Productivity

Ep 129. 5 Tips For Running a Successful Photography Business with Kids at Home

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I'm Ashley!

My mission at The Purpose Gathering is to help driven momtogs like you level up, so you can build a sustainable business AND a fulfilling family life. I do that through authentic brand photography for mompreneurs and my signature program for mom photographers: Side Hustler to CEO.

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Do you ever feel like it’s impossible trying to run a successful photography business while raising little kiddos at home?

In this blog post, I will show you that it doesn’t have to feel impossible. I have been running a photography business for over 11 years and all of which I had kids while doing it. And it’s definitely been hard. I will not lie about that. But it is possible to do both and do them well.

And in this blog post, I’m so excited to share with you 5 tips for running a successful photography business with kids at home.

I cannot wait to get into today’s topic. It is one that is near and dear to my heart and is something that I have struggled with in the past. Heck, let’s be honest, I still struggle with this sometimes. This is not something that we just get over. This is something that is ever-changing, and ever-evolving. But I want to help you out by giving you some of my favorite tips today.

But before we get started, I would love to take a moment and say welcome and introduce myself. So for those of you that are new listeners, I want to say thank you for taking a chance on a new podcast. And for all of my returning listeners so pumped to be here with you today. This is my favorite part of the week.

Now for those of you that don’t know who I am, my name is Ashley Freehan. And I am the founder here at The Purpose Gathering, which is an online community and education platform designed to help overwhelmed mom photographers increase their profitability and work less all while enjoying motherhood, because let’s be real, if you’re not enjoying your kiddos, what’s the point of having a business, right? We want both.

We got into photography so that we could have time freedom, and so that we could have financial freedom. And if we’re not feeling balanced with our work and home life, then something’s wrong.

And we need to fix that and get back on track. I’m a homeschooling mom of two. I’m juggling two businesses, my brand photography, business, and my coaching business, all while working only 15 hours a week. So I’ve learned to be extremely creative, intentional and strategic about the way I spend my time.

Now in addition to this weekly podcast, I have a six-month group coaching program, called the Side Hustler to CEO. I’ve basically taken my over 10 years of experience and knowledge as a photographer and I have wrapped it up into what I think is an incredibly dynamic program. So not only does it provide education, it provides accountability and mentoring, and coaching all for six months so that you can implement everything that you’re learning with support along the way. This program provides you with a simple framework for how to grow and maintain a profitable and stress-free photography business. You can check out more details about this program by visiting thepurposegathering.com.

Okay, friends, I want to invite you to find me over on Instagram at @thepurposegathering and answer this question in my DMs. What is the hardest part about raising kiddos and growing a photography business at the same time? I want to hear what you have to say.

This will also help give me ideas for what content you want so that I can create more of it for you on this podcast.

I am so excited to jump into these five tips for running a successful photography business while you have kids at home.

Tip #1: Create Your Ideal Week

It’s important that you create some separation in your schedule and that you start to time block out when you want to do certain things. So this is going to take some time. But I want you to just grab a blank sheet of paper and I want you to start to go through each day, Monday through Friday. If you want to do this on the weekends, you definitely can but I personally only create my ideal week for Monday through Friday.

And I set up intentional blocks of time so that I know exactly what I want to be working on during each of those time blocks. Now, this includes your work time, but also it includes personal time as well. And everybody’s ideal week is going to look a little bit different.

But I’ll just give you sort of like the rundown of how I have mine set up. So my kiddos, usually, well, my youngest wakes up earlier. So between the hours of 6:30 and 7:30, that’s typically when he’s awake. Or when he wakes up, I have him do play time in his room.

So we have a wake-up boundary where my kiddos can’t expect anything from me until 730. They are older ages 8 and 11. But I set this expectation really early on. So they’ve grown to just know that that’s our wake-up boundary.

Again, we homeschool. So our wakeup boundary is a little bit later than most. But then after that 7:30 wake-up boundary, we go into special time.

So I like to be able to have 10 minutes of one on one time with my kiddos each day, I think it just helps set the day off on the right foot. And I just think it’s super impactful.

So we usually do special time for roughly 10 minutes each. But then sometimes we do together time. So I’ve left an hour for that. And then around 8:30 is when we make breakfast. And then because I homeschool, I have my homeschool segments or blocks marked in here.

So I know exactly when I’m doing school with my son, and I know when I’m doing school with my daughter. If we’re doing separate lessons, or I know if we’re doing together lessons, I also can put my work blocks in here. Or anytime I have childcare, like my mom comes and watches the kids once a week. So I’ll block that out in here. And I do this all on a Google sheet. And then I color-coordinate it. So I know that the green is when my kiddos are by themselves. The orange is when we’re all together. So things like mealtimes connection time, that special time, if we’re driving in the car, for instance, you know, on Fridays we go, I take my kiddos to an enrichment program. So I have drive time in there. And I really block out each part of my day.

I also put time in there for when I’m going to be doing personal things, or when my kids are going to be doing their quiet time even when they have their shower. And when they’re going to be changing into their PJs. But it really just helps me at a glance be able to look and see, okay, when I’m scheduling things, I’m going to look at my ideal week, and I’m going to schedule things accordingly.

So you might want to leave some time in here for you know, like playdates with a friend. Or maybe that’ll be like, for me, I have that quiet time blocked out. And that’s actually when I get like a lot of my personal tasks, or when I can have like some self-care time in there. So something I don’t put on here is my self-care time in the morning. But that’s something that you could put on here as well.

But this is so crucial. So that you know, okay, I know when I’m working. I know when we can schedule, playdates or lunch dates, and it just helps me feel like I know when I’m available and when I’m not.

Because when you work from home, it’s very easy for you to just bend and be like, Oh, I’m flexible. Yeah, we can totally do that. And then you have to fit your work in around that.

But if you already have your work blocks predetermined and set in place, then it makes it easier for you to look at this and be like, oh, you know what, shoot, I really need to stay true to this work block. So I’m not going to be able to grab that lunch or do that play date with you that day. So tip number one is to create that ideal week.

Tip #2: Prioritize Yourself First

Now I know that this can be really hard. And I have a bunch of complimentary episodes that I’m going to link below so that you can refer to this if you need help. If you have a hard time prioritizing your own self-care, this is where it starts.

I cannot tell you how different of a day I have, when I miss my self-care time in the morning, or when I don’t have time set aside to do what I want to do. I am so much more irritable. I am snapping at my kids left and right. And I’m just unhappy.

And I don’t know if you can relate to this. But it’s so important that we take care of ourselves first before we’re able to give our best to everyone else.

So I don’t have a whole lot to say on this because I do have so many episodes just related to this. But I wanted to give you just a couple of things that you can do.

So one of the things that I do is I wake up early, I talked about this in a previous podcast episode actually multiple previous episodes, but I just used to always think that I wasn’t a morning person, but I just have trained myself to be a morning person because when I get to the end of the night I just don’t have energy and I am my best self in the morning and I want to give my best to myself in the morning, and not just what’s leftover at the end of the day.

And I think that’s what most of us typically do as moms. And so I’m going to challenge you to try to wake up just a little bit earlier every day and do something that’s specifically just for you.

Tip #3: Give Your Kids What They Need First

I talk a lot about this on my podcast as well. So I’m going to link to more episodes specific to this in case you’re struggling in this area. But kids need positive attention, and they need positive control. And the positive attention part here is so important.

And I notice, when I haven’t been doing this, something that I heard in an audiobook that I was listening to recently, it was talking about our relationship with our kids, kind of like a bank account, and how when we pour into our children, and we give them physical touch, and we give them praise, and we spend quality time with them, those are all deposits in the relationship bank account.

But when we yell at them, we correct them, we direct them, we try to control the situation, those are withdrawals from the bank account.

And if we are not depositing more than were withdrawing, it can lead to really tough situations where your children might be super defiant, it might feel like you’re at the end of your rope constantly, because you just can’t get through to this child.

And I’ve experienced this multiple times with both of my kids. And it can be a challenge sometimes when we’re so busy to want to take the time to stop and sort of figure out what’s going on like an audit, right? Of how are we and how are our relationships going?

And so I actually really took that picture to heart because I was like, You know what, I think that’s really fascinating to think of it that way. And so I actually ordered some clear envelopes from Amazon. And I’m going to be taping them onto a piece of cardstock. And I’m going to print out little green coins and red coins. And essentially, what I’m going to do is I’m going to have my kids audit each of their relationships.

So relationship with mom, relationship with Dad, relationship with brother, and relationship with sister. And we’re going to put it visually available. So they can see anytime they have an interaction with someone.

So let’s say it’s my son and I, anytime we have an interaction where he feels like I deposited into the relationship, he’s going to go put a green coin into the envelope so that he can see the green coin. And then every time I do something that hurts his feelings or upsets him or just makes him feel sad, he will go and remove one of the green coins. And then if the green coins are gone, he’ll put a red coin in. And that will show me that his account is withdrawn. A relationship is not in right standing.

And I feel like this is going to be so helpful because now we’re going to be looking for ways to deposit into the relationship. We’re going to be looking and being like, Oh no, there are not very many green coins in there, I need to add more going green coins. And I sort of came up with this idea just out of desperation because I really am struggling with my two kiddos, and with them getting along. And they just are constantly fighting. And I don’t I don’t like that, obviously, for my own sanity, but also from a relationship perspective. Like I want them to be best friends.

And so my goal is to help them focus on the positive. Instead of me trying to give consequences or to be shaming them every time they’re being mean to one another. I want to say hey, look at your relationship. How are you guys feeling about the relationship? And I want them to be able to see visually if their relationship is in right standing or not.

So that’s just a quick little side note for you. But I thought I would give that a try and I will follow up and let you know how that goes.

So the other thing that I want you to think about when you give the kids give your kids what they need is I want you to think about child care. I know that this can sometimes be hard when you have young kids or maybe you don’t have the finances or the budget to have child care yet but this is so crucial, I feel like to create that separation.

I remember when I was trying to work and mom at the same time, and I wasn’t giving my best to either my work or my kids. And so I feel like when you can create that separation, and you can be present where your feet are, you will find that your overwhelm dissipates.

And so I have a great podcast episode that I will link to below about creative ways to work with kids at home. So there are some paid options, but there are also some really creative options that don’t require you to pay. So I would love for you to check that out as well if this is an area in which you need help with.

Tip #4: Be Realistic

So with each child that you have, your capacity changes, so I think it’s really important that you reflect on your capacity often and, and re-shift your focus because I think oftentimes, we assume that our capacity stays the same.

But time and time again, we prove that it doesn’t, that our capacity changes drastically, especially when you have a lot going on in your personal life. And I think this is one of those things, too, that we sometimes fail to consider when we’re thinking about work and or just not understanding why we’re not as creative or we’re not as productive in our work time. And it’s because we have so much on our plate personally, and you know, with motherhood in general.

So I think it’s important to be realistic and understand that your capacity is different than it once was.

And depending on what season you’re in, that changes. And so, like I said, just revisit your capacity often and reflect on it.

So I recommend writing a Top Three every single week, personally and professionally.

So this means that you’re not going to put a to-do list together, that’s way too unrealistic for you, so I want you to start with just three tasks. And these are generally bigger tasks. I wouldn’t necessarily say that writing an email is a task. But it could be to keep up with client communication. So maybe that’s one of your tasks.

And then under that task, there are a few subtasks of a few emails that you have to write. So these are like three bigger things that you need to get done, that are related to your business, and then do three things that are personal. And this could be like, Hey, I’m going to set aside two hours to do a scrapbook, or I’m going to do knitting, or whatever your hobby is. Set aside some time that you like three things that you want to do personally for you.

Or maybe you just need to schedule a doctor’s appointment- I don’t know why, but for whatever reason that sometimes feels like 25 tasks in one.

So, again, be realistic, pick three personal and three professional things, and get an accountability partner. So I have a really close industry friend who I keep in touch with every week and we send each other our top three, sometimes it turns into a top four. And then we check in with each other the next week, or sometimes during the week as well to be like, Hey, how are you doing on those three things?

And it really helps us to stay accountable, because we know that someone’s going to ask us how it went. So get yourself an accountability partner.

I also recommend that you use a task management system. Next week, I’m going to be sharing with you all of my favorite productivity tools. And Asana is one of them. But that’s a task management system that allows you to keep track of your to do list.

And I also want to just point this out, too, is that even though you have your top three every week, it’s important that you create a time that you’re going to get those done by a deadline. So using that task management system, add a due date on there of when you’re going to do it. And try to stick to that because I think often we are just like, Oh, nobody knows that it was supposed to be due today. I’ll just push it off till tomorrow.

But if you can stay consistent, and get those things done, when you said that you were going to get them done, you will feel like such a more successful business owner, so stay true to your word.

And then here’s another tip is don’t put more than three to five small tasks on your to do list every workday.

Sometimes I look at my Asana board and my tasks have like 15 tasks in a day. And I was like Who put that on there? Like who thought that that was possible. So it’s important that you check in with your to do list on a daily basis and make sure that you are being realistic.

Tip #5: Be Strategic

Be ruthless about the tasks that you actually need to do this week. In last week’s podcast episode, I talked about proactive versus reactive tasks that was introduced to me by Nathan Holritz. And I think it’s really important.

So those proactive tasks are the ones that increase your bottom line that enable you to reach your goals. I call these the CEO work tasks, like the ones that are bigger picture and thinking about growth in your business.

And those reactive tasks are things that just have to happen, or things that you do to put out the fire.

And so we want to make sure that 75% of our tasks are actually those proactive tasks. And the other 25% are the reactive tasks.

I also want you to consider time tracking. This is going to help you see where you’re spending your time, and potentially where you might be wasting your time.

So I am also going to be sharing this on next week’s episode. So you’re getting a quick little preview into my favorite productivity tools. But Toggl is a free app that is a computer app, but also a phone app. And you can get a Chrome extension that you put on your browser. And you can just start and stop the timer and set up different projects or like I like to call them categories of where you’re spending your time.

And then it puts it into like a nice report and a graph for you so that every week you can look and see, this is how I’m spending my time. Now, of course, you do have to start and stop it. It is a habit that you get into. But I think it’s really fun to be able to see where I’m spending my time. So this is really going to be key.

If you want to feel that balance as a business owner and a mom, I think oftentimes we get really stressed and overwhelmed. But it’s because we’re not taking the time to create our ideal week.

And think about your future self when you’re scheduling things. We are failing to put ourselves first, we maybe not giving our kids the attention and the positive control that they need in their day, and we also might not be creating that separation.

So we might be trying to work all the time when our kids are around and we’re not giving ourselves that dedicated time to work. And then we might be unrealistic about our capacity and how much we can really get done in a week or in a day. And then finally, we just talked about how sometimes we’re just not strategic and we’re wasting time.

So to recap, here are the five tips to running a successful business with your kids at home:

1. Create Your Ideal Week

2. Prioritize Yourself First

3. Give Your Kids What They Need First

4. Be Realistic

5. Be Strategic

I hope that you have found them valuable and helpful.

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Additional Episodes:

Self-Care:

  1. Ep 37. It’s Not About the Bubble Bath + Other Self-Care Myths
  2. Ep 38. 5 Steps to Make Self-Care a Priority
  3. Ep 66. Why Margin in Your Calendar is Crucial to Self-Care
  4. Ep 95. Avoiding Overwhelm in the Midst of a Busy Season

Parenting:

  1. Ep 10. The 4 Things Your Kids Need the Most
  2. Ep 12. 5 Tips for Working with Kids at Home
  3. Ep 24. 10 Mistakes Every Parent Should Avoid
  4. Ep 52. Fostering Independence in Your Child
  5. Ep 112. Creative Ways to Get Work Done with Kids at Home

Resources:

  1. Toggl – Free time tracking app
  2. Ready to go all in with your photography business? Join the Side Hustler to CEO  
  3. Ready to get your photography business on the right track? Take the Free Passion to Profit Challenge
  4. Local to Gilbert/Mesa Arizona (For Mom Business Owners, Extra Meetups for Mom Photographers) Join or in person membership community
  5. Are you lonely as a mom photographer and lacking community? Join our Free Purpose Gathering Mamas Community
  6. Have a question for me? Or a specific struggle you’re dealing with? I’ll address your question on the podcast. Submit your ‘Ask Ashley’ question here
  7. Find me on Instagram: @thepurposegathering

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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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