How I Went from College Dropout to Million Dollar Blog: My 100% Open & Honest Story

Here's the full story on how somebody really goes from broke college dropout to million dollar business owner:

Here's the full story on how somebody really goes from broke college dropout to million dollar business owner: is it so dang hard to share our stories online? To just let ourselves be 100% vulnerable?

Maybe it’s because I know tens of thousands of people are going to be reading this post. Knowing some of those people might judge me and say things like:

“Just another marketer claiming to make hundreds of thousands of dollars online, it’s probably a lie”
“I hate when entrepreneurs claim they make 6-figures it’s just a bunch of buzz words”
“She’s just trying to be like so and so”

It’s funny. When I was in high school I prided myself on the fact that I didn’t give two fucks about what people thought of me.

I started my first business at age 19 and suddenly there I was: thinking I needed to dress a certain way or I wouldn’t be professional (or people wouldn’t take me seriously), wishing I didn’t have an 87′ crystler new yorker with a rope to hold the doors together, that I needed to act a certain way (wondering what people would think if they found those pictures of me wasted from college on Facebook), and one day 5 years from then I would wake up and ask myself, “who the hell are you anymore?!”

But let’s back up.

It’s all so much easier to just start at the beginning and envision we’re just sitting across from each other in a coffee shop sipping tea.

So I’m going to do that. I’m going to imagine we’re sitting across from each other at my favorite local coffee shop here where I live in Eau Claire WI called The Goat.

I’m the one sporting the over sized reel big fish T-shirt (ska lover over here), yoga pants & a messy top knot btw.
(let’s just say I’ve learned a thing or two about being myself along the way, you’ll find out more in this story)

In high school I fell in love with film photography. Many days after school my friend Shelly (she’s a badass painter now by the way) and I would drive around town finding old buildings to shoot next to where she would model for my photos. I also spent many Wisconsin winters teaching myself how to learn HTML, writing in my LiveJournal & Xanga Accounts (anyone with me on that?!) & falling in love with websites and social media.

When I left for college I was completely uncertain I even wanted to go to college. I knew I wanted to do something with photography, the online works & marketing.

I spent most of my college days taking pictures with friends, driving all over the state exploring, having small gallery shows in local coffee shops & well, partying 😉

A couple years in it was really starting to set in that college wasn’t for me. I decided to give myself an ultimatum.

If I could book X amount of photography sessions, bring in X money by X date I was going to drop out.

I made a quick website though google sites, posted a few ads on craigslist for wedding photography services, spread the word I was taking bookings and that was that.

Literally the next day I had a few calls (from craiglist peeps, no joke) about my wedding services.

At the end of that week (and I remember this phone call like it was yesterday) I called my Dad to share with him the incredible news.

“Dad, you’re not going to believe this, I had $4,000 in my bank account!”

In order for you to truly feel how I felt about that $4,000 I need to tell you what my current situation was like.

I had .81 cents in my bank account (and only because I cried at the bank to not let them give me another overdraft fee), my car was falling apart everyday (my great grandma gave me her old car, super greatful for that), I was living with my grandma & working at a gas station for minimum wage – not exactly my dream lifestyle.

With that $4,000 I dropped out of college & never looked back.

Little by little I would make money, invest most of it back into education/marketing/etc & continue to grow my business.

As I was shooting weddings I was also shooting anything people would ask me. I did: cake photos, head shots, pet photorgaphy, senior pictures, coin collection photography (is that even a thing?! Aparently so haha), the list goes on.

But one kind of photography I did stopped my in my tracks, boudoir photography.

A bride asked me if I would photograph her in lingerie to give to her hubby to be as a gift. I was totally unsure but said “of course!”

…for the record I totally believe this is the mentality you should have when starting your business…

Little did I know after that shoot I would fall completely in love with boudoir photography. I loved how rewarding it was, how it empowered my clients & left them finally feeling confident and beautiful in their own skin.

It also has taught me a LOT about (again) not giving a fuck what other people think, being yourself & being confident in your skin.

From that day on I posistioned myself solely as a boudoir photographer. I niched my business down, BIG TIME.
(other photographers told me I was crazy, that I wouldn’t make it, that people would judge me…)

Once I did that my business seemed to explode over night. I now had a 6-figure business solely shooting boudoir photography.
(yup, again, be yourself, you do you – success will meet you there)

Soon photographers all over the state were asking me if they could “be a fly on the wall in my studio” or mentor with me 1:1 so they could learn how I did it.

I did a few mentor sessions but quickly realized this wasn’t scaleable at all.

I decided to start a blog. This blog is called, Boudie Shorts, and is still very alive, lucrative & well today.

I started out blogging a new tip each day and at the bottom of the blog post I had a place where they could opt into my email list to download my ebook on my top selling boudoir poses.

One of the first ebooks I launched is called, “Model Call” and has sold over 1,500 copies.

The first year with my educational blogging business as a side hobby I brought in around $50k & grew to 2,000 photographers (if I remember correctly). I knew if I could get paid & be able to help THAT many people online, I was onto something.

I decided the next year that I would work 50% on my educational blog for photographers and 50% on my studio. I fell in LOVE with teaching and needed more time to spend on it if I wanted to be great at it (same with anything you do, right?).

The biggest thing my audience was needing help with was marketing. So I decided to start an online course for boudoir photographers all about marketing boudoir consistently year round and I called it, “Boudoir Marketing Camp.”

The first time I launched Boudoir Marketing Camp I brought in $70,000 during my 7 day launch.

…but not only that – I was able to now help MANY photographers at the same time. I released the content weekly & also did a weekly Q&A call each week to make sure they had support the entire way (I still do this with my live courses). And honestly, it was incredible.

It still is.

There’s nothing quite like getting a flood of testimonials back from people in your course on how you changed their life. Makes me tear up just typing it.

Once people were seeing the success I was having with Boudie Shorts (now a million dollar business) & online courses I started getting tons of questions on how I was doing it.
(you always know you’re onto something good when lots of people are asking you questions about it)

That’s when I decided to start Venture Shorts.

I wanted a separate site where I could share information on having a profitable online business (mostly passive based) through courses.

Since launching that first course in 2013 my life has changed so much.

I’ve been able to:
-Pay off my student loans
-Buy a house
-Get married, have a wedding, and not be in debt from it
-have an actual retirement account
-hire employees
-take month long trips all over the world multiple times per year (consider the travel big, caught!)
-help more business owners see better success in their businesses – the ultimate reward

I’m now 29 as I’m writing this, so I’m certainly not trying to say this happened to me overnight. I would NEVER be so foolish as to claim that haha.

But what I do hope is that by me opening up and sharing my full story that it helps you see all the opportunities out there, know that no matter where you’re starting out you CAN leverage whatever you have (even .81 cents LOL), you CAN make a profitable business doing what you love & you CAN share the knowledge you already have in an online course to be able to serve more people then in a 1:1 business model.

…and remember, this is important, you don’t have to have a course selling business to business. You can create a course from ANY knowledge you already have.

I know people with profitable courses on hula hooping, yoga, health living, IT, fashion advice, bee keeping, foraging – the list goes on…

Now that you know my story I’d love to get to know a bit about your business & yourself! I’d love if you’d join us in the Venture Shorts Community Group on FB, it’s totally free, and share a bit about your story! Long or short, it will be perfect.

Also if you’re intrigued about the online course world, not sure on a course topic, or just want to learn more I’d love to invite you to a free live master class I’m hosting online call, “How to Create Your First Lucrative Online Course in 30 Days.” You can sign up and grab your seat here now.

Love & High Fives!