5 Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Photography Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic
We are living in a most unusual time. At the turn of the New Year, most of us had not even heard of the Coronavirus. Now, at the end of the first quarter, nearly all people around the world are personally feeling it’s effects in one form or another. It is my sincere hope that both you and I are spared from the worst of this pandemic, but it is clearly something we cannot ignore. As the majority of photographers are scaling back or completely refraining from shooting sessions, we are left with an ample amount of one precious commodity on our hands: TIME.
For the most part, how we choose to use that time is a personal choice. Personally, I’ve had to take a few days to cover the basic necessities of survival: food, cleaning, health, mental well-being, putting together a home school setup, and trying to wrap my head around this ‘new normal’ of staying in my home 99.9% of the time with my husband and two children. I’ve also found myself spending an unusual amount of time watching and reading the news and mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I’m not beating myself up over this, but I’m ready to move on and I’m going to bet that you are too. Let’s look at some things you can do right now to strengthen your photography business.
I truly think one of the best ways you can strengthen your photography business at this time is to update your website. Content is everything and as more wedding photographers are dealing with canceled events and the population at large is getting laid off in larger numbers than we have seen in a long time…the reality is that the portrait photography space is only going to get more crowded. Stay ahead of the game by having better, more impactful photos and eliminating your weaker images completely. Here are a few more tips to build a website that books:
One thing that surprised me as we first entered what my 6-year-old refers to as, ‘the lockdown,’ was that I was getting higher than average traffic to my website. My first thought was, why are people interested in booking photo sessions now? Then, I realized that while they aren’t booking…they are researching photographers so that when the shelter-in-place is over, they will know who they want to book.
How did I know that my traffic was increasing?
What do I use to create the lead capture forms and follow up emails?
I highly recommend Flodesk because it is easy to use and it looks so much better than competitors like Mailchimp or Active Campaign. You can use this link get 50% off. This is one of the simplest things you can do right now to make the most of the increased time people are spending on the internet.
Last week, I looked at the things that were making me feel sad and there were two that stuck out. I was bothered to see many of the local businesses I frequent having to close their doors (hopefully only temporarily, but only time will tell) as well as seeing people who were still going to work potentially putting their own health at risk. I looked at my own talents and thought, “This bothers me, what can I personally do to help?”
I realized that while I’ve been working on my photography skills for the past decade, I’ve also been working on my business skills. While I’m not able to go out and photograph my clients, I am able to share my business knowledge with photographers and other business owners. I quickly created an offer for a FREE 30 minute phone consultation to Build a Website the Books and asked my friends (some of whom are at ‘influencer’ status) to share my offer. The results? Within a day, more than 20 people took me up on my offer. It felt great to take my own mind off of negativity and things outside of my control and to spend 30 minutes helping someone else. I also realized that I have a wealth of information to share and I will be working on creating more resources in the coming weeks and months. I started at ZERO, but already have a head start on building a Business Resource Interest List. If you want to join, you can do so HERE.
I also realized that while I can’t shoot other families at the moment, I still have a ton of content that I’ve never posted on Instagram. Better IG content is a great way to strengthen your photography business. In particular, as I was reading the news and I would hear of essential workers contracting the virus, I couldn’t help but think of people I knew personally who were out on the front lines, possibly putting their own health at risk for the sake of others. While we can tend to feel a little disconnected when we see people on the news behind masks and scrubs, I wanted to share some personal stories of essential workers I have photographed over the last several years and show them as moms and dads who love their families just as much as you and I. I worry that they may become targets for discrimination and marginalization like many Chinese people, and people of Chinese origin have reported since the virus first came on the world scene. If my sharing mini bios to help people see ‘behind the mask’ helps prevent that, I’m happy to have made a small contribution. I also used the posts as an opportunity to host an Instagram giveaway for a future session for those who tagged an essential worker once we are able to photograph clients again. While the content is appropriate for this time, I will be following up from a business perspective in the future. The key here is to lead with giving and be sensitive to the change in the economic climate. If you’d like to see some example posts, you can follow me on Instagram @sky9studio.
I’ll be honest, this last tip is more of a ‘note to self,’ than anything else. My business is a living, breathing thing and I am constantly looking for ways to strengthen my photography business. While I do have some workflows written out, I don’t have all of them completed. They reside in my head, which is a bad idea for several reasons. Since I know how time saving they can be, one of my personal goals is to update all of my workflows and incorporate them into my CRM (customer relationship management tool). I highly recommend that you take the time to do this as well. Once business picks back up, we could really be slammed so the efforts we put into our back-end business tasks now could save us a lot of grief down the road. There is also a reality that you may be forced to take a ‘day job,’ and keep your photography business as a side hustle. If that is the case, automation will only make it more realistic to be able to juggle it all.
Are you spending more time browsing the internet these days? I know I am! Check out this post about Family photos in Asheville, NC by Valerie Eidson. I love the neutral tones this family chose to wear for their session.