Balancing Your Photography Business AND Your Life

Photography

Nicole Hill

by

My Go-To Tips for Optimizing Your Time to Chase Your Dreams

balance-your-photography-business

Lately, I’ve heard from so many of you that you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious about your photography business.

You’re balancing photography on the side of a zillion other things, and sometimes it just all feels like it’s too much. You’re worried you’re not making an impact like you want to, and sometimes you wonder if it’s all worth it?

After all, how the heck are you supposed to find the time to do everything well?!

See, there’s something really damn special about deciding to follow your dreams. But, there’s also a ton of completely overwhelming fear that comes when you finally let that dream you’ve had for so long into the world. When your dream mingles with your real life and bills and kids and spouses and friends and family, it’s just… a lot.

It’s almost like your dreams were safe and small in your head, and once that “yes! I can do this!” hits, we manage to take all of that passion and overload it with so much pressure that it explodes. That joy, that passion, and that fire? It starts to take a backseat.

So I’m here to tell you: 

I see you. I see you coming home from work at 5:30 pm, only to set up shop and edit photos into the night. I see you spending your weekends hunched over your laptop and client contracts.

I see you

What you do matters — and, my girl, it’s so, so worth it. I promise.

Building a photography business and pursuing your passion is so, so attainable. If you want it, it’s there for you. You just have to optimize your time and make it work for you, okay? 

So, no matter if you’re spending your days in the corporate world, if you’re balancing 4 side hustles, if you’re a stay-at-home mama, or you’re just starting out, here’s my reminder to you:

You have the ability to balance your photography business and your life. Not only that, either — you have the ability to totally kill it at both. 

Remember you’re not alone in this.

You know that feeling, like you’re throwing everything you have into building and balancing your photography business, only to think it’s not worth it? It’s like you have this dream and vision in your head of what it’s all supposed to look like, but it’s all a heck of a lot more complicated than you thought. 

I was there, too.

I remember early on in my career, when I spent a ton of my time balancing sleepless, anxious nights with the decision whether or not to buy my groceries or pay my rent. I had just graduated from one of the best photography schools in the country, and I really had thought that moving to LA was just going to be the next step in killing it.

Boy, was I naive.

Nothing was easy. I worked all the time, and I felt like all I had to show for it was enough money to scramble together my rent (sometimes) and a portfolio that I wasn’t even that proud of. I could see that future I wanted for myself, but it looked really far away compared to being broke, constantly looking for work, and trying to make my ends meet.

But, at the same time, I just knew that photography was what I was meant to be doing. When it was time to pay bills, I was an anxious mess… but when I was holding that camera in my hand? 

When I was capturing magic with my lens? 

When I was on a shoot?

That felt right to me.  That was the feeling I knew I needed to hold on to. That was the feeling that made it all worth it to me.

I have a specific memory from the first year of my business, when I knew that I couldn’t pay rent the next day. I was laying in bed, $400 short and wondering when I was going to need to move home, praying for a miracle or some sort of sign. It was the 31st of the month, and I owed more in 24 hours than I had. 

The next day, I was a mess. I paced around the house, trying to come to terms with the fact that it was about time I gave up photography. I was scared to tell my roommate, I was scared to tell my parents, and, hell. I was scared to move. I was just scared. 

Then, I heard a knock on the door.

A friend of a friend who was a musician (LA, huh?) came over, asking me if I could shoot some photos for her music promo in a few weeks. She handed me an envelope with $400, and I burst into tears. I knew I was where I was meant to be. And I’ve refused to give up that feeling since.

So, here’s the hard truth: you will have bad days. You will have rough moments. But the story will unfold, even on the days where you feel like you’re having to balance your photography business with a million other things.

Sometimes you don’t even realize the bigger picture that’s unfolding before your eyes, while you’re busy working away, but I promise it’s happening for you.

 I can promise you that.

Optimize Your Time So You Can Chase Your Dreams

When you’re balancing your photography business with everything else you have going on, it’s so easy to get caught up in the monotony of your days. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that you aren’t enough, or that you don’t have enough, or that you won’t be enough.

You have to get out of that mindset. You have to start remembering that life is always working for you, not against you. You are always being guided, even if you feel like you don’t have the time or energy you need.

Here’s the thing: no matter how hard you wish and pray and hope, you’re never going to find time. Your schedule is never going to magically line up. There will always be last-minute calls and meetings and emails to answer. If you really want this, you have to make the time to chase it.

Here are my go-to tips.

1. Be intentional about your days.

I am definitely not blind to the fact that there are some days when you are SO busy that you could cry. But, I also know (from personal experience!) that being intentional about your days is key to balancing your photography business. 

First up? Get really real with yourself on how you’re spending your days. From your social media “breaks” (guilty) to the time you’re spending on email, be REALLY, really honest with yourself. Do you have more time to spend on your business? Are there gaps in your day that you could optimize? 

Then, you can go in and make adjustments. Maybe you realize that you spend your mornings jumping out of bed and running late. What could you do for your business if you woke up 30 minutes earlier and knocked out some goals over coffee? Maybe you’re seeing that you always have an afternoon lull where your full-time job slows down. How about working on client contracts or sending emails when you know you have the bandwidth?

I also want you to think about your downtime. Are you going out too much, or mindlessly watching Ross and Rachel to decompress each night? What if you cut down on those even a tiny bit, and gave that time to your business? That’s time you can dedicate to your photography and passion projects—and by dedicate, I mean set aside with intention

It’s really all about making it work. Balancing your photography business with life (and with other work!) isn’t for the faint of heart. But, I also truly believe that, if you want it, you’ll do it. By being incredibly intentional with your time, you will do it.

2. Set goals that reflect your joy.

Next up, you have to set goals that reflect what you want for your business. So often, we set goals based on what we need to do to get to someone else’s level — but, my girl, that is a waste of time and energy. It’s your life, it’s your business, and it’s your magic… so don’t waste it trying to create something that’s not totally and completely yours. 

So often, we try to do everything at once — and it just doesn’t work like that. My favorite goal-setting strategy? Set micro goals that you can reach step by step, and work backwards from your end result with actionable steps that you can actually follow. No vague goal setting over here!

For instance, maybe your goal is to go part time as a photographer by the end of the year. Set that goal, and then work backwards. What steps each month do you need to take to be able to meet that goal? Then what steps do you need to take each week to achieve that monthly goal? How about each day? Set check-in points with yourself, and you’ll get there. 

Setting those micro goals makes balancing your photography business way easier. Instead of setting massive (i.e., unreachable) goals that just make you guilty, take it slow — and watch the momentum build.

3. Make community an important part of your schedule.

When you’re balancing your photography business on the side of everything else, it can get really easy to close your eyes. It can get really simple to push forward and forge ahead without stopping and looking at the beautiful stuff… and that’s no fun. When you’re scheduling out your time, make sure you’re growing your community, too.

See, it’s just so much easier to stick to a goal or commitment when you’re not alone. Having a community to lean on is absolutely everything, especially in a creative business. One of my students Shelby in The Photographer’s Path said it so well when she said, “The Photographer’s Path community gave me a safe place, free of judgement, to share my deepest insecurities. I was able to connect with other people who shared in my dreams but also shared in my struggles. I never felt alone in this journey. If I needed feedback or encouragement, they were there. If I needed to vent my frustrations, they were there. I was able to say ‘no’ to things that didn’t serve my long term goals because I had the support of the TPP community & for that I am forever grateful. I’ve built friendships with so many woman that have continued even after the course finished.” 

Finding a friend who understands what you’re going through, who can support you in your struggles and who can listen AND understand means the world. If you’re looking for support join the Horizon Found Community or slide in my DM’s. I’ve gotchu, girl. More than that, we’ve all gotchu.

I can’t tell you how important it is that you slow down, take a breath, and remember why you’re here. You see, trying to juggle life alongside photography can be really, really hard. 

But, at the same time, balancing your photography business and life can be beautiful… and it should be. 

This week, I want to challenge you to get back to what you love so much about your camera. Maybe that’s taking self portraits, taking macro photos of flowers, or heading out on a hike with your camera around the neck. 

Whatever it is, chase it — and hold onto it

Remember why you decided to pursue photography in the first place, because that passion and that fire is the only thing that will take you where you want to go. Remember how good it feels to hold your camera in your hands. Remember how it feels like home. Grab hold of that, and let it guide you forward.  Let that motivate you, girl. Don’t ever give up on your dream. Instead, make time for it.

I hope you’re feeling reminded of how good it feels to chase your dreams and make the time. Come hang out with us in the Horizon Found Community, and we’ll keep the conversation going. 

ARE YOU READY?

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meet the photographer

HI! I'M NICOLE HILL

I've spent the last decade of my life traveling the world as a fashion photographer and I created Horizon Found to give you everything I wish I had when I was starting my career. Here you'll find community, inspiration, and education - to help guide you down the path towards building the photography business of your dreams. My dream is to use this platform to help build a supportive environment in the photography industry.

I'M HERE FOR YOU!

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The Photographer's Path is currently closed. Get on the waitlist to get early access and special bonuses not offered anywhere else!