80. How photographers can avoid burnout with Kelly McWilliams

Sustainable Podcast Cover Episode 80 "How photographers can avoid burnout with Kelly McWilliams"

Are you a photographer who believes that in order for your business to become successful, you have to work non-stop? Or when you rest, you feel like you’re about to lose income? 

But the truth is, when you get yourself some rest, you can be the best version of yourself for your clients and for your business. In this latest podcast episode with Kelly McWilliams, she’ll share how intentional rest and avoiding burnouts made her business successful. 

Since 2002, Kelly McWilliams has been organizing festivities, social events, and destination weddings. Kelly has been committed to giving back to the community in addition to building a successful business. She has sponsored over 40 internships for college students and hosted a local one-day educational conference. (WeWed). Her goal was to use social media, press, and publishing to make SWFL known as a destination for weddings. Kelly has traveled and attended conferences all over the world in an effort to bring what is great and occurring in the big cities back to the small area on the Florida gulf coast. Kelly has been featured on the pages and websites of the majority of national wedding publications for the past 20 years and has been named one of the best wedding planners by Martha Stewart Weddings.

What makes a business sustainable?

A sustainable business is continuously evolving in a way that feels good to you and is changing at the right time. However, what’s right for you right now can be different five years from now. That’s why as long as you keep evolving, your business will sustain itself. 

As starters in the photography business, you might be in a hustle mentality but setting boundaries for you and your business is also important. You evolve in a way where you resonate with both your clients and vendor partners. Stay educated, and put enough work into your business, marketing, and other things that will improve your workflow. 

For many, this business started out as a hobby. It’s something you do because you enjoy it, and along the way, you decided to make it your livelihood.

Learn how to deal with business as a creative

Episode 1

Balancing work and rest

The truth is, photographers like us are lucky because aside from doing what we love, we also earn money from it. But since this is a business, you have to start thinking about what makes sense in your business and not just focus on the fun things. 

If you want to sustain your business, you have to balance work and rest. As a photographer who owns a business, the better you are at doing it, the more time you have for creative work. 

Here are some tips to help you focus on building your business:

  1. List down everything about your business. What are the tasks that you don’t like doing and love? What are your best and worst tasks? Go down with the list and for the things that take your time or aren’t fun for you, you can seek help. 
  2. Delegate tasks and outsource things. This will give you more time to do things you’re good at and make more money for your business. 
  3. Get things done and list your priorities. This also includes your bills. 
  4. Plan ahead and use your calendar. When you know your priorities and activities are planned ahead, it makes it easier for you to schedule new ones and set your days off. 

Experiencing burnouts

Maybe you’re a photographer who’s just starting out and you can’t say no so you work day and night to deliver results. Or maybe you are already a seasoned photographer who’s at your peak and you just can’t slow down work. At the end of the day, your body feels tired yet your mind still wants to push through. And as days go by, your creativity loses its spark. That’s what burnout looks like. 

When you go through burnout, you get exhausted, you’re not thinking well and you’re not being creative. Your mind feels that everything slows down, and this makes you more sad and anxious.

Learn self-care for photographers with Jen Wille

Episode 22

The only thing that you need to do is take a break and rest. Get rid of the stress by resting. You need to take some time off to breathe. 

Setting time for breaks and rest

When you realize you’re nearing burnout, the next step is to accept that you need to take a break. This may differ from one photographer to another, but you have to start with some days off. Where you don’t work at all. But as creatives, we can’t help to get new ideas when we are relaxed and there’s nothing wrong with listing these ideas on a sheet of paper. 

The most important thing is for you to rest and not get stressed about work or business. At some point, you may feel guilty for doing so but remember, when you’re going through burnout, you’re not at your best and that can hurt your business. 

Here are some tips for how to create time off:

  1. Communication is key. When you have decided to take regular time off, let your clients know (if they need to) that you’re unavailable. Put it in your email signature or set up an automated response. This will be a reminder for them not to contact you when you have time off. 
  2. Set your boundaries and be clear about it. Do the work you need to do when you’re back at work.
  3. You need to set and follow your business hours. Outside of these hours, make yourself unavailable. That’s why automated responses or business automation is important. That way you can step away from your business, yet your business still runs (and no one needs to know you’re taking time off).
  4. On your days off, outsourcing and delegating tasks will definitely help you save so much time in your business. 
  5. Set a deadline longer than what you think you need. Deadlines aren’t meant to kill you, you just have to be clear on your timelines that won’t hurt your business and the process. If you know you can edit and deliver photos to your clients in two weeks, promise them after four weeks so that you can have enough time to do it. Even if there will be emergencies, you want time off, or you suddenly get very busy, you still have more than enough time to finish the task. 

Remember, you are in charge of your business, so make decisions that will give you enough elbow room.

How to work your way out of burnout

Unfortunately, burnout is one of the things that you don’t realize you’re having when until you’re in the middle of it. This can help you work your way out of burnout:

  1. Get away from your desk as much as possible. Even if it’s just half an hour or 10 minutes, get up and go for a walk. Just breathe in some fresh air.
  2. Do some meditation when you can. 
  3. Go somewhere nothing can disturb your peace. Take a long shower or sit down on a bench in the park. Just walk away from what’s bringing you stress.
  4. Get some good sleep. Whether it’s a power nap at lunch break or a good night’s sleep, it will help you ease your anxiety. 
  5. Book yourself a massage or spa day. 
  6. Prioritize your physical and mental health. 

While you do these things, your business will still run. Your automated responses to inquiries will still be sent and if you have a virtual assistant they can still work. You have to stop yourself from worrying too much about how being away from your business means you’re losing money. Because that is not the case, when you are at your best, your business will thrive. 

What Kelly wants you to know

Proactively scheduling time away from deadlines and meetings will give you the capacity to work more productively and allow your mind more creative space. Being under-rested will bring the opportunity to burn out.



Want more?

Ingvild Kolnes is the host of the Sustainable Photography Podcast, an educator for photographers, and is ready to help you with your photography business. The Sustainable Photography Program is back to give you the knowledge and tools you need to create a thriving photography business that’s built to last. 

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Sustainable Podcast Cover Episode 80 "How photographers can avoid burnout with Kelly McWilliams"
Sustainable Photography
80. How photographers can avoid burnout with Kelly McWilliams

hi, i'm ingvild

This podcast is all about education and inspiration for photographers. A sustainable business is profitable and lasting. Instead of short-term wins you want to make sure you’re doing things that matter. Both to yourself, and to create the business you want. The goal of this podcast is that it will help you build and structure your business around your life, instead of the other way around.

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