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Photography + Business Education

On Measuring Success: the Side Hustle

I often find myself comparing my photography business to those who are doing it full time. It’s a completely unfair comparison and, while I do gain lots of inspiration from the things they are doing, it can be discouraging! So, today I want to ENCOURAGE all you other side-hustlers. Just because we are working a full time job in addition to running our business doesn’t mean we aren’t legitimate. It doesn’t mean we aren’t just as passionate about our photography (or whatever your industry might be) and, to any clients who may be reading this, it doesn’t mean we don’t pour a ton of time, thought and energy into our work. What it does mean is that we aren’t able to take nearly the amount of clients in order to provide a valuable experience to those we do work with. It also means we spend precious evening, weekend, early morning, and sometimes even lunch-break hours editing, learning, writing, etc. (which I know many full-time photographers do also). I’m not complaining, I LOVE having a purpose for my time after I leave work at the end of the day… I choose to spend those hours that way because it feeds my soul and makes me happy!

“You don’t just ‘take’ time for the things you’re passionate about, you have to ‘make‘ the time.”

You’ve probably heard the Ansel Adams quote, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Well, I think a similar idea can be applied to time. You don’t just ‘take’ time for the things you’re passionate about, you have to ‘make‘ the time. It’s an intentional act, not a passive, fleeting moment where everything just happens to work out in your favor. Purposely scheduling certain hours on my calendar to dedicate to specific aspects of my business is so critical. I could write something down a million times on a “to do” list (which I also love), but it’s never going to happen until I MAKE the time for it.

Here’s the thing: it’s about the little stuff. It’s easy to feel successful when you complete a set of wedding photos and hit send on a “Your photos are ready!” email. But success can be measured in all sorts of ways, many of which your followers won’t ever see.  For example, here are several things I made time for in my business last week. They aren’t life-changing, but they fed my passion and they mean that I did something to keep moving forward.


  • Transferred my Kira Whitney Photography Instagram account to a business account (I know I know, it’s about time) so I can connect it to my Facebook page instead of my personal profile, promote posts and track insights. I don’t know why this took me so long, all it took was a couple buttons and bada-bing bada-ba!

  • Bought a new domain,, to get rid of the dash that was included before (I would have done this originally, but it wasn’t available at the time). The old one will still work as well so I don’t have to reprint all my business cards or anything, but this is much more memorable and SEO friendly.

  • Shot two weddings in one weekend – yeah buddy! I got to shoot at a STUNNING downtown Kansas City Venue called the Terrace on Grand and another gorgeous location called the Cider Gallery in Lawrence, KS… completely different atmospheres that were perfect for the unique couples. I highly suggest either if you are looking for a Midwest wedding venue! 

  • Went to my weekly History of Photography class at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and learned something new. Well, lots of things really! (images from the Nelson below)

  • Came up with a rough outline for a new package that I’ve been dreaming about for about a year. More on this later, but it will be completely different from anything I’ve done yet!

 Terrace on Grand

Terrace on Grand

 Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

  Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Making small but impactful edits on your website, blogging about what’s important to you, learning something new, getting involved in something outside your industry to expand your network, learning a work/life/other work balance… these are all contributors to my definition of success at the end of a week. How do you define success in your business? How about in your life? Okay that might be too deep for a sunny afternoon, rain check please 😉

What do you let discourage you along the journey and is it because you are focused on someone else’s version of success? Seriously, I want to hear from you! Comment below! 



  1. Diana says:

    I think you’ve found one of the great secrets of life here!

  2. Managing a business as a side-hustle is EXHAUSTING! It was not very long ago that I was in that exact position and I know how hard that is! You are so right that you have to MAKE time for your business intentionally or you’ll just never ‘find’ the time for it. But when you do, it eventually pays off and it’s so wonderful!

  3. MIRIAM ROMAN says:

    “Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.” a quote to lived by…xx

  4. Emily says:

    I totally agree with you – you have to MAKE time when you have a business on the side, in addition to a full time job. It can be really hard to make time, but it’s also so fun to work on your own business. Keep it up!

    • Kira Goff says:

      Most definitely, there is something so deeply fulfilling about making progress with your business because there is such a personal connection! Thanks for taking the time to share, Emily!

  5. Sara Miller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I am a side-hustling photographer, too, and I definitely get discouraged when I compare myself to those doing it full time (or when I realize people don’t think I’m legit because I have another career too.) You’re so right that we just have to define success in our own way. For me, success in my photography business means I’m turning a profit (even if it’s small) and enjoying myself. I’m a therapist "in real life" and my photography business fuels my own mental health (most of the time), which definitely counts as success. 🙂

    • Kira Goff says:

      So glad to know I’m not alone, thank you Sara! I love that photography fuels your mental health…I’m the same way. There is something so crucial missing without that creative outlet 🙂

  6. Rensche Mari says:

    I’m a full time photographer, but it wasn’t always that way, you have the right mindset! Enjoy!

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