On 10 Minutes with Manzanita LIVE, we talked aaalll about one of the most interesting, touchy, difficult subjects: how to avoid burnout. There are some obvious ideas out there, but I want to name three that really help me stay excited about my job and help me avoid feeling resentment when I go to work. Let's dig in:
1. Define your days and hours of work.
By define I mean only allow those days to pop up on your calendar. People will take any available date that works best for them, so make sure what you present is what YOU want to give. Starting out I remember taking any job anytime. I would shoot a newborn in the morning and a full family session that same evening. And then I'd do it again the next day. For a week. And then for the month. I lost sense of family and self and even my work was less than exciting because I was trying to cram too many sessions into my schedule.
And here's the lie: "I'm doing so many sessions because I don't want anyone to feel bad."
That's what I told myself, anyway. If I turned people away, I thought I was "being mean" and would therefore take on too much and then secretly resent any bookings that loaded themselves onto my already spilling plate. Not. Good. And it was my own fault.
So define when you want to work. Exactly when you want to work, not just kind-of. I never shoot weekends. Ever. It's a rule I created for myself to keep my family time sacred, and I have not once regretted doing it. You can make your schedule your own, that's the beauty of owning your own business!
2. Define your rates.
DEFINE YOUR RATES!!! I cannot say this loudly enough. This means put your rates clearly on your website and do not give away your sessions to people. This means creating a downpayment that will sting if clients don't show up to their appointments. If you take your work seriously enough to put a real price on it, your clients will feel that and they will rise to the occasion. You will be inspired when you go to sessions instead of resentful. You'll work harder to make them creative and different from other photographers because your clients are paying you to do that! It's a great cycle.
3. Define the type of work you will take.
This was my debut year as a family-only photographer. It was a big step, let me tell you, especially in an area where most photographers take on every kind of work. Which is actually FINE if you love it. Just because I decided to specialize in families does not mean other people have to do the same thing. It just means I know what I want to shoot and I'm aiming my work to that demographic because it calls to me. If you know what fills your soul to the brim, SHOOT THAT KIND OF WORK. Advertise for it, shoot model sessions for it, get people to see that this is what you are aiming for. And then be strong when solicited for work that does not call to you.
Get a website. If you have one, consider online booking. Having that option to refer to people when they ask about my rates saves me the trouble of having to barter and also manages the downpayment difficulties. Clients go right to my site, pick their date, and to book they pay their downpayment right online. Something I notice stresses photographers out is having to decide if someone is "serious" about booking with them. There's a lot of back and forth about dates, times, etc. and then after all that, people will sometimes keep looking (because as a consumer, that is their total right). So I don't even bother with wardrobe or location details until they have actually booked the session. It tells me they are serious and ready and then we hit the ground running together.
There you have it. Burnout is real, I've seen people quit over accommodating clients in those four areas. If you define your hours, your rates, and the type of work you want to take, you will be free of resentment and ready to get creative.
What about you? How do you avoid burnout?