Giving Thanks | Volunteering

Let me preface this post: This post has been a long time coming. I’ve just never felt like I’ve put what needs to be put into words in a way that won’t come off like I’m whining and in a way that makes sense. I’m not the best writer in the world so hopefully you’ll be able to stay with me. :) Got questions about this post? Just shoot me an email,

Okay, now we can move on. I’m going to give it to you straight and be completely honest. I AM A SHITTY BUSINESS OWNER! Yep, I said it. :( It really sucks and I lose plenty of sleep at night because of it. I have a HUGE heart and have a really, REALLY hard time saying no. I love to be able to give back and make people happy and help out when I can. When I became financially stable enough to where I could volunteer, I did and continue to volunteer as much as I can. I’ve been the FRG leader for units my husband has been in multiple times, I’ve done free portrait sessions, I used to volunteer with Oplove and provide free photography coverage for military homecomings, and the list really does go on and on and on.

If you ask someone to volunteer for you, don’t forget to thank them! It’s common courtesy that I feel like a lot of people have forgotten. Buy them a gift card to Starbucks or maybe to the local spa for a massage. Can’t afford to buy them something? That’s completely, 100% okay! Instead, say thank you with a hand written thank you card. Do something. Don’t take their/my kindness and having a big heart and not being able to say no for granted. People like myself volunteer because we love the warm fuzzies we get from helping and seeing what we do make other people happy. I hear it often, “If you don’t do this, I/We/They can find someone else to do it too.” Yes, you/they sure can. And I would expect that you would thank them in the same manor too.

Please understand, everyone’s time is valuable. Need me to put a number on it? My hourly rate for photography event coverage is $150.00 per hour and I’m on the cheaper end of the market. I remember one homecoming that I covered, I was there for easily 5 hours due to delays and what not. Do the math, because I volunteered my time, I saved that client $750.00. They literally gave me a $750.00 hug at the end of their homecoming and I had no problem receiving that as payment. OR I just shot an event for a business and was with them for a total of 9 hours over 4 days. Do the math on that one. Their bill would have been $1,350.00+. Sit on that for a minute and give it time to sink it a bit. …………….. Take a walk in my shoes for a minute. Ask yourself, how valuable is your time? How much are you worth? If you work for someone else, how much are you paid per hour or per year? That’s how much you are worth. Are you willing to donate part or all of that money and work for free?

Every time you ask someone to volunteer and work for free, be sure to put yourself in their shoes and realize how much money you are asking them to take out of their monthly budget, off of their kitchen table, out of their kids mouth, and make sure you let them know just how much you appreciate them doing that for you.

I haven’t had a paying session/job since August. My business is flat broke. I don’t have much more I can give, and I can’t continue to work for “exposure.” And it’s sad and heartbreaking and I feel like a complete failure. I pour my heart into my photography and my virtual assistant businesses. I LOVE what I do. I’m not writing this post to get any kind of sympathy or a pat on the back. I just want to give everyone a friendly reminder that just because I work for myself and others like me work for themselves, that we are a business. Just because my company is not a chain and I don’t have a storefront that you can visit whenever you want too, doesn’t mean I’m any less of a business. I still have to pay taxes and am the same in the IRS’s eyes. This is how I make a living. I’m not just some girl with a camera who likes to take pictures in my free time.

I guess my whole point of this posts is treat me and anyone else that you ask to donate or volunteer their time and work for free, like you would any other business that has a brick and mortar store. Do what you say you are going to do and make sure you show your thanks. :) Volunteers like me depend on the warm fuzzies that we receive as payment to allow us to keep on volunteering and not get burnt out.

a hand written thank you note

  • November 19, 2014 - 1:05 pm

    Kerry - AMEN!!! I’m so sorry to hear about your business being broke. Hang in there. I hope it will turn around for you soon!!ReplyCancel

    • November 19, 2014 - 2:02 pm

      iamkimkravitz - Thank you for reading Kerry! And no need to be sorry. It’s one of the many hazards that come with constantly moving because of the military lol. ;)ReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    Amanda Bailey - WOW KIM! I cannot stress enough how freaking important this is. When us photographers volunteer our time, it’s not just our time we’re giving away. We’re giving the possibility of earning money as well.

    No one likes working for fee, but people love giving back. So to them it’s not working for free when they know they’re doing something good for someone else or their community.

    i think when people don’t see an invoice attached to something they forget about the value.

    I’ve seen you first hand pour your heart, soul and even money into volunteering for other people / organizations.

    Ive also seen you get burned a few times. Each time, you brush off the ashes and keep moving forward. You love what you do and why you do it, that’s what makes you amazing.

    So from my heart to yours. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO! I appreciate you.ReplyCancel

    • November 19, 2014 - 2:54 pm

      iamkimkravitz - You are amazing! <3 <3 <3 Thank you for the sweet comment girlie!!ReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2014 - 5:52 pm

    Brunilda Monnig - What a beautiful thank you letter. Hang in there, it will happen.ReplyCancel

  • November 21, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Robin - Great post and how amazing you are to give your time for so many people. What a sweet thank you!ReplyCancel

  • November 24, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Angela - Kim, I can relate to what you wrote for the first few years of business. I did lots of freebies, work for exposure, donations, etc.. But when my husband started coming to me about the mortgage being due and our needing to make that payment on time, that really put a fire under my bum. It put me in a different mindset. I love getting paid, and I only do freebies now for family and once a year for charity I’ll offer a shoot and files for a very much in need family. It feels great to see the paychecks come in and be able to afford extras. It starts with your mindset, and everything else will follow. Feel free to PM me if you would like to chat!ReplyCancel

    • November 24, 2014 - 12:28 pm

      iamkimkravitz - Angela, I’m so glad you chimed in! After I published this post, I really started to think about what my “issue” was. And I am starting to understand your point to a “T.” It definitely starts with me and how I look at the value of my work, so you’re spot on!ReplyCancel

  • November 27, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    Jasemine-Denise - I know that THIS blog took so much to write. I’ve been following your Twitter, Instagram and blog for a while now and you can genuinely feel the giving personality that you have! Your talented should never go unrewarded.

    I also HATE the word “exposure.” The moment you mentioned that you’re not just some girl who just takes pictures with a camera, I literally screamed “Yes, woman preach!” at the top of my lungs. It scares me how much people don’t understand the real work it takes to be a photographer.

    It’ll get better. I know that’s not saying much but it will. Especially for you! You’re amazing!ReplyCancel

    • November 28, 2014 - 5:43 pm

      iamkimkravitz - Girl! Thank you so much for reading my blog and following on social media! It definitely helps take the sting away to know I’m not alone and that there are others who feel this way too. :)ReplyCancel

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