Maximizing your photography business success: How to use the slow season to your advantage.February 3rd, 2023
As a professional photographer, the slow season can present a valuable opportunity to focus on important business tasks that often get pushed to the side during busier times. By taking advantage of this quieter period, photographers can improve their business, recharge their creativity, and set themselves up for success in the coming months.
Zoom in on your website.
One of the most important tasks that photographers can undertake during the slow season is building or updating their website. Your website is often the first impression potential clients will have of your work, so it’s essential to make sure it’s up-to-date and showcasing your best work.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Review your website’s design and layout: Make sure your website’s design is modern, visually pleasing, easy to navigate, and represents your brand. Think about the user experience and make sure that your website’s design is optimized for conversions.
- Optimize your website for SEO: Make sure your website is optimized for search engines. This includes making sure your website is mobile-friendly, has fast loading speeds, and that your images and content are properly tagged and labeled.
- Add new and updated portfolio: Keep your portfolio up to date with your latest and best work. This will help to keep your website fresh and interesting for potential clients.
- Add a blog: A blog can be a great way to share your thoughts and insights on the photography industry and your own work. It can also help to drive traffic to your website and establish you as an expert in your field.
- Utilize an all-in-one platform like Zenfolio: Zenfolio is an all-in-one online platform for photographers that allows you to easily manage and update your website, portfolio, bookings, and e-commerce features all in one place.
- Make sure your website is secure: Having a secure website is important not only for your visitors but also for search engine rankings. Make sure your website has an SSL certificate, and is using https.
- Add client testimonials: Showcasing client testimonials on your website can help to build trust and credibility with potential clients.
- Update your contact information: Make sure the contact information on your website is up to date, and that potential clients can easily get in touch with you.
Shoot for new business.
The slow season can be a great time to reach out to potential clients who may not have been available during busy times. This is an opportunity to expand your client base and reach out to new markets.
Utilizing online networks.
Send out newsletters or email campaigns to let people know about your services and any special deals or promotions you may be offering. You can also use digital marketing tools like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and LinkedIn Ads to reach potential clients who are actively searching for photographers in your area.
Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your visibility on search engines like Google. This can include optimizing your website and blog content with relevant keywords, building backlinks to your site, and regularly updating your website with fresh content.
Leverage social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to showcase your work and connect with potential clients. You can create a strong visual presence on social media by regularly posting high-quality images, engaging with your followers, and building relationships with other industry professionals.
Attend events and conferences.
Getting involved with networking events, industry conferences, and trade shows can also be a great way to connect with potential clients and showcase your work. Attend one of these events and make sure to have your online portfolio ready to share with potential clients.
WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) Conference & Expo: This conference takes place annually in Las Vegas, and it’s one of the biggest events for wedding and portrait photographers.
Photokina: This is a bi-annual event that takes place in Cologne, Germany and it’s one of the biggest photography trade shows in the world, featuring exhibitors from major camera manufacturers and photography companies.
The Photography Show: This conference takes place annually in Birmingham, UK and it’s one of the biggest photography events in Europe, with exhibitors from major camera manufacturers and photography companies, as well as seminars and workshops.
PhotoPlus Expo: This conference takes place annually in New York City and it’s one of the biggest photography events in the US, featuring exhibitors from major camera manufacturers and photography companies, as well as seminars and workshops.
The Print Swap: This conference takes place annually in London, UK. It’s focused on fine art photography, it’s a unique platform for photographers to connect, learn and showcase their work.
The Flash Forward Conference: This conference takes place annually in Toronto, Canada and it’s focused on documentary photography, photojournalism and storytelling.
The FOCUS Photography Festival: This festival takes place annually in Mumbai, India and it’s one of the most important events in South Asian photography, featuring exhibits, workshops, and lectures.
The Australian Centre for Photography: This conference takes place annually in Sydney, Australia and it’s one of the most important events in Australian photography, featuring exhibits, workshops, and lectures.
Keep it local.
Reach out to your local network of photographers, artists, and vendors to see how you can support each other. Have a quick chat or a coffee with wedding planners, event planners, real estate agents, and other vendors who often work with photographers. Establish a referral exchange with fellow photographers to pass along clients you’re unable to fit in your schedule. Building relationships within your community can lead to an increase in referral business and collaborations on future projects.
Reach out to galleries in your area. Many galleries have regular rotating exhibitions and may be open to display your work for a certain period of time. Some also run juried exhibitions where you can submit images; these are a great option if you don’t have a cohesive collection to present on your own. Either of these can be an effective way to get your work seen by a wider audience and build relationships with local art collectors and fellow artists.
Another option is to approach coffee shops, restaurants, and other businesses that have open wall space. Many of these businesses are always looking for ways to enhance their space and may be willing to display your work on a rotating basis. This can be a beneficial way to get your work seen by a diverse group of people and build relationships with local business owners.
Professional offices and waiting rooms are also great places to showcase your work. Reach out to local dentists, lawyers, or other professionals who may have waiting rooms or common areas where your work can be displayed on the wall or in an album on their side tables. This can be an excellent way to get your work seen by a captive audience and build relationships with local professionals.
Develop a social media presence.
As mentioned briefly above, social media is another powerful tool for reaching new clients and building a community around your work. Take the time to research what platforms your target market is using, and develop a plan for how you’ll use those platforms to engage with your audience. This can include creating a consistent posting schedule, engaging with your followers, and using paid advertising to reach new audiences.
Building a social media strategy is crucial for professional photographers as it allows them to reach new clients and build a community around their work. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are powerful tools for promoting your photography business and engaging with potential clients.
By researching which platforms your target market is using, you can tailor your strategy to reach them more effectively.
For example, if your target market is primarily composed of young adults, Instagram would be a great platform to focus on, as according to data from Statista, there are over 1 billion active monthly users on Instagram, with the majority of users being between the ages of 18-34.
Instagram is particularly valuable for marketing photography businesses as it is a highly visual platform, making it the perfect place to showcase your work. The platform also has a variety of features such as Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Reels, which allow you to share different types of content and reach a wider audience. Instagram also has a powerful search and discover feature, which allows users to discover new accounts and content based on their interests, making it easier for potential clients to find your work.
Facebook is a valuable tool for marketing your photography business because it has a large and diverse user base. It is used by people of all ages, making it a great platform for reaching a wide range of potential clients. Additionally, Facebook’s targeting capabilities allow you to reach specific demographics, such as people who live in a certain area or have shown interest in photography.
While Facebook also offers visual content, it also allows for more detailed and informative posts, such as in-depth blog posts, and allows for more detailed targeting of your audience. It also has a more robust set of tools for business owners to use, such as a shop section and the ability to create a business page, and it’s more of a general social media platform that allows for more conversations and interactions between users.
Similarly, if you’re targeting business professionals, LinkedIn would be a great platform to focus on. While Facebook and Instagram are more general social media platforms that can be used for both personal and professional purposes, LinkedIn is specifically designed for professionals to connect and network with one another. By using LinkedIn to market and build your photography business, you can reach a different audience than you would on Facebook or Instagram. LinkedIn can also be a valuable tool for networking with other professionals in the photography industry, such as photo editors, art directors, and other photographers. This can help you to build relationships, stay up-to-date on industry trends, and find new opportunities for your business.
We can’t leave out TikTok. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in recent years. As of 2021, it has over 2 billion downloads worldwide and is particularly popular among younger users, with over 60% of American TikTok users being under the age of 30. .
One of the reasons for TikTok’s rapid growth is its unique format, which focuses on short-form videos that are 15 seconds or less. This format allows users to quickly and easily create and share content, and it has proven to be particularly well-suited for creative expression, such as music, dance, comedy, and photography.
TikTok allows you to showcase your work in a creative and engaging way, by creating short, visually appealing videos that highlight your photography skills.
With a strong sense of community and engagement, TikTok is an ideal platform to build a community around your work. You can use your account to engage with other photographers and influencers in your niche, and build relationships with potential clients.
Paid advertising on social media.
Another effective way to use social media is to use paid advertising options like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and LinkedIn Ads to target potential clients who are actively searching for photographers in your area. With these tools, you can reach a wider audience and increase the visibility of your work.
F-stop the chaos and get organized.
Back up your images.
It’s important to regularly back up your images to protect them in case of hardware failure or other issues. Take the time during the slow season to make sure all of your images are properly backed up and stored in multiple locations. Use cloud-based storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud to store your images and make sure they’re easily accessible from any device.
Audit your price and product list.
Take a look at your pricing and product offerings to make sure they’re still in line with industry standards and that you’re offering a wide range of options for clients. Consider adding new products or services to your offerings to appeal to a wider range of clients. Offer a range of print products like photo albums, prints on canvas, metal prints, and framing options to cater to different client needs.
Get your equipment cleaned and serviced.
It’s easy to neglect regular maintenance when you’re busy with client work, but taking the time to get your equipment cleaned and serviced can help ensure it’s in good working order and prolong its lifespan.
Update your software.
Make sure you’re using the latest version of your editing and workflow software to take advantage of new features and improve your efficiency.
Do your taxes.
The end of the year can be a hectic time, and it’s easy to put off doing your taxes until the last minute. Take the time during the slow season to gather all of your financial information and get your taxes done early, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Recharge your batteries.
We don’t mean your camera battery, we are talking about self-care. Part of self-care is remembering why you became a photographer in the first place. The slow season can be a great time to step back from the pressure of client work and shoot for yourself. Take the time to experiment with new techniques or explore new subjects that you’re passionate about. This can not only be a lot of fun, but it can also help you to master new skills and hone in on your creativity.
You can wing it or try a few of our ideas:
- Photography scavenger hunt: Create a list of objects, scenes, or types of photography that you want to capture and set out to find them all. This is a great way to challenge yourself to think creatively and try new things.
- Photo walk: Plan a walk or hike with friends or family and bring your camera along. This is a great way to get outside and explore new places while also practicing your photography skills.
- Photo challenge: Join a photography challenge group on social media or create your own with friends. Each day or week, a new theme is given and you have to take a photo related to that theme.
- Photowalks: Join a photo walk with a local photography group. This is a great way to meet new people who share your passion for photography and explore new places together.
- Experiment with different techniques: Try out different techniques such as long exposures, panning, or intentional camera movement. This will help you to develop your skills and creativity.
- Play with lighting: Experiment with different lighting conditions, such as shooting in low light or using artificial light sources. This will help you to learn how to control light and create different moods in your photos.
- Have a photo day out: Plan a day out with friends or family to take photos together. This can be a fun way to spend time together and make memories while also practicing your photography skills.
Snap up some new knowledge.
Attending conferences and trainings is another way to invest in your own professional development during the slow season. Attend photography conferences, workshops or online training to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. This can be a great way to learn new techniques, meet other photographers, and get inspiration for your own work.
Here are a few top online photography courses with links to their respective websites:
- Photography 101: The Fundamentals of Photography by Skillshare
- Mastering Manual Photography by Udemy
- The Complete Photography Bundle by Photography School
- Digital Photography Fundamentals by Coursera
- The Art of Photography by TedEd
- The Complete Photography Masterclass 2020 by Udemy
- Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography by Skillshare
- Street Photography: Capturing the Candid Moment by Coursera
- Photography for Beginners: A Complete Guide by FutureLearn
- Lightroom Classic: From Beginner to Pro by Skillshare
- Click: Online Photography Classes
- Skillshare: “Commercial Photography: A Guide to Shooting Professional Photos”
- YouTube: “Business Photography 101”
- LinkedIn Learning: “Photography for Small Business Owners”
- Khan Academy: “Photography: How to Tell a Story with Your Camera”
- Professional Photographers of America: Upcoming Webinars
- B&H Photo Video Education: “Lighting Fundamentals”
- Unraveled Academy: Online Photography Classes and Creative Challenges
Entering photography competitions can be another great way to get your work seen by a wider audience and get valuable feedback on your photography. We’ve researched photography competitions to make it easy for you to find one or two that align with your niche and consider submitting your work.
Here is a list of some photography competitions that you can consider entering in 2023:
Sony World Photography Awards: This is one of the most prestigious photography competitions in the world, open to photographers of all levels. The competition includes a variety of categories, including professional, open, and youth.
International Photography Awards (IPA): This competition is open to photographers from around the world, with categories in fine art, advertising, architecture, and more.
National Geographic Photo Contest: National Geographic is one of the most well-known and respected names in photography, and their annual photo contest is open to photographers of all levels and backgrounds.
The Magnum Photography Awards: This is a competition open to photographers everywhere, that honors the best new and emerging photographers working today.
World Press Photo: This competition is one of the most well-known and respected in the industry, honoring the best in photojournalism and documentary photography.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: This competition is organized by the Natural History Museum of London and it’s open to photographers of all levels, with categories for both professionals and amateurs.
The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year: This is a competition that honors the best in food photography, from professional photographers to amateurs.
The Landscape Photographer of the Year: This competition is open to photographers of all levels, with categories for both professionals and amateurs, and it’s organized by Take a View, one of the UK’s leading landscape photography magazines.
These are just a few examples of the many photography competitions that take place each year. Be sure to research the specific rules, categories and deadlines for each competition you are interested in entering.
Focus on blogging.
Another effective strategy to make the most of the slow season as a professional photographer is to establish a repository of blogs that you can draw on throughout the year when you’re occupied with photoshoots and editing images. Blogging is a powerful tool to enhance your brand, exhibit your work, and establish yourself as a specialist in your field.
During the slow season, invest time in researching and composing a variety of blog posts that will be of interest to your target market. This might include tips and tutorials on photography techniques, behind-the-scenes glimpses of your photoshoots, or interviews with other photographers or industry experts. You can also write posts that are more personal or reflective, such as sharing your thoughts on the creative process or discussing your favorite photographs.
When you have a repository of blog posts ready, it will be much easier to keep your website and social media accounts updated throughout the year, even when you’re busy with client work. You can schedule the blogs to be posted at regular intervals, or simply use them as filler content when you don’t have time to write something new.
Furthermore, you can repurpose your blog content into other formats such as e-books, videos, or podcast series. This will not only help you to reach a wider audience but also increase your visibility in the digital space. This can be done during the slow season when you have more time to focus on creating and editing the content.
As you can see, the slow season is the perfect time to dig into those neglected areas of your business, recharge your batteries, plan for the year ahead, and catch up with others in the industry. Choose a few of the ideas we’ve outlined above to get started (don’t try to do it all) and watch your business flourish once the nice weather and busy season return.