Hey, friends, welcome back to the Business Journey podcast, I'm Rebecca, and today we're talking all about how to maximize your slow season. Now, before we get too far, I wanted to let you know about a freebie that I have available to you. I don't know about you, but sometimes I struggle with what seem to do for my mini sessions. I have lots of big ideas and I get really excited. And sometimes I can get in the way because when it comes to minis, the theme that you choose is so important and plays a really, really big role in whether your mini sessions are going to be profitable or not, whether they're going to book out or not. And so I put together a freebie for you of my 12 best proven ideas for mini session themes that are sure to book out every time. You can snag that today at Rebeccaricephoto.com /12ideas. That's one two ideas, one word and you can link it in the show notes here so you can grab that. But definitely take advantage of that because especially as we're headed into this planning season for many sessions, it's great to have something like that in your pocket to be able to refer to and, you know, decide what mini session themes you want to do in the next few months. So go grab that one more time. It's Rebeccaricephoto,com/12ideas. That's one two ideas. And you can snag that today and get to planning. Now, let's dive into today's episode. We're talking about five ways to maximize your slow season. Now, as a family photographers, we have a natural busy season, a natural slow seasons. OK, so generally speaking, our busy seasons are in the spring and the fall because those are when people are naturally looking to get photos done in the spring. Everybody sort of comes out of hibernation because the weather is so nice. And then in the fall, of course, everybody and their mom is looking to get photos done for, you know, holiday cards and things like that. So those naturally are our busiest seasons for family photography. And our slower seasons are typically the summer because depending on where you're located, it might just be too dang hot to shoot. I know in Texas, it's so hot in the summers to the point that we're literally like our makeup is melting off of our face. So most people don't shoot in the summer unless they absolutely have to do things like maternity sessions, newborn sessions, you know, you know, milestone, whatever. But summer, for the most part, is a slower season for family photography. And then the winter is usually a slower season as well. There's lots of holidays and it's cold. And again, everybody goes into hibernation mode. So when we're in those slower seasons, which right now in July, we're in that slower season, now we're about to head right into a busy season and we should start thinking about booking for the fall right now. But this is a really good opportunity to maximize your slow seasons in a handful of ways so that when you get to a busy season, you're prepared for that high volume. So while you may be booking right now, you're probably not shooting as much right now. So in your day to day, you may have some extra time to be able to optimize and do some things that will benefit you in the fall here in just a couple of months. So I want to share with you five ways that I maximize my slow season and that maybe you can apply it to your business, too. So the first way that I maximize this time when we're shooting less is I always look over my client experience. This is a time that I'm looking and, you know, putting myself in the shoes of my clients. What are are they experiencing from start to finish here whenever, you know, they have a session with me? What is that first inquiry like? What you know, what emails do they get along the way? Are there any ways that I can serve them better? I have a whole blog post about, you know, my client experience. You can go to my blog at Rebeccaricephoto.com/blog and search client experience and you'll find a couple of posts on there that kind of dive into this. But this is a really great time to, you know, experiment and say, how can I make my experience better ? What are things that I can add maybe that aren't difficult? Right. They're small things, but that would make a difference in the overall experience for my clients. So this could be something as simple as bringing a cooler along with you to your family sessions with water in it. Right. Bottled water that right. There could be an awesome way to elevate your client experience that it's not hard. It's not expensive. But after the session, everybody can get a water or maybe throw in some like juice boxes for kids or something like that, but that could be a really easy way to elevate their experience with you that, you know, just takes things one step further. Another thing that you could do is maybe consider for Christmas this year, sending all of your clients ornaments or magnets with one photo from their session. These things can be made super cheaply, like under a dollar, sometimes under 50 cents, and just adds a nice special touch that, you know, leading into the fall. You can know on your questionnaire you're going to ask for their address so that you have it when it's time to send to that little special gift over the holidays. Even now, you can prepare, think about what photos you want to use. And maybe as you're shooting, you know, and delivering those galleries, you pick one photo and just throw them into a folder that, you know, when it comes early December, late November, you can grab that folder and make those magnets or those ornaments super quickly and not have to go through every single session because as you've gone, you've been preparing for it. So those are just a couple of ways that you could increase that client experience. There are, of course, ways like sending certain blog posts in automated emails or things like that. But just I encourage you to sit down and think through your current client experience and add like a one or two touch points, things that you can do to really increase that client experience from the beginning. So as you head into the fall, that client experience is just already elevated because of things that you're thinking through. Now, the second way that you can maximize your slow season is to update all of your workflows. This is one of those tasks that is not as exciting to update workflows, but it can be so helpful because as you start to shoot in higher volumes, having a workflow is so helpful. So when I say a workflow, it could be something as simple as a checklist on a Trello board. Maybe your workflow is something automated inside of, you know, dubsado or Honeybook, whatever you choose to use. Having a system that your clients, every single client that works with you walks through that way, they receive the same kind of experience is so helpful. So as you look at your workflows, if you never put together a workflow before, I suggest taking a piece of paper and literally writing out every step that it takes from the very beginning when a client inquires to the very end. When you've sent off their gallery and you request a testimonial, what are all the steps that go into play to make this thing happen? Right. What are all the things that you have to do to serve your clients? And when you look at that workflow, now is a really good time to tweak and say, are there any steps that are unnecessary, anything that I'm doing that I can combine with something else to make it a little bit easier?
Or maybe you can look at and say, are there any steps that are missing that I need to add that I have not been doing? This is a great way to optimize what you're doing so that you're using your time effectively and efficiently and still serving your clients well. So tweaking those workflows, you know, my team goes through and we look at our workflows. I mean, at least once a month. We especially do it in slower seasons. But our our team is growing so fast that we want to make sure that our workflows are the best that they can be. And if there's something that we look at, we say, you know what, that seems like an unnecessary step. Let's do it this way. Then we will make that tweak. Another thing that kind of goes along with workflows you can use to maximize your slow season is to automate whatever you can. So as you look at this workflow kind of highlight or circle things that could be automated if you're using a system like Honeybook or Dubsado, our personal preference is Dubsado because they're automation's are awesome. But if you're using a system like Honeybook or dubasado, there are several steps that can be automated and should be automated. So as you look through what emails can you automate, what, you know, steps in the process? Can you automate so that you're not the one having to go in and physically, you know, do those things like send that email ? So as you look at your list, what kind of things can you automate? Then ask what kind of things could you delegate? I know that not everybody is in a place where you can hire. But if you can I. Highly suggest delegating things, so I am a believer that anybody can outsource their editing no matter who you are, if you're like, I don't know if I can afford that, you absolutely can't. If you're getting bookings, you can hire an editor. And I'm going to do a whole other podcast about hiring an editor because I'm just such a huge believer in it. But you literally just bake that cost into your session price and it's so cheap. You guys so cheap, like we're talking thirty dollars for editing for a full session, so cheap. So, you know, look at the things that you can delegate No. One, of course, editing, but what else could you delegate? And even if you hire somebody for two hours a week. Right, let's say you pay somebody ten dollars an hour for two hours a week. That's twenty dollars. Surely you can afford twenty dollars if you're booking. So if you take that twenty dollars and apply it towards hiring somebody, take a look at your list and say what kind of things can I pass off to somebody else? You know, I like to have the lens. Whenever I look at my tasks, I say, is there something only I can do? And are there things that other people could do? Now with delegation, I use the principle that if somebody could do it 80 percent as good as me, I pass it off. So I know some people are like control freaks. I walk through that for a long time. I'm like, there's no way I can only I can do this. But the truth is, if somebody can do it 80 percent as good as I can, then I can pass it off and it's going to be OK. That gives you the capacity to then work on other things like marketing and, you know, things that only you can do. What requires your voice, your face, or that directly generates income, that directly generates revenue. So those are the things that you can be doing and you can pass off things like Inbox or delivering your galleries. That's something that you don't have to do, that somebody else. You can give them a template, you can show them how to do it and somebody else can do that. So look through those things. What can you automate and what can you delegate? The next thing that you can do to maximize your slow season is plan ahead for your next season. So clearly right now, our next season is fall. So now is the time to plan ahead. Take out a calendar, whether it's like a Google calendar or a physical plan or, you know, print off a calendar or whatever and pencil in what sessions you want to do when. So if you want to do a set of minis in the fall, pencil in what date, you want to do those minis and then count back and see when you need to start advertising all this stuff. This is a great time to plan ahead for the fall schedule in, you know, break time, time that you're purposely not shooting so that you don't overwork yourself. And that's a really important one, guys, because it's so easy to just overbook yourself and then forget to rest and then you're so beat and so worn out that you're just like burnt out in that season to avoid that literally schedule in rest time. I know that last fall I was so proud of myself because we shot over. I think I shot over a hundred families that fall last fall. And it was the first time that I didn't feel burnt out after that season. Like, of course, it's exhausting. You're shooting a ton, but I was super intentional to only book one day per weekend. So I was either shooting Saturday or Sunday. I was not shooting both so that I had protected time to spend time with my family to take a nap and rest and not have to be out shooting. So schedule in that time when you're making your plan. And then the last thing that I have on my list of ways that you can maximize your slow season and it's going to sound a little funny, but hear me out. Back up your photos. Slow season is the absolute best time to back up your photos because you have way more time on your hands when you're not shooting as much and backing up your photos is usually the first thing that's forgotten when people get busy. And so I have some horror stories with not backing up my photos. I literally went like a year and a half without having a backup of my photos. Hello. That's awful. Don't do that. You should have a backup. So I literally have to external hard drives that are exact copies of each other. And then I also have all of our final images backed up and shoot proof. So they're in shoot proof archives so that actually they're not archives, they're just in galleries because I have the unlimited plan as unlimited storage. But I know shoot proof does have the option to archive and it's super cheap to archive. So they don't count against, like the number of photos that you have saved, but you can still access them, you know, in the archives them for like minis. So it's super cheap. What? You do have a backup because you just never know what's going to happen. I know for me I have had some awful luck with my hard drives. So one time I had my external hard drive. And I want to say my daughter had accidentally, like, pushed my computer off of, you know, wherever it was and the hard drive busted, like the little plug thing bent. And there is no other way to access what was on that hard drive. So I literally had to take it in to like a hard drive specialist. That sounds so funny, but you know what I mean. I had to take it into some computer experts and they were able to get the stuff off of it, but it was so expensive. And so that was like less than what I should have learned my lesson to back up then. Well, I didn't. And so I continued with a hard drive was like, oh, I'll just be more careful. No, that's awful. So the next thing you know, the next time I had issues with my hard drive, I had just gotten a brand new hard drive, you know, filled it with probably four or five months of sessions. And I was like, you know, on a roll we were right about to move to Nashville or we weren't moving. I was doing some portfolio sessions. This was back in September. So I had all these sessions that I shot to be able to put on my blog and change up our SEO for Nashville. What I always do is I clear my SD cards on my computer. So when I'm ready to go shoot, you know, I transfer all the photos to my hard drive and then I clear my SD cards, like erase them and reformat them so that they're ready to shoot. Wow. I guess I was going a little bit too fast and instead of erasing my SD card, I erased my entire hard drive. You guys, there was no, like, pop up message was like, hey, I just want to make sure. Is this what you're trying to do? I literally like clicked a race and the finger race and I could not believe my eyes. It happened so fast. I was like, no, no, no. Surely it did not just erase my entire hard drive that I did not have backed up. Like, there's no way. And sure enough, I went searching and it was gone. Like gone. Gone. Oh, my gosh. So I started looking into recovery software is and of course I bought a recovery software and it recovered some of the stuff, but not everything. So I had to take it into the shop again and get them to get everything off their Ya'll. It was a nightmare. So here's your friendly reminder. Back up your photos. This should be a habit to do all the time. But if you've never backed up your photos or your way behind, do it now. Like use your slow season to back them up, whether it's on another external hard drive or you're using something like Dropbox or, you know, there's there's so many I've heard people using back blaze. So I had to take it into the shop again and get them to get everything off their YAL. It was a nightmare. So here's your friendly reminder. Back up your photos. This should be a habit to do all the time. But if you've never backed up your photos or your way behind, do it now. Like use your slow season to back them up, whether it's on another external hard drive or you're using something like Dropbox or, you know, there's there's so many I've heard people using back blaze. But no one look over your client experience. Number two, automate your workflows. I'm sorry. Update your workflows. Number three, automate and delegate wherever you can. Number four, plan ahead for the next season. And number five, back up your photos, friends. Let's use this season to the fullest so that when we get to the fall, we are all ready to rock and roll. I'm so excited for what the rest of this year has in store for all of you. Definitely keep me updated. If you have any questions about anything we talked about in today's podcast, I'm always available in my Instagram DM's. You can find me at Rebecca Rice Photography and I would love to chat with you. I hope this was helpful. And we'll see you this time next week. Bye, guys.

Episode Transcript

25. 5 Ways to Maximize Your Slow Season