How To Make Working From Home As A Photographer Actually Work

The phone is ringing, the dogs are barking, UPS is dropping off a package, a friend is texting to ask if you can drop her off at the airport and a neighbor wants to talk about the new HOA policy because you know, you work from home.  Insert eye roll here.

I get it.  Completely!  Working from home can be tough.  I’ve owned commercial space, had my studio inside my home and now have a detached studio on our property.  This has been my absolute favorite set up btw :)

Unless you are super organized and protective of your time is can be hard to get anything crossed off your to do list each day.  So let’s talk about how to make working from home actually work for your photography business.

How To Make Working From Home As A Photographer Actually Work

6 Tips For Working From Home As A Senior Photographer

  1. Set boundaries

    Be polite but firm when setting boundaries with family, friends and clients about your business.  Working from home doesn’t mean you can drop everything for a 30 minute chat about what another PTO mom did last week.  While working from home does give you flexibility in your schedule, it needs to be on your own terms. 

  2. Have pre-determined office hours

    Setting office hours are extremely important - for you and your family.  This may change for you as your life changes, the kids get older and as your business grows. But set them and do not let anything get in your way. We’ll talk about distractions in a minute. But I would caution you about sneaking in a few hours late at night when the kids are occupied. Sure this is necessary every once in a while, but it’s easy to form a bad habit. Been there. Done that. Enjoy your family time in the evenings. There will always be work.

  3. Get comfortable with saying no

    Saying no comes so easy to some and it’s extremely difficult for the “people pleasers”. Come on. You know who you are. I am a recovering people pleaser, so I can relate! But what I have learned over the years is that saying yes to trivial or unimportant things in the moment means that I am ultimately giving away my precious time and saying no to my family later on in the day. There are only so many hours in the day and we have to use them wisely. Only say yes to requests that line up with your priorities and values. Everything else can be a gentle “no, I can’t right now, I’m unavailable” . . . you get the picture ;)

  4. Eliminate distractions

    The phone is absolutely my biggest distraction. It’s worse than my kids y’all!! Turning your phone to Do Not Disturb is the best thing you could do to actually get some focused work done! I’ve even gone so far to delete social media apps and email from my phone to keep me from being distracted.

  5. Morning & Evening Routines

    Creating routines (for myself and the kids) has been a lifesaver to me. There are just those non-negotiable things that have to get done each day, right? Take some time to sketch out your mornings and evenings to make them successful. It takes a while to form new habits, but that investment will pay off! A great morning starts the night before :)

  6. Batch your time

    Jumping from one type of task to a totally different one can be such a waste of time and mental energy. To stay productive in your work hours be sure you are focusing on only one type of task - emails, calls, editing, continuing education, etc. Have session days and in person sales days separately so that you can stay focused on one thing. I even close the studio one day a week to run all of my errands and schedule appointments on that one day. Batching things like marketing, client work, post production, calls, emails, and admin work has been a huge time saver as well. The best tool I’ve found to help me with this has been Trello. I’ve been using it for years, and it really keeps me focused and on track. You can read more about it here in this post.

What are some of the things you’ve found to help you stay productive working from home? I’d love to keep the conversation going!

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The Top 5 Mistakes I Made As A New Photographer

Hey guys!  Before we get too far into this blog post I want to introduce myself to you.  I’m Jena Golden, mama to 3 boys, senior portrait photographer for 13 years now, blogger and completely obsessed with systems and workflows.   

My goal is to help transform your photography or creative business into a productive and profitable one, so that you can run both your business and your home from a place of purpose.  

I want us all be able to live intentionally, running our businesses and not the other way around, letting them run us.

So whether you’re a photographer, a designer, a blogger or maybe even a virtual assistant I’m so excited you are here!  I’m going to talk to you about some areas where I really messed up when I first started my photography business. And I still mess up a good bit today! But I thought we’d start here in hopes of helping you guys avoid those same mistakes.

So let’s dive right in.

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As a new photographer, I was so excited to take on the world with my camera.  And boy did I!

I photographed everything from newborns to weddings to families and pets.  I finally found my niche with high school seniors and haven’t looked back!

The problem way back then was that I really didn’t know how to run a business and to be honest, my photography skills . . . let’s just say . . .  were not what they are today.

So here we go with the first of many mistakes along the way . . .

1.  Not setting boundaries with clients

I made myself available to my clients anywhere and at anytime they needed me.  Big mistake. I let them text me on my personal cell phone or facebook message me with any question they had.  I answered emails late at night. And then I would get mad when they would send one right back. Hey, I was answering so it must be ok, right?  So dumb of me.

Just because we live in a digital world doesn’t mean we have to be fully accessible at all hours around the clock.  

Solution:  I set up regular business hours and I posted those everywhere.  They are in my email signature, on my contact form, in our what to expect emails.  Clients are very clear now that I am a mom and wife first and that business happens during normal business hours.  And they respect that. Life is so much simpler (and quieter) now :)

2. Saying yes to everything

Guilty.  Bring on all the volunteer work, all the free shoots.  It’s good exposure, right? Umm, no. And it certainly doesn’t pay the bills.  It left me frazzled and feeling taken advantage of. That stopped. I realized that I am only one person.  As much as I’d like to I can’t make it to every networking event or be the hero for everyone’s favorite charity.

Solution:  I learned to say yes to the things that aligned with my priorities.  I also learned that there are only so many hours a week for paid sessions.  Filling those with “marketing opportunities” and “great exposure” wasn’t cutting it.

3. Paying too much attention to my competition

This began to affect me in several ways, mostly emotionally and creatively.  So I cut myself off. I stopped looking at the highlight reels, comparing myself to their successes while belittling my own.  Their journeys are quite different than mine. Their realities are too. And someone else’s success didn’t mean I was failing.  

Solution:  Get to know your competition.  Know their strengths and weaknesses.  But don’t obsess over them. The more time you are watching them, the less time you are paying attention to your own business.  The time you spend concentrating on your competition is time you could be spending on your clients or prospects.

4. Not understanding my costs / Not knowing what my time is worth

This is a big one.  I was just throwing numbers around because they looked good on paper or because someone else’s price list looked nice.  I was clueless. And it showed in my profit and loss statements early on in my business.

Solution:  I poured over my numbers.  I created spreadsheets left and right!  It’s so important to know costs. This includes printing costs AND overhead - insurance, taxes, website, marketing, equipment maintenance & upgrades, continuing education.  How much did I want to bring home as a salary? How much did I need to make an hour to do that? How many hours were spent on each job? No, for real. Once I knew all of those critical numbers I learned how to price myself correctly.  Profits are nice y’all. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of them! Paying yourself a salary should be on the top of your list. Otherwise why are you spending so much time away from your family?

5. Taking clients on out of fear of missing out

This is quite possibly the biggest mistake I’ve made.  I’ve messed up a few times over the years. Said yes to clients I knew were not a good fit.  And that resulted in heartache and lots of sleepless nights. It is not worth it! I repeat - NOT WORTH IT!  I no longer feel bad for not getting a job. It is completely ok to say no. That’s not a bad word. And you know why? Because that allows you to say yes to some other very important things (and people) in your life.  

Solution:  Go with your gut.  Always. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away.  

So there you go.  Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a photographer.  There are plenty more. Believe me! And if you stick around a while I’m sure I’ll share them all. What are some of yours? I would love to know.  We can all learn & grow together. You can let me know in the comments section below :)

Until next time guys . . . Keep on creating and living your life on purpose.  I can’t wait to talk with you again.

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Why It Doesn't Bother Me To NOT Get The Job

It really used to frustrate me when I didn’t get hired, didn’t book the session, didn’t get the job. I use to make my case over the phone when a potential client called. I would try to tell them the difference between me and the shoot and burn photographer or the school’s contract photographer. I used to get angry when they just couldn’t see the value in the product and service I offered.

And then something clicked. The ones who didn’t need convincing, the ones who were ready to book because they had already fallen in love with what we do . . . they were my dream clients. And the ones who I just happened to be able to convince to book a session anyway . . . well, we ended up not being a good match after all. After this happened a few times and I saw a pattern develop, I changed the way I did business.

I stopped getting angry. And I stopped getting hurt.

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I stopped running my business out of fear.

And I started running it with confidence that I was worth what I charged for my services and time away from my family.

If they said I was too expensive I understood and wished them the best. And I meant it! I stopped trying to convince EVERYONE that I was the photographer for them. Porsche doesn’t do that. Tiffany’s doesn’t either. They just served their clients and that’s what I set out to do.

I started serving my clients better. I made sure there wasn’t a question left unanswered and that they felt like they were the only ones who mattered on their session day. I served the ones who valued great work full of expression and light in their daughter’s eyes, work that they would proudly hang on living room walls and cherish because I captured their kid EXACTLY how they wanted to remember this stage of life. I served the clients who valued relationships and memories more than nice cars and handbags.

I figured out who MY CLIENT was and I loved on them like they were friends from the start.

When a potential customer calls and I get that feeling down deep in my gut (you know the one) that this isn’t going to work out I still care for them and we always have great conversation. I love these phone calls, because I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve lived through senior year with my oldest. And I’ll have to do it two more times! Ugh, my heart. We are all just trying to do this life thing together, and senior year is tough on any parent - physically, financially and definitely emotionally!! No matter what their budget is, they still deserve and get respect from our studio.

Remember the movie Pretty Woman when she went into the fancy dress shop on Rodeo Drive for the first time? Yeah. That’s not happening here! Just sayin.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to know that it is ok to not be hired or to be called too expensive. We cannot serve everyone, and that’s ok too. Because if we did we wouldn’t have time for our own families. And if that starts happening, it’s time to raise your prices. Supply and demand baby.

So the next time you don’t book the session because you are out of someone’s budget, look at it as a blessing. And serve the ones who have hired you like they are your most cherished friends.

The right ones will always come along.

5 Ways To Avoid Burnout

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Let's Talk About Burnout . . .

It happens, whether you are a stay at home mom, work at home mom or a 9 to 5 mom (insert dad into any one of those please) or maybe you're a young adult still trying to figure out life and this whole creative business thing.  I've been there.  I've thrown my hands up after having a tough week, sometimes weeks, and wanted to quit.  The running joke around here is that when mom has one of "those" episodes is that we are moving to Montana to raise goats.  Don't be surprised if you see that post here one of these days folks!  Haha!  But inevitably once I stop running around complaining like a crazy woman, I realize that my meltdown could have easily been avoided.  

Let me explain.  Here are 5 ways that I've learned to help avoid burnout:

Goals | Boundaries | Unplug |Work Life Balance |PowerSheets | WAHM | Working From Home | Girl Boss | Creative Entrepreneur | Female Entrepreneur | Simply Successful Creative

1. Set Goals

If you don't know what your goals are for your business, your home, your family or personal life, then you are just running in circles.  Know what your goals are.  Write them down.  An awesome tool to do this in is PowerSheets by Lara Casey.  You HAVE to have a target to aim for.  By not having one, you are more apt to say yes to everything that comes your way & will overwhelm yourself real quick like!  In case you missed it I focused on setting 90 day goals here

2. Set Boundaries

I admit that I was terrible at this early in my career.  I would answer the phone late at night, answer emails and texts too.  I would take weekend sessions or evening ordering appointments.  You name it, I did it.  Yes, I was popular with my clients.  But this took a toll on our family.  I now have very strict boundaries.  Yes, I have to make exceptions from time to time, but these get run by the family first.  Work texts, phone calls & emails get handled the next business day during business hours.  I only take a certain number of clients on each month because I know what I can and can't handle.  This goes for our family life too.  We only allow a certain number of sleepovers and don't make it to every big family outing.  And we have to say no to cool activities for the kids sometimes because we just really need dinner around the table together.  Know what your priorities are and sit down to set some boundaries that will keep them on the top of your list.    

3.  Don't Blur Personal & Work Life

This is related to the boundaries issue too.  You have to be able to shut down.  This means your mind and your electronics.  Some examples: dinner out at a restaurant with your family but answering work emails on your phone (or lets maybe call it what it is . . . scrolling Facebook haha). Or at the park with your kids but taking a "quick" call.  We all know how those go!  Work time is work time.  Family time is family time.  By combining the two, neither get your full attention.  And they both deserve it, just at separate times :)

4. Schedule Time To Unplug

Do you remember the time before the iPhone or Blackberry?  The time when you had to physically be at your computer to deal with work.  It can still be that way!  I purposely don't have notifications on for my email (or social media) because I seriously don't want to be distracted by it all day long.  Ok, that was off topic, but still . . . We do not have to be connected to the outside world 24-7!  Schedule time to just walk away, put your phone on silent or do not disturb and just enjoy life around you.  Go for a walk.  Play in the yard with your kids.  Finish a project in the house you've been meaning to get around to.  We need that time.  It's still there, just like it used to be.  We just have to be willing to unplug. For real, schedule it!  Make yourself unavailable on your calendar & just do it. 

A fun activity that we are really enjoying lately is our Box of Challenge

 

It's a monthly subscription box full of challenges, brainteasers, puzzles, instructions and tons of inspiration. It is perfect for spending quality time with your family and for just hanging out with friends. Whether you’re 8 or 88, you’re gonna really love it!

5. Exercise & Eat Well  

I can tell when I haven't been eating right or when I've gone a few days without a good workout or run.  I feel sluggish & beat down.  And that's just about the time for another meltdown.  When I take care of myself, I get so much more accomplished, and I'm in such a better mood.  Take 30 minutes a day to do something for yourself!  It doesn't have to be all work or all raising the kiddos.  You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of the rest of it :)

So, there you go.  Definitely some things that we can do to avoid feeling burnout.  I had to take a step back this week and reevaluate some things myself after having a little "moment".  Hope this helps you avoid one this week!  I'm not the only that has them, right??? :)

What are some ways you avoid burnout in your life?  I'd love to hear some of your tips too!

How Outsourcing Saved My Business and Sanity

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

I was at my wit's end.

You see, I can be pretty darn good at something when I focus on it.  We all can be, right?  When business was going great, the house was a horrible mess.  When the laundry was folded, dishes cleaned and dinner was on the table every night, I wasn't returning client calls quick enough and getting behind on processing orders.  

Panic and stress were getting to be the norm.  

I could rock one side of life.  But not both.  That's when I decided to get some serious help.  And I haven’t looked back since.  

Outsourcing | Delegate |Work Life Balance |PowerSheets | WAHM | Working From Home | Girl Boss | Creative Entrepreneur | Female Entrepreneur | Simply Successful Creative

So what sorts of things did I outsource?


For business the first things I outsourced were image editing and email.  

  1. Image Editing.  As a photographer this is one of the toughest and most time consuming parts of the business.  I turned over my final editing to a wonderful company called Rebooku.  They have really fast turn around times and do great work!  I also let them do some album design and image extractions for custom sports work when I need it too.  Use this code: RefcM7k47li for 10% off your first order.  You will love them!

  2. Email.  Ugh.  I hate it.  I had learned the art of email templates (we'll talk about that soon), but they weren’t getting sent out on time and sometimes not at all.  Yikes!  This does not make for a good client experience.  I knew I needed help to organize and automate my processes.  After lots of research I settled on a studio management system called HoneyBook.  I am head over heels in love with HoneyBook.  It has saved me over and over again because my poor little brain can only retain so much.  The good guys over there are giving my followers 50% off! Woohoo!

  3. Help around the office.  Around the same time I did hire a part time assistant to help with client management and to assist on photo sessions. This was a blessing in and of itself.  If you can't afford to hire an assistant consider starting an internship program.  You could contact a local high school or university to easily fill a spot for course credit.

  4. Social Media.  A thorn in my side and maybe yours too.  I do love it, but I struggle to find the time every day to write an amazing caption for my next post. Life is crazy, right? And we can’t be creative 100% of the time. Sure I have my client's beautiful images which I am always posting, but I love to post styled artwork too.  I love the styled images from Styled Stock Society. They offer so many different options for filler content when you need it! Oh, and Planoly is the bomb for planning out your Insta feed ;)

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Who has time . . .

. . . to take Instagram-worthy photos when you’ve got a business to run?

Let’s talk about things that can be outsourced at home.

  1. Cleaning.  Number one on this list has to be cleaning!  I hired a maid service to come in twice a month to do all the things I hate!  It would take me a week to do the things they do in four hours.  And there is nothing like a clean home to ease some tension and help you relax.

  2. Meal Prep.  There are some wonderful meal prep services out today.  We love Dream Dinners and Freshly.  Thaw it the night before and follow the directions to cook your meal.  Is it a little pricey?  Yep.  But I didn’t have to plan the meal, shop for the groceries, wash and chop veggies or meat.  It’s all done.  And the meals are fantastic!

  3. Grocery Shopping.  I can blast through the grocery store aisles like mad woman, but it’s so nice to see a big giant box show up on my front porch knowing I only had to click a few buttons to stock my pantry.  My favorites are Amazon Subscribe & Save and Thrive Market. Thrive is like a combination of Whole Foods meets Amazon.  It’s chock full of organic and non-gmo options if you are into a healthy lifestyle.  Get 25% off your first order here

  4. Dry Cleaning.  I do not have the time or patience to iron my husband’s pants and dress shirts for work.  There I said it.  Haha!  Most dry cleaners have a pick-up and delivery service.  Check out your local ones if this is something you could easily sub out.  


Outsourcing was THE best thing I ever did for my business and family! I fought it for the longest time, thinking I could do it all.  But I would just become more and more frustrated.  Because guys, we can't really do it all.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong in admitting that!

I’m so happy I waved that white flag just as high as I could when I finally realized it.  Are you ready to let go of some things?  Have you already?  What am I missing out on?  I’d love to know where you’ve learned to outsource as well.

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