How to survive a [never-ending] pandemic as a photographer

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I originally wrote this as a newsletter in April 2020 to encourage photographers that their business could survive during a pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s all still really relevant. As numbers creep up again and we’re looking at mask mandates and full ICUs, I don’t want us to go back to despair. It’s easy to do. We’ve been here before. We know it’s hard. Fortunately, the message below is still true: you can do this. You’re doing this! Good job!

Selling when nothing is certain

When the world feels so uncertain … 
when your clients feel like moving targets …
sell what you know. 
Sell you.

Because you don’t change. Not during a global pandemic. Not during a wild political year. You stay you. 

Your processes, your offerings, your style—these all needed to be flexible this year. But through it all, you were still the person running the show.

When things feel uncertain, people buy from people they trust. If you started your business with a set of values that brought you amazing clients, then keeping those values consistent right now, through whatever life throws at you, is exactly what will keep bringing people to you.

Maybe a wedding date has to get pushed back for a third time. 
Maybe you feel uncomfortable photographing a large event right now but the couple is proceeding and you have to communicate in a kind but firm way.
Maybe you can’t be inside someone’s home because you don’t feel safe there.
Maybe someone is asking you to weigh in on what might happen next year to see when they should book you.

There is no rulebook here, no perfect answer. But:

First, remember that your role to your clients is photographer first. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you certainly can’t control it.

Second, this isn’t the first time you’ve solved problems. You’re a business owner! You’ve been doing this for years.  The same grit and dedication that got you this far is what’s going to get you to the other side of this.

Last, being an entrepreneur means having an instinct. You might do things differently than other photographers. And that’s OK. Their level of comfort might be different than yours. That doesn’t make either of you wrong. It just means you run different businesses and serve different people. Don’t let what other people are doing dictate how you want to live and work.

We can’t sell our normal way right now, with the promises we used to make. But we can still sell who we are and the person we will be for our clients. 

I would bet on you any day of the week. Are you willing to bet on yourself?

2021 ADDENDUM

If I knew I would still be writing about a pandemic a full 18 months after I wrote this post, I would have simply wept. I sometimes still do.

I know that as photographers, this has and continues to be a little scary. Even if you’re someone who has experienced massive growth, it’s hard to navigate uncharted waters. If there is anything I can say for certain: we all need some give and receive grace right now. I think it multiplies. If I can be gracious with myself, I’m more gracious to others. If I can find kindness in my heart for others, I find that they often give it back.

If you’ve had people be not-so-gracious, know that one bad review or one misunderstanding or disagreement because of Covid will not be the thing that closes your doors. Tensions are high for everyone right now. Don’t let the little things become big things. Focus on what you’ve already overcome and what you can actually control going forward.

I’m not going to tell you that we are almost done with Covid or that it will all go back to normal soon. But I can tell you that I’m very proud of you for making it this far and for doin’ your thang in spite of this thang. Virtual hug or fist bump or elbow tap.

The tired business woman in me honors the tired business person in you.

How to survive a pandemic as a photographer 02

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