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How to be more Productive as a Wedding Photographer

Want to know how to be more productive as a wedding photographer? Joy Michelle shares her tips for productivity and making goals.

As entrepreneurs, parents, or someone working full time and a side hustle, there are many things to do, and you should have goals for yourself. So how can you be productive as you are moving towards that goal? With Joy Michelle, a wedding photographer, a YouTuber, and a business coach, we’re going to cover all about how not to feel burnt out when it comes to goals. Also, how to actually break your goals down, how to make time for your goals, especially if you are busy with doing a million other things, and also how to do all of this while honoring your boundaries. 

About Joy Michelle

Joy is a photographer turned business coach and YouTuber. She has two kids, a daughter named Clara and a son named Louis, who’s one and a half years old. On the business side of things, she hosts the Called to Both podcast and runs an education brand called PhotoBoss, so she helps photographers and creatives take a passion and turn that into something profitable. 

She does that through weekly YouTube videos and a Facebook group where the PhotoBoss name originated, and her programs. She’s been married to her husband for ten years and they recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. Joy is passionate about sharing all things marketing and vision and also thinking about building a business while being a present mom. 

Productivity tips

Burnout is inevitable in any entrepreneurial journey. And so when you identify that, there are a few things to do. First, determine what’s important and needs to get done and what can wait because sometimes we’re stressing about something that could be utterly optional in our business. And during a period of overwhelm and burnout. It’s a little bit more about survival and maintenance rather than scaling. So think of it as a season and that it won’t be like this forever. 

But in that season, get clear on what is truly essential. What are the most productive assets that you have in terms of your marketing and things like that? Most times, people think it’s great to be everywhere all the time, but that eventually leads to burnout. Adding more to your mind than it can carry is a recipe for making it worse, having something to look forward to having rest in the future. 

Even if you can’t take that upcoming weekend off, say, “Okay,  here’s what I can take off.” Or here’s like a mid-day, during the week break, that you’re going to give yourself to do something. Even if it’s brief because your mind needs to have something to look forward to knowing that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. 

There’s so much noise and so much going on, and there’s so much that you should be doing and could be doing. If it’s not a priority at the minute, block it out and maybe save it in the bank for later; if you want to address it, go back to it.

Staying focused on certain tasks

A big part of this is self-awareness, knowing yourself and where you tend to get derailed and when you tend to work best, and just becoming a student of yourself can help lead you to the answer that’s going to be best for you. Because you know that if you have made confident choices about your day or how distractions will be set up while you work, then you’re not going to stay focused and not remember your biggest goals. 

What was the overarching vision? What do you want? Because it can be so easy for somebody online to say something that sounds good and compelling. And you might want that. And that is the most disappointing feeling to accomplish something you may not even want. It’s important to break down your goals to properly outline these properly and have an extreme focus on them.

The first thing you’ll have to do is identify that big goal. And there’s so much that we can do that it’s important to come back to something concrete and your big goal, making sure that the thing you end up chasing is the right one for you. It comes back to you and your overarching vision for your life. So making sure that whatever that exciting goal is, it also fits into generally where you want to end up.

Think about what you’ve chosen would look like daily for you to be in this goal. Does it line up with the kind of life you desire? It needs to align with the life you want to build; it should be exciting. 

Having self-awareness

You have to be excited about it more than just in the moment when it’s new. A lot of times, the new thing is naturally exciting because it’s new. But make sure that that truly feels exciting to you even in the face of adversity, even when it gets a little bit tough. 

The more specific the goal, the better. Make sure your goal is something like a household name or to become famous on YouTube. Break that down into, like, what would that look like for you in terms of success? And that’s a great question to ask if this came to fruition. If you felt that this was successful, what would it look like? And then, write a paragraph about what it means for you.  That leads to making your goal into specific measurables that will be helpful. 

Joy learned this self-awareness from Jon Acuff in his book Soundtracks. Realizing that one of the biggest factors in your success in pretty much anything, especially with a big goal, is your mindset. And so before you can think about all these little things, these limits, you might think, you don’t have the time for this. You don’t have the finances for it and don’t even have the connections for it. You must remember that the biggest limitation is not any of those things. It’s you. 

So you know that when you sit down and think about it, you might sabotage it. You immediately become your own biggest doubter. That’s the self-awareness piece. And that is so important because you are on this journey with yourself towards this goal. And you can’t get rid of those yourself in this. You have to overcome it. 

Creating self-discipline around goals

Discipline is like the desire to do something fleeting, so try not to rely on a feeling and instead commit to a process. A lot of times, we’re familiar with planning one time a year. Familiar with sitting down yearly planning, reflecting and dreaming, and then writing down some big goals. 

Getting into the practice of revisiting those goals a lot more frequently changes the game to get to the finish line on some things. Yearly planning is wonderful, but you don’t want to wait a year before you check in because you risk being significantly off course for seven months or more. More regular check-ins have been helpful for Joy to stay excited about those goals and to stay disciplined on those goals. Sometimes you doubt yourself and do not take action. 

Recenter yourself with quarterly planning and check-ins, and ensure those are blocked on your calendar before you allow anything else. Protecting that calendar and connecting it to your goals is a big bridge that often makes it from a dream to an actual plan. So quarterly planning has begun. 

This practice alone has saved Joy a lot of time and disappointment. The more time you allow, even just a brief window at the beginning of a month, you might feel aimless. Revisiting your goals reignites a spark of why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you still believe in these things, and why you’ll push through the tech struggles or fatigue. 

Embrace that you’re human and will get distracted, so you must remind yourselves why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Breaking your goals down further

The first thing you have to do is ensure you’re not doing ten things at once. So be ruthless about cutting down on the number of goals once you’ve narrowed it down. Know what is important to you and what is not. 

Know what you’re accomplishing in the next quarter or this next year. Draw out the metric 100% within your control because that will give you your action item list. A great example of this might be wanting to book 20 clients and making $100,000.

That’s a great goal, but that goal is not 100% within your control. You cannot sign those clients. You can’t write those checks yourself. So narrowing this down to activities you can 100% control will draw out that list for you. And so you might ask, “Okay, what can you do today to support the overarching goal?” And a lot of times, this means getting visible.

Another thing you’re going to need to do is cultivate relationships. You have to build those connections and networking relationships. So writing out those types of things. What will you do weekly, daily, or monthly to build towards that goal?

What relationships do you need to cultivate? What do you need to do in terms of content creation? Getting specific about what you can control will help you make realistic goals.

Idea management tools

There are free project management tools where you can just type everything out and easily reorder sentences, add pictures, and do whatever you need. That helps you to get all of your thoughts out. Maybe you need to design a web, or you’ll need a copy, get pictures, or need new pictures; all these become little sub-projects.

Creating a space you can return to is key because we hold too much in our brains. And our brains are not meant to remember a lot of stuff. They’re meant to come up with awesome ideas and solve problems. So if you’re holding a lot of information in your brain, you might find that you’re not as creative.

You’re not freed up to be your best, most creative self. So find a spot somewhere online in a notebook, whatever makes sense for you, that can hold all these awesome ideas. It helps you focus better on whatever key thing you choose. 

Taking action

Pick one location where all of this is going to live. All these goals are sub-projects because lots of goals will have lots of normal steps, and there will be sub-projects. And so creating a space online, whether Trello, Asana, or whatever works for you.

Getting accountability for your goal is going to be huge and so helpful. Having a friend you report to helps a lot. You could say hey, these are my action items for this week and sit down to discuss. So make sure you have one place where you break down your goals, and you can return to and bring someone into that goal. 

So a friend, a coach, or a mentor in this area, is also helpful. If you’re not that person that comes through on a goal, getting accountability and help in something can help to catapult you forward into someone following through on those things. 

Then you build that self-trust, and your identity as someone who follows through and does these things is directly tied to your success and goals.


Done is better than perfect, and if you lean towards perfection or want it to look a certain way and check all these boxes, you’ll eventually have to say they’re not all of equal importance. You can’t have 20 criteria, and they’re all top importance. So you say, alright, if you could only check off eight of the boxes, what would they be? Just really forcing yourself to get real and honest about what is important. That is a skill that you’re constantly cultivating as creatives.

Pick if you have to pick, cut it in half, or something like that. Done is better than perfect, so it’s hard. And be self-aware and know that and know how to work around it and know that’s okay.

Final advice

Everybody should create a list of the hard things they’ve accomplished, big and small, every accomplishment, things that were challenging at the time, and difficult things they’ve overcome. Because when you have an “I did it list,” you can remind yourself of what you’re capable of.  

We forget about the things that we’ve overcome. Joy forgets she built a website without knowing how to do that and learned how to shoot a manual when she had no idea what any of the buttons meant before, and it’s like reminding yourself because you forget how big that was at the time.

And that will give you fuel to think, “Oh my gosh, I really can do this next big thing,” because it was just as daunting to her as learning her camera, and she figured that out, so she can figure the next thing out too. It’s like taking a step back and patting yourself for the things you have. 

Because we all forget to do that, we forget how far we’ve come and all we’ve done. 
Joy’s website is www.joymichelle.co, and she hangs out in the Photoboss Facebook group daily. Just type Joy Michelle Photography on YouTube, and her videos will pop up or you can find her on Instagram!

how to be more productive as a wedding photographer
manage your productivity and goals

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