by Amy Lyn C.P.P., Contributing Editor
If there are mistakes to be made while owning a photography business, I’ve probably made them all. But the biggest mistake I ever made was losing site of myself. My original major in college was photography but it wasn’t until after my son was born that I came back to truly looking into photography as a career. I wanted more time with him, my husband, and for myself. I wanted to earn money of course, but never at the expense of myself or family.
I started my business slowly. I took a few sessions a month and kept my focus on my family. I started to get busier and then all of a sudden, my business began to take over. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but all of a sudden I found myself up all hours of the night editing, booking sessions I didn’t want, and struggling to find time for myself. I spent almost two years running a rat race. I would stay up until 2 am or later so that I wouldn’t miss time with my kids but then I was so exhausted during the day I had no energy to play with them. I ate junk because I had no time to consistently make anything healthy much less time to shop. And exercise was out of the question…when could I possibly? I was miserable all the time and didn’t know how to stop it.
Not to mention, my body was not keeping up. No amount of coffee could keep me going any more. Around 2 pm each day I had to nap and when I say had, I mean HAD. I was just exhausted. About a year ago, I had blood work done and discovered that my body was producing almost no cortisol. I had stressed my body for such a long period of time that I had depleted it’s ability to cope with stress. My body was telling me it was done. Not taking care of me did matter. It mattered a lot. I thought as long as I kept my family safe and happy and my business going things would be fine. I forgot about one important element–ME.
My best advice to get out of this cycle is to never get in it. But if you are like me, you might already be there. Here are several ways I climbed out.
- Raise Prices: If you are too busy with sessions, raise your prices. Double them even. Take half as many sessions for the same amount of money. So many of us (me included) start out without charging enough to sustain our businesses which leads straight to exhaustion as we fight to keep afloat.
- Outsource: If you are getting bogged down with editing, outsource. There are some amazing options out there and if you are charging enough (see number one) you can easily divert some funds to editing help.
- Workout and Eat Right: Start working out and make it a priority. Schedule it and NEVER break the appointment. Treat it like a client meeting. I didn’t realize how bad I felt just from not moving enough or eating the foods my body needed.
- Say no: To something. Anything really. Find the two or three aspects of your life that are bogging you down and get out.
- Make Policies: Make business policies that give you a break. Instead of promising prints in one week, say three. If you are clear and up front people will accept your time frame. The problems arise when we deliver late.
- Enlist help: I don’t necessarily mean hiring help for your business. (That can come with it’s own list of trouble.) But, hire someone to clean your house, ask your husband to take on grocery shopping, or subcontract someone to hold your sales meetings. Find ways that will give you time to take care of you.
I thought it was only fitting to share images of my kids this month. They are the reason I work as hard as I do…and they are the reason I am learning to take better care of me.
Amy Lyn is a Certified Professional Photographer working near Akron, Ohio. She photographs weddings and portraits and has been published in national wedding blogs such as A Paper Proposal and Borrowed & Bleu as well as in Chic Critique Magazine. She lives with her two adorable kiddos and hubby on eight acres of a photographer’s dream. Check out her sites and “like” her Facebook page.