Every year I have my ups and downs when it comes to my photography schedule. For me, typically the winters are less active in terms of business, while the fall picks up like crazy. During those slow times, I try to think a bit outside the box in terms of finding ways to get my name out there as a photographer.
Support Your Existing Clients
If your client has an upcoming event that they haven’t contracted a photographer for, reach out. They might not be thinking about photography for the event, but here’s your chance to offer your services. Oftentimes this might include offering a reduced rate, but for your most consistent clients, it’ll be worth it in the long haul.
You might also offer new services to some clients. In my case, I did this for two clients in order to build my videography portfolio. While it certainly helps me build my portfolio, it will help the client even more, and keep them coming back for photo and video needs in the future.
Partake in a Silent Auction
Whether you are a photographer for the organization holding a silent auction or not, here’s your chance to make some connections. Offer up a photography package for a silent auction, ideally organized by a group you feel passionate about supporting. While your photography package might only be won by one person, leaving business cards or brochures out for others to take is an easy takeaway for guests.
Volunteer Your Services
A few times a year, I volunteer my services for free or heavily below my typical pricing for organizations that have a mission I believe in. For instance, for the past few years, I’ve shot the Laughfest Signature Event, put on by the Grand Rapids Gilda’s Club, at a reduced rate. I’ve shot for other non-profits and community organizations the same way. It lets me give back, and it also can help with marketing depending on the organizations you choose to work with.
The key here is, if an organization already has a regular photographer they use, it’s not worth it to reach out to them. Choose an organization that is in need of photography services that could pass your name to other companies or hire you in the future.
Mentor an Up-and-Coming Photographer
As I got started with my full-time photography career a few years back, I was lucky enough to have a mentor who helped guide me along the path. I had known him previously, and his start to photography was similar to mine at the time. He was able to offer advice without hurting his business, and he still refers me to clients that are more suited to my style and price range.
The key here is to mentor a photographer who you think you can not only help learn your trade and passion, but one that is slightly different than you. You don’t want the mentee turning around and stealing your clients. Choose someone who’s trustworthy and in it for the long haul — not someone who’s there to get rich quick.
Network and Start a Photowalk Group
Every month I try to meet with other photographers in my area and go on a photowalk. Doing so has really helped to build some great relationships with both amateur and professional photographers. A few of those photographers have referred corporate event work my way, and I’ve returned the favor by giving them referrals to things I don’t shoot, like weddings.
The slow times in photography are all about being strategic in building up your passion. By networking and giving back to your community, you’re getting your name out there, which will pay off.
For more on Photography Marketing, see our weekly column.
Learn more about Bryan at bryanesler.com.