Let's be honest…the best way to make money as a photographer is to put together a good, solid business plan, maybe even take a business course or two, have a skillfully targeted list of clients, and go out there, and network network network. Sure, make sure you have a nice website. Sure, make sure you blog, and your social media is good to go, but, ultimately, people hire who they know, right? Get out there and meet people!
But let's also be honest. Which one of us professional photographers hasn’t had a time where they did everything right, and still couldn’t get that next shoot booked? For all those slumps, its time to get creative and think out of the box. The following is a list of 10 ways you can branch out during a slowdown in your main business.
***Some of these may apply to you. All of them may apply to you. None of them may apply to you. Don’t devalue your brand by doing something you shouldn’t.***
1. 50% off normal fees. I know we’ve all got a slow season. Consider putting up a half off special on your normal sitting fee for a limited time, to get yourself earning again.
2. Portrait days. I do this all the time. Push it on social media…advertise a 30, 60, or 90 minute session, at a discounted rate, at a location of your choosing, at a date of your choosing. Do this one weekend, and if you get 4-6 portrait or family sittings, that’s a pretty good way to get out of your slump!
3. Local events. Take a look at the calendar on your local newspaper. What events are going on? This may be a decent time to take a look at that, shoot the event, and drum up some publicity for yourself, attached to the coattails of the event.
4. Promo prints. You’ve shot a bunch of weddings. You’ve shot some great commercial products/events/conventions. You wake up today, however, with nothing planned. Instead of fading into despair, go print one of those nice prints, put it in a nice frame, and get it over to the event coordinator. Make sure your business card is in there somewhere. By giving the event coordinator a breathtaking print to hang on their wall of an event they organized they will be more likely to recommend you to future clients of theirs.
5. Stock/licensing. Sure, the Stock Photography industry is nothing like it used to be. Micro-stock agencies decimated the industry prior to going away, and the market is very saturated right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a submission prepared to a stock or a licensing agency, and start earning some royalties every now and then.
6. All that empty wall space in your town. Got a favorite local pub? In good with the bar owner? Ask if it would be okay for you to hang a nice framed print up on their wall, free of charge to them, with the only stipulation being you be allowed to hang a price tag and contact info next to it.
7. Then shoot for them! The local pub give you the okay to hang some work on the wall? Great! Now ask if you can shoot the bar for them, to give them some original artwork for their social media, etc.
8. Legal/insurance Photography. Good for insurance purposes, bread and butter type work.
9. Car dealerships. They all need photographs of the cars they sell. Granted, you won’t win any awards with this type of work, but, slow times, remember?
10. Charity. Always a good bet, shooting, or providing a piece of artwork for auction at your local charity can help drum up good publicity, and, put you in front of mostly affluent folks who go to charity events and buy artwork at auctions.