I started working on my “quarantine to-do list” last week, and while I have many projects to do around the house, I also have lots of things I want to do in and for my business. I always have a running list of business projects for a “rainy day,” and in this crazy season of worldwide pandemic, I’m choosing to do what I can to stay positive and complete some of these projects. Here’s my list of ideas to strengthen your business during this “downtime” and come out ahead once life returns to normal.
I also recognize that it may be too overwhelming at this point in time to tackle any big projects, and that’s ok too!
1) Write, blog & improve your SEO — Write educational posts for your clients & peers, blog old sessions, and then add all that content (schedule it over time) to boost your SEO in the coming months. I know blogging sounds intimidating to many, but just take it one step at a time. I sometimes find that it helps to write outside of my website like in Microsoft Word, Pages, or Notes just to get my thoughts on “paper,” and then transfer it to my webhost and add photos later. I also have colleagues who like to talk to text into their phones because they find that easier than typing it out initially. PRO TIP: Schedule educational content to post on Facebook, and then schedule it again for 6 months out (the furthest out FB will let you), and you have 2 social media posts in 1!
2) Create or update client guides — I have an electronic magazine for my potential wedding clients, my high school seniors, and my boudoir clients. These guides help answer a lot of questions I often get, saving me time and a lot of back-and-forth emails. There are templates you can buy from places like Magazine Mama and Birdesign Shop, two of my personal favorites!
3) Backup & organize your photos — Chances are you already have a great system in place for this, but it never hurts to revisit it and make updates or changes to your system or workflow. A set of systems and a foolproof workflow to make sure everything is backed up in a timely manner to eliminate loss of images in an emergency. I dropped a hard drive last fall, and didn’t lose ANY finished work because thankfully I had scrupulously backed up my images. I use Seagate hard drives and Zenfolio for jpeg backups.
4) Make presets — This is a fantastic time to make those presets either for your own business use or to sell to other creatives. I have a preset that gets applied to every image I import into Lightroom, and then I also have a B&W preset that gets applied to some. I also have a few others for various things like sports, boudoir, etc, as well as many export presets that get used very frequently.
5) Record videos — Video marketing is growing exponentially, and what better time to dive in and record some for future use once the pandemic has passed? Record things that will be helpful or uplifting to your clients like frequently asked questions, how-tos, behind-the-scenes, editing, etc. The possibilities are endless! (Disclaimer…. I do have kids at home like many of you and know that in many cases the quarantine period will make this much more difficult to accomplish.)
6) Create better workflow & automation — I love Honeybook, but I will say that I do not use it to its fullest potential. I recently started working on the “Tasks” portion of this powerful software, and am looking forward to implementing these into my business to streamline some things that I do over and over and to keep me ahead of the game with each client and save time in the long run. I think this will lend itself to my brand and my image with my clients by helping me to be more organized and proactive.
7) Email your clients — Even if you don’t already have email marketing working for your business, this is a great time to start. Compile your email list from your CRM (like Honeybook et al) or current Mailchimp/Constant Contact list, and then decide what to share with your new audience. I like to email once a quarter (though I’m not great about sticking to that) and share things like sales, affiliate links, upcoming mini sessions, recent blog posts, and favorite images. I try not to be too sales-y in my emails, but offer value to my clients instead. By sending them an email periodically, I stay top of mind, and hopefully one of the first photographers they refer to their family, friends, and colleagues.
8) Re-do or update your website — This is actually one thing I am not really focusing on during this downtime. I am happy with my website at the moment, and if anything I will continue to blog (like this post!), and possibly swap out some older photos for more recent ones. Take this opportunity though to work on a new theme, your about page, your portfolio and home page images, add links where needed, do a grammar and spell-check, etc. Some Reset presenters offer website audits, so get in touch with one of them if you need to be pointed in the right direction!
9) Support other businesses — many small businesses are struggling right now, and worried about what the future holds. Some little things you can do to help & support are to share their posts, leave positive reviews, tag them in posts & stories, buy gift cards, and offer encouragement. Social media is a hard place to be right now, but any time we can support each other and be positive through this will go a long way.
10) Update your contracts — Honeybook and Rising Tide have put together a great FREE resource for creative businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic. One slice of that is a Force Majeure clause from Reset presenter Paige Griffith, J.D., of The Legal Paige, which outlines what your business will do in future instances of pandemic/epidemic, among other things.
Holly Birch Smith is the blog manager for The Reset Conference. She is locally known among her peers as an SEO and blog guru. Holly is a wedding, boudoir & commercial photographer based in Mahomet, IL. She loves working with fun couples and colorful weddings with both natural light and off-camera flash.