Four and a half years ago when I started Jodified Photography+Design I was a work horse. A total workaholic. I was doing like 3-6 sessions a week and working until at least 1am. Every night. I also had a one and a half year old, a 6 month old and was pregnant. Neither kid slept through the night and my husband was gone 90% of the time.
It was insane.
I kept that up for two years and it nearly killed me.
Then I met Kim and it got a little better because we significantly raised our prices which meant people weren’t using me just because I was cheap. They booked US because we were good. Or at least they thought we were good! We were booking awesome clients that chose us for our work not our cheap price and so of course we slowed down some.
In the first year and a half of quitting Jodified and starting Fresh Art I was scared. I was used to being booked solid and constantly busy (I traded constantly working to constantly worrying). And while we did raise our prices we also split things straight down the middle. Our business expenses also went up. While we were pretty busy we also had some slow months, or months when we were busy but didn’t hit our goal numbers. It was scary. And also part of the reason we moved in with family. I was watching a new business slowly grow (which is absolutely not a bad thing!) while our family expenses grew much faster.
So Chris and I hit the pause button. And moved in with family. And fixed our credit, saved our money and paid off debt. It was ten months of a financial pause for my family but luckily Fresh Art kept growing. We moved our studio, met more awesome clients and had some really cool opportunities. Then we bought a house, renovated that house, moved in and hit the Fresh Art busy season!
WHEW! It’s been quite a year! October first is when we moved in with the Allen’s and so for Chris and I it’s a new anniversary of sorts. The day we decided to change our lives.
The point of all of this is that I’m in a good spot. We have our tiny little dream home and while totally terrifying it’s also the most secure we’ve ever felt. An address that’s all ours. No one to answer to about changes we want to make or things we want to do to OUR house. We’re making lists and plans and figuring out a new way of life in our little Webster home. And we’re happy. OH my gosh Chris and I have never been happier! He and I have never, in our seven years of constantly changing+completely stressful marriage have we ever felt this at peace and HAPPY. It’s a good thing.
But back to Fresh Art.
During all of my turbulence, Kim has remained constant. A steady friend to me and sometimes acting more like my big sister since I go to her with every little problem/issue/thought in my head! And while she was quietly trying to teach me ways to live happily, my life was too noisy to hear her. But now it’s not. Now my heart is a little quieter and luckily it’s quiet enough to finally hear her biggest lessons.
Family comes first.
Our time away from our families is valuable.
So we’ve been spreading out our sessions more, not booking so many in one week. We’ve been trying to shoot during the week and leave some time on the weekends to just be moms. Because now that my kids aren’t three under three anymore I actually crave time with them.
When I started Jodified it was my outlet. The way I felt like a real adult person and not just the diaper changer/breast feeder/spit-up catcher/Elmo watcher/potty trainer/meal maker/hand holder/booboo kisser I was 24-7. It gave me passion when I was losing myself in three young kids. So getting away from the house was awesome enough and to get paid for it too? Amazing!
But now that’s all changed. And I’ve changed. And while I do miss my babies (I constantly have baby fever!), I don’t miss that life. I’m happier now. More at peace.
So what does that all mean for Fresh Art?
Well, we continue to grow, which is awesome. But of course we’re growing right at the moment I’m happy not working as much! I’m finally to the place Kim has been all along. So what that means for our clients and WHY I started writing this novel in the first place is a few things…
First, it means we’re booking further and further out. Right now October is almost completely booked and November is starting to get full. We’ve had to start saying no to last minute sessions completely, even some newborns who we hate to turn away. If you want to work with us please think ahead. It also means I’ve become a bit slower to respond to emails. Because I’m not staying up until 1am anymore. It took me about five years but I’ve finally figured out that sleep is important! So I answer as fast as I can during the week and ignore email almost completely on the weekend. So if you email me on Friday you might not hear back until Monday or Tuesday when I finally catch back up. Because while I used to have ample nap time to answer emails during the weekend and still have good family time, I’m now spending my Saturdays on multiple soccer fields, balancing sessions and trying to go on dates with my hot husband! Sundays we’ve recommitted to being good members at church and having a family dinner which means IF we shoot on a Sunday we have just a few hours to do so. I won’t even overwhelm you with Kim’s weekend kid schedule! HA! We’re limiting our weekend time shooting so that our time can be spent with our families and not just our clients.
I write all of this in hopes that you all understand. That if it takes me a week to get back to you you don’t take it personally. That now maybe you’ll understand I just chose to read an extra bedtime story to my kids. It doesn’t mean our clients aren’t important to us or that we don’t love being booked solid, it just means I’m finally finding the right balance. And honestly, at the end of the day, at the end of my LIFE, reading that one extra book is a hell of a lot more important than an email.
I titled this post “on running a business” because it’s been on my heart a lot lately. Can you run a successful business where you don’t have a 24 hour email return policy or where you miss a few calls or where you plan some sessions last minute? Can your business be built on the stance that family comes first without making your clients feel like they come last? Is it possible to have both?
I’m not sure.
But I wanted you guys to know that we’re trying. That I’m working everyday to let my kids know they DO come first while also trying to help clients feel like they don’t come last. Being quick to apologize when emails are late. It’s a work in progress, certainly, and one that might never be complete. Balancing being a mom and a working mom is HARD and we know most of you totally get that. Thanks for all the grace that’s been given to us while we find the right balance… we seriously have the best clients around!
Good for you guys. Your work speaks for itself…no doubt you will have ample clients, no matter what schedule you decide to keep!
Thank you so much for posting this! I am where you were a few years ago! Booking way too many sessions and spending way too many late nights! I completely agree…it’s not that clients come last…it’s that my family needs to come first! :-). Good luck! Your work is amazing and you should be proud of what you have accomplished!
good job, friend.
Jodie, thanks for sharing and I think its wonderful that you are able to slow down and focus on your family. You are a mom that everyone wants. Successful, loving and talented! I will let my clients know that they need to book you months in advance.
You’re awesome Jodi [and Kim!] and I completely admire what you’re doing… I admire how your business has evolved ESPECIALLY since I feel like I can relate to what ‘your shoes’ feel like… 😉
Right now, I’m a wreck because I’m so busy. THANKFUL for that… but…
It’s all real. We’re real and LIFE is real… I sometimes feel like I have to explain to clients that ‘I DO have to stop and cook [minimally] and clean [barely] and shower [somewhat regularly!]’ all while running this crazy business!! It’s just me and sometimes THAT in-and-of-itself is frightening! LOL!
Thanks for posting…good advice and life lessons learned. You two are fan-tab-ulous at what you and I enjoy your work.
Yay! Good for you both! More for you, Jod, since it sounds like Kim is a pro at balancing life and work. Soooo happy for you. And yes, reading that book to your kids is ALWAYS more important than any kind of work. We all need to remember that from time to time. 🙂
Very well said. Family comes first. Always!
I LOVE, LOVE this!!! I wish my clients would understand that the weekends are for MY family 🙁 Maybe i should write a blog post too, hehe!
Thank you for posting!!!