In this article I will be breaking down ways you can survive this downtime that we have all suddenly been hit with as entrepreneurs. Although I will be focusing on photography many of these tips on leveraging downtime can be applied to any industry.
I don’t know about my fellow photographers and business owners but I for one have had all my clients over the next two months cancel thanks to this virus going around. So now what? No money coming in, what do we do? How in the world do we turn this nightmare into a positive? How can we come out of this off time more valuable than we were before.
Times are tough and they are likely to get tougher. Let’s be honest with ourselves, the reason we have found ourselves without work currently is out of our control so let’s focus on what is in our control. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
Learn something new
What better time than now to learn something new. Maybe something you’ve wanted to learn but never had the time to, like landscape photography, street photography, or wildlife photography. Maybe learn a new language, or how to meditate, or how to cook, or how to play an instrument.
Learning a new skill can make a dramatic impact on your business. By learning how to be a better writer I’ve been able to write these articles that has not only helped my audience but made a dramatic increase in traffic to my website.
I’ve always wanted to learn street photography so now that I have all this free time I can go learn and still keep a good distance from people.
These days you can learn almost anything at the tip of a finger via YouTube for free without ever leaving your house. We all have things that we would love to learn but never make a priority due to lack of time so why not now?
Work on Improvement
Much like learning a new skill, improving on the skills we already have tends to get pushed aside because we are so busy. Work on improving your posing skills, or your lighting skills, or hell just the basics of photography. Maybe brush up on your cosplay photography skills or editing.
For example, I am a portrait photographer but I also love wildlife photography, I just never get to do it. Unfortunately because taking photos of birds doesn’t bring in the bacon I never take the time to improve my wildlife photography. Now with all this talk of social distancing, now is the perfect time to shoot the birds.
Fine Tune Your Website
It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but making sure your website is up-to-date, user-friendly, and eye-catching makes a world of difference. If you don’t already have a website it’s never been easier to make one with sites like square space or Weebly.
If you already have a website, when is the last time you updated your portfolio or your homepage or your Seo? I recently took a hard look at my website that I hadn’t touched in many months and found it was in need of a huge facelift.
As photographers it is so easy for us to just upload all of our work on social media and forget about a website but having a website is crucial if you want to look professional and reach those higher paying clients.
Update Your Logo
I can’t tell you how many photographers I know who don’t even have a logo. Without a logo you have no brand identity. Think of your favorite brand right now and I guarantee you their logo is the first thing you think of. Brand identity starts with a logo and you might already have one but when is the last time it was updated? could it use a facelift? Is it in line with your current brand? If not now is the perfect time. If you want to save money you can always use Adobe illustrator to create one yourself for free or ask your cousin who's in college for graphic design otherwise I suggest using a professional service like Kickass Designs but hey I could be biased ;)
Work on Marketing
What’s the point of having a website if no one can find it? How are you driving traffic to your website? That’s where marketing comes in, this can be done via social media or SEO or paid ads.
My favorite method of marketing my brand is with social media. Of course I like it because it’s free but also because it gives me the opportunity to really get to know my audience.
If you aren’t leveraging platforms like Instagram or Facebook or YouTube you are missing out on massive amounts of opportunity. Unless you’re selling tombstones this is where all your potential clients are so why not take advantage of these free platforms and get in front of those people.
In an age where we day trade attention you should be posting fresh content every day to drive traffic to your site or social media platforms. If you have been slacking on the content creation now is the perfect time to make enough content to last you the rest of the year.
Go Location Scouting
As I’ve mentioned in past articles, location scouting is imperative if you want to stand out among the sea of photographers in your town. Offer your clients epic locations that other photographers don’t know about. Location scouting is the best way to do this but it is time consuming and often last on the list of things to do. So now is the perfect time to walk around your neighborhood and find some great spots or drive around town or out in the country with no destination in mind. Just pin the spots you want to come back to you on Google maps and you're all set.
In this day and age if you’re not offering video you will start losing clients to those that do. Plain and simple. Everyone wants video these days. This might just be one of the most beneficial skills you can learn while on this time off to make yourself more valuable when all of this blows over.
I learned this the hard way. I had a photo shoot go viral and articles about it were shared on numerous news outlets. However I was contacted by numerous brands that had the potential to take that shoot to a whole other level but were uninterested when they found out I had no video of the photo shoot. The accounts that wanted to share my work until they found out I didn’t have video had massive audiences. I missed a huge opportunity on that one.
I know a lot of photographers outsource their retouching because many photographers hate the editing process. However, taking this time to really master the skill of retouching Will make you a far more valuable photographer when all of this blows over and it will save you money in the long term if you’re not paying to outsource the work.
As photographers we all have a list of personal projects that we’ve been meaning to shoot. Maybe it’s collaborating with a local designer or makeup artist or model. Our personal projects are so important for us to really show our creativity and passion. So contact that friend you’ve been meaning to collaborate with and set a date. It will be a great opportunity for both of you to take your mind off this nightmare. With no paid clients coming in now is the time for all those free projects with friends.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Oh hey my least favorite thing to do. Blech.. Taxes and bookkeeping are always the last thing on my list but making sure you stay on top of your taxes is absolutely crucial. Have you been putting it off this year? If so, now is the perfect time to sit down and get organized with either Quick books or with an accountant. I am awful at taxes so I leave that up to my accountant at Serenity Tax & Accounting.
Define your perfect Client
If you haven’t done this by now you really should take the time to define your perfect client, what is their age range, are they male or female, are they married or single, what does their income look like, where are they located, what are they interested in, do they have children, what social media platforms are they using etc.
Once you have defined your perfect client see if that’s in line with your current clientele, if not make the necessary adjustments. You can use your Google analytics from your website or Instagram analytics to find your current client demographic.
Look, if you’re an entrepreneur then I know you work your ass off. So take this time to rest and get inspired. Re-ignite that flame. Take it easy and watch some movies, search Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. As business owners we never take the time to rest so take this opportunity to relax and reflect on why you chose to do what you do in the first place. If you have anything to add to this list I'd love to hear it in the comments below. We can all use more ideas right now.
Lance is a well known published Portland based Portrait photographer.