In an era where we glorify overnight success, Aliyah Dastour’s story of hope, determination, and hard work is worth celebrating. Aliyah has a success story that exemplifies the adage, “nothing worth having comes easy,” and can motivate anyone who has been struggling to achieve their goals. For the last 13 years, Aliyah has worked with thousands of clients to tell their stories, bring out the good in people, and highlight what makes them unique through the lens of her camera. During this period, she has also impacted lives directly through philanthropy and opened more branches to serve clients in the Northern Virginia area. In a world where the “struggling artist” mindset is becoming a thing of the past, Aliyah proves all dreams are valid if you are hungry enough.
Aliyah has always been an artist. However, she didn’t always know how to turn that passion into profits. At the beginning of her career, Aliyah was like most artists when they start out, living month to month with no idea how to make a stable living. Like a typical struggling artist, she had more problems than she could handle. Her car was repossessed, and she couldn’t afford a coffee at networking events, but that was not all. Things got so bad that, at one point, she had to hope the power company wouldn’t turn off the electricity during a holiday weekend as the bill was overdue. Instead of despairing, Aliyah buckled up and trusted the process.
Determined to turn things around for her family, she started working from 4 am to 8 pm, trying to do it all. Gradually, Aliyah perfected her skills and started attracting high-value clients. She went from a struggling artist to a successful business owner with two studios in the DMV area, launched a project called The Loudoun 100 Project, and donated over $100K back to the community through nonprofits. Then, as the business landscape changed, Aliyah pivoted too and became more creative. Leveraging her expertise with the camera and ability to portray her clients in the best light possible, Aliyah started helping companies and individuals develop their images and brands successfully.
Aliyah took advantage of the increased demand for digital marketing and developed marketing campaigns no one else in the industry was doing. She also focused on serving first and donating her time, energy, and money to local area nonprofits, which brought her more organic traffic. Besides that, Aliyah also made serious networking efforts with engaging offers. Once business picked up, she put all her money toward expansion plans even though her young family had no home then. However, reinvesting most of her profits into the business paid off and allowed her to grow while others were failing.
The lessons Aliyah learned were not wasted either. Today she uses them to inspire and instruct other photographers who want to succeed in their craft. One thing she emphasizes is the need to delegate where necessary and make use of technology. Aliyah says that as a photographer, you should direct your efforts toward establishing your credibility and building your business, allowing you to attract more clients. If you do that well, you can then hire other people to do the photography itself and use CRM and marketing software automation tools to do the rest of the work.