Every year photographers hit a span of time where it’s a little too cold outside for photos and weddings and the stream of constantly shooting slows down…or what you’ve probably heard over and over: “off season.” Based on where you live, this can either be a few months or just a few weeks and you’re either reeeeally looking forward to it or you feel a little overwhelmed with all of the time you have!
I personally love this time of year (once I get over my little unmotivated slump during the holidays!) because I get to spend more time “on” my business rather than “in” it. When you’re shooting senior after wedding after engagement, it’s hard to ever improve your client experience or add anything new –– or even just keep up with everyday business tasks!
I have lists on lists brainstorming “what could I do in 2020?” But I know when I was first starting it was sometimes hard to look at this downtime and know what to do with it…
So today I’m sharing all of my thoughts and ideas for how photographers can use their off season to take their businesses to the next level (even if it’s just a small step!).
This will always be at the top of my list because I believe it is one of the MOST important things you can do for your business, especially if you are just starting out or are looking to get into a new niche. There is so much free content online, on top of purchasing courses from the best in the industry.
I have purchased SO many courses…we’re talking HOURS of content to watch and read through. That takes a lot of time and headspace! This is the perfect time of year to dedicate a few hours a day or a few days a week to work through your courses (I mean you did spend good money on them!). Then you also have time to get out there and practice too!
There is sooo much time taken up in just emailing information to clients…and then trying to figure out what happens next, what information you’ve send to certain people, keeping up with where people are at in the process, etc.
One of the best things I ever did for my business was mapping out and creating my client workflows in Dubsado (here’s the blog post about how I use it!!!).
I’m not currently utilizing any of the automation, but having my sales process stages built out with the corresponding email templates, questionnaires, contracts, and invoices makes life so much easier –– and makes the experience better too!
If you haven’t taken the time to do this, start with just writing down everything that happens from when someone fills out a form on your site –– every email, questionnaire, and gift. Then you can start creating those within your CRM system.
If you’ve already done this, this is a great time of year to review it! There is always room to tweak the wording, update the questionnaires, and find the holes within the process.
This is something I LOVE so if you need help, please reach out!!
Updating your website is another big one!!! You probably have so many beautiful images that haven’t made it to your website…and they deserve to be shown off!
You can use this time to update the different pages on your website to make sure they are reflective of your most recent and best work. Aside from just the images, you can also review the pages for holes (where people get lost or stuck in the navigation of your site) or add additional information to make the flow easier.
If you don’t feel super comfortable doing this yourself, it’s also a great time to find a designer you love and have them do the heavy lifting! Launching a website will still require a lot of work on your end so you want to do it at a time when you have time to dedicate to it.
Y’all know I have to talk about content… Blogging, videos, Instagram captions, Pinterest, Facebook posts, etc! I know it can feel really overwhelming to constantly be writing and creating content while also keeping up with shooting, editing, and running a business.
BUT if you can take this time to do map out what content you want to create and work in batches (ex. write and format multiple blog posts at once) then you’ll have a backlog of content that you can pull from whenever you need to! It’ll feel like “wow! How is she possibly writing and creating that much?!” When in reality you’ve creating all of that at your leisure during your off season!
This is another huge passion of mine, so if you need help with where to start let me know!
This is one of my biggest focuses this year’s off season! I am adding custom designed keepsake albums to my wedding and senior experiences. I’m really excited about it because I’ve been planning on doing this for awhile, but I want to have an airtight process before I launch them. This was the perfect time to put my head down and prepare for a successful launch/expansion!
If you have big dreams for your business being more than just what you’re offering right now or even pivoting to something completely different, this is the perfect opportunity to have the headspace to explore what that looks like and start building it!
It can be as simple as wanting to work with a new niche or adding albums, to wanting to also become an editor for other photographers or branching out to mentoring.
We have a ton of social platforms to focus on…and truth be told, we don’t HAVE to be on all of them. The biggest key is to be CONSISTENT with wherever you want to show up. This requires strategy and planning, which takes time –– luckily you have it during the off season!
This could look like wanting to dive into your Pinterest boards and set up a system for getting your content shared out, or wanting to be more active with videos on IGTV.
As you expand to a new platform, you have to make sure that you do have a plan to keep up with it (or it’ll look like you fell off the face of the Earth when someone runs into you there!), so batch working and creating a backlog here is super important too!
I’m all about educating clients!! Setting expectations doesn’t have to be scary. It’s actually really, really helpful for everyone involved and people LOVE it. If your clients have never worked with you before, they have no real idea of what to expect. It’s your job to walk them through the process and make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.
A great way to do this (and look REALLY professional in the process!!) is to have a resource guide or page built out. This could be just a page with all of the information with what to expect, answering FAQ’s, and linking to your online content, or you could really blow it out of the water with a printed guide that you send in the mail.
With everything you’ve learned in your previous season, a bridal or senior guide or resource page is a really good way to make sure people can learn from you and have multiple places to get their questions answered!
I just finished my Dakota Hersey Weddings bridal guide and I’m obsessed with it!!! I’ll be sending these out in the mail this week 🙂
This was something I did last year and it made a HUGE impact on my productivity! I set up a little office space and started only working at my desk. It helped to cut down the amount of time I was working “out of office hours” and let my couch and bed be the places I rested.
I printed some of my favorite images to put in frames above my desk and organized all of my equipment and documents in a little bookshelf beside my desk. This inspires me every day! I can’t wait until I have a dedicated room but until then, this little corner is my haven!
On top of the physical space, now is a good time to review the way you’re managing and storing your files. I’m *slightly* a tech nerd who’s with a *major* tech nerd, so together (mostly Kyle) we set up my storage system this past year.
If your computer is running slowly or if you’re running low on disk space, this is definitely something to work on while you have the time!!
Oh, taxes. Our favorite time of the year. Whether you’re doing them yourself or have outsourced to an accountant (HIGHLY recommend), it’s time to start gathering all of your documents, milages, etc. I won’t speak too much on this one because I am definitely NOT the expert here, but I do know it’s something we all have to do during this time of year!!!
Speaking of my accountant…outsourcing is about to be my BEST friend this year! I have been told the only way to truly scale a business and not go crazy in the process is to not try to do it all yourself.
I know as entrepreneurs and business owners we tend to want to take everything on…and in the beginning it’s honestly hard to justify the cost. If you have the time, why spend the money?
Well, eventually you won’t have the time OR you’ll realize that it’s way more efficient to give certain tasks to people who love doing the things you hate (or just aren’t that good at).
This year I’m letting go of control over a few different aspects of my business. Do I love editing? Yeah, I love perfecting each image and making sure they’re perfect. Does that get in the way of getting my couples their images quickly when I have 5 weddings back to back? Yep. So I’ll be bringing in an editor who will mimic my style after I’ve edited my top images from the wedding day and decrease my turnaround time by WEEKS!
There are a few other areas that I’ve identified as tasks I don’t necessarily *have* to do myself. Because you know what someone else can’t do for my business and what really brings me JOY? Writing personal blog posts. Recording videos. Finding new ways to love on my clients. Have consultation calls with potential couples. Plan out my spokesmodel program. Those are the places I really want to spend my time and that’s what’s going to help make my experience better and GROW my business!
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox, especially since outsourcing is even new to me…but I’m just so excited about the weight that has been lifting off of my shoulders with just bringing in 2-3 new “team members”!
There’s a lot of possibility laid out for the “off season”…but honestly none of it really matters if you’re burnt out. If you’ve had a particularly rough or busy year, this time is also meant to just chill out.
And that’s perfectly okay!!!
There will always be tasks to do, improvements to be made, and new areas of business to explore. Your mental and physical health is top priority because it impacts everything else. With all of the opportunities you have, make sure to add in time for REST and recharging those batteries (no, not the camera ones).
I do love the off season because I love being able to put my head down and work on the things that I love most aside from serving my clients –– growing and maintaining this business of my dreams –– and see the things my photographer friends have been working on in the background too!!
This is our time to be creative and do things for US because come wedding and senior season we’ll have a LOT on our plates!
If you have projects you’re currently working on or planning on starting soon, let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear about them and help however I can 🙂
I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.
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