Leveraging the Offseason

As an artist/entrepreneur, we’re always looking for ways to maintain our creativity and our finances, especially during slow seasons. During the winter, work can be nonexistent. Clients are away for the holidays or may be regrouping for upcoming projects in the new year. Bills still need be paid and food still needs to go in the refrigerator. That means our time is either spent evaluating or creating our marketing and creative strategies for our brand. Unfortunately, we as photographers have to find ways to sustain our personal lives.

January through March can be tough, but there are ways to sustain until your clients hit reset and start to reach out to you to shoot their yearly projects. Let me add that leveraging doesn’t always have to equate to making money. You can use this time to plan your personal projects or take a vacation to find inspiration for new work.

So, what should you do? Here are a few ways to leverage your off-season break:

Content Marketing
Refresh your social media pages
Updating your social media profiles is super important. Brand continuity provides clarity among your brand and creates a consistent look and voice for your work.

Produce videos of your previous work
Video content is becoming more and more popular, and it creates a visual buzz for your growing community. Well produced videos for YouTube and Vimeo can garner more followers and potential clients. If you’re more about instantaneous digital connections, consider using Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, or Snapchat. Use these options to your advantage, not because they are available. Also, use them well as this could turn into valuable content marketing for your brand.

Write an ebook
If you’re like me, writing an ebook seems like a difficult task, but it can create motivate you to share your knowledge with the masses! Well, maybe not the masses, but it can motivate your loyal and growing community. Ebooks can be offered as an incentive to read and visit your blog often. Plus, your audience trusts your opinions and knowledge on your profession. Don’t take that for granted.

Update your blog
Dust off your blog and get to writing! Write about your favorite time of the day to shoot, or your favorite piece of gear in your photography kit. It doesn’t matter what you blog about as long as you’re doing it! Consistency is key.

Learn more about SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a pain but will become a vital part of your content marketing strategy. Writing certain types of content can garner increased traffic to your brand and blog. So, make sure you’re constantly refreshing your site with new written and visual content for your audience.

Study trending topics in your industry
Be aware of the trends in your specific industry. Once you’ve gained a following, people will expect and respect your opinion since you’re considered an expert. Experts stay on top of trends that will affect their industry. Study and attempt those new trends to see if they will fit within your personal style.

Start a newsletter
As you grow your community, you want to keep them updated on your business. Start a newsletter to capture your community’s information. Also, don’t talk at them; engage them. They’ll appreciate you more.

Imagine this room is your audience and they’re waiting on your next update. Don’t keep them waiting!

Personal Branding
Revisit old work and make it new again
Have you brushed up on your photography editing skills? Go back into your archives and refresh some of your old work with new techniques. You may find a new style developing in the process.

Update your website
Cull through your images and add them to your website. New images and/or videos can catch the eye of those who visit your site often. Images and motion work are not the only things you can update. Consider a new responsive website layout or even an updated profile picture. Your online presentation matters.

Create mailers for your clients
Do you have a special project that you’ve been working on? Create mailers for previous clients and creative directors you’ve been meaning to contact. Make sure you follow up with them after you’ve mailed to make sure they received it.

Write to be featured
Write articles that can potentially be featured on bigger sites dedicated to your craft, whether it’s photography, graphic design, or even handwriting.

Find a non-profit and volunteer your skills
Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers with skills that can propel their mission as an organization. Reach out to a nonprofit organization that you’d love to work with and offer your expertise. Not only will it make you feel good, but they’ll be happy to put you to work.

Revenue
Sell your work
Take some time to go through your archives to edit and sell some of your prints. You can either sell them as fine art prints or stock imagery. You would be surprised as to who is looking for images of certain environments, ethnicities, and events.

Teach an online class
Teaching an online course will allow you to become more confident in your artistic skills and you can brush up on those public speaking skills too. It’s a win-win for viewer and teacher.

Education
Take online classes
Not only should you teach, but also learn a few more skills. These skills could be personal or professional, as long as you stay consistent in your learning habit. Plus, those new skills can be executed in your business life. My go-to online education comes from CreativeLive and Skillshare.

Organization
Update your marketing plan
Maybe there was something in your marketing plan that worked very well and you’d like to improve on it. Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of finally creating a marketing plan for your photography business. Now is the time to develop one while you’re on break.

Update your client/contact database
No need to constantly look for new clients when you have them right in your inbox. Organize your previous client’s information into a client database. You can use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Sample of my contact database on Google Sheets

Archive and backup your photos
I hope you’re not saving all of your images in one place. If you are (please say you’re not), create a new system to archive your images. Use DVDs or purchase another hard drive. Archiving is CRUCIAL.

Create canned messages
Instead of typing the same message over and over, create canned responses in Gmail. Here’s a useful tutorial on how to do this. If you want to get organized and save some time, start working on this today.

These are a few things you can do leverage and organize, during the offseason. How do you leverage the offseason? Let me know in the comments.

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