As we’re probably all aware now from all the crescendoing noise online, Black Friday is on the horizon. As business owners it’s very easy to feel that we should be doing something for it, and it can be hard to think of Black Friday ideas for photographers, so I wanted to hopefully help you with that!
First of all, I’d like to categorically state that there is no reason whatsoever why you have to do anything at all for Black Friday. You can happily ignore it completely. Personally as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy social media, I actually find the noise and clamour of Black Friday quite overwhelming and unpleasant, and I’ve still not decided whether or not I’ll do anything for it this year (I’ll probably let my energy levels decide over the next week!) I’ve run the odd Black Friday promotion here and there over the years, but generally speaking, as a business owner I’ve often bypassed it completely and my business is none the worse for it.
However, short-term promotions can be great for giving our businesses a little much-needed boost before Christmas or to buoy up our cashflow over the Winter months. Therefore you may well want to take advantage of Black Friday to get some new eyeballs on your business or money in your bank account, so I wanted to share a few ideas to help you come up with something that you feel will work for you.
Before I get stuck into specific ideas, I wanted to share this fantastic initiative by Holly Tucker, founder of Not On The High Street and Holly & Co, which might reframe Black Friday into a form that feels far more palatable to you! Colour Friday is an initiative to boycott the waste caused by Black Friday (with 80% of purchases ending up in landfill, mostly from large corporations) and to use the day instead to support small, independent businesses with more meaningful, sustainable, heirloom purchases that are better for heart, soul and planet. You can read more about this here and on the same page she has a free Colour Friday kit that you can download, which includes ready-made assets to use on social media including video content and artwork, plus ideas of how to get involved.
IDEAS FOR WHAT TO PROMOTE
Black Friday is largely known for providing big discounts. However, as photographers, we’re service-based businesses rather than product-based businesses, and it’s harder to run sales on services than products, when we factor in all the considerable time involved in delivering what we sell, all the many hours shooting and editing etc. It’s totally understandable that many photographers are loathe to discount their services too much, for risk of it not being worthwhile actually selling them.
Therefore, if you do want to go ahead with a Black Friday / Colour Friday offer, I wanted to include some ideas that aren’t just traditional discounts, that could still help your business without making you work for peanuts!
Yep, the first suggestion is a regular discount, because the fact is that consumers do like discounts, so we’d be daft to ignore this completely. However, why not use a discounted offer to fill specific dates that you know you’d have been unlikely to fill otherwise – perhaps some last minute dates before Christmas, or some specific dates in the new year when things are slow in January/February. You could either make it so that shoots have to happen before a particular date, or you could even offer discounts on a list of specific dates – naming specific dates can also really increase feelings of scarcity and help to focus people’s attentions on actually booking in a way that more generic timeframes don’t.
You don’t have to offer discounts – you can add value to your regular offerings by providing things that usually cost extra for free, or at heavily discounted prices. For example, you could add in extra prints or extra hours of coverage. You could also allow people to book in extra people for free – for example, making extended family sessions cost the same as a regular session if you usually charge for additional people. This could also give people ideas for a lovely Christmas present to grandparents or family members who can often be hard to buy for.
3) TWO FOR ONE
This obviously only applies to certain types of photography (probably not weddings!) However, for things such as family shoots or personal branding shoots this can be quite appealing. I’d only really advise this if your pricing structure is session fees beforehand and packages afterwards rather than one all-inclusive fee – otherwise you’ll end up doing an entire shoot for free which isn’t really ideal. However, if you have a session-fee model, then it’s totally feasible to run a two-for-one promotion on the session fees. People can either use them both so they have two shoots for themselves (perhaps 6 months or a year apart), or they could buddy up with friends or fellow business owners, taking a shoot each and each getting their session fees half price.
Whilst it can feel a bit painful to run discounts on your services due to the amount of work involved in delivering them, it can feel much easier to run discounts on your products, such as albums, wall art and prints. If you have an online gallery with inbuilt purchasing such as PicTime or Pixieset, it will be easy for you to run these promotions with a simple coupon. Just contact past clients (and past gallery visitors if you’re a wedding photographer, for example) and run a promotion on printed products for a limited time. Whilst it’s now probably not realistic to sell albums for Christmas presents due to printing timescales, do remember that Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are coming up in the new year, so this is a great time for people to get things like this in the pipeline if they want to use them for thoughtful gifts in the future.
5) NEW PRODUCTS
To either past clients who’ve already had shoots, or to new clients as part of the special offer, you could offer a printed product that you don’t normally offer, for a limited time. For example, you could offer framed prints, calendars, boxed prints, mounted prints, gift products – take a look at at professional suppliers such as Loxley, One Vision, Simlab, Whitewall etc to see what other products they offer that could lend themselves to a limited time offer.
6) LIMITED NUMBERS OF SPECIAL SHOOTS
Your special offer could just be offering only a limited number of a particular type of shoot – for example Christmas shoots, mini shoots, doorstep shoots, engagement shoots etc. The scarcity of these only being seasonal and there only being a certain number available is the attraction – that once they’re gone, they’re gone.
7) GIFT VOUCHERS
These are a great idea to offer just before Christmas as a thoughtful gift for loved ones (either for Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, birthdays etc). In my experience, vouchers are best when purchased as all-inclusive of a certain number of images, so that the recipient doesn’t actually have to spend any of their own money if they don’t want to. Yes, this means that the vouchers will be more expensive, but you can offer them at a reduced price to their normal cost – for example, they could get a shoot plus your ‘all the images’ package for the price of what people would normally pay for the package below it. Do make sure that you put a limit on when the shoot must take place. Depending on how much you’ve discounted it, you might want to insist on the shoot taking place during the slower season before Spring.
8) COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER BUSINESSES
Choose a business who serves your ideal clients but with a different product/service, who you really rate and whose brand is aligned with your own. Your special offer could be that for every shoot booked, the client also gets a free X (whichever product you’ve chosen) from this other business. You would of course foot the bill for this, but this would be an alternative to taking a hit on your own prices with a discount. The added advantage of this is that hopefully the other business will also promote your offer, as it’s in their best interests to do so – the more people buy your shoots, the more of their products they sell, plus it’s a lovely endorsement of their services that you value them enough to include them in your offer, so they’ll be flattered to share that you’re doing this irrespective of sales numbers. Even if people don’t actually want to book a shoot, you’re still getting your name and business in front of lots of new potential ideal clients and hopefully growing your audience in the process.
9) ROUND-UP BLOG POST
Even if you don’t want to sell anything yourself, do a round-up blog post promoting other businesses who have Black Friday offers on who your ideal client would love. As well as providing helpful and useful information to your ideal clients (brilliant for building know/like/trust factor), hopefully your ideal clients will also share this with their friends/family, thus growing your audience, and if you share the blog post with the businesses in question, hopefully they will also share this too, also helping to get your name out there in the process to their audiences.
10) AFFILIATE LINKS
Sometimes you can still make money from other people’s Black Friday sales. If you’re an affiliate of a service/product that you really rate, and they are running a Black Friday sale, by promoting what they’re offering, you’re potentially also earning yourself a bit of extra money in the process.
11) RUN A GIVEAWAY
You don’t necessarily need to sell paid products/services with Black Friday, you could use it to grow your audience and/or fill your diary with a giveaway. You can either give away a relatively low cost product (e.g. a lomo/kids camera, or one of your favourite photography books that you’ve bought yourself as the prize) and make it more of an audience growth strategy (building in sharing with others into the entry criteria), or you could give away a higher value product such as a shoot with you (either entirely for free or with a limited number of images for free with the option to purchase more) if you want to use it more to fill your diary. With this, you’re not really using Black Friday to make more money in the short term, but you’re using it to build your audience and/or fill your diary which will make you more money in the long term.
12) FREE RESOURCE
You could use Black Friday to grow your email list (a long-term income growth strategy) rather than focusing on short-term income. Is there some fantastic info you could give away that your ideal client would find really fascinating or useful (i.e. a new lead magnet)? Think of the things your ideal client is struggling with, either relating to the type of photography you offer (such as help taking better photos on their phone, wedding planning advice, how to create gallery wall displays of images etc), or just in their life in general (e.g. resources for creative activities for kids, your favourite shops/suppliers, great local locations, days out etc). Are you able to help with this at all? People can get this for free in exchange for joining your mailing list (reasons to have one here!) and then you don’t have to sell anything for Black Friday, just differentiate yourself from other photographers by offering something free and helpful, whilst building your audience in the process. Specifically ask and encourage people to share this resource for additional audience growth.
I hope this has helped you think of some ideas that could work for you this year – but as I mentioned at the start, don’t worry if you want to bypass Black Friday completely! Your energy and sanity are two of the most valuable assets in your business, and if this date is sending your head into a spin, the best thing you can do is filter out the Black Friday noise and focus on whatever is serving you and your business the best right now. Black Friday isn’t an essential thing to tackle and there will always be plenty of other opportunities to use seasonal dates to grow your business – you can see plenty of others here that you can use over the Winter months.
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