Meet Kayla Locke, of The Chrysalis Course, winner of the Next Big Creator Competition

Meet Kayla Locke, of The Chrysalis Course, winner of the Next Big Creator Competition

The following was written based on an interview with the winner of Teachable’s Next Big Creator Competition, Kayla Locke. Some quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Kayla Locke didn’t want to get her hopes up when she first saw that she was in the lead for Teachable’s Next Big Creator Competition. There was a $100,000 prize on the line, and the possibility of winning it with months left in the competition was exciting.

She published her first course on Teachable, The Chrysalis Course, on March 31, 2022, the day before the competition tally started on April 1. And had signed up for the competition on a whim, thinking “Why the heck not?” she said. But her sales kept rolling in, even once the competition began, and she took the lead.

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Passionate beginnings

Kayla is a photographer based in Springfield, Missouri, and she specializes in family photography. “The style that I do is very lifestyle emotive, not really posed. My sessions are very kind of free-flowing, almost like an improv with the families. Which sounds easy, but it’s very hard to kind of get comfortable with and learn to do,” she said.

Her passion for photography came about once she had kids. She found she enjoyed capturing all of the special moments in her own children’s lives. “It morphed into the moments that I was noticing with my kids, I would want to capture with other people and their kids too. Just those in-between moments,” she said.

She found that when she was taking photos of families, she felt very passionate about it. And while she liked time with other clients she only wanted to fill her work calendar with family sessions. “I just love getting to capture that for people. And I also love that what I do only grows in value. Because these pictures just come to be treasured years and years down the road. It’s a very valuable treasure. I think it’s a really special incredible thing that I get to do,” she said.

Introducing teaching

Her distinct style and passion for her career drew other aspiring and established photographers who wanted to learn from her. She had no idea whether she would like being a teacher or an online creator. But she started doing one-on-one sessions with people in person, then virtually. Eventually, the idea of an online course took hold.

The demand presented itself. “A few years into my photography journey, I had so many people asking like, ‘Hey, do you, mentoring? Do you do teaching?’ and I was like, ‘Oh, let’s just dip my toe in, and let’s just see what happens.’ And then it was the best feeling. Watching these photographers have these aha moments,” she said. Once she started teaching other photographers, she said she was addicted.

So she started splitting her time between teaching and photography. But found that it was incredibly demanding to teach on top of her existing photography work too. Opening up her teaching to online courses was a way to free up some of her time, and some time for her clients too.

“It’s a lot of work to build the kind of course that I’ve wanted to build. So so I basically like morphed my one-on-ones into a course. I stepped away from the one-on-ones and just did the course instead,” she explained. It gave her some of her time back, and it gave her clients some of their time back too. Neither her nor her students had to be online at a specific time in order to do a teaching session. Something that as a mom, Kayla finds incredibly valuable and knows her students do too.

“I’ve loved each part of this journey. But the course has definitely opened a whole new avenue of possibilities of how I can teach people, because I’m definitely not done,” she said.

Launching during competition time

Kayla was surprised when a month into the competition she saw she was in first place. “But I remember whenever the leaderboard rolled out, and I was like, “That’s not right. That can’t be right! Like there’s no freaking way!” she said. She was surprised that she was in first, and that’s where she stayed months into the competition.

“I just basically kept pushing, because my course was brand new. So I think the timing of it was just kind of crazy. The timing of my course launch and the timing of the start of the competition lined up. So I was continuing to keep marketing it, not just because of competition, but obviously also because I just launched it. So it was something brand new,” she said.

The timing was right and hee continued marketing efforts paid off. But there was a month when the leaderboard came out and another course was in first place. That’s when Kayla realized she had gotten her hopes up about potentially winning.

“Throughout the competition, it was really just staying consistent and remembering that sometimes people have to see me post about something 20 times before they’re actually going to dive into it,” she said. She said some people need to see a product or a person multiple times to get comfortable with the idea of buying into a course. “I think self-promotion is just a really hard thing for a lot of us in general. It’s awkward for a lot of people. But I think when you really believe in what you put out there and you love what you do, it makes it a little bit easier for sure,” she said. But that last month she made an extra special push to get over the finish line in first place. It paid off.

Next steps

Now that Kayla’s won, she has plans for how to keep her business on top, competition or not. She wants to create an academy where people can take mini-courses, or they can take one big course and get everything she has to teach in one go. She wanted to make it available to people at different price points. And wants people to have the product that’s right for them.

“The big main course, I feel like even people who aren’t ready for all of it yet, investing in it is amazing, because it’s already at their fingertips when they’re ready for it. But some people just don’t think that way. They just want a little, and that’s fine. We’re all different!” she said. Which is why she’s meeting people where they are. Whether that’s just starting out, or looking for everything at once. She keeps all her big ideas in a notebook to keep it all organized. The coming year will be full of production, photo shoots, video shoots, and more courses.

After all, the name of her course comes from the transition that caterpillars undergo to turn into butterflies. A messy, long process, that results in something beautiful. “We have to unlearn things that we’re used to, when you’re trying to learn a new way of being creative. It’s it can be a very messy process, a very uncomfortable process to reach a new part of our creativity. And it takes getting uncomfortable and it takes getting messy. And so I really, really loved that,” Kayla said about the course name.

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