The Power of Cyclical Consistency in your Photography Business

Simplified Business

June 19, 2023

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Image of a desk with notepad and daily planner to help a photographer stay more consistent in their business

Consistency is vital to run your photography business – and other productivity advice I don’t 100% agree with.

If you are in the business space I am sure that you have heard many productivity guru’s, mentors and well meaning business coaches telling you to be consistent. Just post x times per week without fail or make sure you set realistic timelines or goals! 

And while this is all good advice in theory it doesn’t take into account that we are cyclical beings and our energy is consistently inconsistent. 

In fact a lot of productivity habits tend to feel very forceful (or pushy) and don’t take into account what it’s actually like to be a human running a small business.

Which is why I think a lot of us struggle to follow through on our plans, desires or intentions- because we design them around our highest energy levels and don’t take into account our natural and seasonal rhythms and cycles.

So what if you recognise that as humans you will consistently be inconsistent in your energy levels and plan around the ebbs and flows? 

Helping you create simple habits and routines that take into account your own humanity so you can build a more sustainable photography business that leads to slow and steady growth, increased creativity and ultimately long term success.

Setting monthly intentions and creating a gentle action plan to create more consistency in your photography business

Setting Intentions is something I love to do with my clients every month. You can create a really delightful ritual around this once a month in your photography business, and is a lovely way to bring in some consistency in your photography business. 

By setting intentions rather than goals you are creating the habits and systems that will actually help you reach your goals rather than being overly focused on the actual outcome of the goal. 

It helps you to be more purposeful instead of just adding tasks and projects to your daily to do list and hoping you somehow force yourself to get them done. This is what my intention setting sessions look like with my clients:

  • Get it all out – I encourage you to just write a list of everything spinning around in your head. In fact, have a notebook, excel spreadsheet, section of your notes app (or my first choice a Notion page) dedicated to writing down all of your wild thoughts and ideas. Let these sit for a while before rushing straight into action. I love to rate these ideas in terms of how excited I am to do them and how they will impact my business.
  • Choose one priority or theme that you would like to focus on for the month. This can be hard when you feel like you have 101 things you are working towards, but you have a better chance of actually completing something if you keep it simple and give all of your energy and intention to one priority. Look at your list, what is one thing that would really make the biggest impact in your business and life right now.
  • What does “done” or “success” look like for you – if you are focusing on a larger task or project what does good enough look like for you. So often we get stuck on making things perfect that we delay getting things out into the world. I always encourage my clients to create the simplest version of something (even if it’s not perfect) and then come back and tweak it later once you have more info / feedback
  • What habits or routines will help you achieve the desired outcome / or goal? By creating systems or habits you can give yourself the tools to actually get something done. For example, could you set aside an hour a day to work on these tasks or larger projects? Plan for days when you just won’t feel like doing anything, and be kind to yourself. Know that resistance will show up, and find ways you can support yourself during this time instead of being hard on yourself.
  • Set yourself deadlines or as I like to think of them – milestones. By week one you would like to have X done, by week two you would like Y done. This will help you keep yourself accountable. I also recommend prioritising these tasks ahead of client work (more on that later). If you are in the habit of tracking your menstrual cycle you might know which week would be better for planning and creating and  which week would be better for consolidating and wrapping things up. The more you can understand your own energy cycles the easier it will be to work with yourself instead of against yourself.

Understanding and accepting that you only have a limited amount of time helps

This can be hard to accept but as soon as you begin to see time as your most valuable resource and create healthy limitations around your time the easier it will be to start prioritising things in your business. 

Work can easily start to seep into our personal lives which is why I always encourage my clients to have strict boundaries around their working hours.

As a mother, the time I have to dedicate to my business is often limited. Sometimes I find it really frustrating, but when I accept that I only have 25 hours in my work week, it forces me to use my time more intentionally.

Personally I love timeblocking so that I can visually see how much time I have. This is often something that I help my photography clients with as it can be easy to forget how much work there is behind the scenes and helps you realistically see how many clients you can work with in any given month.

If you have never time blocked before, the best place to start is simply just to notice where you are spending your time. I have this fantastic time tracker in Notion which is really great to see how long certain tasks take in your business, but also where you are unintentionally wasting time (hello scrolling on socials for an hour).

I find that tracking your hours can also help you with your pricing and availability as a photographer, because you will understand how long things take which will help you price your services fairly and understand how many clients you can realistically take on.

Once you have an idea how long things take, you can start to plan how you want to make the best use of your time.

Next you will need to work out how many hours you have to dedicate to work. 

Start by looking at your personal life – block out your family time, school runs, any regular activities that happen on a weekly basis. Then, think about how you love to work. Do you love working in the early morning hours before anyone is awake, or do you enjoy sleeping late and get a buzz from working at night? It’s all about creating a rhythm or routine that works for you, and not that fits into the typical 9-5.

Next, I suggest starting with things that are your energy non-negotiables. These are the things that light you up, give you energy and bring you joy. For me this looks like an hour long walk, some journaling and a lazy lunch. Plot those things out on your calendar first. Your calendar might be looking a bit full at this stage, don’t panic, there might have to be a bit of a negotiation at first, and you might not be able to do everything you want just yet, but you can slowly work towards a work week that allows for more space and room to breathe.

After this you can visually see how much time you actually have to work. This will help you decide and create a plan or list of compromises you are able to make, it might also help you to see if your pricing is sustainable and if you are taking on too many clients at one time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, create small consistent changes and shifts that will help you work towards your more ideal work week over time. 

The next thing to do is create blocks of time where you focus on one type of task – you could create time blocks for editing, time blocks for emails and admin, time to actually work on your business. By working on similar tasks you are able to get into a flow and work more effectively. You will also see how much time you have to get a task done, which will help you let go of perfectionism and know when good enough is good enough.

By doing this exercise you will be able to be more mindful with your time, and realise that you can only get so much done for the day, helping you to be a little kinder to yourself and more realistic on how long things actually take. I always encourage my clients to prioritise their energy non-negotiables as these are the things that light you up and add to your energy rather than only having things that take away your energy, on your calendar, and leave you feeling burnt out.

Cultivating a daily rhythm that is in tune with your natural cycle helps create more consistency in your photography business

As soon as I started seeing my daily rhythm and routine over a month instead of a 24 hour cycle was when I started to create a routine that actually supported me rather than something that felt daunting and something I had to force myself to stick to. This is key when trying to create more consistency in your photography business!!

Personally I don’t love overly strict routines, I love having more flexibility and flow. I know that there are times when my energy levels are high and I seem to be able to get lots of things done. Other times during the month my energy levels are really low and I can only do the bare minimum. 

Before, I tried to keep myself on an even keel, restricting myself when my energy levels were high and then forcing myself to push on through when my energy levels were low. Now I go where the flow of energy takes me – knowing I can enjoy the creative frenzy and recognising the dips and allowing myself to rest.

If you have never really paid much attention to your energy levels I would highly recommend tracking them for a couple of months and see what you discover. Look out for patterns. I think that we are all different beings energy wise, and that you will find a rhythm that works for you.

I now have a week where I rest and just do the bare minimum, a week dedicated to planning and laying the foundations, and a week where I feel super creative and that I can get lots of things done. Finally, I have a week of bringing everything together, which then leads back into a week of rest. This is usually in tune with my cycle or the lunar cycle.

The biggest thing for me to realise after a full two years of recovering from burnout was allowing myself to enjoy the creative burst I seem to have once a month. I actually don’t restrict myself too much, sometimes working till late in the night on projects (not client work) that will bring me closer to the vision I have for a more sustainable, lifestyle oriented business. The most important part is knowing when I have to rest and not trying to maintain that energy for extended periods of time.

Building strong relationships (and boundaries) with your clients

My relationship with my clients is something I see as sacred, they are the lifeblood of my business which is why I find that boundaries are the best way to honour my relationship with my clients. 

I find that a lot of negativity can creep into your business if you feel like your boundaries are not being honoured. Often it’s not our clients fault, it’s most likely we haven’t communicated our needs and expectations from the start which can lead to difficult situations.

For example, my clients know that I take a little longer to respond to emails and that I don’t check my inbox over the weekends or past 4 o’clock. Which is why I can have set times when I reply to emails, because nothing ever feels urgent or that it has to be taken care of straight away. I have set up those boundaries and communicated them early and often.

Healthy boundaries make everyone in your business feel safe which is why I would love to encourage you to set some with your clients. If communicated clearly and at the start of working together you set yourself up for having a more ease filled relationship with your clients. It also helps to build trust, reliability and consistency in your photography business, which is central to delivering a high-touch client experience.

Making space to regularly check-in with your clients, follow up and communicate consistently will leave everyone feeling happier and more relaxed. The best part is, a lot of this can be automated and set up as part of your process and something I LOVE helping my clients with.

Prioritising your own rest above anything else is key to creating more consistency in your photography business

Finding ways to consistently seek out and honour rest, is a small habit that can help you build a more consistent and human-first photography business. As a person who was raised to have a strong work ethic, this is something that I have to continuously unlearn in order to build a more sustainable business.

It can often feel so counterintuitive to choose rest over work, but so much happens in the space of not doing. That’s where ideas flow, your creativity is restored and where you can reconnect with yourself and your purpose. These are all things that are so important as a photographer, especially if you feel like you need more consistency in your photography business. 

Running your own business can feel extremely overwhelming and stressful at times, which is why prioritising your own rest above all else will help create an environment where you can actually thrive.

And remember rest can look different, depending on what you need at the moment. It could be physical rest, emotional rest or mental rest.

I also love to find ways that I can incorporate rest into work – for example I will often reply to emails lying down, or go for a walk before writing because this helps get my energy and creativity flowing. It’s become part of my process and is all part of “the work” that makes my business thrive.

Remember that rest can be hard, especially if you are someone who has never allowed yourself to do nothing. Build up to it slowly, you can’t go from 100 to 0 miles an hour in one go. Find ways to slowly and gently slow yourself down. 

Could you take an hour a week to simply do nothing (whatever rest looks like or feels like for you). Once that starts to feel comfortable, could you find a way to rest some more or rest in a different way?

The more you start releasing the desire to be constantly on the go, the easier it will get to rest without feeling guilty. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and is a lot harder than we realise. Especially because you have been conditioned to find your worth and value in how “productive you are”. Be kind to yourself!

I often remind myself that by resting I am restoring my energy, allowing me to show up for my business and my clients.

By viewing your consistency in a cycle and as something that ebbs and flows, you might start to see you are a little more consistent than you think you are. By being more aware of your energy, setting gentle intentions and seeing your time as your most valuable resource you can create a monthly routine that helps you build a business rooted in slow and steady growth. And, in the long term, you will naturally end up creating more consistency in your photography business.

By harnessing the power of these cycles you can use your consistently inconsistent energy to build a more sustainable photography business that helps YOU and YOUR BUSINESS to thrive. 

Allowing for your full humanity to show up in your business and creating ways of working with yourself instead of against yourself.

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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