Okay, this is hard to hear amidst what is going on, I know. But in order for us all to get through this, we need to stay calm and focus on the positives. I am no professional at giving advice for pandemics, but I know what has been working for ME. So here are some of my tips for surviving this pandemic with your small business & staying positive while you do it.
YES, we have all been receiving a million emails from every business that we ever gave our emails to, but that is EXACTLY what they should be doing for you as a client. If you have not already, you need to contact your clients. Before you contact your clients, you need to come up with your own pandemic plan. Are you refunding your clients completely? Are you offering additional dates for postponing? What are YOU going to offer your clients? Make sure that you come up with these things BEFORE emailing your clients. YOU are the business owner. YOU need to remain professional, yet kind at this time.
What did I choose to do?
I emailed my May & June clients immediately to let them know what my protocol with the pandemic & cancellations were. In this, I stated that as long as we follow the current CDC rules, I am happy to shoot their wedding. This means that if CDC requires less than 50 people at your wedding, you MUST limit the attendance for me to shoot, etc. In regards to cancellation, I decided as a business owner to offer complete refunds to my clients in the case of required cancellation… but BEFORE I DID THIS I:
Do not begin the email with “if you need to cancel?”. Just do not. You need to encourage postponing at this point. You need to offer your clients additional dates that you are available for them to choose to postpone to. THIS will help you and your business. I gave my clients all of the options such as eloping instead, postponing, and then finally – cancellation. Personally I offered my clients a full refund because in this time, cancelling a wedding is devastating enough. I personally feel that if I offer cancelling with a full refund: My clients will be more likely to come back to me in the future. That choice is up to you. BUT if you have not contacted your clients yet, please do. Set the scene in the email as personal, yet professional & just let your clients know that you are there for them through this whole process.
Just show up. Get on your instagram & Facebook stories & post you. Keep it light, professional & personal to who you are. Your clients & followers want to make sure that you are okay at this time, but stay real. I want my clients to understand where I am at & what I believe is important at this time when it comes to my business but I also want to just show my daily life & how I am coping with the pandemic & quarantine.
Here is one simple tip with your website: update your blog headings. These headings are what people will find in their search engine when looking for something on google. Say they search “Edmonton city wedding” – the only way this will pop up is if your blog title has this in it. Make sure your blog post also includes key words for YOUR business. I checked out my own blog posts & noticed real quick that my blog headings were NOT GOOD. Some of my headings were just my clients names & did not include the location or type of event, etc.
Ugh, pinterest. Another social media thing to work on? (you might be thinking) BUT what time is better than right now. START. In the past two days I have gone from 5k views to 60k views on my business Pinterest page. This is huge news! HOW? Well, I started pinning my detailed blog posts & making sure that the titles & information that I used on my pins were DETAILED & full of KEY WORDS! For more information on Pinterest, just YouTube “how to use Pinterest as a business”, etc! Lots of FREE videos will pop up for you to look at. Once I learn more, I will teach you more on my instagram stories!
Okay okay this maybe sounds silly to you, but it sure isn’t silly to me. The more commenting I do on other photographers content, the more they will comment on mine. This is exactly what helps with your engagement on instagram and is what will make your posts more likely to be seen! One rule for me is: before I post I will comment on around 30 Instagram posts on my feed (ONLY POSTS THAT ARE RELATABLE TO MY CONTENT) & then I will post. This will boost my engagement by allowing those people to now see my post too & hopefully they will comment on my content! Not only should you comment, but ENGAGE. Respond to instagram stories and use instagrams tools as much as you can. Instagram created polls & quizzes, etc for you to use! SO use them.
We do not know exactly when this will end, but we do know that it eventually will. I understand completely that right now you are probably not getting a lot of inquiries – I am not either. With the way things are right now, a lot of people are being hit financially. This may make them rethink their wedding plans, etc. Remember that you are not the only one not receiving inquiries right now, we are all feeling it. BUT create a plan of action for when the pandemic ends so that you will receive inquiries again. Is that google ads? Adding options to your packages? Reducing package amounts? What is that plan for you? Always keep the client in mind – as they are feeling everything you are feeling right now too. They may not be able to afford you next year like they were able to before the pandemic occurred. It will take us all a while to get back on our feet but until then, any business is business.
This is personal to me but maybe you relate with this too. The more time I spend reading or listening to the news about the pandemic, the more anxious and worried I get. Make sure you stay up to date with everything & follow all the rules/ regulations – but don’t get too lost in all the news. You need a break.
If you can, apply for EI.
If you haven’t paid your taxes yet – check your government or the CRA website to see what their updates are for tax information. Canadian Revenue Agency has pushed the date back for Canadians to pay taxes, which helps ease that financial burden a bit.
Lastly, support others. Everyone around you needs a little positivity at this time. If you can, purchase gift cards to your fave local businesses to help keep them afloat. Order out food from your local restaurants. Keep in contact with your fellow work mates. Comment on other businesses work to increase engagement. Most importantly, take care of YOU and do what is best for YOU and YOUR business at this time. WE got this!