The regulations surrounding the C word are becoming damaging to businesses world-wide. The arts industry is suffering in a major way. Weddings being cancelled, postponed or completely abandoned all together.
I wanted to create a blog with some ideas on how we can stay afloat as photographers / videographers during these times. It pains me to see so many go without support, some losing all hope completely. Hopefully these ideas will help you with your mental state and spur you on to continue to your best ability in keeping your business going.
1. Guard Your Thoughts and Emotions - Don't Feed the Egregore
Okay, this might seem to some like a bit of a deep thought from the get go, but I think it is the most important thing if you want to continue successfully. If this event (Covid-19) happened 3 years ago, I would have crumbled. My anxiety was through the roof. I had, what I felt, absolutely no control over my inner self and my thoughts/emotions. Fortunately I was so uncomfortable with living this way for most of my adult life, that I was finally forced into making the changes I needed for myself. I couldn't bare it any longer. Something had to change.
One of the things I vowed at that point was to switch off to all of the external sources of fear and influence of mainstream / social media. I made it a habit to turn the radio off when the news came on, and I would go nowhere near the news channels on tv. If people spoke to me about happenings, I would shut the conversation down or divert it.
Now, I could speak about emotional/mental healing all day long and perhaps I will create an entire blog series on it some day, but if there's one tip I can give you especially right now, it is turn off to the noise and focus on yourself. Once you draw the line and take control of yourself (the only thing you do have control over) you can begin to feel better and thus have a more positive outlook on the situation. This will help you to behave in ways that are more productive, and your mind will find space to create solutions.
2. Diversify Your Skills
Whilst weddings and events are pretty much non existent, it is time to diversify your skillset and approach new angles. Commercial businesses are 'business as usual' but are suffering and need help now more than ever. They need feet through the door, they need to create trust amongst their customers. They need to shout louder than ever.
It could be your job to create social media/marketing content for them with your skills. Video and photo production is so valuable, even more so right NOW! It won't take much convincing to get businesses using your skills to help them spread awareness of their brand.
My tip would be to approach local businesses in person and speak to the one in charge. Have a presentation in mind, show your work, tell them your value and strike a deal with them. Remind them of their problem, and how you will solve that for them. Your skills will relieve them of their pain.
3. Recognise the Lesson
This is going to touch again on the mindset side of things. I think it is so important that we recognise this time as a lesson. Our own personal lesson. Literally flipping the whole pandemic on its head, and viewing it from a different angle. What is my lesson here? If we ask this question then we can pull all sorts of gems out.
For me, it is knowing that I need 2-3 sources of income to live more comfortably when things go pear. Putting all of my eggs in the wedding video/photo business was a terrible idea in hindsight. Can I take this time to learn skills in different industries? I'm converting a van (you can see what we're up to here) - I have never done any woodwork in my life, or electrics etc, but I am learning a heck of a lot. Got me thinking, could I do more of this? Could I practice until I have enough value to get paid for these types of services? If I had these skills before the pandemic, perhaps I would have been more relaxed knowing I had more skills than photography, and could continue to provide services in other ways. One of my other income streams is the photo and video delivery platform Eazyflicks. I had to diversify this business slightly and market to those outside of the wedding industry, because I soon recognised people were turning to commercial content creation over weddings due to restrictions.
What skills do you have other than photo/videography? You know how to build websites, SEO, marketing, branding, sales, email campaigns, virtual assistance, training? Do you have any experience in other fields, hair dressing, joinery, even a part time or sideline job or some sort could be enough to feed your family/self when things like this happen. Take some time to sit in a quiet room, write down all of the things you have learned in your past. Next to these things write down how you can approach and diversify yourself to create multiple sources of income.
What other lessons are there? Perhaps personal ones... Maybe it's that you have been distracted from the bigger picture. Maybe you have learned that time off is actually what you prefer over having a lot of money. It's a great time now to sit and recognise the lessons this has brought. We busy ourselves, this pandemic has put us on pause and we freaked out. What are we so scared of?
There are lessons in this, it'd be good to sit down and recognise them and view this entire experience from that angle instead of allowing it to victimise us.
Pictured below - one of my streams of income Eazyflicks cloud delivery.
4. Offer a Service That Suits the Restrictions
It could be an idea to offer a brand new service to help the cashflow during the pandemic. What are your local restrictions? If it is 15 people max, no reception, could you offer a unique service for those still wanting to get married which fits the restrictions? Believe it or not, there are still people who just simply want to get married regardless of the restrictions. This means you are more valuable to them as ever, they need photos/films to show those who can't attend!
Could you offer livestreaming services for weddings/funerals/businesses? Again, this is a really untapped niche that is so relevant in todays world. It takes relatively little money to get the basics in place and you could market it out in no time.
5. Upsell to Old Clients
A really good way to keep the cashflow going into winter could be to utilise your old clients' footage and create new edits or sell raw files. I have personally sold raw files on a hard drive before for £200-£300 per drive, and this has been a really nice income. I have also created a raw 'timeline' before, i.e an entire file which contains the clients raw footage, put together and exported down into an mp4 file. They LOVE watching all of the raw footage, and it gives you some control to mute bits etc too (the F's and Jeffs)
Another idea could be to incentivise your old clients' referrals. Perhaps you could mailshot them, telling them they get 'X amount' for every successful referral. Everyone is looking for some extra cash, they will become your very own marketing army.
So, I hope these ideas help. I will continue to blog as things come up. I know times are tough right now, but it is only here to pass. I wish you the very best in creating a new space for thought and reflection, and I hope that you use the suggestions above to take the pressure off current circumstances.