011. Exact steps I took to leave my 9-5 + My photography workflow (AND Trello Board Set Up Freebie)
Let’s talk about the EXACT steps I took to leave my 9-5, how I made it happen so fast once I decided it was time, and I want to talk about my photography workflow. A photography workflow is very important because, once you start booking a lot of clients, you can quickly find yourself in the weeds, between retouching, shooting more sessions, keeping up with client inquiries to the point that you *never* have time off. The photography workflow that I have now is how I’m able to manage 100+ clients a year, all by myself.
In 2016-17, I was working 40+ hours at the dental office making the OWNER a lot of money. I’m a perfectionist and give whatever I’m doing my all, so I worked my booty off for my dentist. Looking back now, I’m thankful this dentist worked me so hard. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and headfirst into full-time photography.
The moment I was done with my 9-5
In this dental office, we worked Wednesday evenings until 8pm – like literally took patients that late. One Wednesday evening, I remember watching the dentist give an exam after I had cleaned my patients teeth. I had a packed schedule that night and knew I wouldn’t get out of there to go see my dogs anytime before 8:30-9pm.
I was spending my evenings working for someone else, making him all kinds of money, and neglecting my own business and my favorite little critters.
When I got home that night, I sat down at my computer, looked at my finances, my upcoming photography schedule, and gave myself a deadline. I wanted out of the dental setting within 4 months.
Three months later, I gave my notice and 4 months after that, I was officially a full time photographer.
It wasn’t without struggles, but it was the BEST decision I’d made up to that point.
The EXACT Steps I took to leave my 9-5:
- Set a quit date. I gave myself time to build a nest egg savings account to get through the hard times AND book out my schedule far enough in advance to maintain a healthy business.
- Planned my pricing and financial budget to support my dreams *with confidence*. I knew before I gave my notice, I had to feel confident in my pricing and financial situation.
- Created a session experience that left my clients feeling amazingly beautiful and excited about their purchase, which prompted more referrals and testimonials to bring in more clients just like those.
- Built relationships with like minded businesses in my community who served the same clientele as me. The easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to book more clients is through referrals, specifically business referrals.
- Had a high converting, seo friendly website that booked clients on autopilot.
My photography workflow was born.
All of this worked so well that when I did finally leave my 9-5, I became so overwhelmed that I had to find a way to streamline my processes. I was booking TOO MANY clients, which created a whole new set of problems.
- My boundaries became non-existent. If a client wanted me to drop everything for a session AND have the images ready for her wedding in two weeks, I made it happen.
- I was answering emails in the middle of the night because I wanted to go above and beyond for my clients – Hand holding them and giving them top-notch service.
- I was retouching all of my own images. With the number of clients I had, imagine how much time I spent behind the computer.
I definitely had a few breakdowns, maybe a few panic attacks, but…
…eventually, I figured out that you don’t actually have to do all the things. You can still give clients the experience you want them to have, without giving away all of your time.
I was so overwhelmed with everything I had going on that I literally kept missing things, putting clients out of order, or forgetting to send digital files.
One time, I forgot to back up a client’s images that I had retouched. I deleted them off the computer, and when her payment plan ended, I realized I no longer had those photos and had to retouch them again! That’s when I created a workflow. Since implementation, it has seriously saved me a few times.
Now, if I question what needs to be done next, I pull up on my photography workflow and get to work.
This comes with a warning label.
I’m giving you the exact steps I took to leave my 9-5 with a warning label. These strategies can work so well that you end up overwhelmed and tired and resenting your business. That’s why my coaching clients and I work to automate their business and workflow AS WE BUILD the strategy so that they don’t experience the same overwhelm and exhaustion that I felt early in my business.
Whether you hire a coach to help you develop this strategy or you DIY it, make sure you automate as much as you can as early as possible. You’ll be thankful when you’re sitting on the beach drinking a pina colada and you get that notification that a session booking just came through.
Create your own Photography Workflow.
I created a Loom video to show you EXACTLY how to set up your own photography workflow for your business. I have step-by-step instructions, even including exactly what to include in your own workflow, and how to make it work for you. You can get access to the TLC Photography Workflow today, and be on your way to a more productive tomorrow. 🙂
Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.