Here in Colorado, we definitely get to experience all four seasons. So if you’re running your photography business here or anywhere in the midwest, you probably know what it’s like to experience “slow season.”
It’s those months from November to April, or as we like to call them in Colorado, winter and second winter. It’s the time when the snow piles up and most people aren’t too inclined to book weddings. And while I LOVE a good snowy mountain wedding, the cold and teeth chattering aren’t as appealing to the majority of couples!
So what does that mean for us? With nothing to shoot, it can certainly start to make me feel anxious and even a bit depressed if I’m not intentional about how I’m using this break. So the question I almost always come to is how to grow my wedding business during the slow season!
If you’re a photographer looking for a way to up your game during this break from weddings and portraits, look no further! This is the perfect opportunity to improve and grow your business! So, grab a warm cup of coffee and put on some music…it’s time for some much needed self-care! That’s right! Doing something special for yourself creates a ripple effect, helping you become even better at what you do!
So let’s get started! Here are 5 important things photographers must do during the slow season.
Reach out to other professionals in the wedding industry (start with venues or vendors!) Make some valuable connections that can benefit everyone once business picks up again.
We find opportunities for this connection by joining Facebook Groups for local photographers, or initiating gatherings ourselves. Many venue’s are now starting to host vendor mixers for their preferred vendors to connect before busy season.
This is a great time to take an online class or brush up on your photography skills. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then learn something brand new like macrame or painting. The goal is simply to keep those creative juices flowing. You never want to stop growing!
For us life is all about balance. You’ll find the best rejuvenation by starting off slow season with something that has NOTHING to do with photography. We all need a break! But as we creep into January, the new year brings a desire to grow in our skills, so we will take time to evaluate every aspect of our business, and see where we struggled or stressed. Chances are there’s a system that can use improvement or a process that needs advancing. So seeking out coaching or education in that area can drastically improve your upcoming season.
We have loved the results of masterminds, group and one-on-one coaching in our business. When we were just starting out, we leaned a lot into programs by Katelyn James, Jenna Kutcher and Chalene Johnson.
3. Reassess Your Goals
Now is the time to focus on how your business has done so far and how you want it to grow in the future! Narrow down your target market, develop a strategy to reach them, and then take action! Remember: Go Big or Go Home!
Ask yourself a few questions… am I happy with how the last year went? What would I change? Where did I find myself getting stressed? Why was it stressful? Was I overbooked? Did I miss time with my friends and family? Was I not hitting the financial goals I was hoping for? And how about this one… was I working with clients that like, love and trust me? These are all HUGE questions that can help you evaluate what was missing or what needs to change.
If it was a lack of time or money…
Start off listing EVERYTHING you do in your business. EVERYTHING. And then start to assess, are there parts of our business that someone else could take over. The reality is, you aren’t a unicorn. There I said it, and I’m sorry. But the best way to move forward, is admitting that your plate is too full, and it’s time to pass things on to someone who LOVES the stuff you hate. Once you’re free from a lot of that, you’ll be able to feel that magical freedom of creativity that allows you to dream. AND DREAM BIG!!!
If you aren’t loving the clients you’re booking…
Then I strongly encourage you to take a moment and brainstorm who your dream client is. Where do they shop? What do they do on the weekends? What are their priorities? What are their values? How do they spend their money?
Once you have a clear idea of who this person is, you can start to attract them in the way’s they like to shop and where to put your energy into marketing to find them. But if I’m honest, the best way to attract your ideal client, is by showing up online as yourself. YOU are what will attract your ideal client. THEN… it’s all about how you educate them from inquiry to wedding day. Chances are this is all new to them. And if you take the time to share what to expect, how to prepare, and communicate well. They will trust you on the wedding day. Trust is your key to ideal clients. Don’t stop serving them.
4. Refine Your Brand Image
After this past year, I’m guessing you’ve got some amazing images taking up real estate on that hard drive. So dig in and grab your favorite’s to start updating your website with fresh content.
Looking through THOUSANDS of images can feel so overwhelming trying to find your favorites. So as you go into this next season, create a system for yourself after you deliver each gallery, so pick out your favorite images. Then save these images to a single place for that year, so when it comes time to update your portfolio, all your favs will be right there waiting for you.
Gather feedback and reassess what clients see before they hire you, from website design to portfolio pictures. You look at your own stuff all the time, which makes it difficult to be objective. Ask other people to give their first impression! Once it’s time for potential clients to start searching again, they’ll want to work with YOU!
And if the photos you’ve been shooting aren’t the photos that will attract your ideal clients, then take time to update them with a styled shoot during the off season.
GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. You are your brand and using this time to update your own headshots and maybe even some lifestyle images to use on social media and your website that share who you are, who you serve and where you do it. And as much as we all like to believe we can do this with a tripod and a timer, invest in a professional photographer and put your money where your mouth is. You’ll love the images so much more when you aren’t thinking of the shot list and can just show up as YOU!
You’ll want to make sure and check out this great tool to help you create a killer shot list of images for your business, our gift to you!
5. Develop New Products and Services.
Come up with fun ideas for services or products you’ve never offered before. This could include mentorship programs or specially themed shoots (bridal boudoirs, anyone!?) Think outside the box and add to your existing list of services!
No more excuses! The slow season is the perfect opportunity to use this “extra” time wisely. If you’re willing to put in the work now, things sure will look bright when business starts booming again!