Being a business owner as a creative, you're bound to be faced with burn-out at some point. Read more to find out my favorite ways to beat it- whether you're facing it head on or avoiding burn out before it's able to creep up on you. But real quick, before you keep reading, consider taking some time to dig deep (or maybe it's right on the surface screaming at you) and really figure out why you're experiencing this burn out. Are you overwhelmed with too many sessions, maybe too many sessions with clients that don't fit your definition of an ideal client, possibly you're dealing with health issues but you're ignoring the signs, not sleeping enough, or stressed by too little work. Once you get an idea of why it's happening, continue reading and take what you need!
Take a Break
This one you could have guessed, I'm sure. But here's the catch: schedule breaks into your calendar ahead of time. This is one of the best ways to avoid reaching the point of being burnt out. I personally schedule a full week break from shooting about every other month during my busy months and for the whole months of December and January I usually don't even look at my camera at all.
During busy season, when I approach a blackout week, I always reassess a couple of weeks out and decide if it's still necessary to keep the break as scheduled or remove it. It never fails that I get last minute inquiries towards the end of summer, so I may accept them if I think I can mentally handle it.
During breaks I will be sure to step away from:
editing, if I can! or I'll spend the time catching up on editing
But I will never take a break from responding to emails, DM's, or texts from clients or potential clients unless I have an auto message set up with an out of office note, letting them know when they can expect a response. I personally will only do auto responsed when I'm traveling and know I may not have service for over 2 days.
Take an evening to dress up and go to your favorite dinner spot. Book a trip you can look forward to during your slow season. Ride your horse and make it special (whatever that means to you!). Book a photoshoot for yourself- this has multiple benefits! Have a spa day or get a massage. Do an at home movie night with your favorite snacks and your coziest blanket. Whatever will result in you feeling either relaxed or excited (or even better, both!), make it happen.
Celebrate Your Success
Review your past work, run numbers on your business, and read client testimonials to look at how far you've come and how many people you've impacted! Nothing brings me out of a slump more than looking through my favorite sessions and reminiscing on how much fun they were.
Invest in Education
Maybe this feeling of burn out is a sign it's time to finally hire a business coach or to purchase that online course you've been thinking about! Or maybe you have a course or two you've purchased in the past- rewatch it with fresh eyes while you catch up on editing. On the lookout for a new course? Here's a list of all the photography educators I've personally invested in and can recommend!
Shoot for Your Heart
Set up an unpaid shoot where you can get creative and do as you wish, without the limitations of a client's needs and desires. If you're not able to spend time sourcing models or finding cool locations, consider reaching out to a past client from a favorite session of yours- someone who you know will be excited to get to work with you again and *you know their horse already*. There's truly nothing worse than feeling burnt out, deciding to set up a for-fun shoot, only to have the horse not cooperate.
I will often schedule days specifically for personal work throughout the year in my marketing plan when I create it in December each year for the upcoming year. I come back to my marketing plan at the beginning of every month so just like scheduled breaks, I can reevaluate if needed.
Reevaluate Your Goals
Set some short term, attainable goals to get a few good dopamine hits- just enough to build your momentum back up. A new goal could be to raise your prices, this phase of burn out may be the sign.
Attend a Content Retreat
If you don't want to have the possible stress of setting up your own unpaid shoot to get creative, consider attending a content retreat or workshop! I host content retreats with my friend, Lauren, and she wrote a great blog post on 5 Reasons to Attend a Photography Workshop. We'll be hosting at least one this year, TBD but send me an email or DM on Instagram to get on the waitlist! See the images I captured from the 2023 retreats, in Washington and Arizona.
Automate & Outsource
Review every part of your business and find out how you can implement automations to streamline your workflow. Whether that be scheduling social media posts in batches, creating email templates, automating certain emails within a workflow in your CRM (I use and love Dubsado), or implementing drop shipping for print orders.
There comes a point in your business where you can't afford not to outsource! The first thing everyone thinks of when they hear this word is: editing. But there's a lot more you could choose to delegate first! Some examples for business specific outsourcing:
culling & editing
social media management
coordinating & booking travel
Examples for personal-life outsourcing:
grocery shopping (whether someone else does it or you do online shopping with delivery or pick up)
fitness coaching (there's so many good online trainers out there, but also a lot of sketch ones- send me a DM to get my recommendations based on your goals!)
Connect with Other Photographers
Being self employed can get lonely when you don't have any co-workers to discuss your ideas with or vent to. This piece of advice is a bit of a long term achievement- you can't really just become online business besties from one message. But you can spend the time to connect with other photographers and over time you'll develop friendships that you can count on in times where you feel you may need a little boost of encouragement or even a pep talk. I'm so grateful to have a few fellow photographers from all over the country that I can call friends! *group-based online education, FB groups, and content retreats are an amazing way to meet new photographer friends!
Ask Past Clients for Reviews
Hearing how much you've impacted your clients' lives with photos of them and their horses is a great way to remind yourself why you even do this job in the first place.
Hope this helps!!! Let me know what steps you took to beat burn out & send this post to your *online business bestie*