Don’t let anyone fool you: We all started from somewhere un-glamorous. The vast majority of photographers, including us, had more than one job for some time. To us, this is a badge of honour. Be yourself, build your skills and business before jumping, and if someone snubs your hard working attitude, bad for them!
Being a photographer and pursuing other means of supporting yourself is great. In this post, I will share my 5 top tips to survive while working your butt off to kickstart your business.
1. Wear your jobs as a badge of honour and don’t listen to the “Nay Sayers”
Be proud of working twice harder others do to realise a dream! Really. If you are ashamed of admitting that you have a “day job” to give you the possibility to become a better photographer, it is now time to change. Time to change how you perceive yourself and your value, time to change the way you feel.
The world is full of “Nay Sayers” and many of us feel that when they “arrive“, when they are “professional photographers“, they may play a role. Good for them, but does it really matter to you? Let them be proud of who they are, or who they become, but keep in mind they are not you.
Also bear in mind that the “glamorous life of a photographer” is not always this glamorous at all. Don’t believe that everything is bells and whistles, sparkly and shiny. Being a photographer is hard work, so the best way of approaching it is by knowing your craft and having a safety net.
2. Work Hard and don’t be scared of long hours
If you want to succeed, you need experience. Lots of experience. We believe that practice makes perfect, and to get practice while having a day-to-day job, there is no other way than investing time and energy in your business. Sorry, but Saturday, Sundays, evenings and time off are a premium, and to give your business a boost, you have to be ready to work harder, for longer hours than everyone else.
Again, if you listen to the “Nay Sayers” you will end up believing you are doing too much. If you listen to those who say differently, you will let your resistance take over your passion.
Get up early, work hard and go to bed late. My day starts at 7am and finishes at 1am, with family commitments in the middle. Nobody tells you how many sleepless nights are needed to be an “overnight success“.
3. Do what you really love, and support yourself with anything that pays the bills
You will be tired. You will be overwhelmed. You will be ready to drop everything. It happens to everyone courageous enough to start a business while working in another role.
Despite all, there is one detail that is going to keep you going: your passion. To foster it, to make it easier to reach the end of the day, you need to do what you love. Make sure that you do it with passion, or not at all. It is absolutely worthless to invest years of your life, days and nights, to do something which does not speak to your heart.
Wake up and smell the coffee: Life for budding entrepreneurs is tough. The only way of making it through is by doing what you love: it won’t feel as work. And if you feel as you were playing, then the long hours will be like playing, not like working.
4. Be organised
While working double time, doing what is really important is key. We all have a huge list of things to do. If you are organised, if you focus on what is going to make the difference for your business, then things will be much easier.
To organise our life, we use asana, a GTD tool that allows us to keep our business under control. Every idea is channeled through it, every reminder, thing to do, step to conquer the world. Written down, visible and organisable. Put everything that is not vital away from your eyes, in a list you can have under control, and focus on few things every day. Get your shit done, one by one, from the most important down.
Many times it is not important how many hours you invest, but it is about what you do with your time that really matters. You can be behind your computer for 8 hours and accomplish nothing, or concentrate on your organisation and get everything important sorted out in a few hours. It is up to you!
We decided to be organised, to make the most out of the many things we have in our lists!
5. Think Big
Big investments, big rewards. You are going to work hard for long hours, having two (or more) jobs to keep the hope alive. The least you can do is to make sure that the path is worth your efforts.
I want to change the way women see and talk to themselves. I want to travel the world for my customers, showing them how gorgeous they really are. I want to provide an experience that is about self confidence and self respect more than just photographs. I want to build a company bigger than me and Faby in the next five years.
I think big, I want that my efforts, my working extended hours, will give me something more.
Go Big, or Go Home, as there is no reason to invest so much of your time, energy, resources, strength and God know what else to get something small.
Oh, and by the way, are you aware that I am still working two jobs? Yes, I am launching another company, for which I work more than many people work in their 9-5 jobs. With my 6 hours sleep and 16 hours a day working routine, with my obsessive organisation, I am still there, and proud of it. And I am doing it for the passion for the start, the bootstrapping, the feeling that there is something more to be achieved, making meaning before making money.
So if you reached this stage of this post, you can roll up your sleeves and organise how you are going to reach your goals. If I can make it, you can make it.
Remember, the world is your oyster!