In my COVID-19 Survival Guide: Part 1 I walked you through the different government assistance programs that are available to you to under the CARES Act and FMLA help you get through this difficult time.
When the dust settles on this, and photographers can open for business again, we are going to have to hustle more than we have hustled before. July (hopefully)-November are going to be intense because we are going to have to a) make up for lost earnings, b) work our tails off to bring demand back up again as people may be feeling a new financial pinch and not be as willing to invest.
So let’s look at what can you be doing NOW to best prepare your business for when America is open for business again.
1. Create A Formal & Robust Marketing Plan: Create a marketing plan that allows you to hit the ground running starting from the day you can open your doors again. Have actionable objectives, hone in on your marketing message, set your budget, create any necessary materials, form partnerships with local businesses – whatever it takes. Just be ready July 1 (or whenever we can open again – hopefully sooner!) to market and push across all your channels (social media, locally, newsletter, etc) to make up for lost business. Be specific! Make your ideas and your action plan concrete. Print this plan out, hang it up and be ready to go full speed ahead when it is safe for photographers to work with clients again.
2. Fall Pre-Sales: If you are looking for an influx of cash, and want the security of knowing you have sessions on the books for the fall, you may find it helpful to offer a fall pre-sale. You can offer discounted session credits, or gift certificates. Just keep in mind that this approach likely will not net you additional income, as it is only going to shift what you would have made in the fall up to the spring. However, it can still be helpful to get that influx of cash!
3. Work Your Newsletter: Stay on your clients’ minds by staying in touch. Send them a tutorial on how to take better pics with their iPhone through your newsletter, share a personal project, anything! Promote your fall sessions – anything! Don’t let them forget about you.
4. Work On Your SEO & Blogging: Use this time to get your SEO exactly where you need it so when people start searching on Google for a photographer again, your name is the one that shows up! Optimize your site, focus on your keyboarding, and blog away! This is also a great time to get ahead on content heavy posts that help your SEO. You can write them up now and schedule them to post on a recurring balance for the balance of the year.
5. Host A Gallery Print Sale: Another way to bring in some cash is to offer a print or download sale. Activate old gallery or promote open ones. Consider offering album design services or frame collections to help your clients truly savor their images.
6. Partner With Other Small Businesses: All small businesses are hurting right now. Use this time to partner with other small businesses to design stylized shoots or promotional exchanges, to be implemented once people are allowed to work together again.
7. Invest In Your Education: If you have the financial means, now is a great time to invest in education to further your skills for when you are open for business again. Whether through online educations or books, use this time to master a new skill (photoshop? off camera flash?) so that you are ready to take your art to the next level when you are again open for business. If you are looking to improve your business acumen I will be teaching two two week classes in May at Click Photo School: Business From The Ground Up: Launching Your Photography Business, and The Profitable Photographer: Your Guide To Sustainable Pricing.
8. Organize Your Books & Your Behind The Scenes: This is a great time to get organized and catch up on everything that you have been setting aside. File your paperwork. Organize your email. Catch up all of your bookkeeping. Cross items off that to-do list that have been lingers. I also recommend creating a budget for the balance of this year and for 2021. Money is going to be tight for small business owners for a while as we work to recover so having a budget will go a long way in terms of your financial planning.
9. Connect With Your Vendors: If you are a wedding photographer, check in with the vendors you work with. Ask how they are doing and stay on their minds. Engaged couples are still planning weddings so you want to stay in the forefront of your vendors’ minds.
10. Work On Improving Your Brand Message & Client Experience: This is a big one. Many photographers struggle to truly define their unique banding message. Use this time to really hone in on your brand message so that you can directly target your marketing materials and message to your target clients. Also use this time to create client guides and other processes that will elevate the overall client experience.
As frightening and frustrating as this time my be, don’t let COVID-19 derail your photography business. Use this time wisely and you will emerge from this a stonier business owner than ever before.