Oooo my friends, I’m SO excited to dive into this topic with you: off-season photographer education!
We’ve spent the past three weeks of our blog series, How to Audit Your Business in the Off-Season, digging into how to complete a total Client Experience Audit.
It has been jam-packed with practical and CRITICAL actions you should take during the off-season to level-up your client experience.
Check out the first three posts in the series here:
- How to Update Your Wedding Photography Website
- How to Use Wedding Photography Email Templates to Educate Your Clients
- Your Client Experience: Creating the Delightfully Unexpected
But now, it’s time to jump head-first into something Jeff and I really really believe in – and it turns out, nearly every other successful photographer feels the same way:
Now is the perfect time to EDUCATE yourself.
“The quieter off-season is the perfect time to dig into educational content.” (Sarah Bradshaw)
When we asked a list of photographers who are running successful businesses what they are prioritizing during the COVID-19 crisis, off-season photographer education came up over and over again.
“I’m watching all those courses I purchased last year that I never took the time to consume. My biggest priority is getting through Ashlyn Carter’s course, Primed To Launch, and after that, I’ll be making my way through Annie Leibovitz’s Masterclass!” (Abby Grace Photography)
Using the off-season to dig into some form of education will benefit your business both now AND later, so it is not to be ignored.
Off-Season Photographer Education is Key for the Long Term Health of Your Business
I cannot stress this enough, my friends: Educating yourself is extremely important for the long-term health of your business.
Most likely, there is an area of your business that’s causing you frustration, or just isn’t working.
Or perhaps there is some unlocked potential you just haven’t nurtured or uncovered yet.
If you’re like me, this can cause some MAJOR frustration. I’ll keep hitting my head against a wall, because I can’t dig my way out and actually learn how to do something the right way.
My friends, now is the time to dig into those areas of your business.
Get Curious About Your Pain Points
The first step is to identify the pain points in your business right now:
What’s causing you frustration lately?
What are the areas of your business that feel STUCK?
Next, it’s time to get curious.
Why is it stuck? What’s the roadblock that’s in the way?
Why have you always done it in that specific way up until now?
When Jeff and I ask ourselves these questions, there is ONE phrase that Jeff and I simply never accept:
“Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
That answer is the enemy, my friends. It’s going to KEEP YOU STUCK.
That is, until you finally get curious, lean into educating yourself, and innovate the areas of your business that have always left you stumped.
I absolutely adore the attitude that Rich Lander keeps about his business:
“I’m always looking for my weak links in my business, and educating myself on how to strengthen them.” (CHARDphoto)
A few years ago, when he realized that his weak link was styling and photographing details at his weddings, he took action:
“I took a few online courses, chatted with planners about what their expectations are, and conversed with other photographers that I admire about what they do. Now, I feel a million times more comfortable shooting details, and clients have even hired me specifically because of the way I design flat lays.” (CHARDphoto)
In this post, I’m only going to share three key areas of your business to focus on – these were the common threads that came up again and again in our conversations with other photographers.
However, there are endless directions you can take your photography education during this season, and they should correlate with the pain points we identified earlier.
So, consider this a starting point.
Let’s do this!
Read (or Listen) Up to Boost Your Business Knowledge
There are seasons of business where we all need a little inspiration, redirection, or guidance.
And right now, in the middle of COVID-19, I think we’re ALL neck-deep in one of those seasons.
We’ve let the quicksand of overwhelm pull us under, and we need to be pulled out and given a fresh perspective.
When you find yourself in any off-season, look to the experts for a business reset.
There are in-cred-uh-ble business books out there that you simply must read.
…OR listen to!
Whether it’s dialing in your profitability, your leadership skills, or your branding story, there are some very valuable books and podcasts out there for you to absorb.
And I’ll tell you EXACTLY where to start!
Our Favorite Business Books
There are THREE must-read books that every photographer (and every entrepreneur, for that matter) should have in their tool-belt:
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Before you do anything else, read this book! It is foundational for anyone that is pursuing a meaningful, fulfilling, and sustainable business.
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- Instead of focusing on twenty important things, what if you focused on THE important thing? This book will help you understand what your greatest contribution is and how to focus on it.
- Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller
- Donald Miller walks you through the process of crafting and simplifying your brand message so your ideal customers respond to it – a MUST for any photographer!
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
READY FOR MORE? Get Our List of 10 Books Every Photographer Should Read
Our Favorite Business Podcasts
And I simply wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t recommend a podcast or two – because these are always in my earbuds when I get a chance!
- Brands That Book with Davey Jones
- Davey Jones is a branding expert and has created a show for creative service-based business owners who want to learn how to build their brands and find more clients.
- Six Figure Photographer with Ben Hartley
- Ben Hartley is an award winning international wedding photographer, and shares all his marketing knowledge that built his six-figure business in less than two years.
- Brands That Book with Davey Jones
SHAMELESS PLUG: Get caught up on our podcast, Creative Rising!
Happy reading (or listening), my friends!
Refine Your Physical Product Sales Process
In addition to reading and studying up on business matters, other successful photographers mentioned that they’re boosting their education in two key areas: physical products and social media.
And we know just how paralyzing these topics can feel.
For many photographers, the process of selling physical products can feel REALLY overwhelming.
However, selling albums, canvases, framed prints – whichever you choose to focus on – are a central part of any successful photography business.
This is an area that Jeff and I are constantly auditing and refining – because it’s SO crucial to not only our profitability, but also our client experience.
Still looking for an album company?
We lovelovelove KISS Books.
And we’re not the only ones – so many other photographers said the SAME thing.
“We concentrate on fulfilling more of our clients’ album designs and prints. We are constantly trying to make our workflow more efficient since this is an ever-changing process.” (Duke Images)
So many other successful photographers are using this time to focus on either getting better at selling albums OR improving their album workflow.
Rich Lander of CHARDphoto chooses to focus on the album process, not just because it can increase his initial collection price with his wedding clients, but it can be a great way to make extra revenue when it’s not booking season.
“I love albums and many of my clients purchase them as part of their wedding collection with me, however I’m looking to improve how I can sell albums to clients that didn’t book it as part of their collection and also looking to improve selling albums to my clients’ family members as well.” (CHARDphoto)
I’ll get you started with our resources below:
Maximize Your Social Media Presence
Are you feeling super frustrated with social media, too?
Do you feel like you’re losing your mind in the process of making it work for your business?
I have absolutely been there.
And can I be totally honest with you? I still feel that way. A LOT.
It’s comforting to know that so many others feel the same way – which is why so many other rockstar photographers have said that they DIG IN to social media during their off-season.
Because it’s undeniable that social media isn’t going away anytime soon.
So we have two options:
We can continue to spin our wheels with social media and never get anywhere
(and feel totally frustrated in the process),
We can dig in and take ownership with social media.
Let’s chat about two important ways to do this during your off-season.
Learn Something New with Social Media
Your off-season is also the best time to really dig into any NEW social media strategies or platforms you’re interested in for your business.
“Instagram is still my bread and butter, but right now I’m diving into educating myself on Pinterest, YouTube Ads, and conjuring up a strategy for Tik Tok. There’s always so much to learn and love that when I get a certain part of the business dialed in, there’s a new weak link to inspire me to learn and work on something new!” (CHARDphoto)
Where is there an opportunity for you to learn when it comes to social media?
- Have you always been stumped by Pinterest?
- Does hopping on Instagram Stories and talking directly to your audience totally freak you out?
- Are you totally flummoxed by how Facebook Ads work?
Now is the perfect time to dig in, my friends!
“I use this time to begin tackling projects like forming a consistent Pinterest strategy and mastering Facebook advertising.” (KT Merry)
There are limitless resources out there to dig into how to make Social Media really work for you.
And you’ll be kicking yourself later if you didn’t take the time NOW to really learn how to integrate these systems into your business.
(Especially while so many of those photographer courses are being offered for FREE or at a greatly reduced rate!)
Consistency is Key
When there are no shoots or weddings during the off-season (or during this current COVID-19 season), it can be tempting to slowwwwly disappear from social media.
But no matter which season it is, people are still paying attention.
So it’s important as ever to STAY CONSISTENT.
Many successful photographers cited that they are staying consistent with their social media during the off-season – this includes not only Instagram and Facebook, but also newsletters, blogging, and getting their work submitted for online features.
“I am focused on sticking to my content calendar and generating a blog post and newsletter a week––a schedule I’ve struggled with in the past.” (KT Merry)
Take it from some of the best in the business – even without new client work coming in or new content being created, you have to keep showing up.
In addition to regularly submitting his work for publication, Duke Khodaverdian of Duke Images emphasized the importance of not disappearing on social media during the off-season:
“My studio manager and I talk daily about our social media content, so we can still promote our work.” (Duke Images)
Without as much client work on your plate, now is actually the perfect time to get into a solid rhythm of posting on whichever channels you’re focusing on in your business.
You’ll want to use this time to either develop OR keep up a healthy and consistent rhythm on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube… wherever it is that you’re showing up.
STUMPED ON A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY?
Listen to Creative Rising Episode 102: The Bullseye Method: Build a Social Media System to Attract Your Dreamies
- The off-season is the perfect time to dig into photographer education in order to nurture the long-term health of your photography business.
- 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.
- Use the off-season to learn how to refine your album workflow or sales process, since it is key to your profitability and client experience.
- It’s the perfect time to learn something new with social media to incorporate into your marketing plan – and it’s also important to stay consistent and continue showing up.
- However, 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.
Tell me, friends: Which area of your business are YOU most excited to continue educating yourself on?
I can’t wait to hear what you’re digging into during this season!
Next week, in our final week of this blog series, we’re going to land on a VERY important task in your Photography Business Audit:
How to dial in your cash flow, contracts, and legal documents.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by this one, this is NOT one to miss! I’ll see you then!