5 Tips For Maintaining A Better Work Life Balance

by Guest Contributor Veronica Gillas

When I first started out in the photography business, I jumped in with both feet and then forgot how to swim. I went from treading water to drowning in a matter of only months. I was priced too low for the custom portraiture market, overbooked and of course, overworked. My relationship with my children began to suffer, my marriage begin to suffer and I, of course, began to suffer.

I quickly realized that I was devoid of what I had spent a decade teaching other people; work life balance. I had to take a good long look at my business model and make some pretty serious changes. The changes prompted me to write this article about why I had to slow down. In the months following my turnaround, my quality of life has improved drastically. I meet new photographers regularly who talk about the same trials and tribulations that I faced starting out, and have shared my thoughts with them. That being said, I felt the advice deserved a larger audience, and so I’ve put together 5 easy ways that you can start today and maintain the (almost) perfect work life balance.

1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

For someone who prides themselves on being a workaholic, working smarter was a tough one. When I worked in the corporate world, putting in extra hours and moving up the chain quickly was a surefire way to success, or so I thought. Editing through the night eventually meant that I was missing movie nights with my family. Scouting locations for my fourth family session in a weekend meant that I was canceling date nights with my husband. Taking six client consults in a day meant that my kids were spending more time with Curious George than they were with their mother. I was a cranky mess.

Re-branding and changing my pricing structure (see #2) was an integral part of learning to work smarter. I started doing my consults by phone and developed a streamlined process for workflow. Working smarter had benefits for me as well as for my clients. I was able to spend more time with families individually, which meant that the relationship I have with my clients is incredibly close. In fact, I regularly have play dates, coffee and lunch dates with several of my clients and these are friendships that I keep close to my heart. My families are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

Ask yourself what you’re doing that is eating away at time that you could spend being more productive. Are you stuck trying to figure out post-processing? Hire a professional that you admire (like me!) to run you through their post-processing to help you perfect the process. Are you beating your head against a brick wall trying to market yourself? Talk to colleagues and join professional organizations (and forums like Rock The Shot) to bounce some new ideas around with other togs. Think outside the box and move outside of your comfort zone!

2. Price Yourself Right

This was probably the most difficult change I made. Starting out in the portfolio building phase, clients were paying very little for my work. When I sat down with my husband to re-draft my business plan (as a photographer, you should absolutely have one!) we calculated that I was losing money on every single session that I did. By the time I had figured my time, gas, mileage and expenses into the equation, I was seriously in the red. Increasing my prices was met with a great deal of resistance from about half of my existing client base. These clients were very value-driven as a lot of people are, and that is okay. When you raise your prices and charge what you are worth, there will still be people who will go elsewhere. What I found however, was that half of my clients stayed. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it felt to have a client tell me that I was worth every single penny, and then book their third family session with me in as many years.

I could dedicate an entire article to pricing alone (and I have), but the truth is that you have to price yourself based on your cost of goods and services and how much you’d like your business to be making. I worked backwards when I did my business plan. I work on-location with little overhead and so I set out a dollar amount that I wanted my business to hit every year (before expenses). I then figured out how many sessions I could do per month (it is five, in case you are wondering) and divided that by the income I wanted to generate. That figure determined my goal average sale, and I adjust my marketing efforts to reflect that. It meant marketing to a higher end market, but that in turn resulted in a higher transaction with fewer clients per month. What’s your magic number?

3. Reignite Your Passion

It is easy to forget the reasons that you became a photographer when the business side of things consumes you. My husband made a comment in passing a few months ago about him not remembering the last time I took the camera out when it wasn’t for work. I was shocked (and a bit offended) but realized he was right.

There was a time where I used my photography as a creative outlet for my artistic side. I used to be an artist and I had quickly just become a photographer. A few days later, I was struck by a concept for a shoot right after dinner (about 14 minutes before sunset, go figure), so I grabbed our 6 year old and took off to one of my favorite places. The end result was the image below. To date, it is absolutely my most favorite image of her.

What did you stop doing when you became a business owner? Never stop creating. Never stop learning. Remember what it was that drove you to pick up the camera to begin with. Get back to being the artist again.
4. Take A Time Out

As a mother, wife, daughter, small business owner, friend and sister, we often put the needs of the other important people in our lives before our own. This will inevitably lead to disaster. Please trust me when I say it will.

We use time outs on our kids when really, we need to start using them on ourselves. A part of being more successful in every facet of my life meant being more self-aware, and one of the exercises that I practice regularly involves putting myself in time-out. I had to vocalize when I needed help. This means asking my husband to come home early every once in awhile so that I can go for a run when I have had a rough day with the kids and hiring help one day a week so I can dedicate myself to tasks at the office.

I learned so quickly that if I don’t put myself first and attend to my needs, I can’t really take care of the people around me very well either. Putting yourself first will make you more successful in your photography business, and in every single other role that you play.
5. Family Day

Many photographers are mothers who have a family, husband and home to look after. While we spend time with each other throughout the week, the truth is that we were not spending quality time together. I am not at a point where I can completely block off one day per week for family, but we do make sure to book time out every single week for just us. It can be something as simple as a hike in the park or a trip to OMSI. We also make sure that we have one meal a day together, usually dinner, and occasionally go out to eat.

Commit to your family and you are committing to a better you. Time with your family will make you feel less guilty about those times when you have to scoot out for a last minute booking or have a newborn session that runs longer than you expected. You will feel more confident about how things are going in your life and in even in your marriage, I know I did! Family time for me also meant time away from my children and just with my husband. I soon found that we were using date nights to bounce creative ideas off of each other. Some of my most amazing creations have come as a result of conversations I have had with my very best friend!

So, let’s hear it. Will you take the plunge and make changes for the better? I promise if you follow these easy tips your photography business will change so dramatically, and so will your quality of life.

How about it pros, was there anything you’d add to my list?

About the Author: I am a natural and studio light photographer based out of Portland, Oregon.  I specialize in the fine art portraiture of newborns, families and children.  I love playing ring around the rosy with our 6-year-old, re-enacting the epic light saber battle between Darth and Luke with our 9-year-old, chasing our one-year-old with a camera and holding hands while watching the stars with my amazing husband.

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Squijoo

We are truly pleased to welcome our friends from Squijoo Design Studio back to Rock the Shot today! Take a moment to learn more about Squijoo and their fabulous template subscriptions for photographers.  Be sure to enter their GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a 10-Year Membership to Squijoo.com valued at $1200.

About Squijoo

Do you use Photoshop templates for your photography business? If you answered Yes, then Squijoo.com is the place to get your templates! Why you ask? … because we give you unlimited access to ALL our templates for just $10 per month with no limits at all. Seriously, you won’t find a better deal anywhere else.

But wait …

Special Rockin’ Offer For RTS Fans

If you join today we will let you in on membership for a whopping 50% off. That’s just $5 per month to access as many templates as you like, anywhere, anytime. Use coupon code 1EE3B and take advantage of this amazing offer… and don’t worry, if you win this giveaway we will refund you any payment you’ve with this offer. So don’t wait for the giveaway to end. Hurry and sign up so you don’t miss out on this deal.

Why Photographers LOVE Squijoo

Imagine going to one single website where you can get as many Photoshop templates as you like for just one low monthly price. A place where you can find templates for all kinds of products that you can sell to clients such as accordions, albums, collages, word art, cards and much more. A place where you can use a wide variety of marketing templates to help boost your photography business growth and profits. Now add to that a whole lot of awesome customer service, and you’ll easily see why photographers love their Squijoo.com membership. So be warned … joining Squijoo may make your heart skip a beat and your significant other a tad bit jealous.

Seeing is Believing
We could go on all day about how awesome Squijoo is, but frankly speaking we are not in the business of tooting our own horn. The best way for you to judge for yourself is to visit our website at www.squijoo.com and have a look at all that we offer. Also be sure to stop by our Facebook page and read all the wonderful positive feedback from fellow photographers .. and while there be sure to “Like Us” so we can begin our friendship.

Oh and one more thing …
You know that feeling you get when you walk outside just after it’s rained and the smell of fresh rain tingles your senses? Well, being a Squijoo member will kinda make you feel like that because we deliver fresh, new templates on a weekly basis, all included in your membership.

About The Founder

Hi there, I’m Nirav Desai, Founder and CTO (Chief Template Officer) at Squijoo Design Studio. While I was the pioneer in launching Squijoo.com I can NOT take all the credit for it. Instead, I’d like to dedicate this bio to the wonderful design team that works tirelessly to create our beautiful templates and most importantly the Squijoo photographer member community that supports and encourages us each and every day. A big “thank you” to all of them.

Visit Squijoo at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK pages today!

Enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a 10 Year Membership to Squijoo.com {valued at $1,200}.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends on Tuesday, January 27th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, January 31st.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Liz Franco Photography Workshops & Mentoring

We are so thrilled to welcome Liz Franco Photography Workshops and Mentoring to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Learn more about her workshops and mentoring classes and enter to WIN a seat to their upcoming Spring 2015 Workshop in Chicago {$950 value} – how SWEET is that?!

About Liz Franco Photography Workshops

Liz Franco Photography Workshops & Mentoring Classes have been created to help fellow photographers around the world. Our goal is to help them find their creative soul and learn how to listen to it. By teaching them how to create stunning creative sessions with simplicity is our goal. Whether you are trying to find some inspiration and learn new techniques to take your post processing to a whole new level or if you are interested in learning posing and how to work with available natural light. We are here to help you with that.

With our one on one online mentoring classes we offer a complete open door to the secrets behind the post processing of Liz Franco. From adding richness to creating a deep whimsical Fine Art touch to your images, the entire class is focused on helping photographers find a creative editing workflow.

As we are growing and creating more workshops for the upcoming months we are truly excited to offer something unique to others. Teaching how to use natural light and posing will be one of our focuses. By bringing together a variety of creative sessions and an intense day of learning how to find the light and how to create unique sessions with simple things. In these workshops we also include a day of post processing and business talk.

We are giving away a seat to our upcoming Spring 2015 Workshop in Chicago. This workshop has been created to help guide you to where your passion already is. Learn how to take that first step out of your comfort zone. Learn how to find inspiration and how to create stunning portraits with simple setups and details.

Intensify your creativity and take your post processing to a whole new level at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015{$950 Value}.

About the Artist: Liz Franco is a Fine Art natural light photographer serving the Chicago are and surrounding suburbs. With her focus on capturing life, love and beauty in a unique way with her unique vision she enjoys every second of this journey with the amazing support of her husband and daughter.

Visit Liz at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK  pages today!

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below for a chance to win a seat at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, January 20th . Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 25th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.  Prize does not include airfare or accommodations to Chicago.

Congratulations to Sarah Anna Hansen on winning a seat at The Seeking Workshop in Chicago | Spring 2015!! Sarahplease email me at karlen@rocktheshotforum.com in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend!

New “Members Only” FREEBIE Packet {V44}

The newest “Members Only” FREEBIE Packet {Volume #44} is now available for download in the forum!!  This month’s packet is filled with the most FABULOUS goodies from our amazing vendors!  We want to extend a HUGE thank you for their generosity and support. Special thanks to Little Sweet Designs, Magazine Mama, and Sweet Little Muse for this month’s contributions to Rock the Shot Forum members!

You can find the download link in [the Forum] under “Freebie Packets”. New members, don’t forget to download the other available issues of our “Members Only” Subscriber Packets as well! You’ll get HUNDREDS of dollars in FREE photography products.  Hurry, these packets are only available for a limited time!

Not a member of our forum yet?? JOIN TODAY, and get exclusive access to all our FANTASTIC FREEBIES!  Plus… for a limited time, save a whopping 30% off any level membership using code JANFB30 (new/inactive members only: expires on January 18, 2015).

And now….on to the goodies! You will receive the following freebies:

Mini session marketing boards (4 templates) from Little Sweet Designs {$24 Value}

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

In the Little Sweet Designs shop you’ll find a range of beautifully designed Photoshop templates and marketing solutions to WOW your clients. Little Sweet Designs helps photographers with design solutions; think of us as your marketing support service consultant. We provide and supply you with tools, products and know how that allows you to take your business to the next level without the ‘designer’ price tag. Save yourself hours in design time, increase your average sale and become the talk of the town with Little Sweet Designs marketing products and Photoshop templates.

  • Compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Creative Cloud, and Photoshop Elements

Mini Session Welcome Guide from Magazine Mama {$99 Value}

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

Magazine Mama helps photographers “turn pages to profit” by providing customizable marketing materials, as well as workshop curriculum that photographers can use to make additional income during their off-season. We offer customizable magazine style templates, pre-written articles and curriculum for teaching basic DSLR photography.

  •  Compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Creative Cloud, and Photoshop Elements

Save the Date Overlay Collection (7 Overlays) from Sweet Little Muse {$18 Value}

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

Sweet Little Muse is a full service digital design shop that creates and sells beautiful custom logos, marketing materials, pre-made professional logo designs and other design goodies! If you’re looking for marketing materials that are customizable to your brand, look no further! Visit Sweet Little Muse on Etsy!

  • Compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Creative Cloud and Photoshop Elements

Not a member of Rock the Shot Photography Forum yet? Come on over and JOIN our fun and friendly community TODAY!  Plus… for a limited time, save 30% off any level membership using code save JANFB30 (new/inactive members only: expires on January 18, 2015).

And… don’t forget to stop by these wonderful vendors websites and Facebook pages and check out all the FANTASTIC products they have to offer. Remember to download all of our currently available packets in the forum. Here is a list of all the fantastic freebies available for download.  Hurry, these packets are only available for a limited time!!

Volume 43:

  • Facebook Timeline Collection (10 Cover Templates) from CRAVE Photography & Design {$29 Value}
  • Holiday Card Collection (4 Card Templates) from Hummingbird Press {$32 Value}
  • Christmas Overlays Collection from 7th Avenue Designs {$20 Value}

Volume 42:

  • Exclusive Mini-Session Marketing Set from EW Couture Collection {$24 Value}
  • Holiday Card Ordering Kit from Galler.ee {$45 Value}
  • “Simply Elegant” Wedding Marketing Collection from Designs that Inspire {$70 Value}

Volume 41: (expires January 18, 2015)

  • Mini-Marketing Collection from Kimla Designs
  • Facebook Timeline Collection {5 Timelines) from The Album Cafe
  • Vintage Frame Bundle from Indigo Boutique

Three Things Taylor Swift Can Teach Us About Photography Marketing

Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Taylor Swift and her team are marketing machines.

As photographers, we need to do the same.  We need to market well if we want to make any sales at all. I’ve been jotting down notes since the release of Swift’s first single “Shake it Off.”

Here are 3 things that Taylor Swift can teach us about marketing to our photography clients.

1. Go above and beyond for VIP clients

Just like how Taylor Swift rewarded her fervent followers with The Secret Sessions, we need to do the same with our best clients.  Every year, do something special for your VIP clients: the repeat clients, the clients that keep referring you to everyone, and the clients that are just dying to be photographed by you again.

You can send a gift or even a thoughtful card.  I have found that sending thank you cards that include a discount to be applied towards a future session is not only appreciated, but it is also valuable to my VIP clients.  The cards show them that I’m grateful for their support, and it entices them to book another session with me.  A handful of VIP clients always book after receiving the discount, which is great, because I can count on those sales, and I get to work with wonderful clients again.

Simple suggestion: The holiday season and birthdays are a great time to send those cards. However, don’t forget to include an expiration date for your discounts.  It creates the urgency to book.

2. Not everyone will like you, but it is important your market knows who you are

When clients search for photographers, they look at price, style, talent, testimonials, accolades, and these days, how many blog/print publications the photographer has been in.  Anyone ready to make an investment in photography will thoroughly research of you before he or she makes an inquiry.  You have to serve potential clients a big platter of Y-O-U so they have plenty to investigate.

Here’s why…Every client wants to trust their photographer.  In order for them to trust you, they have to find common grounds to relate to you.

Swift does this so well.  She is seen photographed with her cats often, and that resonates with cat lovers. She’s outspoken about shaking off haters, and that’s a message that anyone who’s ever been bullied can get behind.  She loves New York, and so do a lot folks.

However, there are as many people who dislike Taylor Swift and her brand.  Does that prevent her from selling 1.287 million albums in the first week?  Not really.  Swift’s sales come from her supporters.  Her haters don’t add to her bottom line.

That’s why you shouldn’t focus on the people who may not be a good fit for your photography brand. Share your personality and personal interests on social media and website.  Give potential clients a taste of who you are, so the right clients who are drawn to you can hire you, and the wrong clients don’t take up your time.

 

3. Surprises are the best advertisements

When I bought Swift’s 1989 Album from Target, I had no idea I would get 13 Polaroids with the CD.  That was a good surprise.

Surprises are the very things that get clients talking to their friends, so go the extra mile.

Here’s an example: have you ever shown up to a session and given a client flowers?  I have, and it completely changed the mood of our client interaction.  This particular client felt slightly neglected during our client communications, and it was my fault.  I was drowning in work during my busy season, and I didn’t spend as much time with her during the planning process of her photoshoot.  In order to make up for it, I showed up early when she was getting her makeup done to give her a bouquet of flowers she could use for her session.  It was my gesture of saying “I care.”  Whether it was the beauty of the flowers or the surprise element of it all, her face immediately lit up with delight.

In the aftermath of the photoshoot, not only has this client referred many of her friends to me, she also purchased $2000+ worth of prints and products. A mere $15 surprise helped achieve that – so worth it!

Here’s what I know about the photography business.  The photographs are important, but how you make someone feel is just as important, if not more important.  An unhappy client who had a bad experience won’t buy from you no matter how much they love the photos you took of them.  Even if they do buy, they buy begrudgingly.  The little effort it takes to surprise someone is well worth it, and it is the best marketing for your photography business.

About the Artist: Ling Wang is a nationally-published senior portrait photographer and founder of Project Relaunch workshops based in Houston, TX.

Visit Ling at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST pages today!

 

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