Beware of Part-time Jobs That Don’t Have Well Defined Schedules!

September 11th, 2016

OfficeProblemsJill recently described what I think may be fairly common in the real estate photography business:

My main source of income at the moment is as a part time (20 hours a week) marketing person for a realtor and his team of agents. I also do the photography for his listings and it’s because of him I’ve been able to learn and grow and actually become a small RE photography business. I have about 5 other clients so far that have begun to use only me for their listings. I charge him a discounted rate for photos because he’s been with me since the beginning, and helped me get started. Recently he paid for the wide-angle lens I had been renting for each shoot. In turn I am giving him free shoots/photos until the amount has been paid off (about 7 listings). I also have a massage practice that helps fill the gap in income from the marketing job and my real estate photography.

The other day at 7:30 AM my boss (the one I work 20 hrs a week for) asks if I can shoot a property that morning and get the photos to him by the afternoon because a potential seller decided that very morning that they wanted their house on market THAT DAY and wouldn’t budge. I had a massage client scheduled in the afternoon that I ended up having to move, while lying to my client about a family emergency to keep from losing their business because my boss refused to take anything but yes for an answer.

I told him that because I’m getting busier, I need to implement some new policies regarding turn around time and scheduling. He proceeded to tell me that even if I make policies for other clients, that his business must come first and a 24-48 hour turn around is completely unreasonable and he would find another photographer who would do it if necessary.

The situation I think is perhaps widespread and important on focusing on is:

  1. Part-time jobs where you don’t have control over the schedule or hours and
  2. Part-time jobs that don’t provide for all your needs but are structured so you are locked into the job.

My advice to the Jill above is to work on transitioning to a situation where your schedule in their 20 hr a week part-time job was predictable. Part-time jobs that complement building a real estate photography business must have a predictable schedule otherwise, it’s difficult or impossible to be doing multiple jobs!

I think there is a tendency on the part of employers to take advantage of people doing part-time contract work and push the limits of what the norms for employers used to be. So when you are in a situation where you have multiple jobs push for predictable scheduling or get out the job.

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9 Responses to “Beware of Part-time Jobs That Don’t Have Well Defined Schedules!”

  • I could list a ton of reasons why you should shit can this clown of a boss, but I’ll bottom line it for you

    You are working a full time job for this clown and only getting paid for 20 hour a week….. When an employer demands work on any given moment, not your scheduled 20 hour work week, then you are in essence, on call for any time at any day…..

    That said, hold your tongue, do the best you can and work on your own time to break away and go full time shooting or mix it up with your massage business.

  • In that situation he has a client that won’t budge and he’s pushing you to essentially do things in an expedited fashion. He’s making his problem your problem. That is cause for a rush fee. Make it as high as you feel necessary. In general I think it’s a good idea that when people have demanding clients, they are the ones that have to pay for it, not us.

  • Ditto what Jerry said but let me add some additional thoughts. First you are not working part time, you are working full time but three different jobs, realtor marketing, photography and massage. None of these jobs will work out well coexisting. Realtors are in competition with one another. The one you work for part time marketing really does not want you to succeed in branching out to work for others, their success is his failure. They are competing. Massage does not jive at all with the first two unless its in the evening. You are starting to see your business grow if 5 other client have started using only you for their listings.

    Now here comes the hard part. You can make a living at just one of these. Pick one and make a business plan then execute it.

    Will you succeed? Well if your work is good and you have a plan that in the end pays you a good effective hourly rate, and your pricing is within market pricing, then you will succeed.

    So keep your mouth shut but don’t give into unreasonable demands. If that person said they would pay for your lens if you credited them the work. Then you won’t lose them until the lens is paid for, if then. It’s harder to find an assistant that is also a good photographer than just a shoot and scoot guy. After that do the best you can and build your business. Be the best you can be within a reasonable business plan and go for it.

  • As many, I work and do photography. However, my “job” is full time – but with an enormous amount of flexibility. I work in property management at one site for HOA management. If you, or anyone else, is looking to supplement your photography, consider property management. It can often offer the flexibility we need. In fact, it is often times slow enough at work that I can get my processing done while meeting my obligations of being on site. The owner of my company is aware of my part time business and supports it. They were concerned I would get board making the transition to HOA management as it is less demanding most of the time. It’s a perfect fit.

  • Being flexible is extremely important and finding a faster way to process images is necessary. If an agent wants the images done in the AM with a deadline for that afternoon you have to do it to remain in business. Every business has a deadline and we are no different. My policy is a 24 hour turn around just in case of an emergency that should arise but I normally 99% of the time get the images into the agents hands before the close of business at 5 PM. I take a 6 bracket hdr image with a flash layer and can process 25 to 30 images in 1.5 hours. Your boss is not being mean or out of place asking for your help getting a listing done on the same day.

  • I feel your pain. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to call out “sick” from my FT job to shoot because I was just too busy and had no room to schedule. I do get often the “can I get them the same day” and often times I will IF it’s possible but I don’t know how I would react in your situation. It sounds like he’s being generous by buying your lenses, etc. but he’s holding it over your head and trying to scare you into being at his beck and call.

    I’d politely tell him that you cannot comply. Pay him back for the lens and move on to better clients who actually appreciate you and your work.

  • You mentioned that you let this person buy you a wide angle lens while you work to pay for it… giving him about 7 shoot for free. Bad business move! You are now at their mercy. Even after you pay off the lens, you’re going to hear “I got you your start, I bought you that lens… if it wasn’t for me… yada, yada, yada” So which lens did you get that’s worth that sort of aggravation?

    I too worked a full time job which had flex hours. It made scheduling photography work difficult. So, I took a managers position in which I was the one who wrote the schedule. Of course, my full time schedule was written to compliment my photography schedule. I was lucky in having that option. You need to establish ground rules with your “employer”. If it’s a 20 hour gig, you need to set some sort of understanding of when you can and can’t work. But like others said, bite your tongue as he can make or break your future in real estate photography. In the future, do not give someone the keys to your business by allowing them to own you. (ie. that bad lens deal)

    PS… as I tell everyone interested in starting a business in photography. The gear you have right now is perfect. Work with what you have and upgrade AFTER you make some money. Ideally, you should have just worked for Mr Jerk-Face, while saving cash for better gear. Then as you build your client base, lay down YOUR business guidelines to him.

  • I maintain a 48 hour turnaround policy since I also have several businesses and there are times when I have conflicts even though I prioritize my photography work. Some photographers will offer 24 hour turnaround (which is what I usually deliver) if all they do is RE photography. The number one law in a service business is to keep your word when you make promises. If you find that you are not going to meet a deadline, you should contact your customer immediately so you don’t make them look bad to their customer.

    7 sessions in compensation for a wide angle lens is very unbalanced unless you have gone for a very top-of-the-line model. My Sigma 10-20mm cost me around $260 used. That’s just over one job as my typical fee is $200.

    You need to do everything you can to get away from this person you have been working for and let him find another photographer. I’ll bet he will go through all of them and not find somebody that will work for him for long if he treats them in the same way as he is treating you. He also should have told these sellers that are demanding to have their home listed that day, or else to find another agent to list with. I see something like that as a warning sign about how it’s going to be dealing with those people. Take your marketing experience to the RE photo clients you have. They may have some work for you outside of photography that you can do until your photography can support you. Just because somebody helped you get started, it doesn’t mean that they own you afterwards.

  • What does your personal compass tell you? For some people, integrity is important. Lying to one client to accommodate another doesn’t fit that program. And, if a client knows you’re lying for them, they’ll also know you’ll lie to them. How’s that going to work for you?

    If you’re going to attempt having your own business, one of the harder things to learn is when to say “no”. You can’t say it too often, but never saying it will make it impossible to manage your business.

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