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tips for balancing your day job and a photography business

Like everything else in life, working a full time job and trying to start a photography business is a delicate balancing act. If you aren’t mindful of your time and priorities, things very quickly go from manageable to straight up cray. I am heading into my last week of doing this tightrope act, but I decided I would share some tips and other things I’ve learned along the way in case they might benefit someone else. Hope this is at least a little bit helpful to at least one person!

1. Make to do lists For me, if something isn’t on my list, it just doesn’t get done.! I love making lists, but I love crossing things off of lists even more! It’s just so satisfying! Sometimes I will even add things I’ve already done to the list and cross them off because it gives me an extra boost of motivation and also gives me credit for all of the work I really did. As far as the physical list goes, sometimes I write it out on paper, but most of the time I create the list on my iPhone in the Clear app. It’s 2.99 in the app store, but well worth it. I love the satisfying little noise it makes when you cross something off of the list! I also really like being able to access the list from anywhere I go. I might not remember a paper list, but I always have my phone with me!

2. Pre make your meals or be really really nice to your spouse (or roommate, or parents, or the Papa John’s guy). I found that cooking, eating, and cleaning up after dinner took up at LEAST an hour of my evening every night, if not more. Pre planning out what I was going to eat every night helped out so much because I could buy all of the ingredients and do prep work ahead of time or even make a bunch of meals all at once and separate them for later consumption. I won’t lie though…I didn’t do this all that much because my AMAZING husband cooked for me most nights. We were also really not ashamed of going out to Subway or Chickfila for dinner once (or twice) a week to save time.

3. Set aside a little bit of time each day to clean. I’m one of those people that can’t STAND clutter. It just makes me stress and freak out. And freak outs are never good, so we try our best to stay on top of cleaning. It doesn’t always happen, but we are TRYING so at least that counts, right? The best way we have found to keep our apartment from turning into a pig sty is taking 15-20 minutes a day to maintenance clean. That means for 15-20 minutes an evening (when it happens we do it between when I stop working and chill time) you go around and put things back where they belong, wipe down surfaces, etc. It’s really just surface cleaning to keep things orderly until we can get to the real cleaning on the weekends.

4. Blog in advance! I actually create a schedule in google calendar with all of my post ideas for the month as tasks. I then write out as many of them as I can in advance. This post was actually written last week! If you have your blog posts done ahead of time it makes it SO MUCH EASIER to stay on track with blogging. I have some more tips on this, but I’ll share them in another post.

5. Schedule your editing/working time and stick to it! I typically edit in the evenings from six til about eight. Sometimes I eat in between there and sometimes I don’t (meaning I eat a late dinner…I never pass up food!). I try my best to wrap up all of my work by 9 so I can hang out with John until 11 (our bedtime). Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but scheduling things really does mean that more often than not I’m going to get to actually spend time with my husband.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself! For those of us who love what we do, it’s easy to become a workaholic without even realizing it. I find that I feel the best when I take some time off every once in a while and do something stupid and frivolous like watch Keeping up with the Kardashians all night and nothing else. You need time for yourself because overworked people do not make great artists. I know it’s a struggle to say no to things and I’m constantly working on that myself, but maintaining your mental health is extremely critical to the success of your business and most importantly your quality of life! If your quality of life goes down because you are so overworked and stressed, you have to think, why am I even doing this at all? For me, I never want to get to that point where I’m so overwhelmed I’m just tired and burned out and sick of photography. I love what I do so it’s important to me to take some time off to be a regular human so I don’t wake up one day all burned out and emo.

I hope some of these tips are at least a little bit beneficial to you guys. I’m no expert on time management and my life has definitely been a whirlwind since I started my business, but hopefully if you apply some of these small tips you can balance things a little bit better and enjoy life a little more fully 🙂


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Thank you so much for posting this Katie…I know exactly how you feel. Working full-time and running a business along with a husband and two kids really takes a toll on me sometimes. Its really hard work to try and balance everything and I have to admit; I don’t always succeed. Thank goodness I don’t require a lot of sleep. 🙂

Great post! I live and die by my lists! It helps me stay on track. I could definitely work on sticking to a descent work schedule. I work too many hours in a day but like you said, the goal is to achieve a comfortable balalnce. It’s hard for me but I’m sure once you find it, you’ll be golden! Good luck hon.

Very informative! It’s nice to have help figuring out how to get organized!!! 😀

this is a great post – i need to check out that Clear app!! i love to do lists!

The worst case scenario

I feel like I’m at a point in my life where not only are lots of things changing, but there are also lots of difficult choices to be made. Decisions that may or may not affect where I end up 20-30 years from now! Being a constant worrier and the queen of freaking out has made me so overwhelmed by some of the decisions we will have to make. Change sometimes makes me anxious so deliberately choosing to change can be very scary.

It’s not that I’m scared out of my mind about whether or not leaving my job to pursue a career in wedding photography was the right thing to do(it definitely was!), I’m also freaking out over at least a dozen other decisions that probably won’t mean anything to me in five years, like whether or not we should move to a new apartment or if we should try to trade in our car for something different.  Should we spend our extra money on redecorating or buying a new mattress set? My mind weighs about a hundred different outcomes from each random scenario I dream up. I imagine myself, John, and Lucy all as hobos with fabric sacks of our belongings sleeping in railroad boxcars (okay I mostly pictures Lucy as a hobo because she would be so cute as a bum). Will the wheels of my car will need to be prematurely replaced because of all the travel I do for photography. Should we move to a new apartment? Should we buy a washer and dryer or rent them? Should I save for a computer or a new camera body?

Recently I have learned to calm some of my fears by asking myself “What’s the worst case scenario”. It gives me peace of mind to realize that if the worst happens and my business fails, the worst case scenario will be closing up shop and getting a new corporate gig. Yeah, the thought is pretty devastating…but it’s also kind of reassuring. The worst case scenario that could come from deciding to quit my job and pursue my business full time isn’t anyone dying or being harmed. It isn’t starving to death or having to beg for money or become a hooker. Though my heart would be broken if my business ever had to close its doors at the very least if I had to fall, I would be bruised and scraped, not completely shattered.

I don’t mean to say any of this as though I won’t be doing my best and making my business the best that it can be. My heart and soul are so tied to this thing…I’m not giving myself excuses. What I am trying to say, is that above all I want to be the kind of person who isn’t afraid of what might happen because even the worst that could happen still isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Life will go on. This new perspective has given me such a great sense of peace.

No matter what, life goes on.

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so good to remember this! thanks for the perspective 😉

Love it! One, you won’t “fail”, two life does go on. You’ll see that some decisions are worth worrying about and some you just have to take the plunge and make a decision. If you regret it later, well it’s better than waffling and never making ANY decisions 🙂

such a great post, katie!!!! you won’t fail – you are going to be AMAZING. xoxo

A preview and an announcement!

This past weekend John and I drove out to Gaithersburg, Maryland to shoot Maddie and John’s beautiful wedding! John actually grew up in Gaithersburg and ran track with Maddie, the bride. I can’t wait to share the more of their images later this week, but this little peek will have to tide you over until then. I will just say that I love this couple and going through their images to cull them has been a joy!

In addition to the preview, I also wanted to share that I’m hosting a boudoir marathon July 28th! Spots are VERY limited, so please make sure you secure your spot soon! Email me at katie@katienesbittphotography.com or use the contact form for more details or to book!

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Featured!

Yesterday Brooke and Justin’s Yorktown Beach engagement session was featured on the wedding blog Borrowed and Bleu!

On another note, what are your plans for the weekend? I’m heading back to Maryland again to shoot a wedding 🙂

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Congrats on getting featured! This weekend I’m heading to Maryland to shoot a wedding with you!

YAY!! congrats on the feature 🙂 🙂 🙂 have a great weekend!

Annamarie

oooh yayyy i didnt see this before! Love them! Love this session. Congrats!!!!!!!!