If you’re a photographer in Indiana or another area of the world where you experience winter, you inevitably experience “slow season”—a time where you aren’t shooting much because it’s so cold outside!
Now, just because you aren’t shooting much doesn’t mean you don’t have things to do. In fact, slow season is the perfect time to hone in on your marketing tactics and work “on” your business instead of “in” it so you can help your business really grow.
To help you make the most of the cold months, here are seven things photographers should do during slow season!
For most of the year, it’s easy to put your website on the back burner or neglect it all together. But, your website is your most powerful marketing tool (Yes, if built strategically, your website can be even more effective than social media!) and definitely needs to be a priority during slow season.
So, this slow season, do one of two things:
Maybe it’s time for a complete overhaul. This is always fun (and a little stressful)! Website capabilities change quickly, so it’s a good idea to update your website every three years.
Now, you can absolutely write your own copy and design your own site, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend working with a web development company. Outsourcing your website is one of the best business investments you can make, because when you work with a team of experienced designers, copywriters, and SEO specialists, you can ensure that your website functions well and is built strategically.
If you’re looking for an agency to help you with a new website, I highly recommend Treefrog Marketing!
Now, if you can’t afford to outsource web development, that’s 100% okay! I think it’s safe to say that every photographer and small business owner starts out by creating their own site using a template.
If this is the case for you, check out ShowIt. ShowIt is a drag and drop website builder that makes designing your own site easy. Plus, they have beautiful templates available and made with photographers in mind!
If you redid your website relatively recently, that’s great! During slow season, I want to encourage you to make small updates to your site.
You don’t necessarily have to get a new website to see big results. A few small changes can often do the trick!
I know this sounds intimidating, but I promise if you really try, you can knock out your blogs for the next 52 weeks!
Now, you obviously can’t blog sessions until you shoot them, but you can absolutely write educational blog posts and content (downloads, videos, infographics, etc.) for your target audience this winter and schedule them to publish throughout the year.
When I say “educational” blogs, I simply mean blogs that answer your ideal clients’ questions or give them information that they’ll find helpful.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you might write a blog about the benefits of doing a first look. If you’re a family photographer, you could write a blog about what to wear for family photos.
If you start thinking about questions your clients regularly ask or things you wish your clients knew, I promise you’ll be able to come up with a ton of great topics.
This slow season, aim to write 52 blog posts. This way, you’ll have one educational blog post to share every week for the next year. Blogging weekly is a great way to connect with your ideal clients, establish yourself as a trusted source, and improve your search engine rankings!
If you’re not regularly posting to social media, I bet it’s because you don’t have a plan. You just post as you feel like it or when you have a few spare minutes.
Well, guys, that’s not exactly a solid social media strategy! So, another thing photographers should do during slow season is create a social media calendar.
Personally, I like to plan out a month at a time and post to Instagram daily and Facebook at least five times a week. I map out educational blog posts, photos of myself (Your followers want to see you on the other side of the camera. Promise!), and other photos and content I want to share. I also look at my upcoming sessions and decide when I want to share previews and session blog posts.
Now, I write as much copy for the posts as I can ahead of time. For example, if I want to share a photo of Hattie (my dog) that I already have, I can write that copy ahead of time and schedule the post. But, because it’s impossible to write about sessions until they happen, I do have to write those social media posts as sessions happen, but these posts are already on my calendar, so I know when they need to be released.
So, this slow season, create a social media schedule that works best for you and your target audience!
If submitting to publications isn’t part of your workflow already, no worries! You can still submit your weddings and sessions from this year for next year.
So, this slow season, go ahead and get all of your submissions ready (upload the photos, tag the vendors, etc.). But, don’t submit your submissions until they’re back in season to increase your chances of getting published.
New to submitting to publishers? That’s okay! Two Bright Lights makes getting published as a photographer a very streamlined process. I adore this platform and everything it’s done for my business!
This slow season, I highly recommend getting a Two Bright Lights account and simply preparing your submissions to be sent throughout the year.
We all have areas in our businesses that can be improved, and slow season is the perfect time to create streamlined systems and processes.
For example, maybe your onboarding system is a mess, and you need to set up a client management system (such as Iris Works). Perhaps you’re constantly behind on editing, and during slow season, you’ll finally have time to explore some outsourcing options. Or, maybe blogging after shooting a wedding is stressing you out because you don’t have a process in place and need to come up with one. (Personally, I shoot a wedding on Saturday, cull it on Sunday, edit blog photos on Monday, write the copy and schedule the post on Tuesday, and release the blog post on Wednesday.)
No matter what it is, set aside some time this slow season to address any inefficiencies in your business so you can start next year off with your best foot forward!
Don’t get me wrong. Your photos should definitely set you apart from other photographers, but in a very saturated market, there’s one thing that can make you shine: client experience.
This slow season, take a look at your client experience and aim to add or improve at least one thing. For example, maybe you want to start sending welcome packages when clients book. If you don’t have a bridal guide or a style guide, this slow season is the perfect time to add one.
There are so many things you can do to love on your clients, so this slow season, take some time to think about how you can better serve the people who support your business!
As a photographer (or person in general), you never want to stop growing. And, slow season is the perfect time to focus on professional development by either attending a workshop or taking an online course!
Maybe you want to shoot more consistently, better understand light, learn more about posing, or learn to market your business more effectively. No matter your goal, there is definitely a course or workshop that can help you with this!
If you ignore everything on this list, please don’t ignore this point. One of the most rewarding things about being a photographer is getting to grow and learn, and becoming stagnant is one of the leading causes of burnout for photographers. So, take some to learn a thing or two this slow season that will make you a better photographer and business owner!
This slow season, I want to encourage you to set two goals for yourself:
May your slow season be filled with family, friends, holiday celebrations, rest, and productivity!