I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, just outside of Seattle. Up there in Washington, there are only a few days each year where the sun is shining and the air is crisp.
Needless to say, after I moved to Florida, I walked outside every single day for a year and said, “Oh wow, it’s such a beautiful day!” South Florida is everything you see in the postcards: pristine beaches, swaying palm trees, and sunny, warm weather year-round. I love living here.
But even sunny Florida has its weather struggles. Summer is our rainy season. And by rainy, I mean every day is almost unbearable: hot, humid, thick air with temperatures in the nineties. Not only is this no fun, but it also makes for terrible photography weather. Many industries in Florida experience a decrease in business over the summer months and many locals travel out of the area during this season.
But just because business is slow doesn’t mean you stop working! I searched and hustled to fill in the gaps of the slow season and have found some constructive, creative ways for photographers to use this time. .Here is a list of 8 things you can do to maintain your momentum and keep your business moving in the right direction, regardless of the weather: .
- Make a master business task list. Start by brainstorming a master list of all the behind-the-scenes things that need to be done on your business. Keep that list handy so you can add to it when things come to mind. This list might include things like ordering business cards, updating your website and portfolio, ordering print samples, updating your pricing guide, and revising your contracts. This list should always be available so when things get slow, you can decide what to tackle and complete.
- Attend networking events. Formal networking meetings are a really great place to meet other professionals like yourself who are trying to become connected in the community. Visit the website Meetup.com or look into your Chamber of Commerce to find a meeting to attend. Have your business cards ready and give it a shot. Remember, the goal of networking is to create lasting connections with like-minded people that may send business your way. Everyone may not be your client, but everyone knows someone that could be your client. Go above and beyond by referring someone to the people you met at a networking event. Create good karma – it can only help!
- Connect with small business owners/vendors. Reach out to other small business owners in your area that may have the same target clients as you. Once,I reached out to a boutique owner who specialized in high-end maternity clothes. I started with a Facebook connection and message. Then, we met to discuss a partnership in building our customer base. I agreed to come into the shop once a month with my camera and take a photo of her customers. The customer would try on an outfit from the store an could have monthly photos taken to document the progress of her pregnancy. While taking the photos I would connect with the customer by asking if they had maternity photos scheduled or newborn photos in mind. After we’d chatted, I would take down their contact information, give them a business card, and follow up with an email and the photo. I put gallery wraps on the walls of the boutique and took some product images for the owner’s social media accounts. She also posted the customer shots on her boutique’s Instagram page. It was a win-win for everyone involved. She increased her volume while I built my client list. This is a great example of how to create a lasting partnership with another small business owners in your area: how can you be creative and do the same?
- Schedule a styled shoot. A styled session is one where vendors collaborate and bring their items together so photos can be taken for all the businesses involved. For example, if you are a children’s photographer, you could collaborate with a hair stylist, clothing shop, kids’ play space and florist. Have each vendor bring a themed item to the shoot. Select some models and enjoy the fun shoot with all the props and services from the vendors. Afterwards, each vendor receives images to use in their marketing materials and you are also able to use the images in your portfolio. This can really add some unique images to your portfolio, and you’ve created some meaningful relationships with small business owners and vendors in your area.
- Donate your time. Slow season is a great time to give back to your community. Find a charitable organization that could use some photography work or reach out to someone that might appreciate a free or discounted session, such as a military family, someone with an illness, or a low-income family. This can be a wonderful experience for the recipients and will likely remind you of how much you love what you do.
- Connect with people on social media. Downtime is a great opportunity to reach out and connect with others on social media. In addition to all the ideas listed above, you can also spend some time just growing your social media accounts with authentic engagement and fun activities like private messages to small business owners, to build a relationship and invite them to an in-person coffee meeting to discuss possible partnerships in the future. .
- Reach out to past clients and offer product specials. If you have a past client list, reach out to them via email and offer them a discount on products a couple of times a year. Especially if you only sell digital images, they may be ready to purchase an album or a gallery wrap or even off-season holiday cards like Valentine’s Day or 4th of July. Often, after some time has passed, old clients will realize they want more than just the images on their hard drive.
- Book appointments. Your slow season is a good time to offer a promotion for alternative types of sessions like mini-sessions, headshots, gifts after purchase, and lifestyle session packages. Mini-sessions can be done in any theme based on what time of year your area is slow. You could also offer a milestone package, like 4 lifestyle sessions purchased in a package for a discounted rate.
Whatever you do, don’t sit around and complain on social media to all your friends and family about how slow business is and how desperate you are. Believe it or not, I have seen photographers begging on Facebook for someone to book a session so they can make ends meet. While we have all certainly felt that way from time to time, this will leave a less than favorable impression on your potential clients.
When all else fails, or when you feel like you really need it, TAKE A VACATION! Even though we are often responsible for every single aspect of our business, we TOO need to recharge our battery in order to be our best for ourselves, our families, and our clients.