She made $0 her first year. Today, LaJoy Cox earns a six-figure salary in photography. Read her motivating story of hard work and beautiful triumph. (Featuring: LAJOY PHOTOGRAPHY)
“I never thought my dream of being a business owner would come true, but I had to give it a try.”
LaJoy Cox’s strength is her willingness to be vulnerable: to tell the truth of her journey without glossing over the tough realities. “I was absolutely terrified to step out and start my own business,” she admits. “The feeling that no one would take me seriously because of I was young… the fear that I wouldn’t know how to successfully run my company… and the constant concern about my work not being good enough.” These fears weren’t enough, however, to stop LaJoy from following her heart.
She threw herself into learning. LaJoy read business books, watched YouTube tutorials, and began the slow-but-steady process of growing a photography business.
“I took the slow and steady route because I knew that many companies fail when they try to grow too quickly,” she says. “I took my time making big decisions and made sure I was able to juggle being a mom and an entrepreneur.”
Year One on the Journey to a Six-Figure Salary in Photography
LaJoy knew the statistics: that most small businesses fail within their first 18 months. She told herself that if she could just make it to year five, she would be okay. But year five was a long way off, and in her first year, LaJoy earned a grand total of $0.
“Yup,” LaJoy acknowledges, “you read that right: $0. But that was okay with me – because I was happy.”
Armed with an entry-level camera and a kit lens, LaJoy set her first goal: to grow a debt-free photography business. This meant maintaining her day job while slowly learning photography and building her portfolio. It wasn’t easy, but LaJoy stayed focused.
Year Two: Cash Positive!
In year two, LaJoy took home a whopping $2,000. She was thrilled.
“Wow, $2000 from taking pretty pictures of people? It was amazing to me that I could take what I read in a book and the skills I learned in school, apply them to real life, and actually make money!”
At the time, LaJoy charged a mere $50 for a portrait session. Needless to say, her clients were elated – and so was LaJoy. She reinvested every dollar into a better website and more equipment. She also set a new goal: to net $30,000 in a single year. “I thought it would be just enough to supplement some income and make life easier for my family.”
Year Three: Building Her Own Empire
LaJoy’s third year brought more changes: a social media presence, a fresh logo, and endless lessons from the photography school in which she’d enrolled.
“At the end of year three, I was pulling in $17,000 in income,” LaJoy tells us. “I didn’t reach my $30,000 goal, but at this point I was hungry; now I wanted to work for myself and only myself. I didn’t want to grow anyone else’s brand. I wanted to grow my own brand and build my own empire – regardless of how small.”
Year Four: Finally Full-Time
By her fourth year, LaJoy was finally working for herself full-time, 100% focused on weddings. She invested in advertising on The Knot, and her bookings went through the roof. Then she was chosen to photograph a wedding for the television series, Married at First Sight, which introduced her to the world of reality TV and the wedding market at large.
“I began networking with more photographers, second shooting, and attending some pretty amazing events that allowed me to meet some great people.” LaJoy’s business had blossomed from barely getting by to earning an annual income of $55,000. “That year I told myself that if I could just make $75,000, I would be okay.”
Year Eight: Finally Earning that Six-Figure Salary in Photography
The subsequent years brought about the changes, struggles, and successes faced by so many. LaJoy endured a divorce and a name change, and has embarked on a full rebrand – yet she has managed to come out ahead.
LaJoy’s persistence finally earned her a six-figure salary in photography. She’s worked tirelessly for her success. “I’m a brand ambassador for Holdfast Camera Gear, and I’m now using the video world to expand my company. I am growing my social media pages and making some great friends along the way. I’ve shot weddings and special events for Food Network’s Cake Hunter, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Lifetime Network’s Little Women Atlanta; and soon NETFLIX will feature my images in a new marriage show, Talk about Growth!”
LaJoy continues to see her work published in magazines like Black Bride, Munaluchi Bride, Brides, and Modern Luxury Bride. And to expand her reach, she created a second company, The First Look Photography, which employs other professionals in the photography and videography communities.
Persistence, Passion, & Determination
Gratitude underscores every one of LaJoy’s successes. “When I began my journey, I needed to hear from other photographers like myself who were able to make it to levels they never thought they would reach. I am truly grateful to every photographer who came my way, and to my amazing clients who trust me with their memories. I’ve come such a long way; and I can now say that everything I taught myself over the years has paid off.”
Throughout the many hard nights when LaJoy considered giving up, persistence, passion, and determination continued to drive her forward. Now, LaJoy’s six-figure salary in photography is just the cherry on top.
“I’m happy I believed in myself enough to push forward,” she says, “so I could be the mom I needed to be, make my children proud, and have my mother smile when she looks down at me from heaven.”
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Featuring LAJOY COX