Back In Business
As the restrictions on interaction and business put in place for COVID-19 start to ease it’s time to start looking at what we can all do to get our business back up and running in a safe and responsible way. As clients start looking for photographers again, and they will, its important to be in the best possible position to take advantage of the new demand as people look to capture the important moments of their and their families lives.
You can be using this downtime as an opportunity to refine your marketing strategy, get in front of your ideal clients and prepare and adjust your studio space and working practice to make them compliant with the government guidelines (all information available can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19). This post is intended to provide ideas and inspiration on how to get the ball rolling along with providing hints and tips from some of the UK’s leading photographers on how they are approaching their own return to photography.
Marketing Plan – create or reassess
Everyone has been dealt a different hand to the next person during these last few months. It’s important to keep in mind that your experience won’t be the same as many of your fellow photographers and we’ve all came under different pressures on our time and lifestyle. However, now that there is a clear date to be able to return to work, we all have a target to aim for. This is the perfect time to concentrate your thoughts toward your marketing and gain an advantage over the competition. But you can’t just throw spaghetti on the wall and hope that something will stick.
Use this time to reevaluate your marketing plan. Make sure you’re reaching the right audience with the right message through the right channel so you can maximise your marketing budget. We all know that cash flow may be tighter than usual with cancelled shoots/weddings so its more important than ever to ensure that you are investing your time or money (or both!) as effectively as possible. For example, you could look over previous campaigns and promotions to see what worked and what didn’t in order to allocate your resources on those activities which provided the highest ROI.
Another avenue to consider is if you have been investing in events such as trade shows and wedding expos, why not consider shifting the budget to digital marketing? Large scale events are unlikely to go ahead in the near future so use the extra time you have at your disposal to create high-quality content that will help you drive organic traffic, improve SEO, and get found by more potential clients in the long-run. If you need help with this then there are a great number of fantastic businesses and mentors available to assist. Aperture Design for example can help you create landing pages, show how changes in site structure can be beneficial to SEO and targeting Facebook ads to your ideal clients / re-targeting visitors using Facebook pixels.
Nina Mace has spoken to us about how she’s approaching her own return to work.
“Its been an incredibly challenging few months for all photographers from a business and personal point of view but recent announcements regarding the re-opening of photography studios and confirmation we can now meet in groups up to 6 outdoors whilst socially distancing has been welcome news!
As we work towards our ‘new normal’ now is the time to start planning how we will run our businesses – we have an opportunity to refresh and review how we work and look to move into new areas. As an outdoor family photographer and trainer, I am now looking at how I can evolve what I offer to fit different audiences with different needs.
For my outdoor family photoshoots, I will still offer full shoots but will also be launching mini shoots earlier this year. This product will focus on quality, not quantity – fewer images and less time shooting to help small children to keep their distance as they are unlikely to remember to do this for up to 2 hours! I will also be offering great value frame collections and print packages to be sent directly to my clients to offer a complete service from shoot to display.
I am also thinking about how I communicate and what is important to my clients now – as our lives have been stripped back to basics one huge positive is that it has reminded us how important our loves ones are. I was already moving my family shooting communication more towards extended family sessions and I feel this is even more important now. My aim will be to photograph these family groups in late Summer when group sizes are extended by the Government.
Another area of opportunity is outdoor head shots and personal branding packages. Many actors and models will need updated images for their portfolio and spotlight profiles and small businesses will be looking to refresh their content as they also adapt to this new normal.
Finally, I have created online versions of my 1-day courses for beginners and professional photographers training over a few weeks via interactive Zoom sessions. I have reworked the content to ensure they are as interactive as possible and if they prove successful I will continue to offer these to photographers who live further afield including those I mentor overseas.
The photography market has certainly changed in the last couple of months but peoples love of capturing their families together will always be a constant – we just need to be flexible and creative for our clients over the coming months”.
Re-engage with Current Clients
It is far easier and less costly to sell to existing clients than to scramble to acquire new ones. The clients who have cancelled their shoots over the lock-down period will likely need your services still so you want to stay in the forefront of their minds when they are ready.
Personal emails and messages work fantastically for this – one thing that this crisis has done is bring people together as a community more and people will really appreciate that personal touch. Past clients, having built that relationship already, are also far more likely to trust that you have taken the necessary safety precautions with your working practice.
Adjust your workflow and build confidence
It’s incredibly important to build trust and confidence across all of your platforms that you are ready to return to work in a safe and responsible manner. Posting safeguarding updates on your website or social media channels (preferably both) will show your clients that you value their safety and well being. Show them the measures your taking – blogs, posts or short video’s about what you’ve changed in the studio, how you will keep to social distancing, etc are so valuable at this time. Many people are depending on social media to stay connected during the lockdown, so make sure you’re reaching your audience where they’re at.
We asked Emma Jane of Little Love Photography what changes she’ll be making to safeguard her clients and herself.
I’ve thought long and hard about how I’m going to get back to work post lockdown. I specialise in newborns so this poses an extra challenge due to the proximity and length of sessions. So far, I’ve decided to:
-Only cover cake smashes, family and maternity in June, newborns will wait until July in line with hairdressers and closer contact industries.
– Only one session a day- allows me to steam clean soft furnishings, wash posing beans between use and thoroughly disinfect the studio after each session.
– I have N95, medical grade and fabric masks. I plan to use fabric masks with the older children to make it less scary for them, but the N95 masks will be used for newborns. I also have visors which I will use for babies as I’m in closer contact.
– If I even have the slightest hint of a sore throat or headache I will self isolate in accordance with government guidelines. I’ll also be sending out additional guidance to parents with Covid symptoms and ask them to reschedule if they or any members of their households have symptoms.
– I will reduce my workflow- I’ll be reducing the number of poses I do to whittle my session time down to 2hrs when possible.
– On arrival I’ll ask parents to leave baby in the pushchair or car seat and I will take the baby and prep them for the session- this reduces contact with parents and ensures a 2m distance.
– if baby poos (they will) I will ask parents to approach the beanbag to change baby and will then step away to maintain distance.
– parents will be sat 2m away from the beanbag and asked not to approach for safety reasons.
– I will have Covid related signage visible to remind everyone of the government guidelines.
– All poses will be done gloved and I will change gloves when necessary to ensure my hands haven’t touched anything.
– All blankets to be washed thoroughly after each session.
As newborn photographers we should be taking stringent measures to ensure a clean and safe environment anyway, so it’s just a case of adding in distance when possible and barriers when not (gloves, masks etc). Common sense is the most important tool we have.”
Make sure that all the information on your social media profile is up-to-date. Include your website address and ways to contact you. Look for ways to spice up your feed and share relevant information to stay top of mind. Continuing this best practice will be so important once you start shooting as well, posting pics or videos of you back at work, keeping your distance and working with real clients again (with all your new safety measures in place) will be a huge reassurance to your customer base.
We spoke with Gary Hill about what he was putting in place to ensure he can safely reopen his busy studio.
“I, like many others are excited and suitably cautious about re opening after lockdown. I have done a lot of research and gone through the rules and regulations several times. What I write here are my interpretations and safety aspects, nothing more.
When I reopen for shooting or for training the changes I have made are as follows, Pre shoot form with the basic questions on contact with anyone showing symptoms, any medical issues and any ongoing illness, any one of those boxes ticked means a postponement.
Automatic non-contact liquid dispensers have been installed as you enter the building, the use is mandatory for all clients and visitors. These are to be filled with hand sanitiser, 70% alcohol as per guidelines. The studio is to be used for a maximum of two clients per day, minimum two hour turn around so that all surfaces can be cleaned down, floors mopped with suitable detergent and as my backdrops are all vinyl, they two can be cleaned.
This means, along with pre shoot cleaning that each customer comes into as sterile as possible environment. All props will also be used but as I have two sets of posing props they will be rotated to allow drying time.
A record will be made of all cleanings and recorded like in public venues. HSE Risk assessment has been completed and will be reviewed prior to the 15th of June in case guidelines change. Along with personal hand washing etc, I am also considering on the days two clients are booked in, changing clothing between.
Any clothing used from my props will also be taken and washed the same day and not used again until clean. This is the minimum I consider safe to bring my clients back into the studio and for location shoots the same regard except for the clean down, separate areas per client.
Risk management is what it is all about along with the 2m rule where possible ( I have a large studio so totally able to adhere to this) will mean I have done as much as I reasonably can to ensure everyone’s safety. My insurance company are fully happy with this. Stay safe everyone.”
In the Lab
Here at the lab we are have been using the enforced downtime to prepare the lab for reopening with the new guidelines in place regarding social distancing and making sure our staff have the necessary PPE and anti-viral hand wash as well as altering the workflow to eliminate close contact of our team. An initially reduced workforce will be in place over the coming weeks and start dispatching orders for delivery. We will be working through any pending orders chronologically and we are now able to accept new orders via our normal channels. Due to the reduced staffing at the lab some orders may take a little longer than usual, however we do not anticipate to much of a delay and hope you appreciate the reasons during this difficult period.
To help kickstart your return to work we are also launching a massive 50% sample sale to help you return to work with a great new offering! Simply use code RELAUNCH50 at checkout to redeem this discount. We will, as always, be on hand to answer any questions and provide advice on prints, frames & wall art. We can now also be booked for virtual studio consultations – providing advice on pairing the right products with your work, finding top selling options and how the best ways to display your work to help increase sales. Together we can come back from this stronger and in a better place than ever before.
For more information on any of the points raised or if you would like to place a sample order then please feel free to contact us on 0191 2323558 or firstname.lastname@example.org