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A Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Auditing Your Business During COVID-19

POSTED IN : Business & Client Experience, Client Communication, Photographers
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If you’re a wedding photographer, when the “off-season” rolls around, it’s time to audit your wedding photography business.

This means that you need to take a deep dive into your business and find out what needs to be worked on to make it healthy and sustainable long term.

In other words, when there’s less client work going on, that’s always a signal to work ON your business instead of IN the business.

And in this current moment of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re all finding ourselves in a very unintentional off-season.

With our calendars suddenly cleared of weddings, events, and shoots for the foreseeable future, we don’t have client-work to fill our days with tasks.

So you might be turning to your list of “off-season” projects… and getting very overwhelmed.

Because here’s the catch…

…even if you know you should be working ON your business right now, there’s a lot of things that could be.

How do you know which projects are the most important ones to focus on during this COVID-19 crisis?

If you’re finding yourself floundering, and you have no idea what’s the most valuable use of your time right now, don’t worry.

We’re here to help.

 

Introducing: 
How to Audit Your Photography Business
(The Blog Series)

 

Jeff and I have a commitment to you: Whatever we can do to help, we’ll do.

Thankfully, we have some pretty amazing photographer friends who are willing to do the same.  

To answer this question of “what do I work on during this sudden off-season?”, I asked some experts.

I got in touch with a bunch of photographers from around the U.S. who we know are all running legitimately successful businesses – and we asked them TWO questions:

 

QUESTION #1:

When it’s a typical wedding off season and it’s time to work ON your business and not IN your business, what 2-3 things do you work on to make sure your business stays healthy?

QUESTION #2:

What have you decided to work on right now to get through this crisis?

 

 

Friend, these incredible folks came back with waaaves of knowledge that I’m SO EXCITED to share with you!

We studied their answers, and it wasn’t surprising that the same themes kept occurring over and over again – not just for this season of economic crisis, but for any time when client work is slow (like an off-season from weddings). 

So we’ve taken everything we gathered from these successful photographers and created a roadmap for you.

So my friends, here it is:

 

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS AUDIT GAME PLAN. 

 

We’re rolling out for you the exact steps you need to take to audit your business and level up during any off-season. 

Pay very close attention to what these wise, successful photographers have to share.

Your future business will thank you for diving in and embracing this off-season opportunity.

Quick Links: 

 

Step One: Update Your Website

Cleaning up your wedding photography website should be at the TOP of your priority list during any off-season, and so many other photography experts agree! 

In the off-season, I work on website updates first. We just published a website refresh!  (Abby Grace Photography)

Remember that this is the first place where many of your clients will fall in love with you… so don’t underestimate the importance of lovin’ on your website.

Your website should answer two questions for prospective clients:

    1. Are you good at what you do?
    2. Are you the best person to do that for someone like me? 

RESOURCE: Watch our FB Live with Davey Jones:
How to Get Your Website in Shape NOW

A total website re-do may not be possible or necessary, but there are four main steps to take when cleaning up your website during the off-season:

    1. FIRST, refresh all of the images on your website with only the BEST – the most jaw-dropping images which are best suited to your current style. 
    2. SECOND, dial in your Homepage so that your best work, your brand, and your location are front and center.
    3. THIRD, clean up your About Page and make sure your FACE and your STORY are clear.
    4. FOURTH, invite your client into your unique transformation process by dialing in your Services Page.

 

Want to learn more? Read the full post here:
How to Update Your Wedding Photography Website

 

Step Two: Use Email Templates and Guides to Education Your Clients

The best way to solve problems for your clients, your vendors, and yourself is to develop educational content so that you can AVOID these problems to begin with. 

One of the best ways for you to use your time in the off-season is to refine your client communications.

FREEBIE: Download Our Top 3 Email Templates for FREE

 

Updating your client communications will do two VERY important things for you:

    1. It will make YOUR life way easier by saving you time and educating your clients
    2. It will make your CLIENTS feel taken care of and improve their experience with you

Both of these things are going to directly impact the current AND future health of your business, so every bit of effort you put in now will pay off both now and later. 

 

RESOURCE: Jumpstart your client communications overhaul with our email templates, workflows, and wedding contract in our Complete Wedding Toolkit! 

 

Always start with creating email templates to answer the most frequently asked questions for your clients and vendors – this is the simplest way to save everyone a headache!

Next, to build SEO and keep your blog consistent, create evergreen blog posts that you can link in your email templates and share over and over again. 

And lastly, design educational guides and PDFs to create a high-end client experience. 

 

I’ll walk you through the steps to take here:
How to Use Wedding Photography Email Templates to Educate Your Clients

 

Step Three: Creating the Delightfully Unexpected in Your Client Experience

Once you have audited your client experience by updating your website and refining your client communications, you’ll want to think of ways you can create the delightfully unexpected for your clients. 

And what exactly does the delightfully unexpected mean

Think back to the last time you received a surprise. Did you keep quiet about it? 

OR did you blab about it to the next person you saw because you were just sooooo stinkin’ giddy about it??

Of course you shared it! 

It’s the simple truth: people cannot resist sharing their delight.

So infusing fun and unexpected surprises into your client experience is the KEY to creating an unforgettable brand experience.

Creating the delightfully unexpected for your clients will turn them from loyal customers to raving fans who cannot help but recommend you…. 

Especially when those surprises are totally aligned with:

    • Your brand story
    • Your dream client’s core values

RESOURCE: Feeling flustered by the types of clients you’re attracting? Unlock your dreamies with this FREE Masterclass.

 

You will also want to think of ways to surprise vendors throughout your client experience. A positive experience for them means that you develop more meaningful relationships and referral power through these like minded brands. 

And since any relationship is a two-way street, don’t forget to find ways to be a raving fan of your favorite vendors as well!

 

See the EXACT steps we take to surprise our clients here:
Your Client Experience: Creating the Delightfully Unexpected

 

Step Four: Dig Into Photographer Education
to Grow Your Business

This is a topic that Jeff and I really really believe in – and it turns out, nearly every other successful photographer feels the same way:

Your off-season is the perfect time to EDUCATE yourself.

“The quieter off-season is the perfect time to dig into educational content.” (Sarah Bradshaw)

When you’re not overloaded with client work, there is extra space for you to dig into education – which will nurture the long-term health of your photography business.

When it comes to education, the sky’s the limit! There are ENDLESS resources out there for photographers – and a lot of them are being offered for free OR at a great discount right now. 

“I’m always looking for my weak links in my business, and educating myself on how to strengthen them.” (CHARDphoto)

However, over and over again we heard 3 key themes when it comes to photographer education: 

 

1. Study up on business books or podcasts

  • To pull you out of any kind of business-related rut, you should dig into reading or listening to a business book during this season – whether it’s related to marketing, profitability, branding, or otherwise! 

 

SHAMELESS PLUG: Get caught up on allll of the free resources and training
on our podcast, Creative Rising

READY FOR MORE? Get Our List of 10 Books Every Photographer Should Read

 

2. Refresh your album sales process

  • In addition, other successful photographers shared that they use the off-season to learn how to refine their album workflow or sales process, since it is not only key to the profitability of their business, but crucial to their client experience.

RESOURCE: Grab our Wedding Album Workflow Guide or Album Email Templates

 

3. Learn something new (and stay consistent) with social media

  • It’s also the perfect time to learn something new with social media to incorporate into your marketing plan. Beyond that, it’s also important to stay consistent and continue showing up. 

 

Ready to grow? Dive into this post:
Photographer Education You Should Dig Into Now

 

Step Five: Dial in Your Photography Contract
and Cash Flow 

You should also be using this season to dive into some of the nitty gritty that comes with the financial and legal areas of your photography business. 

 

Struggling with How to Respond to COVID-19 Cancellations?
We’ve taken the guesswork out for you in this article here: 
How to Respond to a Wedding Cancellation or Postponement During COVID-19

 

Use the off-season to reinforce the vulnerable areas of your photography business, including dialing in your photography contract and cash flow.

It is important to routinely meet with a lawyer to update your photography contract and familiarize yourself with exactly what it says. 

 

RESOURCE: Check out all of our contracts in our Photographer Shop!

 

In order to get a handle on your cash flow, start by getting clear on the numbers with your bookkeeper, then look for ways to cut back expenses and brainstorm fresh ideas to generate revenue now. 

 

You’ll learn how we reinforce these areas of our business in this post:
How to Routinely Dial in Your Photography Contract & Cash Flow.

 

The Complete Round-Up

This season has the power to transform the bones of your business, if you choose to dig in, my friend.

Are you ready to get going? Are you ready to embrace this season and dig your heels in? 

We’ve rounded up ALL of the complete posts on How to Audit Your Business During Covid-19 below:

 

I’ll be the first to admit that this season is NOT easy.

But know that I am CHEERING YOU ON. 

You. Got. This.

Hugs,
Erin

WELCOME

Hi there! We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren, a hubby and wifey wedding photography team in San Diego. We shoot together. We travel together. We dream together. And we believe the best thing to hold onto in life is each other (+ a great glass of wine…)

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