Time to Regroup – Don’t Panic!!!

It’s no secret, it’s slow season.  I did very well before Christmas, but I’m hearing crickets right now.  It’s okay, it’s slow every year this time, but it’s especially slower now that the industry has hit rock bottom (at least I think it is rock bottom) – but remember, from rock bottom,  you can only go up (that’s why I HOPE it is rock bottom).

jodie otte office 1

Welcome to my home office – this is where I will be all day long….

So many photographers panic this time of year.  Many are so slow that their minds start to wander and that’s where the trouble begins – panic.

NEVER MAKE EMOTIONAL BUSINESS DECISIONS.

Since 2006, I was teaching that business and emotions should never mix in my workshops and mentoring sessions…  I’m not sure why everyone mixes up their emotions in their business decisions, but I see it all the time.

Do not raise or lower your prices in January-March.  

Everyone has more time to think during slow time, and this extra thinking time can have a negative impact.  They will either panic and lower prices or will try to do their yearly raise and then within the next couple months, they aren’t booking like they did before Christmas, so they panic, and then lower their prices.  If you are going to raise your prices, raise them in August, right before the holiday rush.  You won’t feel the sting of price shoppers quite as much.

Instead, begin your marketing plans.

I took a paid sick day from my day job (It’s so nice to have paid sick/vacation and holidays – I’ve owned and operated my own businesses for 19 years…. what a relief to have consistency and respect for what you do in the workplace).  I told my boss that my brain is swirling around because I have so many loose ends I want to tie up regarding the “old” business…. and it’s true – my brain is overloaded at the moment… I have to talk to some clients about outstanding orders (from the old business model), and make sure that all orders were put in and files are closed.

I took today, and then I will have portions of this weekend, to get the following accomplished.

  • Establish and design four new websites and do an overhaul on the personal blog.
  • Clear out my residential studio of all the equipment that I wanted to Ebay but haven’t gotten to it yet (if I post the equipment prior to putting it on Ebay, I will on my personal blog www.jodieotte.com) – so if you are looking for some backdrops, props, or other things, I’m decluttering….check the personal blog this weekend or early next week!
  • Prepare my studio for taking some business, although I do prefer on location now – surprisingly…. because let’s face it… children and families are much better and easier photographed outdoors, and as far as newborns go, I have been enjoying getting the feel of my clients’ personal styles and using items that they own that mean something to them in the photos.
  • Restructure my child/family/teen portraits – establish better boundaries and make everything more efficient.
  • Restructure pricing.  This is not raising prices, but restructuring based on what MY clients want.  Not what everyone else is doing.  Everyone should reevaluate based on their clients desires periodically throughout the year.
  • Restructure and publish three online portrait contracts.
  • Polish up the new PhotoShop actions that will be available on this site.
  • Off the subject of photography — Prepare to study for a placement test which will allow me to skip three different college maths (Stem III, College Algebra, and Trigonometry) that I didn’t want to take (They wanted me to retake all of that since I haven’t been in high school since 1994 when I finished up PreCalc).  I want to go straight to Precalculus or Calculus as I haven’t taken a math yet, and if all goes well, I will be graduating with my degree at the end of this coming fall.

jodie otte officeOnce all this is done, I can see where the chips fall…. Do I need to market again?  I haven’t really marketed in 10 years.  Marketing truly is where so many photographers slack.  Many would rather lower their prices than actually do a marketing campaign.  If any of you are considering lowering your prices – DON’T!!!  First, be honest with yourself and work on a real, full-on-effort marketing campaign.  If after that, you don’t see improvement….. begin your evaluations of your market…..

So what are you doing to regroup?  Anything you would like to share?  Feel free to discuss in comments!

Disclaimer:  I know sharing my personal story opens me up to criticism and makes me vulnerable in a way, but I don’t really care.  This is me.  This is who I am…. and you want real? that’s here….