The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and it is going to have a major effect on photo and video businesses around the globe!
UPDATE: I’ve included several more tips to help you prepare your photo or video business. The situation is constantly evolving and so I may be adding more information here and there.
Don’t believe me? Canon has shut down several factories, other companies have stopped production as well, and that’s just equipment related issues.
Companies and people are canceling events or putting them on hold. So, if you photograph weddings, corporate events, private parties, etc. you should be concerned. And folks who just want portrait sessions might be taking a break for a little while until they know what’s going to happen with this thing before meeting up with a stranger to potentially expose themselves to a deadly virus.
But what can you do to prepare yourself? Lucky for you, I have some tips right here:
Make Sure Your Contract is Rock Solid
People are going to cancel events and sessions. I have friends in New York City who’ve told me that they’re already having couples call and cancel weddings entirely. “Just keep the deposit.”
That probably won’t be the case with folks who wait until the last minute or are forced to cancel events/weddings/photo sessions. There are going to be people who will want their money back.
What can you do to protect your business? Make sure the process for cancellations is covered thoroughly in your contract, as well as having a solid ‘force majeure’ clause.
force majeure (noun)Unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.
Don’t know if your contract covers that? Head over to our shop NOW and get one of our contract templates ASAP.
Get Your Financial Situation In Order!
It’s time to tighten the purse strings. Along with those cancellations, we’re probably headed for a global recession.
You can click here to learn more steps about how to recession proof your business, but for now you should be thinking about the basics.
Try to eliminate any business debt you have (or as much as you can), and look into places where you can cut back on spending. Do you have subscription services that you don’t really use anymore? Are you paying for advertising that isn’t really bringing in leads? Really go back and examine your ROI on everything!
Use Your Network
Don’t take this all upon yourself. Reach out to the people in your network both for help and to just commiserate and feel less alone.
This applies to both your network of other vendors you use (people who can potentially get you gigs when things calm down) AND your network of other photographers (people who can cover gigs for you should you be quarantined or fall ill).
Check in with folks you know. Don’t just use email. Call. Text. Strengthen those bonds in this trying time.
And join groups and forums on Reddit or Facebook or wherever to talk about what’s going on. Knowing you’re not alone in this situation can make things a lot less scary.
Over-communicate With Your Clients
Your clients are probably freaking out right now. This is a good time to be a little more hands on with them in terms of reaching out and keeping them up to speed with what’s going on with your business and their session/event.
A sample client communication email was shared in a group I belong. I’ve made some edits and am posting it here so that it might help you
I wanted to take a quick minute to talk about something important. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the coronavirus and its impact worldwide. While at the very least this is distressing, I wanted to assure you that my business and I are prepared.
I’m staying updated on the latest information (Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization) as well as local authorities.
I’m acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hot spots, meeting clients/vendors/employees online instead of in person, and swapping hugs/handshakes for a friendly wave. This pandemic is effecting a wide range of businesses/clients in other states as well as around the globe.
Additionally, I’m making sure that all of my clients know what to expect from me as per our contract.
I’m monitoring the situation, doing my best to keep me and my team safe, and am happy to discuss your concerns.
Technology can help you keep the business side of things running. Use video-conferencing to communicate with clients or other vendors. Your email list and social media can be a great platform to update your clients and potential clients about what is going on with your business.
And keep it specific to your business.
Your clients may have to reschedule their shoot or event. Realize this is scary for them both financially and physically. Whether they’re a big corporation or a small family in a small town looking for portraits, they all are looking at losses in the near future and beyond.
Now is not the time to be strict and unyielding. Besides, you’ll garner a lot more goodwill with everyone involved if you’re willing to work with them to the extent that you can.
Learn How to Protect Yourself
The best things you can do are to practice social distancing, limit physical contact, limit shared surfaces, avoid outbreak hot spots, use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands properly with soap and water.
Sing a song while you wash your hands. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Check out any number of songs you can sing by clicking here.
Don’t Panic but be Prepared
Panicking and hoarding aren’t going to help the situation in the long run. This a very serious issue. While most people who catch this virus will be okay, for many it will be very serious, especially for those with respiratory conditions or the immuno-compromised.
You might have to self quarantine at some point during this pandemic, so be ready for that. Use the time to think about your marketing, reconsider your pricing structure, design a new website, or maybe discover your photography super power.
Above all, be careful and, for the sake of your own health and that of your business, as well as everyone around you, be prepared.
What are you most afraid will happen to your business?
Tell us in the comments and we’ll see what you can do to prepare for that eventuality.