Down to the Wire: 16 Last-Minute Ideas for Your Photography Business with Skip Cohen
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It’s October, and we’re down to the wire as we wrap up 2017. We’ve got around 60 days to make a difference. Here are some last-minute things you can do that will impact your business.
- Opportunities to Say Thanks: Thanksgiving and the December holidays are the perfect time to do something special for those vendors or clients who have been helpful to you. Think about unique ways to thank venue sales managers and clients who’ve referred business to you. It can be as simple as a holiday card with a sappy handwritten message to a wine and cheese basket, flowers or even lunch.
- Holiday Cards: As I’ve written in the past, no professional photographer should ever send a store-bought holiday card. Put your card together now so you can get it out in time for the holidays. Use one of your favorite images for the front. On the back, put your contact information in the center at the bottom, just like a Hallmark card. Check out Marathon Press for your printing needs.
- Clean Up Your Database: Designing a holiday card won’t do you much good if your database isn’t up to date. You need accurate addresses to get your cards in the mail, so start cleaning it up a little each day. Remember, this isn’t just a database of past clients, but opinion leaders in the community, nonprofit organizations you work with, vendors and businesses important to you.
- Talk With an Accountant: Don’t wait until April to find out if you made any money this year. Look at your earnings and expenses year to date. If your earnings are high, this might be the perfect time to purchase some larger-ticket items to offset some of your taxes.
- Conventions and Workshops: For the most part, the last big convention of the year nationally is PPE in NYC at the end of this month. If you’re going, then plan your trip. What gear do you need? Who do you want to catch up to at the convention? Are there workshops you need to attend to build your skillset? Remember to never eat alone—don’t wait until you’re in NYC to make dinner reservations. Check with friends who are going and those people you’d like to get time with, and set up at least one evening in advance.
- Holiday Celebrations: Whether you fly solo in your business or you’ve got a small staff, there are people you want to thank for their help. If you’ve got a team, think about you want to celebrate the December holidays and year’s end.
- Promotions: Even if you haven’t done any planning for the fourth quarter, here’s your last chance to put something together for your target audience, but don’t just promote to have something out there. Think through what you’d like to do. Next, define the audience. Keep it straightforward and decide how best to contact the consumers you want to target.
One of my favorite promotions is the “day-in-the-life” concept. Create a small album of images of kids, for example. You don’t have to spend the entire day with them, but a four-hour on-location shoot is enough to tell their story and create a great gift for Grandma.
- Be the Photography Expert: Write a series of short, helpful posts about taking better family pictures over the holidays. One of the fundamental elements of a successful blog is about helping people. Help them capture better photos.
There are things you do every day that you never think about. Share these tips and position yourself as being the photographic resource for the community. In a way, this is about giving back. Here’s an easy list of topics to start.
- Posing tips: Let’s get rid of firing-squad lineups. Show examples of how to pose subjects, just a few easy ones positioning the faces in triangles like you do with every grouping.
- What you see is what you get: Remind your audience about composition and to not be afraid to move in closer—fill the frame.
- Fill flash: Even with a cellphone, it makes a difference.
- Storytelling: Help them with the concept of capturing more than one image to tell their story.
- Lighting: Help them understand the challenge with backlighting and to make the appropriate changes for a better image.
- Thanksgiving: One of my favorites is to remind people to get the family shot before the table looks like a war zone.
- Details: It’s part of storytelling, but you’ve got the ability to help your audience think through their images.
- Holiday Contests on Your Blog: There’s nothing wrong with creating a contest for your readers and the community. Make the grand prize something more than just a portrait sitting. Talk with your lab about a new product to launch in a contest format that might be part of your product line or something you want to include later on.
- Partnerships: Look for a partner or two to cross-promote your products and services over the holidays. It’s a little late if you don’t have the relationships established already, but even if it’s something you launch in the new year, it’ll pay off in building your business.
- Throwback Thursday: Too many of you have missed the opportunity to use this as a marketing tool. With the holidays, odds are you’ve got older images that bring back memories. This goes back to the topic of blog content. It’s an excellent way to remind Mom of the importance of photographs and how fast the kids are growing up.
- Gift Ideas: Put together a list of the hottest photography products of the year. Don’t worry about overstating it. This isn’t Letterman’s old top ten, just you planting ideas for great gifts this holiday season. Remember always to show the item you talk about. Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, don’t waste text describing an idea if you can plant the seed with a photograph.
- Publicity: Nobody can talk about your business like you can, but you’ve got to get the word out with short publicity releases. Check back to the September 2015 issue of Shutter Magazine. I included a template you’re welcome to plagiarize. November and December are the perfect times to share stories about new things you’re doing, community involvement and nonprofit events.
- Who’s Shooting the Kiwanis Holiday Party? Whether Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club, the Chamber of Commerce or dozens of other community groups, odds are they’re having a holiday party. The window is closing fast, and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Whether it’s coverage of the event in a photojournalistic style or portraits of each guest, you’re the best one to suggest something a little different this year.
- Kids and the Classroom: In the same way your blog is going to help Mom, visiting local schools and doing a short presentation on posing and composition might be just the thing a teacher is looking for to add to the holiday curriculum. Every kid today is taking and sharing pictures. If we’ve learned nothing else over the years from television advertising, we all know the way to get to Mom and Dad is through their kids. I wouldn’t go younger than fourth or fifth grade, and right up to high school seniors.
- A Way to Say Thanks: Dean Collins used to contact the president or CEO of companies he’d worked with to offer a gift of a family holiday portrait sitting. Let’s say you photographed the annual report for a company in your community. What a great way to say thanks by offering a holiday portrait to the company’s senior executive.
It might be October, but the two typically biggest months of the year are coming. Even if there’s little you’ve done to add a little spark to the holiday season, there’s still plenty you can do. Just stop procrastinating and do it already!