5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-Time

Today’s post is part of blog series in which we get the privilege of answering some of the questions we have gotten about photography, marriage and life! We know there are so many other amazing photographers out there who would know the answers far better than we ever could. But it’s not about us. It’s not about how good or not good we might be in comparison to someone else. It’s about serving. And if this series helps one person, it was worth it! You can catch up on the series here:

#1 | Where Do I Start?
#2 | Needle In A Haystack
#3 | A Natural Feel
#4 | 4 Keys To A Consistent Style
#5 | 5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-Time
#6 | 3 Ways To Light Beautiful Reception Images
#7 | 1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now
#8 | 3 Tips To Thrive On A Double-Header Weekend

Ryan & Alyssa,

We are done. We are just done. We have wanted to be full-time photographers ever since we shot our first wedding together as a husband and wife team 3 years ago. We currently both work full-time jobs. We are thankful for the jobs because they have gotten us to where we are in our business. But we are so ready to jump off the 9-5 train and plunge full-time into our business. It is our true passion! Jesus has given us the talent and the desire! But our question is this: How do we know when it’s ok to go for it? We have thought about this so much and we have worked out every possible angle, but we just don’t know. We know that you guys went full-time not too long ago and wondered if you had any answers for us. We are ready to go!


You have no idea how excited we were to get this question! It’s a question we have asked several times since we quit our day jobs in December of 2013. We are almost to our 2-year anniversary!!! Woohoo! So believe us when we say, we know exactly where you are. And we are firm believers that, if you feel the call and the desire to go full-time, it’s the best thing in the world you can do!

So, that’s really the first thing. We are for you all the way! We WANT to see you quit your jobs so badly! Our hearts ache for you, knowing how hard it is to get out of bed every morning to do something you don’t love only to dream about your true passion all day long. 5 o’clock can’t come soon enough! And based on the desire we hear in your voices, we think it’s a GREAT idea for you to go for this dream!

Eleanor Roosevelt said it this way, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” You need to pursue those dreams!

Now the question becomes “when?” And you know what? We truly believe that only you guys can answer that question!

However!…Not to worry, we can help you arrive at the right conclusion! We went way back to some of the questions we had to face when we decided to quit our jobs. We did a lot of things right which have led us to where we are now. But there are also a few things we maybe would have done differently! So based on our experiences, we put together a list of 5 questions to answer before you go full-time. If you can answer these 5 questions and feel good about your answers then you might just be ready to go for your dreams!

1. Are you using your head?

Before we get into anything practical, we have to deal with this question. We know how this goes. You are in a job you don’t enjoy, or worse. You can’t think about anything other than going home to your true passion of photography.

But here’s the problem. The answer to the “going full-time” question, we believe, is only 25% heart. It’s only 25% desire and passion. The other 75% is common sense and numbers!

Don’t get so caught up in your strong desire to QUIT that you forget about what actually makes sense for you!

Do you have weddings or sessions booked for next year? Are you on track to make enough money to provide for your family? Will your passion even pay the bills?

These are things you MUST think about! We know how much you want to quit. WE KNOW! Ok but we really, really do know. But we want to see you succeed too. And if you let your heart make this decision for you, you might be in for a rough road ahead. So use your head 75%, let your passion take you 25% and you are on the right path to making the right decision for you.

2. Are you debt free?

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, then you have been hiding under a rock for way too long! In the Nichols house, we are big fans of his guiding principles. They are God’s and grandma’s ways of handling money. Just like anyone who inspires us, we don’t always agree with everything he says. But his principles have kept us on track in our young business and we intend to keep it that way!

One of the core financial principles he teaches is simply this: stay out of DEBT!

If you take on one financial principle for your business, let it be that one. Stay away from debt! This even extends into your personal life! We honestly believe that if you are in debt other than a reasonable home mortgage, your business will not be what it could be. If you have to put your lenses on a credit card or you have a huge car payment, we don’t think this is the time for you to quit your job and run a business.

Stay at your job, pay off your debts, purchase the equipment you need with cash, then quit. You will save yourself a world of trouble!

3. Do you have an emergency fund?

Ok, you have paid off all of your debts. You have paid for all of your equipment. You are ready to roll out! Let’s get this show on the road!

Woah there. Let’s take one more step in the right direction.

When we quit our jobs, we both quit on the same day…at the same time…in the same room! Balance your feeling of freedom with the feeling of “we just went from 2 full-time jobs to 0 full-time jobs.” Yikes!

But do you want to know one thing that helped us sleep better at night? Before we left, we made sure we had 5 months of income tucked away in the bank. We are talking about 5 FULL months! If we didn’t make a dime for 5 months and no weddings came in whatsoever, we would be ok. You want to get a full 8 hours of sleep? Here’s one way. You want to make sure you don’t end up begging for your job back in 3 months? Build yourself an emergency fund. You will thank yourself!

4. Are you expecting hardships?

Let’s get real for a second, ok?

When you walk out the door of your day job for the last time, you will feel amazing. We will just tell you. You will feel like you have new life! And in some ways you do.

But the reality is this: Life is still life. It will still knock you down time after time. You still have to make the decision to get back up. And although you are pursuing your dreams and there are days where you are having so much fun you lose track of time, there will be plenty of days where you have to look in the mirror and resolve that you are going to keep going no matter what the challenges of today may be.

You don’t get a free pass on challenges just because you are doing something you love. Quite the opposite. You will be faced with tests at every turn. And if you’re not prepared for that, you may find yourself back on faster than you can say “crazy client.”

Love what you do. Do what you love. But don’t expect it to be a rose garden. Be ready to get knocked down. And even more importantly, be ready to get back up.

5. Have you prayed about it?

This may not apply to everyone. We understand that. But when it came time for us to make a decision 2 years ago, boy howdy it applied to us. And since you asked us, you get our answer!

If you believe the way we believe, you feel that every decision you make in life should be guided by the hand of God. If you walk with Him, He guides you. Every step of the way, He guides you.

Philippians 4:6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

We need to take every decision to the Lord. And this decision certainly falls under that category! Let Him guide you. Let Him give you peace that you are making the best decision for you and for your family. Call on Him and He will answer. He promises to answer! How great is that?! In the hustle and bustle of the numbers and the passion of wanting to do what you love, don’t miss this SUPER important step!

Ultimately the decision is up to you! But if you can answer these 5 questions honestly, you will be on the right track to find the best answer for you. We are cheering for you in Greenville. Know that. We WANT you quit! We know how amazing it can be! But we want you to make a wise decision too. And we know you will!

We are two opinions among MANY! But these books really helped us in our journey to running a full-time photography business. Check out our list of books that truly impacted our business here.

Your friends,
Ryan & Alyssa

If anyone has any other questions, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate to email us your questions at! We would be humbled to try and answer your question as best we can!


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