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Photographers and COVID-19: Tips On How To Get Through A Pandemic As An Entrepreneur

To our dear photographers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and gig workers — we appreciate you, we hear your struggle, and we are rooting for you 100%. 

The last few weeks have been overwhelming, with daily floods of new information and a sense of panic that can’t be ignored. 
We have reached a point where COVID-19 affects all of us in one way or another. All the badass entrepreneurs and freelancers out there are being faced with unique challenges at this time, including photographers all over the globe.
Travel bans and restrictions, the cancellation of events, and many other precautionary measures all affect photographers and we understand that many are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on their business. 
We feel it, we hear it, and although there is no doubt that things are tough right now, we are doing our best to come up with ideas to help you get through this challenging time and use any extra downtime productively. Please note that these are just ideas, and they may not align with everyone’s business model or current circumstance. 
Here are a few options for photographers or freelancers looking to continue working on themselves, improving their business, and creating income amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s do this!

Follow the guidelines and advice of your government and healthcare experts

We’re sure you know this already, but we would be remiss not to mention it. While the current bans and restrictions may be frustrating, they are here to protect us and those who are vulnerable in our communities. It’s important to recognize this and keep ourselves and others safe. The important thing is to stay healthy and limit spread, and the sooner we can do this, the sooner we can start rebuilding and returning to our normal lives. 
Stay up-to-date with the correct information regarding COVID-19 in Canada and the United States.

Talk to your clients and look for alternate solutions

Communication is key right now, friends! Reach out to your clients, find out how they’re feeling, and if a session needs to be rescheduled, postponed or cancelled then try to come up with alternate solutions that work for everyone involved. 

For example, if one of your couples is disappointed that they can no longer be married on a certain day, offer the option of a private elopement session instead. This way, they can still tie the knot, have beautiful photos to share with their friends and family, and throw a party at a later date. This option won’t work for every couple, but you won’t know until you ask! 

We also recommend only allowing wedding re-bookings to happen within this year, as you don’t want to give up your 2021 dates for 2020 weddings.
We understand that starting the process of reaching out to your clients can be tough, so we’ve created an email template that you can feel free to personalize and use for your own reach outs. You can find it at the bottom of this blog.

Advertise your online shop

If you sell prints or other products, this is a good time to put a little extra effort into marketing those items. 

Post about it on your social media, send out a newsletter to your email list, or use digital ads on Facebook, Google or Pinterest to get the word out. Your beautiful creations could help brighten someone’s home and be very appreciated right now!

Focus on online advertising

Use this time in a way that your future self will thank you for! Work on increasing your upcoming bookings or promoting your products with digital ads. Digital ads are known as some of the most affordable forms of advertising and tend to offer a great bang for your buck. You can choose how much you want to spend, and you only pay when someone actually clicks on the ad. Nice!
Lots of people are spending time online right now, so this could be a good time to get their attention. Even if you don’t see income from this immediately, it’s something that could help you recover more quickly in the future. 
We are currently offering 50% off our digital ad setup and management services to help combat the negative effect of the novel coronavirus. You can learn more about this here.

Search out online workshops or other education opportunities

If you are experiencing more downtime than usual, use it as an opportunity to grow. There are plenty of online options for photographers who are interested in learning new skills or honing existing ones, whether it’s about a specific style of photography, an editing program, workflow management, or business stuff. It’s also a great time to reach out to one of your favorite photographers about a mentorship! 

Similar to running digital ads, these are steps that could help increase your future income and allow you to recover more quickly. 
Not sure where to start? Check out our friends at OFFBEAT or Creative Live. LinkedIn Learning also offers courses in tons of subjects and offers the first month of membership free. 

Host an online workshop

On the flip side, why not use your skills in a different capacity by offering to teach others who are eager to learn? Hosting an online workshop or webinar is a great way to give back to others while supplementing your income. It also positions you as a badass expert in your field, which is a big plus for your brand.
We recommend being considerate of the fact that many industry professionals are struggling to some degree, and to price educational services fairly. It’s also extremely important that the workshop offers legitimate value to those participating. This way, we all win.

Build your email marketing list by offering freebies

This is another option to help you build future business, and is an especially great idea for those who already offer some other kind of photography-related service such as education.
Use this extra time to create a value-add to give out to those who sign up for your newsletter or join your community. It could be an informative pdf, video tutorial, editing presets — there are plenty of options. Just make sure that it offers legitimate value. 
This should help you grow your email marketing list with people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, so you can continue to build relationships with them in the future.

Take a long, hard look at your brand and business

Is there any business stuff that you’ve been meaning to take care of, but just haven’t been able to fit in your schedule? Well, now might be the time to do it!
How do you feel about your current processes, workflows, business model, and even your brand? Can anything be tightened up? Is there anything you want to change? Take care of it now, while business is slower than usual.

If you’re not sure where to start, we can help. We offer audits and build marketing strategies for photographers and other creative entrepreneurs. We want you to succeed and can work with you through these crazy times. 

Remember the importance of community

These are scary times, and it’s important that we work together and be there for each other. Physical distance does not mean complete isolation. At Pepper, we recognize how fortunate we are to be able to work remotely and we want to do everything we can to help our community.
Engage in your community, connect with vendors in your area, ask how you can offer your support. We’re all in this together!
Tune into some podcasts to flex your brain muscles and join a community of like-minded people who you can relate to right now. Six Figure Photography, Bokeh Photography Podcast, and Brands that Book are some of our go-tos.
You can also turn to workshop online communities for support, like Let’s Go Workshop, ARC and Way Up North. They’re awesome! 
Remember, there are people out there who have your back (like us) and this too shall pass. So let’s band together and kick this pandemic’s ass!
If you’re struggling and are not sure where to turn, have questions about any of the above ideas, need assistance implementing strategies, or have tips that you’d like to share with other photographers, please reach out. You are not alone and we are here to help in whatever way we can.
COVID-19 Client Email Template
As mentioned above, we understand that reaching out to clients can feel like a daunting task. We hope we can ease some of the burden with this email template, which you can feel free to personalize and send to your clients:
Hello (client name)! 
I know there is a growing concern around COVID-19 and it has everyone a little uneasy right now, which is legit. It’s safe to say that our daily routines have been altered as well as future plans. 
I wanted to personally reach out to you and let you know that we are all in this together and that I get it – for real! This can be extremely stressful with so much uncertainty and it’s impacting all of us.  
My primary objective is to work with you to come up with a contingency plan if needed to keep moving forward. You all deserve the best and I’m going to do everything I can to honor my contracted services.
We are all doing our best to monitor this situation day by day and I’m here to answer any questions you may have at this point. At the moment, I am practicing physical distancing and doing my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Just like you, I want to navigate through these difficult times while keeping my clients as my main priority.
We also have a wicked promotion going on right now to help entrepreneurs keep promoting their businesses and reaching new audiences. 

Kayleigh Zinger
Rockstar Content Creator
Pepper – Your Badass Business BFF Inc.