So here we are, in the longest time of the year, Winter. Well, at least it seems it! If you’re anything like me, you’re waiting for the longer days, the days at the beach and a reason to eat ice cream without guilt. But what to do in the meantime? In many markets, wintertime is also a time in which business gets a bit quiet. In my predictable market, Los Angeles, many of the shows go into Hiatus meaning many people leave town for long holidays, young Hollywood heads to rehab and old Hollywood heads in for plastic surgery. So what can one do to stay busy during these quieter moments? You could catch up on your Netflix list, but better yet, let’s talk about how you can help keep your business relevant while still enjoying that ice cream.
1. Where am I going?
Unfortunately, there is no map to success in this business. These quiet times can help you realize your goals and help you define your visual voice. You need to focus on what you want with your business and then plan how you will achieve it. If you don’t yet know what that is, this is the time to figure it out! Work on personal projects, take a workshop or two but focus on what aspect of your photography really makes your heart thump. Write down what you would like to accomplish and suddenly you have that map, aka your business plan. Make your plan, and write it down with step by step of whom you need to contact and what you need to reach your destination. Be detailed so you can easily make your way! I believe in accomplishing small goals, regularly. This way your trip is enjoyable. Don’t rush your concepts and plans, enjoy the process of discovering what makes you tick. Now that you have that personal road map, start getting that list done. Now I am an avid list maker (I write my lists on the back of envelopes, for what reason I’m unsure) and this helps me keep on the path. Now your map will have detours, and that’s okay. Just take time to find your way around that obstacle and buy lots of duct tape.
2. I’m number one.
So we know where we are heading and know what we create is awesome but find it hard to sell our work to others. Im always concerned if I make a sales pitch I’ll sound like I’m trying to get someone to buy desert property that’s ‘up and coming!’. Instead of feeling that you should be selling yourself and your work, just talk about your passions. Most potential clients would rather hear about your love for star photography or what makes a smile dynamic, over packages and prints. Think about a potential client as a blind date. Ask questions, be intriguing and don’t disclose too much. By sharing your love for your style of photography, you are in turn educating your client. Educated clients are good clients.
3. Let’s talk about your online YOU.
How long have you been saying, “I need to keep a blog”? Yeah, I know, it’s a pain in the backside to think about witty one sided banter while not looking like a show off. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Well look at that, you suddenly have time. But how do you dust off those writing cobwebs? First, stop thinking every post has to be written like you’re a journalist. Whether it’s a snapshot of your lunch burrito or a behind the scenes snap of a job, post it and show who you are and what makes you tick. Just post, and post with consistency. There’s two ways of looking at it:
- Make time everyday to work on your online presence. I’ve heard that for Facebook you should post 2-5 times a week, twitter 4-5 times a day, blog once or twice a week and send one newsletter a month. This helps build a following and shows any looky-loos at your website that you’re working on stuff, even if it is working on that burrito. But really, who are we kidding here? I don’t know about you, but I can’t even go to the gym on a consistent basis.
- As much as I love the idea of being scheduled every day, I love the second option: use a social media management website like HootSuite. In one space, you can manage Facebook, twitter, blogs and other time wasting goodies. You can program all of your social media weeks ahead of time, if you choose. I prefer to sit down Monday morning to schedule all my twitter and Facebook observations (i.e. “I like turtles”). This way it’s all done and I can know that while I’m awkwardly awaiting my next job, my social media is still working its magic.
4. The dreaded website.
I post new images to my portfolio website, as I shoot, without thinking too much about the flow, the story that it tells. Your portfolio is your first introduction to a potential client, so make sure it tells the story you want to tell. With my website I show that I’m an expert in my field, over a jack-of-all-trades. I want people to see a very specialized skill set. For example, I shoot Beauty campaigns for a living. Do I have some awesome images of my cat? Yes. Does my overweight tabby belong on my site? No. If you are wedding photographer, a client isn’t going to care that you took an awesome macro shot of a frog. Put it up on your blog, talk about your love for bullfrogs and nature but leave it there!
So let’s say you already have a well edited website, so what now? Next step, how’s your SEO? Have your properly tagged, metatagged, keyworded and renamed all your images? This would be a great time to take on one set of images at a time. Just power through and get everything renamed so they are all not IMG_2343. Because, IMG_2343 is bad Google mojo.
In conclusion, these are few things you can do while enjoying that double scoop and staying inside, chattery teeth and all. Use these quiet times to attend to the details and your business will love you for it.