Jade Boyd Co.

Business Minimalist Podcast

Scale your Business with a Membership ft. Sabrina Gebhardt

Scale your Business with a Membership ft. Sabrina Gebhardt | The Business Minimalist™ Podcast with Jade Boyd
I'm Jade!

MBA | Business Strategist | Business Minimalist | I help busy creatives bring order to chaos with an intentional business strategy and simple systems.

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Everyone is talking about “building community” but few business owners have figured out how to bring people together in a meaningful way. I met today’s guest when I was invited to guest present to her membership in early 2023, and I was immediately blown away by the type of community she’d built. Not only that, I was intrigued by the structure of her membership, how many people she was serving, and how many ways the membership was benefiting her business overall.

Sabrina Gebhardt is a lifestyle photographer of more than 13 years in Fort Worth, Texas and a business coach to photographers and other creative entrepreneurs. She’s scaled her service-based business through multiple offers, and today, she’s sharing her secret to building a membership offer that’s profitable, sustainable, and builds real community!

If you’re considering adding a membership to your offer suite, but are overwhelmed by how to structure it, what to charge, and how to get engaged members in a lower-ticket offer, this one’s for you! Press play to learn how to scale your business through a membership offer.

Scale your Business with a Membership ft. Sabrina Gebhardt | The Business Minimalist™ Podcast with Jade Boyd

Key Takeaways from this Episode

  • How Sabrina’s membership community started organically
  • The benefits of having a membership in various aspects of business
  • Sabrina’s thoughts on the value of community as a small business owner
  • How Sabrina has fostered community in her membership
  • What you need to consider before starting a membership community
  • Tips on pricing your offer suite (Hint: it’s all in your mindset)
  • Sabrina’s thoughts on building a sustainable business
  • How Sabrina schedules out her week for productivity

Connect with Sabrina

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode


Click here to read the full episode transcript!

Sabrina Gebhardt: I’m so glad that I didn’t wait because when I created the membership, it was very much like a playful energy of like, maybe this will work, let’s see how this goes. And it wasn’t so there wasn’t a need for it to be this perfect final iteration of it, I was just like, we’re just going to see how this goes. And then after time I realized, okay, this is awesome. And it’s not going anywhere. It’s time to make something a little more permanent here.

Jade Boyd: Welcome to the show. Sabrina.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Hi, I’m so excited to be here. I can’t wait to chat today.

Jade Boyd: Yes. We were going to have a really good conversation today and I was saying just before we hit record that I added a few last minute questions too, because there’s so much that personally I want to pick your brain about, but so much, that’s going to be really helpful when it comes to talking about memberships too.

But to start off for those who don’t know you, do you mind giving a brief introduction, just a little bit about who you are and what kind of business you have today and kind of how you got here?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. So I’m Sabrina Gebhardt. I have been a lifestyle family, a newborn photographer for 13 years now, and I am still a practicing photographer, but for the past six to seven years, I’ve been dipping into the education space as is pretty common, but for the last three, I’ve been not just dipping. I’ve been diving in to the education pool and absolutely loving it.

So that has meant creating a lot more things online. So I have a mastermind and a membership and I speak at conferences and I have a podcast so I’ve been doing those things that reach broader audiences and I’ve been loving it. And that’s how we met. I guess,

Jade Boyd: Yeah.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Meet on Instagram? We were connected by somebody.

I don’t even remember at this point. Do you remember Jade, how we met?

Jade Boyd: We had a mutual friend, maybe, but I think you reached out to me last spring, was the first time we, like, actually talked and you invited me to speak to your membership, which is what we’re chatting about today.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. I love it. I love how the internet connects people. So,

Jade Boyd: Yeah, I think I know a few photographers who are in your membership, so I’m sure that’s how we got connected

Sabrina Gebhardt: Cool. I love it.

Jade Boyd: But today we are talking about memberships and even after I presented to your membership, you’ve created a really special community. And I feel like starting a membership is something that a lot of business owners consider when they’re scaling or dipping into the education space and thinking about different ways that they can help other people in their industry or even serve if they’re in the coaching business, serve their clients with a lower ticket offer better.

So can you kind of start by sharing how you started your membership, kind of when in your business that became an offer and what it’s grown into today, because like I said, it’s kind of an incredible membership and a great example of what it looks like to have a successful membership.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. when it started, it was just an offer for somebody who had done another program as a way to like stick around. So it was like an alumni experience. And I found that as I was finishing rounds of, a mastermind that I don’t do anymore, something that I used to do, people weren’t ready for it to end, and I wasn’t either. And so it wasn’t just them grabbing it, like, how can we keep Sabrina in our back pocket? But it was me also wanting to keep the warm, fuzzy vibe that these women provided me as well. And so I thought long and hard about it and I was like, you know what? I mean, I think a membership would be great and I want to make it really inexpensive.

So it’s an easy yes, but I also want to provide value. So that’s how it started. That’s what the iteration was originally and it was that way for about 18 months where you would not even hear about the membership until you graduated a program and you were invited to stay. And, the acceptance rate was almost a hundred percent, which is wild, and so that’s what it started as. And then over time once the membership had been around for a year, 15 months, I started to kind of feel the tug to like open it up to the general public because it is so awesome. And I felt like there’s this awesome community and this awesome experience. And I’m serving people in a unique way here.

And I’m bringing in all these guest experts like yourself. And nobody knows about it, you know, and so I kind of started to dip my toe into offering it to the public and it’s gone through a couple of different iterations since then, but that’s how it started. It was just an invitation to, hey guys, you’re done with this program. Now come stick around for a little bit longer.

Jade Boyd: So was there anything major that changed about the membership through that transition from only being for past clients to open to anybody or was it pretty much the same thing, just doors were wide open?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yep. Doors were wide open. The price point changed a little bit. So when I started the membership, it was $15. And again, I wanted it to be an absolute no brainer for these women to stay in my orbit and to stay as a group and that’s why the return rate was so high. And then when I opened it up to the public, I raised it to $22, still an absolute no brainer experience, but now I was selling to people who had never been in my orbit before. And It’s different. It’s different. You know, you have to sell a little bit more. As before, I was literally just inviting people into this group and everybody was like, oh yeah, absolutely. And joining.

Jade Boyd: And speaking to like low ticket membership, because even that jump is a small jump, still very affordable and very low ticket entry into your education. And there is so much value you’re paying guest experts to come in and speak about topics they wouldn’t speak about in other places. You yourself are recording trainings and behind the scenes, like taking your photographers on real life shoots with you. You’re doing hot seat coaching. And so I think a lot of business owners shy away from offering memberships because of that disconnect on, wow, that is so much value for not a lot of money when you’re starting out, that can be really scary. And sometimes they’re like, this just doesn’t make sense.

So from your perspective, can you kind of speak to what percentage this membership plays in like the overall revenue of your business, but also some of the other benefits that you’ve seen, because not all of the benefits from doing a membership are necessarily monetary.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Right. Exactly. The biggest benefit that I have from this group is that these women join all my other things. Whether they started big and then stayed in the membership and then decide to join something else different later, or if they came in as a stranger to me in the membership, they realize how awesome it is and they immediately joined my high level mastermind. Okay. These women, they get a little taste and they love it and then they raise their hand and they want to participate in other things. So the return rate on other sales I’m getting in the future is absolutely enormous. This group also is such a hot group. They market for me without me even asking, which is such an incredible place to be.

They’re the people that share my podcast. They’re the people that share when I have openings for things. They’re the people that share about the mastermind when it opens. And I don’t even have to ask, they just do it because they’ve either been in it or seen somebody that’s been in it and they want to.

And so those are the benefits of the group for me, percentage wise of my business. It’s only about 7 percent of my annual income. It is not a ton, where it stands today when we’re recording, I make a little over $1,100 a month in membership and it’s a substantial income. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I’m thrilled with it, but it is not even close to any of my highest producing offers, but it’s the audience building community.

And I, Jade, I didn’t run the numbers on what I’ve made like from sales from people coming in, but that’s way higher. I mean, way higher, the amount of women that do my mastermind that are in there, and that’s a $5,000 offer, you know, is incredible that they can make the jump from a little tiny membership fee to spending thousands, but it’s like one of my favorite things I do, even though it’s so low ticket and, we’ll probably get to this, but one of the keys for me is making sure that it’s great content, but then I’m limiting myself in there as well that I’m not over serving. Right?

Jade Boyd: Yeah, we will definitely get further into that, but I love your perspective on memberships because I do think oftentimes business owners, when creating new offers, they’re like, well, how much money am I going to make from this immediate offer? But can go either way with memberships, there’s definitely membership heavy businesses where they are making 90 percent of their revenue from their membership and that’s definitely a direction that you can take. But I love showing the example of what it looks like for basically, they’re paying you to do your marketing for you, like it is a community and they’re getting value from it, but it’s not necessarily a primary offer so much as like almost an opt in, a low ticket opt in where, yeah, it is part of your funnel in the bigger picture, which is two different ways to view the strategy for memberships.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. Yeah. And the most recent change it went through was last fall. I realized through talking with my business coach, I realized, okay, this membership has been around for over two years at this point, I have so much content, and at the time everything was housed in a Facebook group and you know, we all have our opinions about Facebook groups.

they’re not the best place to be. This group is great in a little Facebook group, but I didn’t have any of the trainings, recordings, downloads housed anywhere. So if you were to join at that time, you could come into the Facebook group and you could scroll back forever and find every training and everything in there.

And it was all yours, which was fine, but disorganized. And I realized, you know what, it’s time to take the bulk of everything that’s there and put it in a vault, and so, my VA and I worked really, really hard to create a vault where you have login access and all of the trainings and everything that’s ever been in the group is now housed and organized by subject.

So when somebody joins now, they get a login and they can go in and look under goals or systems or blogging or SEO and watch anything and everything that’s there. So that really upped the value of the immediate value for somebody brand new that joins. Now they’re like, oh my gosh, not only am I looking forward to this new live training, but I can do a deep dive into all of these things over the past few years.

And so with that big change, we raised the price to $33. So it was another, you know, it was a 50 percent increase, but still $33 is still a no brainer for what it is and honestly, it was an organization change that needed to happen. I like structure and I could not handle everything being disorganized in that group.

But also the interesting thing that happened was from a marketing perspective, from the business owner myself, I find it so much easier to sell this membership now because I can talk about the vault and the value of the vault. It’s hard to share the value of live trainings when the live trainings are always changing. If that makes sense.

The way my membership is set up, it’s not the same calls every month. Things are on a quarterly rotation. And so it’s, it was always hard to say, well, this month, if you join, you get this, this, and this, but next month, if you join, you know, it just felt very convoluted. Now it’s, I have this awesome vault that I can rely on to market. And I can market the live stuff as well. So that’s the most recent iteration that the group has.

Jade Boyd: Yeah, and I love that you’re sharing that that was a pretty recent thing because I think another thing that holds people up from doing something like this is that they are comparing themselves to people like you who’ve been in this a long time and have the huge vault and have the organization and they’ve already had all these training’s and guest speakers and they let that prevent them from just getting started when membership or any other type of offer, I would say that most business owners listening to this. Can probably say the offer you initially launched is very different from the offer you’re doing today and memberships are no different.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Right. Exactly. And, and I’m so glad that I didn’t wait because when I created the membership, it was very much like a playful energy of like, maybe this will work, let’s see how this goes. And it wasn’t so there wasn’t a need for it to be this perfect final iteration of it. I was just like, we’re just going to see how this goes. And then after time I realized, okay, this is awesome. And it’s not going anywhere. It’s time to make something a little more permanent here. And it was a big project, but it’s been really, really well received.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. And you had community from the very beginning, starting with clients that you already had and community is something that you’re obviously very passionate about so could you speak to what you think the value of community is and like why you think it’s so important for creative entrepreneurs especially?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah, community for creatives is like that speaks to my heart and everything that I love and everything that I’ve created is very community based and I think a lot of that stirs back to when I was first starting out, you know, this was 13 years ago so the internet was different. So, you know, Instagram wasn’t even a thing and Facebook felt very different, and back then community and I’m, I’m doing air quotes here was forums on websites. Okay, and it was just not the same. And I felt so lonely and so confused and wondering what I was doing. is what I’m doing correct. I had nobody to ask questions to. I had nobody to commiserate with and anybody who’s ever felt like that before knows that when you’re feeling those things, imposter syndrome starts to come in.

And then it’s just this big negative monster when community would have solved that problem. And I could have skipped all of that mental junk and jumped to the good part, but I didn’t know what I was missing until a few years later when I started to have some industry peers that I could ask questions to and ping and, and, and all of that, and so I’ve created a space. And again, the internet’s different now. There are tons of online communities. There’s free ones. There’s paid ones. There’s community everywhere, but I am fostering a space that is very supportive and very safe, and I coach every group that I have, whether it be a course group, a mastermind group, or this membership that you can trust us with your stuff. You can trust us with the client problems that you’re so horrified have happened, and you can’t believe that you have to ask for help. You can trust us with the legal question that you have, and you are horrified that you’re dealing with. You can trust us with all of these things and people don’t realize they need it until they need it and they don’t realize how good it is until they have it. And I wouldn’t ever encourage you per se to like join a membership for the community, although I think it’s the best part. Join the membership for the education you’re getting and the coaching you’re getting and the opportunities you’re getting to be with guest educators, but the community is why you stay.

Jade Boyd: Yeah, and you have facilitated community within your business, within your membership for sure, but even within your other offers just so, so well, and I feel like we’ve all had that experience, like you said, the internet is saturated with quote unquote communities and not all of them feel like real communities. So can you speak to how you’ve facilitated that and created that environment within your membership specifically?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. It’s just a hard question because I think part of it, I mean I do have things that I intentionally do to like foster community, whether it be at an in person event or in a Facebook group, but I also think part of it is how I show up online and the kind of people that I attract. And so part of that is just being willing to be me and to be vulnerable and to share my mistakes and to be an open book just on Instagram.

And that pulls in people that want that same kind of energy and believe in the same things. Knock on wood, I have yet to pull in somebody into my circle that doesn’t believe the same stuff. I haven’t had a troll or anything like that, you know? But within these communities, I am specifically in this, in this membership and in our Facebook group where the community lives, I am actually sharing a lot of content that has nothing to do with photography businesses.

So like discussion type questions, if you will, you know, like, what are your holiday traditions? What’s your favorite recipe? Share your favorite meme this week. Tell a funny story that your toddler, like random stuff, and I have those kinds of discussion questions, if you will, scheduled in the Facebook group, just like I do educational and motivational stuff because that’s what builds friendships. It’s like going to an online cocktail party. How can you get people to open up and find connection points, you know, and say, oh my gosh, my kid does the same thing and then they’re all of a sudden connected and they want to be friends outside of the group, you know? So that’s the biggest thing I do. And it’s not really anything surprising, but I just try and treat it like I would, if I was hosting an in person party, how can I get people to connect and to communicate, and realize how similar they are.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. Almost like being the icebreaker for them, because I think, like you said, everybody desires that they want the space where they can be vulnerable. They want to connect with people and more than just what’s your business school or what type of photographer are you and get past that surface level, but sometimes it’s really hard to think about those small things yourself. I’m like, what could I create conversations around or even the prompting to like, reach out to other people in the group and start those conversations and giving them a topic idea. Very, very simple things, but creates a community that’s not like any other, because once people do have those relationships, like you said, it’s kind of like a spiral effect when you lead by example and members are leading by example, naturally it just like catches on and flows.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yes. Right. Right. And a perfect example of a story. And so I’ll, I’ll tell the story. this member’s name is Sarah. Hi, Sarah. If you’re listening, Sarah joined the membership last fall, maybe September we’ll say, and she had heard about the membership from a friend decided to join. And within 24 or 48 hours of her being in there, she had a question and she posted it in the Facebook group because everybody is encouraged to post their stuff in the Facebook group because they know, and I tell them as soon as they joined that we are going to swoop in and come to your rescue, like that’s what this group does. So she posted something. I don’t even remember what it was, but two active members responded to her with pretty lengthy responses. And almost immediately they said, you know what, this is probably something better to talk through on Voxer.

Here’s our Voxer handle come find us. And they started a group chat and like 48 hours after this, Sarah sends me a message about, I am absolutely floored. I have never been in a community like this where people have stepped in and are helping me and answering my questions. And then like 10 days later, my high level mastermind opened for registration and she’s like, if this is the kind of group you create, I’m in. And she immediately joined. And she’s also side note, gonna kill it this year. So Sarah, you’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you already, but that’s the kind of group this is. That, we have created this kind of community where that I say all the time, it’s unlike any place on the internet. And it’s just because we’re not just there to like ask the flow desk question, you know, or ask the editing question we’re there to like connect as female photographers and all that that encompasses. Yeah.

Jade Boyd: I love also, just from a time management perspective, because we’re going to get into that too, that creating that type of community means that you don’t have to individually step in and Voxer everybody in the group. When members can help each other, it becomes that much more valuable because you don’t have time to answer within 24 hours for however many members in your group, but it creates that much more value for everyone in it and I’m sure Sarah is going to become that type of person who drops her voxer for other people too.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Time management wise. It’s great. exactly. I don’t have to feel like I need to check the Facebook notifications constantly to stay on top of things. I do try and respond to everything at some point, but by the time I get in and respond to something, there’s already been 15 other you know, which is so awesome, but also from like a coaching perspective. So my membership, what you get when you join is you get access to the vault. And then there are three new things every month. And those things, like I said, they rotate on a quarterly basis. So there’s always a guest. There’s always a guest educator on something, and then there will be either hot seat coaching or just a live Q and A, or there’ll be maybe a PDF download or training for me.

So the, live commitment for me where I’m actually having to do something new, leading a training or sharing a video is once a quarter. So it is very low lift for me, right? When it’s a hot seat coaching call, I just show up I’m coaching on the fly when it’s live Q and A I am coaching on the fly. So there’s I’m there I’m present.

And obviously I’m present during the guest experts, but I’m not having to prepare slides and a training and a, you know, doing all this prep work. So what is the commitment level on my part is so easy and it’s so manageable and yet I’m serving this group of what is now 70 women.

Jade Boyd: Right. Yeah, which is insane for the amount of time that you’re taking to do that, but this leads really well into my next question because another thing that I think prevents people from creating a membership or a low ticket offer like this is balancing the value for how much people are paying, but also differentiating it from their higher ticket offers.

So for you, for example, like why would I join your coaching if I can just get coaching from you and your membership? And a lot of business owners think about that before offering something like this and they’re just like, well, I can’t do that because then nobody’s going to sign up for my high ticket offers.

So can you speak a little bit to how you’ve balanced the value and access to you and your membership versus your other offers and how you’ve thought about that in terms of like your offer suite for your business?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s definitely something to consider, and before I started the membership, I got very clear on what this membership has and will not have because you definitely have to put boundaries there, especially if you are, going to be an overcommitter. If that’s something that you struggle with, you really need to have those boundaries in place, and so I was very clear on that from the beginning. But, the differentiation is definitely in access to me. So my high level mastermind, we’re having at least one live call every single week, and then they have Voxer access one on one Voxer access to me throughout the whole program. So they are getting me on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Very, very deep into their personal life and in their business, whereas in the membership, sure. If in theory, if you showed up to every live Q and A in the year, which would be four and every hot seat, and you actually got one of the hot seats because you have to like volunteer, right? You could maybe get coached by me four to eight times, but it’s in a tiny little window and it’s over the course of a year.

Where as my high level mastermind, it’s daily for four months. And so it’s just a very different experience, but I think that’s why so many people in the membership do choose to join the high level mastermind because they get a taste of that one on one coaching and it propels them to want more and to see that there is value there.

Oh my gosh. If I got that much out of her in a 10 minute hot seat, how much could I get out of a mastermind experience? So there is a huge differentiation in between the two offers for sure.

Jade Boyd: Right. And I love how you pointed out that it is really up to the business owner to set those boundaries on what are your rules and how are you going to make these offers different? Because if you are truly giving away all of that coaching within your membership, Then there would be no reason for somebody to sign up for your high ticket membership, but that’s really up to you and how you structure it.

And again, it’s like people paying you to do your marketing for you because it should lead into your other offers as well.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Exactly. Exactly.

Jade Boyd: One thing that I really want you to speak to, I think so many service providers underestimate the amount of money that they can charge for their services. And you are more of a high end family photographer.

So I would love for you to speak into kind of what it took for you to transition from your entry level rates or shooting like the normal $300, $400 for a family session versus the rates that you’re charging today, which I’m sure a lot of photographers would look at and say, there’s no way that I could ever charge that much for a family session or for a newborn session.

Or if a service providers, I’m sure there’s somebody in everyone’s industry who they’re looking at and thinking, there’s no way that I could ever charge that much money. So I would love for you to speak into kind of the transition and what it took for you to get there, but also any advice you have for service providers who are in that spot where they’re in the mindset of that’s for her, not for me.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. Yeah. So what I see and definitely what happened with me is there’s two things at play in this situation. One of them is inexperience, your work, your service, what you can offer somebody really might not be good enough. Like there does have to be a level of service that matches the level that you charge. Let’s not live in a world where we think that’s not true. That is the case. You’re going to charge from your pricing, you have to have a premier product or service or experience. Okay. So sometimes it’s a, it’s a level of experience, right? You’re maybe you’re talking to the photographers. You have been a photographer for two years and you dream of being able to charge four figures for a family session, but it seems so far off and maybe you need to hone your portfolio. Or work with somebody who can help your editing become more cohesive or whatever. Right. So that the finished product really does warrant a higher price. But the other side of that is just mindset. And it’s the whole, like, that’s okay for you, but not for me. I’ve been in business for six years, but I still can’t charge that.

That’s just wrong. That’s just a mindset problem. And what I like to teach on when I teach on this subject is, the theory of high, low pricing, and value pricing versus luxury pricing. So I don’t know if you know this Jade, but my background is actually in retail. I was a jewelry buyer. That was my corporate job before I became a stay at home mom and then a photographer.

So I actually have a lot of knowledge about pricing theory, in the retail industry, which is really cool, but when you’ve been in business for a few years, let’s just go ahead and assume that the quality of our work is there. The consistency is there. The repetitions are there. You have the experience, you’re providing a great service. Your clients love you and keep coming back. And it’s just a mindset problem. You think I can’t charge double what I’m charging now or whatever that is. Actually, what’s happening is you have trained your audience to set your prices because you are refusing to move. You have trained them that you are this low ticket offer and therefore they are used to paying this low ticket offer as opposed to you being willing to say, you know what? I’m actually a premium offer.

So here’s the example. Let’s say that I’m in the market for some new black high heels. I’m going to a wedding. I need some new black high heels. I don’t have any, I want them to be black patent leather. You can get those pretty much anywhere under any umbrella, right? You can absolutely get them at Target or Walmart. You can also absolutely get them at Neiman Marcus. Okay. And there’s going to be a massive price difference between the Target black patent leather and the Neiman Marcus ones. There’s going to be brand, quality, but really it’s just who’s selling the item. Okay. Because at the end of the day, they’re going to look exactly the same. They’re going to function exactly the same, but the thing about it is the person who shops at Target versus the person who shops at Neiman Marcus are two different people. The woman who is going to Neiman Marcus to buy her black, beautiful high heel shoes, they’re just plain black. They’re just patent leather. There’s nothing fancy to them. She would never consider going to Target to buy her shoes. Like it would not even cross her mind because she wants phenomenal quality, phenomenal service. And that’s where she’s going.

Meanwhile, the same thing’s happening to the woman at Target. She’s a bargain shopper. She’s absolutely not even going to go to Macy’s. She’s going to Target to get her shoes. She would never in a million years go to Neiman Marcus to buy these shoes. So it’s two different audiences. And so people get stuck in this whole, I could never charge that you can and you can change that mindset work, but this is a marketing situation, your audience may change. You may lose all of your people and have to market to all new people. There are so many people in every town, in every state across this country that will pay premium pricing for whatever it is you have to offer. It does not matter. It does not matter what your offer is.

Literally. There is somebody that wants the most expensive, best experience. In everything there always is. And because they want that. and so it’s marketing yourself to get there. But the mindset thing is really just realizing that this has nothing to do with you. This is a business choice. People will pay you. This is learning how to market to this. This is not a self worth thing at all. That was a really long answer, Jade.

Jade Boyd: I feel like that was kind of a mic drop moment. So it was a great answer. It was worth every, every word that you gave, but also I love how you framed it as a marketing problem, because I think most problems when it comes to mindset issues could probably be reframed as marketing problems. It’s not, I can’t charge that, but I don’t know how to find people who would pay that because you’re right, when you’re making that big of a jump, which usually happens over time, it’s not like overnight, I’m increasing my prices by $500, but it does mean that you’re marketing to a different person, and a lot of your current clients will not book you again for those higher rates. Some of them will for sure, who have loved working with you and are more of your ideal client, but I think that is a huge barrier for business owners because they think just because their current clients wouldn’t pay that, that nobody would pay that and that’s not the case.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah, exactly. And, and I know that entrepreneurs, we have like, we’re unique in that we have personal relationships with the people that spend money in our business. Right. And so we see them as an extension of ourselves and our friends and our peers. And it feels weird to think that we could potentially alienate them and quote unquote, make them angry, but you just have to constantly remember, like it’s. Business. It’s not personal. They will still be your friends. You can still see them socially. They will still be at your kid’s preschool and church and wherever. this is business. And if you want to step into this market where you’re charging higher rates and serving different people, that’s okay. That’s a business decision and you can get there. It’s just, it’s going to take a little bit of effort, but it’s absolutely possible.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. It’s kind of choose your hard. Either you choose to go one direction and hard things come with that, or you choose to stay where you’re at and that is hard in its own unique way too. It’s easier in some ways, harder in other ways.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Exactly. Exactly. So true.

Jade Boyd: So you coach photographers on how to build a sustainable business and life. So I have to ask, what does that even mean to you? I feel like sustainable is something that’s thrown around a lot or like aligned. There’s lots of buzzwords, but for you personally, what does it mean to have a sustainable business and life?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. So when I’m coaching women, the first thing we start with is defining what success is for them. And that’s this it’s figuring out what is it that is sustainable for you? I think the general answer is having a profitable business that you can manage over time, year after year without being burned out, without wanting to burn it down.

That’s the simple answer, but what else fills in under the umbrella is unique to each person and their season of life, right? Like you’re in a season where you’re having a baby and that’s very different for me, and I’ve got somebody two years away from going to college, you know? So our personal expectations and seasons of life are very different. For me right now my version of a sustainable business is I want to be able to work during school hours. Okay. Which averages nine to three, Monday through Friday. And I want to be able to travel for work, whether that’s retreats, conferences, photographing clients, I do all of the above and that fills my cup and I love it, and I want to be able to be at all of my kids tournaments and homecoming and the big things that are important for them. Other than that, I’m a little bit fluid. I’m not as rigid about working on weekends as I used to be when all my kids were younger, and I’m not as rigid about what our summer looks like anymore either, because again, I’m in a different season of life. My kids are not home during the summer. And so it’s not really as important for me to be home. So that’s kind of what feels good to me right now is being able to contribute to my, family financially, keeping those office hours when the kids are at school and then traveling and being at our stuff that feels good to me right now.

That’s not always the way it was, but right now that’s where I’m happy.

Jade Boyd: So you already spoken to this a little bit, but you are a service provider. You have many offers. You mentioned you travel quite a bit during any given year for retreats or for, conferences. And so can you paint the picture, you’ve put really great boundaries in your business to allow yourself, even though you’re doing all of these different things to have a really flexible and ideal schedule.

So can you paint the picture of what your typical weekly schedule looks like at this point?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. So at this point I am generally shooting one day a week. The day of the week is totally flexible. I, I don’t have a set shooting day anymore. I used to, I don’t. Now I let it be up to my clients. sometimes it’s a Saturday morning. Sometimes it’s a Wednesday. It’s all over the place. I’m shooting on average one day a week.

And then I try and give myself three to four days a month in a stretch of focus time where I have zero calls, no podcasts, no sessions so that I can work on the project, whatever the project of the moment is, right? If it’s a new freebie, if it’s reporting a new thing, whatever that is, I always have a new project, I’m sure you’re the same way.

So I try and have buffer time in, in every given month to work on that. That has been a game changer for me, but within that I have a block of time that rotates every month for podcast preparation. and then I try and schedule my coaching calls for after lunchtime. So like noon or after for me, because that’s when I can easily coach, but I need my brain to write email funnels and do that kind of stuff in the morning, the harder, heavy lifting tasks.

So my schedule is pretty fluid, but I do have a structure to it every day, if that makes sense at all. I have certain, I have a little, I have a formula, but I don’t have, I can’t tell you, Jade, that like on Mondays, I do this on Tuesdays. I do this on Wednesdays. I do this. It’s not that rigid.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. I feel like, and if for anyone listening, this is a question I’ve been asking more and more often on the podcast, because I do think it’s really interesting to get the behind the scenes look of like, okay, what does your schedule actually look like? We see people on the internet and it seems like they’re everywhere all the time doing all of the things, but then in reality, behind the scenes, it doesn’t always look that way. Sometimes it’s a disaster and sometimes it’s really nice. And so it’s good to take a peek behind the curtain. But, I’m similar in that I cannot do, like, heavy focus work in the afternoon, so, like, batching meetings and doing admin stuff in the afternoon works really well, but also, even as someone who does love theme days and loves ideal weeks and all the schedules that’s actually what I came and talked to your membership last year about it also just changes for everyone.

Like, consistency in schedules is, it’s great to have some structure, but in reality, something different happens every single week, like, for everybody, no matter what life season you’re in, there’s always life happening to you.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. I feel like for me, my formula for success is if I can have at least half a day and I’m just talking about Monday through Friday here, if I can have at least half of a work day left for myself. So I’m either white space or I’m getting a massage or I’m going to the sauna or something to just like revive and restore myself.

Okay. If I can have a half a day for that. And then if I can have one day that’s basically left wide open, that feels really good to me because then I can fit in the puzzle pieces for everything else in between that, but when you think about only having five school work days,taking a half a day that’s for yourself and then a whole full day that’s fully unscheduled, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for meetings and podcast interviews and sessions and all of that. So it does get kind of tricky and it means I’m saying no a lot.Which is actually something that I got, I got, I kind of fell off the bandwagon last year and, and didn’t say no enough. And so that’s, that’s my resolution this year is to, to not be so overcommitted anymore.

And that’s kind of been the secret sauce for me is I feel really good when I have Fridays to kind of recharge. And then I, I generally try and leave Mondays as my open day. That feels really good to come in off the weekend, to get my mind right, to get my ducks in a row, to start working on a project. And then I have a bunch of calls Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Jade Boyd: , Saying no has also been a theme that I think has been brought up anytime that we talk about ideal schedules, but I love how you point out how it starts with your definition of success because you can’t know what to say no to until you know what you’re trying to say yes to. And so, identifying what is most important and then saying no to the things that get in the way of that instead of taking the mentality of like, oh, I just need to say no more, but why?

Why and what criteria are you using? So that’s super helpful. So to close out for the listener who has an idea for a membership on their hearts or they’ve been thinking about this for a while and want to do it, but have had any of the number of objections that we’ve talked about today, what is the one piece of advice that you would give them for launching a successful membership?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. One piece of advice. So I’m going to say, I’m going to give one piece, but it’s going to have two parts. Okay. So I think you need to get really clear on what the membership will and will not include. So it’s those rules, those boundaries ahead of time. And I think give yourself some room, some flexibility, to be creative and to test the waters, if you will.

So when I was creating mine, I had literally had a Google doc of ideas of ways I could serve this group. And, some of them I’ve done, some of them I haven’t even tried yet. because I’m just kind of seeing what lands and what the group likes and allowing things to change a little bit, but I was very firm on three things a month.

And one of those things wasn’t going to be me. So I’m only committing to two things. And having that tiny little boundary has been huge because when I’m mapping out a year’s worth of content and this membership, I can very easily say, nope, I’ve hit that. I’ve hit the maximum time to move to the next month, you know?

So having that clearly stated and like written down somewhere so that you can hold yourself accountable and not end up over serving. Right? And then I think the second part, it would be to start as easy as you can. I am a big believer these days and do what’s easy. It does not have to be overcomplicated. So if that means it’s a Facebook group, Awesome. Like that’s so easy. If it means that it’s an Instagram chat that people have to join. Cool. That’s great too. You know, a lot of people are doing the, what’s it called?

Jade Boyd: Aren’t they called broadcasts?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yes, the broadcast channels, but they have some that you have to pay for.

So, you could do that. That would be super duper easy. Whatever it is you’re looking at, don’t try and go to this perfect over committed. You have to buy a bunch of software. You have to learn a bunch of stuff. Like what’s the easiest way that this could start. And start there.

Jade Boyd: I love that. That is a perfect place to stop, but would you be up for a bonus round really quick? Okay. Let’s do it. So the first question is, what is your favorite productivity hack?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Ooh. I love to set a timer.

Jade Boyd: Mm.

25 minutes?

Sabrina Gebhardt: set a timer. I like 15. I generally blow past 15, but 15 feels very easy to me. The other thing is, I will put in earbuds. Even if I’m not listening to anything, there’s something that triggers in my brain when earbuds are in that it’s like time to get serious.

Jade Boyd: Interesting. That one’s super fascinating to me.

Sabrina Gebhardt: It’s really funny. and so I can sit here sometimes I’ll put on one of those like white noises, ambient noise things and listen to that. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I’m trying to be productive, but even if I forget to turn the music on, just having them in my ears makes a huge difference.

Jade Boyd: I feel like, have you read Atomic Habits? I feel like that’s a habit hack, like you’re setting the environment or even people who have a routine when they sit down at their desk, if they like put their cup in a certain place or fill up their coffee, it’s like that trigger and like, okay, it’s time to work. I love it.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Exactly.

Jade Boyd: What is your favorite business or productivity book to recommend?

Sabrina Gebhardt: Well, I do love Atomic Habits. I read that on a yearly basis. It’s very good. And I love it because it’s such an easy read, you know, a lot of business or productivity or self help books, the premise is great, but it’s kind of hard to slog through. It’s such an easy read. I’m trying to think I’m looking at my shelf.

I also really love, John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Have you read that?

Jade Boyd: I haven’t. I actually have not read any John Maxwell, which seems like sacrilegious.

Sabrina Gebhardt: I would start with that one because again, it’s a very easy read. The chapters and sections are very short, so it’s easy to like pick up and put down. but it’s got a lot of like, just great nuggets right off the bat.

So I like that one a lot too.

Jade Boyd: I’ve heard so many good things about many of his books. So a lot of them are on my list. I’ll make sure I double check that that one is. My laundry list of books is getting longer by the day. And then the very last question is where can listeners find you after the show and get involved in your community

Sabrina Gebhardt: Yeah. Come find me on Instagram. Come say hello. I’m there all the time at @sabrinagebhardtphotography, and you can find links to everything there, but I love to spend time there and get to know people. So come send me a DM. Tell me you heard me on the podcast and let’s chat. I would love to say hi.

Jade Boyd: And also follow her podcast. It is phenomenal. Even if you’re not a photographer, you talk about like systems and productivity, that’s applicable for many types of business owners. And I have loved listening to your podcast. So check that out well.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Yeah. It’s called Shoot It Straight and Jade will be on soon. So

Jade Boyd: Yes, we’ll do a little swap so you’ll hear both of us. Well, thanks so much again for being here today. This is great.

Sabrina Gebhardt: Thanks Jade. See ya.

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From MBA to Brand Photographer to Business Coach, I learned the hard way how to build a life-first business that allows me to work part-time hours without sacrificing profit. Now I help service providers simplify and scale their businesses so they can earn their dream income while living life on their schedule. If you're ready to build a sustainable, profitable service business (without the burnout), apply for the Business Edit Group Coaching Program today!

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