Full Time. That oh so dreamy important status that I longed to proclaim from day one of starting a business…to say I was a full time photographer. It would surely mean that I was lavishly successful. Incredibly talented. Completely in charge. In demand and financially stable. Boss of my whole world every day, all day.
Full time meant always better than part time…right? Full time meant closer to perfect.
Little did I know it was a bit harder than I expected. Ok… a lot harder. I found that I actually had a few big misconceptions of this dreamy full time world before it happened.
Lie #1: When I am full time, I am going to have so much more time to get everything done. I will never feel as stressed as I do now because of all the extra hours I will have to work on my business!
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It’s a lie for a few different reasons. The first being, when you go full time, MORE things get added to your todo list to maintain a full time business. So there may be more work hours in your day, but there are also more tasks to fill those hours with.
Lie #2: When I am full time, I am going to be so much more motivated to tackle those big projects. I am going to want to wake up early in my excitement every single day and be so productive!
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I am not saying that I never feel motivated, because I truly love my job, and it does excite me to tackle projects that grow my business and brand. The lie comes in when I thought it would be automatic. That being full time meant that somehow I wouldn’t have to fight for that motivation. When I was part time, I found that not having hardly any time to dedicate fully to the growth of my business meant that what time I DID have, I was all in, because I knew that one hour was all I had that day to get my inbox to zero, or images blogged, or social media updated. So I was mega focused knowing that it was all I had. When I went full time, and had a whole entire DAY to get check tasks off, it took me a long time to get into the groove of a schedule, and cultivating discipline with where my time was going. It was definitely NOT automatic.
Lie #3: When I am full time, I will be able to attend any and all conferences and workshops that I want because I will have so much freedom in my schedule! Hello, I’ll be the boss- I will be able to go wherever I want!!
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I had a slightly rude awakening when I transitioned from two incomes to one. When I was part time with photography, I had a full time job that covered my living expenses completely. That meant that the income I made with my photography could be spent on more “fun” business things. A new camera bag, a workshop, branding…etc. I used to think my schedule was the biggest thing holding me back from attending all these big conferences and workshops that “everyone” else seemed to be able to do because they were full time and I wasn’t. The truth is that when you become full time, you have to be even more strategic and intentional about where your investments are going, and traveling to huge events aren’t always at the top of the priority list!
Lie #4: When I am full time, clients are going to automatically see me as more professional. They won’t question my pricing, bookings will be easier, and I’ll be recognized as a better business owner.
Um, what was I thinking? Here’s the thing. Clients seeing and treating you as a serious, professional business has absolutely nothing to do with how many hours a week you work. It does however have everything to do with how you present your brand and services, how you communicate, how you treat your clients, and how YOU see your business. Yes, being a full time photographer, and giving my every hour to my business throughout the week DOES directly affect how I price myself. But in the same way, when you are part time and working another job in addition, how valuable is your business and work that you spend your SPARE time outside of your other job building a business and serving clients? It’s something really important to consider!
So now that I’ve shed light on some of the top lies I believed about going full time, now I want to share my top TIPS on taking the leap into going full time with your photography business!
Tip #1: Save, Save, Save. Pay off as much debt as you can. Work your current full time job as long as you possibly can manage both, just to have the extra to save. This was my life saver the first year. My situation was a bit unique, as I also moved to a brand new city and state at the same time, so I had a huge transition to work through in my business! I not only worked really hard to pay off as much as possible to lessen my monthly bills, but I also personally saved months of living expenses on top of an emergency fund. (Both were needed!) Going full time with my photography business was not an overnight decision. In fact, I remained at my other job for a full YEAR after I decided my business was ready.
Tip #2: Seek counsel! If you are the only eyes on your business, I can’t recommend getting outside opinions and perspectives to have confidence in this huge decision. This may be a mentoring session with a photographer whose business you admire, a business consultant, or even a financial consultant. I personally worked with Will Ray one on one, and his wisdom over my finances were so, so valuable. I also recommend Shanna Skidmore on the business side of things. I am so looking forward to learning more from her during the Editor’s Course that I am attending this winter, and hope to work with her more one on one in the near future. I have heard nothing but incredible things about her influence and teaching. All this to say, if you are wanting to go full time, get a pair of wise, unbiased eyes on your business plan.
Tip #3: Define Your Goals. It may sound a little obvious, but having a clear business plan and a definition of what success will look like to you as a full time photographer is so crucial. This means deciding what full time is going to look like for you. Doing the math of how much you need to make per year, and per month. How many bookings you need to reach those numbers. What your schedule is going to look like, and what you’re going to commit to with your time such as blogging, marketing, and networking with other vendors. Clearly writing out your goals in going full time is going to help keep you focused on the days where Netflix sounds a lot less overwhelming than organizing your receipts. #thestruggleisreal.
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