Let’s chat stock photos for teachers with one of the originals. And by that I mean one of the first students I ever had inside my membership. She's an OG, and the real deal when it comes to patience and persistence. Kelly Harvill is here to share what she does as a full-time classroom teacher, and speech pathologist, and with growing her side hustle.; creating amazing stock photos for teacher authors!
Kelly is a speech-language pathologist and has worked in everything from hospitals to private practice. She landed in schools with the little people, (pre-school). Where she specializes in the birth to three transitions to school. She works primarily with student teams deciding if they still need support once they enter the elementary school realm. She also does evaluations for students between the ages of three and five whose families bring them in with concerns about their speech production or language.
When we chatted she was transitioning from a caseload that was part therapy and part evaluation to just the evaluation team. Now she will see four to five families a week, to better support those families. This school year she’ll be doing straight evaluations with her young littles.
Getting back to Kelly, she is passionate about what she does and how she helps all of these children. I’m so grateful that she wants to stay in that position but she has also found a passion outside of the classroom. And that is what she and I chatted about.
Kelly has been a photographer since her early teens. It's just something she’s always been very interested in. She comes from a family that has a lot of art interests and photography was her gig. She was always that friend. The one all through high school that always had the pictures.
In the last five to six years she started to use her photography with educators. Prior to that, she was doing what she called family adventure photo sessions. Basically, she would join families when they went to the pumpkin patch. Or when they got a new pup. She would go with them to pick out the puppy. Or she would go to the lake house with the cousins. Important milestone memories in a family's life versus standing Christmas card type photo shoots. Then at her elementary school whenever a teacher was pregnant for her shower at school Kelly would give a gift card.
Kelly was doing a teacher photo shoot with a woman named Emily who has a TPT store called EmilyEducation. During the photo shoot, they were just talking about what she was doing. Kelly didn't know her all that well and had no idea about TPT. Her caseload doesn’t use lessons or activities like that. So she started telling Kelly about it, By the end of the photo shoot that day they had a deal made. Emily would help Kelly get into TPT and Kelly would offer her 4 milestone sessions. Emily showed Kelly how she created products that had photos in them. That led to Kelly offering mock-ups and creating mock-ups and doing teacher branding sessions.
What I love about Kelly’s story is that at the heart of her story is the thought of service first. Kelly’s business has brought so much joy that in the beginning, she was giving away her passion completely for free.
Often we go into business and we only have this one mindset of doing this to make extra money. But when we go into it with that being our only mission that's where people get easily disappointed. Mainly because money is really not fulfilling in the long run.
In the beginning, Kelly created resources with her images because she had the copyright and the parental model consent for two boys. She had done a shoot at a pumpkin patch with them. So she made a whole product based on kids going to a pumpkin patch as a way to expand auditory or listening comprehension. And what did she learn? Teachers wanted more images to use instead of clip art. So she started playing with what that actually looks like from her end.
So the idea of you can literally take anything you want in life as a teacher and turn it into a business reigns true. As long as you go into it for the right reasons and the right purpose. Kelly spent the first year of business just finding ways to think outside the box. A self-proclaimed introvert she actually ended up enrolling in a retreat. Which was her first opportunity to really sit for a weekend with twenty one TPT sellers. It was gold!
She actually asked the event planner if she could do some teacher photo shoots (for free). And by the end of the weekend, she had shown all 21 sellers that they were beautiful and could be the face of their brand. Then she got asked if she was going to the next conference, and it snowballed from there. She ended up doing thirty sessions at that Austin conference. She had no business plan. No standard plan. While she was there she got to really hear what people were saying about product production. And the frustration of just wanting to make products. Teachers didn’t want to have to take the images. Being able to ask really specific questions was a golden opportunity.
Kelly started in the speech therapy product business, then went to mock-ups because at that retreat there was a woman that presented how to take pictures and how to style them. But Kelly still saw teachers struggling with making mockups. Or everybody was doing the exact same thing. They were taking the few mockups they were taught very literally because they just didn't have it in their background for image styling. That's when she started to think about setting up a whole background. She introduced her audience to the concept of what a mock-up actually was.
Not a lot of our students know what a mock-up is when they come into our community. Kelly says to think of a mock-up as a frame. When you buy art or you have your family photo taken you don't just put the photo up on the wall. You find a really nice frame for it and then you find the place on the wall where the lighting is good. And a place to serve your family and to be able to see that image every day. So a mock-up is similar to setting up the framework for you to drop in an image of your product. And instead of you having to have a huge collection of props to take your own images, Kelly has all the background goodies.
Kelly started with those free photos for people and so word-of-mouth marketing played into the growth of her business for sure. Her business grew like wildfire from the photo shoots she originally did. Those first twenty people that she met were her cheerleaders and continue to be. When she started to think about branching out she went back to them and asked more questions. And now Kelly says if she keeps her people happy they tell their friends.
Now we teach that in order to create a business you really need to solve a problem. And Kelly was able to share how all of these ideas came down to her solving a much larger problem, for a small group of people. Basically, Kelly supports the teacher-author trying to make their own businesses. She does this by taking all the photos for them, either of their mock-ups or their brand photo shoots.
And on Instagram, she continues her free photo Friday. Where every Friday for the last 2 years she puts two photos up that people can screen share. We all are short on time and Kelly is all for simplifying the lives of teacher-authors. So solving the problem of time management was a big one that people would say. It takes so much time to set the photo up. And if you want to get your previews done quickly and still have professional-looking cover thumbnails, Kelly has you covered.
And as Kelly’s business grew she realized that in order to make this business the best it can be, she had to walk away from doing those one-on-one shoots that help people with their branding. She now has a couple of people that help with a few of the little things. But Kelly is still the one shooting behind the camera.
She is in a school SLP capacity full time and then running this business on the side. Plus she wants to have a life. So she has been trying to figure out how to serve her audience with more options and make her time worthwhile. And Kelly is serving everybody from the birth to 3 SLP, to the middle school math teacher, and everyone in between. So figuring out how to include everyone was a big part of her puzzle.
So as the puzzle pieces are coming in and Kelly was figuring out how to put them together a membership model comes to fruition. Basically, it started because she had a bunch of images on her computer and on her camera card. And never enough time to actually upload them to TPT. Because it's the same problem we all have when we get ready to put up a resource. She has to make the cover, make the thumbnails, make the previews, etc. And the shooting part is really fun for her. She had to figure out how to get the images to people in a way that she could keep shooting. And then just keep adding the images to a gallery without having to stop to make all the extra pieces that go with marketing. One of Kelly’s mentors is a woman who's been very successful with a stock photo membership, outside of teaching. She finally asked Kelly what are you waiting for? When she first started putting those images in the gallery for her beta group she had two hundred and fifty images. Now she is at over eight thousand images!
She now has the time to put extra stuff out there and ask her membership how does this look? How would you want it done differently? She is coming up on her second anniversary, and it's getting better every day. We love that Kelly has always come from a place of service and now she has built in a little bit of scarcity too.
The thing that Kelly learned while trying to build this membership was that sometimes it can be difficult when you're just getting started. She served such a huge market, from preschool through secondary, that she had to find a way to serve others and keep her sanity.
She needs a signed model release for any child that she includes in the gallery. That includes their hand, the back of their head, etc. Any mamma that can recognize their kid in a picture they're going to have a sign model release for legal reasons. Learning how and where she needed to draw the line was hard in the beginning. But teachers are understanding and there's a reason why it's hard to find images even on free online sites. So her biggest issue was learning where those boundaries were going to be while also listening to all of the different ideas that her members were requesting.
Committing to a mission and vision can be time consuming, a bit of a struggle for the people pleasers. But I love the idea that Kelly took action that brought clarity. A lot of people get really nervous when starting out. They want to serve everyone. They worry that by narrowing their niche they will be cutting out the people they can reach. But when you get clear on your audience and niche down, you actually gain more clarity and expand your reach and influence.
Kelly says when you are ready to go all in, do it's scared. The world of business changes people. You may start a TPT store thinking you really want to do a specific thing. And then in the process, discover what people really need. Then kind of switch that plan. You can still learn from the original experience and figure out a different way to do it while holding on to your integrity. If you're honest with your people and your business has changed along the way just let them know. As long as your passion has a very clear mission of supporting other teachers and their businesses too, we're all in this together to serve others.
Kelly has some big goals for the membership in 2023. She plans to give the opportunity to the members to make requests for images through the FB group.
Kelly gave some advice to someone just getting started. She says if they're trying their best to build this side hustle of selling their lesson plans or taking something they're passionate about and selling it. She says brainstorm something that's a little bit more sustainable and has a little bit better shelf life. Just get started and get feedback from people on what they want and what they really need. She is so glad she didn’t close the door on her ideas. Saying somebody else is already doing this. What you start with today might not look anything like what you're doing a year from now. Just give yourself permission to evolve and change because it is your business.
One of our sayings here at the CEO Teacher® is to be a good human and be good to all people. I know Kelly embodies that and I know that is without a doubt the reason why her business has found so much success in such a short amount of time.
And if you want to follow Kelly’s journey (and get your hands on some pretty cool teacher mock-ups) You can find her with her free photo Friday on Instagram.