Feeling Overwhelmed in your Photography Business?

Slow Business

April 26, 2022

I believe in a slower, simpler approach to doing business. One rooted in intention, meaning & purpose, where you find that beautiful (yet often seemingly elusive) balance between deeply supporting your clients, honouring your creativity, and reclaiming your time, energy and heart.
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Woman sitting on a leather sofa feeling overwhelmed in her photography business.

Are you feeling overwhelmed in your photography business? Firstly, if you are I just want to send you a big virtual hug and remind you that you are doing the best you can. As a photographer you have to be everything from the Social Media Manager to the Admin Expert (it’s a lot to handle)!!

A few weeks, while on a bike ride, chasing after my daughter as she sped off into the distance it hit me – this was my definition of success, riding a bike with my daughter at 4pm in the afternoon! A little under a year ago, I was at a really low point. I felt overwhelmed, overworked and exhausted beyond words. 

The truth is, I had gotten myself into more work than what I could handle. I had no way of applying the breaks, and I was being pushed in every direction instead of guiding things to where I wanted them to go.

I felt that if I was just a little more productive I would reach the top of the hill, so I put in some extra hours trying to get on top of my ever growing to do list. I was convinced if I just had more hours in the day, I would be able to achieve what I had dreamed of.

But here’s the thing, having more hours in your day does not solve your problems. It also won’t help you when you are feeling overwhelmed in your photography business. In fact, it would probably just lead to an even bigger to do list and more overwhelm.

I have been there before, which is why when you find yourself burnt out and overwhelmed in your photography business, my best advice is to tackle the root cause of what is keeping you trapped in the cycle of busyness. But the key here is to do this slowly and build system to avoid it happening again.

Here are five questions to ask yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed in your photography business…

What can you let go of when you’re feeling overwhelmed in your photography business? What no longer serves you?

Often when you feel overwhelmed in your photography business, it is a sign that you might have too much on your plate and have lost track of what is most important. Life is full of should do’s, and while some things are unavoidable (like collecting receipts for your accountant – oh man do I sometimes wish I could let go of that), the truth is there are lots of things we simply don’t have to do!

One of these things for me was Instagram- and I can honestly say I am really glad I let this go. It cleared up hours of mental space in my day! I don’t have to worry about what to post, who was doing what, and being constantly told that the solution to my problem was only one course or coaching program away. 

I also decided that by working fewer hours, I would be forced to cut out things that didn’t truly serve me. Now if something has been on my to do list for more than a week or two, it either has to get done straight away or it’s time to admit that it’s not really that important, otherwise I would have prioritized it.

If you are feeling very overwhelmed today, what is one thing you can take off your plate that’s no longer serving you? Just try it, soon you will see more things you can simply just remove!

Redefining what success looks like to you

For too long in my business I was living by other people’s definition of success. Obsessed over goals that weren’t really mine, and trying to prove people wrong about the assumptions they had made about me. Now that I know what my true definition of success is – it’s easier to make decisions, and reverse engineer my business to where I would like it to be, and how it should support me. 

Success to me is having a simple business model that helps me work with purpose-led business owners. It also means staying true to my core values, and having the freedom and flexibility to step away from my desk whenever I want to.

It’s being able to spend the afternoons with my daughter, making enough money to feel comfortable and having the room and space to follow my interest and intuition in my business. 

When you are feeling overwhelmed ask yourself if this task is truly in alignment with your definition of success? If the answer is yes, prioritise the task or project, thinking of the simplest / most effective way you could get to the desired outcome. If not, you can simply choose to let it go.

Stop putting out fires, and instead find out what is causing them

This can keep you trapped in the cycle of busyness for months! Spending all your time and energy putting out small fires. For example, in my previous business, I was getting really overwhelmed by the amount of production proofs I had to do on a daily basis.  It took up a large portion of my day, it was something that was necessary (I couldn’t let go of it), but I definitely needed to come up with another plan because it’s not something that is charged for and it was taking up a large portion of my day. 

I had a couple of issues that were keeping me stuck. These issues had really simple solutions but required some work upfront, that would save me hours of time! Instead of just continuing with the same system and process I had always done, I came up with a new one, created some templates & strict boundaries for myself and now things are running a lot smoother. 

What is a task, or issue that keeps showing up in your photography business over & over again. Instead of just applying a quick fix, is there a way you can stop the problem arising in the first place?

Decide how much energy you are willing to give?

I’m getting older, my daughter needs more of my attention than ever before, and quite honestly I want to leave work at work when I step away from my desk at 3pm. Eventually my aim is to only work 4 days a week, but I am working up to this goal slowly. 

With this in mind, I have set up a time block when I am available to clients (I schedule all of my calls for a Wednesday, so that I can batch all of my calls to one day & feel energetically prepared for them). I removed all emails & notifications from my phone a few years ago, and I have stricter boundaries for when I reply to emails.

And right now I am creating offers that can help my clients achieve the best results, while also keeping in mind my long term goals & the energy I am willing to invest. This might mean taking on fewer clients, tweaking offers, but because I am so clear of my goals it’s easy to make this decision.

With this in mind, is there one small change you can make today that can ease some of the pressure you are experiencing that is causing you to feel overwhelmed or disorganized. Perhaps that’s a stricter boundary around client communication, or letting go of something that is not bringing you joy. Start small, you will eventually build up trust with yourself over time.

Re-look at your systems and processes when feeling overwhelmed in your photography studio. 

And most importantly, look at your systems & processes. So often you feel overwhelmed because your system & processes are no longer supporting you. This happens as your business grows and evolves and if your systems & processes stay the same it could lead to you feeling very overwhelmed. 

Or if you have never given your systems & processes any thought, then I invite you to take the time to keep track of what you are doing in your business on a regular basis. Keep a piece of paper or open up a spreadsheet and start to track your days so you can see where you and your clients are getting stuck, and then design systems & processes around this. 

This is a vital part of creating a good client experience. You need a process & system that helps you deliver a signature experience – time & time again, regardless of your energy levels and how busy you are. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel for every client, with  a trusted (well thought out) process you can execute the same hightouch experience over & over again, giving you time to focus on what you do best & time to rest!

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now, I want you to know that’s ok. You have created an incredible photography business, which is why you are probably so busy in the first place. You don’t need to add more to your already busy workload- what you need is a plan that serves you and your clients. Because if you are calm, and attend to your own needs in your business – that’s a place where you can offer an exceptional experience from. 

Look towards your strengths, soft skills and unique talents, and find ways to infuse this into the experience you create for your clients. One that can be replicated time & time again, without leaving you feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and under pressure. If you feel exhausted by all the templates, advice & other peoples’ strategies, I encourage you to slow down and discover a way to work that supports you and your clients – it’s about deciding what’s most important and leaving out the rest. 

If this really resonates with you and you want to find out more – head on over to see how we can work together. Or sign up to my newsletter where I share more tips on how I run a thoughtful & intentional business rooted in slow business values & principles.  

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It doesn't have to stay this way - I can help you reclaim your time, energy and freedom! Take the overwhelm out of your business and help you rediscover the magic of prioritising yourself!