Working Weekends

Dear Stefanie Shutters

I”m currently working six days a week at my photography business and my schedule is insane. Money is coming in… but I feel like I’m missing out as a mom!  I miss weekend activities with my son because I’m afraid if I don’t offer weekend sessions I”ll loose all my clients.  Can I run a successful business without working weekends?   I”ve got to get this figured out before I burn out! 

~Overworked and feeling guilty

Dear Guilty,

Photography was supposed to give you the flexibility to be a mom and work; in effect, to ‘have it all’ as a working mom.  And now suddenly the business is running you and you’re working more hours than if you’d been employed somewhere with a day job.  It’s time to take that control back in three steps.

First, there are only 52 Saturdays in a year. That’s a premium day. Start charging a weekend premium fee in top of session fee that makes it worth your while. It’s amazing how many clients suddenly have Tuesday free.

In conjunction with that, pre-book the personal activities that you want to attend in weekends and when someone wants 10am Saturday when you’re committed to being a soccer mom, you say sorry, my morning is booked out (and don’t say why, they’ll assume clients) and then tell them what time you have that afternoon… or the next weekend.  Say it without guilt because there’s no reason you shouldn’t be booking your family time as a priority in your life.  Remember ‘work life balance’ also has to have LIFE and BALANCE!

Second, if you’re currently working six days a week, it’s time to cut back to five.  Consider taking Mondays off if you’re working Saturdays.  That way you have Sunday and Monday as a weekend block.  For those Saturdays that you’re fully off, you could be open to clients on Monday, or just make that an editing day and power through your photoshop work.

Third, if you’re currently working 6 days a week, it may mean you’re not pricing yourself for profit.  Being too busy is often a sign that you’re  shortchanging yourself as an artist.  Time to look at your costs of doing business and your take home pay per session.  And by that I mean what you net for your income rather than your gross (the amount before expenses).  Your time is valuable, and you need to be paying yourself a living wage.   As a self employed business owner, you’ve got to consider things beyond the monthly living expenses being paid with your income – you have to pay your own taxes, your retirement savings… and of course put aside money for the business to upgrade computers and equipment over time too.

Check out this pricing breakdown situation  with another photographer who found herself working too much and afraid to raise her pricing… your business may be at a similar point of growing pains.   After all, if you could work 4-5 days a week and make as much or more than when you’re working six days… why wouldn’t you?  It’s time to remind your business you’re the boss, not the other way around!


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