Self-Employment: Month 8 ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

Yesterday James informed me that he keeps track of how old Chloe is based on what month of self-employment post I’m doing. 🙂 haha She was apparently 4 months when we got her + 8 months = means she is now a year old! Crazy talk! And his pointing that out reminded me that somehow another month has flown by at warp speed and here we are at another self-employment post! Yowsa!

Just look at her! All grown up… haha… 🙂

I know the past few months have been a lot about The Fear, money, and general anxiety I was having (that I wasn’t loving, obviously). Most of that was because this winter we were slowly trucking our way through the off-season. We were spending more money per month in bills, business expenses, and taxes than what was coming in (which is normal for wedding photographers in seasonal climates, unfortunately… at least I think this is normal. It is, right?!). Our life was basically a matter of watching our account and making sure we had the proper amount budgeted each month to get us through until wedding season gets into full swing (which happens in June). Thank goodness towards the end of April (in my last post) we were working our way out of slow season. More regular sessions were coming thanks to the beautiful spring we’ve had, and now suddenly here we are at the end of May – which in my mind, marks the official end of the off-season! Yay!!! 

I’m cheering because my biggest fear back in August when I announced I was going full time was that we wouldn’t make it all the way through May working for ourselves. I was deathly afraid that I’d have to call up my old boss, tail tucked between my legs, and ask if I could come back part-time for a bit until busy season got rolling again. But… BUT… we didn’t have to do it!!! It was a close call for a while there – I’m not going to lie… but the thing about being pushed to the edge is that you find a way. You save money, make sacrifices, and work your butt off to bring in new clients. And somehow, we made it. (Now my new paranoia has set in that we’ll make it through this year, but won’t have enough saved to get through the NEXT off-season. Yes, I’m that crazy. Yes, I’m thinking 9 months ahead… I can’t help it. I think it’s the nature of seasonal business. Grr.)

Anyway – now that busy season is here – I’m trying to find the best way to manage my time so I can continue to provide an amazing experience to my clients, and also keep a work/life balance for myself. Last year I seriously failed at the work/life balance part and it was NOT good. (Not. Good.) So, this year I’m going to do my best to be proactive about avoiding that downfall again. The way I’m going to do this is by creating a timeline for myself! Because this June (and many other times this year) consist of us shooting a wedding (or 2) every single weekend – I need to do my best to get each wedding out within the following week, so that I have a clean slate by the time the next wedding comes. Clearly this is an ideal timeline in my mind – and we’ll see if I can keep it up once things really get rolling.

In my attempt to be proactive, I’ve created an “ideal day” for myself that maps out my day and *hopefully* helps me stay on track hour to hour. (I got this idea from the lovely Nancy Ray, who wrote her ideal day on her blog recently and challenged others to do the same. I immediately thought – Why didn’t I think of this?!) My main problem in working for myself is that I always think there will be more time. Instead of maximizing my time – I stretch things out over the entire day (until the wee hours of the morning). Clearly I don’t need to do this. If I could focus each hour to a specific task – I would be 100% more productive. (While working for yourself is fabulous – I could use a boss to yell at me to get off social media now and then. I always justify it saying – I’m networking! I’m posting links! I’m commenting and building relationships! …Which is all true to a degree. But seriously – I need to step away more often – for both my sanity and my productivity!)

Anyway – here are my IDEAL DAYS. I’ve created 2 versions – because I’m going to attempt to actually get to the gym & incorporate yoga into my routine this year. (Obviously these are also for days I don’t have meetings or shoots scheduled. Which means I need to make sure to leave full days EMPTY on my calendar  (preferably 3 times a week) – so I can keep up with editing/business maintenance this year! I didn’t do that last year – and it was baaaaad.)

(Oh, and let’s pretend the weather looks like this every day… yes? Talk about ideal day!)

IDEAL DAY (gym day)

7:00 – Wake up / Wash face / Make coffee & breakfast

7:30 – Eat breakfast & drink coffee while I share my blog links on FB & Twitter / Read & comment on other’s blogs

8:00 – Brush teeth / Get water (I must remind myself of this!) / Walk Chloe

8:15 – Settle down to work on non-email work… i.e. Editing, Client websites, Business maintenance (2 hours)

10:15 – Get up from desk and stretch / Walk / Refill water (!!!)

10:30 – Check & reply to business email (1 hour)

11:30 – Lunch break

12:00 – More non-email work (see above) (2 hours)

2:00 – Get ready for the gym

2:15 – Leave for the gym with James (it’s a 15-20 min drive to our gym)

2:30 – Work out = Cardio + Weights + Stretches

4:30 – Head for home / Run errands if necessary

5:00 – James & I play with Chloe outside (30 minutes)

5:30 – Shower & put on a fresh pair of pajamas (lets be real, I’ve been wearing pajamas or gym clothes all day) / Eat post-workout snack

6:00 – Wrap up work for the day / Check emails if necessary (2 hours)

8:00 – End work for the day / Make & eat dinner with James / Hang out

10:30 – In bed & reading a book (I hope to read more!)

11:00 – Lights out.

IDEAL DAY (yoga/home day)

7:00 – Wake up / Wash face / Make coffee & breakfast

7:30 – Eat breakfast & drink coffee while I share my blog links on FB & Twitter / Read & comment on other’s blogs

8:00 – Brush teeth / Get water / Walk Chloe

8:15 – Settle down to work on non-email work… i.e. Editing, Client websites, Business maintenance (1 hour)

9:15 – Check & reply to business email (1 hour)

10:15 – Do yoga video

11:00 – Shower / Get dressed

11:30 – Lunch break

12:00 – More non-email work (see above) (3 hours)

3:00 – Break / Play with Chloe outside or go for a walk / Run errands / Eat a snack

4:00 – Check e-mail & reply if necessary (30 minutes)

4:30 – More non-email work (2 hours)

6:30 – End work day / Make dinner & spend time with James / Clean house / Etc.

10:30 – In bed reading

11:00 – Lights out

Let’s see if I can make either of these happen! Chloe is the real wild card factor in here – because some days she makes it incredibly difficult to work. But if I get her outside & wear her out during the times I set aside for it – we should be okay! Wish me luck! 😉

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!