Looking back, I actually started this podcast at the worst possible time.
It was April 2020 and not only was the world shaken and uncertain … podcast downloads in general were at an all time low because people were working from home and not commuting or driving as much.
I started out the show talking a lot about COVID in the early episodes. Like, when we “get back to normal” and “when this is over.” So it’s kind of sad that here I am in October 2021, still talking about it.
COVID is most definitely on our minds every single day. Whether we know someone who has been sick or we’ve been personally affected, lost your job, etc. So I wanted to talk about running an in-person service business, like photography, on today’s episode in today’s times with updated perspective.
We’re living in a time where it seems like everything is uncertain. We see the news, we read articles about pandemics, and we feel the fear of not knowing what will happen next. But you know what? Things have always been uncertain…we’re just much more aware of it now. I don’t know if that is comforting or not but it’s the truth!
We are never promised more than today. But one thing that I know for sure is that each day brings with it new opportunities to grow our businesses if we are willing to take them. If you’ve been struggling with how to keep your business thriving these days, then this episode is for you!
I actually have done 4 episodes specifically around COVID and running a photography business since the podcast started. I know it’s still top of mind for a lot of you, especially depending on where you live so I’m going to recap some things I said in previous COVID episodes and discuss how (or if) it is still relevant today, because it’s changing so fast.
In Episode 4, I shared these affirming facts for birth photographers and I want to revisit that with you today.
So if you’re a birth photographer, there’s a few things I wanted to remind you of, sort of affirm into your soul. You can write them down if you need to read them:
AFFIRMING FACTS FOR THE BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHERS:
- There are lots of people still employed and spending money!
- Your potential client’s financial situation isn’t your financial situation.
- There is about to be a baby boom. Are you ready for it? Is your business ready for it?
- Despite the hospital situation, which I do believe will allow us back in sooner than later, women are still having home births and birth center births.
- Your services ARE VALUABLE and people still want them!
- Make a best case scenario plan (Plan A)
- Then make a plan B…
- And a plan C!
Stay away from people and pages and groups that make you feel fearful!
If you need ideas on how to make money right now as a photographer or ideas on how to show up online right now, go back and have a listen to episode #2 all about COVID-19 and birth photography.
The back up plan scenarios are 100% what I would recommend continuing to do because we still don’t know when things will change one way or the other so this is the best way to keep booking clients is to make that best case scenario, then a Plan B, then a Plan C.
So what we have continued to do is offer birth photography with a Coming Home session as a back-up plan. Or you could offer birth photography and if you can’t make it to their hospital or something happens to where you can’t attend their birth, you’re giving them a Newborn session credit. Something along those lines to where you have your Plan A, but you also have a Plan B and a Plan C so you could continue to market yourself and put yourself out there and book clients.
I recorded this episode in June 2020 and I’m sure you remember too, those 3 months into the pandemic felt like 3 years. I also love how I used past tense “learned” as if it was somehow over or soon would be. I think we all kinda thought it would be! There are still a lot of relevant bits from that episode but my favorite part was talking about mental health.
PUT YOUR OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST
I need to protect myself and my mind and body. That might mean I need to stop watching the news or reading the news and spend less time on social media.
My mental health matters and so does yours.
I was able to step out of my funk of the unknown of the pandemic and start taking action serving my students and my clients, and that’s from years of training myself of the importance of my focus and my mindset when things are difficult. I refocused on the basics in my life that were essential for optimal function. My faith, praying, quiet, moving my body, hydrating, sleeping.
Part of putting MY oxygen mask on FIRST is to allow myself to have an “off day” or week! To grieve what I expected this time of the year to be when I planned it back in December. To be kind to myself and others.
There were full days or sometimes several where I got almost nothing done. I would work a few hours and need a couple of days off.
I’m going to be real with y’all – I called my doctor because I had this pain in my chest for days that would not let up. I felt short of breath often in that time. What I found to help with anxiety:
- Limit caffeine
- Pinterest: type in natural ways to deal with anxiety
- Essential oils and vitamins
- Meditation (headspace and abide)
- Comedy videos and memes and stand up comedy (DANG TIKTOK)
- Uplifting worship and music
- Get in the car and DRIVE
- Go to lake Hefner and look at the water
- Social media and news station detox
Putting my oxygen mask on first also looks like practicing gratitude: I already had a deep sense of gratitude in a lot of ways but being quarantined really allowed me to genuinely grateful for the small things I never thought about. Eating at a restaurant. The option to take my laptop and work at a coffee shop. Seeing my parents. Concerts. Theme Parks. Hugging my dang friends. My health.
Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future: Rest is not a reward, it’s a requirement. Everyday when I’m writing down my BIG 3 – I’m going to also ask myself, “How am I going to rest today?”
Whew, that was actually pretty hard for me to listen back to. It’s been over a year since that was recorded and I honestly forgot a lot of those feelings already—the chest pain, the anxiety, forcing myself to rest and feeling exhausted after only working for an hour or two, which is very, very strange for me. Not being able to go to restaurants or hug my friends or see my parents. And listening to it makes me even more grateful for those things today. You probably felt similarly listening to that.
The big takeaway for this one here is to continue to prioritize my mental health and listen to my body. If I’m especially tired or anxious — why? And to continue to prioritize rest.
The next episode was recorded in January 2021 and I think at that time we all started to realize… this wasn’t going away anytime soon. So in this episode, I talked about how to keep booking photography clients in the pandemic.
As always when things get crazy, it’s time to go back to basics.
Back to Basics
When you strip away everything going on right now, we have to go back to what works. So I want you to ask yourself:
- What works well, pre-COVID, to book clients?
- What marketing tactics, strategies, or systems brought in your clients?
- Where did they find you?
- Why did they hire you?
- How can you do more of that?
Don’t skip by those questions too quickly. It might be, “Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Yeah, yeah, yeah.” But really sit down and ask yourself those questions.
Unfortunately, what I’m seeing from photographers who are struggling right now is they’re assuming people don’t want to book a photographer right now due to COVID. So they stopped trying to get clients altogether. Or even if they are actively marketing themselves in the back of their mind they’re thinking, “Who’s even going to hire me right now with everything that’s going on?” So you’re like typing a social media post, writing a caption, but also thinking, “People aren’t going to hire me.”
And you know what? People can feel that energy through the computer–through your captions, through the e-mail you’re sending, through you obtaining your website–they can feel your energy of like, “Yeah, but who’s going to hire me right now?” The struggling photographer’s mind is focused on what’s been taken away from them and “how terrible things are right now.” Compound this with scrolling through social media and keeping the news station on daily, and it’s no wonder the struggling photographer is freaking out and can’t seem to book any clients. This causes a downward spiral effect where they don’t want to do anything in their business, because why even bother, right? So, my friend, I’m here to remind you: Pandemic or not, your life will be a result of your thoughts and your focus.
I love this quote from Napoleon Hill that says, “Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.” I know it’s so easy to go into thinking about what could go wrong, but instead, what if you flip that habit of thinking of what could go wrong and you changed it to what could go right?
Friend, I know things can feel chaotic and crazy sometimes in this world we’re living in right now but the simple truth is, babies are being born and moms still want birth and baby photography. Remember that your client’s financial situation is not your financial situation. Turn off the news and focus on the positives.
You’ve got this! Take it one day at a time and take care of yourself first.
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My friend, if you have a passion – it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography, or event planning, or real estate… whatever your passion is, it’s there for a REASON. What are you going to do with that passion? Get out there and make it happen! Have a great week y’all!