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School + A Small Business | How to Survive | Christa Rene Photography

11/29/16

christa_rene_photography_2021One of the best things about my business was also the hardest. I was thankful I started early when I did: halfway through my freshman year of college. But that also made the next 3.5 years of college really, really difficult! After a lot of prayer, tears, a case of shingles (no joke), and very little sleep, I was able to graduate with a degree in Business with a photography minor last May, and began pursuing photography full time!

However, I realize I’m not the only one who was trying to balance a small business with another big commitment. For me, it was school. For others, it might be another job. It’s hard! REALLY hard! So I wanted to share some ways I made it through for those who feel like they might sink! This post took me awhile because I really wanted to be transparent! I always enjoy blogging about random things other than just sessions during off season, and I’m excited to share this one! Here’s a few tips I found helpful!

  1. Make lists & write EVERYTHING down! I know this is different person to person, but for me, writing down my to do list really helped me stay organized in my head and not miss things! Even the tiny things like answering an email- write it down! I’m very visual so even with technology sometimes I still prefer a pen and my notebook to write down my agenda for the day!
  2. Have a supportive community. This was big for me! I really didn’t have too many photographer friends until my last year of college, and it made a world of difference! Having people who understand how busy you are, how you’re feeling the day after a wedding, and also having someone you can encourage too is great!
  3. Use time wisely! This one is HUGE, and what I struggled with the most! But having my laptop constantly with me and pulling up Lightroom and editing even if it was just 10 minutes between classes or a little lunch break made a giant difference in knocking out big things!
  4. Don’t overbook yourself! This is a hard one for every entrepreneur! If you’re like me, you hate saying no, to the point you might book yourself everyday and have 10 mini sessions on weekends while being a full time student. Truth is, I overbooked myself a few times, and one semester in particular sticks out. I wasn’t sleeping much and constantly had a huge pile of sessions to edit, and homework to do. No doubt I LOVED doing photography, but that passion was definitely diminished when I was running on fumes! I had a few clients complain during that time, and that was really discouraging! But I couldn’t serve them to the best of my ability when I was doing too much!! It was hard! And as much as the extra income was nice, keeping your passion is more important in the long run!
  5. Prioritize! I decided first off that people would always be more important than work or school! My basis for that is how Jesus treated people in Scripture- He never once told someone who came to Him that He was too busy for them! Granted sometimes I took this too far and maybe socialized too much, but I wanted to invest in relationships. After people, school was my priority the first few years of college! It’s different for each person, and I’d never want to make someone feel less for not going to college! Let’s be honest, I don’t have a job where my college GPA is EVER getting checked! But finishing college was really important to my parents and me, and since my dad was a professor at the university I attended it was very affordable! In all honesty, I did lean towards making the time I spent on photography my priority especially my last year of college. My last year, I used almost all my absences the first week of school attending Katelyn James’s photography workshop in Virginia, and shooting a weekday wedding. I remember the office lady staring at my absences telling me how urgent it was I not get sick or leave for any family stuff that semester since that would push me over the absence limit. I’m not telling anyone in school to make school second place at all. I definitely put the work in to make sure I kept my GPA up to keep the scholarship I had, almost always finished assignments on time, and beyond that I put the rest of my work efforts into building my business! I knew I wanted to pursue photography full time after college, so to do that I had to invest a lot of time and effort into building my business and keeping up with it during that last part of college! I would encourage you to sit back and look at what needs to be your first priority. If you’re working another job that’s providing your main income, maybe right now that’s your main priority until your business becomes a little stronger! Or if you’re a student barely getting by, maybe you need to make school a bigger priority to finish what you’ve worked so hard for! It’s going to be different for every person, but having a clear focus in my head helped me!

 

I hope this was helpful for those working hard to keep a balance with photography and whatever else you’re working on in this season! It’s hard work and demanding, but in the end I’m convinced it pays off! Pursing a small business with photography took a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and patience, and I would do it all over again if I had to!

So for those of you who feel like you’re sinking, stay with it! You totally got this, and you’re not alone! I’m cheering for you, and so many others are as well! It’s so hard now, but your work will show and will be so rewarding!

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