"Don't be discouraged, everything will be alright."
I hear this all the time, and let me tell you. It's a load of crap. Don't be discouraged? That's like hearing "don't be hungry, I'm sure it'll pass" when you tell someone you want to eat. Being discouraged is an emotional reaction to a circumstance or situation and requires a direct and immediate response. Much like eating in order to satisfy your hunger, you have to act in order to remedy your dissatisfaction and sense of discouragement.
Let me be more focused here, to all my photographer friends. Our industry is tough. In fact, its downright near impossible to break into on the level that you probably want to be on, and equally hard to maintain a steady flow of work once you get there. So its safe to say that a lot of us get discouraged from time to time. Photography isn't like any other art form, as far as making it a career goes. Our industry is so over saturated, it's almost sickening to think about the competition you face when you decide to jump in.
But here lies the issue. You can see all that competition, suffer through all the slow months and unanswered emails, and just bitch and moan about it. Or you can turn the other cheek and figure out why you're struggling. We're often far too quick to turn to Facebook or Twitter to whine about how we're not getting any work right now, or how a client lowballed us on a job.
You don't see the best of the best, all your heroes complaining on Facebook... Do you? So why would you think that it's a good idea for you to do that? It makes you look bad.
So here's my advice. Go ahead and be discouraged. Being discouraged is healthy! It's a wake up call. It lets you know that something needs to change. I mean, I'm discouraged like... Literally all the time. But after you're done wallowing in self pity and drinking/eating your feelings for a while, you have to be willing to make a change, or take action to fix your situation.
Here's some more practical advice.
Client lowballed you? Assess your negotiation skills. Make sure you understand your city or region's pricing on the jobs you're trying to get.
Slow month? Ask around. See if it's slow for you, or for everyone. If it's slow right now for everyone, chill out. Watch some Netflix, update your website, send some emails. Don't stress. But don't get soft. Follow up with everyone you can and try to get work despite the slow season. If it's only slow for YOU... You might need to consider why that is. You might need to follow up with some old clients, remind people that you exist. Maybe your work isn't making a lasting impression on people. And if that's the case, get back in the studio and refine your craft. Get. Better.
Above all else, set yourself apart. Never, EVER, do what everyone else is doing. The only way to make lasting impressions is to be unique, and to have your own style.
Whatever your situation is, rest assured that you're not alone. Everyone struggles from time to time. Everyone has bad months. Everyone gets discouraged.