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Winterizing your Photo Business for the Slow Season

I just shot my last outdoor portrait session of the year and my last wedding.  If I had my way, I would sit on my couch and re-watch Breaking Bad while eating taco dip and drinking IPA for about a month.  That sounds like heaven, bitches!

Steno Pad+Highlighter=My Old School To Do List.

Steno Pad+Highlighter=My Old School To Do List.

But though my To-Do List is markedly smaller than it was a few weeks ago, I know if I don’t start planning now, my bank account will be markedly smaller.  And I am not down with that, yo.   Since my meth cooking opportunities are limited let’s work on a plan, shall we?

Sayonara 2013: Bringing in some fat cash at years end.

 First Step: Goal Setting for promotions .  <Groan> Yeah, I know. Setting goals are about as much fun as writing a business plan but people who actually do goal setting are more successful than you. I mean it.  So right around the corner we have a couple great opportunities to promote your photography business.   Black Friday is on November 28. Small business Saturday is on November 30. Cyber Monday is on December 2.

Pick one, then think about the different things you could promote for your business.

HINT: consider a higher priced service or product that is desired by your clients with limitations. By placing limitations you have the ability to up-sell.

How my 2012 Cyber Sale Increased my portrait business and brought back old clients.


Last year I did a ” Free Mini Session with Double Your Prints” promotion for portraits.   I picked this particular promotion for two reasons:

1. I have a base of past wedding clients who have the perception that they cannot afford my portrait services because I don’t charge 9.99 for a sheet of photos and I do not include digital files.  My 8×10’s are $65 and I often am told ” Oh, I love your work, but we just can’t afford that” after I send out my price list.

2. I have a particular passion for seeing peoples photos off their phones and computers and ON THEIR WALLS.  This promotion was specifically worded with that heartfelt message and they had to spend their credit on prints and were not allowed to use it towards any other purchase such as digital files.

This opportunity to have a FREE session for their kids and prints was key.  They then chose the amount they wanted to purchase via some simple links I generated through Pay Pal Buy Now buttons.  $25 got them $50 worth of prints, $50 got them $100 and on up.  Most purchased the $50 gets you $100.  In the space of that Cyber Week End, I sold $1700 and gained 6 new clients I had never worked with.

Ways I up-sold? This promotion was for kids only, no parents.  However at the time of booking, I offered the upgrade from a kid only mini to a family session for $50 which is just shy of my regular sitting fee.  80% of them bought it.   At the in-person sales sessions I had beautiful groupings of their photos already laid out in Preveal that had special pricing for both prints and canvas.   And since money spent is money forgotten, many of them didn’t even think of the fact that they had a credit until I subtracted it out of their total.

This promotion may not work for you if you’re not comfortable with up-selling or in-person sales, but you’ve got something that you can put out there that will.

After the promotion reward yourself with planned down time.

Look, you’ve just killed it for an entire season.   Maybe you’re still killing it and your push is all the way through the New Year.  You have to take time off.


Photographers need vacations too, and no client has ever died because they had to wait for their photographs(Click to Tweet)


I don’t care if it’s a 3 day staycation at home or a week in the Bahamas you need to take some time off.  Time off that does not include dealing with clients.  I recently read this post about The Art of Taking a Sabbatical which is an excellent read and very thought provoking.  Our jobs as creatives can kill our spirit if we don’t take time off.  I’m a fan of the work  hard, play hard school of thought.

In the next post, we’re going to talk about that fickle bitch the first Quarter of 2014 and how we can tame her while we work on our “Off Season To-Do List” and make money along the way.

Make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss a thing!

P.S.  Our pal Jamie at The Modern Tog wrote a great blog post this week about Black Friday Sales for Photographers.  She did all the work for you, so you should go check it out for ideas and inspiration!

P.P.S. Need to brainstorm further about some promotions you could do and how to do them?  Post it up in the comments and we’ll help!






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