“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”
Once you have your business up and running, it is important to stay ahead of the game at all times, stand still for long enough and you may well get left behind.
You need to always think ahead, look to expand and even diversify into new areas of photography (and/or video) if necessary especially during hard times such as the 2008-2015 (and possibly) ongoing credit crunch/recession.
Let’s look at some ideas for a couple of topics and business areas.
I have been saying for a few years now that photographers are going to have to learn videography skills if they want to stay current and keep up with the competition. Since 2007 I have on occasion, also taken some video footage during weddings that I have shot for the slideshows.
Now, video is a major part of all new DSLR’s which means two things:
- Other wedding photographers have started to include video clips with their wedding media slideshows. Wedding albums now have the ability to hold short video clips on paper thin screens…
- Videographers are starting to use DSLR’s due to the amazing High Definition, low noise and bokeh they can achieve with a sub $1000 camera whereas before you needed a high end, professional video camera with interchangeable lenses costing tens of thousands of Dollars to get the same effect. This also means they will have access to, and might feel the need to take some stills also (in fact I know a bunch that are doing just that).
Photography/videography is merging when it comes to weddings so this is one area you need to get clued up on if you are to compete with and beat your competitors.
The same thing happened a few years ago when Photobooks were introduced at affordable prices. Many photographers made the switch from traditional albums to books which meant a whole new learning curve in the creation of the final output.
Even though you may get by without adapting immediately, it does no harm to start to learn new things and try them out now.
If shooting or thinking about shooting stock for a living, again, you need to think of the future. For example, I have been shooting stock images and footage of Weymouth since 2008 due to the 2012 Olympics which were held here.
I also did the same in London (but not as much) to try and capture and supply to some of that demand.
It would also serve you well to look to and think of future trends when shooting stock. Think about new issues, good and bad, new technology and how it is being used, think about social issues, people, places and anything else that changes regularly.
Places and technology are forever changing so every few years, new images are needed.
Think ahead and plan for it. Read the news and watch for topics starting to take hold or grow and cultivate into bigger stories so you can get images taken and uploaded for when the demand reaches its peak.
By getting your images uploaded early, you will hopefully get some popularity rating before any demand reaches its high and so your images will rise to the top of any searches.
Always research what techniques other photographers are using to attract new customers.
Techniques in both style and processing as well as marketing techniques. Look out for really cool ideas and create your own interpretation…try and re-invent yourself now and again whilst keeping your signature style intact.
If you have an online presence you would do well to educate yourself continuously with updated marketing techniques:
- Google are always changing their algorithms, Adwords technology and SEO tactics.
- Marketers thinking up clever ways to attract new business.
- Programmers creating new software that alleviates your time by automating certain marketing processes.
- New outlets and social media sites on which to pimp your services and list your own website
- New suppliers
- New advertising avenues
- …and so on…
Expand and Diversify
In order to survive the next recession or credit crunch (whenever that is), have some funds, ideas and tactics in place to help weather the storm. Think of new ways to bring in revenue that are not so dependent on your local or national economy (could you or would you want to try destination weddings?).
Expand into new areas and teach yourself new skills during lulls in trading, use your spare time effectively. I always spent the winter periods when work was slow in the wedding or property market learning about the internet and internet marketing. I started to write about photography and taught myself stock photography.
I figure that if you always have a back-up plan, and a back-up plan for your back-up plan, you should be ok. If you have come from an entirely different industry, keep in touch with the dealings in that industry in case you ever need to fall back on it.
Seasons and Holidays
Think about upcoming seasons and how you can attract clients to your business:
- Valentine’s Day/Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas Special Portrait Sittings
- Christmas Stock Photography
- Summer/Winter/Sports Event Photography
- Easter Promotions
- St George’s Day Special
With all these plans and “fail-safe’s” in place, you will need to budget to account for them. Always have a little set aside for downturns in the economy. Know that there will be times when you may have to spend your way out of a recession by spending more on marketing and advertising to attract the fewer clients that are out there.
Next Page – Don’t Give Up