14 Top Tips For Photographers To Keep Busy During Lockdown
Here we go again! We’re now 1 week into Lockdown 2.0 so how have you spent your time so far? For many, a bit more family time is welcome and the bright winter sunshine is a perfect opportunity to wrap up for an outdoor walk, weather dependent of course! For photographers, this lockdown has been a bitter blow. Many businesses, such as manufacturing and construction are allowed to continue to operate but for photographers and photography studios, this lockdown is a real pause button on the run up to Christmas. Weddings, bookings and shoots are postponed, but there is still so much to do! So what can you be doing during this time to benefit your business? And what can you do during this time to propel your business forward?
If you do want to just press pause for a little while, let yourself. For the second time this year, we are granted an unprecedented opportunity to spend time with the ones we love, so if this is your solution to making the most of this time then do it and certainly don’t beat yourself up about it. While there is nothing wrong with taking a backseat this lockdown, if you’re feeling restless then here are some things you can do to feel productive.
Number 1. LET'S GET READY FOR THE 2ND
We’ve been promised the UK will be reopening on the 2nd of December. Whilst things have been changeable this year and so much has had to be moved around, we must not hesitate on being as prepared as possible for recommencing business.
This includes booking in clients from the 2nd of December onwards, filling up your diary up if you can. It might not always be possible, but try to build in a little flexibility in case you need it. Book family or portrait shoots from the 2nd onwards but as a back up plan, could you relocate to outside if need be? Consider your options and prepare for every eventuality as much as you can.
Number 2. Set Your Festive Deadlines With Clients NOW.
Yep it's official, Christmas is on its way, so let's plan for the big day. Decide what products or services you’re going to be selling to customers and set out your final deadline dates. Work out how long it will take you to supply galleries to clients after shoots and keep people informed of dates in advance. The big one is final ordering dates: If you’re offering products to clients, check the final order dates with your suppliers.
This way, you can work out when you need to place orders by and potential last booking dates with clients. Inform clients in advance that if they want products for Christmas, they have to finalise orders and process payments by a strict final date. Although things are going to be different this year and potentially more condensed in December, try to give yourself a touch of wiggle room here in case life gets in the way (as we all know it can!) and proactively prevent the festive stress.
We’ve made things simple by having all of our Christmas cut off dates in one place for SIM Imaging & SIMLAB. Check out our final order dates to plan your diary now.
Number 3. Online Training
This year the face of learning has changed forever. There is a wealth of free online training available for photographers and we’re not just talking about taking photos. As a photographer, you have to be equipped to deal with every element of running a business.
If you think you’re sorted with nothing left to learn, thing again, there is so much more ground to cover! It's not just our photography and editing skills we can expand, think online marketing courses, accounting courses, time management or organisation skills, customer retention, even first aid training, always handy to have!
Number 4. “Retrain”
This word has been met with a lot of contempt in the past few months and with good reason. Wedding photographers have been chastised with this word while faced with a huge loss of earnings during 2020 with photographers who have been training for years, even decades to perfect their craft being told to “retrain”. Let’s be clear, this is NOT what we are suggesting. Photography is an art and if often practised as a passion for years, or it finds people in the right time in their lives hoping for a change.
Industries have changed this year and as a creative field, photographers have to adapt. There are so many different elements to photography and not all categories use the same skills, so each has its own tips and techniques for getting the best results. Everyone has their favourite type of photography, but now might be the time to explore a new category and expand your skills.
If your passion is wedding photography and you’re not getting your fix, try mastering food photography, landscape or nature imagery, boudoir photography, product shots, portrait shoots, indoor and outdoor, there’s lots to explore. You may find something you can market in the meantime and you never know, you might find something you really enjoy. We can all retrain, but it doesn’t have to be outside of our passions and still moving toward the same dream!
Number 5. Invest In An Album Design Software Or Sales Software
This certainly doesn’t have to be an investment of money, it can be an investment of time, although there are plenty of tried and tested softwares out there that you can purchase. Spend some time getting to know your chosen software or perhaps start a free trial on a new software to see if this works for you. Our own SimWare software is free to our PRO users, which you can access once you’ve registered on our website or logged into your account.
This is a great opportunity to get to grips with designing albums quickly and learning a few new shortcuts. Book a free zoom training session for our SimWare and we can show you the basics, the shortcuts or the professional tips and tricks. We’re also partnered with a range of album design softwares that you can use to design our products, including Fundy, Pixellu (SmartAlbums), PicTime and more.
Check out our dedicated in person sales page to see our full list of partners and to sign up to a free trial.
Number 6. Photograph Your Sample Products
So often time slips past and all the things you’d love to have time to do get pushed to the back-burner. Product photography is all too often one of these things. Now you do have a little more time, spend it setting up and taking the perfectly styled shots of your products you’ve been itching to create. Add your selected props and detailing or instead opt for the naked product in your chosen setting. If you have samples to hand then product shots are great for showcasing options to clients in your own personalised style.
If you’re still in need of samples, maybe now is the perfect time to create your own, especially as we offer excellent sample discounts for professional photographers which you can order with your own images. Beautiful sample images are great for your website, portfolio, social media and for sending to clients when their images are ready.
Image credit Annabel Farley Photography
Number 7. Improve Your Sales Literature
Struggling to get consistency when selling to clients? Don’t have any of your own samples to show customers yet? We have some tools that might be able to help. We’ve developed our SIM Toolbox especially for professional photographers to give you the tools to sell effectively with a personal touch.
Add your own images, text and prices to help you sell to individual customers or to improve your product or package marketing. Each of our products included in the toolbox has a dedicated PSD and “How to” guide available to download ready for you to personalise for your customers. Excellent for showcasing available options to customers, our PSD’s will provide you with the tools to upsell products simply and professionally.
Take a look at our SIM Toolbox now to revamp your marketing literature.
Number 8. Location, Location, Location.
Got a favourite location to shoot in? Somewhere local to you that produces a beautiful backdrop? Or are you a preferred supplier for a venue? Now’s your chance to develop your portfolio of your favourite locations and begin marketing to new and potential customers.
Catch the different lights of the day and build up a sequence of images to entice clients and encourage some outdoor bookings for post lockdown. So long as you’re outside, keeping your distance, (and not trespassing of course) you’re good to go.
Number 9. Marketing Automation
From template google replies to a full on CRM, no matter what stage you are at in your photography business, this is a great time to improve your automation, speed up some of your workflow elements and save time in the future. If you find yourself writing the same email time and time again with a few personalised tweaks, the next time you write it out, save it as a template in your chosen email program ready to use, such as google templates.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be personal every time, but template all the important or repetitive elements that apply every time and ensure you never miss out any important info. If you’re using a more developed CRM or studio software, many have the option to create templated emails with images and triggers to send when a customer interacts in a certain way. Our friends over at Shoot Edit Chat Repeat recommend Studio Ninja, which offers excellent automation techniques to keep your interactions with contacts active 24/7, such as following up website enquiries and new leads even when you’re offline.
Number 10. How Up To Date Is Your Contract?
Contracts are absolutely key in the modern world for photographers. It serves a dual purpose of managing your customers expectations and protecting you and your business. Don’t let contract hang ups hold you back, make it part of your normal customer experience and automatically send this to new clients with upcoming bookings. Many clients may never read this but do not be deterred, many appreciate the extra information and you can specify what you will be providing to customers, any limitations and any legalities you need to include for your insurance purposes.
Create a document with everything you want to cover, save it and send it to every client. If you have an older contract, take a little time to re-read it and ensure it's fully up to date to suit your business needs today, especially considering all the hurdles that 2020 has thrown in the works!
Number 11. Planning An Upcoming Event Or Offer
This one won’t be applicable to everyone, but if you’ve got something in the calendar for next year or even something you may have previously considered, you can make some headway now. This can include an upcoming offer for your clients, or perhaps a live stream or blog you are preparing.
Create your graphics in advance so they are ready to go for your email and social media platforms. As photographers you can of course use photoshop and lightroom, but another great FREE tool is CANVA which is easy to use and you can create graphics speedily, styled exactly as you would like.
Number 12. Prepare Your Upcoming Sales In Advance
Perfect your sales pitch and cover some sales ground early with upcoming clients. Make sure clients know what services you can offer and for upcoming or booked clients, let them know the range of products they could be purchasing once their images are ready. With product sales to customers, the best advice to keep things simple.
To help customers choose their products, only offer a small, concise range and try not to confuse things by giving too many options. This will help speed up the process and often if you love a particular product, this will naturally become apparent to your customers and increase the sales of this option.
Number 13. Perfect Your Photography Packages
If you’ve been in the photography business for a little while, your current list of products or what your offering to clients may have changed as your business has developed. Now is the chance to look at what’s been popular with your clients, consider what you would like to market more of, and create a new set of packages for customers. Don’t forget, our customer support team is on hand to help with this if you need it and we offer FREE product consultations via Zoom.
We are dedicated SIM product experts so we can answer any questions you have on different products and can show you samples over live video. We can also help you choose the right products to suit your business and offer advice on which items to pair together to make the perfect packages.
Number 14. LASTLY. And This Is A Big One.
Listen, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like doing ANY of the above. This is not what you have to do, only ideas of what you could do. If you want press pause this month then why not? Use this time to do whatever compels you, save on the festive stress and complete your christmas shopping early, maybe work on personalised gifts or homemade trinkets instead to satisfy your creative cravings.
Listen to a few photography podcasts if you have some free time, we’d recommend Shoot Edit Chat Repeat if you want to feel like you're amongst friends whilst learning something new, and have a good old chuckle in the process. Most importantly, use this time however you see fit.
How about starting festivities early and putting the xmas decorations up? If you want to take a bit of you time or family time, well it's the perfect time for hot chocolates on the sofa, so while so make the most of it while we can and bring on Christmas.