I'm probably going to get a smidgen of heat for this one but I also feel it is one that many photographers need to seriously reflect on. At its core, photography is not a good business model. For the vast majority of photographers, the pursuit of photography of a career is a calling driven by passion. We can't imagine spending our lives doing anything else so we chase an industry that is vastly oversaturated with supply. If that is you, great, but if working on your photo career feels more like clocking into an exhausting day job then you are only settings yourself up to destroy your hobby by trying to transform it into a career.
Over a century ago Henry Ford revolutionized the entire manufacturing industry discovery the holy ratio to maximize productivity by ensuring a healthy work/life balance. Ford's ratio comes down to a third of the time spent at work, a third of the time spent for oneself, and a third of the time sleeping. This discovery allowed him to famously shorten the working day while doubling his employee's salaries in order to enjoy an impressive increase in productivity and profits. Before Ford's revelation business people operated under the assumption that maximum productivity was the result of maximum employee commitment for as long as possible.
How does this apply to photography? The business of photography, for the vast majority of career photographers, demands far more than a third of their time. Photography simply isn't a business that is conducive to clocking in at 9 am then clocking out at 6 pm. Thus, as photographers, we need to figure out how to break the rules Ford discovered. How can this be done? Virtually any industry that demands greater than a third of a worker's time also depends on a similar aspect among those who find deep success in those fields.
That aspect is an unwavering love of the work. So much so that the work, itself, becomes synonymous with leisure. Photographers who achieve business greatness all have one thing in common. They live for the craft. If this doesn't sound like you, it's time to re-evaluate. Going to a shoot shouldn't feel like a chore or feel like you are simply clocking into a day job. If it does you will never be able to compete with the top photographers in the industry. Instead, you need to cultivate your love of photography so much so that you ache to continue your pursuit. Sure, there may be aspects of your business that you don't particularity enjoy, but the very core aspect and action of creating photos needs to be a feeling so strong that it feels more like play than work.
Take a look at this video by Chase Jarvis as he talks about the balance between his work and life. This needs to be you. Your work needs to tug at your soul so deeply that you would feel compelled to chase it, regardless of whether a business was even possible.
So, take this article as a call to self-reflection. Does photography feed your soul so much so that it can simultaneously both be your work life and your leisure life? Or does it being to feel like any other draining career once you start taking it too seriously? If the answer is the latter I'd suggest working to keep it as a hobby while you enjoy a much higher earning potential in most other professional fields.