It’s the question I get asked the most besides “how did you get your start” — how in the WORLD do you balance family & business?
Let me start by saying I LOVE my Q&A gals! Anyone who attends a Q&A with me is entered into a private Facebook group where they can network together and help one another in an environment where they know they will get honest answers in a polite and professional way. Some of them call it a “safe place” hahah– because it is! It’s SO helpful too and a place for them to vent if needed.
One of my sweet friends last night posted that she felt like she was missing her family for constantly working on her business. This broke my heart because OH MY GOSH I know this feeling! As I sit here typing this Cammy is standing next to me and I’m on the laptop while Dora plays on tv. This—- today—– is the ONLY way I can get a blog post done. I’m as sick as a dog with this first trimester nausea and I can hardly move from this couch. Building a family and balancing business by the way is 10 times harder than balancing family and business, but we’ll save that for another day! 🙂 And ps– my workflow and scheduling has been OFF recently due to severe nausea with this new baby– so take that into consideration too hahaha! 🙂
It’s gonna come down to TWO things for me. The only ways I can make this work.
1. WORKFLOW. You’ve heard me say it over and over and over. I know it’s repetitive but the truth is, I’m watching it save people’s sanity and businesses left and right and I couldn’t be MORE PROUD!!! Workflow is an absolute KEY to running a fast paced business and a wonderful way to give your clients their images fast! I can’t think of any client that WOULDN’T want their images back quickly, and the reason I have this turn around time is not just for me and getting more time with my family, but for those clients who deserve it!
When I say workflow, I mean SYSTEMS. Basically, you need a week where you are really focusing on your business and how to come up with a detailed system for every part of it. If you need to get a family member, babysitter, etc to watch the kids– you need to dedicate a week of your life to getting this straight. Last December when business was slow, I had Mike take Cammy a LOT of the time while I decided what my workflow systems were going to look like.
An example of workflow building is saying okay, for sessions– what do I need to do from START to FINISH to complete the process of shooting all the way to blogging and image delivery? There are a LOT of little steps to get this completed from booking to shooting to posting– but the key is that if we have it all WRITTEN DOWN or TYPED OUT in front of us, we’re less likely to forget a step and *Flow* through the process.
A very brief example of session workflow for me is: Answer email inquiry with attached session info, if they want to book then take the retainer fee (NEVER BOOK ANYTHING WITHOUT A RETAINER FEE—EVER. FRIEND OR NOT!), prepare for session (charge batteries, clear mem card, etc), shoot session, come home and cull all images, post sneak peek on Facebook, eat dinner, edit images (Because now that they’re culled, you hardly have anything to do except edit them, which once you get used to Lightroom goes FAST!) and then backup all images on hard drive and online, choose images for blog by dragging them into a specific folder on desktop, pre-blog and save as draft, watermark (blogstomp) images for facebook album and then post the blog and Facebook album the next day in addition to sending the download link to client.
Is that a lot of work in one night? YES!!!!!! But my gosh, I don’t have it lingering over me for days and days and days! It’s not just sitting there waiting to be done. I’m tired, I’m exhausted– but it’s done! Mike knows he is on baby duty the nights of my sessions because that’s the time I need to complete them. This doesn’t work for everyone, especially those that are still taking a while to edit, but scheduling that EDITING TIME like in your planner as in blocking out time for it– and getting child care for that time…you can do it! Turn off Facebook and your phone’s notifications, etc– and breeze through it!
2. SCHEDULING— YOU HAVE to schedule editing and office time. You have to schedule editing time that corresponds with each session/event. For example, I don’t schedule anything on Mondays anymore for the most part. Mondays are my post-wedding-workflow day and Cammy spends the entire day at the sitter because I have already culled and prepared the wedding to be edited on Saturday night or Sunday morning– so that I can sit through and work SO hard to get it done. Tuesdays are half workdays for me where I post the wedding on the blog, on Facebook, email the images to clients, submit the images to Two Bright Lights to be published hopefully and then wrap up everything for that wedding.
You have to consider that you can’t just “get things done whenever you have time” because that won’t happen most of the time…and scheduling is a way to guarantee a life for yourself. For example, this has been hard but after talking to my mentor and inspiration, Katelyn James…I KNOW I can no longer accept sessions on the weekends, period. Engagements, seniors, etc– I have to shoot them on the weekdays because the quality of my own life is being lost with using every single Sunday to shoot a session for someone when I am missing my family. Additionally, a LOT of weddings are occurring on Fridays and Sundays now so I can’t guarantee I won’t have to switch a date out with someone because of that opportunity arising! I know what it’s like to have a 9-5 job and it’s hard to get off, but my clients are so amazing and they always understand. This new change to my business is already guaranteeing I won’t be missing out of my own family’s events and life anymore and that’s changed my whole outlook on running this business. You have to make your business work for your life, not your life work for your business…isn’t that why you went into business for yourself in the first place?
Just remember that these levels of organization are key to balancing family. You have to create workflow systems for sessions, weddings, time to submit to publications, time to record your mileage and log receipts, etc…and you have to schedule your life accordingly. Get your like and your family back, your clients will love and respect a HAPPIER business woman!!! 🙂