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Real Life Planning Podcast Episode 15: Creating a Personal Brand with Carley Storm

Business Coaching

In Episode 15, I talk to Carley Storm about the significance of brand photography for your business and how it helps a potential client feel like they know you and ultimately want to do business with you.  Stick around to learn how Carley uses her studio to generate additional revenue by listing it on PeerSpace.

“People need to fall in love with you as a small business owner.” - Carley Storm

This week on Real Life Planning Podcast, Cynthia will cover:


 What is brand photography? [00:01:30]


What is the process for an effective brand photo shoot? [00:04:16]


What is The Headshot + Brand Bar? [00:08:05]


How does PeerSpace help Carley generate an extra stream of income? [00:11:30]


How did the pandemic affect Carley’s business? [00:15:06]

Takeaway Quotes:

“People like to be attracted to a story and know who they're doing business with.” - Carley Storm

“In a beautifully done website…you could look at the pictures and maybe scan the headlines a little bit, and you should know exactly who that person is or who that team of people is.” - Cynthia Meyer

“When we're taking pictures for social media, we really need to show off your personality to know what it's like to work with you.” - Carley Storm

Connect with Carley Storm:

Connect with Cynthia Meyer:

About the Real Life Planning Podcast

Host Cynthia Meyer welcomes fascinating guests to share real life stories of how they are realizing their financial potential. Each episode explores practical, realistic steps to create results.

Transcript - Real Life Planning Podcast - Episode 15

[00:00:06] Cynthia Meyer: Hello friends. I'm Cynthia Meyer and welcome to the Real Life Planning Podcast. This is episode 15, Creating a Personal Brand with a very special guest Carley Storm. If you've been to the Real Life Planning website at reallifeplanning.com, you've seen all these beautiful pictures, and it's not because I'm a great model. It's because she's a great photographer and a video producer. You know, in the interest of full disclosure, she's done the beautiful photographs and the video on the landing page video on my website. So I hope you'll check it out and give you a little bit idea about what she's done for this particular small business.

So welcome, Carley. I'm so happy you can be in conversation with us today. What's important to know about you?

[00:00:51] Carley Storm: Hi. First of all, you are a beautiful model. So I don't want to dismiss that. But something very important to know is that I glow when I hear a client using their photos and open up the other day, open up your website and just looked at it.

I'm like it, it brings me such joy, seeing somebody using them so well. I saw your website; your banner; you're about me. Everything is so well branded and I feel like when somebody goes onto your website, they feel like they know you and they know what it's like to work with you. And it which just fills my cup. I'm very happy. And thank you for having me here today. 

[00:01:23] Cynthia Meyer: So tell us a little bit about your business. What do you do? Who do you do it for? How do you work? 

[00:01:30] Carley Storm: Sure. So I am in a specialty called brand photography and video for small businesses. I specialize in taking photos for small businesses, but really what gets me really excited is having full reign on the start of a brand and be able to take pictures of a small business, mostly female, but I work with everybody. So my favorite type of person to work with is when someone needs photos for their website like yours. So they need a homepage banner, about me, and basically photos sprinkled throughout their website to make a potential client feel like they know you and they really like you and ultimately want to do business with you.

So I think, especially on your business people will look at it like, "Oh, that's what she looks like when she's working with someone, she looks very calm and she looks very patient. She looks very kind." That's my goal and I hope that it works for your potential clients, too. But ultimately, I want them to feel like they are attracted to you to do business with you when they open up on websites.

[00:02:32] Cynthia Meyer: Over my years, and in my previous career before I became a financial planner, I worked with a lot of photographers and video producers when I worked in politics and I found that your process was different from the way that most people do it. For example, you shot videos and photos at the same time. That was really interesting. The whole kind of production set up was much more about making the subject of the photos of the videos feel really comfortable and polished and at their best self, if they will. And so I know we spent a lot of time thinking about that. How do you make that happen? 

[00:03:08] Carley Storm: First of all, that's the best compliment I could get. I'm glowing. I joke because I think I cheat a little bit, because I only work with really amazing entrepreneurs, like yourself. I think the people that are attracted to me are friendly and kind, and really motivated from the heart. Like you're not doing a financial planning because you just love money. I know that you really care about your clients. So I feel like I'm able to translate that. Sometimes I feel like I cheated because you're just wonderful to start. It's not like I have boring people and I'm like trying to get some life out of them.

Whatever I think I'm doing on my personal brand is attracting people like you. It's like I'm silly and goofy and loving. So I think that's only attracting people like you, and then therefore, you had a good experience working with me. And I think you, the people that you refer, are people that would work well with me too.

So I think finding good people to work with really help and that are motivated by just the love of what they're doing. 

[00:04:03] Cynthia Meyer: Let's say I'm a business owner who is putting up a new website or rebranding on their own website and I want to start from scratch with you. What's that process look like? What should I be thinking about? 

[00:04:16] Carley Storm: So at that point, I like to find out where you are as a brand and see if you have a ton of ideas and if you have a whole team that you're working with or if you really need my brain to add my branding ideas and expertise into your brand.

For example, if you came to me and you're like, "I don't have a logo. I don't have a name. I don't have brand colors." I would probably send you to people that will help you with that and then wait a little bit until you're there to start working with me. But if you came to me and said, "I have a logo. It's teal. It's orange. I have an office that I work out of. I know exactly who my ideal client is." That's the person I realize that you are ready to go for certain.

[00:04:58] Cynthia Meyer: Mm-hmm. 

[00:04:59] Carley Storm: So from there, your first step would be me picking your brain to see what the point of the photos are. For example, you were starting a new website. So that to me is homepage banner. I need wide shots. I need a lot of shots that have white background on it. So you can add texts. I have one about me photo. I need really strong head shots and we would incorporate with me and my stylist, Katie, I would find ways of incorporating these little pops of color that you have and your personality and all the things to pick out; your location and your outfits would be the first important thing. From there, I send you off to my stylist and she helps pick out all your outfits and colors and make sure that there really is a cohesive brand feel. From there, we will start planning your actual shoot.

If you already have a website that's up and ready to go, the next time that you book a shoot, you might say, " I cut my hair, I colored my hair. I look a little different. It was five years ago." So we might wind up updating some headshots. You might say, " I really need some more social media content." From there, I would love to take like little pictures of vignettes for you on the website. So you do have personalized stock photos that you can use for promoting for your own business. Those are usually the two main reasons why people call me either the initial website photos or for an update that they just need more social media content.

[00:06:25] Cynthia Meyer: And so you've used this word "branding" a few times. For somebody who doesn't exactly know what that means. How would you define it? 

[00:06:32] Carley Storm: So for me, a brand is a reputation for a person or their personal company. So for you, I think your brand is welcoming, empowered, really smart, very savvy, and including in your teals, in your oranges. But basically the colors don't really mean anything; it's you and your personality. My goal as a brand photographer is to take little pops of color because that's fun; it makes everything look like it goes together, but really get Cynthia as a person translated into a photo, which translates into somebody seeing this photo, which translates into someone, wanting to do business with you.

If you're doing something like starting a website or a podcast, if you need photos, called Google brand photography, starting to be a more popular niche, and find somebody that specializes in this because then they get exactly what you're doing and you need to do with those photos. 

I get a lot of people that are wedding photographers and they say like, "I asked someone I know to take photos and just didn't translate well because they're portraits." What you need as a business owner is more photos for very specific need and someone like me as a brand photographer gets that.

[00:07:44] Cynthia Meyer: If I understand correctly, what that is basically is capturing the essence of what it's like to work with that particular business owner. What it's like to be in the room with them. 

[00:07:54] Carley Storm: 100%. 

[00:07:55] Cynthia Meyer: Okay. Oh, that's so cool. And so now you've recently opened a new line of your business. Talk to us about that. What's it called?

[00:08:05] Carley Storm: I opened the studio where I'm sitting, it's called, The Headshot + Brand Bar. I realized most people are struggling because they work from home and they don't really have a picture perfect place that they work. So I noticed that when I was going to places, I was struggling with moving furniture and setting up places and all of my creativity was going towards trying to make a location work really well. So now I have this huge studio; it's 1700 square feet. I have it set up with four desk setups and couches and all the things. I'm able to have a client come in and also just start taking pictures. So I usually have them walk in. I have a steamer. I have all the things set up for your clothes to make sure everything's ready in that sense. And then once I start taking pictures, I know exactly like the light is good here. We're putting the light on here and then I can focus on taking more beautiful content for clients versus, trying to make an okay location work. It's amazing being here. The space is very flexible, so everyone's photos don't look alike. I'm able to bring your props into this space and then really make you feel like your own space. 

[00:09:12] Cynthia Meyer: I think that's a brilliant idea and a brilliant use of real estate. If somebody's listening to this outside of the New York City area, which is where we're located, is that something you could think about doing in your own space or to repurpose a commercial space that you might have that doesn't have as many tenants as you used to? So where is it and how did you come up with this? 

[00:09:31] Carley Storm: The studio is located in Verona, New Jersey; 10 minutes away from my house. I came up with the idea by accident because I did a shoot for a coffee company called the Cocoa Co., around the corner and I saw it and I was like," Oh, this would be so nice." I was actually subletting a space in a yoga studio and it worked out well because there aren't usually yoga classes during the day. So I asked them if I could rent space on their off hours. They had a little tiny office that I made work very well. I thought it was going well until I accidentally saw this space. I have this space here for rent on peerspace and I've had a 40th birthday party here. I've had two workshops. It's cool to see how other people, one who need space because a lot of people have either downsized or they're starting their own business. Sometimes you just need a big space for a few hours. And it's cool to see because I've set this space up for my own photography needs. But it's cool to see how people are using it for their own needs like moving furniture around and somebody put a tea bar upstairs and exercise class. It's really fun to see how flexible it is and that's the purpose. The other reason why I was inspired to open up my own space is when I would work with a client and they needed a space, let's say they didn't have a nice office, we're constantly looking to rent a place. Usually when you rent a place at somebody's home, which is very common video production, but it's exhausting because they're usually there and they don't want you moving your stuff.

It's a very pretty place, but like sometimes I just need to move something around and feel like the owner was always over my shoulder and it was really expensive for a client. It's often $250, $300 an hour to rent with a full day requirement to book. So I felt like it was unfair for my clients to have to pay me and then pay them; but I needed it in order for their photos to look great. So now having the studio is a part of their package and they don't have to rent a place. So I think clients are happy about that too. 

[00:11:30] Cynthia Meyer: You mentioned that you've got your studio space for rent on Peerspace. For those people who don't know what that is, explain Peerspace; which is it's a really cool new kind of sharing platform, I think. 

[00:11:41] Carley Storm: It's really cool. You go to peerspace.com and put in the need that you have. So, I often was looking for a video production space, which tends to be very large open rooms; which isn't always what we need. Sometimes you need a little room or a little living room looking situation. You could put in photo shoot. You can put in meeting. You could put in workshop and then you tell how many people there are and any other things like I have a full kitchen here, a refrigerator, you can put all those things in. It's like an Airbnb for production spaces. So you'll find it in Verona, New Jersey. I have a four hour requirement to book, which you could set up on there.

[00:12:17] Cynthia Meyer: Do people need insurance to book your space and if so, can they get insurance right when they book on peerspace? 

[00:12:23] Carley Storm: When you book through Peerspace, you are insured through Peerspace just like Airbnb. You don't need your own insurance. You should be insured, but your event will be covered through Peerspace, which is one of the reasons why I'm using peerspace to book. 

[00:12:37] Cynthia Meyer: That's really cool. You've got these multiple streams of income in your business now and they fit together so nicely. What's next do you think? Like when you think about what you want your business to look like in 10 years from now, what is that? 

[00:12:48] Carley Storm: I want to book more rentals here. I just opened a couple months ago. I had to redo the studio a little bit and I had to furnish it. I would love for this to be fully booked; especially on a weekend when I'm home with my family. I just had a booking in November for a weekend. Santa's going to be here and I have a photographer that wants to do Christmas photos; which she used to do them outside and it's exhausting. So she booked it for an entire weekend. It's just really rewarding as a mom. The reason why I quit, I was in healthcare before I used to be a dental hygienist. The reason why I quit there was because I was like, I don't need to be taking a six o'clock in the morning bus into the city and then running and feeling guilty with my kids in daycare.

So one of the reasons was to be more flexible; starting my own business. "And then furthermore, now, if I have two shoots a week, it's an amazing week. Actually I've had weeks that I've had four shoots a week. But furthermore, if I can make money while sitting in the park with my family on a Sunday, I don't think it gets better than that being a mom entrepreneur. It's just such a win.

I always have big ideas, Cynthia. I always have an eye out because I think there's a need for other rental spaces like this. I'm not ready to open up another one yet, but I think there's definitely a need for it. I also have an idea of possibly having a popup product photography studio here. Either having a DIY one where you bring your stuff in the light is ready to go. Take it or drop it off to a photographer that I possibly, you know, hire. But my real dream is, I am looking to buy an Airbnb. 

[00:14:17] Cynthia Meyer: I would think that you as a branding expert would actually be able to think about how to create a niche or a test, right? That only your property passes; that other properties aren't. So much of the success of short term rental businesses is about the branding and the marketing not just on the front end to fill the pipeline of new guests, but in the client experience so that the person who comes and stays at the property is motivated to write a good return, to post pictures on social of the property and to tag you and to refer their friends. So it's creating that consistently branded experience for your little mini hotel that you're running. I think you would be very well suited to do something like that. 

[00:15:04] Carley Storm: Thank you. That's funny. 

[00:15:06] Cynthia Meyer: Talk to me a little bit about how your business changed during the pandemic. Your industry in particular was profoundly affected by the pandemic and in a negative way. Many people lost their businesses in your line of work. How did you survive and what was that journey like? 

[00:15:22] Carley Storm: So in March, 2020, obviously everyone canceled their shoots. I felt like my business was ripped away from me. I thought I made a mistake in quitting my well paying healthcare job.

I was instantly a stay-at-home mom. My husband is in financial cyber security sales. So he was working from home and...

[00:15:46] Cynthia Meyer: was probably busier than ever because of the pandemic, I would think. Yeah. 

[00:15:50] Carley Storm: But then I was an instant stay-at-home mom that I never ever said I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. All of a sudden we weren't allowed to go to the park. I wasn't allowed to work and we were also redoing our house. Slowly, everyone started creeping over and calling me and saying, I've never had time and slowly getting all these inquiries of new business. So I feel like a year before I had, I was pregnant with my second child, I feel like most of my business was for new small businesses or businesses that survived and were thriving for whatever reason. They just it worked out well and it was pandemic-friendly and they had a budget and they really just needed to keep going and rebrand themselves stronger and look like they survived, not just like scrappily survived. Like really ,"Hey, we're still here and we want you to know that and keep doing business with us."

So it was a really cool shift and I'm always convinced that small business owners are out of their minds. Both of us included it's way easier to go get a paycheck and take your two week vacation than crazy hours and do all the things that you need to do when you own your own business.

So I feel like I'm attracting more and more really cool clients because they were just like, "I don't want to commute into the city anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. Yeah, I'm sick of my kids being picked up from daycare at eight o'clock; like I want to make my own hours." So if anything, pandemic was actually very good for my business in the end. I've had I think my my sales have, it was 120% of last year. 

[00:17:15] Cynthia Meyer: Oh, that's fantastic. 

[00:17:16] Carley Storm: I also was, I was pandemic and I was pregnant, but I'm doing, it's doing really well. 

[00:17:21] Cynthia Meyer: So you work with so many business owners who are starting or scaling. So you definitely work with people who are in the kind of steep curve up stage. Have you noticed anything in common about the types of people you work with? Is there anything in common about how they're approaching their personal branding?

[00:17:41] Carley Storm: The thing I see in common with all of my clients is that they understand that they need to show up on their social media, on their websites to show their clients and potential clients what it's like to work with them. And they all realize that they are the product. I don't care if you're making crochet or you're selling financial planning, or you have a coffee shop. People need to fall in love with you as a small business owner. And my clients are realizing that the more they show up, even though my neighbor next door who owns the coffee shop is how I found this place.

She realized that the people, the reason why people come in, it's because of the owners. They love sitting there. They love talking to the owners and they need to show up in their social media. That's why everyone comes back and loves and supports their business. So, I think that's the common thing in all my clients is they realize that. 

The people that haven't realized that might lose out because people like to be attracted to as story and know who they're doing business with. If you tell me a cool story about you and I was just looking at your website; why you got into this and what your passion is. I have pictures all over your website versus just this very sterile website. I have no idea who I would be doing, planning with. I have no idea what their story, like, why would I ever call them? When I know Cynthia is just like in love with what she does and she shows up and she does podcasts and all these things like there's a reason why people are attracted to you.

[00:19:05] Cynthia Meyer: I think that's really interesting, Carley. And I find it particularly in my line of work, as a fee only financial planner, it's a regulated business, right? There are a lot of rules to follow in terms of what you can and cannot say; lots of disclosures and disclaimers and things like that. In a beautifully done website, for example, you could look at the pictures and maybe scan the headlines a little bit, and you should know exactly who that person is or who that team of people is. And that's certainly a really important part of the both personal branding, if you're a solopreneur and branding in general, I think. 

[00:19:42] Carley Storm: And people might have somebody subtly in their mind of who they want to work with. Let's say they've opened up my website. My picture is the first picture you're going to see. Not a picture that I took which is more important. The service of me. I want somebody- whatever the thing is; they open up their website and be like, " This could possibly be the person I work with or not my kind of person.",

I always say the more pictures and the more you have on your website to get somebody to know you, you're getting rid of leads that somebody might not have wanted to work with you, because instead of having them book a call and be like, "Oh, she's not my cup of tea." 

I'm silly and always joking. I feel like my Instagram specifically reflects that and I feel like no one ever met me in person been like, "Whoa, you're different than social media." I feel like I'm very authentic online and the same person is in person that you get. When we're taking pictures for social media, we really need to show off your personality to know what it's like to work with you.

I have a client who's interior decorator. She wears sparkles. She carries disco balls. She has crazy sparkles all over. We actually did a video for her because I always tell her at the love of my heart, she's a lot. And she's a lot in person. She's a lot online and it's not just a character.

She's a lot and she's amazing. So everyone either loves her. I hope no one hates her, but she's not for everybody. And on the same other side, there could be an interior designer that only wears black and he's very serious and that's their vibe too. Someone's going to love that vibe too. But those two people on a personal branding side, both need to show that those are their personalities and it's really fun for me to make sure we capture it. I don't want woman who's wearing only black wearing sparkles on her face. That's not her and then she's going to attract this client. It's not authentic. My goal is to make sure that you're the same person online as in person. 

Oh, that is very well said, Carley, I like that. So let's dive into social a little bit because one of the things that I know you do for longer shoots is, and you mentioned a little bit earlier, is that you will take a lot of photos that people can put in the bank for their own social media, or their own bank of stock photos and I found that very helpful in my business. And I'm still using them. 

I saw. 

[00:21:49] Cynthia Meyer: So how could people think about doing that for themselves when they're planning their first photo shoot? What are some good practices around that?

[00:21:57] Carley Storm: A part of planning the shoot is getting a dive into what your business does and what the tools look like. I hate to say, but you have one of the more boring props to, I'm sorry...

[00:22:09] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah. Yeah. But I can't show stuff either. 

[00:22:11] Carley Storm: There's not much to work with, but we can take little branded, like little branded items and take a bunch of stock photos that you have room for text and room for whatever you want to do and put it on your website. Even though it's not the most exciting picture of your fingers with a turquoise little post it and a orange cup, but it all will feel the same. Like it's taken by me. It's all edited the same and it all feels cohesive. 

[00:22:34] Cynthia Meyer: It's the same light and yeah. 

[00:22:36] Carley Storm: Yeah. And you know what, at the end of the day, when you need to post, "Hey, I'm doing a morning coffee chat with Cynthia. Come sign on at 9:00 AM." Instagram Live. You could use that same picture and just put it on there and then you have it versus you going online and looking for a stock photo, maybe having to pay for it. Oh, that's not the right color. So these pictures will feel like you and then nobody else is using them.

The other thing that people will do is say, " Oh, I really need a picture of me like making a silly face at my phone because I going to take, whatever it is, like the best kind of shoot is a collaboration between what you say you need and then my creative ideas. And some people have given me 50 shots that they want. Some people have no idea. It's a really fun process to see what people need and just it all works out. 

[00:23:26] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah. Yeah. So I love that idea of thinking of your photo shoot as something that is beyond just your face, or your head and shoulders. You're thinking about creating a snapshot of your business storefront because even if you're meeting with people on zoom, for example, all of this is my storefront. Giving people a sense of that, I think is really fun. 

And now I also remember that for quite a while you were sending out social media calendar suggestions. I discovered this morning when I took my kids to Dunkin Donuts before school, it's National Donut Day! As we're recording, this is June 3rd. So you may have missed it, sorry. But it was full of all sorts of little tips like that, right? Oh, think about posting this on this day or this on this day. And how did you come up with those ideas?

[00:24:10] Carley Storm: I know a lot of people were telling me and me included, " Hey, didn't realize it was doing a date. Didn't realize it was kid day." I was actually just looking at that calendar this morning. That calendar took up a lot of my time and I had to pay someone to do it. Not a lot of people told me that they were using it. I didn't know you were using it. My ideal client isn't necessarily posting for donut day. They're really needing to update their website and make them, a client open up their website and be like, "Damn, I'm working with this woman. She's not joking around that. Cynthia's serious about her job." and I realized that I wanted work with more people like you, that need more website photos. The social media content isn't something necessarily that they're going to be posting all the time. So I realized that those were two different clients. 

[00:24:55] Cynthia Meyer: Oh, that, so that's so interesting and I've been thinking about this a lot lately. In my line of work, there are a lot of guardrails around what you can and cannot post on social media. I tend to be very educational and I cut little snippets of educational content, basically, and some quotes and fun things like that; links to things that I've written or recorded. Because again, there are lots of rules around it and I have to keep records of when something was approved, et cetera and so I think I'm sensing though with a lot of the clients that I have that are smaller business owners is that they've changed how they think about social.

And so they're thinking more about their website and their email list and a little less about being like hyper engaged on Twitter or something all the time. Do you find that? 

[00:25:39] Carley Storm: I do and I feel like we could divide all the things before March 2020 and after March 2020. And I think in January 2020, it would've been fun of you taking a picture with a donut in your coffee and I'm not... 

[00:25:53] Cynthia Meyer: I should not be eating donuts by the way. So 

[00:25:55] Carley Storm: Just, I dont know. Just I suddenly I feel like the world's gotten more authentic. 

[00:26:01] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah.

[00:26:02] Carley Storm: And we don't need like stuffy pictures of, I don't know, I don't want to say like you can't post picture of a donut and since you told that was... 

[00:26:09] Cynthia Meyer: But you don't cheesy. Yeah. 

[00:26:12] Carley Storm: But be authentic! But if you are the biggest Dunkin Donut lover of all time and today's your day to shine, like post. But for my calendar, I didn't think that was evolving with the client and and the world to be like, "Hey, there's all this crazy stuff going on in the world, but it's Donut day!" but I'm trying to figure out how to translate that social calendar. 

[00:26:32] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah. 

[00:26:32] Carley Storm: Because I made the same thing. I like being my ideal client. I made it for myself, because I was like, "Oh my God, I'm doing a talk next week and I forgot to promote it." 

[00:26:40] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah. 

[00:26:41] Carley Storm: But on that social media calendar, I had like things that were going on, I would write it and make sure that I was posting about it. And to me that's more important that I'm having a headshot June 16th, even though I'll miss out on this podcast, than it's donut day. Do you know what I mean? 

[00:26:54] Cynthia Meyer: Yes. Yes. 

[00:26:55] Carley Storm: One of the things...

[00:26:55] Cynthia Meyer: To be relevant to your business and to your target audience. 

[00:26:58] Carley Storm: I also noticed that people are craving authenticity and we have less and less attention span. So I might almost be annoyed with somebody for posting something like, "I don't really care and you're either too salesy or it doesn't make any sense." I think people are looking for don't waste my time and show up and tell me like why I need you. So for example, if I follow you, I really only want to see real estate's tips and tax planning tips and all the things that you know, and you're teaching me on your Instagram. So if all of a sudden you're taking a time out, because you have to post because it's donut day, it's like this is stupid. She's just trying to post something. Like go back to your regular content. It might make me disengage with your feed because I feel like it's not relevant. 

[00:27:41] Cynthia Meyer: Oh. So that's really good guidance. I think that's excellent guidance. Do you have a mentor? 

[00:27:45] Carley Storm: I do. I have a few. But I'm currently taking a really cool brand photography mastermind... 

[00:27:50] Cynthia Meyer: Oh, that's good. 

[00:27:51] Carley Storm: ...in California and she's not messing around. She tells us how much she makes and how she does it. And she works one day a week and I was like, "Girlfriend, I'm listening to you. So it's really cool to have somebody and we're in a group of 10 women and everyone's bouncing ideas. My whole thing is I love everyone helping each other.

You could tell me you're going to be a brand photographer yourself and I'll help you and support you and cheer you on. And I just love having this group because it's authentic to me and anyone that's worked with me knows that I love either giving advice if needed or connecting my people. Because I only work with small businesses, so everyone has needed the same types of people.

Whether it's a web designer or a logo designer or an event space. Like, I probably have worked with somebody that does it. I constantly am like, "Dear Cynthia, I think you should meet my friend."

[00:28:36] Cynthia Meyer: I definitely ascribe to that philosophy of paying it forward and networking, as well. There's a limited number of people that I personally can work with. 

[00:28:45] Carley Storm: Yeah. 

[00:28:45] Cynthia Meyer: One to one. And there's plenty of room in the country and the world for people to develop their own niche and their own tribe of people even working in a similar niche. So, the best thing we can do is to help each other and raise professional standards and level of knowledge and education overall.

[00:29:00] Carley Storm: But that just solidifies why you need a niche is because if someone said, "Hey, I'm really thinking about, investing in real estate." I'm like, "Have you talked to my friend Cynthia?" Or on the same side, if someone says, I'm starting a business and I need photos from my website." Like everyone's screaming, " Oh my God, call Carley. It's exactly what she does." There's no arguing. This is the only thing I do and I think I'm pretty good at it. So I feel like having a niche is the best thing you can do as a small business owner. 

[00:29:25] Cynthia Meyer: That's right. I agree. This is not my quote. This is Michael Kitces' quote, one of the co-founders of the XY Planning Network, of which I am a member.

A niche is a need. 

Isn't that good one? I like that. Yeah.

[00:29:37] Carley Storm: And it eliminates confusion too. 

[00:29:39] Cynthia Meyer: So what are you curious about right now? 

For my business, I'm curious who else can use my space and how I can market my own space. Because again, I love having this income stream that I just have to send 'em a door code and make sure the studio is clean. And I'm curious of where else the brand photos can go and who else could use them. I'm working on client experience and I feel like my business is completely different since you and I work together. And I'm constantly taking a second and pausing and taking days off to be like, " How did that go? How can I make it better?" I keep finding, I have an amazing team. I have hair makeup that works with me now. I have a stylist that works me full time and I have a whole video team. It's interesting to see like what people said about them and their favorite things and how we could all work together. And ultimately, I want everyone just to have an amazing experience with their photos.

The icing on the cake is oh, my, these pictures were great, but really I want everyone to have like a fun day. Like you could say all these pictures were terrible but we had a great time. 

Oh my gosh. The photo and video shoot that I did with you and your team was the highlight.

[00:30:42] Carley Storm: Thank you. 

You started this, it really was fun. It was fun. That's... 

[00:30:47] Cynthia Meyer: As good as it gets. Yeah. So thank you. 

Okay. And so where can people find you online? 

[00:30:53] Carley Storm: Carleystorm.com is my website. My Instagram is Carley Storm branding Co and my studio website is the Headshot and Brand bar. So I am available online. I love taking DMS. If anybody wants to talk to me on my Instagram and website, I have easy to find links to book a call. And I love talking to people. I have discovery calls that people are just "thinking about starting their new business and they probably aren't going to do a shoot for six months or something and I just love connecting with them now so they know that I'm ready and the right person for them when they're ready to do it. And sometimes if they're not ready or I'll send them to a branding expert, as I said before a logo expert. Like they need to do a little bit of work before they work with me, but I'm ready. And I love talking to them during the whole process. 

[00:31:40] Cynthia Meyer: Excellent. So we'll drop all that in the show notes. So people can just link through to Carley's website. I'd like to close with, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:31:51] Carley Storm: The best piece of advice. Am I allowed to curse on this? No. 

[00:31:54] Cynthia Meyer: Depends. 

[00:31:54] Carley Storm: Okay. 

[00:31:55] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah. Within reason.

[00:31:56] Carley Storm: Actually, you know what the best piece of advice I've gotten is from my husband who is in business. I was tossing and turning on getting the studio after I saw it. And I was like, "No, it's too much. It's too, this it's too big. It's too much money per month." And he was like, "You need to pay to play." Like you need someone walking into your studio. Yeah. And be like, damn girl. Like really? Cynthia, when you see this studio, it's absolutely beautiful. But you walk in and you're like, okay, Carley Storm is not messing around and I needed that in order to be taken even more seriously. And now it seems like I have a legit business. And before not that I didn't think I did, but now that you walk into my studio, use it, take pictures here. Feel like it's the sky's a limit. And it was really good advice and who was very supportive in opening this.

[00:32:42] Cynthia Meyer: Ah, that sounds like great guidance there. So Carley, thank you so much for being in conversation with me this morning and for everyone listening, if you have questions or topics that you'd like tackled on the Real Life Planning Podcast, please email us at podcast@reallifeplanning.com and check out the link to other episodes at the end of this video.

[00:33:05] Carley Storm: Thank you, Cynthia. That was really nice. Thanks for having me. 

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