As self-employed photographers, whether we’re wedding photographers or family photographers, business is never evenly spread for us throughout the year. We all have quiet spells in our photography businesses. There are peaks and troughs – we have crazy busy times when it’s all we can do to keep on top of the shoot-edit-shoot-edit hamster wheel, and we can have quieter times when it can sometimes be unsettling knowing where our next set of wages are going to come from. This blog post is to support my fellow photographers through these kinds of times.
Try not to stress when things are quieter – all businesses have ‘dry patches’ – try to see these times as periods of calm where you have a rare opportunity to both build and repair your business so that moving forward it’s all the stronger for it. Here are 15 practical suggestions of ways you can continue to earn some money and/or grow and improve your business during quiet spells – hope they help!
1) PRINT SALES
Try to leverage the pictures you’ve already taken. If you’re a wedding photographer, you could run a sale on prints purchased via your wedding galleries. If you have any galleries that are over a year old (assuming that’s how long you tell clients you’ll keep the gallery for), you could do a ‘closing down’ sale. Email the couple to let them know that the gallery is closing and that it’s their and their guests’ last chance to buy prints, and that a special discounted rate is available. If you’re a family or portrait photographer, you can similarly run a promotion on discounted (framed or unframed) prints for past clients – they might not have got round to printing them out like they intended to and might welcome the opportunity to have you take the task off their hands. Online proofing gallery platforms like Pixieset, Pic-Time and Shootproof all have easy tools to help you create galleries and run sales like this, including offering coupons for discounts.
2) TRY OUT NEW CAMERA TECHNIQUES
Use the opportunity to develop your photography skillset by experimenting with new techniques that you might not have had time to try out otherwise, and that you might not yet have the confidence to use in shoots with clients. They could really help to differentiate you as a photographer and make your work stand out in the future. It could just be getting to grips with a new lens that you’ve recently added to your arsenal, or even trying out a different make of camera altogether. It could be experimenting with analogue/film photography, or freelensing, or creating digital multiple exposures, anything!
3) SUPERCHARGE YOUR BRAND
Many photographers struggle with explaining what makes them stand out in a crowded marketplace. You need to be able to feel pride in what makes your business and photography unique, and be able to convey your individual brand personality and worth to your clients. Everything grows from your brand identity – this should be at the core of everything you do, so take time to really work on this if you haven’t already. I’ve got some free resources to help you do this – a blog post about uncovering and growing your own unique brand, as well as a post about how to find your own USPs (Unique Selling Points). If you’d like to be led through a step-by-step process to evaluate and identify strengths and weaknesses in your existing brand, as well as a step-by-step process to create and develop a strong, unique brand identity and personality of your own, branding trainings in The Shutterhood will help you do exactly this.
4) REDESIGN AND/OR STOCK UP ON CLIENT PACKAGING
Have a look at how you package up your client products (if you supply tangible products). Imagine being your client receiving it through the post – would it delight you to receive it? Consider whether it ties in with your brand – not just your brand colours and/or patterns, but also your brand personality. You might want to consider including small gifts for your clients to say thank you, and/or some kind of leaflet letting them know about your referral / loyalty bonuses if you have them. Here are a few cool ideas other photographers have used to create some eye-catching package for their clients.
5) CHECK OUT SOME PODCASTS
There are some amazing photography podcasts out there chock full of really useful help, advice and resources for your photography business from loads of different amazing photographers with different approaches and specialities. My personal favourites are Shoot Edit Chat Repeat, PhotobizXposed, Fujicast, Ninjacast and The Photowalk. I’ve chatted with all of these podcasts about various aspects of my own photography business, experience and top tips – you can catch all of these episodes here if you want to!
6) INVEST IN SOME TRAINING AND/OR DEVELOPMENT
Use this time to grow as a businessperson and/or photographer. Consider what elements of your business you feel you most need help with, or that you most want to grow, and have a look to see if there are some courses or resources available to support you with that. I’ve got a range of resources to support photographers, including lots of free resources. My free Facebook group for photographers also has heaps of advice on business strategy, marketing, productivity, photography + creativity and mindset, including video tutorials on a wide range of subjects if you don’t have the budget to invest in any paid training at the moment. Feel free to join and dip into the resource bank there – we’re a friendly bunch and would love to have you! I also send out weekly business and photography advice (the ‘Tuesday Tips’!) via my mailing list.
If you’d like deeper support with your business, there are 2 ways I can help you:
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7) MAP OUT YOUR CLIENT JOURNEY
Get a big sheet of paper and map out your client journey from first discovering you to final delivery of the images/products. Break it down into separate stages for each point of contact. For each stage, ask yourself how is your client feeling, what are their concerns or worries, what do they need from you? Then ask yourself how can you make sure you give them what they need so that they can happily and confidently move on to the next stage of the process? Here’s a handy article with loads of info about how to create customer journey maps. Consider creating canned responses you can tweak for emails you find yourself sending often, and create templates and pdfs for information you want to make sure you send to all clients (such as welcome guides or questionnaires). You can check out lots of different examples of completed customer journey maps here.
8) GET YOUR BLOG ON!
Blogging is something we photographers can be notoriously bad at keeping up with, myself included! There always seems to be something more pressing we should be doing. But fresh blog content is good for SEO, shows your clients that you’re current and consistently producing new and good work, and can help to convey your brand personality and allow your clients to connect with you on a more personal level. Set aside a day or two purely for blogging. It’s MUCH quicker to batch write a load of them in one go than it is to do one every so often. Try to mix up sharing past shoots with more informative articles that will be useful to your clients. Try to get a big bank of them drafted and ready to publish, then schedule them all in so that in the coming months you can cross blogging off your to-do list and they’ll just auto-post themselves for you – you’ll feel such a weight off and so virtuous once you’ve done it! Remember to optimise them all for SEO.
9) HAVE SOME ONE-TO-ONE MENTORING
Use the quiet time to take stock of your business and work out a personalised plan to move forward. One-to-one mentoring can really help you to do that, especially if you feel overwhelmed or like you’ve been going round in circles and are unsure of what to focus on next. There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy that applies to every photography business, and sometimes it can be really helpful to have an objective third party who understands your industry look at your business with you. They can help you to identify where you might best focus your attention, and provide tailored support specifically for you, your business and your own personal aspirations for the future. There’s also some Helping other photographers get ‘unstuck’ is something I absolutely love to do and designed The Accelerator specifically to do this.
10) START A PERSONAL PROJECT
When we’re bogged under with client work, it can be really hard to find the time or energy to undertake any personal work. But personal projects can be SO valuable for both your business and your photography. They can help you to improve your skills, develop your creativity, find your personal style, diversify your portfolio, grow your confidence and fulfilment as an artist, refuel your passion, discover new friends and provide a therapeutic outlet during difficult times. I’ve written a detailed free resource here on how to develop your creativity with personal projects – hope it helps!
11) IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE
For most of us photographers, our website is our ‘shop front’ and the first port of call for many potential clients. Take this time to have a really good look through your website and see if it can be improved or updated. I’ve created a free resource video on creating an effective website in my Facebook group for photographers, and I can heartily recommend The Design Space for any website templates, advice, courses etc. There are detailed resources to help you create your website in The Shutterhood, including a training by the fantastic Melissa Love (head honcho at The Design Space).
12) SELL SOME ALBUMS
If you offer albums as either a wedding or family photographer, you could try contacting past clients to see if they’d like to buy an album of their images. They might not have wanted one at the time of the shoot, but lots of people intend to make one of their own and then never get round to it! They may well be glad of the opportunity for you to take it off their hands. Albums also make good birthday / Mother’s Day / Father’s Day / anniversary / Christmas presents. Put together a little pdf outlining what you offer, make sure you say why they are valuable and beneficial to clients (remember include benefits not just features!), lay out clear pricing and make sure you include sample photographs of client albums so they can see what they’ll receive. If you haven’t yet got images of your own client albums, contact your album supplier (personally I use and highly recommend Folio) and ask if they have any images of sample albums they can share with you, they’ll most likely be able to give you a few you can use. You can always run a special offer on albums too if you want to add an extra incentive for clients to buy one now.
13) GET STUCK INTO SOME MARKETING
Business might be quiet now, but some well-chosen marketing activities will ensure that things pick up again as soon as possible. I’ve got lots of useful articles to help you with marketing as well as free pdf guides on Growing Your Audience and Getting More Enquiries and Bookings. If you want step-by-step guidance on creating your own personalised marketing strategy and implementing some crucial marketing systems, The Shutterhood has heaps of resources to help you do this.
14) HONE YOUR EDITING SKILLS
Messing around with presets is a well-known ‘black hole’ for the procrastinating photographer! We’ve all done it – thinking, “I’ll just have a little tweak and play around in Lightroom/Photoshop” and then 3 days later we’ve done zero productive work and still don’t know which preset to use. Don’t do it if you have a full workload! If you have a quiet time in your business this is the ideal time to experiment with editing. I have a free video in my Facebook group full of advice about editing if you want to check it out. Try to stick with ONE preset for black and white, and ONE preset for colour. Don’t be too heavy-handed. Start with thinking about your brand and choose editing that fits in with this too. Here are some popular Lightroom presets curated by Flothemes you might want to check out. Personally I love the Alien Skin Exposure and VSCO ones. Try not to get caught up in what others are using and sampling every single supplier out there – there are so many you’ll go round in circles. Start with thinking about the look you’re trying to achieve and then find something simple that will help you to achieve that. Eddie Judd also has a lot of fantastic editing-related resources, and she’s also done a couple of fantastic training videos within The Shutterhood.
15) DEVELOP A NEW PRODUCT OR SERVICE
You might have been considering adding a new product or service to your business. They might be additional things relating to your existing type of photography (e.g. albums, wall art, mini-shoots, engagement shoots, film photography). If so, you can research possible suppliers, and start to consider how you might price and package your new offering(s). You might want to start offering a completely new type of photography too – for example family photography, personal branding photography or commercial photography. A quiet spell is the perfect time to start mapping out how you might build a new arm to your business, and multiple income streams are always useful as a safety net financially so you’re not always relying just on the one type of photography income. Try to consider how you can leverage your existing client pool and let them know about new products/services you’ve got planned. I’ve got a free video in my Facebook group for photographers containing advice about managing multiple photography streams, and there’s a training on Mini Shoots in The Shutterhood.
So there you have it! Photography business quiet spells can be unnerving for all of us, but hopefully there’s lots here for you to get your teeth stuck into to maximise your time during these ‘dips’, so that your business can thrive all the more in the future!
Good luck with it all and if you have any questions about any of the above, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help!
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