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Securing Business For The Off-Season

Securing Business For The Off-Season

Prepping for the off season is something we rarely do, as we barely have time to keep our heads above water during the busy season. Even though we may break goals and surpass expectations at certian times, there are always a few months out of the year where we feel like we are starving for work. A couple months of low sales can take half the year to make-up and recover financially. 

It happens to everyone, this business is seasonal and some experience more of a drought than others depending on their region and market focus. Most of us are currently among our busiest times; so why write an article about the slow season you might ask? In order to prepare for slow season, you have to plan, and you need to determine that plan right now. Don't wait until there isn't anything on the books and zero money coming though the door. It is mid-summer, which means it is the perfect time to prep for the winter drought. The answer for most businesess is to run promotions and discounts to generate sales. The problem with this is that you will eventually cheapen your reputation and change your buyer’s habits. Consumers are like water, they follow the path of least resistance. If a consumer can guarantee they will get a cheaper price during certain times of the year, they will wait until that time. If you are creating a high-end brand, I firmly believe offering discounts is counter-productive. Below are five things you should be doing now to help secure work for the winter without discounting your work and products:


I know, I know, boring, but almost every organization can use new headshots on a yearly basis. This is a simple job and typically well paid. Once you photograph a companies’ headshots, you can send a reminder every year to let them know it is time to update. Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a great resource and will normally allow you to promote this service for free in their newsletter. Once you create a relationship with a company, they will most likely think of you for all other photography needs. In addition to headshots, they may want to update some photos on their website or build a portfolio of images to use for future web and print promotions. If you want to get that work in the next 3-6 months, you have to advertise NOW. Do some reasearch on local and non-local companies you would like to work with and present your work to them in some fashion. Send out mailers, emails, and schedule meetings with marketing departments to help secure jobs in the next 3-6 months. Remember, large companies don't make decisions overnight, they have a chain of command to get approval for projects such as these. 

Stock Photos

We all have dozens of images sitting on hard drives of random scenes and products. Why not make a little money off of this work? Granted, you won’t become rich selling a few photos for stock, but a couple hundred bucks here and there can’t hurt. If you continue to build your stock portfolio throughout the year, you will better your chances of making more money. In addition to stock photography, there is also stock video that may be worth a consideration for you. There are dozens of websites and companies to research that offer these services. Start snapping a few pictures when you see something that would qualify for stock, and organzie these files in folder on your computer to send off to sell for stock. 

Schedule Events

Have you ever wanted to teach others photography or host a boudoir weekend? This is the perfect time of the year to schedule events at your studio, and bring as many people though the door as possible. This will keep current clients and potential clients excited about your work. It will also encourage those to schedule in advance for more desirable months. The more active and busy you seem, potential clients will think more about scheduling their own sessions. 

Sell Product

You are sitting on a small fortune of clients whom you have served over the past year. Forget about finding new clients in the winter and capitalize on the people you already have. This is a great time to up-sell; holiday’s = money. Offer your wedding couples albums and suggest they purchase parent albums for Christmas gifts. Everytime I give this idea to my couples they love it; as they never know what to get their parents who have everything. Add a new product to your line, and let your existing clients know about it. It may be the perfect gift for a family member or something they want to have in their home. Create new seasonal packages that include holiday cards and other products that are desirable around the holidays. 

Indoor Sessions

The winter months are the perfect time of the year to capitalize on indoor sessions. If you don’t have a studio, you have other options. Shoot in clients homes, rent a space for a day, or find a public spot. There are two types of sessions that seem to be popular year round in the portrait business - boudoir and newborn. If one of theses matches your focus, create a portfolio and get the word out through social media and your web presence. When you decide to host a boudoir weekend in January, you will have already generated some interest. Advertise portrait events several months in advance, as budgets will get tight around the holidays. Mothers expecting babies the beginning of next year are going to be booking their maternity and newborn pictures in the next couple of months.

Another request that is common around the holidays is group family photos. This is a great time to take advantage of families gathering together for the holidays. For many families, they are only all together at one time of the year. Create sessions and packages that target these sessions and advertise this service in the early Fall. This may cause you to lose time with your family, so choose a couple dates and limit the sessions you will accept. Market your “limited availability” and you will book quickly. 

The secret for staying busy in the off-season is planning - be proactive not reactive. As creatives, we often only consider what is in front of us and run our business seeking short term goals. Half of the year is already over, planning for the end of the year and first of next year should be your focus. Run your business like a large organization and plan ahead.The off-season is also a great time to adjust your business plans and set goals for the future.


Lindsey Pantaleo Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Lindsey Pantaleo's picture

Lindsey Pantaleo is a wedding and high school senior photographer based in Central Missouri.

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Not bad, good thinking! :)

For me the concept of seasonal work is very alien to me other than shooting sports. For the most part my work is not seasonal I am guessing this is a wedding shooting thing. ;) I used to shoot weddings when I was in high school and college to pay for school, these days I try to only 1-2 weddings a year. I do like the concept of expanding one's skill sets.

I learned a long time ago to diversify one's revenue streams. The major reason is if you rely mainly on one source of income it very difficult to survive if something blocks that stream. I shoot commercial and editorial work. By diversifying it allowed me to survive the collapse of several local publications.

For example I had a few of my wedding shooter friends suffered painfully because when the recession hit everyone became a wedding shooter . Flooding the market driving the prices down and making it harder to find profitable work, and maintain their financial health.

As the saying goes adapt or die.

Good tips