To say that life sometimes throws us a serious curve ball would be an understatement—and, without a doubt, all of us from established business owners to those just starting out are feeling the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic. And with so many thoughts running through our heads from where we will get our groceries to checking up on loved ones and friends, it may almost feel like our small business dreams have come to a screeching halt. While the social distancing required of us to help prevent the spread of this pandemic is leading to canceled meetings and shoots, and even a whole lot of loneliness, it doesn’t mean that we have to abandon all the creativity and work we’ve already put into our businesses and dreams! In fact, quite the opposite. Now is the time to get some seriously intentional, focused work done so that you can keep growing your photography business during the coronavirus pandemic.
While some of us are lucky enough to be able to work from home with a few projects to keep us afloat, others are scrambling to figure out how to pay for upcoming expenses. So, before we dive into all the ways that we can keep growing our businesses while practicing social distancing, I have one thing for us ALL to keep in mind moving forward: The strength of community. The whole reason Dust and I started Horizon Found was to create a supportive community for female photographers to connect, grow and learn within, and that also means creating a supportive network for us all in times of need. So, I encourage you to reach out to one another, cheer on each other’s projects, and support one another with whatever means you have. We’re in this together, and we have each other to lean on. You can do this through our Instagram Page or better yet in our Private Facebook Group for Female Photographers. Because, together, we’ve got this.
So, how can we keep moving forward with our business plans and projects while everything around us seems to have been put on hold? Even though this is definitely scary and new for everyone, instead of grabbing hold of feelings of fear and panic, first take a step back, look at what is happening, and find ways in each of your daily actions to be more mindful and respond in a way that is intentional instead of reactive— this is where true solutions and ideas lie. Instead of allowing this pandemic to stop you in your creative tracks, take the control back and try using your time to focus on one (or all!) of these things:
Update Your Website
Our websites, in many cases, are where customers meet our businesses for the first time. And as they say, first impressions are everything. Take this time to create a clear image in your head of who your ideal, aspirational client might be and write down everything that you think they’d love about your work. And then take those very same notes and find ways to highlight those parts of your website. Alternatively, try reorganizing your images to see if you can get people to stay on your site longer and, better yet, use this time to improve your SEO strategy so you’re sure that people can find every one of your pages with a simple Google search. Besides, you and everyone else will be spending a whole lot more time on the internet in the coming days, so use it to your advantage! Do NOT let instagram be the only area that is most updated with your work. As photographers we need to remember the critical importance of a beautiful website!
Play Around With A New Editing Style
Being intentional about trying out new editing techniques and aesthetics is invaluable to keeping your skills sharp and your style interesting. And while we’re taking some time to ourselves, use it to benefit your toolbox as much as possible. Explore new editing styles, edit old photos in new ways, or catch up on some post-production you were avoiding. Just try something new and have fun with it.
Research Future Shoot Locations
Be ready to hit the ground running with your clients and photography as soon as everything settles back down by doing some solid research ahead of time, because once this is over you guys are going to be BUSY. Don’t forget that! All the bookings that were cancelled or rescheduled will come flooding back all at the same time and you want to make sure you’re prepared. Think about all the neighborhoods you haven’t shot in yet that are nearby. Or think about a dream location you’ve always been dying to shoot in. Open up Google Maps to street view and see if any interesting buildings or parks catch your eye. Just because we’re all inside for a bit doesn’t mean you can’t keep planning shoots that you and your clients will love.
Offer Gift Cards and Promos
Another way to keep your business moving forward is by offering people gift cards for future shoots. This way you know that the client wants to work with you, but you can save the scheduling for when things are a little more predictable. If you have any prints available, or a printer available to you, you can even sell some of your prints and offer to have them mailed out. It’s a nice way to stay involved and engaged with your community without putting too much pressure on anyone.
Serve, Serve, Serve!
This one might just be the easiest and most important idea on the list. First off, literally every person in our greater community is experiencing the isolation that has resulted from this pandemic. And chances are we could all use a little more community in our lives, even if it’s virtual. So, take the time to reach out to other photographers who inspire you, or those you see are working hard and give them words of encouragement. Serve the people in your life! Bring joy to those around you! Don’t use this time to focus on selling, but on connecting. Serve your community as much as you can right now and we will all feel even more connected once our lives resume a normal pace.
Overall, just try to use this time to become as centered as you possibly can when it comes to your dreams and business goals. Find the lessons in the chaos so that your business can come out stronger because of it.
UPDATE YOUR CONTRACTS
Use this time to find a lesson in the chaos. If you’re experiencing an abundance of cancellations and rescheduling due to the Coronavirus and are losing out on the income it was supposed to bring, you need to restructure your contracts in a way that ensures that you will be protected moving forward. Ask yourself these questions:
When booking these jobs that were cancelled/rescheduled, was there a contract in place? Did your contract require a 50% downpayment upon booking? Did your contract state a nonrefundable downpayment policy? Did you have a cancellation policy that was properly communicated? Did your contract push them towards rescheduling rather than cancelling?
If not, this is the perfect time to rethink your business model and how you negotiate contracts with your clients. Setting up a downpayment strategy and cancellation policy that will help you retain partial income if natural disasters occur can be critical for the success of your businesses. This will also help your clients feel safe and secure, knowing that there is a plan in place if anything were to occur and that you are there to take care of them when it does.
When you’re a freelancer or are running your own business, being prepared for the unexpected is a HUGE part of the process. So, try to use this extra time at home, if you’re able, in a way that is constructive to the growth of your photography career, whatever shape it may take. Ditch the Netflix and chill (at least most of the time), and work on what’s really important to you: your dreams.
And if all of this seems a little too overwhelming given the circumstances we’re in right now, that’s ok too. You don’t want to add any more unnecessary pressure on yourself. Focus on being a bit more intentional with how you use your time, and ultimately do what’s right for you.
Stay safe, and let’s take care of each other.