Business lessons from Glastonbury

Last weekend I tried and failed for the fourth time in a row to get Glastonbury tickets. The first few times I went to Glastonbury, we successfully got tickets every single time, no problems at all – but in recent years, since 2017, we’ve had absolutely no joy each time we’ve tried.

For those of you who aren’t aware of how Glastonbury ticket sales work – they go on sale at 9am on a specified day, and you have usually around 30 minutes (generally how long it takes for them all to sell out) to try to get through to an elusive ticket page (by repeatedly pressing ‘refresh’) where once you access it, you can buy up to 6 tickets. Therefore, it’s common practice for people to try to gang together into groups of 6, so that whoever gets through agrees to buy tickets for all 6 people, thus multiplying by 6 each person’s chances of getting a ticket.

business lessons from glastonbury


After this year’s failed attempt to get tickets again, my friend Lizz sent me what she’d seen shared by some guy in a Glastonbury Facebook group. He said: “You need numbers – many numbers of people who aren’t going or in any groups to try for your group. We have 6 in our group and each of us has multiple family members and friends trying for us – around 40 people in total who aren’t going as well as the 6 who are. We’ve been successful 15 out of 15 years doing it this way.”

Needless to say, this kind of military-level, super-successful commitment to securing Glastonbury tickets was pretty mind-blowing to me (and I thought might be interesting and useful in itself to any other Glastonbury-ticket-seekers out there!) but on top of this, it coincided with a number of photographer friends talking about how slow bookings are for them right now and it reminded me of the power of numbers in sourcing things that are in short supply.

After thinking of this, a few other little parallel concepts began to form in my mind, and it struck me that there are a few business lessons to be learned from the crazy debacle that is the Glastonbury ticket sale.

I thought I’d share these with you, in the hope that they help – here they are!

business lessons from glastonbury


As the guy himself said in his post, “You need numbers.” Years ago when we used to easily get Glastonbury tickets, there wasn’t as much demand for them, so the odds of us getting them were far more favourable. Yes, demand still outstripped supply, but the ‘demand’ numbers  were still small enough that your odds of getting them were still pretty good, especially using the ‘group of 6’ strategy. In recent years there’s been a huge surge in the number of people wanting them, so the odds of getting them have greatly reduced, to the point that even grouping together with 5 others often isn’t enough. Therefore, as this guy has done with great success, to offset this, you can increase the numbers of people on your ‘side’ trying for each ticket to bring the odds back to a more achievable level.

When it comes to your photography, of all the people who know about your business, only a small percentage will be potentially ready to enquire right now, and of those who are ready to enquire, only a small percentage will actually book you. So if the numbers aren’t there in your audience, irrespective of how amazing you and your photography are, it’s just not possible for it to translate into lots of bookings. Add to this the fact that we’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis and a whole heap of distressing global events, meaning that people are increasingly overwhelmed and finding it harder to justify spending money on luxuries such as photography. This means that right now, an even smaller percentage of people in your audience are ready to enquire and an even smaller percentage of those will actually book. The same thing has happened as with the Glastonbury tickets – in recent times the odds have unfortunately just become a lot tougher.

So what can we do as photographers?
Grow your audience. It’s a case of maths. To offset the unfavourable change in odds we need to change the numbers. This means committing to growing your audience. Just posting on social media to the same bunch of people over and over again isn’t going to cut it. You need to get lots of new, fresh eyeballs on your business to start to increase those numbers and in turn increase the odds of bookings coming through. I have a great resource here with heaps of suggestions of different ways you can grow your audience.

business lessons from glastonbury



Part of what makes Glastonbury tickets so popular is the scarcity of them – and the more scarce they become, the more people want them – the tickets feel more precious now to people than they did before. Because they know that they can’t just go any time they want to, it focuses their attention on making sure they can get them when there’s the opportunity to do so.

To add to this sense of scarcity, there is a huge build up prior to the tickets going on sale. Glastonbury lets you know a long time beforehand when the date will be so you can get prepared, formulate your little gang, work out finances and get excited about the prospect of going. They share footage from past festivals, start teasing the setups, and nearer to the date they give regular reminders and countdowns.

So what can we do as photographers?
Make use of scarcity. Don’t allow people to book anything at any time. Limit your bookings to specific time-periods and only open up particular dates at particular times. Implement wait lists for people potentially wanting to book outside these times. Create marketing campaigns to generate buzz around upcoming shoots / seasons / offers – give people time to get excited about them, to save for them, maybe to ask friends and family to chip in etc – so that when they finally go on sale they’re already excited, on board and ready and able to buy. If you run any special offers, create specific scarcity around them – only a certain number available, or only for a limited time. Remind people of these parameters and deadlines – keep your audience posted so they know when they’re about to run out.


business lessons from glastonbury



When Glastonbury tickets go on sale, no one even knows who will be headlining or playing. People are basically buying the tickets blind, with the faith that the experience will be completely worth it. They sell the experience, not the features. They don’t want people to be distracted by whether or not they know or like these specific bands, or whether the line-up is better or worse than the year before. They don’t want people to think, oh I can see xyz bands in xyz cities on another date. They don’t want you to be thinking of facts and dates and names, things you can compare to other places you might find them.

Instead, they want you to focus on the incomparable. Anyone who’s been to Glastonbury knows that most of the magic that happens doesn’t often have anything to do with specific bands or artists – it’s the experience and all the other cool stuff that’s going on that is most memorable and unique. Glastonbury sells the tickets based on feelings, not facts. Strong feelings make buying things a no-brainer. People buy it because they know the experience will be worth it. The cost of living crisis hasn’t remotely affected Glastonbury tickets sales, because they’ve become very good at selling the VALUE of going there, the experience, the feelings, the allure of being one of the few to get tickets, the memories, the unrepeatable experiences, the special times with friends or family, the freedom, the adventure, the feeling of being part of something bigger than you, attending something legendary, having stories to tell for years to come. Those things are what sell the tickets, not the who/what/where.

So what can we do as photographers?
Don’t lead with facts and features, lead with value, benefits and the experience of working with you. How will working with you impact the client’s life, before, during and afterwards? How will it benefit them, what magic can you bring to their experience that will make you stand out from others? If you just sell numbers of images, numbers of hours, a particular size of album, you will be easily comparable to other photographers and will most likely be judged on who is the cheapest, or ruled out as an unimportant or non-essential service. Instead, give them something else to care about, give them other reasons to work with you that are based on feelings, on the valuable experience they will get and the lasting benefits it will bring their life.

business lessons from glastonbury



The guy who made sure he and his gang had a 40-strong army of people fighting for them on ticket sales day understood the power of community. He got other people to help him too, he didn’t just rely on himself to do all the donkey work. He understood that his chances of success were higher if other people were trying to get him there too.

He and his gang may or may not have felt cheeky asking their friends/family to give up 30 minutes of their time to help them out, but either way, there were plenty of people happy and prepared to do it. Indeed, when I mentioned this guy’s strategy to my family over dinner, both my dad and brother voluntarily offered to do this for me if I wanted to try again for tickets in future, bless them.

So what can we do as photographers?
Remember that it’s not only you who can sell your services. Other people can, and will, be happy and prepared to plug what you do – you don’t have to rely just on yourself. Focus on growing and strengthening your network. Build a team of cheerleaders and nurture relationships with past clients. Sometimes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Ask happy past clients to refer you – incentivise this if you can. Ask friends and family to share your work. Build connections and networks with other photographers with whom you can have referral agreements to pass on enquiries to each other when you can’t do it yourself. Collaborate (more advice on this here!) Build connections with other suppliers who also serve your ideal client with different services – share their work and support them, and they are likely to do the same for you in return.

business lessons from glastonbury



It was really disappointing not getting tickets, especially when it’s not the first time it’s happened. Hearing that others managed to get them makes you feel so envious, knowing what a great time they’ll have. However, just because we didn’t get tickets this time doesn’t mean that the exact same strategy won’t work next time. Yes, the numbers are important, but also there is a hefty dollop of luck – I know a few other people who’ve only tried in a group of only one or two and managed to get tickets. Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time. Equally, we’ve now heard of this guy’s fancy ‘numbers’ plan, which is something we’ve never tried before, so next time I might take it a bit more seriously gathering up a larger ‘team’ and try a different strategy.

Also – it really isn’t the be all and end all. There are other festivals, and we can have just as great a time trying them out. Now that I know we’re not going to Glastonbury, it’s been fun looking into alternatives and planning something a bit different. Plans don’t always work out the way you wanted them to, but that doesn’t meant that something else won’t work just as well for you, if not even better.

So what can we do as photographers?
Know that not everything you do will work. Sometimes you’ll promote something and no-one will buy it. Try not to get too disheartened. Sometimes it’s because there is a better strategy out there and if you take time to evaluate your efforts and learn some new marketing strategies then you will get much better results in the future. But sometimes it’s just bad timing or back luck – you didn’t do anything wrong and you could have done exactly the same thing on a different day or week and had much better results. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try something else, or try the same thing again on a different occasion. Don’t rule things out or give up just because something didn’t work this time; try to mix things up, try new things and experiment – approach your business with a spirit of resilience, experimentation, flexibility and curiosity. I have heaps of marketing advice here, as well as 25 ways to book more clients here – have a delve through these and pick out a few strategies you could experiment with in the coming weeks or months.

I hope this has helped – were you one of the lucky few to get tickets this year, or did you have a failed attempt like me? Or are festivals really not your thing?

Either way I hope this whole debacle has provided some helpful tips for you and your business – did any of these resonate with you particularly?

Anna :)——-






Not getting enough enquiries and bookings for your photography business? Don’t worry – in this pdf I give you 25 ways to get your photography business growing and thriving. Many of these most photographers never try!



By completing this form you're consenting to be added to the Anna Hardy Photography mailing list, from which you'll receive information and updates, including this free pdf. I handle your data with the utmost care, and you can opt out at any time.

25 ways to








Everything you need to ditch the overwhelm and get your photography business growing and thriving!
Come and join The Shutterhood for heaps more support with special offers as well as mountains of business, mindset and creativity training, plus a supportive community, image critiques, planning sessions and weekly coaching calls… Let’s make this your best year yet!






If you liked this article I have heaps of others for you!

Just click on whichever sounds most like you and I’ll take you to a page full of resources to help you ?


My biggest problem is MINDSET – I lack confidence

My biggest problem is BRANDING – I don’t know what makes me different to other photographers

My biggest problem is PRODUCTIVITY – I just can’t seem to get things done

My biggest problem is MARKETING – I don’t know how to best promote myself


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Manchester family photographer, for down-to-earth, adventurous, big-hearted families all across the North West, London and UK

Creative, documentary family photography in Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, London

what next?