Oh. My. Word.
Here we are… One year working 100% for myself. Whoa.
I can tell you one thing… time. has. flown. I honestly can’t believe that it has already come and gone. All those fears during off-season seem like just yesterday, and like years ago – all at the same time. I’m not sure how that is possible, but it’s true.
I’ve learned a lot about running a business in the past year, but even more so – I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have a hard time taking much (or any) credit for things – but occasionally James grabs me and tells me how it is… haha. And I have to say, after listening to him for the past week or so… for once I’m willing to accept and be proud of the fact that I worked my a** off this year. There were times last winter when I thought I might have to go back to the law firm in order to pay the bills, but instead we figured out ways to make it work. We pinched pennies during the off season, but we were happy… and we did it together.
Then came busy season. haha. And man, did it come full speed! I had many hopes/expectations for busy season since I could now focus 100% on my business and clients. I really did. I envisioned blogging each wedding a few days after shooting it. I envisioned getting the full online gallery out to clients within a week, and their package in the mail within the 2nd week. And I was able to do close to that for about a month – when I was only shooting one wedding a week. But that pace (for me at least) was incredibly difficult to keep up once my weekdays started to fill up with meetings with 2013 couples, engagement sessions, regular sessions, and other responsibilities I needed to keep up with in order to keep my business running. (Photographers who keep up with that pace year-round absolutely blow my mind. I’m pretty sure they are super human, because… man, I am just in awe of them.) Anyway – suddenly what used to be a full week in the office for me turned into only a day or two to edit, and what used to be 1 wedding a week, turned into 2 weddings per week + 1-3 other sessions. And so the “to-edit” list started to add up quickly, and the meetings during the week seemed to be doubling as well.
I felt like I wasn’t working enough – even though in reality I was working about 70-80 hours per week (and that was with taking our 1 day off a week that we’ve been trying to do lately). I even said to James yesterday, “I feel bad that I took those two days off to rest when I have all this work to do, and now this week is only a 3 day work-week!” And James replied, “It isn’t a 3 day work week Christy. You’re working in the office 3 days this week, then you’re shooting a wedding Friday, a wedding Saturday, and 2 sessions Sunday. That is a 6 day work week!”
So, with the help of James, I’ve been trying to remind myself that I’m doing okay, even though I’m not living up to my own (high) expectations for this year… my clients are happy, and I’m producing work I’m proud of – with people that make my heart feel full – and that is what matters most.
Given many realizations I’ve had this year (mostly about work-life balance, since that seemed to be the thing I struggled with the most, in case you couldn’t tell!! haha) – we are working on restructuring our pricing so that next year will hopefully feel a bit more manageable. And built into that price increase – I’m looking into the possibility of getting some help on editing to keep finished collections heading out the door more quickly than they are at the moment, and so I can spend more time doing the parts of this job that I love most – photographing my awesome clients, and telling their stories (and mine) on this blog.
And while I have a lot of notes about things I want to improve on for next year… I do have to stop myself and at least appreciate how far we’ve come. Running my own photography business full-time was a dream of mine for a long time. I busted my butt to get to the point where I could quit my day job last year, and for some reason I thought the butt busting would ease up once I was doing this full-time… boy was I wrong! haha!
But on days when I feel worn out and forget what life was like before I had my business on my mind 24/7… I just need to envision waking up to an alarm each morning, riding a packed train downtown to a job I didn’t love, where I saw my co-workers more than I saw my own husband… and I snap out of it pretty quickly.And knowing that things are moving along at a fantastic pace, such that we will be able to continue to do this in the coming year (and continue to improve, grow, and expand) – is the best feeling in the world!
And last but not least – I couldn’t write this post without sending out a huge THANK YOU out to you all!! We would not be able to do this if we didn’t have you guys booking us, sending your friends our way, reading this blog day in and day out…. so THANK YOU for that! You all lift me up when I need it, and remind me how truly blessed we are on a daily basis. You are the best friends, clients, and support system a girl could ask for. Seriously. I love you all for it!
What a year it has been… Here’s to many more!
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**This marks the end of my Self-Employment series… since I don’t think I need to continue to post monthly updates in the coming year. If you are interested in more business posts though – just let me know and I can continue chatting about anything you guys think would be relevant/interesting!