“Success comes to those who hustle.”
This is one of those quotes I used to idolize at the beginning of my photography career. It’s in our movies – the hustlers get the big bucks. It’s in our books, our songs, and even our culture. Ask anyone how she’s doing and here’s what you will likely hear: “I am SO busy!”. It’s like a cultural acceptance benchmark.
But what if success doesn’t come from hustle?
What if success instead comes from intention, consistency, and working less but better?
Why I Stopped My Photography Hustle
You see when I started my photography career, I was the queen of hustle. I had a newborn and a 2-year-old I was raising, and I glorified that I was like a madwoman in her lab spending all hours of my day hustling. Hustling on social media, doing photoshoots, researching everything, going all weekends, networking, course after course, tweaking my editing style…and on and on.
I tricked myself into believing I was a real bonafide business…not because my bank account showed it. But because I was HUSTLING for it. Cue the haughty “I own a photography business, I am an artiste” response. All of my incoming money went to buying more gear, mini-courses, cheap PDFs, and presets that promised big bucks if I could just become a better artist.
You can imagine, that through that first couple years of doing free shoots and photographing weddings for less than minimum wage – and then spending all of what I did make on the wrong things…that would have clued me into how “the hustle” was doing for me and my business.
It wasn’t actually until one day, like most other days, my daughter had been playing with herself for hours and she asked me to play with her. I was on my laptop…hustling, we hadn’t spent real time together in I don’t even know how long. “Mommy…can you play with me?” It’s not like she hadn’t asked many times before, kids are relentless that way. But today specifically – I saw the situation for what it was….utter and complete bullshit.
That day – I shut down all of my work, got my little girls ready and we had the best most freeing day ever.
That was the day that I decided, “I’m really going to go for it. I’m done a photographing budget and I’m going to learn how to book luxury weddings”
I’m done hustling.
Hustling is what:
- took me away from what mattered most.
- made me really busy but with no money in my bank account.
- made me believe that if I just spent more time – I would be successful.
So friend I want to ask you…is this story familiar?
If you believe that working harder or working longer hours is going to be the indicator of your success. It’s not.
I know tons of people that work to the bone in their jobs and don’t reach financial independence.
I know many photographers who photograph 30+ weddings a year and are in a constant state of anxiety – never truly able to enjoy their life outside their work.
What I Did Instead of Hustling in My Photography Business
1. I sat down and created a vision.
The key here was I didn’t just do it for my business, I started with what kind of life I wanted. Once that was in place, I asked myself – what kind of photography business would support THAT?
2. I set the number of hours I was willing to work on my photography business
12 hours a week. Was I perfect and didn’t work some nights when the kids went to sleep? No of course not, there were nights I decided to work just because I wanted to. But what that did was notify my brain that I only had 12 hours to get what I needed to get done…done. So I did.
3. I built with intention and I said no a lot.
From the rock-solid foundation I’d created for my life and my photography business, I only said yes to opportunities that made sense. I only did jobs for free that made sense. I learned how to use my Instagram in a way that made sense. Everything in my business was ruthlessly cut out unless it directly correlated to getting to my end goal.
So What Happened?
The year I decided to work less and put in place my L.I.S.T. framework, I booked my first $5k wedding, and then I booked a $6k wedding, and then a $7k and then a $9.k.
So friend, the next time you catch yourself telling yourself that lie that you have to hustle, you have to grind, you have to log into Instagram or TikTok for the 15th time of the day, you have to spend hours in the editing hole unnecessarily, you have to change your website for the 10th time that week…I hope you remember this.
Because I promise you when you get laser-focused on your vision and you create from that intention – there is a whole other world of goodness on the other side.
We have some amazing resources if you’re looking to go deeper in that journey below.