Finding Balance: Managing Work And Life Running Your Photography Studio
Jun 29, 2017 | By: Holly H
Is work is taking over your life?
Are you often tired or stressed out?
Does it feel like some days you don’t even have time to shower?
Do you miss soccer games or family activities because you have to work?
We’ve all felt like that at some point.
Running your own business is SUPER hard. And you’re SUPER passionate about it, which is why you chose this life to begin with.
Be your own boss! Do what you love! Have fun! (You are having fun, right?)
But with all of your responsibilities and things that need to get done, running your own studio can be overwhelming. And before you know it, you’re not doing the things you need to do or want to do... like enjoying time with your family, taking vacations, or even sleeping. (Not to MENTION keeping up with laundry!)
If you’re seeking balance in your life and your photography business, here are some things you can do to help you find peace.
Understand that you can’t do it all... but that’s OK!
You can do ANYTHING. But not one of us alive can do EVERYTHING.
You’re ambitious and it takes a lot to run a business. But it also takes a lot to manage your family, household, and to enjoy yourself too.
When you recognize that it's OK to prioritize your time and your happiness, everything else can start falling into place.
So what if there are still dishes in the sink? Or that editing is taking longer than you thought it would. Your happiness is worth more than a completed to-do list or a spotless kitchen.
You're working hard, so forgive yourself even if you haven't met 100% of your goals for the day. You're still great, and can do great things. Instead of getting down on yourself for not doing more, be glad for what you are able to achieve. Chances are, it's plenty.
Be kind to yourself & practice self-care.
Are you happy? Are you sleeping enough? When was the last time you took a vacation? (No, a REAL vacation!)
Even though you’re busy, you still need to be able to take time to breathe. Carve out time in your schedule just to be with your family and to take care of yourself. To exercise, read bedtime stories, travel, or cook – all of the things you like to do, need to do, and want to do to be happy.
Also, remember to SLEEP!! Burning the candle at both ends will not help you, your clients, or your family. I know there are deadlines and one million things to do. But you have to sleep. If you’re not taking care of yourself, your work and your family will suffer, too.
You can say "No."
Overcommitting will not help you, your business, your family, or your craft.
Saying NO is hard… but give yourself permission to be selective. Sure, making extra money with a last-minute Saturday shoot would be great, but everything has a cost.
It’s OK to pick and choose your jobs, especially if it causes you to miss out on family activities or rest. You could “SQUEEZE” someone in, but if it impacts your quality of life, take a step back and evaluate if it's really going to be worth it.
Make a schedule & stay focused.
You can't add hours to a day, but you can maximize your time by creating a schedule and sticking to it.
Set aside regular working hours. And when you're working, work hard. Set productivity goals and minimize distractions so you can meet those goals. Perhaps turn off your phone while you edit, or work in 20-minute bursts with a 5-minute break between.
It's also important to decide when you're NOT working. Even if you shoot on weekends, you can create your own weekend by taking off two days in a row each week to decompress.
Make time to do the things you love by making them non-negotiable. For some people, that means Tuesday yoga class is sacred and Can Not Be Moved. Others may block out regular date nights. You are in control of your own schedule.
Compensate yourself fairly.
If you're worried about your income, that stress is going to seep into every other part of your life. A big mistake many photographers make is to set their pricing by what they think is competitive, or what they assume clients want to pay.
I keep coming back to what Sarah Petty said: that there is always another photographer out there who is cheaper than you. That cutting your prices will not help you in the long term. The amount you should charge is the amount that you need to make. This figure will be based on how much you want to earn (honestly, reasonably) in a year, your real operating costs, and the number of days you expect to shoot in the year.
For example, let's just say you want to take home $100,000/year as income, and that your studio costs total another $100,000/year. If you expect to shoot only 2 days a week, that's 104 days a year. If we do that math, you'll discover that you need to charge $1,923 each day you shoot to meet your goal.
Speaking of which...
Don’t work for free.
You are a professional, not a hobbyist. You have working hours AND non-working hours. Don’t do “free work.”
Like if you’re going to your sister’s wedding, give yourself permission to just go to the wedding. You don’t have to volunteer (or accept if you're asked!) to take her wedding photos and basically work for free.
You don’t ask your lawyer friend to represent you for fun on their day off. Or your surgeon friend to just take out an appendix real quick. Your buddy contractor is not going to remodel your kitchen for free because you’re friends.
If you get into the habit of doing free work, people will take advantage of you. You are a professional and you deserve to be paid for your work.
Find efficiencies & get help when you can.
In the beginning, you probably do everything yourself. You do the booking, selling, accounting, marketing – and even take out the trash, too. While you're in this mode, try to find areas that are taking more time than you like and build more efficient workflows to handle them.
Perhaps sending clients an information packet with price sheets, etc. will shorten the amount of time you spend selling. Maybe you can free up some time by having clients book, pay a deposit, and sign a release all at once with an online form. Freeing up time by condensing your workflow will help you across the board.
Once your business is on its legs, you can consider hiring an assistant to take care of some of your marketing, design, or administrative work so you’ll have more time to do what you REALLY love. I know it's an extra cost, and you may not be comfortable yet giving up 100% control of your process. However it’s unreasonable for you to expect to do everything all the time forever, and the amount of time and energy you save may be worth it.
Case in point: your website. You have a PhotoBiz website, and that comes with free help from real web experts. The next time you're trying to update your site, call us and we’ll help. That’s what we’re here for. It's a free service we are happy to provide to make your life just a little bit easier.