Jill 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:
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.