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8 Tips to Survive Busy Season as a Photographer

September 27, 2019

8 Tips to Survive Busy Season as a Photographer | Busy Season Tips| Marketing for Photographers with Ariel Dilworth

As a photographer, I can say with full confidence that

surviving busy season is an art-form in itself

Am I right!?! We are constantly adding items to our never-ending to-do lists in hopes that we don’t forget something. Always feeling like there are never enough hours in a day. We stay up late, we wake up early. Our days are spent on endless amounts of culling and editing, answering client emails, driving back and forth to session locations, and even more culling and editing. Because no matter how much we outsource and how organized we are, busy season is still hard! We hustle hard to make sure everyone has those perfect fall and Christmas photos in time while trying to catch up wedding edits. Not to mention that some of us have another full time job, go to school full-time, and have children. It feels like a lot.

I see you and you are not alone!

But as an entrepreneur who is STILL a full-time photographer, I’m going to share with you my top 8 Tips to help you survive this busy season!

Tip #1- Set Limits

Before busy season arrives, set a schedule for yourself. When I first considered scheduling my days, I was totally against it! I live for spontaneity! But I quickly learned that schedules are the enemy and that having that structure in my business allowed for MORE spontaneity in my personal life. There are couple of different ways you can do this but what I found to work best was bulking my days!

  • Mondays – I work on course work
  • Tuesdays – Session Day
  • Wednesdays- Day off
  • Thursdays- Content Day
  • Fridays- Session Day
  • Saturdays- Weddings or Sessions
  • Sundays- Day off

What happens if someone wants a session that isn’t on Tuesday, Friday or Saturated?

I say “no.”

I get it… saying no to a session feels impossible and there was a time in my business that I would’ve slapped my future self for saying no to any session I could get. But the fact of the matter is this… everyone has a limit and you need to know what that is for you! We must stop trying to do it all. Plus, 90% of the time they end up moving their schedule around mine to make it work.

However, if they want a family session in October, and October is full. They are out of luck. As a recovering workaholic, I know that saying “no” is not easy. But this exercise has been particularly helpful. Anytime I’m tempted to tell someone yes and I know I shouldn’t, I remind myself that when I say “yes” to something I’m saying “no” to something else.

So, while saying yes to that session might be saying yes to an extra $200… it comes at a cost… family time, creative exhaustion, inadequate customer service and client experience, sleep, quality time with your spouse, burn-out, etc.

As the owner’s of our business, we must be disciplined enough to set boundaries in our business. We like to make excuses for taking on another session like, “I can squeeze it in,” or, “it won’t affect me that much.” But truthfully, every extra thing we add to our to do list adds up to a lot and impacts us & our business in big, negative ways.

Tip #2- Set the stage

For a long time I believed that my work/life balance needs to be on point at all times. And while I do try to maintain good work/life balance, there are still seasons where I have to give a little extra to my business which means my family gets a little less.

But one thing I’ve found to be helpful is preparing our family for this. Letting them know that this is busy season and it won’t last forever sets realistic expectations so that way I don’t have to deal with disappointed friends and family on top of our massive list of sessions to finish editing.

Tip #3- Change it up

One thing I’ve experimented with in the past was setting premium prices for premium weeks and days. So a Saturated Sunset session is going to cost more than a Tuesday Session at noon. This really allows you to fill up those less-than-optimum time slots and then make a little extra money during prime time. 🙂

Tip #4- Outsource

One of my favorite busy season tips (and non-busy-season tips) is outsourcing! Whatever you feel like gets thrown aside during busy season, outsource it. Whether thats laundry, cleaning, childcare, secretarial work, social media posting, or editing.

Take some incredible stress off of yourself by delegating those tasks to someone else. We all need a little help sometimes and like I said above, we can’t do it all!

If you are interested in learning about outsourcing your editing, check out this blog post to find out all the deets AND receive a discount code!

Tip #5- Automate

If you haven’t already set up pre-written email templates. DO IT NOW…

My business has 42 pre-written email templates, 4 brochures, a style guide, videos helping with client upkeep and ALL THE THINGS that take “client management” off of my to-do list.

My favorite program to use for client management is Honeybook. When a client inquiries it automatically emails them a pre-written email and brochure based on their contact form selections. Then, once they select a package, Honeybook creates a proposal and sends it to them with the outline of services, payment plan, and contract!

This program was a GAME-CHANGER for me and my biz and is hand’s down one of my favorite investments ever!

Tip #6- Organize

One of my favorite busy season tips is to organize my workflow. Before I was able to invest in Honeybook, I used a workflow chart. It helped me keep track of each session and where it was at in the process. If you want to check it out or use it this busy season, click here to receive it right to your inbox!

Busy Season Tips for Photographers | Ariel Dilworth Photography Workflow

Tip #7- Treat Yourself

One of my favorite thing’s to do is schedule something special at the end of busy season. Because whether its a weekend a way with the hubby, a shopping spree, a day trip with the kids, a girls night at that new restaurant or going home to visit family… scheduling something special really gives me something to countdown and look forward to. It keeps me going on those really late nights. 😉

Tip #8- Disengage

But perhaps the best busy season tip of all is to take time off. Make sure there is a time every day or every week where you are completely out of business mode. No planning your insta-stories, writing a post, responding to emails, thinking about your competition, what session you need to edit next, etc. Take the time to actually mentally disengage from your business and mentally engage in something else. Something that fills YOUR cup and leaves you feeling refreshed!

Take some time to actually get out of the house and get some human interaction! Because, even if it’s just editing at a coffee shop instead of alone in your house, taking a lunch date with the love of your life or going to target with your BFF, letting yourself have a breath of fresh air before tackling the next thing on your to-do list will feel like a vacation!

All in all, I hope that this busy season goes well for you! Make sure you get some rest, eat good food and hang out with people!

Good luck!

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