Our #justask series just might be one of our favorites! I am really excited to answer today’s question from Ally Amos of Wishbox Photography…she asked,
“I’m scared of turning away potential clients and losing clients while pregnant. I tend to go into labor early. I also miscarried last November and am pregnant again and due again in October. I’ll miss out on busy season this year, but don’t want to lose momentum. How do I keep my business alive so that I can keep working? How did you handle it?”
First off, congrats Ally! So exciting to be welcoming a new little one soon. This is a tricky situation for sure, especially when you face complications. When I was pregnant with my little girl it was honestly one of the hardest times of my life and business. I get really sick through my whole pregnancy and ended up on bed rest with my little boy so finding that balance of keeping a business going and taking care of yourself and your growing baby can be tricky.
So how did I handle it, or really anytime I take time off? Here’s my advice…
#1 – Baby (or really whatever the break is for) Always Comes First.
I think the first thing you have to do is make the decision that no matter what baby comes first. Of course, we all look at it as a no-brainer, but when you get into the logistics of your business it becomes easier said than done. So the second I found out I was pregnant, I set my schedule for maternity leave. I scheduled a date when my maternity leave would start and when it would end. Did I have to turn away a lot of clients? You bet I did! Did I miss out on some weddings I really wanted to do? Absolutely! Could I have squeezed in a few more sessions or gone back to work a little bit earlier? Definitely! But I made the commitment to my family and my baby first, and I stuck to that. This same concept applies to any breaks you may take in the year, any vacations you may want to have, etc. I have to make “the break” the priority above everything else as I am planning out my life or it will never happen, or it will happen in an unhealthy way.
For example, I didn’t get put on bedrest with my son because “it just happened”, it happened because of choices I made and I majorly overdid it. Is this the case for every mom, and should mom’s feel guilty if they get put on bed rest, definitely not. But in my case the main contributor to bed rest was me overworking.
I am a huge believer in, and you are going to hear this over and over and over from me, if you make the decisions that are right for your family first, everything else will fall into place. Because I made those decisions and commitments and stuck to them, I was able to book everything that I needed to book, without killing myself with hundreds of appointments, and I saved the money that I needed to in order to enjoy those 5 months off for maternity leave, and the vacations we take, and the time I take a break in the summer.
#2 – Get a Monthly Income Goal…right now!
If you don’t have a monthly income goal…you need to get one ASAP!!! I have a great pricing guide that I used to figure that all out, and it saved me big time! So going into my pregnancy, I knew exactly how much I needed to make and how much I needed to save and I was able to do that. So on those months off, I didn’t have to worry about making money because it was all sitting there waiting for me. All I had to worry about was holding my baby. I also planned ahead with certain clients. If you do family sessions and you are due in October, try and get as many of them to do their photos in August as you can. If you do seniors do a big push to get them all to book in the summer and spring, etc…Where I do weddings, I got as many of my couples to do their engagements in the fall as possible, and then everyone else we did as soon as I was off maternity leave.
#3 – Don’t drop off the face of the “online” earth!
One of the biggest obstacles is how do you make yourself look like you are still working when really you are just sitting at home loving your baby. Its easy…PLAN AHEAD!!!
I scheduled my blog out months and months in advance. So my blogs were still publishing regularly. I did this same thing with my Facebook page. Think about your favorite blogs and social media accounts that you look at on a regular basis. If all of a sudden they disappeared for like 5 months or a year, what would you think about them? You would think they died or they went out of business, right? Or even worse, you would completely forget about them. Well, that is what your clients think about you if you have no online presence for an extended amount of time. So whether you are having a baby, going on a vacation, stuck in a busy season, or whatever the case may be, you have to stay visible online or people will think you are out of business. Choose a schedule you can stick to. For me, I wished I could blog every day, but it’s achievable and manageable for me to blog at least once a week. So that was what I planned for, and if I ended up blogging more I felt super accomplished! But I didn’t do all the blogging after the baby got here, I scheduled it out months in advance. So I was able to blog while I was “nesting” and preparing for the baby, and things were still publishing in the few weeks right after the baby when I was totally consumed. I also created a great list of ideas and different sessions and clients that I needed to blog so that once I ready to jump back in with that I didn’t have to try to think of ideas, they were already there waiting for me.
My system for blogging, has made my blogging SOOO much easier! So make a goal for what you can do that is achievable. If that is once a week, do that. Because once a week is better than nothing. And if you don’t have enough pictures to blog, do throwbacks to old sessions, do sneak peeks (that will buy you two blog posts from one session), do other types of posts. But no matter what you have to stay active! And with a baby, blog a little about the baby. People want to see into your life. Just don’t blog solely about the baby…people get bored of that and forget you are a business too. Because you can pre-schedule blogs and facebook you can do all of that before the baby comes and then you won’t have to worry about it. Your business is working and staying alive while you are holding your little one all day.
Also keep in contact with your “regulars”…let’s say you are going to take your maternity leave from September-January…plan a first of the year kick off promotion or something and make sure they know about it. Having a client newsletter is a great way to do this, and again, plan it ahead of time! Keep in contact with them so they know that even though you are having a baby you are still in business!
#4 – Give your back-burner projects your attention!
Breaks like these are also AMAZING times to work on projects that have been on the back burner. Work on your branding, your blog design, cleaning up your office, goals for the new year, setting up your client management systems, etc…Finishing or starting Seven Summers Courses or reading those business books you have been wanting to read. We all have things we want to do but never get time to do. So take advantage of this break. Because let’s be honest babies sleep like 20 hours a day in the beginning…so I would make sure that at least two hours a day I was working on my project list. It gave me a great jump start for when I came back to work! Instead of easing back into things and having nothing to show for my five months off, well except for my adorable baby, I had all this excitement, momentum, and energy coming back to business.
If you want to learn more about my time saving tips and things I have done to be more efficient and productive in my business in less time, check out the 7S Working Community.