Turning Pro Part 9: Dealing with quiet times

stockxchng-piggy-bank-4-stock-photo-by-asteriscoSo we have looked at lots of different aspects of working as a professional photographer – the most important thing of all is looking at how to get the work in the first place.  Marketing as we discussed earlier is a way to get people interested but there is also that important thing called word of mouth.

But when times are hard financially, freelance photographers are also likely to be hit by getting less business or losing it altogether.

If you are an amateur photographer the chances are you would have done some photography for friends and family and perhaps some project work.  Word of mouth is a great thing and when someone is happy with your work and service you will be able to promote your services without spending a penny.  In quiet times, when you may not have money for official advertising, word of mouth is very important.

You also have to make sure that your customers are 100% happy with the work you do though! Try and get honest feedback whenever possible – offer something like a free print in return if necessary.  Offer things like business cards or photo keyrings with your advert on the back side.  People tend to show them off and people will see your advert.

People who hire you for wedding photography or to take pictures of their children are likely to bring in more business for you because a lot of these people will have friends in a similar situation.

Dealing with little work

But what about when there is little work?  No industry is 100% recession proof for example, so how do you make sure you can still make a living if the clients are drying up?

Firstly – see if you can work in other areas.  People will still get married and people will still have kids – this kind of photography, if you can break into it, will give you business.

Can you change your prices and lower them for the time being?  Can you offer a discount if a client gives you a fixed term contract or orders photographs in bulk?

Also look at producing prints for a stock library (Online ones are easy to join and free) and also, if you can sell prints. People are always looking for generic photographs to put in their homes so if you can print these on a large canvas and sell them online (you can use a site like eBay if you want a large audience) it’s another way to make money.

Prints can also be sold at markets and fairs – that usually run all year round but are especially popular near Christmas.  Look around to see what is popular and appeals to the public (see what prints sell in Ikea.  Yes they are mass produced but the appeal to a broad audience), then to differentiate, make your prints a limited edition (i.e. each photograph has only been printed 100 times). People love the idea of owning limited edition art.

Another way to use your photography skills is to teach! Are there any local colleges or schools that may need your help? Since photography is something all kinds of people are interested in, consider teaching more specialist groups too, such as elderly peoples social groups or youth centers.


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