Ellie McKinney of Ellie McKinney Photography is a destination wedding photographer and educator who offers mentorship for photographers and business owners. When she isn’t working, Ellie’s on the hunt for the perfect furniture to fit in her family’s century-old home, going all out decorating her house for Halloween (a month early), or making a perfect homemade whiskey sour with her husband.
Since 2011, Ellie has strategically planned, set goals, and worked tirelessly to create a successful, profitable, six-figure business where she is able to serve her clients well AND sit down at a table for dinner with her family every night—whether they’re at home or on the road together. And, in this episode of Priority Pursuit, Ellie shares insights and four practical steps you can take to create a six-figure business and live a life you love.
**While there are practical steps shared in this blog, the text below is more of a brief overview of creating a six-figure business and living a life you love, so I encourage you to listen to the whole interview with Ellie to get the full story at the top of this page or wherever you listen to podcasts.**
What does it mean to “make six-figures” & why does your definition matter?
People often have different definitions of what it means to make six figures, but Ellie offers two definitions in this interview: (1) your business earns six figures or (2) you pay yourself six figures.
Hitting that six-figure mark in your business and earning six figures through your services is insane to think about and no small feat! But, selling six figures worth of services is not the same as having $100,000+ in your bank account.
If your goal is to make six-figures in your business, the first thing you need to do is decide which definition you want to work toward based on your needs and lifestyle.
After you define what it means to make six-figures for yourself, you can then create an end goal and put boundaries in place that support the lifestyle you want to have.
How do you create a six-figure business?
Again, I highly recommend listening to Ellie’s full interview. She has countless nuggets of wisdom to share, including four ways you can practically earn more money, increase your prices, and ultimately create a six-figure business:
1. Diversify your income.
According to Ellie, you likely can’t solely rely on one source of income to make six figures. Instead, you have to look at multiple sources that can work for your business in order to generate a steady stream of diverse income.
While photography is Ellie’s main source of income, she generates additional revenue through:
- Print and album sales
- Affiliate programs
- Mentoring other photographers and business owners
- Running an Etsy shop that has tools and resources for photographers
Sources of income like this often don’t individually generate a ton of money, but together, they help create a diverse stream of income that can support your income goals and help you serve both your clients and your family well.
Keep in mind that these are the sources of income that have worked best for Ellie’s business. Your alternative sources of income may look different and that’s okay. You have to find what works for your business and helps you serve your clients well, but diversifying your income—and especially creating passive income—is almost always wise.
2. Focus on your client experience.
This might sound easier said than done, but Ellie argues that your current clients are an open book to helping you enhance the overall experience for any client that works with you moving forward. To improve your client experience, Ellie suggests sending out client surveys so that you can elevate your client’s experience based on their needs and feedback. Basically, ask your clients how they perceive you, what it was like to work with you, and what they would want to do differently (or keep the same).
Ellie stresses, don’t get lost down a rabbit hole searching Google or asking your questions about client experience within your industry community. Those are people who should be a second opinion and not your go-to source of feedback when working to enhance your client experience. If you don’t reach out to your own clients, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business towards six-figures.
3. Automate repetitive steps.
According to Ellie, if you want your business to generate more revenue, you also need to solidify and then automate as much of your workflow as you can.
When you start automating repetitive processes (e.g. onboarding new clients) that keep you from what you need to focus on, you’re not wasting time on things that don’t enhance your client experience, elevate your business, and keep you from reaching your six-figure goal.
4. Outsource anything that makes sense for your business.
Let’s be real; no matter how much you want to or think you can, you can’t do it all. So, what things within your business can you outsource so that you can reduce your workload and support the growth of your business?
For example, since Ellie travels frequently for her job she has a travel assistant who takes care of all the travel details. And, she has a creative assistant who helps with managing her Pinterest, blog segments, and Instagram. In addition, Ellie has a virtual assistant who helps with customer service. Together, this core team of people allows Ellie to meet the needs of her clients, for Ellie to be the visionary of the business, and for Ellie and her team to ultimately generate six figures worth of income.
If you want to learn more about how to build a core team of creative entrepreneurs check out, “Episode 011: How to Build Your Team as a Creative Entrepreneur with Jessie Roseberry.”
Having a “six-figure business” doesn’t have to be your goal.
Within the creative industry, there seems to be a belief that, “Once you make six figures, you’ve made it.”
However, the beautiful thing about being a creative entrepreneur is that we can decide what we want our lives and businesses to look like.
For example, Ellie loves the grind. She thoroughly enjoys traveling with her family in tow, that her husband has been able to leave his job because Ellie is the breadwinner, and working hard to rest hard later.
In Ellie’s case, she’s working hard now with goals of being able to slow down later. But, your life and business don’t have to look like Ellie’s. Maybe you don’t want to grind as hard. Perhaps you can have your dream lifestyle for less. Or, maybe you’d rather your business grow slowly. You and you alone get to decide what your life and business look like.
However, there’s also nothing wrong with building a six-figure or plus business. With more income, you might be able to bless your family, bless others by being able to hire (which can help you make even more money), work less, and be more generous.
Basically, it all boils down to this: You have to decide what’s best for and what kind of income you need to earn for your business, yourself, and your family.
So, friend, whether you want to build a six-figure business, earn just a little bit more, or simply serve your clients better while living a life you love, I hope you’ll take Ellie’s suggestions to heart.
Want to hear more from Ellie?
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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