Geoff and Di East were enjoying a trip of a lifetime and creating photographic memories of their travels when they started to question their own busy lives at home. They loved the freedom of cruising, exploring the islands and the unique culture of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It was during this sailing adventure that they discussed retirement options and made the big decision to leave work permanently.
As a couple they share a love of travel, adventure, and outdoor activities. But as they discussed their future retirement lifestyle it became clear that both Di and Geoff also had different interests that they wanted to explore. They decided that Di would take a year to follow her long-held dream of studying photography. During that year Geoff would continue working. His interest in writing was put on hold for a while.
A mature aged student
Despite a successful career, Di had never had the opportunity to attend University or formally develop her creative skills. She enrolled in the Diploma of Digital Imaging at Billy Blue College (Torrens University). Natural talent, enthusiasm, and perfectionism led to her doing extremely well in her photographic assignments. The course also included the creation of a business plan as a compulsory assignment. Although it seemed completely irrelevant to their retirement, Di discussed it with Geoff.
As they considered what sort of photographic business she could plan for the assignment, a wonderful idea emerged. Why not combine their skills to create a lifestyle business. Could this enhance the active retirement they wanted? A plan was hatched!
But being excited about a great idea doesn’t mean others will see it that way. Di’s initial business plan of travel photography and blogging was dismissed by her lecturer as a pipe dream… “You and everyone else who owns a camera!” She was encouraged to consider another income stream which might have more chance of success.
Creating photographic memories
And so the ideas for Photo Prose Creative were explored. Di and Geoff are very family-oriented people. They have a large extended family including nine grandchildren. Therefore they really understand the importance of making family memories. Capturing those memories in beautiful photographs was an obvious choice.
‘Where words and images unite’
They knew family photography could be a good business niche, but still wanted to combine their skills. Geoff enjoys writing, but in his corporate work the style of writing was dictated by the project in which he was involved. The idea of creating photo books, where words would enhance the photos, emerged. This was a way to combine their skills and personal interests into a unified service.
Where words and images unite became their tag line that would dictate the evolution of the business. One lovely product they offer is ‘A Day In Your Life’ which creates a charming memory of everyday life at a particular point in time. This has proven very popular for families where a partner works in another location or grandparents live far from the family.
Travel photography and stories
Despite the travel photography idea being dismissed originally, this has become a very successful and enjoyable part of their lifestyle business.
Photo Prose Travel photographs are stunning and tell a story in their own right. The impact is magnified with Geoff writing great articles to accompany the photographs.
Opportunities often come from people you know
Geoff sought the advice of a past work colleague, now involved with a very successful blog site. As so often happens with networking, this led to a great opportunity. Geoff and Di were invited to submit a blog for possible publication in the widely read Starts at 60 blog. Since then their work has been published quite regularly. The posts have been very well received and are a delight to look at and read. Topics vary widely, ranging from a safari in South Africa and exploring family history, to showcasing some great Aussie pubs. These blog posts can also be found on their Photo Prose Creative Blog page.
Most bloggers don’t get paid to write but there can be other compensations. Geoff and Di have already had the wonderful experience of some sponsored adventures.
Di has had a trip to South Africa, Geoff a luxury cruise. Both working holidays have resulted in outstanding stories posted on Startsat60. Most travel bloggers dream of achieving some sponsored travel eventually. This couple has achieved this in less than a year.
No problems with age
PhotoProseCreative is a good example of planning a business to suit not only your skills but your stage of life. Their travel blog readers tend to be of a similar age so they appreciate the age-appropriate topics and tips for travel. Similarly, when you are doing family photography it helps to be a grandparent with great child-wrangling skills and rapport.
Proud of producing outstanding photographic memories
Geoff and Di East are enjoying their retirement lifestyle business, allowing plenty of time for family, friends, travel, and all the outdoor activities they enjoy. They are proud that they create legacy products which can bring nostalgia and joy, not just to the existing family but to future generations.
Tips for starting a retirement lifestyle business
If you are considering a retirement lifestyle business, here are some wise business tips that have emerged from this interview with Geoff and Di.
Build a shared vision
- Know what you both want in your future lifestyle.
- Decide on the sort of business that will suit you and the lifestyle you want.
- Set modest goals if you don’t want much pressure in your life.
- Understand your values. Have the courage to turn down opportunities if they aren’t consistent with what you value most.
Plan your business
- Define your niche in detail.
- Adapt your niche and broaden your market if necessary.
- Look at your age and experience as advantages, and build that advantage into your business.
Evaluate your skills and your partner’s skills
- Recognise your combined skill gaps.
- Can you hire someone to fill those gaps? If not, negotiate who is going to develop new skills to fill those gaps.
Market your business
- Recognise and market your point of difference from other similar businesses.
- Develop a strong marketing plan.
- Learn about search engine optimisation if you are going to blog or manage a website.
Manage the allocation of tasks
- Remember that someone has to do the jobs that are beyond your current skills or interests. Don’t ignore them.
- Renegotiate how you will manage those tasks if things are slipping through the cracks.
Reach out to others
- Don’t forget that people you have known in the past can often be able to open doors for you in your business.
- Offer to do something for your community. Let people know who you are and what you can do.