It started just as a hobby. A side thing you did because you loved it. Then at some point a friend, or a colleague or a family member said, “You really should do this as a living. You’d be so great at it.” Their words encouraged you. You thought to yourself, “Yeah! I could be really good at this. And I hate this job I’m in anyway. I’m going to do it!”
So you get a huge loan, tell your boss “Adios amigo!” and hang a shingle up to start your business. Life is good.
Then, reality sets in. You find out running a business is hard. The dream of sitting in a director’s chair calling action and cut, or photographing beautiful models all day long as photo assistants run around crazy to make your vision a reality, comes crashing down. QuickBooks. Sales. Marketing. Taxes. Customer service. Contracts. Managing people. Casting a vision. They all start to slowly, but surely, rob you of the joy you originally had. What was once a love, is now a job. You just traded your old job for a new one. What’s worse, you find yourself doing work that doesn’t motivate you because you have to in order to pay the bills. “Yeah, I’d love to shoot that legal deposition for you!” “Oh, you need head shots for your real estate business card, absolutely we can do that for you. That’s practically our specialty!”
You ask yourself, “What happened?” The dream is dead (or dying).
Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, that’s the price of being in business for yourself. There is no easy fix. You have to do what you have to do.
The good news is that there are choices you can make to recapture that love and passion. Here are five suggestions:
- Do Personal work. I can’t stress enough how important this is. You need to get out and do work for which you do not get paid, but that fulfills you.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Keep honing your skills. Set aside time every week to learn your equipment, to practice shooting in different scenarios. Know every button on your camera so you can man it with your eyes closed.
- Sell What You Love. Be bold in your marketing and sell what you love. Many photographers and filmmakers do one kind photography/filmmaking, but it’s not necessarily the kind they want to do. Sometimes it’s because they don’t think they can get paid doing what they really love. That’s not necessarily true. If you’re a wedding filmmaker but you want to shoot “movies,” do what my friend and colleague Loyd Calomay of Red 5 Studios does: market and sell concept videos. The last project I saw him working on was a parody of “Top Gun” for his wedding clients.
- Delegate What You Don’t Love. In this economy you probably can’t afford to turn away work, even if it’s work you dislike. Outsource or delegate the work to employees or contractors.
- Get a J.O.B. This may be the hardest thing to do, but it may be one seriously worth considering. If you care more about the love of the craft than having to make a career out of it, there’s no shame in closing shop, getting a “regular” job, and doing your love on the side or just as a hobby. It may bring you full circle to where you first started, but if you’re happier because of it, that’s what’s important. There’s nothing that says you HAVE to stay in business.
What other ideas do you have for keep the joy alive?