue to do that. The only difference is that today, there’s a whole handful of us who share that that vision and share that little voice in the back of our heads saying if you build it, they will come.

Bernel
Oh my goodness. I love that. Yeah, that’s and it’s so hard to listen to that little voice because I feel like there’s a million other voices saying, will they really come? Am I good enough? Yeah. What how do I how do I go about making this impact? So that leads me to my next question of what was the biggest challenge that you had starting out?

Carrie Allen
Oh, it was definitely the kind of backlash or the resistance that we Got from small shops who wanted my group to look like the rep groups. And they wanted to to make the rules. There’s definitely, with a group like ours that that has so much risk involved, I wanted it to be different, because we would make sure that we do everything we can to educate people about the risk, and to make sure that we mitigate it as much as possible. And so that people weren’t really used to that at first, you’re having all these rules about how to collab? And what can you ask for? And how do you ask for it and you need a contract. It’s all there. Because every day we were the ones receiving the people reporting, when things go south, we want to see those reports go down and down and down. So they don’t realize just how risky it can be. But we’re there to help them in the form of rules that they may not like. And so that’s definitely been one of the biggest issues not only in the beginning. But right here in the messy middle is every time that we release more roles, it looks like we to people who don’t quite understand yet, it looks like we are limiting what they can do as a business. But what we’re really doing is we’re defining collaboration in a way that we know mitigates the risks. So that’s something that continues to be this kind of resistance that we receive. But we’re definitely more equipped to handle that resistance today.

Bernel
I think of it in terms of like a seatbelt, and how you can look at a seatbelt as something that restrains you or holds you back. But in reality, a seatbelt is what’s protecting you and could possibly save you. So that’s how the rules are, when you’re building anything, you can look at it as something that’s holding you back, or you can look at it as the thing that’s protecting your business. And I love that you guys have built that. And just I wanted to speak on that too. Because when you build something that’s not common or, or you have a service that’s not common, or you’re creating something that people aren’t familiar with, there is a level of responsibility to educate people of how to do it, and you get so many people telling you Well, that’s not the way that I’m used to, well, guess what, that’s how new things come about, by breaking what people are used to, but then training them how to use that and how to, you know, thrive within the compounds that you’ve built. So I love that I love that so much. Oh my goodness, this is like the best brunch conversation ever had. So tell me, I know that learning is important. Business Resources are something that you really take pride in providing for other people. So how do you continue to learn yourself? Like how do you feed your creativity and your business?

Carrie Allen
Oh, that’s a great question. What’s interesting is that I’ve kind of, I’ve kind of moved on in a personal in a personal sense from collaborating myself, I’m no longer in a position where I, I find it as valuable to myself. And I think that’s the way it I think that’s the way it should be I think people should come into our group, and, and collaborate until it doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s like you go into the group, like you go into a cocoon to become a butterfly, but we want you to fly away, we want you to go get get paid for what you do photographers and, and jobs, we want you to become so successful that you hire an in house photographer. So I think the way that I’ve kind of grown is not in the form of collaboration anymore. But on a personal basis. It’s growing to businesses that are doing different things. Now, I mean, me as a photographer, I’m doing different things as me the the person who’s building this collaboration community, because I’m no longer a customer of my business. If that makes sense. I’m no longer the ideal person because my photography business has taken off. There’s

Bernel
this process almost like this metamorphosis, where speaking of being like the ideal customer for your business there, when you’re creating your business, you have these lofty goals and visions. And sometimes I feel like we don’t even qualify talent wise to be our ideal client. And then once we’re in that messy middle, we then kind of become our ideal client. And then we outgrow our ideal client, which I think is so amazing. Like we get to this point where it’s just like, Yeah, we don’t really need the services that we offer anymore. Now we can go on to expand to something bigger. So it’s always so interesting to see where people are in that growth process, and just how much you’ve done in four years. You have done incredible things in four years. So congratulations on that.

Carrie Allen
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Bernel
Yes, so if you’re familiar with our show, you know that this is my absolute favorite part, grab your notebook. Grab your eight pins, because Carrie is going to give us three actionable steps that a person can take to move forward in building their business today. So make sure you write these down.

Carrie Allen
Okay, here we go. Number one, you want to seek a community or a network of support, like, let’s collab. So number one, seek us out, if you have been listening today and just thought, That’s me, that’s me, that sounds like a place I want to be. The first step in building your business could be just joining our group and finding a like minded set of peers to support you. Number two, build your portfolio or your product image library, depending on whether you’re a small shot or a photographer, and build it with the best quality images possible. Again, you can do that with our group.

Bernel
Yes, you can.

Carrie Allen
And the third one, certainly not the least important is to value yourself every step of the way, especially at the beginning, when there’s really no reason to value yourself. Because you just don’t have that kind of client base that you’ve built necessarily. You don’t have people paying the prices you feel you deserve. It’s really difficult in the beginning stages, when you have the talent, and you have the skill and the wisdom, but you don’t yet have the confidence. Remember to value yourself then, as well, but value yourself every step of the way. And that’s going to really be your compass for building a business.

Bernel
Yes. Oh, my goodness. I love it. I love it. I love it. Use that value as your compass. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that you can’t promote what you don’t believe in, period. Like, if you don’t believe in it, no one else will. So definitely,

Carrie Allen
I’m so glad you’ve mentioned that. Because in a lot of the photography groups that I’m in that a common discussion we talk about is pricing, and where you should price yourself at. And we found a lot of people arguing among themselves about you know, no, I’m not worth that. No, I’m not, you know, they’ll hear their cost of the talk about their cost of doing business, they’ll hear from seasoned professionals about what they should be charging, just just to break even. And then to give themselves even a minimum wage salary is much higher than than most beginning photographers are willing to charge. Don’t be the one holding yourself back. If there’s a problem with oh, I can’t charge that. Look into yourself and say, Why do I feel like I don’t deserve to make to make minimum wage, you’re not looking at, you’re not looking at the numbers. If you’re, you know, if you do the math, you’ll see what you need to make. And then the rest of the work is just agreeing with that little voice that says you can do this. Because the voice that says you can’t or you shouldn’t. It’s so much louder in the beginning. But that’s not the voice that you’ll have in a few years. So just remember that.

Bernel
Yes, yes. Yes, that is so valuable. I completely agree. And that goes beyond just photographers. I feel like in every industry, it is hard when you’re beginning to justify how much you actually need to charge because what people don’t realize is that that price tag that you put out to your clients, you’re not taking 100% of that as a profit. There is a cost to doing. There’s a cost to doing business. I tell people all the time, my business revenue and my profit margin are two completely different numbers.

Carrie Allen
And let me put it this way. I wish it was even just 50%. I wish that.

Bernel
Yeah. But it’s that’s not and we know that from running a business. And it took years for me to charge my worth. And not even just my worth, but it took years for me to charge enough to attain the lifestyle that I wanted to maintain. So yeah, yes, I love that. If you’re listening to this, and you’re not charging what you ought to be charging, me and Carrie are here to tell you to reevaluate those numbers and do yourself a favor and pay yourself.

Carrie Allen
Yes, yeah. I totally agree.

Bernel
I love it. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today carry you gave us so much to look forward to in the future in your business. And just so much insight of how the let’s collab community is already impacting small businesses. So as I said, I will link to all of these pages in the show notes. And I really hope you guys can go join this amazing community that Carrie has for talking with me. Thank you. Wow, that went by really fast. As always, thank you so much for showing up in my little corner of the internet. I would love to hear your thoughts on the show. So please, please subscribe, leave a review and share what you learned with friends. Some of the best things in life are freebies. So don’t forget to head over to brandedbybernel.com To check out our free branding goodies this show notes and more educational resources.

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