I come into contact with photographers all the time who are contemplating making the leap to full-time. They ask for my advice about when it's a good time to do so. Unfortunately, I can't tell you when it's right for you, but I can share my own story.

I've shared a bit of my journey into photography in a past blog post, so if you haven't read it, click here to get caught up. Today I'm going to share more specifics on the part of my journey when I made the leap from part-time to full-time.

It starts with it being scary and ends with it being scary. So if you're waiting for a time when it won't be scary, you'll be waiting for a long time. It's never NOT going to be scary.

A year and a half into starting my business, I was still working full-time at my church as the Director of Communications. I was burned out from working non-stop on my business during my off-hours from the church. It was September 2004 and I had 8 weddings booked for the fall wedding season. Looking ahead, I didn't know how I was going to survive. I cut back to part-time at the church mostly because I knew I wouldn't physically be able to continue working full-time at the church while carrying my upcoming wedding load. Also at this time, I decided to move back home with my parents and sink every extra dime into my business.

After going part-time, I had a pivotal conversation with a friend of mine -- a wise pastor at my church. I was talking about how much I wished I could just do photography full-time and how I was so worn out from burning the candle at both ends. He asked me why I didn't just take the risk? He said, "What's the worst thing that can happen? You're not going to end up homeless." Which was true. After all, I was living with the trusty folks. I was paying rent, but still -- they weren't likely going to kick me out on the street if I failed. This conversation was an eye-opener for me. After two weeks of working part-time at the church, I quit all together.

I've never looked back. That was 7+ years ago and it was one of the best decisions I've made. Not only was I able to survive -- a year after I went full-time in photography, I was able to move out, buy my first house, and buy a new car. Much glory goes to God who is my Provider. And to my friend Matt, who gave me the gentle nudge I needed to make the leap.

That's my story. One very important factor I had going for me at the time was a booming economy. I was fortunate to be able to become established in my business before the downturn happened. Photographers who are attempting to make the leap today will likely not be able to do so as quickly. It's uniquely challenging to go full-time in the current economy and with the high saturation of photographers in the industry. BUT it CAN be done.

Your story will inevitably vary in the specifics, but here are a few things to consider when contemplating making the leap to full-time:

1 -- What is your tolerance for risk? Are you the breadwinner? If not -- if you have another family member paying the bills -- you have more tolerance for taking a risk. Why not go for it? Also consider how you can increase your tolerance for risk by changing your life to decrease your budget. I was able to move home to minimize my overhead. Not everyone has that luxury, but there may be other ways you can cut down on expenses to take some of the pressure off. Take a serious look at your finances and what you need to survive. Cut out the excess.

2 -- Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen if I fail?" It's scary to stare failure in the face. But if you're able to visualize what failure will look like, sometimes it's not the worst thing in the world. In my case, I wasn't going to end up homeless. I'm guessing for most people, failure would involve going back to your old job or finding a new one with a steady income. In the grand scope of things, this risk of failure might be worth the possibility of succeeding and getting to do what you are passionate about for a living.

3 -- Ask yourself, "With the additional time on my hands after quitting my day job, can I make my business successful?" This was a big part of me making my leap. I knew I had 8 weddings to carry me through the upcoming months. I didn't know if I would have enough work beyond that to make ends meet, but I knew I would have so much time after quitting to put into making my business viable beyond the fall season. And that's just what happened. I threw myself into networking, improving my business and photography and doing everything I could to get new clients.

4 -- Again, remember, it's never NOT going to be scary. Don't let fear be the one hindrance that keeps you from pursuing your dream.

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