Meet Tracy Robinson, Woodlands WCE member and one of its Most Inspiring Women. Robinson is a mother of five kids, owns/co-owns three businesses, and is constantly learning to improve her skills in everything she does.
Her path started out very differently than where she has worked to be today. Robinson grew up in Colorado and Houston and went to college at Texas A&M. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Management and Marketing and a Master’s degree in Management. Her initial plan was to work in an office and pursue a career path in the corporate world. However, her goals changed as her family grew and as she discovered and delved into her creative side.
“Throughout college, I wanted to be some corporate big wig, and happily plugged away in the corporate world for ten years. But then I had kids and discovered photography and the corporate world lost a lot of its luster. I still have a strong drive for a successful career, it just looks a little different now,” said Robinson.
Once she discovered her love of photography, she began pursuing it wholeheartedly. At first it was a passion project while she cultivated her skills, then with a lot of hard work and determination, she grew it into a full time job.
“I was the HR Manager for an eCommerce consulting company and once I discovered photography, I pretty quickly lost interest in my corporate job,” explained Robinson. “I would sit at my desk and dream about taking pictures. Every break I had, I was scouring the internet to learn more about photography. I started my business as a side gig in 2008. I had four kids at the time and a full time nanny and would get up at 4:30 am some days to edit photos and work on my business before starting my full time job at 8:00 am. By 2009, spryART Photography, my photography business, was doing really well and I was busy enough to leave the corporate world and have never looked back!”
Her next business idea started from a request from her daughter. “About three years ago, my daughter Kaylee started asking me to teach her photography. When I finally sat down to lay out a curriculum, I realized it would be a lot of work to teach a kid from scratch and that maybe I could make some money teaching other kids the craft once I developed a good curriculum,” said Robinson. “About the same time, I was introduced to Jennifer West Pickard, who is a talented local graphic designer. Long story short, we created Camp Pixel Project – a graphic design and photography camp for kids.”
Robinson’s love of small business then presented another idea for a business. “Jennifer and I had a number of successful small businesses between the two of us, and realized we liked collaborating, teaching, and helping other small businesses. We invited Vanessa Meyer, who does advertising, social media, and copy writing to a meeting with the thought that she could provide a lot of value to small businesses as well. When the three of us sat down together to create some packages, it just made sense to create an entirely new company and Mod Mavens + Co, a small business branding and communications company, was born,” said Robinson.
Then Robinson became the sole source of income for her family. She had to adapt and create a strategy to ensure her businesses would remain successful. She decided Search Engine Optimization (SEO) would be a part of her strategy.
“About a year and a half ago, my husband decided to go back to school full time to pursue a PhD – something he had been thinking about for years, and I became the sole breadwinner for a family of seven (yes, I have five kids!). Although my photography business was very successful, I decided to learn about SEO to give it the little boost I would need to support the family while my husband was in school,” said Robinson.
“For a long time, I mistakenly thought investing in SEO would be pointless for my business because the photography market was so saturated, and I thought there was no way I would show up in Google searches,” revealed Robinson. “I developed and implemented an SEO strategy for my businesses and saw firsthand how much it helped with new client acquisition! I now help other small businesses with their SEO strategy through Mod Mavens + Co,” said Tracy
SEO strategy takes a lot of work and research. “What this means is that I do the back end research and analysis on their current SEO as well as competitive market research and then put together a 30-60 day strategic plan of action, with daily SEO tasks to help them GET FOUND on Google,” explained Robinson.
Robinson enjoys learning about SEO through different sources to make sure she can help other small businesses as much as possible. “I learned SEO strategy through both classes and totally geeking out and reading everything I could about the subject. I think I had been using the right side of my brain (typically associated with creativity) for so long that my left side (the analytical side) was excited to get in on the action,” said Robinson.
Although Robinson’s previous jobs had little to do with the businesses she currently owns, she has been able to use the business skills she learned in her time in the corporate world. “I always had an artistic side, and I am self taught in the technical aspects of photography. However, it takes a lot more than photography skills to run a successful business. The market is saturated with photographers and I think my business degrees and ten years in the corporate world helped me out in this aspect,” revealed Robinson.
Robinson is also constantly learning from others in business, and has adopted those tried and true strategies. “I have been to a lot of photography workshops taught by some truly brilliant artists who create the most incredible and breathtaking images. The hard line they took on the business aspect of running a successful photography business used to surprise me. It was a side of them I didn’t expect, but came to realize just how important it was. This involves pricing, client relations, marketing, etc. No one wants to be a starving artist,” said Robinson.
From everything she has learned from books, from other business owners, and firsthand, Robinson’s foremost advice for small business owners is to charge appropriately. “So many small businesses are unsuccessful because they do not price themselves high enough. If you are barely charging enough to cover your time and costs, what you have is a hobby, not a business (unless of course you have crazy high volume). Hobbies are great! I am not knocking them, but if you really want and need to make money, you need to take a hard look at your pricing strategy. Frankly, clients will not respect or trust you if your prices are too low!”
Tracy will be speaking at the January 17, 2019 Lunch & Learn presented by Woodlands WCE about the SEO strategies she has learned. To register, click here. For more information on Woodlands WCE’s business and networking events, visit the Events tab.
Woodlands Women’s Council of Entrepreneurs (Woodlands WCE) is a women’s entrepreneur group in The Woodlands focused on promoting, motivating, educating, and connecting like-minded business owners. Woodlands WCE is more than a networking group – it is a community. We focus on creative collaborations, vendor events, seminars, lunch & learns, and mastermind sessions within our group to achieve success for our members.