How to continue making money as a photographer through isolation

By Chelsea Andrews

Photographers everywhere are feeling the social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. With cancelled events, mandatory isolation, and social distancing being implemented - there is no doubt photography, amongst all creative sectors, is being hit hard. If you rely on bookings as your main source of income, the next few months will seem daunting and stressful.

It's important now, more than ever, that we support our community with encouragement, empathy, and kindness.

As such, we've compiled a list of things you can start doing for your business to help you through these uncertain times. Hopefully, you see an economic return from these projects - or perhaps it's just a helpful distraction to get your head out of the news cycle. Either way, we hope you give them a try and tell us what you think.

1. Update your website

Let's get the most obvious one out of the way first.

This downtime is a great way to make sure your website is up to date with your latest work. It's so important to represent your best work online and usually, it's the last thing we want to do after completing a project.

Using Publish by Narrative can help you get blog posts up and live in as little as 5 minutes. Our built-in SEO keyword tool will help nail your SEO. You can also link your work to other websites like Pinterest.

Feeling a little more adventurous? Get creative and change up your website. We tried out FloThemes and have done a full review for you here. You can get 25% off FloThemes using the code 'narrative25'.

2. Sell your expertise

Sharing your knowledge with other photographers not only helps them grow, but it also creates a passive income stream in your business. Win-win!

This could be through:

  • Online courses: Chances are, if you focus on something you struggled with as a photographer, others will want to learn about it. Check out Might Networks to learn more about setting up online courses.
  • Online mentoring: Similar to online courses, but your relationship with other photographers will be more 1:1. We found a marketplace called Skillshare and think it could be a great way to get set up quickly as a mentor.
  • Online shop: You don't have to stop at courses. Think email templates, pricing guides, questionnaire templates! If you have already created these for your own business, people who are starting out could save time by using your templates!
  • Presets: Yes, there are many presets out there - but photographers always want to evolve and experiment with their editing. You could think about selling presets that would help newbies with things like weather or lighting specific packs.
  • Editing for other photographers: Connect with photographers in regions not as heavily impacted by Covid-19 and offer your editing services to them.
  • YouTube: Something interesting to share? Think about creating a Youtube channel while you have more time. Share product reviews, editing tips, just about anything really. Some people have found great success in this space and have been able to make an income out of it too. If nothing else, it would definitely be an interesting way to spend your days if stuck inside.

If you are already a successful photographer, it is likely you will have other photographers ready and waiting to learn from you.

3. Focus on Albums or Prints

Expand your offering with things like photo albums or prints for clients. Creating a physical product can range in complexity, depending on what you plan to sell and how it's made. It’s worth looking into the shipping logistics too and crunching some numbers to see if it will be sustainable over time.

Already provide albums/prints to clients? Here are some ways to boost your business to existing clients.

  • Commemorative outreach: Contact clients from some time ago and offer to re-edit their photos in your latest editing style for a print. Maybe you've been shooting since 2010? You could run 10-year throwback promotion!
  • Seasonality: Shoot lots of weddings? Figure out who's wedding anniversary you've got coming up. Reach out to them if they never bought an album from you and remind them of what a great gift this could make. You can do the same for Easter, Christmas, Valentines, etc. etc.

Picfair is a simple and easy way to sell your photos as prints to friends and online communities from $4.66 a month.

4. Become an affiliate for other products or businesses

^See what I did there?

Partnering with businesses in your industry through an affiliate program is a great way to create income for both you and your affiliate partner. As an affiliate - you are paid a small commission for every customer your refer to a product or service.

If you're in the wedding photo industry - you might want to reach out to florists or other wedding services in your area to see if they have an affiliate program you could join.

No affiliate partners near you? Why not start your own!? Just set a commission rate that makes sense for your business, offer it to businesses who share your target audience, and watch the clients funnel in.

5. Build a rewards program

Loyalty programs can be a fun way to increase share of your customers' wallet in a way that benefits both you and the client.

A customer loyalty program can help you secure work after the Covid-19 crisis has resolved.

This could look like:

  • The obvious - rewarding clients with discounts towards future sessions
  • Offering incentives such as "refer a friend and get a free print"
  • Setting a minimum spend threshold over a period of time (say 6-12 months). Clients who meet your minimum spend criteria receive bundled benefits like:
  • 1 free hour of shooting time - valued at $170 (it's important to show value in this context)
  • $100 gift card (if your unit economics work)
  • 10% off all print orders for life

Implementing a loyalty/rewards programs is a tried and true way to increase customer retention and recurring revenue. However, it's not a simple 'one and done' exercise, it will take time and effort to ensure your loyalty program is working well for your business. It's something you can think about in these down days and start implementing as soon as your up and running again.

At the end of the day, these are all really important steps you could take to supplement your business income once the world is a little more normal too. Now that you've got the spare time, why not spend a day on one of these ideas?

We'd love to hear what other ideas you may have for photographers looking for inspiration during this time.

Join our Facebook community and share with like-minded photographers.

Stay safe and wash ya damn hands,

Narrative team