Many photographers are scared right now and with good reason. The Coronavirus is causing an unprecedented financial crisis, which we'll probably feel the repercussions of for many years to come. While you may feel pretty helpless right now, there are still things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of surviving all this.
Control the controllable is a concept that I have lived by for many years. The areas of our life that we have the power to control are the places where we should be focusing our time and energy. This approach to life is especially important during times of crisis, as frittering away time on things that are out of our control is just a waste of valuable resources. One area we all still have control of is our expenses, and luckily for us, the team over at The Futur have been exploring this very subject in great detail with Errol Gerson, financial adviser and consultant to many creative businesses here in America. The talk by Gerson is a long one at well over an hour, but the advice instilled during this time is worth the investment.
Two great points are made right off the bat that will live with me for a long time. The first was the way you frame your correspondences to people who you want to work with, and the second was the idea of bartering during a time of crisis. This second point may sound a little medieval, but it's a way for both sides to get something out of the situation and is much better than working for free. I can see this approach being useful with clients whom you'd love to work for but that just don't have the budget for a photographer. Money is always going to be more favorable, but it might be some time before that medium is flowing freely again.
The talk goes on to explore some of the universal issues surrounding expenses that all us creatives need help with if we are to survive this financial crisis. For those not in America, the suggestions given may feel a little US-centric, but I implore you to stick with the video, as the advice given can easily be applied to wherever you do business in the world. The eight main areas he talks about in regards dramatically lowering your expenses are:
- Utilities and maintenance
- Taxes, personal insurance, and retirement
- Debt payments
Gerson has also kindly provided a free document containing all these points raised above with some handy examples of how to work out your bottom line, etc. This document also contains some useful links to relevant government sites where Americans can apply directly for certain loans and grants during this difficult time.
All in all, this video is a comprehensive look at what us creatives can do to help the situation we find ourselves in. Even if we weren't in a time of crisis, these valuable lessons are well worth applying to our businesses in order to give us the best chance of being successful. I know most photographers would rather be behind the camera taking pictures, but if we don't control the controllable or know exactly what it costs to operate as a photographer, the chances of surviving are incredibly slim.
Lead image by James Montgomery Flagg and is in the public domain.