So, there you are… A bag full of expensive gear that is worth less every day… Mad skills… Eager to shoot… Ambitious… Looking forward to a lifetime of amazing experiences behind the camera ….annnd you are sitting in front of your computer editing the weekend’s images, posting to social media, writing a blog post, answering emails, drooling over another photographer’s Instagram account, planning your next lens purchase, and doing all of the other behind-the-scenes things that running a successful photography business requires you to do. I was there, too. I was working 80+ hours a week for years – convinced my overworked struggle would pay off with success + less to do later.
It took me 7 years of working way too hard before I figured out my happy place in the photography market, and another 4 years to find my ‘success with less to do’ in my niche. I’m very happy to report, your hard work CAN pay off with success and less to do later, but the journey doesn’t happen the way you probably think. “Less to do later” takes a special mindset and includes planning for growth, hiring for success, delegating like a fiend, and a little Monday through Friday money along the way. That is why I am writing this series of posts; I hope I can save you the 10+ years of struggle, trial, and error it took me to make it happen.
You should be reading on if you want some tactical steps, guidelines and insights (and surprise impacts, too!) on the potential of your future:
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- working smarter
- using your weekend gear to shoot more during the week
- sitting in front of a computer less
- having a better quality of life.
We’ll start this series with the basic cornerstone of balance: working smarter.
You all know your photography business is just that – a business. You are working. It may be a fun creative outlet, a source of recognition, or just a way to stay busy right now (if you are lucky enough to have some other form of income, or don’t need much), but at some point, you will want or need more – maybe a lot more if big families and stay-at-home parents are a priority to you like they are to me.
To that end, “you make your money behind the camera, not behind the computer.” Read it again for funsies because most wedding and portrait photographers don’t get the full view on that concept. They consider their primary service – which happens primarily on the weekends – as their sole source of income. They bang their heads against a wall trying to make more money out of a two day shooting week, or push their portrait clients to be available during the week. So many of us were willing to have a side job waiting tables, editing for other studios, or some other of the bajillion $10-$15 an hour jobs out there to support our basic needs while building our business initially, but aren’t willing to venture outside of our comfort zone (or outside our brand identity) to shoot off-brand side jobs once we commit to going full-time.
I ask, “Why not? Why are you forcing the weekend?”
If you have enough gear to shoot a nice family portrait on Saturday from 9-noon for $500, you likely have the right gear to shoot a professional headshot from 9a-10a on Tuesday for $250. If you have the right gear to shoot a discounted 6 hour Friday wedding for $1800, you likely have the gear to shoot a 6 hour corporate event on Thursday for $1000 (no engagement session, no prints, and no parents, I might add). If you have the gear to shoot a flower at the park for a fine art piece you sell for $200, you can likely shoot a bouquet for a local florist’s website for $100.
But, hey, you already shoot all weekend and work all week, and now I am sitting here telling you to go out and shoot more during the week!? WHAT!? What do you do about all that stuff that happens in front of a computer: editing, social media, bookkeeping, retouching, design, content creation, sales, and marketing? Wearing all of those hats is already exhausting!
Hey, here is the deal on “working smarter”: YOU aren’t going to be doing all of that busy work stuff!
That money you earned in one hour on Tuesday morning is going to pay for delegating away ALL of your tasks for Tuesday AND Wednesday. That $250 on Tuesday pays for 16.5 hours of work from someone making $15/hour. BAM! You just paid for your entire wedding edit from Saturday (and that engagement session from Sunday) in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it yourself! Run around naked all day Tuesday (indoors please), visit two clients, and have afternoon cocktails with three friends on Wednesday while your work is getting done!
Plus, aside from getting a few hours of your life back, there is another exciting side effect of delegating some of your busywork: you are going to meet new people on side-jobs you wouldn’t meet at the computer! That means shiny new leads, and who doesn’t love those!?
Pick up a second job on Thursday doing some website content for a friend’s company for another $200, and that translates to a new Lensbaby (gearporn!! wait, can I say that here?) AND a writer creating two blog posts and a series of social media posts to support the new blog content!
If running around naked isn’t your thing and you decide to ‘double up’ (use the free time you ‘buy’ during the week to revisit/network with those side job clients), you will likely get more side jobs. Get enough of them and the world is your oyster – you can have:
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- complete flexibility + control over your M-F schedule
- freedom to pass on a weekend shoot when there is something else you would rather do
- [Bob Barker voice] A NEW CARRRRR!!!
Do you feel that “I’m winning” breeze blow through your hair? Can you feel it?
You see where I am going with this, right? Your weekends are sacred: they either earn your primary revenue to support your bills, or hold your primary fun activities. Get behind the camera more during the week, use that money to hire someone else to sit at the computer, and get out there to do other things that make your life work balance better!
In the next step of this series, we are going get tactical with some specifics on how to start the hunt for Monday through Friday Money:
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- how to open the door for side jobs with your existing network
- the people you already know in your current world who would be your best resources to start the hunt
- jobs you may not even know existed
- ways to build your portfolio for those jobs
Patrick Williams is the Corporate Event Photography Guru – owner of award-winning Atlanta-based corporate event photography company, PWP Studio. A true follower of Monday through Friday Money, in 2010 Patrick completely moved away from his portrait and wedding business to focus on his corporate event business – growing revenue to over $400k in 2014. With the help of over 50 local and remote contractors, PWP has captured more than 1000 events in over 100 cities globally for tiny companies like Microsoft, Toyota, Chevrolet, and WSJ. He collects vintage Hartmann briefcases and bags, and is constantly amazed at how many tickles it takes to keep his sons alive.