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Kari’s Story of Increasing Engagement & Wedding Sales

Hello! I’m Kari.  I have a blessed little business called Kari Rae Photography and I live in Portland, Oregon. It’s great here!

I’m here to tell you a tale of how I began to THRIVE – and how this thriving thing is continuing to be a very real, continuous action in my business and in my life.  How, you might ask?  With much thanks to Leah (the fabulous creator of this very blog!)  Oh, and much thanks to Leah’s program The Thriving Photographer.  It’s been a great journey for me.

And now I feel awkward.  Like you’re supposed to introduce yourself back to me…but you are stuck on the other side of the always-magical internet and you just can’t talk back!  It’s sad.  I hope we really do meet someday, you and I.  But right now, I just wish someone was here to ask me questions so I could tell you my story without feeling so one-sided.

Or I guess I could pretend, and ask myself questions 😉  Sound good?  Yes!  (See, it’s already starting…)

Tell us Kari, what has your business been like for the last couple years?

It’s been a BLAST!  I love love looove working with people, especially lovebirds.  Being a photographer is quite the dream job for me…mostly.  I’m not naturally a businesswoman, so sales and marketing have always been a little tough.  Okay.  Really tough.

I started taking clients 2 years ago.  After a session, I would e-mail them a gallery of edited images along with a list of available prints & prices.  Sometimes, they would order!  Sometimes, they wouldn’t.  But on average, on top of the session fee, I would make a sale that was between $50-$150.  $200 was pushing it.  And, well, as you might imagine…  I either had to shoot about 38 sessions per day, or I had to get my rear in gear!

Sooo… did you hit the photographic gym?

Why yes, yes I did!  I was already going to school to get myself a nice little degree in photography, so my photography skills were already lifting weights.  It’s the Suzy Salesman inside of me that needed a serious ab-workout (because sales are at the core of a successful photographer… ha!  Get it?).

Following Go{4}Pro for a while now, I knew that Leah had yet to lead me astray in this business.  So, I trusted that The Thriving Photographer would be all she claimed it would be….and I dove in.

What exactly does “diving in” entail? 

I’m so glad you asked! I listened to the audio tracks and started learning.  Learning how to brand myself and have consistent, memorable branding, how to define and build my niche, restructure my pricing and create collections of prints and products that my clients will LOVE, and how to do in-person ordering appointments (aka Session Premieres) like a champ!

There is SO MUCH more in the program (like marketing with other business, getting and growing referrals, rocking your workflow, and HAVING A GREAT LIFE), but I had just photographed an engagement session and I needed to implement this FAST!  I decided to do a Session Premiere with them…. my first ever attempt at in-person sales.  And to be completely honest with you, I was terrified……

…How did it go??

Well – here is the e-mail I sent Leah that night…

I had my first ordering appointment after Thrive this weekend. It was for an engagement session and I didn’t even mention the premiere until their photos were ready. I set my expectations low, and it took a lot of pressure off.


I sold my middle collection!!!!!! PLUS a guest book! When I usually make an extra $50-200 (and $200 is pushing it) after the session, I got a check yesterday for $950!

My husband could NOT believe it, and I only believed it because I trust you ;) but I’m still in awe!”

Cool! Congratulations! But I’m curious… did the results last?

Oh, girl, did they EVER!  As a “Thriving Photographer,” I am part of a secret Facebook group with all my thriving ladies (to be sung to the tune of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” of course).  It’s actually the best photography group I’ve ever been a part of, on or off of Facebook.  We support, encourage, and build each other up – they’re like my 100+ best friends!   Anyway, here is what I wrote to those friends just two sessions later…

“Yahoo! My third Session Premiere and I finally felt semi-confident going into it! 🙂 Not to mention, they ordered my highest collection. ($1,100!!!!!!!) And they talked about how much they value photography and don’t want to skimp on photos. This couple is getting married in 4 weeks and they still totally invested in their engagement photos! Needless to say, I love them. :)”

Okay. Teach me your ways. Where do you find clients like that?

These are what we call “Thrive Clients.” They are clients who understand the value of custom photography and know that it is WORTH it to invest in their images!  They are awesome!  And you know what is actually the best part?  Thrive Clients aren’t born that way, 99% of the time.  It’s actually The Thriving Photographer that taught me how to value myself, educate my clients, and provide an experience that leaves no question about the worth of their photography. AWESOME, right?


So what happens if your client just isn’t exactly a Thrive Client?

Actually, I just had a Wedding Premiere. Going into it, I didn’t have very high expectations, and they didn’t seem to fit into being Thrive Clients much at all. But I decided to act like they were anyway 😉

They LOVED the photos – the bride was in tears at the end of the slideshow.  She went on to explain why she wanted a big album with as many pages as possible to preserve her day and every memory involved.  By the sound of it, her experience with us and the quality of the images turned her into a Thrive Client!   Her husband was a bit hesitant at first, but told her that he knew this was important, and that it was up to HER to decide which collection she wanted!  Husbands, take note… 😉

Anyway, they purchased my middle collection (Leah teaches us that the middle collection is our magic collection!) and even upgraded the album they had pre-ordered!  It was a $2,050 sale!  Mind you, this is on top of a pre-made wedding package they had bought.  Their wedding had just doubled in sales because I implemented Thrive.  This is real life, you guys.

What makes you the most excited about your new thriving lifestyle? 

I’ve had a lot of fun throughout my entire photography journey, but I’m having a lot MORE fun now!  I believe in myself and my gifts (yes, including business and marketing skills!), I am confident in the work I create, and most of all, I love offering my clients an amazing experience.  Investing in my clients is extremely rewarding… they deserve it!

I believe that all of us want to feel deeply known and deeply loved; and one goal in my life and my business is to show people that they are both of these things.

Thrive is opening up my calendar and my wallet for many opportunities to prove it, through fun adventures and the joy of giving.  THIS gets me excited!  THIS is what I was created for!  I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me 😀

Have your relationships changed since you started Thriving?

Making a lot of money is great, don’t get me wrong.  But to me, it’s great because time is money!  (Leah is always talking about creating time for life and I’m discovering that this is exactly what she means…)

Because it takes far less time to bring in the same income – and more! – I can now spend amazing quality time with my husband, invest in the lives of my friends and family, and be actively involved in the church, helping to mentor high school students and being available whenever they need some extra lovin’ and encouragement.   These things make me tick – and until I got to Thriving, it was only a dream to be able to do it all!  But now?  YES, my relationships have changed!  It’s a process and I always need to remind myself that people are more important than business.  Overall though, it is Thrive that makes my do-it-all dream a beautiful, tangible reality.

That’s great! I’m going to tell all of my photog friends about Thrive!

Seriously, do it. I’m already telling all of mine!

Thanks for chatting, Kari. It’s been real.

Anytime, my friend..anytime. 🙂



  1. Love you Kari! And speaking for the Thrivers, we love having you as one of our best friends/advisors/confidants….well you get the picture 😉

  2. Kerry Morris says:

    It is true! The Secret Thrivers group makes Thrive Quadruple in value- easy! They are AMAZING and so is THRIVE! Great post Kari Rae, and I freaking love the fishing session.

  3. Katie Dudley says:

    Kari you are such an inspiration! Leah knows just how to map out the photographers road to success and you are proof. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  4. Morgan says:

    Kari you are so awesome! I am so happy for you. I can’t wait until my business is Thriving!

  5. Nicky Martin says:

    Brilliantly written Kari 🙂 I so love being part of the Thrive group. I am very new to it but can’t wait to do my first Premiere. I am so incredibly happy I got the program. The friendship I have with the fellow Thrivers on facebook is worth it!!!!

  6. You sound like a sales man to me! LOL. You have awesome sales skills and now I want The Thriving Photographer. Thanks!

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