“Competitive Overwork” – it’s a thing, and it’s a dangerous thing. It’s also prevalent in the photography world.
The notion of “I’m SO busy, I have 4,000 client shoots lined up for the month of March, and 22,000 emails to respond to within the next half-hour, and I just can’t keep up” actually, in most cases, translates to, “I just can’t keep up. I’m not getting any sleep, therefore my brain isn’t functioning quite as well as it should, and therefore my work is suffering, which, in the long run means that I’m going to burn out, and there will be no way I can keep this business afloat.”
The New Photographer Rush
It seems as though a lot of people who start photography businesses tend to have a huge rush of clients and bookings in their first year of business, but things fizzle out quickly, and by year two, they’re not even offering sessions anymore. I often wonder why this is, and I think a lot of it has to do with competitive overwork, and stretching themselves too thin, too quickly.
When you are getting a lot of bookings and there is a high demand for your skills and talents, the natural inclination may be to book as much as you can because a) you enjoy photography b) you are new to the business, and therefore you are trying to create new, happy clients and c) let’s be honest, it’s nice to have that extra money in your pocket.
Okay With Saying "No"
The truth of the matter is that you really need to become okay with the idea of saying “no.” Being able to say no will help you in many ways, and this is just a brief list of examples of why:
Just because you say no now does not mean no later. You do not have to turn people away permanently. Instead, be honest with them and tell them that you would love to work with them, and even though you are completely booked at the moment, they can schedule a session later down the road. Reward them for their patience by offering them an incentive to book at a later date, such as a discount on their shoot, prints, or maybe even offer a free gift, such as a custom Facebook album or cover photo. This will make your client feel valued, and will most likely guarantee a repeat client, and good word-of-mouth.
This is probably a no-brainer, but let’s really digest this point – saying no frees up time. This is time that you can spend focusing even more sharply on your workflow, from nailing the editing on your images, getting the perfect prints, and packing the final product for your client. Without feeling rushed, you will be able to create, from start to finish, the best possible experience for your client.
Avoid Hitting the Wall
Physical and mental well-being are crucial to the success of your business. Photo shoots are physically demanding, and if you are physically tired, you are toying with disaster! Outside of the shoot, all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a photography business is mentally demanding, and in order to do your best work, you absolutely cannot be at the point of exhaustion. Sure, you can run on fumes for weeks, and maybe even months/years. Eventually, though, you will hit a wall, and sometimes hitting that wall will put your further behind than if you had just worked at a slower pace all along!