Our latest podcast guest is a force to be reckoned with. D’Arcy Benincosa is an internationally-renowned photographer, marketing expert, and mentor to creative entrepreneurs. It was an honor to have D’Arcy share her story on the show, from growing up in poverty to teaching English around the world and founding three six-figure businesses. Her wealth mindset tips combined with practical marketing strategies are sure to inspire you!
Press play for the full interview or keep reading below.
Long before she became a million-dollar photography mentor, D’Arcy worked in a different type of education system. She spent 14 years teaching English around the world in places like Brazil, Ireland, and Korea.
“I’ve always been a wanderlust sort of person,” D’Arcy says. “When I was seven or eight, I told my mom ‘I’m going to move to Paris or New York.’”
It was in Paris that she honed her photography skills. She moved at 20 years old and brought her point-and-shoot camera everywhere she went, capturing the beauty of the city.
“I grew up in a community that never changed. No one ever went anywhere or did anything.” But D’Arcy always knew she wanted to break the mold of her small-town life in Utah.
“I remember writing in my journal I’d much rather play it brave than play it safe.” A few decades later, D’Arcy still lives by that motto – it’s even become the name of her podcast.
As a single woman in her forties without children, D’Arcy is the only one responsible for making decisions in her life.
“Everything has an upside and a downside, but the upside is that I can give myself those experiences – like deciding to pick up and move to New York.” Less than a week after she decided to move, she’d found an apartment and packed up her things.
“There’s something very powerful in having stability and consistency when you’re older, but in your twenties, you need to explore.” Especially for young entrepreneurs, D’Arcy says it’s important to get out and see the world.
“Who we become as we build the business – that’s the whole point.”
When D’Arcy first learned about manifestation and the law of attraction, she knew she wanted to work on creating a wealth mindset.
“I grew up very poor. We would go months without water or electricity.” She couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea of breaking that cycle of poverty.
“As a school teacher, I was making about $50,000 a year and that felt so luxurious.” But the more D’Arcy worked on her wealth mindset, the more she felt pulled toward entrepreneurship. Her government income had capped out.
It wasn’t until she attended a workshop by another photographer who was making six-figures that she realized making money as a creative was a real possibility. “I’d always been a photographer, and I thought, okay now it’s time to make money at it.”
D’Arcy started learning marketing in 2010 and launched her photography business in 2011. Working part-time in 2012, she made $16,000. It wasn’t enough to leave her teaching job. “I’d always told myself I wasn’t a numbers person because I was a creative.”
But then something happened D’Arcy never could have predicted – a Director of Photography from Sports Illustrated found her on Instagram and reached out to say he loved her portraits.
She was invited to New York to show him her portfolio. Not long after, she got the call that she was invited to work on a shoot for 10 days that September – which she would never be able to do if she kept her teaching job.
So D’Arcy decided to quit before she felt ready. This Sports Illustrated shoot went from an item on her vision board to a real-life experience, and it propelled her into the photography world.
By October, she was making $10-12k months. She finished her first year full-time at $120,000 in revenue.
D’Arcy started out with three core offers: weddings, commercial work, and family photography.
Someone in her network had a connection at a university with a $25,000 photography budget. D’Arcy began work for them, and within a year built a $50,000 income stream to replace her teaching salary.
Between weddings and commercial work, family mini-sessions were another income stream. D’Arcy decided to charge $350 per mini-session. She created a marketing campaign, reached out to her network, and booked $12,000 worth of work.
Although her business took off quickly, D’Arcy had spent a lot of time beforehand learning how to market her services effectively. She spent two years taking marketing classes and workshops before she left her full-time teaching job.
By the time she was working full-time as a photographer, D’Arcy had learned how to position herself as an expert – and more importantly, she wasn’t afraid to sell.
With every client, she made sure to follow up, nurture them, and provide a great experience that kept people coming back.
“I’ve always associated the word sell with serve. I know what I offer is valuable.” That mindset is what’s allowed D’Arcy to go from charging $2,700 per wedding to $10,000+.
D’Arcy had experienced enough self-doubt and hardship in her life that she knew that wasn’t something she wanted to bring into her business.
“I had other life experiences that taught me to stand for my worth. Going into business was not the hardest thing I’d ever faced.”
Instead, D’Arcy made her business into a game. She tried to enjoy the journey, and if something went wrong, she didn’t spend hours beating herself up over it.
Some educators give up after one failed launch. D’Arcy asks herself what went wrong, learns for the next time, then moves on. Having a wealth mindset allows her to enjoy the process.
When same-sex marriage was legalized in Utah back in 2012, D’Arcy’s friends were one of the first couples to be married.
Everyone rushed to the courthouse because they didn’t know how long it was going to be legal. No one had time to book a photographer. So D’Arcy started taking photos of all the couples, offering her services to anyone who wanted them.
It wasn’t long before news outlets picked up the story. D’Arcy’s photographs were featured on ABC, Ellen Degeneres, and The View. She was flooded with booking requests.
Within a matter of months, D’Arcy raised her prices from $4,000 to $7,500 to $10,000.
In 2016, D’Arcy took two months off from photography to build a coaching program around everything she’d learned in her business.
Her first launch was a success, and she spent the next two years writing down every question her clients asked. Eventually, she turned the answers to those questions into a course, which made six-figures the first time it launched.
The education side of D’Arcy’s business has grown past the million dollar mark, but she’s quick to remind readers that money isn’t everything.
“There’s this hungry phase you go through to prove to yourself you can make money, especially if you never had any. But at a certain point, you either become obsessed with it or you begin to see money for the tool that it is.”
Money isn’t good or bad – it’s neutral, and we get to decide what it means to us. To D’Arcy, “Money is an energy that grows when you help people solve their problems.”
With so many people starting businesses and sharing their big wins on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in comparison.
“It seems like everyone on Instagram is a millionaire,” D’Arcy says, “and people feel like a failure if they’re making $250,000.”
The reality is that not everyone needs to make a million dollars a year to support themselves. What’s more important is to define your own targets, as well as what you’re willing to do to meet them.
In her 7-day Money Mindset Makeover course, D’Arcy teaches students how to tell themselves a new story about money.
One simple change to make is to watch the language you use. For example, how often do you see something you want to buy, but tell yourself you can’t afford it? D’Arcy recommends swapping “I can’t afford that” to “that’s for me.”
“It’s not about entitlement or materialism, it’s about allowing yourself to want what you want without judgment.”
When you tell yourself you can’t afford something, you’re closing the door to possibility. Saying “that’s for me” keeps the door open. Your wealth mindset will automatically start coming up with creative solutions.
Like most business owners, D’Arcy is intimately acquainted with burnout. When you’re trying to get your business off the ground, you take any work that comes your way, even at the expense of your health and relationships
“Someone asked me once, ‘What’s your capacity? How much can you handle and still be a happy person?” The question of capacity helped D’Arcy reframe the way she looks at her daily schedule.
Her ideal work day doesn’t start until 10 am. She has rest scheduled in and a set end time for her working hours. “I’m not always perfectly balanced, but I understand what my capacity is.”
Do you know what your capacity is? If not, think about how much work you can realistically take on before it starts to have a negative impact on the rest of your life. Don’t forget the reason why you’re working so hard in the first place is to build a life you love!
If you find yourself working too hard for too little money, it’s time to restructure your business. The Blueprint Model is a great place to start.
Although the entrepreneurial space looks much different than when D’Arcy started her photography business in 2011, she wouldn’t change it for anything.
“So many people are starting their own businesses. There are more opportunities than ever before.”
If she could go back in time and tell herself one thing on her first day as an entrepreneur, D’Arcy would say, “You made the right choice and this is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”
To hear more about D’Arcy and how to encompass a wealth mindset, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
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D’Arcy Benincosa is a world renowned international photographer and an industry leading expert in marketing, mindset, and motivation for creative entrepreneurs. D’Arcy has worked for Sports Illustrated Magazine and her work and teachings have been featured in The Huffington Post, Martha Stewart, Out Magazine, ABC, NBC, The View, and Upworthy. D’Arcy has educated, consulted and inspired thousands, while also founding three six-figure businesses in the past decade. When she started she had one camera, one lens, and a massive dream – taking her small start up photography business from $16,000 to $120,000 in revenue in just 11 months.
August 10, 2023