Can we all agree that things have been hard? This virus has really knocked the wind out of a lot of us and has left us all on the ground, feeling like we forgot how to to use our arms and legs to help us get back up. And you know what, it’s okay to feel that way. It’s okay to stay on the ground until you figure out how to get back up again and it is certainly 100% okay to focus on your family more than your business.
There is no guidebook for moments like this– this pandemic isn’t something anyone was expecting or preparing for and so, here we are… what do you do now? First, you need to do what’s best for your mental health and for your family. Personally, I struggle with motivation. My husband goes to work all day which means I have my kids home. I am trying to homeschool and give them an education while trying to keep my preset business alive. Combine that with the anxiety I have about this virus and about the state of the world and my motivation is the first thing to go.
But, like you, I know that motivation isn’t everything. Bills still have to be paid, studio rentals still need to be paid each month (me, too!), and other business expenses still exist. So, here’s what you can do to help your business survive in this unexpected time.
1 – Don’t Cancel, Reschedule
If you cannot reschedule a session for in a few months, or even set a tentative reschedule date, leave the date open and be sure to check back in with your client often. You do not want to CANCEL! Cancel and they may never come back!
For Family sessions, offer a date later this year.
For Newborn sessions that can’t happen because no one is allowed in the hospital, offer to shoot the session as a 6-month milestone or a family session instead.
For Weddings, It’s best to be open and honest with your clients. Do they need to funds because of other vendors who aren’t refunding deposits or won’t reschedule for a new date? Be as flexible as you need to be to accommodate so that the client still wants you when they reschedule their wedding.
For Boudoir sessions, reschedule and give them the first picks of new dates that come up once this whole thing is over.
2 – Do your upcoming reveals through Skype/Zoom.
Take advantage of the amazing perks of technology and jump on Skype or Zoom for a reveal session. Share your screen and watch their reactions. Ask if you can record the screen and share their reactions to your Instagram story or Facebook page. If people weren’t using Skype or Zoom before, they definitely are now. Take advantage of this technology that can be free to use.
3 – Find print labs that are still working and that are offering discounts.
There are actually a lot of businesses that are still working because of their size and ability to maintain the physical distancing requirements. Find the ones that are still up and running and encourage clients to have prints made. Getting something special in the mail feels extra good at this time!
No matter if you’re shooting couples or boudoir, family sessions or newborns, try to find ways to give your clients some value right now and let them know you understand. We can all agree that not all of your clients will want to spend money right now, so trying to sell them something after they’ve cancelled their session probably isn’t the way to go. But! You can make sure they know you will be there when this is all over. And remember, this WILL BE OVER! There will be more weddings, more babies, more everything as the world continues on– let that be your silver lining and motivation.
A final quick list of ultra survivor tips to keep your business growing and on the radar at this time are as follows:
Here are your ultra survival tips:
1 – Stay engaged on social media
Your clients are there, potential clients are there, and it’s a free platform to use to keep you and your business on the radar of people. Stay on their feeds and they will think of you first when all of this is over.
2 – Build your email list
No better time than now to do this task that we often don’t have time for!
3 – Make sure your website is up to date!
Change over images, build up a better portfolio, update your FAQ– spend some time making your website as full of information as needed for your business.
4 – Take some self-portraits
Time to get creative!
5 – Start your blog
If you don’t have a blog, you need one! Now is the perfect time to blog old client sessions, blog about what you’re currently interested in to inspire your community and blog helpful information for others.
6 – Document life
We often feel too busy to document our own lives and the moments that matter most. Take this time now to do this and you’ll be so grateful you did.
7 – Revive your brand
Do you have a logo, wordmark or colour palette you always use for your brand? Work on these fun pieces of your business.
Now is the time to show up.
It’s time to show up for yourself, your family and for others who look to your work as a release from the stress of what is happening in the world. It’s showing up that will give you a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning and will help you get through this time mentally and emotionally as well. The beautiful part of being a photographer is the community that tends to flow through both our peers and our clients. Tap into this community, be there for each other and support each other.
No matter what you do; diving into your online communities or taking this time as a break to spend with your family, do so wholeheartedly and while giving yourself massive amounts of grace. Like I said before, there is no guidebook for this. We are all trying the best we can with what we have and we each need to realize that is truly the best we can do.
My final note of encouragement– the comeback is always stronger than the setback. You will come out of this stronger, more focused and more purposeful than before. I believe in you.