2020 has been many things, and a year of learning tough lessons is one of them. The strictest lockdown periods, gradual reopening of economies, and social distancing rules of the ‘new normal’ taught many photographers the importance of ensuring their business is sustainable.

Considering COVID-19 is likely to be around for a while, sustainability is still something to aim for—and the following 9 ways can help you to future-proof your business.

How To Build a Sustainable Photography Business Despite COVID-19

1. Sell Prints Of Your Work Online

If you don’t already have an online store or a digital platform where you sell prints of your work, now is the time to set one up. The beauty of an online store is that it’s open 24/7, and there isn’t any face-to-face interaction between you and customers. As many entrepreneurs and small businesses discovered during the hard lockdowns in the first and second quarters of 2020, a global pandemic wasn’t enough to stop people from shopping.

Selling your work online means there’s the possibility of at least some income coming in, at a time when movement is restricted, and social distancing makes many aspects of photography tricky. If you want to build the online store yourself, use a web builder with an integrated eCommerce platform. Using some builders is as easy as adding photos, descriptions, and prices to a template.

2. Sell Photoshoot Vouchers

One of the good things about lockdown periods and strict social distancing rules is that they don’t last forever. Sooner or later, people can move around and live their lives with greater freedom. With that in mind, it makes sense to sell vouchers or gift cards for photoshoots that can be used in the future.

You can sell your vouchers or cards through your online store and advertise them on social media. Take it a step further by selling your vouchers at a discounted rate, to make them more attractive for potential customers. You may earn slightly less money per shoot, but it’s still money in the bank which you may not have had if you didn’t sell vouchers.

3. Run Attractive Promotions

COVID-19 not only had a devastating effect on many people’s finances, it also gave billions of people a chance to reflect on life and how they live theirs. As a result, consumer habits changed in many ways. More and more people think twice before spending money on things they consider luxuries, the arts (including photography) among them.

Respond to the situation by upping your marketing game and running attractive promotions and special offers. Consider discounting some of the prints you sell online, offering special prices if customers purchase five or more prints at a time, or offering free shipping. Check what some of your competitors are doing and make sure you sell your work for competitive prices.

4. Write And Sell An eBook

Put your knowledge and skills to another use by writing a photography eBook. You could write something for beginners who, thanks to lockdown, decided to take up photography as a hobby. Alternatively, focus on a specific aspect or genre of photography that will come in handy for people who already know the basics. You can do it all on your own and sell it through your online store, or you can use a service such as Amazon’s KDP Print.

5. Get Into Product Photography

If you have a home studio, or at least the equipment you need to do shoots, consider getting into product photography as an additional income stream. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many businesses re-look at their approach to eCommerce, and many are either creating or updating online stores. This means there’s a need for product photography, which you can do hygienically while distancing socially.

6. Plan And Host Photography Workshops

Thanks to the pandemic, online courses, classes, and workshops have never been more popular. Use that to your advantage, and help make your business sustainable by planning, writing, and hosting photography workshops. You can do them online or, if local regulations allow, in person. Consider leading photo walks or tours instead of, or in addition to, workshops.

7. Make And Sell Photoshop Actions

Not all hobbyist photographers know how to use Photoshop well enough to create the effects they want. Expand your product offering in your online store by making and selling various Photoshop actions. Make several different bundles, such as those with seasonal or other themes. Once you’ve created a Photoshop action and list it for sale, you don’t need to do anything further. Customers can purchase their preferred bundles and then apply those actions to their photos in Photoshop at the touch of a button.

8. Sell Lightroom Presets

In a similar vein to making and selling Photoshop actions, you can create Adobe Lightroom presets and sell those in your online shop too. If you use Lightroom regularly, there’s a good chance you already have a few go-to presets for your own work.

Consider selling those in a “Look what I’ve done—and you can do it, too!” way, or, if you don’t want to share your secrets, create a small range of other presets that customers can use to edit their photos. A few possible themes for presets include fireside magic, vintage/sepia, and artistic black and white.

9. Do Porch Photoshoots

Families and individuals posing for photoshoots on their front porches and around their neighborhoods made headlines earlier in 2020. There’s nothing new about porch photoshoots, but the COVID-19 pandemic gave them a new importance. They enabled people to continue documenting their lives, their loved ones, and special moments in the face of a global health crisis.

Porch photoshoots are a great way to get out of the studio, to approach portraiture and other types of photography with renewed creativity, and to do so while maintaining social distancing. They’re also a great addition to the services you offer, and can enhance your online portfolio and highlight your diversity.

COVID-19 made it clear that photographers cannot only rely on traditional income streams. Instead, if you want your business to be sustainable, you need to diversify. Use the tips above as a starting point or as inspiration to keep yourself afloat, no matter what trials your business faces.

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