Last spring I had surgery. With all of the uncertainty surrounding my health at the time, I started turning clients and inquiries away for a bit. Time passed. I recovered. Finally I took a look at my calendar. Wide-open — all summer long.
The temptation to linger and wallow in my misfortune was strong, but my drive to overcome was stronger. Two things I know for sure: I’ve never booked a client sitting around wishing she would show up, and nothing fills the void of an empty schedule like taking action.
We’ve all been there. There are times when you look at your schedule and realize that you have some holes in it. Some gaping days or weeks with no clients scheduled. Here are a few ways that you can fill those voids when you see them coming.
1. Turn to your best clients. The first people you want to ask when you get into this situation are, you’re very best clients. I always keep a list of my very best clients and I will contact them first. Get them on the phone or you send them an email or send them a little note and say, “I have x, y, z dates open. If you schedule with me, I’ll give you an extra set of note cards.” or, “If you pick up this date at this time, I will add in an extra 5 images with your purchase.”
You want to entice them to take advantage of the opportunity, without diminishing the value of what you’re offering. We don’t want to train our clients to wait for the discount. Instead, we want to provide an incentive to schedule when we need more clients.
2. Use your email list. If you still have availability after turning to your VIP list, it’s time to open up your offer to your primary email list. I want to add a word of caution here, avoid the deep discount trap. This isn’t about offering sessions for next to nothing because your schedule is open. That mentality will train your clients to wait until you offer these deals before they book. This is about adding something extra they can get in addition to their usual package.
3. Build Your Portfolio. Try filling your open spaces creativity challenging portfolio building sessions. It’s easy to suffer burn out in this industry. As your client base grows, you’ll likely find yourself shooting for fun less and less. Try shooting with a model in a new genre or style. Using a model outside of your main client circle will give you an opportunity make new connections while you boost your portfolio. I always go ahead and offer to sell them prints in addition to the handful of free images I’ve offered in exchage for the model’s time. They may or may not take me up on that opportunity, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You never know, your new model could become your next best client.
4. Plan a Co-Marketing Event. Team up with another business that serves your ideal client to create an event your market would love to participate in. This could fall under a Girls Night Out theme or you could make it a charitable event and raise money for an important cause. Whatever you choose to do, use this time to network with new business owners and potential clients.
5. Diversify Your Income. Diversifying your income simply means bringing in different revenue streams. It’s different avenues to bring money into your business. Chances are many of the photographers you love to follow have diverse revenue streams like books, classes or tools available for purchase. It’s a great way to bring in income outside of your client work. When done right, it frees up your time and builds your credibility among your prospects and clients. I’ve put together a some ideas to get you started with alternative income streams for you to download and get started. Click the button below to download your guide 10 Ways to Diversify Your Photography Business.
What do you think? How do you fill in the open spots in your schedule?