What should you be accomplishing right now? Were you working on something and then randomly decided to read this article? Now, don’t run off and go back to work quite yet. I was just trying to make a point. If you’re anything like me, when you’re working on your computer you often find yourself distracted by Facebook, articles, videos, your phone, or looking at photography products. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but how much time are you losing because of them? How much more could you get done? Wasted time is wasted money. I’m just like you and it’s a constant struggle. There are plenty of other things that are getting in your way, so let’s look at how to stay focused to increase your photography productivity and revenue.
Focus on One or Two Types of Photography
I’m going to be honest with everyone. I’m a failure. I’ve tried all types of photography, and I’ve not been successful in many of those areas. I remember about 6 years ago I thought I’d get into the newborn market. I bought a bunch of props, watched some training videos, and started looking for opportunities. I imagined things would just take off and I’d be doing all types of newborn sessions. The reality has been that I photograph maybe two newborns a year. The same thing has happened to me recently with the high school senior market. Over the past two years I’ve tried to grow my senior brand. I spent all this time and effort, but I wasn’t seeing much profit. If things don’t pick up this year, some thing is going to change.
Over the years I’ve finally come to the realization that I shouldn’t try to photograph everything. I don’t need to do weddings, seniors, newborns, maternity, families, pets, and real estate . That’s way too much! It is better to focus on one or two things. When you try to do everything, you tend to find yourself stretched thin and overwhelmed. You have to do marketing for each area, a different workflow, and many other things; it’s much easier to just concentrate on one thing. Every time you have to switch to a different type of photography, you'll find yourself trying to remember how to do it all, but if you do the same thing all the time, it becomes second nature. If you try to do it all, you also might be ok at all of them but not great at any of them. I’d much rather master one thing.
My suggestion is to find one to two types of photography to focus on. The first step is to find what you love. If you don’t enjoy shooting it, you will eventually get tired of it, and people will start to see that. If you love what you do, you’ll continue to enjoy it and people will see your passion. Next, you have to figure out where the money is. It really doesn’t matter how great you are and how much you love something if no one is willing to pay for it. For example, I love dogs, but there’s not much of a market for it in my area. Once you’ve picked your area to focus on, you can put all your effort into growing that area and developing the necessary skills. Stay focused and forget about the rest.
Have Daily Goals
The biggest struggle I’ve had since going full time is figuring out what to do with my time. Before, I had a very structured job, and I knew what I would be doing, and it was the same from day to day. Now I’m free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and sometimes I’m not as productive.
One thing that has helped me stay focused and could help everyone is to have daily goals. When you know what you are supposed to accomplish, then you have something to aim for. Before I’d sit around and try to figure out what to do, and I’d often waste time jumping from one random task to another.
Things will vary from person to person, but here are a few suggestions for setting daily goals. Try not to make too many goals or too few. I usually aim for one big goal and two to three smaller goals. You can always adjust if you find you are not getting them all done or you finish them too easily. Another tip is to write down your goals the day before. If you wait till that morning to write goals, you will be less likely to do it or probably forget. I actually try to write out goals my goals for the entire week on Sunday. Having them written out lets you see what you are supposed to do, and there’s something fun about marking off things when you complete it.
Remove Distractions While You are Working
I get distracted all the time. I’ll spend 10 minutes editing photos, and then I’ll get distracted and spend 3 minutes on Facebook, checking email, watching TV, answering a phone call, or a ton of other things. At the end of the day, I’ve probably wasted an hour or more with distractions. Think about how much more you could accomplish with an extra hour each day!
If you don’t think you waste a bunch of time, you might be in denial. The first step in fixing a problem is identifying it. Try out the Chrome app Timestats. It will track how much time you spend on each webpage. As far as other tasks, there’s an app called Jiffy that you can use to track time spent. I’d try this for a few days, and you might be surprised where you’re wasting time and how much.
Once you have some stats, you can figure out what you need to fix. In general, try to remove anything that’s going to be a distraction. If you find that you can’t work while music or the TV is on, then turn it off. If you found that you were randomly browsing the internet or checking your email too often, you can block all non-essential pages with the Chrome add on StayFocused or the Mac app SelfControl. Another thing you can do is limit the time you spent answering phone calls. This might seem extreme, but I know I’ve gotten a call and the next thing I know an hour of my day is gone, and the rest of the day is off. You can set a certain time for responding and answering, and the rest of the time, you can have a message on your phone telling people when you would get back to them. This might not be for everyone, but setting an hour for being on the phone instead of taking calls whenever will help keep you focused. Try to remove some of these distractions and see how much time you save.
It’s hard staying focused as a self employed photographer, but if you pick one type of photography, have daily goals, and remove distractions you will be on your way. Focus is key to being productive and the more productive you are the more money you can make. Try out a few of these tips and in a month, I bet you’ll increase your photography productivity and revenue