I see you over there fighting business burn out like the girl boss that you are. Yeah, you. Sitting over there in your desk chair with a sea of drink cups and probably a few crumbs surrounding you.
Your butt hurts from sitting in front of the computer for so long, and you know you need to get up and stretch, do a squat or two (or three hundred.) But all you can think about getting finished with this one last edit. This one last project. You’ve been editing and creating all day. No wait… all week. All you want to do is play with your kids – who by the way have asked you repeatedly to play with them – but you’re feeling major pressure as a creative mompreneur to get caught up and to get finished for a deadline!
When you do finally get up from the computer, instead of playing with your kids or showing them attention, it becomes clear you’ve neglected housework and laundry, and it’s also already time to start dinner.
…and you’re probably thinking, “Oh, and did I even get a shower today?”
I know you desperately want to have margin in your life again- to breathe again! But you realize that for the money to keep coming in, you have to keep taking on more work. Doing more, editing more, and stressing more.
The pressure and stress have really sucked all the fun and enjoyment out of being a self employed creative. You’re reaching burn out and on the verge of packing up shop.
Did I just describe exactly what you’ve been feeling? Oh, friend, I have been there and I have help coming your way! I’m going to share with you the five strategies I implemented that helped me stay motivated, excited, and inspired about my work!
In 2012, I was in the throes of building my three-year-old photography business when I reached burn out.
I knew it was coming. I could tell. My oldest child, Faith was almost 6 and we were planning a BIG vacation for her birthday. I was working all I could to save up enough to go on this seven day trip so we wouldn’t have to cut corners.
Day after day, Faith asked me to play with her. Day after day, I had to tell her that I couldn’t. I had to finish editing… always the editing!
One particular day, she asked again, and out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, sleep and deprivation I had to tell her no AGAIN. I began to cry, (more like sob), and said, “Baby, I would LOVE to play with you, but I CAN’T. I really CAN’T! I have to finish editing these sessions, but I promise when we get back from vacation, I will not be telling you this anymore.”
As I saw my 6 year standing there staring back at me with a shocked and sad expression on her face, I knew I needed to make a change in the way I operated my business and cared for my family.
As promised, when we returned, I made BIG changes.
So, for starters, it may be time to raise your prices. If you’ve grown a client base that keeps you booked and busy, it’s likely time to increase your pricing. Most of us have been so afraid to raise our prices for fear that our clients would no longer book us. The truth is that some won’t and will always be looking for the lowest price. But many will truly value your work and enjoy working with YOU! Some of your clients will love your work so much, they will save up to spend the extra money to work with you. I can tell you that in times where I actually knew that was the situation, I have been so moved and felt so valued as a photographer.
Now, this may require a leap of faith but working less while bringing in more income will not only be a wise financial decision but it will allow you to serve your clients better and devote time to growing your business in new ways.
Next, I want to ask you who your ideal client is and who you’re attracting. Who is it that you want to be serving? What is it that you want to be doing? I know it’s tempting to take on clients and jobs because you want a paycheck and need to get some money flowing in, but if you continue to take jobs that aren’t a good fit for you and your business model, you’ll begin to resent your work. That simply won’t work for you or your clients.
In my business, I photograph newborns, maternity, and family sessions. Even though I don’t post or display any pet and commercial portraiture, I still get those requests from time to time. I politely decline, and then I have the opportunity to pass along those leads to fellow photographers in my local area that do specialize in those types of sessions. Not only do I get to work in community with fellow photographers, but I also get to keep my calendar open for those that are the right fit for me! If you are planning to specialize in a specific creative niche, it’s not a good idea to have all the other things you don’t want to do displayed all over your website and social media accounts.
*PRO TIP: If you absolutely need to temporarily take on new work that’s not ideal to your long-term goals, simply don’t post it.
But seriously, take some time to really think about what you could see yourself doing and who you want to be serving long term and begin to speak to THEM in the images you post, stories you tell, captions and blog posts you write.
Creating boundaries was HUGE for me when I was making all these changes years ago. I used to be accessible almost 24/7. I would reply to texts and respond to emails at all hours of the night because let’s face it: I never slept because I was always up editing! So I thought why not send that email? Or hammer out that 35th special edit request to remove a hair, edit out a wrinkle, or magically remove the boogers or snot from a runny nose!
I felt like I was always ON and it was my fault. I had not set clear expectations in my business as to when I would be available and when I wouldn’t be. Once I got clear when I wanted to work and what my hours would need to be to best serve my family, I stuck to them and I still do today. I’m not saying that there won’t be extenuating circumstances where you’ll need to make exceptions, but I as a rule, fiercely protect your down time with family and friends – it’s so essential to a healthy work/home life balance.
One thing we can never get back is our time. So why not spend time doing what you love to do and are good at doing? Hire others to do the tasks that you aren’t so strong in. Heck, maybe just outsource a task just because you don’t feel like doing it! As a mompreneur, our to-do list is ridiculous. We working mommas have it going on in the most amazing ways, if I do say so myself!
So, here’s a few things you could consider outsourcing to save time, mental bandwidth and emotional energy:
Not all outsourced tasks have to be business related. If you’re a mompreneur and hiring an assistant isn’t feasible, there’s plenty of independent contractors and VAs all over the world that are proficient at the things you don’t want to do! A few resources you could use to find virtual assistants for various business jobs are:
The last strategy is another heavy hitter. It’s self-care.
What lights you up on the inside? Do that! When do you feel the most refreshed and lit up? Maybe having lunch with a friend or playing hide and seek outside with your kids resets your mind. Go for a walk or run, or stretch real good each day. Just make time to do something each day to care for yourself.
How do you start your day? Maybe you could wake up tad bit earlier than typical to make some coffee or tea and spend a quiet moment or two alone with Jesus reading a daily scripture. Taking a minute or two reflecting on what we’re grateful for each day is surprisingly effective in reframing the mind to see things in a better, more positive light.
The other day I took a little extra time in the shower to actually shave my legs for the first time in forever, and I’ll tell you what… there’s nothing like a good shavin’ to make you feel like a new woman! So, whether it’s booking a flight to somewhere where the water is warm and clear, or if it looks more like bustin’ out the hedger because you took No Shave November a little too far, take a little time for yourself. Whatever does it for you, do that!
I want to know what your favorite way to recharge is! Leave me a comment or tag me in Instagram and let you me know how you’re caring for yourself to help ward off business burnout! I’ll reshare it and together we can all give each other ideas!
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Photography business coach and award-winning newborn photographer, Destiny Tillery, provides step-by-step instruction to IPS photography as well as other essential photography business tools to help your business thrive.
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