Post 4: What do I do all day?
Out of all the questions I'm ever asked, one of the questions I'm asked most by my friends and family is "what do I do all day?" Before I decided to pursue photography as a full-time job, I was under the impression that professional photographers had the privilege of doing whatever they wanted all day every day, except for when they were shooting. I can't help but assume this is what people think I do when they ask me what I do all day. I imagine they picture me, sitting in our apartment, playing video games and eating junk food all day while Devan is at work. I wish this were true, but over the years, it has become apparent that this scenario rarely happens.
I've done a post like this before, but it was a while ago and my daily routine has changed since then. I have a fairly strict schedule that changes every couples of months that I follow religiously. This is what my schedule looks like at the moment when I'm not shooting.
I try to wake up sometime between 8 and 9 every morning. I hate sleeping in because I feel like I miss out on a large portion of the day, so I try to wake up sometime before the late morning. Waking up at 9 usually isn't too much of a problem, but if I happen to wake up earlier, all the better. I also feel somewhat more like a responsible adult if I wake up at a reasonable time every day, instead of sleeping in until noon or later like I used to in college.
For the next half hour, I play a game of NHL 14 (which will soon be NHL 15). My philosophy is that if I get playing video games out of my system right away and only play one game of NHL, I won't be as tempted to not do any work throughout the day and I'll be able to focus better. So far, this has worked out. I also like to have some personal time every morning, and that half hour allows me to wake up a bit.
After my game of NHL, I'll clean the coffee maker, and get a pot brewing. I used to work at a coffee shop when I was in high school, but since then, I didn't drink much coffee until my last semester in college. Now I'm one of "those people" and can't get work done without it. As the coffee is brewing, I take a shower so the coffee will be ready when I get out.
Once I'm out of the shower and have poured a cup of coffee, I turn the computer on, and begin my actual work day. This is usually sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 am on a good day. Sometimes I don't start work until noon, but that's pretty rare. The first thing I do is I look at my website and record the number of unique visitors that my website has. I just started doing this in July, and it really isn't that important to me yet. I used to check my website views whenever I thought of it, but then I could never remember what it was at the last time. It's pretty cool when I look at the views and see that I've had 10 new unique visitors in one day. On the other hand, it's not exactly a morale booster when I don't receive any new visitors over two or three days. Recording the views on my site usually takes me less than 10 minutes each day.
After I record the views on my website, I begin talking to people. From the time I first began taking photos until around January 2014, I was under the impression that I didn't have to reach out to anyone. I used to think that I would be able to create photos, people would see those photos, and then approach me and hire me. I also thought that someone would "discover" me, and pay me a large amount of money to do work for them. In general, I thought that I would be able to just sit around and do whatever I wanted, and people would come to me without me doing much of anything. It wasn't until around January that I realized I could be doing much, much more.
I'm not going to get very specific with this part of my routine, because I don't want to give away too much, given how much competition there is. But I will say that this portion of my routine is the bulk of it, and can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours. I imagine myself as those business people you see in movies or TV shows that are constantly emailing and calling people, although I probably don't look that cool and am not really that important. This is probably the most important thing I do for work during the day.
Once I'm done talking to potential clients, I usually check Craigslist. This is probably the most useless part of the day, because anyone looking for a photographer on Craigslist is usually looking for someone to do it for free or for way less that what I charge. I have gotten a couple of decent paying jobs from Craigslist, though, so I check it anyway. This usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
The next thing I do is jump on social media and try to build my social media presence. Social media is the only advertising I do really. The only other advertising I get is through word-of-mouth, which I don't have a whole lot of control over. I upload a photo of the day to both Facebook and Twitter, and also respond to any comments or mentions, and other fun social media stuff.
After this, I take my lunch break, which is usually a game of NHL 14.
Next, I get back on the computer. This time is basically dedicated to replying to any emails that I've received since the morning, to motivating myself, or to learning how to run a better business. This can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours.
And there you have it. This is what I do every day unless I'm taking photos. If I'm taking actual photos, I still try to do at least a little bit of my work routine. I've been taking photos professionally since 2012, but this is basically my first full year in business. School took up a lot of my time until I graduated in December 2013, so I'm still trying to figure things out. I think this routine is working pretty well for me, but I'm sure there will be changes sooner or later.
I hope this post helps people understand that although I'm my own boss and can take days off whenever and however often I want, I still have to put in work if I want to be successful. When I first started, I realized that most people have to apply for a job a handful of times, while I have to basically apply for a new job every day. It isn't as easy as people often think, and there's times I feel like my work is terrible and I'll never make it, but I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary.
Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.
In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area.
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