Do you ever have a feeling that you’re doing something wrong? That you should be taking more risks, but aren’t sure what those risks are? Do you ever feel like you’re not being true to yourself? That there’s something bubbling under the surface that needs to be explored, but you’re not sure what it is? Maybe it’s time to take the shot!
In this episode, we talk to Joanie Simon, founder of The Bite Shot, about taking leaps of faith. She shares her story of how she built her company from scratch by taking risks and following her gut. Joanie also talks about when it’s best to take a risk and when it’s better to play it safe. Joanie’s story is a reminder of how important it is to take risks and be confident in your abilities. Her advice: be the best version of yourself, not the best version of someone else.
I’m a food photographer and educator based in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to getting to capture beautiful images of food for a wide variety of clients, including cookbooks and digital marketing content, I teach food photography online through The Bite Shot. You can find me uploading new YouTube tutorials, sharing behind the scenes on Instagram and helping food photographers improve their skills to create drool-worthy images. When I’m not taking pictures or teaching, I’m spending time with my husband, two boys, and our Mini Aussie, Bruce.
Want to be on the show? Fill out the guest form here.
[00:00:00] Mica: Welcome to the ninth episode of The Savory Shot. I'm your host with the most Mica McCook.
Today's episode is going to be nothing short of epic.
Y'all. When today's guest agreed to be on the show. Oh, my God. I felt like I could do back flips all over Austin.
Drum roll, blah. Joanie Simon from The Bite Shot. Ah, I haven't met a single food photographer who doesn't know about Joanie. In fact in episode five, with Meika Ejiasi, she talked about [00:01:00] binging her videos in a span of hours. Y'all that's what I'm talking about.
Joanie is a food photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. And y'all, she has impacted so many food photographers with her YouTube channel The Bite Shot. I for one can say that I learned so.
Besides being a huge fan, I also felt a kindred connection to Joanie. And that our background story are so similar to one another. Joanie made a career change, like a 180 career change later in life like I did. Her story is fascinating and so inspiring. I think that's why so many photographers connect with her and trust her.
Because she really walks the talk.
We talk about a new course [00:02:00] that she's developing. Which I am so excited about, y'all I can't wait. But before we get into that. Let's start the show.
[00:02:48] Mica: Thank you so much for joining me and sharing your wisdom with all the I'm assuming by the time your episode comes out, I'm gonna have a bazillion listeners. [00:03:00] So bazillion listeners,
[00:03:02] Joanie: Obviously, the honor is all mine. Your name came into my inbox. I was like, whatever she's selling, I'm buying. Yes. Let's do this
[00:03:13] Mica: I do not have to be a salesman for this.
[00:03:16] Joanie: No, no, no, no. You you've invested a lot of emotional equity and making connections and I always appreciate your insights and perspectives. And I'm just so thrilled that you're putting this content out in the world.
[00:03:29] Mica: Oh, thank you. When you accepted the invite, I ran into the living room. I told Aaron, my husband, I was like she said yes. And he's like, who? Who said yes. I said, Joanie! She said, yes! But I wanna dive right into this because I'm a warn you right now. I got so many questions to ask you.
[00:03:54] Joanie: I like a little bit of fear, cause that means we're on the edge of something really exciting. You know, it's like [00:04:00] that happy place of being slightly uncomfortable is never a bad thing cause it initiates growth and insight and we don't need no more comfort zones.
[00:04:09] Mica: Exactly. My photography professor always told us if you are like comfortable in the studio it's time to do some something new. Get a new project and get uncomfortable. That's where the growth happens. So I'm glad that uh, we can do this. What was your life like before you started your food photography business?
[00:04:30] Joanie: Immediately before it I had a couple different jobs. So I was working for the family business selling point of sale systems to restaurants, which this was circa 2010. So things weren't as sophisticated and tablet-y and cloud based. It was all kind of more old school computers that cost many tens of, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars, selling to restaurants.
My background in education was not in sales or business. It was in Fine [00:05:00] Arts and then in counseling, but come to find out that once we get into the land of sales, I found that yes, like I'm a female on a team of otherwise all male colleagues, who are in their forties and fifties, who fit sort of your, maybe more stereotypical salesperson idea.
So I was sort of this screw loose, but my dad owned the business. So yay for nepotism and getting jobs that way, cause I, I needed a change in career. I'd been working in higher education and counseling and I was burned out on that. And like thinking, I'm working 80 hours a week, making $30,000 a year.
And I don't want my boss's job. This is not where I wanna continue. So got a job, family business. Ended up being put on the sales team and turns out having a counseling degree actually makes you a really strong sales person because it's all about being present and listening and hearing the things that people are saying and reading [00:06:00] between the lines. People think sales is this total manipulation. And how do we work people over to get to strong arm them, to convince them to do a thing that we want 'em to do, when in reality, the best approach, and the approach that I continue do to use now in my photography business, is let's make a personal connection. Let me find out about your business.
Let me find out about what's difficult for you, what problems you're having and how can I potentially pair what it is that I'm selling to solve your problems and make your life easier and make your life better. And turns out counseling skills come in really handy. So ended up performing really well as a salesperson on that team. Got promoted to sales manager. At a certain point, and I think a lot of us and yourself included can relate.
You're working a job that you're like, I'm good at this. I can do this. I'm being paid well for this, but there's something inside of me that is a creative person that needs to work with my hands and needs to create [00:07:00] beautiful things. I have always, ever since I was a little kid been watching Food Network and Julia Child, and Yan Can Cook.
Some of those old school people that you'd watch on PBS. I just always loved food. So I came to this moment of personal realization at going. I, I can't continue down this path. There were a lot of other personal things going on in my life as well, including coming to terms with my addiction. I'm an alcoholic in recovery now. Sober seven years, but coming to terms with that kind of personal crossroads of knowing, like I'm not in a happy place, I'm not in a healthy place. I need to heal. I also need to be doing something that feeds my creative soul. And so had one of these divine intervention moments while on a sales call, like sitting in the parking lot and going, I need to quit my job and like drove straight to my dad's office and said, I need to give you my notice right now.
I mean, I'm in tears, I'm a mess. I've shared this story on my YouTube channel [00:08:00] and talking about how his response was just like, it's okay. We'll figure it. No problem. So I was pretty much out of there. It took a little while, cause of course I was sales manager at that point and pretty, pretty well embedded in the organization.
But yeah, I quit my job and it was officially May 1st, 2015 was my first day of self-employment. Although I had no clue what I was gonna be doing. I'd been dabbling in food blogging since, before food blogs had beautiful pictures when everybody was just like taking these really awful, orange-y, underexposed photos and posting them on Zenga. Since like 2005, 2006, I've been blogging. And so I thought, well, I'm seeing these people like these Pinch Of Yum people, and I'm seeing this Sally Baking Addiction lady, and like they're publishing these reports of what they're making and well shoot, I guess maybe I should give that at a try cuz I like to cook and I can take pictures.
And so that's really like how the camera landed in my [00:09:00] hands and having that kind of moment of break to say, okay, I'm doing something new. Once you start following down that path, the evolution begins and it's by no means a straight path. It leads towards some very random directions and places, but that's eventually how the camera became my full-time gig.
[00:09:18] Mica: I love what you said earlier about sitting in the car and accepting, like, Look, I'm good at what I do. I can do this, but I gotta quit. You officially left your job April 30th, 2015.
Take me back to May 1st, the very first day after you left your job, what do you remember about that day?
[00:09:42] Joanie: Yeah. You know, it's so funny cause yeah, I don't remember a lot because it was definitely, I look back on that time and go, how the heck did I do that? Because like bigger context was at the time my husband would stay at home with our two little guys and they were real little at that point. If I do the [00:10:00] math, they were like one and a half and three?
Three and a half.
So they were little right. And he was full-time at home with them. So I was the full-time breadwinner. And I quit the job without telling him I was gonna do it. Like I came home and I was like, "So babe, I just, I just quit my job." And bless this man. Like, he was so patient with me, he's been here for all of my wild adventures and hair-brained ideas.
He believed in me throughout that whole process is nothing short of a miracle. We were also just from a financial standpoint, we had just refinanced our house. So instead of a kitchen remodel, it was the "Here's the money we're gonna have in the bank to keep us alive for mm, maybe six months and we'll figure this out." So my husband went back into doing real estate. I was seeing a therapist who really helped kinda lead me along in that process.
And she said, she knew that the big problem that I had was is this sort of very driven A Type personality. I never [00:11:00] rested. I never took time to let the dust settle because as long as I'm working, as long as I'm doing this stuff, I don't have to focus on my feelings. She said the important part about this now is that we called it May Play. You need to take the entire month of May to literally do nothing and not be productive and not have that define you, and allow this healing to take place.
And that was really hard, you know? I mean, a lot of us think, oh, wow, what a luxury! I would say, yeah, if you don't have suddenly like this thing of, like, I gotta figure out how to make this work. But it was such a good. Such a good practice and it was unnerving and it was frustrating and as like, somebody's action oriented that first day.
For that whole month, it's like, okay, I'm supposed to be resting, focus on resting. Gosh, darn it, would you rest? And then it's like, but I really wanna go work on this thing, but I really had to discipline myself and take that time to rest. But I tell you, June one came and I was like building the website, doing the things, setting it all [00:12:00] up, getting it figured out.
We took an opportunity to, I was like, okay, we gotta do some sort of like experience and it's May and the kids were little, so they weren't really in school. I've got this old blog post. I'll share it with you.
It is hilarious. And it is the most terrible family vacation you could ever imagine. Cause we didn't have a lot of money and we were like, but we wanna go to San Diego cause it's only six hours from Phoenix. So we're like, we're gonna go to San Diego. We're gonna take the kids to the zoo and we're gonna go to the beach.
I don't know where our brains were, but we were so ill prepared for this trip. Ryan didn't bring any change of clothes. We didn't bring enough pants for the kids who were in diapers. I got this genius idea to book a cheap Airbnb, which was a boat, but it was like a dingy and it was, oh my gosh, like, I'll send you the blog post, the pictures.
[00:12:48] Mica: I've got to see this boat.
[00:12:52] Joanie: We always joke about, remember that time in 2015, we had the boat times, you know, this, we had this, but it was one of these [00:13:00] things too, where, you know, in life you get down to what's most essential and what's most basic. The beauty of that time was because I really had let go of so much, and so much of this desire to be perfect, that I actually really enjoyed it. Yes. It was like a hot mess. And my youngest is in, the San Diego zoo with no pants on, he's just wearing a diaper. There were so many things that went wrong. Ryan ended up with barbecue stains on his shirt, but it was the only shirt he had.
And like, it was a mess, but, you know, we just had so much fun and I'm so thankful for experiences like that. I think that that's like such a refining moment to make you so much more grateful than when it's like down the road, when things start to work out and things start to click, it really sets such a beautiful baseline.
So yeah, the boat times. I'll send you that blog post.
[00:13:49] Mica: You raise a good point about that period about how it spills into your career and makes you appreciate the good times, but also [00:14:00] it teaches you that not every shoot is gonna go perfectly. Not everything in your life is gonna go perfectly. So you accept what you can't change and you change what you can.
[00:14:11] Joanie: Yes.
[00:14:12] Mica: Or you take whatever bad experience and you go, okay, what can I apply?
What did I learn from this trip that I can apply the next trip so that doesn't happen again? Or whatever, there's so many different things to take away from that period, but also just perfectly imperfect.
[00:14:27] Joanie: I hadn't thought about that. I think that's such a great point. It really is such an illustration for the way, like building your own business goes, absolutely.
[00:14:35] Mica: Aaron likes to plan things and I don't because I have such different energies when I plan things, versus when I'm actually in it. I meal plan, air quote, meal plan, but like, come Thursday, I'm like, well, it says I'm supposed to have meatloaf, but I don't really feel like meatloaf.
So let's just, yeah. I was like, let's just get some barbecue, that type of thing. [00:15:00] But I get what you mean that May Play being a really hard time but forcing yourself to go look, I need this rest because once I hit the ground running, there's no stopping. There's no rest for the wicked. I'm gonna keep going and keep going and keep going. So take this time and, and rest. What is something that still scares you as a business owner, even now?
[00:15:22] Joanie: I think that as we continue to achieve and we achieve certain levels of success, there's this thought that suddenly I will have this sense of security and permanence. Like I've made it. I just think that's such a myth. Like you've never made it.
And I continue to have this feeling myself of like, well, what if it all goes away tomorrow? What if suddenly it all disappears? And you can go to a scary place with that and start to become disabled by the fear of thinking. Like, you know, you just get so overwhelmed or it can go scary in the other direction that you work so hard to avoid that [00:16:00] happening, as opposed to sitting in the gratitude of the moment and being present with that and going, yeah, there are no guarantees for tomorrow and that's, that's life.
So what can I, what can I control today? And I think you said it perfectly, the idea of what can I control and what's not in my control? And I don't discount the intense how fortunate I am and how blessed I am to know that. I always think back to like, how did I take such a massive risk when I first started out to leave my job and not have a plan and have no prospects? I come back to the,
I am very fortunate in having a wonderful family that I knew if worst came to worst, we could move in with my in-laws. Which talk about a motivator to succeed. You know, you don't wanna move in with your in laws, but like, I am very blessed in that sense to have a network of people to rely on and for support.
And I know that not everybody has that. So I count that very lucky, but I think that that's something that I continue to also come back [00:17:00] to in times when maybe that fear of, oh gosh, like right now, you know, we're in an uncertain time in history. And there's a lot happening that's big and scary in the world, and there's a lot financially, that's going on in our immediate world.
What does that mean for six months from now? Well, I don't know. Nobody knows. And a lot of people like to spend a lot of time on the news talking about it, and that's not a healthy place for me to hang out. So it's best for me to really just focus on, how can I do what it is that I do well, spend as much time as possible doing the things that I'm super talented at, and focusing on how I can bring more value to my clients, to the members in my communities.
Continue to show up despite whatever fear is lurking around the corner, cause we can definitely get caught up in that.
[00:17:49] Mica: You raise a good point about not stressing over what can happen in six months because we don't know what's gonna happen. We can have hopes and dreams for what we hope happens in six months, but we're [00:18:00] not Houdini's. What we have is today and focusing on today.
Dang, man. You're good. I love that.
[00:18:08] Joanie: Tell you, so the accumulation of a lot of, a lot of smart people around me, I'd say I didn't come up with any of these ideas. It's mostly, finding myself. And I think that's something that can be hard too, as a, as a food photographer and as a content creator and somebody whose work is very solo is you really gotta work hard to maintain relationships.
Both, family, friends, people inside industry, outside the industry. People further along in their journey than you, who can really provide that assurance to go, yeah, there's no guarantees, but you know, at the end of the day.
Can you check in and say, Hey, I woke up today?
Whatever that barometer is for you and where you're at today. I've gotta meditation practice that I've been working hard at for the better part of the last year. I'm still not great at it, but in [00:19:00] today's meditation, I just really loved is like, yeah, we we've got today and not everybody has that luxury.
Right. Some people didn't wake up today. And so that was just really a good centering practice for me to go, okay, I'm here and I've got wonderful, amazing people around me. And I get to talk to Mica today! This is amazing. So yeah, I think that no matter where you're at in your journey, you're gonna slip into moments of fear.
Maybe folks who look at my business and go, oh wow. If only! And Joanie's gotta feel so solid. Oh, I do not have it all figured out. I am here to tell you, if you were a part of my team and seeing the hot mess that I have created on my websites and you know, all these things that it's like so shiny on the outside. I'm like, oh, if you only knew!
[00:19:45] Mica: I wanna bring a point that you brought up earlier where you said I can't believe that I left my job without knowing where the financial situation's gonna be, and I was the breadwinner. That reminded me of a lesson that Frank Curry, shout out to Frank, [00:20:00] who recently called me a go getter.
He said that he did not have a backup plan when he decided to become a photographer. And this doesn't work for everyone, but for him, it did. He knew that if he had something to fall back on that he wouldn't give it his hardest, he wouldn't try his hardest and that he would operate with the knowing that there's something else to fall back on.
I think it's more prevalent for folks like us who did the college thing, got the, the grown up job. And then they decide to go into freelancing. This is it. We know what's on the other side. So we're making this work no matter how hard, how long, how many obstacles that come in our way, it's happening.
And so for anyone who is at that place in their life, and they're like, I don't know if I should, do it now because you already know what's on the other side. It's, it's the grown up job. Not that freelancing, isn't a grown up job, but like the typical stereotypical, classical, grownup [00:21:00] job that most creative people just don't thrive in. I want to pivot to your course, it's called Profitable Pricing right now, but it was called Full-time Frameworks. Did I get that mixed up? Is it it's Profitable Pricing now?
[00:21:14] Joanie: So when you went through it, it was Full Time Framework, which was, I think I ran it five times, maybe six times and it was more of an all encompassing soup to nuts on setting up your business, going through the marketing, your website, pricing, doing the shoot, the whole kit and caboodle.
It was a challenge for me to run that course because I became very personally invested in the members of the course, to the point of feeling very responsible for other people's businesses. Which I think there's a healthy place where that can live because I think that that responsibility toward the members of any course that I provide is important and is what brings value to it.
But I think [00:22:00] that it also then can go to a bad place of then if somebody's not succeeding, then I feel like a failure. And it's not my responsibility to make everybody's dreams come true. Right. Like the, the rubbers gotta meet the road.
It's a two way street.
[00:22:12] Mica: The baby birds out your hands, but I get what you mean. You take a personal invested interest. What were your expectations when you started this course?
[00:22:23] Joanie: So what I had noticed, and this is definitely how I've developed courses over time, is that it was just a resounding need from the community, from people on YouTube, from people on social media, people in my existing course, which was the lighting course Artificial Academy. And so there were folks, you know, were like, we just need to know what to do, right.
I think a lot of us, myself included, accidentally find yourselves in this industry. Like the first time I ever did a job, it was because I was doing stuff for a podcast that I'd had many moons ago and was doing photos [00:23:00] of the signature dish and the picture of the chef to post on my website for the podcast I was running.
And they're like, oh, you're clearly a photographer. I'm like, I'm not a photographer, but they're like, you know what you're doing? You have a fancy camera. Can you come in and shoot the rest of our menu? And I'm like, kinda like we were saying before I even started, I was like, yes, absolutely. I do that. And then I'm like, I don't know what I'm doing.
You do that first job and you learn what you learn. I do remember that very first job. I think I shot, oh gosh, we shot a lot of dishes. I still have all the images from it, but I, I think it was like something like 20 dishes and we were like rapid fire and we did it in like two hours, which at the time I was like, damn two hours.
I am exhausted. This is a lot of work. Now, I'm like we do maybe five dishes in eight hours. But it was, it was great. Right. And that client was happy. I probably was paid peanuts and it's wonderful. So I think the expectation was [00:24:00] to get people the education that they needed, that I know that would've really helped me when I was getting started just to get oriented because it's like, ah, there's so many things to think about my website and my pricing.
And admittedly too, the reason that then the course Full-time Framework morphed into Profitable Pricing was what I was finding is where the biggest ahas in Full-time Framework was the Profitable Pricing. The pricing component of that course was like where people were really seeing the most value.
I mean, there's value in the website stuff and production and all this. But where they were really getting a lot was the pricing. And I thought, well, I can just make this a smaller go on your own pace course to provide people because admittedly, you know this, pricing in commercial photography is complicated. So Profitable Pricing was the answer to simplify that. It was an evolution. Now little behind the scenes. You've heard it here, don't tell anybody, this is a secret.
[00:24:59] Mica: I [00:25:00] won't tell anyone, but the billions of listeners.
[00:25:03] Joanie: Don't tell anybody, this is just between us chickens. But we are working on what is, what Full-time Framework, what I really wanted it to be in terms of a more all encompassing business course for food photographers, that not only goes deep on the pricing, goes deep on the marketing with tangible plans and actions, but then bringing in the thing that I'd always discounted and did not recognize until just maybe within the last six months is what's really needed are sales skills.
I had the luxury of a master's degree in counseling and spending all these years in high ticket sales to restaurants and all of those experiences, I was always like, oh yeah, people know that stuff, no people don't know that stuff. I don't know what the expression would be for it, but I'm definitely knee deep or, or maybe chin deep at this point in really developing [00:26:00] a very solid sales system for creatives, food photographers, freelancers, because the problem is what I teach in Profitable Pricing, which is certainly valuable and certainly helps you understand what you need to be charging, from just a profit standpoint and some of those business basics.
How we talk about licensing, how we write licenses and contracts and all that. But in order to really deliver and find ongoing success with cause you go into a sales situation against maybe three other photographers and you come out the most expensive. Well, if you've got adequate sales skills and a sales system, in order to deliver those more premium numbers, you, you need that in order to be more effective at that.
It's really so much in those communication skills. So that is, that's what we're currently developing. It's gonna be by the time it goes live about a year in production to really bring it to fruition. Cause we wanna take something that it's literally your one [00:27:00] stop shop in that department and finally once and for all provide the product, but that requires a team that requires a lot more people than just solo Joanie.
So that's why this year too has been a big year of building infrastructure and streamlining the education business, so that we can bring something like that into real life. You can't bring something on that level to fruition all by yourself. It was valuable what I've done in the past, but this is gonna be, this will be next level.
So I'm pretty pretty jazzed.
[00:27:28] Mica: That is big, big, big, big, big thing. What I loved about your course, and what I love even more about Profitable Pricing. It's for mid-level photographers who are like, okay, I know how to take pictures. I know my camera, like the back of my hand, like, I'm good.
What I need to know is how to get work. What does that look like? What does the billing look like? But even further that you're gonna go is how do I really get the work? Because it's all in that phone call, [00:28:00] building that confidence with talking to these clients and saying, if you are a higher priced, standing by that rate and saying, this is what you get when you get someone like me. Courses like that would be so good because half of the questions I get from other photographers who are reaching out to me and I'm like, I don't know, I'm figuring this out.
You asked me a question. I go ask my teacher question. Let's go Google this until we find an answer. But the biggest question is like, what do you say when you book that consultation call? Half of the jobs I've booked, haven't been through email. It's been all right, let's get on the phone and let's talk about this. I don't know if it's a, I'm not gonna say it's a generational thing because I don't think that's true.
I think it's a "Holy shit. I don't wanna get on the phone with someone cause what if I say something stupid?" fear.
[00:28:48] Joanie: The thing is too, you gotta think about us as creatives. And I know that I probably come across in my demeanor as more extroverted, but in reality, I'm definitely a high [00:29:00] strung person and I love being around people, but I, I definitely have some of those introverted tendencies, but there are a lot of people in our community.
Perhaps folks listening right now who definitely identify as introverted. That idea of having to not just get on a call, but get on a Zoom and reading somebody's body language and building relationship, building connection. And these are things you have to do, but it doesn't have to be impossible. It can be doable. There is a great book out there for anybody who does identify as introverted. It's a run out and buy this book right now. It's called Introverts Edge by let's see, I've got it floating around over here somewhere by polar. What's his name? Ma Matthew Pollard. It's a wonderful book. Even if you're extroverted, it's valuable.
There are so many books that are like, we're gonna teach you sales or hey, we've got those great sales for photographers. And it's just a lot of fluff and it's not something you can sink your teeth into. And that, that is the frustration.
And I'm like, [00:30:00] okay, I want somebody to solve this and nobody's solving it. I guess I gotta solve it. Here we go. I'm gonna come up. I'm gonna come up with a solution, but yeah, run out and get Introverts Edge. It's a wonderful read.
Highly recommend it.
[00:30:10] Mica: I do think that extroverts should read it as well. I agree with you. Because it will possibly teach you how to interact with an introvert. You don't know if the client that you're talking to is introverted and it's gonna be really hard to get answers from them.
So there's that awkward turtle. You've got like someone who's super extroverted and then you have the client who's introverted and you're like, oh two very different energies coming together.
[00:30:41] Joanie: First of all, I need to acknowledge your use of the awkward turtle. I have not heard that expression since college and I am just sitting here going, I'm going like this. Cuz we used to have a little hand. People for podcasting, but we had our little awkward turtle cuz he is upside down.
Oh my gosh, seriously, we need to bring this back[00:31:00]
[00:31:00] Mica: Oh, I'm bringing it back. I'm saying bomb.com and
[00:31:03] Joanie: Awkward turtle. Make yourself a little drawing avatar. It's gonna be, it's gonna be lit. But I would say to the thing to be aware of also, people think that extroverts are natural salespeople. And I would say, and the research backs this up from many other books, that's actually not the case. There's a great sales training that I went through in my days of learning to be a salesperson.
It was a little old school, but had some really great, great tenants. And one of the things that I loved it's the Sandler Sales Method, but the expression is like he had all these fun little catch phrases that would remind you like behaviors that you should or should not be doing in a sales call.
And one of 'em is if you're running your mouth, you're outta control because ultimately the person who's controlling the conversation is the person who's asking the questions and listening. Just like you here as the host of a podcast, like the favorite hosts out there are the ones [00:32:00] who are asking good questions and actively listening. That's why you're great at this, right. Is that active listening to pick up on a little nugget. You've done it multiple times throughout this interview and going, ah, like let's go back to that cause there's something I wanna dive deeper on. And we do the same exact thing in sales and introverts on average, this is not saying that extroverts aren't great at this too, but introverts have a certain level of awareness in listening naturally because they are not talking as much and they are listening more.
That is a superpower and introverts can be unbelievably successful. There's an equal opportunity for all. It's understanding your own personal biases or downfalls, which can also, we talk about the idea that your greatest weaknesses can become your greatest strengths.
I just can't wait to teach everybody this cause again, this is a lot of us in our creative journey is we suddenly find ourselves in this thing that you're like, why didn't I do this earlier? Like this was so obvious. [00:33:00] Between 2015 and 2017, when I started The Bite Shot, there's this period of two years when I was creating YouTube videos that were cooking videos, like a whole other YouTube channel. But I happened to share one video in that channel about how I was doing food photography,
and that video was by far and away, one of the most popular videos. My channel didn't go anywhere. Nobody was watching. I was just in another chick, making pies on the internet. Like it was not anything wildly over the top, but it was like that video suddenly caught fire, but it took me like a full year and a half till I was like, I can turn this into a whole channel in itself. I just wasn't aware of it.
I'm like, gosh, the, the handwriting was on the wall all the time. Why didn't I see that before? But I think, hindsight's 2020, and you can't know until you get to that moment. I needed a community of people in Full-time Framework than Profitable Pricing to be sharing all these challenges that I'm like, Well, that's sales. That's sales. That's sales.
[00:33:55] Mica: I liked what you said earlier about how introverts their [00:34:00] superpower is being able to ask questions and listen. That is such a superpower. So here's a question I have for you.
How do you find balance between being an educator and a photographer?
[00:34:13] Joanie: Oh, so hard. It's very hard. This is a conversation I have a lot with my fellow educator colleagues and everybody has their own way of managing it or their own decisions. I've seen plenty of folks get to a point and go the education's really my focus and that's the direction I'm gonna pursue and I'm gonna focus exclusively on that. I've seen other educators who are like, you know, this education thing is cool, but my heart is most invested in client work. For me, I love both so much, but I would say for those who are building a business, bring in people and help sooner than you need, because I never got over being three years old and saying, I'll do it myself, right?
Like we're three and go, I can do it myself. I've got kids and they, they [00:35:00] do that. I just never grew out of that until maybe last month. Cause it's that control. It's that also not wanting to burden other people and not feeling confident to like how to do it. But I would say up until this point, I have tacked between seasons of one and the other. There have been periods when I have not produced as much content. I've not launched courses. I've not created as much YouTube videos because I've been really focused in on the client side of the work. There's been other times when it's the opposite.
For example, the last six months, we've really limited our client, like literally two clients that we've had on recurring basis, who are dreamboats to work with. And I'm so grateful for them. They're easy. So they don't take a lot of extra bandwidth in terms of negotiating contracts. It's set and we rock. So those I've maintained, but I've really not taken on any [00:36:00] other opportunities.
I have been negotiating some contracts for later in the year. But the focus for the last bit of time has really been creating some infrastructure to streamline operations and bring people in to the education side of the business. Because at the end of the day, you think about like your own zone of genius. Folks talk about this idea of what is it that you as a business operator, if that's an education or even a photography, like what is it that only you can do? And that is the secret sauce and magic that you do. And for me, that's being on camera, that's developing curriculum, that's writing, that's having big ideas, that's interacting in the community. Like those are things that I'm uniquely good at and need, need to be doing and want to be doing that.
Those are the things that fill me up, but in terms of coming up with our client relationship management and our project management, and God bless its soul. Rachel, who is on my team, who's over here, who has created the [00:37:00] most magical content pipeline in terms of how we can batch create content, which has been a beast of a project.
I could not have done that. I needed somebody with that expertise, who is patient enough with my chaos to, to help out with that process and take that so that then I can focus on what I'm good at, and then that's gonna leave the margin available then to take on really cool, client projects when they come across our desk.
So we're in this kind of messy middle of like continuing to try to do both and having to tack back and forth because the systems have not been in place in order to make that more efficient. But now with more team members in place and continuing to expand that team and taking the financial risks of reinvesting back in the business, that that is going to help us then take it so that yeah, we can create these kick ass courses and these wonderful community environments for food photographers.
[00:37:55] Mica: You raised a good point earlier about hiring help sooner than [00:38:00] later. How creatives go through this, I can do it on my own. Well, of course you can do it on your own. You shouldn't though. For example, when you're in a shoot and you have your assistant there, you wanna go adjust that light, but that's what your assistant is there for.
Your job is the photographer. And to delegate that. So take me to the moment where you realized, okay I'm expanding my team. What was that moment like for you?
[00:38:27] Joanie: I mean it's terrifying. Right. The first dip of the toe into the pool for me was outsourcing my video editing. Again incredibly fortunate and I've gotten very lucky that the right people have shown up in my orbit at the time that they needed to show up to help me to be a part of this journey to help further the cause.
Yosef who edits our videos sent, me a pitch, like a cold pitch. I gotta see if he still has that cold pitch, cause it was a super effective cold pitch. I didn't know him from anybody, but it [00:39:00] was like one of these pitches that it was like the perfect amount of like he had done his research.
Not just like, oh, I love food photography. Like he had clearly spent time on my channel knew, what I was doing was able to demonstrate that in the pitch he sent, and then he identified one thing that was a weakness in the channel, but he identified it in a way that was caring and thoughtful without calling my baby ugly.
Right. Because that's what you don't wanna do is like, come in and tell somebody like, oh, your food photography on your Instagram feed is horrible. And then you come to find out like, it's the boss's kid who's taken the photos for the Instagram. Oh, now, foot in mouth. That's how it works. He had pointed out like my audio on my videos was inconsistent and I as somebody whose knew that like the, the chink in my armor was that I didn't have a knowledge of how audio worked. So I was doing the best that I could, but I knew that it was inconsistent and knew I needed help with that, and he was able to demonstrate like, hey, I got skills in this area.
[00:40:00] He also presented a super helpful way for me to dabble with it, to say, how about we do one video together. I think he was just getting his business started as well. You know, you wouldn't necessarily do this if you were more established, but he said we'll do it a test and I'll charge you a reduced rate.
If you like it and it works then great, we can continue on. This will be the rate moving forward, but if not, no hard feelings. So I was like, great, low risk. Low barrier to entry. This guy seems legit. He also had a demo reel that was like demonstrating what he could do. And it was like super playful and fun and like expressed his personality. He had Pikachu flying and he is like, I can do effects and I can do this.
It was like the right amount of cheesy for my personal taste. This is a cat I can get along with. It's been two and a half years now since we've been working together. And I just really appreciate all that he does. He's incredible. So that was like, first dip of the toe in the water is like working with 1099 [00:41:00] subcontractors, folks who are not full-time employees or even part-time employees. They're contract workers.
We're looking toward what we're building in this business course and what we're looking in and building in our communities, big projects that we wanna launch that, again are gonna require then at that point more than subcontractors. You're gonna need people who are in this with you, who are gonna be in the mess in the murk and have that extra level of commitment. But with that also becomes like an extra level of responsibility going, oh gosh, I don't mind risking my own butt, but now there's these other people and there's an intense level of responsibility. If I'm gonna bring people on, I wanna ensure that their livelihood is taken care of and that I can not just make my own life great, but help provide a great life for them as well.
So, yeah, so it's, it's scary. I have a friend who she's further along in her business than me has hired people and kind of a similar business. She's got a marketing business, but I was like, I don't know. I'm just scared. What do I do? And she's like, Joanie, rip off the freaking bandaid.
It is time for you [00:42:00] to grow. You're playing small. You need to be done with this. Move on, woman. And I was like, okay. And now, like on the other side of it, I'm like, a hundred percent. As dumb as this sounds, I'm like, oh, this is how people scale their business.
Like, this is how it works. This is how you build a business. Right. It's still nerve wracking, but it's exciting. Dan Pink is a great author. He just wrote a book about regret. He's also got some great sales books, but he was talking about how he surveyed all these people who look back on their lives and you think about the things that you regret, and it's never things like, oh, I should have bought this car or, oh, I should have had this for dinner, it's always like, oh, I didn't go for that relationship.
Or, oh, I didn't launch that business or, oh, I played it small and didn't go for that. You know? Risk taking is a part of it. And that's, it's thrilling and scary. It's like a roller coaster, but here we are. I have a faith in my heart that it's all gonna work out.
I don't know how it's gonna look. To be [00:43:00] honest, it's always turned out better than I could have personally designed. But continuing to show up and work in periods of rest. That's a thing that I continue to struggle with, but continue to work on.
[00:43:09] Mica: I love what you said earlier about Dan Pink's book about regret and how people look back on their lives and they don't regret things like materialistic things, but life experience things. It reminds me of a time I worked at a retirement center. When I was a senior in high school, I was a, a care attendant.
I didn't know what I was doing, but I was just a warm body. So they were like, get in there. You're young and spry and you can lift go. It's a little bit more qualified now. You gotta have like a CNA license, you gotta know things and stuff, but everyone that I worked with told me about their live stores. I just loved looking at all of their pictures and their experiences. Being a little 18 year old there, they just wanna give you all the life advice.
And a lot of it was don't be afraid to [00:44:00] just go out there and do it. Move to a city. Just take risks and that's everything they said to me, it took a hot minute. Like I was like 32 by the time I learned that lesson, but, I still take it with me in my heart.
[00:44:15] Joanie: Those are defining moments.
We were talking about cookbooks earlier and it was the second cookbook that I ever shot and it never got published. But it was the first cookbook shoot that I was ever on.
That there was a food stylist. It was my first time working with a food stylist. It was not a well organized shoot because of a variety of factors, like me with my experience now would look at that and go, oh, hell to the no, but I did they shoot, but the book never got published and this was for a national hospitality brand. I felt so much guilt and shame over, oh, this book never got published, cause it was my fault cause I'm a terrible photographer.
Right. And I remember also just feeling so inadequate during that shoot. Like they wanted me to be shooting tethered, but I didn't know how to shoot tethered. Like this was early [00:45:00] on before I'd figured things out. And I felt so bad about that for so long, but then I'm like, but no, like there, there was this resolve within me that was like, no, I can do this. Right? It's saying, yeah, that was, that was really crappy. And I really don't wanna do that again, but guess what? I know these 20 things now that went wrong, that I sure is shooting next time I get sitting in front of a cookbook opportunity. These are questions I'm gonna ask. These are gonna things I wanna know. Which is all turned into now, like documents that I use when I do a discovery call or even like getting an in email from somebody and they give me the scope of a project.
I'm like, who would I wanna touch out with that 10 foot pole? Right. So whatever the reason I can't sit and wallow in that, and I can't sit and hide then, because now I've successfully shot tons of cookbooks that I'm super proud of and continue to do that.
[00:45:52] Mica: It is so interesting. You say that because you're that cookbook didn't get, get published. Anyone could go. [00:46:00] This is never happening again. I never wanna do this again, but it wasn't the last time you ever did it. So I was listening to your interview with Food Blogger Pro. Pinch Of Yum. I love Pinch Of Yum. Love the financial reports, all of that. I listened to the story of the chicken. I love that story. I love that story, but what I love more than anything is a point that you brought up.
You said you can't control other people. You can't control their thoughts and emotions. That's on them. You can acknowledge it and then you can be loving and supportive, but ultimately not let it impact your yard because you're only responsible for yourself. I wanna ask you this in relation to that, how has this outlook impacted your career?
[00:46:48] Joanie: It's still something I struggle with. Right. It's just like the idea of being in recovery. You continue to show up every day, right? Every day is a new day and things will get in your way and there will be challenges [00:47:00] that get you off course. And so the same sort of idea of I struggle with taking on too much responsibility for other people's emotions.
Like I am wired for that. Maybe some of that is just biologically how my brain is made up and the chemicals floating around in there. And some of that is based on how I was raised and societal expectations and all sorts of right gal. It's a whole mix of stuff that causes me to wanna make people feel okay.
It's also me wanting to know I'm okay. Cuz if everybody else is happy, that means that I'm perfect. Right. And that's, that's what we're achieving. Right. That's what we're going for, which clearly is unreasonable. Even with like Full-time Framework, right? It's the same sort of thing, right?
I am struggling with this and I am feeling so responsible for these people and their emotions and their success and allowed myself to get burned out in that. Knowing that that is a weakness of mine, how do we orient what we're doing in the future to know that this is something that's super valuable to provide to people, they need this education.
This is [00:48:00] so important. And how do I do that in a way? And then also continue to check myself, cuz I do know that I have the capability to remember, but it's a constant discipline to remind myself and to remember and to say you can survive. If somebody doesn't like you, yes, you will be fine.
Yes. This is not the meaning in life to be well liked and to be nice. Not that I'm gonna run around being a jerk and not that I'm not gonna care deeply for people. Right. Cuz there's like that two sides of the coin. There's always a balance in everything of saying well, I don't care what people think about me, but I do, right? Because I care about people and I think there's a healthy way to do it. My husband who is a bit of a unicorn human and, and maybe other humans are like this. I just I live with this one. So he's a very immediate example for me. But my level of anxiety about people pleasing and all that stuff is completely the polar opposite of him.
It's not that he's oblivious. He is a little, a bit aloof, people will say. And he would [00:49:00] totally agree with me on that, but he he's very, he just doesn't get worked up about it. He's like, whoever's frustrated at me or whatever. He doesn't take that personally, but he's also the most genuinely caring person.
And I feel like he's a great model for me to remember that level of balance of having a lot of love and sharing a lot of love with people and doing your best work and taking care of the humans that are in your care and in your orbit, but at the same time, not having your self definition be based on those inputs.
So there's a balance.
Right? It's not either, or it's both.
[00:49:35] Mica: I liked what you said earlier about coming from a place of care. You care so much about people who invest in your course and you want them to be successful so much to the point that it sometimes can have a huge impact on yourself. The way I look at it is the best way that I can help other people is by making sure that I'm okay.[00:50:00]
That's how you are for your students and for people, your community. To take care of your community, you gotta take care of yourself.
[00:50:08] Joanie: You gotta put your oxygen mask on first, right? That's the order of operations.
[00:50:12] Mica: How do you think your life experience, your background and interest have shaped your career path?
[00:50:18] Joanie: Hmm. The career that I have now did not in its current iteration exist when I went to college, right? There was not a YouTuber box on the questionnaire. It is so interesting to see how the accumulation of all of these unique and very divergent different paths like to start out as an art history major in undergrad, and then to go get a master's degree in counseling and do higher ed administration and all that for a number of years, and then run over into this sales and podcasting and content creation and blogging. Like get all accumulates into this really magical thing that I get to now do.
You gotta sometimes wander off to go figure out not only where you [00:51:00] maybe wanna be instead, but then also just to accumulate some divergent skills that will all pair up together because the, the singular trait that runs through all of it is you, right?
There's no singular other you in the universe. So there's nobody showing up to do the unique things that I'm doing, because they don't have all these combination skills. They got other combination skills that make them really great at what they do. There's never anything wasted.
A lesson that I learned early as a kid, and I don't know why I took it to heart so earnestly, but it really is something that I continue to come back to is the idea of the sunk cost fallacy, the idea that we start to like invest in a thing and for example, I got a master's degree and spent all this time working up the ladder in higher education, working on college campuses, expanding all my skills.
I've invested tons of money. I have done all these things. Right. Like, and you start to think about the sunk cost and that keeps you in the thing.
I know what are the best things to recommend because I've [00:52:00] spent all that money and now I could like go, oh man, you know, how many thousands of dollars that could add up to and feeling bad about that and getting down to myself as opposed to going, okay. Yeah, that's fine. Now I move on. It's fine. Lost that.
Not gonna recoup it, but I'm gonna recoup it in these other ways, because it's going to help inform me for future things that I'm gonna get involved in. My intuition's fairly strong though. And then whenever I ignore it, I come to regret that.
[00:52:24] Mica: makes you wanna keep doing what you do, even when it gets hard?
[00:52:28] Joanie: That's a great question. I don't entirely know. I think there's a certain compulsion to it, right? Like as an artist and is a creative person, there's just this little thing in you that you're like I now wanna go do that. Like, there's just this little nagging thing, like that continues to come up because if I think back over the number of times that I had quote unquote failures in food photography, right?
Like the cookbook that never got published or the time I fired all my clients and [00:53:00] was like, I'm gonna go help my husband in his real estate. I've done some real hair brain things to try to sync my food photography business, but somehow the camera still ended up in my hands because there's just something in me that love.
Taking pictures of food. I get in my flow state. I get super frustrated. Don't get me wrong. Anytime we're doing an extended shoot day, there will be a holy crap moment. Can we save this moment? Is this gonna work? Can we figure this out?
I mean, it happens all the time, right? I've been doing this for a good number of years. Granted, not as long as some but long enough. I feel very confident in my skills, but there's always. How am I gonna get out of this one? There's times that I look at food stylists, who I work with and, I've looked at him and I'm like, I don't know.
And he is like, I don't know. But then like, somehow we just, we keep pushing.
[00:53:46] Mica: What does it feel like whenever student comes to you and they tell you how much you've changed their life and how much of an impact their courses make on you?
[00:53:57] Joanie: It's so gratifying. Right? It's [00:54:00] so wonderful to know. Cuz we're not saving lives here. We're not curing cancer. We're taking pictures of food.
[00:54:04] Mica: But you are saving lives.
Someone is inspired by the videos you create and they see your story and they see your journey and they go, wow, that's similar to mine. If she can do it, I can do it. You never know where someone is at that point in their life where they're like, I have nothing going on.
I'm not happy where I'm at, but I don't know where to go. And they find your video, they find your channel and they go, this is it. That's saving someone's life.
[00:54:33] Joanie: It's a complete privilege and honor to get to do it. And just to hear people's stories and what they've been through. There was a guy who, watched all the YouTube. He did the thing that I hear fair number of people do, oh my gosh, I found one video.
And then I spent like the next three days watching all the videos, I was like, that's a lot, there's a lot of videos. Okay. He's like, and then I just knew, like I could take this route and he's like, we just bought our first house and here's a picture of me and my wife and baby, and this would not be [00:55:00] possible.
And I'm like, I'm I'm, you know, but it just it's so, so cool. Like you said, the impact that we can all have on the world. My hope is cuz you know, like you're talking about Bjork. I would not be here having this interview with you, had I not seen what Lynsey and Bjork were doing with Of Yum, and having this inspiration and going through their educational platform.
As a result of that, it's this trickle down effect that now I'm getting to do that same thing for other people. I'm 100% positive that five years down the line, there's gonna be people who say, oh, I learned this from Joanie.
And this allowed me to now impact other people's lives. It's that trickle down. It's that pay it forward sort of thing. And we just see these little ripples of how we can do the thing that we're uniquely called to. As squirly as it is. And when I tell people who meet me for the first time, I'm a food photographer.
I mean, you get it right. They're like,
you're a, what you, right? It's like [00:56:00] confusion.
It's that it's whatever squirly, wacky nichey thing that you get into that if you lean into that and you continue to connect with people, really, really unexpected, beautiful things can happen.
[00:56:14] Mica: What do you hope that people take away from our conversation today? We've talked about so many wonderful things.
[00:56:21] Joanie: The thing that I think is so powerful and I hope we've demonstrated through the things we've talked about here today is what you just said. The idea that they believe that they can do it, that if you're listening and you're like, I don't know if I can do this, you can do it. Right. I see too many folks who come into the YouTube videos or courses or workshops or wherever I interact with them and they instantly have this. There's doubt. There's always gonna be doubt, right? That's something we all struggle with, but there, there is a nugget inside of you, inside of me that there is a belief that if we set out on a path that we can [00:57:00] accomplish a thing, right. We don't know exactly how it's gonna look or how it'll manifest or any of that, but there's a, an inherent belief in the ability to do the thing.
I just wanna make sure that the, if you're listening and you have any shredded doubt as to the eventual ability to execute the thing. There is nothing magical or unique about the food photography that I create. Granted, it's, it's mine and I continue to cultivate it. And I think it'll continue to get better over time, but if you wanna make a career out of this, it's absolutely doable because the demand for food photography is higher than ever granted.
There's a lot more people doing it, but there's also a lot of demand for it. Um, but yeah, you absolutely. There's nothing special about me and the thing I always too re returned back to Joel Grimes, who's another educator. He's in the portrait world and I just loved that he shared in a keynote once at a conference.
He said, you know, the best photographers are not the highest paid photographers and the [00:58:00] highest paid photographers are not the best photographers that it it's so true. I see work of people who I. They are making Buku bucks over here. I know. And I'm like, hey, it's good work, but it's, you don't need to run out and be Picasso.
You don't have to run out there and go be like, the, every photo does not need to change people's lives. Like you, you just have to bring what it is that you do. I want people to have that belief that you can do it because if you can get there mentally, a lot of other things become a lot easier.
[00:58:31] Mica: Your message reminds me so much one of my favorite professors, his name is Frank Curry. One of the things that he said is. People see the final product, but they don't see the work that goes into it. And just the consistency. You're not gonna be amazing. Every single shot you do, but, or you're not gonna book all of these clients, but it's the consistency. And if you can just remember that and, [00:59:00] and keep that at the forefront of your mind to just keep going, keep going, keep going, because you can do it.
It just takes time. It takes consistency. You brought that point up so well about that. Where can listeners find you and support you?
[00:59:17] Joanie: Yes, everything, all the roads lead back to The Bite Shot. S H ot.com. So some people think it's The Bite Shop. It's funny when you create a name for your business. And you're like, oh, this is so obvious to me. And then people like routinely say it wrong and it's like, fine. And you're like, oh, the how, how interesting.
Right. Like I never intended that. I find that amusing. So yeah, the, and it's not the bike shop. It's The Bite. Like the final, it was inspired from when I was shooting a campaign, a series of videos early days of the hands and pans video. For Dryers Ice Cream. My son was, he was probably four at the time.
And the very last shot on the shot list [01:00:00] for those videos was that a kid's hand would come in, grab the dessert, pull it out, take a bite and put it back in. So by maybe like the third or fourth one of these, he comes in and he knows that I'm setting up and getting ready to shoot this video, making like ice cream sandwiches or whatever.
And he's like, is it time for the bite shot yet? Is it time for the bite shot? That became his like favorite part, right. Is this is how I'm participated in mommy's business. When it came time to name the channel, I thought, oh, not
[01:00:26] Mica: The
that's such a cute story and I love it. I love it. That's also the best job in the world.
Does, does your son still have the bite shot job?
Cause if it's
[01:00:39] Joanie: He does. And he is actually, so one of the cookbooks that we shot, um, this past winter, that'll come out this fall time frame. It's a Christmas themed cookbook. You hand over all the photos to the designer and you just never know which ones are gonna make the cut.
But we did this flat lay of like all these holiday cookies, like all [01:01:00] sorts of different colors and types and shapes and decor. And it was like, and it was like on this vibrant red backdrop, it's like so fun. And so blaze was like, tling through the studio and Brendan, the food stylist on the job was like, Oh, Blace come on over here.
Let's like, we're gonna get like the main shot with just the cookies, but how about you reach in and grab one? And of course like this kid's been doing this since he was four he's 10 now. And he is like, ain't no thing. So I was like, so we got the shot, but I was like, who knows if it'll end up in, but the proofs and sure enough blaze his hand made it in the cookbook.
His little hands are also in the PBA, like the peanut butter and honey sandwich. That's in my own book. So yeah, his, he is, he's probably gonna demand royalty rights at
point he's gonna turn
16 and I know he's been fair unfairly undercompensated with baked goods, but, uh, yeah, at some point I'm sure he'll come, know, I'll come to Ru the day, but yeah, he's, he's got some pretty famous hands at
[01:01:58] Mica: that. [01:02:00] I love that. Well, Joanie, thank you
so much for
[01:02:05] Joanie: you.
[01:02:06] Mica: on this show and for your wisdom and, and your positive message. And I just love this interview so much.
[01:02:15] Joanie: Thank you.
[01:02:17] Mica: Thanks so much for listening
[01:02:19] Joanie: thanks so much for listening
and for in on this conversation.