Sure it may be the middle of summer, but y’all, fall portrait season is right around the corner. Literally.
You may be in the middle of all the summer fun right now, but in a matter of weeks, you will be in the depths of busy season. If you have been in business for more than a year, you know exactly what is coming. And if this is going to be your first fall season, I am sure you have heard the horror stories.
After photographing clients for more than 10 years, I have 3 things that can really make a huge difference in preparing you for busy season. These 3 things, when done EARLY, really can be a game-changer for how you feel at the end of the fall portrait season. Ready? Let’s jump in!
3 Tips for Photographers to Prepare for Fall Busy Season
Get your calendar organized NOW but make sure to put your personal commitments on the calendar FIRST.
Trust me on this, if you don’t put yourself first, you will end up in burnout. Plain and simple.
What happens so often is that photographers keep getting inquiries, and therefore they keep sliding in sessions wherever there is space on the calendar. So what happens when a birthday party invitation comes? Or a fun volunteer opportunity comes along? Or an invite to a lakehouse weekend arrives?
You guessed it, every single “fun” thing gets turned down. Because you don’t have room on your calendar. And then you have found yourself spending every waking hour of the fall season working. With no downtime. No recovery time. No fun time. Nothing to fuel your soul. Welcome to burnout.
On the flip side, if you fill your calendar with your stuff FIRST and then book your clients you will automatically give yourself some sanity this fall.
Look back through last falls opportunities, weekends away, party invitations and assume the same or a similar schedule will apply. Go ahead and pencil that stuff in. That way, no matter how booked your other days get, you know you have time for you set aside this fall.
Give yourself margin by assuming everything will take longer.
Listen, even without your photography business, fall is nuts. There is back-to-school with all the prep and meetings and new rhythms that are created. Then you add in Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And the shopping for said holidays. And the celebrations that surround those holidays. Plus there is football season and depending on your family, kids fall sports. Plus, you probably know at least one person with a fall birthday.
Lord have mercy. It is a lot. And none of that is photography-related!
When we are in a busy season of life, we have a lot on our minds. And when we have a lot on our minds, things just take longer. You can feel like you are walking through wet cement. Everything is in slow motion because our brains are balancing a LOT at one time.
So as a photographer, we have all the insanity of fall PLUS the busiest season of our year. Holy cow. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it.
I have found that one of the most helpful things for me is to assume everything will take longer than normal. Culling will take longer. Responding to emails will take longer. Editing will take longer.
So if that is the case, I need to build my schedule accordingly so that I have allotted enough time in my week to work through these tasks. Being able to stay on top of tasks is one of the biggest pieces of avoiding the drowning feeling of burnout.
Use an automatic booking system.
Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer but you would be SHOCKED how many photographers still don’t do this!
If you are still going back and forth with every client who wants to book this fall, you are literally wasting precious time. Getting automatic booking set up will save your sanity.
Side note: I DO NOT do this during the rest of the year. I have a questionnaire process setup that I love but for mini sessions and the high volume of bookings that come through in the fall, it is 100% automated. And glorious.
Many CRMs offer automatic booking options, including Dubsado and Honeybook. If you don’t use one of those, acuity and session are also great options. I am using session this year and it is SO DANG EASY.
When a client clicks the link, they are taken to session options with all the location details, pricing details, time and date options, and everything they need to make a decision for their family. When they click the button to book their session, they are automated through the process of paying the deposit and signing the contract. They literally cannot get on the calendar if they miss a step.
No more chasing deposits! And the fact that all this happens while I am sitting by the pool or tucking my kids into bed is just the cherry on top.
Bonus Tip! Don’t get hypnotized by “flying money”.
This tip is a mindset tip for photographers that I think is SO necessary. Hence the reason I gave it to you as a bonus.
As the calendar leads into the fall busy season, a photographer’s inbox becomes bombarded with session inquiries. And it isn’t just the inbox, it is in the DMs, comments of social media posts, text messages, and even questions asked in person! Inquiries are coming in from every direction.
And it can be SUPER tempting to keep taking sessions even though your calendar is full. Because money is money! And if people are going to pay you then why would you not accept it? Right?
Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!
Continuing to book sessions when you are already full is THE NUMBER ONE THING that leads to burnout. And at the end of the day, this stems from not holding firm to your boundaries and struggling to say No.
In case you need this bit of encouragement today, It is okay to say No when you are booked. In fact, your future self will thank you for it. No amount of money is worth the harm done to your mental health. Yes, that sounds dramatic but it is the truth. You have to protect your time and your sanity if you want to end the year well.
That’s it. Those are the first 4 tips for fall success. These are the tips that I shared in an Instagram live chat. If you are interested in watching the video replay, you can catch it here.
One last thing I want to leave you with is this: If you found this post helpful and yet you still need more. You are still seriously stressed about fall. Or you have NO clue how to set yourself up for success this fall, I have something to help!
For just $47, you can grab my mini-course, the Fall Success Kit. This mini-course is created for you to binge in a day and gives you all the resources needed to have your most successful AND most sane fall ever. You can learn all about it at the button below.