The fall season is inevitably the busiest time for family portrait photographers. This is a beautiful time of the year and popular for many families who want to take advantage of the natural beauty of the season and get annual family photos. Because of that, it winds up being a really busy time and it can be difficult to balance life and work. It’s not just you: there’s a lot of demands on our time! But, the beauty of owning a business is having the ability to control your schedule and manage your workload. While it’s ultimately up to the photographer on how much work to take on, it can be easy to overload the calendar. Many photographers rely on the income from these busy seasons. I want to be clear though: there is a balance within this season of hustle. It’s important for you, as a photographer and human being, to have a healthy schedule that has boundaries set before your busy season ever starts so you feel in control and not burnt out during your busiest season.
Here are 5 ways to set boundaries now: before your busy season starts! This will help you feel more organized, prepared and in control of your own schedule.
1. Define your schedule.
Set up a schedule that works for you in your business. It’s easy to get swept up in the flood of requests when your busy season hits. The best way to keep control over your schedule is to set your ideal calendar in advance. This could be setting limits on how many nights a week you shoot, limiting the number of newborn sessions you commit to, or simply setting a max limit for the number of sessions you will take each month.
Whatever schedule boundaries you put in place, implement a system for applying it in your business. Ideally you should have some sort of customer relations management system (CRM system) to keep you organized. These are invaluable for helping you manage the workload of client management and keeping you elevate your client experience. However, if you are new or shooting in small volume, this could be as simple as a paper calendar to help you keep track of leads and sessions.
Sprout Studio is a powerful studio management system for photographers if you need a more robust system. Save 20% off your subscription and start your 21-day free trial here!
2. Set non-negotiables.
Similar to setting up your ideal schedule, set your non-negotiables. These are the days or times that are non-negotiable for you to protect your schedule. An example would be preserving a day of rest, like Sundays. Commit to not booking sessions for these days. If you can, make sure the rest of your workload is light enough that you won’t have to sneak off to your computer on these days, either.
3. Value your time.
When your busy season arrives, you will find your schedule in high demand and you need to make sure you are being compensated appropriately for your time. Time spent at sessions or working with your clients is time away from your family or personal time. Make sure you are valuing this time by charging appropriately for your time and expertise. If you have a price increase on your agenda, the busy season is a great time to implement it.
For some tips on raising your prices, check out ‘When you should raise prices in your photography business’!
4. Focus on priorities.
For new photographers, it can be easy to want to take all the work you can get but during this in-demand time, be sure to streamline to take the jobs you love doing and are in line with your niche, or area of specialty. Saying yes to one thing could mean booking your time so you can’t take on the work you really want.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with photographing a lot of sessions to find what you like. But, for success in your business – and less burnout, finding your niche is critical. Learn more about that here and here!
5. Set up systems.
One of the most invaluable things you need in place in order to set yourself up for success before busy season starts is systems and workflows. Take the time now, before the chaos hits to create systems that will work for you in your business. Examples would be refining email templates, creating client guides that will prepare your clients for the best experience, and organizing workflows and systems for running your business. Investing your time in each of these areas will help save you time when you need it most.
If you don’t have a client prep guide, grab my template HERE and help yourself (and your clients!).
Like most things in business, finding success in your busy season is about planning ahead and determining what is most important to you. Finding ways to set boundaries so that you can protect your energy and time is key as your workload increases.