At age 12, Trey Cockrum founded a small graphic design firm, at 17 he is office shopping in downtown Indy for his photographer community ‘SeekTheLight’. He now earns passive income through YouTube and travels the world for his own wedding photo gigs.
Indianapolis, dude! It’s like a mini New York. I am in love with the people, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the desire to overcome around here. You can make some great friends just walking down the street. Lovely city. Ever walk the canal down here? Gorgeous.
It was never a decision I made! I never woke up one day and decided to pursue an entrepreneurial lifestyle. My goal was simply to never have to work fast-food as a teen, and here I am. It wasn’t an inherent desire for entrepreneurship, it was a desire to avoid the other end of the spectrum. The goal-lacking, soul-sucking lifestyle of pencil pushing. (God bless those that enjoy it! Our world goes around thanks to them.) My heart and mind are set on other things, and I strive to push myself and my abilities to make this a reality.
Was there a defining moment in your life?
At eleven or twelve, I ran a graphic design firm with an Skype buddy of mine over the internet. To this day, I never have met him in person! But we made great money together (for twelve years old, haha!) serving small YouTube channels, a few clothing lines, and even designing logos for a handful of brands. The defining moment for me was when I purchased my first article of clothing (a purple beanie. I was a weird kid, and still am.) using money that came out of seemingly nowhere. I spent no money on graphic design education, no money on a portfolio, simply made friends and offered my services, and I realized how scaleable internet business could be. I went on to build a custom PC worth over $1,400 on my own change, at twelve/thirteen, I saw the abundant opportunity.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
It means freedom to serve actively. To scale a lifestyle of other-oriented service, to create more than just money with your time. To me, the word “entrepreneur” represents someone who is tired of seeing people fall flat on their face, tired of seeing the world in a rut, tired of watching people lose their personal battles, including themselves. So, they’ve decided to fight. Money and freedom aside, they’re proving to themselves, to their loved ones, to the world, that there is more to this life than a daily grind.
It means life instead of toil. It means scaling something other than hitting a glass ceiling. It means free time to use for greatness other than trading it for money to “get by”.
What are you working on?
So much. Way TOO much. Not sure if Jeremy would let me spam this article with it all. Haha! (Love you buddy.) I’m known online primarily as a portrait and wedding photographer, and though this is true, I am working to create so much more.
– the Facebook group I manage, is profitable enough simply through the single Lightroom preset pack (Google: “What is a Lightroom preset?) I’ve got the funds to pay a handful of team members to help moderate, promote, and maintain momentum within the group, as well as handle an Instagram page for us. We are looking at an office in the heart of downtown Indy currently.
– I am promoting and maintaining my own wedding photography business. I shoot about 15 high-end weddings a year (typically charging around $2,500 – $3,000). Great money for myself right now, a large portion of it goes right back into SeekTheLight currently.
I am wanting to start:
- An email marketing firm. We have added 27% to our preset sales using email, and I would love to share this with other small businesses.
- Social media consulting business. SeekTheLight, my personal business, and so many others are growing so rapidly thanks to the proper use of social media. I’d love to share this, as well, with other small businesses.
- Facebook group management service. SeekTheLight, primarily, is a Facebook group. I’d love to show other businesses how to create, manage, and monetize a Facebook group.
- A custom camera strap business. Something aesthetically pleasing, but usable. Tired of the plastic, itchy straps that come with cameras today. Imagine a SeekTheLight branded camera strap? How sick would that be.
- A new wedding photographer consulting biz. Charge $250(ish) an hour to coach photographers on starting their wedding businesses – it’s a complicated market, and I’ve found success in it.
And so much more.
What made you so passionate about Photography?
That’s something I wish I knew how to communicate. My passion lies in the time that doing what I am doing frees up for me, and the freedom that entrepreneurship provides. Photography, though I do love it, is more a medium to express my desire to free my time, earn good money serving others, and leverage myself as well as my abilities to create something wonderful for my future, and those whom I love. Photography itself was something I decided to pick up at 13, I fell in love with the medium when I first shadowed a talented wedding photographer at 14.
How were you able to take your passion and use it to educate tens of thousands of photographers all over the world?
Firstly, a desire to spread my love for this medium. Secondly, YouTube
! It’s such an under rated medium for entrepreneurs. It’s like I first posted a review of a camera I like a lot, and saw it blow up. Since then, I’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of views, and gained a decent (nothing incredible. But plenty enough to leverage for my personal brand.) presence in the photography community. I simply put a GoPro on top of my camera at a few weddings, a few senior portrait shoots, and recorded commentary-styled videos, showing how I shoot and edit. Lots of photographers credit my content to their personal success, and I love to see that. This is the spark that started SeekTheLight, through promoting it in the videos, it has become far greater in size, and more influential than I could’ve ever thought for it! (Maybe I need to start thinking bigger.)
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to endure?
Pride. Lack of patience. Comparison to peers, and other entrepreneurs. Besides this, very recently, my house was struck by lightning, and was totaled. The process of recovering from this loss has driven me to much more, and I am excited for the future. No one was hurt, the house is currently being rebuilt, and I am happy. It has meant double, if not, triple the work from my end to see my pursuits succeed. But it has been fully worth it, and has put me back on the ground where I need to be, working daily.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Doing exactly what I’m doing now. Leveraging myself, using my skills, talents, and knowledge to serve others. I hope to create something sustainable – Financially, spiritually, and emotionally for my future self and family. Be able to work from home, or spend time at home to be able to cultivate good relationships with those whom I love and care deeply about.
I wish to form a legacy built on an other-oriented lifestyle, God’s word and wisdom, acting responsibly with myself and my opportunities, and sustaining great relationships. I strive to die knowing I was used for good, knowing that my impact was great, and that I was worked through for the good of all who came in contact with me.
What is the best advice you have for young entrepreneurs?
You’re young simply because you were born later than some people. Don’t let your age act as a security blanket. Be patient, be diligent. Success isn’t overnight. I’m hardly anything, this interview is designed to make me look good.
You’re made of greatness; whether you’ve discovered it or not. Do more than me, more than you think you can. Set your bar high, give yourself a lifetime to make it happen, because that’s what we both have.
You’re going to do great things the second you start doing great things. Shoot me an email if you’d like to talk: email@example.com