Happy Friday! 2 weeks ago I introduced a new blog series, The Open Book Club – if you missed it, you can catch up HERE! My undergrad degree is in education, so I have a passion for teaching and want to share all that I’ve learned over my past 2 years in business. I reached out on social media and right here on my blog to hear about what YOU wanted to learn about and got so much great feedback! I have so many great topics coming up in the coming weeks!
But today I’m going to start with a big one. One I really don’t feel super qualified to be writing on, which I think will make it all the better & more honest…
How do you do it all?! How to balance your business with your personal life.
Well the best answer I can give is… I’m still trying to figure it all out. Especially with our move to Burlington, Vermont in the beginning of June, June kind of felt like my life got put in a big blender. It felt like I couldn’t quite do it all… when I was on top of my editing, my inbox was suffering. When my inbox was cleaned out, my blog was quiet. When my blog was buzzing, my editing was piling up. It seemed like I couldn’t keep up! But now that I’m feeling a little more settled, I feel like I can speak to act of juggling the chaos that is wedding season a little more.
Now please note that since I am just a baby to being a full-time photographer, I’d like to speak to this topic to anyone, whether you’re full time or not since I’ve lived out both ways!
1. Being a Photographer Takes a Lot of Self-Control. Just coming to this understanding is HUGE. Yes, you only have commitments to be somewhere shooting 1 or 2 days a week and you may be able to “work” from your couch in your PJs. This doesn’t mean that your schedule is wide open to do whatever you want for the rest of the time. This can be really hard to come to grips with, especially in the summer months when the warm weather & get together with friends is calling your name! When I had another job, it meant going home from that job to work on photography and pulling late nights to get all of my e-mails answered and editing done (I don’t necessarily recommend that… sleep is important too!). Now, I like to feel like my “work hours” are between 8-4 Monday through Friday, just like everyone else! That way when friends want to get together in the evening, I can truly take the evening OFF. It can be really hard for others to understand that even though you don’t have commitments to be at or a boss telling you what to do, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of work you have to do. Just take yourself & your business seriously, and others will too!
2. Be intentional about creating “you” time. Now that I’ve just told you that you have to work hard to carve out the time to get work done, I’m going to tell you the opposite… Make sure you carve out time for yourself! This can be SO hard as a new photographer when you’re so hungry to take on everything you can! I wanted to be that photographer that was so hard working and was super fast in email and editing return times. I wanted to be ambitious and put in those sleepless nights to grow my business with 110% effort. Hard work & the hustle is absolutely essential in this business, but remember you need rest. Going a million miles an hour is not sustainable. Just like you have to carve out & structure time to get your work done, be intentional about scheduling your own personal time. Even though my business brings me so much joy and often times doesn’t feel like work, I have to be intentional about reminding myself that it is and I have to give myself breaks. For me, it is trying REALLY hard to take Sundays off (and if there’s a week that it can’t be a Sunday, I choose another day to give myself to permission to not work). Last Sunday was a beautiful day. I slept in, went to church, got lunch with a friend, went to the beach and had friends over for a cookout. I had lots of unanswered e-mails and editing piling up but you have to give yourself that time and permission to happily ignore it and know that you’re going to be a business owner Monday morning – rested & ready to tackle the week ahead!
3. Know When It’s Time to Enlist Some Help. This moment came for me last September. Between working part-time and trying to do it all, I was drowning and my clients were not getting the experience I wanted them to. There were many teary-eyed, overwhelmed moments. The balance was not there… It was 110% KRP all the time. I attended the Katelyn James Workshop (which I highly recommend!) and met Brianna Venzke, who edits for photographers who outsource their editing. GAME CHANGER. I always thought outsourcing was something I might do down the road… That with the number of weddings I had I wasn’t ready yet. WRONG. Outsourcing my editing has allowed me to grow as a photographer and has given me back time I use for that me time I talked about above or take on other jobs. I will talk more about outsourcing in a future post, no worries! The other big thing that comes to mind on this front is my recent installation of a studio software… In my case, it’s 17Hats. I jumped from shooting 14 weddings in 2014 to 25 in 2015… A big jump! Up until this past winter, I didn’t really have many good systems set up in place because I felt that I could keep all the details straight and remember things on my own. Not anymore! I knew I needed an all-in-one system that could help me with keeping inquiries straight, payments, contracts, workflows, and calendar reminders. 17hats does a phenomenal job at this for me… All of my weddings have their own internet home with all the information I need that I can access anywhere, anytime. Amen! No matter where you are in your career (and actually I would argue that this would be easier to set up and implement if you’re in the beginning stages!) I would recommend looking into 17hats/Pixifi/ShootQ and figuring out which one would work best for your business. My biggest hesitation with setting up a studio software was that my business would become impersonal and I never wanted my clients to feel like they were getting anything less than a 100% personal experience. This isn’t the case at all, I still personalize everything… 17hats just helps me to keep it all organized & straight! The point is that whether it be outsourcing your editing, hiring an intern to run errands for you, implementing a studio software system, figuring out your weaknesses and bottlenecks that are jamming things up in your business and causing you stress… If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t do it all, you’ll never grow!
Phew… that was kind of a novel! But like I said, balancing it all is something I struggle with on a DAILY basis! So this post was as much a pep-talk for me as it was for anyone out there reading it! Just always remember that this business you’re running needs a lot of time, energy and attention but it’s important to build in that time of rest. And never be too bold to admit when you need help!
To all you wedding photographers, good luck at your weddings this weekend! You got it!