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How to Ditch Your Day Job and Grow Your Photography Business: Advice from Nikki Closser

by Arlene Evans
freelancing, student stories

Nikki Closser photography business advice

Photo: Sue Bryce

Is this your reality? You’re starting a new business, creating a new career path – and you’ve got that familiar knot in your stomach. It’s that feeling of FEAR, and you don’t want it to get in the way of your future.

This student story is about Nikki Closser, a glamour photographer based in Seattle, who has changed careers, refocused her photographic specialty and now has a thriving business and a beautiful studio.

Khara Plicanic RSVP

We talked to Sue Bryce about Nikki, as she is now part of Sue’s mentoring program and has attended classes at CreativeLive such as Portrait Startup.

Sue is also teaching a brand new class on How to Make More Money & Discover Your Worth with photographer Tiffany Angeles, where they’ll go into pricing, building a personal brand, winning higher-paying clients, and much more. RSVP for the live broadcast right here.

Sue-Bryce-Teaches-Make-More-Money-and-Discover-Your-Worth

Now, here’s what Sue recently had to say about Nikki and her progression through quitting her day job and starting a successful photography business:

“Nikki learned and Nikki applied it. She took everything she was learning and stepped forward into action. It was quite remarkable to see from my perspective.”

“When I would see her, she would have road blocks and fear moments sure, but we would talk about them and again she would go and turn it into action. I have immense pride in watching her development as a photographer and grow as a business owner and now seeing her earn three times more than at the job she hated. She is not kidding  – I watched this girl work around the clock.”

“Her enthusiasm is palpable and that makes her a force. She’s only just begun.”

Nikki has made many hard choices along the way, and she shared what she did to overcome her fears and move ahead.

Set goals for yourself

When Nikki decided to become a full-time photographer, she set a goal to work one more year in her position as a school social worker while she was building her photography business on the side.

She didn’t know every detail of how it was going to work out, but she KNEW that she was going to do it. Every day, she reviewed what her ultimate goal was and tried not to get overwhelmed by the big picture.

Nikki treated the process as a puzzle – you have to put the pieces together one at a time. The key is not to let your insecurities get in the way and become roadblocks. Just make sure you’re moving forward – it can be a slow process, but if you really want it to work, it will.

Fashion Photography with Emily Soto

Stay Positive

Sure, there will be bumps in the road and many frustrating situations.

Starting a side business while keeping your day job and growing it into a full-time gig isn’t easy. Nikki suggests that you find support in the community you want to join. Talk to other people who are going through the same that you are, find people who have gotten to where you want to be, and learn from them.

Spend time thinking about what you have to offer to everyone you come into contact with, and seek to provide value at every step of the way.

I love the look in Latasha’s eyes here. It’s a look of strength and determination and beauty. She has accomplished so much in her life already. She is an amazing mother and wife, a business owner ( @ikeandtash ), a mentor, and she started her own photography conference called Blink ( @blinkconference ) What an incredible and gorgeous woman she is!

A photo posted by nikkiclosser (@nikkiclosser) on


Practice, Practice, Practice

You know what the goal is, but you have to be good enough to get there. So keep practicing! Even with a full-time job, Nikki was constantly working on her craft, shooting on the weekends, and learning from CreativeLive and other photographers.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Nikki studied Sue Bryce’s business model that she’s shared on CreativeLive in classes like 28 Days of Portrait Photography and Make More Money and Discover Your Worth, and it works!

So, don’t go out there and think that you have to come up with something totally new, because you don’t. Nikki learned that you could choose from what’s already out there, and determine which strategies will work for you. From there, you can focus on building your strengths and defining your unique brand as a photographer.

Everyone at CreativeLive is excited to see what the future brings for Nikki. You can watch more about her inspirational story below.

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Arlene Evans

Arlene is the Sr. Head of Curriculum/Photo but her real title is CreativeLive mom. She worries about who's eaten lunch and the status of everyone's personal relationships. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!