I knew it wouldn’t last, but I was determined to try anyway.
As I began stacking more clean laundry on top of the already towering pile that loomed above, I tried to ignore them.
The thoughts. The doubts. “Yep, that’s definitely going to fall,” the voices said. “It won’t last for long. Do something about this pile, already!” And somewhere deep inside my heart, I knew they were right. But I tried anyway! I kid you not – pile looming overhead and juuuuuust brushing the ceiling, I had to take a jump shot each time in order to get pieces of “new” dirty laundry to the top!
Cloth diapers beneath baby clothes beneath preschooler clothes beneath grown up clothes beneath towels. I left them behind, turning my back and closing the door to our tiny laundry room. Out of sight, out of mind. Right?
I heard a crashing sound, which could only mean that the giant laundry monstrosity had fallen, and likely taken a few casualties with it. What an ominous metaphor for the direction my life was heading! I could have pretended I didn’t hear it, but instead I took a bit of life advice from gravity and decided that something had to change.
Hi, I’m Emily. I’m a Dallas wedding and engagement photographer, personal photo editor, wife, and mother.
But what I’ve learned the hard way is that I’m anything but Super Woman. Hear me out on this – I am pretty stinking confident in my abilities and skill. However, I can’t do it all (repeat, self: I can’t do it all) – and that’s 100% okay.
When I first started this thing called “small business ownership,” I became obsessed with this idea that I could do it all. I could manage my marketing, communications, sessions, editing, and books all on top of raising kids, cleaning, and yes, laundry. To be fair, it was definitely easier the first year or so because 1) I was just starting out, 2) I had just ONE child to worry about, and 3) that ONE child (Austyn) was old enough to not need to be held constantly, but young enough that she wasn’t getting into anything dangerous.
Fast forward about three years and another kid later. I may have taken a step back in terms of the number of weddings I am photographing (a cross-country move and maternity leave will do that to you), but I’m also taking on a ton of second shooting opportunities. I’ve also begun editing for other photographers, which has been super lucrative for me but tons of extra work (praise God for that, by the way). This, combined with the extra effort it is taking to get my name “out there” as a Dallas wedding photographer has been…exhausting. Austyn fortunately is in preschool at our church and absolutely loves it, but managing all of this on top of caring for my seven month old boy Lincoln and attempting to nurturing my marriage had left me drained and all but burned out. I’d often find myself asking, “What the heck am I doing wrong? How in the world am I supposed to manage this all?” I wanted to be able to support and provide for my family while enjoying what I do. To grow my business. And I knew it was possible, because I watched from the sidelines and saw others killing it out there!
You see, I think most of us creative entrepreneurs have got it all wrong. I see these memes and quotes being passed around on Facebook about working hard, hustling, busting our tails, and so on. We are so darn obsessed and proud of the idea that we can and MUST DO ALL OF THE THINGS. There is an aspect of this that is very true – because the dream doesn’t come without the work, right? But another (and maybe more effective?) path to success involves working smarter, not harder. It took a load of laundry crashing down like some bad omen to finally take the hint.
I realized I was going to have to let go of some things. Kind of humbling, if you ask me, because as my husband will tell you, I like things done a very particular way. I’m quick, impatient, and I don’t like having to teach people how to do things the way I want them done. I’m also sort of a control freak (SURPRISE), which made this exercise super hard. But still, I sat down and made a list of what I do during a given week, and how long it would take me to do each of the things.
By far and large, “that thing” that would take me the longest to do was laundry. And house cleaning. I was seriously spending so much of my time each week doing these two things, and it was keeping me from being focused and productive. I wasn’t able to do “those other things” that would grow my wedding photography and editing business.
Blogging. Posting on social media. Connecting with other industry professionals. And more, much more. I had barely any time for “these things” because I would default to laundry and house cleaning. Seriously?
At first, it was hard for me to justify paying someone else to do this for me. But then I realized that there are people who actually DO HOUSECLEANING and DO LAUNDRY for a living. Like, that’s all they do. They spend focused time on these things and make money doing it. They are resourced better than I am to do it. So why not pay them to do it? This gives someone else business, and in turn I am respecting the value of my own time. I am freeing myself up to make more money, or to enjoy time with my family.
Kind of like you photographers who pay me to edit your photos. Oh, hey!
By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out that I hired someone to take care of my laundry and house keeping. And you’d be 100% correct. Today was my first experience with the laundry people. They picked up two 13 gallon bags filled with my laundry and returned it in wonderful condition. AMAZING. (See below!) In October, I have a housekeeper who will come twice to help prevent my house from becoming a Haz-Mat scene. The relief I feel from knowing that I won’t have to worry about these things is alone worth the money, but more than that is the time I’ve freed up. That extra editing job? Sure, I can take it. A networking dinner? I’m in, because I don’t have to work late that evening. Or maybe – just maybe – I’ll go out for a movie with my family (kid-friendly, of course) because I can happily say that my weekend is clear.
One thing I’ll warn you about – be prepared for guilt trip from others who don’t understand the small business life. You might even get passive aggressive remarks when they find out you’re not doing your own laundry and housekeeping. It’s actually ossible you’ll hear comments like, “Oh, must be nice,” “How good for you,” or “Wish I could afford to do that.” But what I really want you to hear today is that if you’re growing a business, you can’t afford to NOT give some things up, no matter what that looks like for you. Maybe you’ve been considering outsourcing your editing, your bookkeeping, your blogging (yes, you can do that!), or your social media. You need to hear that it’s worth it, YOU’RE worth it, and the return you will receive from doing do is huge!
Will I be sending out my laundry every single week, or having a house keeper come twice every month? Probably not, because seasons. But learning to respect and place a dollar amount on my time by knowing that I can indeed outsource what I need and when I need? This, my friends, is priceless, freeing, and truly crucial to my future growth.
Wishing you all the best in your business endeavors, my small business pals!
Friends, I hope you’ve LOVED this post, and that maaaaybe it’s given you just the motivation you need to hand off some things from your task list! I want to provide you with a little life update on how I’m implementing the above into my daily life as a small business owner!
I stepped back from editing for other photographers almost two years ago when my bookings began picking up here in the Dallas area. With 35+ weddings a year, it just wasn’t feasible anymore. Because of this, I actually found a personal photo editor of my own from Edit Source and am soooooo happy I did! She is incredible! I still pay for laundry pickup fairly often and I have a housekeeper who comes twice a month. I tried outsourcing my blogging and social media, but I didn’t love it. All this to say, as your business grows you’ll need to decide what things you love doing yourself and what things you can delegate. It can be tough to give up control and justify paying for it, but the return on your investment – the time you get back – is invaluable if you harness the time and space you’ve created through outsourcing!