This post is written during the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020, at a time when many of us are seeing cancelled events, closed shops, lost work, and social distancing (if not outright quarantined). However, these are things you can work on ANY time you’re experiencing a slow season in your business.
It can be scary to see your revenue streams grind to a halt. I’m a big fan of working on the things you CAN control to release some of the anxiety about the things you can’t control. None of these suggestions are an instant fix for slow business, but all of them will work to help you create a strong foundation for the future of your business.
Spruce Up Your Website
If DIY your website, downtime is basically the only time you have to tackle this task. Even if you work with a company to design your site, revamping a website requires time and attention.
If your website already looks great, dig into the performance. Do you need to look at the speed or safety (SSL Certificate). Do you have your best and recent work displayed on your site? Is your contact/sales/booking page prominent and easy to find? How’s your SEO? Here are a couple of things you could tackle to improve your SEO:
- carry out some keyword research and identify where you want to rank.
- check all your images for accurate and relevant alt text.
- add internal links in your site anywhere needed.
- reach out to those you’ve worked with to ask about backlinks.
- Submit posts or articles to other sites to grow your link building strategy.
Research and Develop Your Client Avatars
Developing client avatars will help you get inside the mind of your client. Taking the time to really think about who your client is, what their pain points are, how you can help them, and where you can find them will streamline your marketing process and help you target your paid promotions to get the most from your money.
Maybe you already have worked with some amazing clients; use these people to help you describe your ideal client. If you are newer to the industry and haven’t yet worked with someone who you feel is your ideal client, click around until you find someone who is. Do some friendly social media recognizance (ie, dig into their account) and see what kinds of things they post, which platforms they are active on, if they use hashtags, and what other brands they follow.
I have a Client Avatar Worksheet template on Canva that I use to jot these details down for future reference. You don’t have to have just one client in mind, you may have several different client types. Create a separate avatar for each one.
Start a Blog
I know this falls under your website, but it is strong enough for its own heading. This is a powerful way for you to add fresh content to your site on a regular basis. Once you develop a workflow, this content can feed your social media and add streams. Whether you’re starting from scratch or adding content to an existing site, stop and think about your clients. Use that those client avatars to find what they want to read about. What are their problems, and how can you help?
If you’re stuck for content, here are a couple of ideas to get you started. Sit down and brainstorm a list, then keep it for whenever you have time to write.
- Your company philosophy (your why) and why it matters to clients
- What sets you apart from others in your field
- Individual product or service features
- Event pros: location features (these often rank really strong in searches)
- Advice and tips
- Behind the Scenes or How To type articles (but only as they serve your clients. If you’re a wedding photographer, your clients don’t need to learn how to take a photo. They need to learn how to dress for a photo, or how to help plan a photo friendly wedding day)
- Lifestyle advice you think they will love and connect with.
If you want your posts to rank well, be sure you spend a couple of extra minutes crafting an SEO friendly blog post. Don’t forget a call to action on each post so that new people who find your website through a keyword search will have a way to connect after reading the post!
Schedule Social Media Posts
You can spend this time strategically scheduling social media posts so that when work picks back up, you’re free to focus on it and your social media account will continue posting amazing content no matter how busy you get.
If you have a blog, you can use the evergreen content you’ve already written to source ideas for social media content. One great blog post can give you 7-10 well targeted social media posts!
Even just spending a few hours organizing your images and media will give you a library of things to easily pull from when you’re scheduling out posts in the future.
If you get stuck for ideas, here is a list to help you get started:
Start an E-mail List
An email list is one of the most powerful ways to connect with potential clients. No matter how the social media algorithms change, or which platforms your clients use, your email goes directly to their inbox! If you don’t currently have an e-mail list they are free to start until you get to a set number of subscribers, so this is a great no cost marketing plan! MailChimp (that’s what I use) and Constant Contact are the two most common, but there are many others (including some paid services like Flodesk, which has beautiful clean templates and a very easy user interface).
Start by crafting a series of intro emails for new subscribers, so that these are ready to go. Pull from those ideas you’ve crafted about why your product or service is important, what sets you apart, and maybe a special offer just for subscribers.
Then work on a lead generator. People need a reason to sign up for your list. Pull up those client avatars again and think about their problems. What compelling solution can you offer them in once click, in exchange for their email?
Once you have these, you can add buttons to subscribe to all of your social media pages, your website, and create some marketing materials (again, Canva is free and easy) to push people to these lead generators.
If you already have an email list that is a big neglected, consider automating newletters via an RSS automation so that you’ll pop up in their inboxes every time you publish a blog post.
Create or Update Print Marketing
In a digital age, we often neglect how powerful great print marketing materials can be. As a service provider, I’ve found that leaving those who frequently refer me with some nicely crafted materials makes it very easy for them to keep referring me, and makes my brand stand out to clients. Since I’m not a designer, I purchased a template from Creative Market a few years ago. Each year I tweak it a bit and updating pricing and package info, but aside from that, the few hours I spent making some great materials several years ago has lasted me a LONG time and brought me a lot of business.
Having great business cards, a welcome guide, or a brochure and getting them in the hands of people who will share them with potential clients is well worth the time and money that you invest in creating them.
Jump Start a Pinterest Account
If you serve direct clients or customers, Pinterest is a great way to connect! It’s not another social media platform, but a powerful search engine that your people are already using. If you’re starting from scratch, Tailwind is a great way to get some content scheduled and published. Properly using Pinterest is a whole separate post, so I’m just going to link up the Pinterest webinar that Vanessa Kynes shared in 2019 for the Rising Tide Society. It taught me everything I know about Pinterest, so no need for me to reinvent the wheel for you!
Create Custom Stock Photography or Video Clips
You don’t have to be a photographer to make this happen (all the better if you are though) but we all need some new quality images to share. Find some great natural daylight and spend a few hours with your products or items that personify your brand. If you don’t have a fancy camera, just use your cell phone. You can edit these photos right on your phone (Snapseed is my favorite editing app).
If you’re an iPhone user, the timelapse option is a great way for you to capture behind the scenes videos of you working. If you’re a designer, you can use screen capture videos to make a 2 hour design into a fascinating 30 second video to share with your audience.
Spend some time making these images and videos now, then use them for months to come!
Cultivate a Passive Income Stream
Product referrals and affiliate links through vendors you love and already use are two easy ways to begin to cultivate some passive income.
If you’re an image creator, you can mine your hard drives (or shoot footage) for things that are suitable to sell on stock sites. Any place that you can purchase stock imagery, you can sell imagery (with the proper releases).
You can also create photos and video specifically for this purpose. It will take time to edit, upload, and list your photos or video, but once you’ve uploaded, this income is truly passive.
These things are often referred to as passive income, but almost all of them take continued work or marketing to create revenue. It may be less or easier work that is easier to outsource, but there will still be work involved.
If you have digital products, develop some stock products to offer online alongside your custom work.
If you are an expert in your field, consider creating a series of educational courses to share.
You could also explore your options in Real Estate (either purchasing property to rent out, to flip and sell, or making some existing property you own rentable).
Love On Your Current Clients
The clients you have booked for current/future work are by far your best chance at booking more work. Serve them well, and they’ll refer you to many. Send a little note to check in with them. Provide them with resources they need. Brainstorm ideas for adding value to the products they have already booked with you.
If you need some more guidance on any of these idea, reach out! I’m happy to brainstorm with you. I’m also working on a series of webinar style education modeled after the in person lunch & learn session that I was planning to hold here at the studio this spring. If you’re just getting started with Social Media Marketing, SEO, or Blogging, I have a whole class dedicated just to getting started on each of those things. They’re full of action steps, great tips, and the same take away guides that each of my in person classes would receive. We have a brand new class to share this year too!
So many of you have asked to hear our tips on video marketing, so we’re putting together a course on how you can create some of your own videos, and how to best use they videos you already have in your marketing portfolio (some of which you may not even be aware of!).
Join our mailing list to be sure you don’t miss a minute of what we’ve got to share with you this spring. Wash your hands, get plenty of sleep and water, and stay well!