It’s the photography industry’s dirty little secret. Most professional photographers are not making their living entirely from photography.
This is how most people start out, including myself. We’ve had a lot of people ask us about how we do it. We have three young children (one of which was born since starting the business) and until June when I leave to finally do this full-time, I am still working a job in the corporate world that takes up about 50 hours a week.
It certainly isn’t easy, and it takes lots of hard work and determination. However, it is possible to accomplish and there’s much joy in the process.
Here’s how we’ve managed to build our photography business to the point of replacing our entire household income in only a few years while working full-time and not neglecting our family.
Make sure you and your spouse have the same expectations
I once asked a photographer I know who also worked a full-time job about how his wife felt about his business. The impression I got was that she wasn’t super-happy with how much time he spent on it. He said things such as “I’ve TOLD her that I just HAVE to do this to get the business where it needs to be, but she still doesn’t get it.”
Don’t be this person. If you agree on how much time you can invest, you’ll have someone there to support you and encourage you, and life will be better because of it. It’s better to grow your business more slowly than to have a business that grows faster but causes you to lose the ones you love.
There’s always, ALWAYS something more to do in business, and you could easily spend every moment you have trying to get it off the ground. Talk with your spouse about how much time you can take away from family life in order to grow the business, and make sure that you honor the commitments you make. It’s okay to grow your business slower than you’d like. Really, it is.
Have early bedtimes for young children
We have three young children (ages 5 and under) and no administrative work or editing is touched until the kids go to bed. Having early bedtimes allows me to spend more time in the evenings working on the business without staying up terribly late each night.
Stop wasting time
If you really want to have the time you need to grow the business properly, you need to learn to stop wasting time. Get off of Facebook, Twitter, and those forums where you spend lots of time. Yes, a bit of time can yield a great return, but most of us go far beyond what we need to and these things then become a distraction.
Have a focused plan
You’re certain to have far more ideas than you have time to implement them, especially when your time is limited to only a few hours per week. Decide what to focus on, and don’t bother with everything else. This means learning how to say “No” to shoots and people that you might have otherwise have said “Yes” to.
We mainly do weddings, but we are open to doing a few portraits here and there. However, this last year of working full-time and growing the photography business gave us such little time that we turned away most of the portrait requests that we got in order to focus more strongly on weddings.
It’s much like pruning a bush. It makes it smaller initially, but it allows the rest of the plant to become stronger and healthier in the long run.
Be okay with letting go of the small stuff
Don’t look at our bathrooms or under our couch, because I guarantee it will not be pretty. It used to bother me when they’d get dirty, but at some point with all the stuff we were juggling in our life, we made the conscious decision not to stress about it and to let it go longer than we normally would.
It’s incredibly freeing to let go of some of those things that don’t REALLY matter. Do it. I dare you. It’s hard at first, but it helps immensely when your time is limited.
Don’t forget to have some fun
If all you do is work, work, work and you fail to take some time to relax, you’re sure to burn out before too long. Honestly, I’m not very good at this, but I’m working on getting better at it.
So I thought it might be fun to do a little video of us juggling in honor of this post since we both can actually juggle. My husband is the true juggler in the family, but I’ve picked up the basics along the way. We threw this together in one take and didn’t really have a plan, but I’m still amused by it.
Now it’s your turn…
I know there are lots of you out there with a full-time job, a family, and who are growing your business at the same time. What do you think is the hardest part of juggling all these things at the same time? What tips do you have for making it all work well?