99: Calendar Tips To Prep For More Ease This Fall

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How can you create more ease during the fall busy season? In today’s episode, I’m sharing four tips for planning your fall calendar to create more ease and a successful end to your year. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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Review the Show Notes:

Why should you be planning your fall calendar now? (1:34)

Plan for ease in the midst of busy season (3:22)

Plan for your time off (4:28)

Plan for reschedules (7:11)

Fall Prep Class (12:20) 

Plan time for your family (13:10)

Plan for an early cutoff date (15:31)

Episode Links:

Episode 098: The First Step To Prepare For Busy Season

Fall Prep Class

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99: Calendar Tips To Prep For More Ease This Fall 4

Review the Transcript:

Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here, I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing business, motherhood, and life. Myself, along with my guests, we’ll get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there.

If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, I’m The shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.

Welcome back to the shoot. It’s straight podcast. My friends in last week’s episode, I shared with you the first step you absolutely must do. before planning your fall busy season. So if you didn’t listen to that episode, just hit pause, scroll back, listen to that one first, definitely go check it out. Okay.

But to follow up on that, I have another short and sweet episode for you about planning for success this fall. Okay. In today’s episode, I want to share a few tips about planning your fall calendar. These are things that I do and I coach my students on every single year. They make a massive difference in how you feel at the end of fall.

Honestly, I think this is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they are kind of mapping out what their fall wants to look like. They don’t stop and do this process intentionally. And before I jump in, if you’re thinking, wait a minute, it’s July, Sabrina, why would I be planning my fall calendar already?

I want to encourage you to hear me out. Actually planning out your calendar this far in advance is going to serve you So much better than just winging it and sticking clients into every available space. Okay. This is where you have to trust me. This is where you have to think, okay, well, Sabrina has been doing this for going on 14 years.

She probably knows what she’s talking about. If you’ve never tried this method, if you have never tried getting your ducks in a row in the middle of summer, so that your fall is completely intentionally planned out. Just try it for a year, try it this year and see if you don’t feel better at the end of the year than you normally do.

Okay. I am willing to bet that you are going to be converted into a planner that you will love it, that you will feel better than you ever have come year end. So when you’re creating your schedule for back to school and fall, and if you didn’t catch on to this already, I’m really talking to the family photographers here, the ones that have the bulk of their money made in the fall, the bulk of their, you know, photo clients are in the fall season.

Now, if you do something else, That keeps you really busy in the fall. Maybe you have really fantastic weather where you live. And so you do a lot of seniors in the fall, or maybe there’s a lot of outdoor weddings in the fall, whatever it is. Okay. If you have a heavy lifting fall season, this episode is for you, but I really am.

When I created it, when I mapped out this episode, my thinking was the fall family photographers. Okay. When you are creating your schedule for back to school and fall, there’s one huge tip. This is like a hot tip for you that will literally save your sanity. Okay. This is the game changer. I want you to plan for ease.

Okay. Yes. Fall is a season of hustle. And I’m not telling you, I don’t want you to hustle because there is absolute truth to the fact that family photographers make a massive chunk of their income in the fall. It is what it is, but it can be a season of hustle where you have planned for ease. Okay. And that’s what I want you to do.

Yes. It’s going to be jam packed and you’re gonna have so many clients and there’s also a ton of fall holidays. And if you have kids, there’s all of the back to school things. Ball is a lot. You can set yourself up for financial success and ease. Okay. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today. I want to share four steps that you can take to have more ease this fall, even in the midst of a season of hustle.

Number one, plan for your time off. Okay. This gets skipped more often than not. I know that this is a season of hustle. I know that you are going to try and accommodate all the people, all the mini sessions, all the full sessions, all the inquiries. Before you start accommodating people and putting people on your, on your calendar, I want you to plan for your time off.

This is going to save you. Okay. If you do not plan for time off during fall, guess what? You’re not going to have any. Okay. And that is going to exaggerate the exhaustion and the anxiety and the overwhelm that you have because there’s no time for you to recharge. What does planning for time off look like?

It looks like weekends that you are not booking anyone that you are saving for your family to rest, to sleep, to read, to go on hikes, to do whatever it is you like to do. It is planning for white space. Okay, those are weekday working hours that you are carving out and giving to yourself because recharging is absolutely important to your work.

These are hours where you can drop off the kids at school and get back in bed. Sleep for a couple more hours. If you want, you can read a book. You can have a long walk. You can go for coffee with a friend. What you’re not doing is doing any client work during those hours. These are for you to recharge.

Another thing you could plan for when you’re considering time off, maybe be really brave and slap a vacation in the middle of your fall busy season. I have done this for the past few years, and I’m not going to lie. Getting ready to leave to go out of town feels like I am climbing Mount Everest. But when I’m there, when I’m on this little short weekend getaway where I’ve left my laptop at home, I am not checking socials.

I’m not doing any editing. I’m literally not touching anything for my clients. The amount of rest and rejuvenation that I feel is absolutely incredible. I feel connected to my husband or my kids or whoever I’m traveling with. I’m getting some really great quality time in I’m getting good sleep. Plus just the simplicity of like.

Not looking at a computer all weekend, not touching my camera all weekend, right? It is such a great reset right in the middle of fall. So number one step to plan for ease is planning for your time off. I want you to now in July, look at your calendar for the rest of the year and pencil in all of the time off.

You’re going to have trips away, weekends off white space, stick it all on your calendar. Okay. Thank me later. Number two, when you are planning for ease, you need to make sure to plan for reschedules. Okay. This is another mistake that I see so often is that we are saying yes to all of these clients. We’re saying yes to all of these inquiries.

We’re putting people in every available space on our calendar. And then we get a week or two weeks of rain or really, really bad weather. And all of a sudden our schedule and our clients are thrown into mass chaos because we have a bunch of people we need to reschedule and we have no available time to do it.

It’s an absolute nightmare. If this has never happened to you before, I, I just want to be the bearer of bad news. It’s going to happen at some point. I don’t care where you live. I don’t care what part of the country you’re in. It will happen at some point. Okay. And it’s happened to me multiple times. It’s happened to everyone.

I know it’s an absolute nightmare. It is an absolute nightmare. So the way to combat that is to plan time in your calendar specifically for reschedules. And this is going to be a little bit of a dance figuring out what is quote unquote the correct amount of time you need for reschedules. So we’re going to test out something for your schedule this year.

Maybe it works, maybe it’s not as great as you need, and then next year you can readjust, but we’re going to put something down this year. So if you are a photographer who plans like full days of mini sessions or half days of mini sessions, okay, if you’re doing any kind of mini sessions where you’re photographing multiple families back to back for that situation, I want you to have an available day of mini sessions blocked off for reschedules for every day that you’ve booked them.

So if you have three days of mini sessions where you’re shooting like five families, 10 families, whatever, I want you to have three days blocked off for reschedules. Now, you do not need to go through, you know, having all the clients sign something saying that they are also available on that day. Uh, you don’t need to go through renting a studio.

I just want you to have the time set aside. Okay. Because in the event of a reschedule, you’re just going to make it work and the people that can be there will be there. And if the location has to change, it changes, you know, you’re kind of making do in the best case in the best possible way. In an unfortunate situation like reschedules, the time is the biggest stressor for you though.

Okay. If you at least know that, you know, I’m supposed to have my first day of many sessions on October 1st, I don’t even know what day of the week that is. I’m just making that up. And you know that on October 10th or October 8th, you have the backup day for those reschedules. Okay. That is going to alleviate so much stress.

Okay. So for every day of mini sessions you have, I want you to have a day of reschedules available, kind of blocked off. What does that look like? Logistically? It looks like you are protecting that empty space with every fiber of your being. You are not letting anything else go there until after that day of mini sessions has happened.

So if October 1st rolls around, the weather’s great, everybody shows up, nothing happens, nobody reschedules. Amazing. Now you have a fully open day that you can do what you want with. If you are feeling good and you’re rocking and rolling, you can slide in a last minute inquiry or last minute client there.

Okay. Or if you’re really struggling and you need extra downtime, take that day for your family or for white space or for rest. It’s a gift to future you. But if October 1st happens and you get the stomach bug or the weather is horrible or something happens where there needs to be a reschedule of everyone, you’ve got a day to stick those people in.

So planning for reschedules. Now, if you are a photographer who does not do many sessions, I still want you to do this. This is where it’s a little bit of a dance. All right. I think having one day a week open for reschedules is your safest bet. However, if you are shooting sessions every single day, if you are doing seven days a week, you are photographing sessions.

Maybe you’re photographing multiple sessions a day, every week, you’re going to need more days than that. Okay. But for the person who’s doing three or four sessions a week, I think one day a week where you protect that day and it’s available for reschedules is good enough. Okay. And again, if you get to that day and all of your sessions went off without a hitch, you now have free time to do what you want with it.

Slide in another inquiry there, get caught up on your editing or take it for white space. Okay. Having this time for reschedules built into your calendar is a massive gift to future you. Okay. Either way you look at it, it is a massive gift. It takes a huge amount of stress off of you knowing that you have time to shift people.

If you need to. So if you’ve never done this before, do it. Trust me. Just trust me here. Having time built into your schedule for reschedules is a huge way to give yourself ease in the fall. Let me take a little break here and say, if you are hearing this, if you’re hearing the beginning of this episode and you heard the episode last week, and you’re realizing that you need some really serious help to make your fall successful, I want to invite you To join me inside my beloved membership, the round table for a one day live training.

Okay. For just 11, you can attend a call with my favorite group while I teach what I’m calling fall prep class. And this training, I’m sharing the foundational steps to having a profitable and a successful fall busy season. If you need help getting your fall together or you’ve been wanting to check out and see what the roundtable is all about, there’s going to be a link in the show notes.

Class is on July 17th and I really hope that you will join me there. Now, getting back to the list. Number three, the third way that you can plan for ease in the middle of your busy season this fall is to plan time for your family. Okay, this seems really simple, really elementary, but you would be surprised at how many people do not do this.

If you’ve got kiddos, you need to plan time for being with them. If you have kids in sports, you need to plan to be at everything. I want you to attend their practices. their games, their social events. I want you to get out into the world. I want you to show up for your kids and your family. Okay. You need to plan date nights.

You need to plan family outings. You need to plan to attend all of their sports. Okay. This is all. Similar to planning for time off, it helps you reset. It gets you out of your editing dungeon. It gets you away from your camera. It gets you engaging with the people that you love. Again, I’ve, I’ve done this for almost 14 years.

And there have been many, many, many a fall where I skip all that stuff. I feel like I’m drowning in editing and I can’t attend the practices or go to the school events or watch their whole games. And I send my husband to do all that stuff. And then I have the mom guilt about not going to those things.

And I’m constantly struggling with keeping my clients happy and also keeping my family happy and my family would lose. Year after year, they would be on the losing end of it. And it’s a terrible feeling. And if you have had like a fall busy season before, if you’ve gone through this, if you’ve been in business for more than a year, you’ve probably experienced this.

It’s terrible. The way to combat that is to make sure that you are planning time for your family. Okay. Put it on your calendar and you hold and protect that space. No, you’re not willing to put reschedules there because you’ve kids got a game or got to practice or a school event. No, you’re not willing to edit on those nights of the week because you like to go watch, you know, Johnny’s soccer practice, right?

Commit to that time by putting it on the calendar and allowing it to be your first priority. Even in the midst of fall busy season, your family is your first priority. Okay. You know that through and through it is. So let’s actually show our family that we believe that, that it is true. Okay. The last thing, step number four for planning for ease in the middle of fall busy season is to plan for an early cutoff date.

Okay, plan for an early cutoff date. Those of you who are photographing families after Thanksgiving and into early December, I need you to stop doing that. You are not helping yourself. You are hurting yourself because you are just delaying getting rest. The other thing that you’re doing is you are pushing so tight to the deadline for people to be order able to order holiday cards.

And be able to order prints for gifts. You’re pushing so close to that deadline, that you’re frantic at the end. This is when we’re staying up all hours of the night trying to get caught up and turn around galleries so fast. Don’t do that to yourself. Set a really early cut off date. So that maybe you don’t photograph families after November 1st.

That’s my personal cutoff date and it has been for years and it has served me so well. You know why? Because by the time we get to Thanksgiving break, I’m done. I’m done. My galleries are delivered. My families are photographed. Now, what I don’t want you to hear is that I’m not shooting anymore for the rest of the year.

I am. I’m photographing newborns. Okay. I’m photographing newborns in November and December, and I will photograph a few families that book late, but I tell them that they are not going to get their images in time for holiday cards or holiday delivery. And they have to sign something in a contract that says they know that and they’re okay with that.

Those are my families who decide to send New Year’s cards instead. I don’t rush their turnaround. I don’t try and squeeze them in earlier. Once my calendar is booked and I get into November, I, that’s what I tell them. I can photograph you, but your turnaround time is going to be different. Your delivery is going to be different and they have to be okay with it.

And sometimes they’re not. And that’s okay. That’s when I give them referrals of people who may or may not have availability sooner, but nine times out of 10, they’re okay with me holding my boundary planning for an early cutoff date looks like a couple of things. Number one, you need to look and see, you need to do a little research on the print and product companies that you’re using.

What’s their cutoff date. Okay. What’s their cutoff date for cards, for albums, for prints. All right. And then look at a few of the major companies like minted, right? What’s their cutoff date? So you need to take that date first. So let’s say their cutoff date is, you know, December 15th. I don’t know, making something up December 15th.

Then you need to consider what your turnaround time is for fall from session to gallery delivery. This is not in my list of four tips, but I’m going to add this as like a bonus tip. Please do not turn around galleries in seven days or less. Thanks. Okay. You don’t have the bandwidth for that. You are killing yourself.

Tell families, it’s going to be two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, whatever you need it to be. Okay. Personally, I’m three to four weeks in the fall. So if December 15th is the cutoff average for the companies that I’m using for products and prints, then I’m going to back up three to four weeks from that.

Okay. So let’s just say four weeks, let’s make it a round number. Let’s say November 14th. That takes me to November 14th. And then because I want to give myself an early cutoff date, I want to give myself grace and buffer. That’s where I get into, okay, maybe November 7th, maybe November 1st, I’m going to give myself time.

Maybe if I set November 1st as my cutoff date, maybe the, you know, the first through the fifth, I actually leave open for reschedules. So it’s a little bit of a buffer, but then I’m absolutely not photographing families for holiday turnaround after November 5th. Okay. Do you see how that works? So I’m giving myself grace.

I’m giving myself buffer. I’m giving myself bandwidth and it helps me be a better mom and a better family member come the holidays because just like I talked about in the number three planning for time for your family, they’re the most important. And I can’t tell you how many years I would get to Thanksgiving and just be miserable, dragging to the finish line, not wanting to pick up the camera to photograph my own family’s memories, not wanting to show up to family gatherings and events because I’m too tired, not feeling like I can sit around and watch the Macy’s day parade and do all the fun decorating things and the fun fall holiday outings.

Because I’d need to be editing because I’m still shooting because I’m still catching up. No, when I set that early cutoff date, I am rocking and rolling come Thanksgiving. I am in the home stretch. I know that the bulk of my year is done. Galleries are delivered and I am just cruising to the end. I am pleasant to be around.

I’m enjoying my kids and my family. I’m ready for all of the holiday adventures. I have the bandwidth to really consider what am I buying everyone for Okay. Who’s going to host Christmas? What are the meals going to be? When are we going to have kids over to celebrate different things? Are we going to host our annual Christmas party?

I can really lean into my own life and my own family because I know that I’ve served my clients well. Okay. Having an early cutoff date has been an absolute game changer. All right. So just to recap, planning for ease in your fall busy season, number one, plan for time off. Number two, plan for reschedules.

Number three, plan for time for your family. And number four, plan for an early cutoff date. And that’s it. Those are the four steps to take when planning your calendar that’s going to give you so much more ease. Okay, I would love to hear from you on which one you think is best. It’s the most surprising and the one that you can’t wait to implement.

All right. So maybe come find me on Instagram, send me a DM at Sabrina Gephardt photography and let me know what you think. That’s it for today, my friends. And I hope you’ll join me next week because I have a really, really, really special episode planned for the podcast because next week is episode 100.

All right. We’ll see you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes. And details from today’s episode@sabrinagehart.com slash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gehart Photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review.

Until next time, my friends shoot it straight.


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