Without a doubt, the most import element of your photography business is not necessarily the type of camera you use, the style of photos you shoot, or how many clients you have. While these are all important elements in their own right, the most important part of your business is you. Whether you shoot with Nikon or Canon, have 10 clients or 1000, the driving forces behind your business are you and your own, unique vision.
That’s quite a lot of pressure, isn’t it?
However, this same pressure is what can make or break you as a photographer, because you have the choice to either let the pressure overwhelm your personal life, or to turn the pressure into energy that you can channel into growing your business.
In this post, I will highlight some of the ways that I, and countless others I know, have found to make the most of my time, while still prioritizing those who are closest to me. As photographers and especially business owners, it can be very easy for us to become overwhelmed by our workload, and neglect aspects of our lives that need constant tending. These aspects can range anywhere from taking care of ourselves, to spending time with our families, to having other interests, besides photography, that make us feel whole and well-rounded.
Why Maximize Your Time?
Let’s look at the basics first, and consider the element of time constraints. We all lead extremely busy lives! If you are completely self-employed, making the most of your time, and setting yourself a schedule, are extremely important and can help you make more time for the people in your life.
Last October, I left my job in retail to pursue photography full-time. At first, I thought that being able to make my own hours and work in my PJ’s all morning was the easiest thing ever, but I soon realized that I had no set schedule for myself, so I was actually in a downward spiral of low productivity. I had a load of things that needed to be done, but I had no idea how to prioritize them. The result was, a few months later, feeling overwhelmed by my workload, and working 16 hours a day trying to stay caught up, which in turn meant that I wasn’t giving my personal relationships, or myself, the time they needed to thrive.
A Daily Schedule
After reading an interview with Jasmine Star in which she stressed the importance of her daily schedule, I set a similar schedule for myself, and things immediately started to get better. It felt great to have consistency in my day, and I also started maximizing my time, so that I actually spent less time working, and more time with my family. Below is an example of my schedule, and a couple of notes on why certain aspects of the schedule work.
8:30am – Wakeup, get coffee and breakfast. Even if you are not a breakfast person, try to eat something, because it is a proven fact that having a healthy breakfast will help you be more productive throughout the day.
9:00am – Answer emails. I try to prioritize the most important emails first, because it is easy to get stuck on emails all day, and I do my best not to answer emails in the afternoon when I am with my family or having “me” time, unless they’re extremely important.
10:00am – Check Facebook, Google+, Flickr and Twitter. We all know how important social-networking sites are for growing our business, so I try to devote an hour a day to posting, and commenting on others’ posts.
11:15am – Take a break. Everyone is different when it comes to how long they can work before they loose focus, but since I have always had difficulty focusing on a task, I find that I work better in 1 hour bursts, with a short break after.
11:30am – Edit photos, work on blog posts.
12pm – Lunch
1pm – Call clients to schedule meetings and to follow up on previous shoots.
2pm – 3pm - My day usually ends here, unless I have an appointment in the afternoon. I will answer any high priority emails that come in, and will also browse Flickr and Pinterest to look at photos that interest me, and I will add them to my “inspiration” folders.
Now, this schedule is just what works for me, but something completely different may work for you. Maybe you have an 8-5 job, and need to work on your photography business in the evenings, or if you work nights, you would need to devote your afternoon hours to photography.
The point is, though, that with a set schedule, and having a to-do list of high priority tasks, you are much more likely to get a lot accomplished, and then have plenty of time left over for you and your family. Most of us are creatures of habit, and we thrive when we have some sort of routine. Having a schedule will give you direction, and also help you avoid having work pile on top of itself until it is completely unmanageable.
Anna Gay is a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA and the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. She also designs actions and textures for Photoshop. When she is not shooting or writing, she enjoys spending time with her fiancee, and their two cats, Elphie and Fat Cat.