Photographer Caroline Gratrix came to Digital Gum via a different route from everyone else. ‘I’d been going to the Grow co-working space and heard about the digital skills course,’ she explains. ‘I thought it sounded fantastic but hadn’t considered for a moment that it would be something I would go on. And not because I’ve got an amazing set of digital skills but because it hadn’t resonated with me in that way.’
Meanwhile, Caroline was invited to be the official Digital Gum photographer, taking pictures of every participant which they get to keep and use. ‘I’d do the headshots then I’d hang around and take classroom shots,’ she relates. ‘Everyone was so enthusiastic. And when I listened to what they were learning I was blown away and thought, “I really want to do this course!”’.
As luck would have it, a new Digital Gum course aimed at small business owners was about to be launched and so Caroline signed herself up for the first one. ‘I loved every second of it,’ she enthuses. ‘Every lesson was a complete learning curve and we didn’t cover anything in those four weeks that I already knew.’The small business course takes place one day a week over four weeks, each session last four hours and covering around three topics each week, ranging from SEO to video via social media and website management. ‘Video was something I was keen to learn more about for my business while augmented reality blew my mind,’ she recalls. ‘There were so many times when I couldn’t believe what I was learning and what I was seeing. I thought the course was just catching up on skills other people had – I hadn’t appreciated that what we were learning was really forefront stuff,’ enthuses Caroline.
‘It was great meeting other small business owners,’ she continues. ‘We talked through everybody’s pain points to try to help. It’s so beneficial to sit back and take a look at your business from the outside rather than within. And we had a lot of fun. You forge some interesting relationships that I can see going forwards. Everyone you meet opens new opportunities for you and vice versa.’
For Caroline, those new relationships have continued to flourish. ‘We have a Facebook group and we had a meet-up recently which was really nice. We’re going to carry on having them every few months.’ And while it’s great to catch up with course mates, ‘it was a good kick up the bum and a reminder of what we should be doing,’ she smiles. ‘Louize is really good at creating communities – unless you are particularly good at keeping in touch, it’s very easy to go on these courses and then just carry on with your life.’
Digital Gum has had a very positive effect on Caroline and is really helping her to grow and develop Viva Photography, which she set up back in 2002. ‘I think about the business differently now and do a lot more forecasting. I’ve posted articles on LinkedIn and try to make sure I’m posting consistently on social media to remind people of the work I’m doing.’ It seems to be so far so good: ‘The phone is ringing and I’m getting work,’ she smiles.
‘The course came at a perfect time for me,’ she continues. ‘I’d decided I didn’t want to be in the family portrait studio arena anymore and wanted to move into corporate work and event photography. I was in the process of having a new website and completely rebranding when I went on the course. It was absolutely the perfect time and a little investment in myself that paid off.’