From working at the church tinkering with the idea of being a photographer full time, to six months later handing in his two weeks notice, Rob Greene’s philosophy of strategic and radical generosity propelled his business forward faster than he ever could have imagined.
Finding your niche, vision casting your finances, money mindset work, and pivoting when life throws you curveballs, today’s conversation with photographer Rob Greene, founder of Square 8 Studio is a good one!
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/rob-greene
Rob Greene (00:00):
I remember this one birthday, my dad was late to his own birthday party and he had told us, don't bring me gifts this year. Just meet me at this restaurant at this time. And we're all going, this is weird. What's going on? And then he's late. So we're like, what is happening right now? And then he walks in and he has these bags in his hand and as he sits down, he starts pulling gifts out of the bag for my mom and my sister and me.
Rob Greene (00:28):
And we are just blown away. We're like, today is supposed to be about you and you've made it about us and you. And we start unwrapping these gifts that were like these really thoughtful gifts of things that had come up in our conversation that he knew mattered to us.
Shanna Skidmore (00:41):
You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast episode 35 from working at the church tinkering with the idea of becoming a photographer full-time to six months later handing in his two weeks notice. Rob Green's philosophy of strategic and radical generosity propelled his business forward faster than he ever could have imagined. Finding your niche vision, casting your finances, money mindset work and pivoting when life throws you curve balls. Today's conversation with photographer Rob Green, founder of Square eight Studio is a good one. If you dig professional bios, here goes. Rob Green is the owner of Square eight Studio of photography and education brand based out of Fort Worth, Texas. Through both his online courses and his podcast, the bop Rob and his mini Golden Doodle Snoopy are on a mission to help photographers build their business while their clients and make photo magic. Rob is a firm believer that you're always ahead of someone and always behind someone.
Therefore, you should always be teaching and always be learning. When he's not taking photos or teaching other photographers, you'll find Rob tinkering with the latest Apple devices or watching his favorite soccer team at Atlanta United. Okay, formal introductions over, let's dive in. Hey, it's Sha and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turn business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory. Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shape them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encourage to redefine success and build a life in business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here. Okay, Rob, I'm so pumped about this. As I was saying before we hit record, we don't actually know each other at all and this is exciting. Not
Rob Greene (02:41):
Shanna Skidmore (02:42):
<laugh>. So welcome to my non-tech life. It's so old school. This is a funny story. When I met my husband who is an aerospace engineer, he said, yeah, one day people will probably do transportation, the Jetsons. And I was like, absolutely not like that. So, so forward thinking, thank goodness. And I'm so like, can we just send letters back and forth and Harry Potter, I'll deliver them <laugh> like so welcome. I love it. Rob, this is going to be fun. Tell everybody just who you are, brief introduction,
Rob Greene (03:20):
<laugh>. Sure. I am a photographer and educator from Fort Worth, Texas. I'm like right in the backyard of tcu, so still reeling from the heartache of the national championship just ugh, dream season. You should felt just a little bit short, but oh my gosh, what a ride. So yeah, I love taking pictures. I love helping photographers run their businesses. And when I'm not doing that, I'm usually tinkering with Apple products. I'm like the opposite end of the tech spectrum from you. And watching soccer, I'm a big, I'm like the weirdo that got into soccer because of American soccer. Most people get into it from Europe. I'm like the American guy. So my team is Atlanta United. I'm watching them all the time. Love it. And that's kind of me in a nutshell. I got a dog, Snoopy. We have a good time,
Shanna Skidmore (04:09):
Snoopy, that makes me happy. We have a dog, Sadie love her. She's a saurian husky. She got really downgraded when we had our daughter and I feel really guilty for her, but I'm like, Hey, she gets fancy food. So she is not, she's still, she's fine guys. She's fine. Everybody's like poor Sadie. I know. Okay, so I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, go big orange. And so I feel sad a little bit robbed to tell you this, but I'm going to tell you that the whole season I was rooting against T C U <laugh> until the end, very end only for my balls, but okay, this is fine. That's
Rob Greene (04:45):
Shanna Skidmore (04:47):
<laugh>, take me back to life before business. What were you up to? How did you get into the whole photography world? I am so excited to learn.
Rob Greene (04:57):
Yeah, I am actually really thrilled. I don't think I've ever talked this far back about things. I kind of tend to talk about my business in terms of photography and pre photography. But really I like going back before photography, even before there was the name Square eight Studio, which is the name of my business. I was doing creative things and had a business that I was running. It just wasn't doing what I'm doing now. And so I was that guy in college. I hated school, hated, hated, hated school. And it's not that I was dumb or made bad grades, I was the guy that was smart enough that I didn't have to study, drove my parents crazy. They were both teachers and I was like it for me. I just did not enjoy it. If I could have chosen it my way, I would've dropped out of college.
But my parents were like, that's not happening. But halfway through college I got into video graphic design, digital creative stuff and loved it. And so for me, my thought coming out of college was, I'm going to start my own business right now and I'm going to build this thing and see what I can do doing branding, graphic design, video, web design, all that kind of stuff. And then the week after I graduated, I got a call from this church that I'd been doing some contract design work and video work for. And they were like, Hey, we want you to come on staff, you can still do your business on the side. And I'm like, well, why would I not take a full-time salary and still have the freedom to grow this thing? So that's what I did. And I quickly learned, I loved the stability of a full-time job, but I didn't love the idea of taking a paycheck from a church.
I had just done that for free all my life. And so I was like, yeah, I think really what I want to do ultimately is have this creative business that pays all my bills and just lets me go back to working at a church for free. I think that would be the dream. Yeah. Was kind of my thinking. And so right there were years, I feel like it's easy to look at the photography piece and go, man, this thing exploded really quickly. And we can get into some of that as we go in this conversation. But really as I look back all the way to those years, I realize there were tons of lessons that I learned preo photography about my craft, about art and design and composition, about working with people and having conversations and business systems and processes and budgets from those years that I spent working at a church prior to running my own business that were really instrumental in the growth process along the way.
Shanna Skidmore (07:33):
Yes. So, okay, I'm going to date you a little bit. What year was all of this
Rob Greene (07:39):
Happening? Oh gosh, this was in the two thousands.
Shanna Skidmore (07:44):
Okay. And how long did you work with the church?
Rob Greene (07:48):
I spent a few years working at the church in Atlanta and then went to grad school out in Fort Worth. I actually went to do theological seminary out in Dallas was where it was. And then from there I was planning to move back to Atlanta after grad school, start my business. Then while I was in grad school, came up with the name Square eight Studio, quick side story there. It's like a tip of the hat to my parents. My parents were incredibly generous growing up, always made a huge deal about our birthdays. I remember this one birthday, my dad was late to his own birthday party and he had told us, don't bring me gifts this year. Just meet me at this restaurant at this time. And we're all going, this is weird. What's going on? And then he's late. So we're like, what is happening right now? And then he walks in and he has these bags in his hand and as he sits down, he starts pulling gifts out of the bag for my mom and my sister and
Shanna Skidmore (08:43):
Me Stop it and I'm crying, I'm going to cry.
Rob Greene (08:45):
And we are just blown away. We're like, today is supposed to be about you and you've made it about us. And we start unwrapping these gifts that were these really thoughtful gifts of things had come up in our conversation that he knew mattered to us. And so the way that all comes back to the business name was Square eight Studio, I was born on August 8th, which is 8 8 8 squared square eight. And so for me, this was a way of just honoring my parents and going, Hey, you instilled this idea of generosity in me from very early on and taking things that most people would make about them and making about other people. And that's just, for me, it was like this cool, oh, I got a present at the time, but now I see that it was this major formation life lesson that they were teaching me growing up.
Shanna Skidmore (09:27):
I I'm so glad you shared that story with me. I think so much about just having my little one made and she is going to be two and just a couple of months, I can't believe it. And it just makes me think so much about what we're forming in her. And also just so grateful too to be an entrepreneur and get to have that freedom and flexibility more with my time. But just hearing how other people's parents that have strong relationship with their parents, what a beautiful story. And I love Square eight. That's such a creative name. I love that. Well
Rob Greene (10:00):
Thank you. Yeah, so did the whole square eight thing while I was in grad schools plan to move back, but got another job at a church after grad school. Spent three years there to round out your, how did the timeline of this work? And it was in those three years that I wound up buying my first camera, had a girl break my heart, and we went to the same church. And if you are in church world church running, it's just you running each other all the time. You can't escape each other. So I was like, I got to get away. So I borrowed her camera, flew out to the west coast, spent two weeks driving up from San Diego to Portland taking pictures. And by the time I got back I was like, I got to get one of these. And so that's kind of where the photography piece then took off.
Shanna Skidmore (10:41):
Okay. So when you started photography, you had the name Square eight, incredible name. What did you think you were going to do? Was it wedding photography, portrait photography, videography? And then how did you figure out pricing? And tell me how you got started in figuring all this out.
Rob Greene (10:58):
Yes. So at the time I was working with high school students, I thought, oh, this will be an easy end. I'm going to be the next thing in high school photography. And then weddings seem pretty fun and bigger. Paychecks, I'll do weddings. In high school photography. That was kind of my thing that I was aiming for. And the high school thing never really clicked for me. I think I felt this tension of I don't want to overstep my bounds of trying to leverage my position working with high school students. I dunno, I just felt weird about it. But what happened was as I was trying to figure out how to pose couples and work with couples and get ready for the wedding side of things, I realized, oh wait, I have connections at T C U T C U is right in our backyard. Those people are a lot closer to being wedding age couples anyway.
I'm not going to go post high school couples, like wedding couples. And so I had a friend, I was like, Hey do you know anybody in your world that's dating that's like photogenic, that could be a good test shoot person for me. And so they hooked me up with a couple of their friends and started doing some pictures. Next thing I know we start getting some people following us from T C U. Then I ran a giveaway and the person that won was in a sorority at T C U. I was, none of this was on my radar. I wasn't in Greek life in college myself. So this meant nothing to me at the time. But after this free shoot I had done, these girls bought 800 or so dollars worth of photos from me at the end. Wow. And said, we had such a great time with you, we want to go back and tell our entire sorority about you. So I
Shanna Skidmore (12:35):
Said, yeah, they did. Well
Rob Greene (12:36):
If you're going to do that, I'm going to run another giveaway. Tell 'em that part too. So I read another giveaway that night, the whole sorority follows me and things just kind of took off from there in some crazy ways.
Shanna Skidmore (12:47):
That's ama. Okay. So what, did you have a website app? Was it all on Instagram? Was Instagram. I mean, when I started my business, Instagram was really, oh, thanks. So
Rob Greene (12:56):
This is like 20 15, 20 16, around that timeframe. So we're talking like six, seven years ago. And I had a website. The website was very much geared towards weddings at that point. There was nothing about college stuff on there. It was all wedding stuff. So yeah, I just started posting pictures of things as I was doing these shoots with these groups. And the girl that won this was interesting to me because in high school, senior photography, the paradigm is kind of, you do just the one person at a time. The girl that won the shoot was like, Hey, I'd like to bring my five best friends with me. And I almost told her no, because that was just like, it didn't fit the mold. But then what I realized as I got further into this is college stuff is all about friendships. It's all about relationships. And so the photos are a reflection of that. So suddenly my feed on Instagram started filling up quite quickly with these friend groups wanting pictures to remember their time together in college.
Shanna Skidmore (13:56):
So were you still working full-time? Like at what point were you able to take photography? Was it still mostly portrait sessions? Were you breaking into the wedding world and how, this is
Rob Greene (14:09):
Where it gets really fascinating. So March of 2015 is basically when I got my first camera and I set a goal to take consistently pay worthy photos. That was my phrase that I kept telling people over and over again, I want to take consistently pay worthy photos one year from now. And so I started working to that goal and I was just doing free shoot after free shoot after free shoot. And then finally later in 2015 decided, all right, I'm going to start charging. I'm charging like 50 bucks, a hundred bucks and feeling terrible. I'm feeling like I'm just stealing from people. I can't believe I'm charging so much money for a photo shoot. And then what happens is I sit down in December of 2015 with this gal, I had been asking around who's the leading high school photographer that everybody wants to shoot with? And so I keep hearing this one girl's name over and over again. So I ask her, can I go buy you a cup of coffee, pick your brain about business and photography? And she starts telling me, Hey, the minimum that I charge to work with me is $1,200 and my average session is $3,200.
Shanna Skidmore (15:15):
And you said what?
Rob Greene (15:17):
Yes, I, I went home that day and it was like that moment that just the sky's parted, the rainbows came, flown out. I'm just like, what have I just learned and discovered about this industry? There is a value here that I was not aware that existed. And I think a lot of photographers live in that space as well of just not being aware of historically the value of this business and where those values fall and how to price in a way that reflects those values as well as the things our clients value. So for me, I went home that day and just said, all right, no more one 50 per session or 100 per session. I'm charging 800 bucks. And for me, that was terrifying. But I was like, I've got to bring this thing in line more with what professionals in this area are charging for thing.
Shanna Skidmore (16:06):
And what happened? It
Rob Greene (16:07):
Well still said yes, <laugh> people still booked. And so what I did was on a friend's recommendation that December I set goals for each of the next five years. This is how many logos I want to design. This is how many album covers I want to design. This is how many portrait sessions I want to do, how many weddings I want to do and at what prices. And I just kind of scaled that up over five years and said, okay, if I do this, at what point is the cash coming in enough that I could make the jump and support myself? But also what's the point where the workload of side business and side hustle is so much that I wouldn't be able to still do my job well because I never wanted to be doing my side job at a level that negatively impacted what I was doing.
And so both of those things, I kind of worked it and figured it out where it was going to be kind of the three year mark was where I hit this number. I was making about $50,000 at the time in my church job. And I said, if I can get to about 75% of that, I feel like I could bridge the gap when I go. And so that was kind of my goal, was to hit that 37 5 mark at three years. Well, just by setting goals and having something tangible to be working towards six months later, I was walking into my boss's office having hit that three year
Shanna Skidmore (17:35):
Mark. Yeah, you were rock
Rob Greene (17:36):
Shanna Skidmore (17:37):
You're speaking my language. I love setting a goal. Yes, yes, yes. It changed
Rob Greene (17:42):
Everything. And so by October I had made the cut and switched to full-time photography and never looked back, haven't missed a meal. It's been unreal. The first year of full-time for me was 2017 full year of full-time. And we did $124,000 that year in haven't looked back. It's been amazing.
Shanna Skidmore (18:06):
Okay, I'm going to ask you something. I'm off scripting it. Let's go. When were charging $50 and you felt bad and a hundred dollars and you felt bad, there has to be some kind of money mindset shift to then go to $800 the next day. So I think somebody listening needs to hear you talk about this. How did you get over charging these prices?
Rob Greene (18:35):
I think for me what it took was somebody else that was doing it, giving me permission. Because what I did, this is how I explain it to other photographers that I, I've had the chance to talk with is if you're trying to start a boutique burger business and you want all the finest ingredients in your burgers and you want to build out this restaurant experience where they're like, there's this rich mahogany wood on the walls and the seating. You got these leather cushions and you know just you've created the finest boutique burger dining experience. But then when you go to try and set your prices, you go price shop at McDonald's and Wendy's and Burger King, you're going to develop a mindset of how your business needs to operate. That ultimately is going to lead to frustration, failure and burnout. So for me, I think I started out in that when I was in that 50 and a hundred dollars mindset, that was kind of what I was doing is I was looking around going, well, this person over here is only charging 50 bucks or this person over here is only charging a hundred.
Or last week I only charged $0, so now I'm charging a hundred more. So all my case studies, my frames of reference for what I was supposed to be doing to succeed were terrible benchmarks. And the moment I started surrounding myself with voices that had been to another place, a place that I was actually trying to go with my own business, it freed me up to believe something different was true for my life.
Shanna Skidmore (20:02):
Everything you just said is so powerful and not easy. It's talking truth to yourself all the time. I mean, did you ever get scared of your work or because you were getting positive feedback, you were like, people are seeing the worth here
Rob Greene (20:18):
When you have spent your whole life having a adult life, having a steady paycheck and the first job full-time job, you just got offered to you. You didn't even have to interview for it. You're used to stability. I was very comfortable with stability. That first day that I woke up and did not have a paycheck coming in was terrifying. Like okay, where me and God were having a lot of conversations in that season about where is the next paycheck coming from? But I will never forget one of my dreams when I was doing this, I just thought, man, I need a window to just detox from the grind of the past however many years and all the heartaches and heartbreaks and hustle and all these things. If I like my dream when I was leaving that full-time job was if I could just take two weeks off work and go to Hawaii, I'd never been to Hawaii before if I could just do that for a couple weeks and just breathe and not be around people.
Cause when you're in church world, you're around people all the time. When you're in photography world, you're around people all the time. It's like if I could just have a moment to pull away and rest and recharge, that would be so beneficial. But I can't afford that because yeah, hello. I don't have a paycheck coming in for the first time in my life. And I will never forget in the weeks, the final weeks that I was on staff, a guy that I had used to work with had since left the church, moved out to Hawaii, heard I was leaving my job and said, Hey, we need somebody to do some consulting work for us. Why don't you come out, we'll put you up. We have some housing on campus. We have a van you can use. That's just like a church van. We'll cover your meals while you're here. You can stay as long as you want. We need you for three days.
Shanna Skidmore (22:03):
And you said, I'll be there for two weeks. Great. Come in. Right,
Rob Greene (22:06):
Right. That's incredible. So I went out there and I spent two weeks out there and in those two weeks I brought in, I will say, I don't know your church background. I'm a Jesus follower. I feel like God provided in those two weeks, two months worth of salary in business, while I'm in Hawaii, people calling from back in Texas lining things up with weddings, with portraits, with different things, two months worth of what was my salary at my previous job
Shanna Skidmore (22:37):
In. And you're just driving a church van around Hawaii said, this is great. Yes,
Rob Greene (22:42):
Yes. Just chilling on the beach, having a good old time. And I just felt like that was for me, again, coming from a faith perspective, I felt like that was God's way of saying, I've got you. I'm the one providing you can trust me.
Shanna Skidmore (22:55):
Yeah, that's beautiful. And yes, right there with you, Jesus lover over here and absolutely have seen God provide and show up when we take these steps and these risks. It doesn't always look that like that for so many people I've talked to. But isn't it neat in those moments when God does just kind of say, here's a very clear open door and gives you that confidence. So I love hearing that, Rob. That's a beautiful story. Tell me how it grew from there. What started happening? Did you start focusing on portraits? Did you start focusing or nicheing down on weddings? Just walk me through the next few years of growth.
Rob Greene (23:35):
Yeah, the first few years with this thing, I was actually having other people shooting with me that they had full-time jobs. And so I was like, man, I'm doing this. I can run all the business side for you guys and you just show up and shoot and I'll make a cut, you'll make a cut. It worked really well for several years, but it meant we went from zero to now here's 50 weddings we're shooting every year as a team, some photo, some video, and I'm managing all of this and growing the college side of things. And so there was this real intense stretch from 2017 through 2019 where it was just shoot, shoot, shoot, grow, grow, hustle, hustle, hustle. And then 2020 happened. And I feel like everybody at this point has a but then covid story, right? And so for me, mine was covid hits and I don't know how I'm going to make money because I'm hearing my city's about to shut down for six to eight weeks and who knows beyond that.
So at this point, I had had some photographers locally and in Facebook groups that have been asking me for help with flash photography. I'd been doing one-on-one coaching in-person workshops with small groups. I ran into a studio and basically just dumped all of my knowledge about shooting with flash on a camera and spent all of my quarantine time when our city was on lockdown just putting together a course. I didn't know how to make a course. I had taken great courses from amazing people and I knew how to reverse engineer things. Well, okay, well they did this and this, I'm going to try and do this, this and this tech guy. But yeah, I had no idea what I was doing and I was just trying to build something that was helping people and taken the things that I knew that were helping people and grow that element of things.
And so meanwhile, I'm also trying to navigate rescheduled weddings and making sure we're taking good care of our brides. And appeasing brides were really great to us. Sometimes parents were a little more worried about the financial piece. Obviously they're the ones footing the bill in a lot of cases. So trying to help alleviate concerns of parents in that season. Meanwhile, trying to manage rescheduling of both the weddings for the brides and for the other people that were shooting as well. And knowing it wasn't just my schedule I had to worry about. So the wedding piece, all of a sudden I was like, okay, I've got this education thing that's appearing out of nowhere now I've got this wedding thing that's become extremely stressful to do for other people. Maybe I need to start scaling back on the wedding piece and being more strategic, raising my prices on the wedding stuff and being more strategic about who we work with and just me being the one that's doing all the shooting and taking all that time, all that energy, all those resources, and start really kind of seeing what could happen with this educational piece.
Because by October of 2020, I had launched this or started prepping for launch for this flash course and got connected with a gal, Amy Porterfield, who that woman is absolute genius. And it was like everything that I didn't know at this point. I had a course, I had no idea how to launch it, how to get it out in the world. And then here comes Amy Porterfield and she's like, here's the keys, here's everything you're missing. You have no email list. Let me show you how to grow an email list. Yeah, you have no idea how to run a webinar. Let me show you how to run a webinar. You have no idea how to launch. Let me show you how to launch. And all of a sudden it was like, oh, this is everything I've been missing. So we launched our flash course and the first week it went live, we had $12,000 come in.
And I just said kind of a recurring theme for me by the way, is everything that I've been making outside of paint, I just pay myself kind of a modest salary of 40,000 ish, or I was used to living off youth pastor money. So I basically just have continued doing that and taking everything and putting it back in the business. So when this course launched, I said, I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to just let this thing go out there, whatever comes in, I'm going to double back down and put it all a hundred percent of the launch money back into the growth of education. And so some of that went to Facebook ads, some of that went to one of your other guests recently hope Taylor and jumped in a mastermind with her, which was the most incredible decision because that then launched these past sort of the post covid years has been two things have kind of emerged.
One college, I think every college student came back from that because all of T C U was on spring break when Covid hit and they were told not to come back. So all of the seniors trickled back in over the next 12 months to get their stuff. And it was all of a sudden there was this realization of we're not guaranteed anything. We need to make every moment count on this campus. And so all of a sudden the drive for college photos just really shot through the roof. Meanwhile, education starts ticking up. Hope is telling me, Hey, you got to teach people how to do this college thing. This is not high school stuff. This is a different animal. You need to help people figure this out because you've got something unique here. And so really for me, this post Covid era, these past three years has been about growing the education side of things. And so the photography still runs kind of around the same volume in terms of revenue, but we've brought in kind of a matching side with the education piece. And so last year was around 2 38 for us, 238,000 in terms of revenue and paid myself the same as I was paying starting out and then had around 14,000 in profit after all that. Because again, we're just putting it all back in the business.
Shanna Skidmore (29:20):
Rob, tell me what motivates you? What do you get excited about? What keeps you doing this business? Every day
Rob Greene (29:31):
You just serve me as a softball. This is easy. People, I tell people all the time, we are in the people business first and foremost. We primarily serve people through photography, through education, but we are in the people business. And I think a lot of that probably is stuff that was instilled in me from my years working at the church that just at the end of the day, the technology stuff, I love it. It's super fun, but it's going to get replaced by bigger, faster technology down the road. It, it's just going to go the jet thing. What really matters at the end of the day. Yes, the Jetsons <laugh>. At the end of the day though, what really matters is the impact we've had on the lives of other people. And so I want the people that we interact with, whether it's photographers or photography clients, to walk away feeling so well loved and cared for and provided for by us, that it leaves an impact on them beyond just the photos that we deliver in the courses.
Shanna Skidmore (30:22):
I have loved getting to just meet you, even though it's just through a screen. And I hope we can be i r l one of these days. Totally. I feel like you have so many natural gifts is what's coming across to me. But I would love to hear you share, what do you feel like has come naturally to you, whether it's financial management, managing people, marketing, and then what are the things that you would say consistently, I've struggled with this one thing or these two things. I would love to hear that.
Rob Greene (30:52):
Yeah, I think for me the stuff that comes natural is encouraging people, talking to people, enjoying being around people. I think I kind of sit on the middle of the introvert, introvert spectrum, probably tilt a little towards introverted, but I love being around people. I love caring for people and letting people feel valued. So the people side of this for me has been easy like that just to be able to connect. I thought it was going to be weird. I mean, just to walk on a college campus as an out of college dude trying to reach a market that's like 99% female in terms of who actually wants the photos. I was like, oh, just please don't be creepy. Please don't be creepy. Please don't be creepy. But honestly, I really believe people can tell when somebody just genuinely cares about them as a person.
And so that for me has honestly been the easiest piece of this is the people part. After that, I would say probably just the money piece of it is easy for me. One, because I grew up with parents that were generous with us. And so it's easy for me to not, I do worry about the financial piece just cause I'm a worrier by nature, but it's also easy for me to just go, Hey, let's be generous with this because God's been generous with us, my family's been generous with me. How can I be generous with others? But also from a planning standpoint, I think those years working at the church and watching how every year we were responsible for creating an annual budget, that projected revenue, that projected expenses and planned our years based not on, oh, I'm going to do this shoot and it's going to pay for this piece of gear, but I'm going to set this vision for my year and then I'm going to track month to month and I'm going to track year over year and watch trends and use those trends to guide educated decisions for my growth.
That for me is one thing where I feel like that I've been able to thrive it with that. Where I see a lot of photographers especially and creatives especially, struggle with this idea of, I can't give away too much for free because I got to value my work and I got to make sure I, I'm respecting my worth and I'm going, okay, if you're compromising on your prices, that's one thing, but if you're being strategic with your generosity and strategic with what you're giving away, it can be an incredible part of a growth model. And so for me, it's easy to look at a year of here's my projected revenue for this year. Am I on track for that? Cool. Then there's plenty of room to be generous here and here and here and here. And it doesn't matter if I'm showing up on campus five days a week, one month giving away sessions, if it's part of a strategy that's leading to $238,000 in a year, that's great.
If we're continuing to hit that, I don't care. And so those have been the parts that have come really naturally for me. I think some of the things that have been a challenge for me, I can't stand social media if I could be off of it. I, and I think you were telling me before, you don't do a lot of the social media stuff. If I could do that, I would in a heartbeat. It's such a time suck. It's such an insecurity magnet. You know, see what somebody else is doing that you're not doing. You see what somebody else is achieving that you're not achieving. To the point now where if there are photographers in my area, I strategically choose not to have a lot of them in my feet. I'll follow them, but I go and strategically view their pages in moments where I know my heart's in the right mindset to look and celebrate what they're doing and not be discouraged or insecure by what they're doing because I just know that's a weak spot for me and I want to be that photographer that's championing the other people in my area and celebrating their successes and for them and encouraging them.
That's just one way I've compensated for knowing that's a weak spot for me. I think the other piece is just like I love to do it all. I think because part of my role when I was working churches was a creative director that oversaw so many different things. I love to have my hands in the logos and the branding and the marketing tools and the website and all these things. And so for me, learning to let go of certain things and entrust pieces of my business to other people, it's easier for me to outsource things in my personal life, like house cleaning. I've got a lady coming later today that's going to take care of the house. It's easier for me to let go of that stuff that I'm not good at than to let go of something with my business because I'm all so close and so dear to
Shanna Skidmore (35:09):
Me. I think that we need to be best friends, by the way. So I'm coming to Texas. We literally, for everybody listening, we have literally I think knew nothing of each other before we hit record. I mean, I looked at your website briefly, I was referred to you by hope. She's so wonderful. And that is literal what you said second about creating a vision for your business and a forecast for your business so that you can give generously or impact others' lives or whatever your value is. And personally, that is literally what I've done for 15 years and why I love the work that I do. I mean, money is one of those things that so many people come having a lot of baggage with or mindsets with or whatever it is. And so quick backstory about me, Rob, I have a psychology and a finance degree and I have an art degree to I like, okay, say I have all the things.
I couldn't figure it out now it's so perfect. It's exactly what I do every day. But just to instill that vision, I love how you use that word of we can use our finances as a tool to do what lights us up. And for you, generosity and loving on others, impacting others' lives, I literally have chills just like, yes, you nailed my heart for what I do every single day. And also second with social media, just how you were saying, coming at it from a place of how can I champion others? And knowing that there's times where that platform psychologically is proven. I don't think I've known a lot of people love using that and TikTok and all the things. And for me, I ended up deciding to quit social media in 2017 for a year simply because I felt like it was my business marketing was too reliant on one tool Instagram, and I was terrible at it.
I wasn't a photographer and I have very high aesthetics, so I would always get so angry because I was like, this isn't pretty enough and not, I don't know how to be a photographer. I don't know how to use, I mean that back then was Visco filters. So I decided to go offer a year to figure out a different form of marketing and that's really my purpose of why I got off. And I had the luxury to do that because at that time I had a course called the Blueprint Model, which is a business finance and what vision casting exactly what you just said. That is what I do in my program is teach people how to create a vision with their finances. So I launched that in 2016 and we were already generating lots and lots of cash flow with that. So I had the luxury of taking a year off because that was already paying our bills. And I just figured out a different way of marketing, like you said, that actually was more efficient for me, brought in more eyeballs to the business for me. So that's a tangent, but I just love hearing your story and what strengths and what things you struggle with and I just appreciate you sharing that so much. It's been such a joy to get to know you. I just want to keep chatting, but I want to go to kind of a quick fire round, which is going to be really fun.
Rob Greene (38:22):
Yeah. Hey, can I throw in something real quick? I just a quick before
Shanna Skidmore (38:26):
Throw in. Rob that, Rob, come on. Yes, yes.
Rob Greene (38:29):
Just to, because I know when we were leading up to this, you were like, I like specific tangible things and I just thought for the person that's going, generosity sounds nice, but I don't know that I could afford to do that. This is what I mean by this is we give away more shoots than anybody I know in this area. It's all, it's almost, I'm pretty sure it's pretty darn close one for one, we give away for every shoot that we do, but we photograph 10% of all the senior girls at T C U at a price of around like $1,100 on average per session now. So j people wonder, will generosity make cheapen my value? What I found is it actually will tell your audience what you're about and it shows them that you value something beyond just their money coming in and it actually makes them want to jump on board with you.
Shanna Skidmore (39:15):
I love that. Oh my goodness. Okay, we're going to have talk about this later, but generosity is such a big piece, especially of church culture. And I grew up in the church and have had a strong faith for most of my life, but when I met my husband, Kyle, he was not a person of faith. And so we had some really interesting conversations when we first met about this in particular about generosity and so many different feelings can come when we use the word generosity. And what I love that you're sharing, Rob, is talking about what do you value is, and for you clearly generosity in your business, giving away a free shoot to people who would never be able to pay $1,100. For me, I used to have this thing in my business called Fun Fridays. So because I do finance now and I don't get to get in the creative realm as much, I still love creativity. So on Fridays, before I had my, this was years before I, my daughter, I do fun Fridays and I would go and help my friend Amy with flowers or I would just do things to help my creative friends love it for free. And so there's so many ways to incorporate, isn't that the beautiful thing about entrepreneurship, things that are life giving for you into your business, whether it's generosity of your money, of your time, of your talent. I love that. Okay.
Rob Greene (40:36):
Shanna Skidmore (40:37):
Rapid, quick fire round, but I'm going to rapid fire, ask you rapid Rob, before we do, what is the best thing you have learned about money
Rob Greene (40:46):
That there's no such thing as enough <laugh>. Like if you think there is some number that when you hit that number, you're finally going to have enough, you're going to get there and realize, oh, there's something innate within me that always wants more of it. I remember even watching all the money in the world, it's about j Paul Getty, the guy that started Getty Images, richest man in the world would not pay a penny for his grandson's ransom because he felt insecure about his money. Richest man in the world. So that's my takeaway on that. Quick answer is you, if you think enough is exists, no enough more has to do with the condition of your heart than a number in the bank.
Shanna Skidmore (41:26):
Okay, I call, I say this, what is your enough number, the place where ambition and contentment meet? There's this,
Rob Greene (41:33):
Shanna Skidmore (41:33):
Like that number. I've referenced this another podcast interview, so I'm saying it again. Everybody's going to watch it. It's this movie called Wall Street. Have you seen it? It's with Shia. I have not LaBuff Shia.
Rob Greene (41:45):
Shanna Skidmore (41:45):
It's a good movie, wall Street. And he says in that movie, no matter how much money you have, you'll never be rich. And I want to reference that in the point of, I think, again, like you said, richness is a condition of the heart. But yep. I think the idea that he's saying exactly what you said enough, more rich is such a moving target. And we talk about N F L players that go bankrupt, like a high percentage of them go. It's about how you, I always say wealth is not about how much money you make, it's about how you spend the money you make. Ooh, that's so good. Okay, let's quick fire. This is fun. Yes. All right. What is one thing, Rob, that you would be embarrassed if others knew about you?
Rob Greene (42:29):
Cannot dance, period. To save my life, flew home across the country for a good friend's wedding. The DJ, instead of letting a gradual flow to the dance floor, called everyone out at once and I belin it to my car and drove home an hour and got on a plane and went home. Cannot dance, will not dance. Do not dance. Can't do it. Even
Shanna Skidmore (42:50):
In your house by yourself. You're not No. Not
Rob Greene (42:54):
Going to dance. No, no, no, no, no, no.
Shanna Skidmore (42:57):
Not so. TikTok is not on your radar.
Rob Greene (42:59):
I'm all four people that can and enjoy it. Love photographing. It. Cannot do it. <laugh>.
Shanna Skidmore (43:05):
All right. Or Rob, number two. Any regrets or wish you could do over moments?
Rob Greene (43:12):
Okay, this is kind of funny. I actually wish I had taken all the money I spent on my first Apple laptop and put it in Apple stock instead, because if I didn't, we'd be having a very different conversation today.
Shanna Skidmore (43:25):
Oh, that is a wish we could do over. Okay. <laugh>, you and Kyle both. He loves Apple because of their packaging. He appreciates, he's a tech guy too. You guys are going to be friends. <laugh> the beauty of the packaging. Okay. Oh yeah. Number three, a big win or pinch me moment.
Rob Greene (43:45):
Big win or so. Alright, November, 2021, I'm at a photo conference and get a chance to meet one of my photography heroes, Jordan DEOs, and we wind up getting to have a conversation for 45 minutes, and I went in going, he doesn't know who I am, he whatever. And he remembered me from emails, new remembered nuances to my story from those emails, and we just had this incredible conversation. Then fast forward a few months, we had traded a couple more emails and I just told him, Hey, if you ever do a one-on-one mentorship, let me know because I'm setting aside money in an Amy and Jordan mentorship fund. If you ever go down the road. I'd asked him about this number of times, other years, and he know I said, ah, it's not where we're at. It's not where we're at. And then one day I get this text message and it says, Hey, it's Jordan got your email, let's talk. And I'm like, I thought it was a scam at first. It was that much of a pi pinch me moment, so I had to trade a couple text messages back and forth where I really even believed it was him. But it opened up a conversation and a door to be able to do some one-on-one mentorship with him last year. That just has continued to blow my mind and send ripples throughout my life and my business.
Shanna Skidmore (45:02):
And then you're like, we're on a first night, he said, Hey, it's Jordan. This
Rob Greene (45:06):
Is a big right. So yeah,
Shanna Skidmore (45:11):
Persistence pays off. I love that. And I have heard wonderful things about Amy and Jordan. I have never met them personally, but I hope to one day they're in Nashville, so Tennessee now, so
Rob Greene (45:22):
Yeah, not far away.
Shanna Skidmore (45:23):
Yeah. All right. Best advice or just really good advice that you have received?
Rob Greene (45:29):
The best advice probably comes in the form of a question that one of my mentors, Brent Shoemaker would always ask me. He would always ask me the question, how's your heart? And what that has continued to bring me back to is this idea that who I am is more important than what I do. And I even think about that passage of scripture where it talks about what good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul? And I think that question is just one I try to constantly come back to of how's my heart doing? Like, Hey, all these things are going well, but how am I doing? How's Rob right now?
Shanna Skidmore (46:03):
I love that passage of scripture too. I have it written out and on my computer because you're so right. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our doing, and I tell people all the time, I work in finance, I work in numbers, I am a data-driven person, but I never want to get to the point where I'm crunching numbers instead of seeing people. And that's something I think about a lot. Oh, that's so good. Okay, last quickfire question, and then we're sadly going to send it off. What are you working on now or one resource you would like to share?
Rob Greene (46:38):
Yeah, so right now, the big thing has been getting the word out to photographers about college and sorority photography because there's literally 17 million college students in the United States and most, and they're like, they deal in photos, like photos are, I've described it as a social currency for college students because most of them are meeting each other on social media before they meet in real life. So great photos go a long way to great introductions and great connections. So yeah, I'm actually, I teach a free course on this called College Photo 1 0 1. We've actually got one coming up March 13th through 17th. So next week, basically we're doing free five days of teaching for any photographers that want to learn how to break into the college and sorority market. There's an incredible opportunity out there that's going to drive many elements of your
Shanna Skidmore (47:30):
Business. Okay. I'm really excited about that. We're going to link in the show notes, but do you have a r l already ready?
Rob Greene (47:37):
Yeah. Yeah, it's square eight studio.com/college 1 0 1.
Shanna Skidmore (47:42):
Okay. We'll link it in the show notes. I'm excited about that. And yes, this will love, it will come out right before that. So Rob, thank you for offering that resource. Absolutely. Let's send it off. I'm really sad. Okay, so I always like to send it off with what would you tell yourself on day one of your business?
Rob Greene (48:00):
If I could go back to day one and this probably fits well with the theme of the day, I would think, I would say, you can't be too generous. Don't, don't ever hesitate to pull the trigger on being generous with people because that kind of lifestyle and that kind of rhythm to your life is always going to come back well in the end.
Shanna Skidmore (48:18):
Yeah, I love that. Thank you for coming on. This has been a joy to get to know you and your story and you too fine ever in Texas. We're hanging out. Yes.
Rob Greene (48:28):
Come on out, you and Kyle. Let's do it.
Shanna Skidmore (48:30):
All right. That'll be fun. Thanks, Rob. Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers podcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Rob. One final thought for today from Ronald Reagan, we cannot help everyone, but everyone can help someone. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.