Like a lot of millennials, my photography business isn't my primary source of income -- it's my side hustle. You see, I also have a "day job." (Okay, let's face it -- it's more like a calling). I'm a labor activist! I spend my 9 - 5 running communications for a special division of the AFL-CIO called the Transportation Trades Department.
Don't get me wrong -- I friggin' love my life, but that doesn't always mean it's easy. Balancing a career with a part-time business (not to mention a 12-year relationship and social life) is challenging, but, when done correctly, it's also incredibly rewarding.
There's obviously no right or wrong way to balance two career paths, but given that I have three years of experience under my belt, I wanted to share some of the things I've learned along the way. Believe me when I say didn't have this down pat overnight. Learning to manage a day job and part-time business took a lot of trial and error, and I'm still working at it!
I'm the kind of person who wants to give 110% no matter what, all of the time... but because it's my primary source of income, my day job has to come first. At first, this was a hard pill to swallow. It means not being able to interact with clients during regular business hours, turning down week-day gigs, and being forced to put a lot of really cool ideas on the back burner. It also means understanding that, unless I pursue it full time, my photography business is probably never going to make me rich.
But you know what? It's all good. I've seen a lot of growth in the three years since I started Jonna Michelle Photography, and that's what matters most. In the first year that I started this business, I had a total of 14 photoshoots -- and most of them were unpaid. (I was still trying to get my name out there!) This year alone, I've completed 22 photo sessions and there are more on the books!
I'm not just talking about ups and downs at your day job, or with your side hustle, or your emotions -- I'm talking ALL of it. There will be days when you don't feel adequate enough, when you just want to give up and throw everything out the window. There will also be days when you'll feel like Super Woman (or Super Man). There will be days when all you want to do is focus on your side hustle and days when you want to throw it all away. That's just how life works. The important part is to ride the roller coaster and understand everything you're feeling and experiencing is all just part of the process.
I work. A lot. But, as I've said repeatedly here, I'm also lucky. My work doesn't feel like work because I'm doing what I love. If you don't feel the same way about your side gig, you may want to rethink it.
Notice this doesn't say take time for yourself... that's because, when you're being pulled in so many directions, you've got to make down time for you. Because I have a day job, most of my photo sessions happen on weekends. That means weekends where I have no work are extremely valuable -- and limited. Each year, I select two to four weekends during my busy season (basically Spring through Fall) and block them off. These are non-work weekends purposely set aside for spending time with friends, family, or going to the spa.
This is a must. Sleep is critical for your health and well being. That's not me talking -- it's science. It's always why my bedtime each night is 10 p.m. sharp.