My slow season is all the time. Not just during the winter. “
That was me.. and some days, it still is. I’ve been putting this post off for what feels like months. I just wasn’t sure if I had all the right words to say and if other photographers would give me heat and all the negativity it could potentially bring. I obviously went against that and published it because I know there are photographers out there who just picked up a camera and decided it was time to get serious.
I can remember the day I set up my Facebook page, my Instagram account and my “blog.” I had done it for free through Blogger (no hating, loyal blogger… blogger) and felt extremely official. I created my first logo using Photoshop. Grabbed my husband and set out to the local lake for some “portrait” shots. Blogged them and BAM I was in business. Now, if this is you, there is nothing wrong with that. I am simply relating to you.
Later down the road when I got brave enough to charge what felt like a single penny per session, I got booked fast. I thought it was amazing and I was so excited. This much money here and there… All for the remainder of the year. It wasn’t until 2015 that things really changed… or for lack of a better word, things started to really get hard. I was able to tag along with one of my dearest friends to take photos and learn from her, how to run a wedding as the photographer. It seemed so simple and easy, so I set a goal to shoot 5 weddings in the year of 2015.
Now keep in mind, I had only been in business for 5 months at this point so I was basically throwing myself into the world of photography without any work, education or research to be done. I was using my dad’s Nikon D40 at the time. My very first camera, gifted to me from my dad. It worked perfectly fine. I did upgrade to a starter kit camera from best buy and that thing served as my baby until a month ago. I felt like I was all set. Like I was ready to just take off and conquer.
Fast forward to February, I booked my first and second wedding of the year. I was ecstatic. I whipped together a wedding contract, figured out Square and I was ready to go. Soon after, I booked my third wedding, then my fourth. August came and I had booked my fifth wedding for the year. I had met my goal by August and I just couldn’t believe this was my life. I felt like I knew everything and by that fifth wedding, I had obviously grown a lot more and done way better since that first session I did the year before. It felt like I was on fire.
Then, I booked myself into over-time during the Fall season. I had a family photo shoot booked almost daily, in the evenings between September and October. I told myself I was going to stop shooting at the beginning of November, and enjoy the holidays and just take a break while I edit and cram the heck out of those sessions. I knew it would hurt my business, and I got the same answers from a lot of other photographers. “Breaks are good, but if they’re too long, you’ll probably have to build your business back up from the ground.” — I was REALLY bummed but I was so over doing a session daily.
I took a break from November up until about March of this year. I have definitely had to re-build my business from the ground up. I am having to market harder and more than I ever anticipated. I feel like I dipped my toe in the water again after successfully shooting 5 weddings and a handful of family sessions. I’m not disregarding how amazing this year has been, with all the opportunities I’ve been given (that is for another post, another day) but I’m still in the dead season… and I have been since I started.
But through all of this, I have been sad.. angry, upset and frustrated. I have been unmotivated, jealous, envious and flat out confused. No one’s booking. Nobody wants me. They all want free shoots. Why doesn’t anyone want me to shoot their wedding? were the thoughts that came to my mind. Daily. Hourly. Every second. It was all I could do not to think of photography. I’m done. I’m quitting. This isn’t for me obviously. I’m never gonna make it big because nobody will book with me. This is so unfair.
Well, let me tell you this… you’re definitely not going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude. I sure didn’t. It wasn’t until I took the jump and PAID to learn how to be a better photographer. It started with Jenna Kutcher’s Course. Then I added Kylee Ann’s Marketing Course to the mix. (BOTH are amazing by the way) I really started to learn what photography was all about. They asked me to focus on money, email’s, contracts, client experience (what the heck is that?), Instagram, hashtags, ideal clients… What was all of this and how is this going to make people want to hire me?
Then it happened. That’s right. It happened. Notifications left and right. So and so started following you. So and so liked your Facebook page. I was learning about the views I was getting and the website clicks too! There was so much learning and education happening I couldn’t believe the difference it was making in my business. My confidence completely changed from “this totally sucks. Maybe I’m not meant to do this.” to “I cannot believe what happens when I put effort into EVERY aspect of my business.” <<<<<< that my friends, is why it’s okay that your business is taking forever to boom. Why you don’t understand how she is booking clients, or he is getting paid so much to do 10 weddings or less a year!
I have so many friends who are new photographers. They’re new to the game, and quickly realize (just like I did) that taking photos for people, is more than just making money and popularity. How do you market yourself? How do you get clients to book with you? How do I get my name out there?
Work. Do your work. INVEST MONEY INTO YOUR BUSINESS. I’m talking, pay that couple hundred dollars to attend that workshop, or take that online course. Pay that fee yearly to your city and state to hold a business and practice. Educate, learn and apply the way you accept payments, the way your contracts are worded, the way you deliver your photos (digital, film, print, IPS, albums, online gallery).
Work hard and work. That’s all there is to it. You have to work every single day if you want this. You just have to. Go location scouting, volunteer to second-shoot/assist whether to build your portfolio or not. Watch free, online webinars (but not too many or you can get overwhelmed), read magazines and books. Get creative, make a website, make business cards, hire someone to design a logo. I cannot stress it enough how much of a difference it made in my business in just a short 4 months because I decided to expand my focus to everything in my business and not just booking, money and popularity.
You are worth more than numbers on Instagram, likes on Facebook, shares, tweets, reposts, shoutouts… Your work is worth something and as you put in the work for your business, the right people will come along and treat you like you deserve because they value you what you value: your work. Your lifestyle. The way you run your business. You can do this. Do not give up, wipe those tears (it’s okay to cry for a bit) but get back to it. I believe in you.