If your business is anything like mine, the work comes in peaks and troughs. Despite me trying to convince the world that winter shoots are magical (FYI: They really are!), I understand that horses are often hairy and muddy during the winter and if your horses aren’t clipped, most people want Spring or Summer shoots.
In the summer, I can be doing up to seven shoots a week. Whereas in the colder months, it’s more like one or two. So, I’ve had to come up with a way to get through these quieter months, without a) dying of boredom and b) going bust!
Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve come up with to help you through the off season..
- Work on your website
I’m currently getting my website revamped as we speak and the off season is a great time to do this. I’d never have the time or brain space for this in the summer and I like to get this done in the first couple of months of the year, so that I feel I’m starting the new year a-fresh.
2. Get your accounts in order
Yes, this one makes my skin crawl too, but it’s got to be done. I’m super disorganised with my expenses, especially when I’m rushing around from shoot to shoot, in summer. I do, however, have a folder in my car, a folder in my handbag and a box at home, where I keep my receipts. So when it comes to the end of the summer season, I have the delightful job of getting all of these in some kind of order. So there definitely are plus sides to having such a seasonal job. Goodness knows what mess I’d be in if I was banged out all year round.
3. Write blog posts
I do a lot of writing in the quieter months. I tend to churn out blog posts and save them in my drafts, so that I can just hit ‘publish’ when I’m busy in the summer. It saves so much time and means I can blog consistently even when I have very little spare time.
4. Work on your social media presence
Ideally, we’d be super efficient on social media all of the time. But I know how easy it is to just forget to post, when you’re rushing around, against the clock. When things are quieter and you have a bit of breathing space, looking through your social media accounts and seeing what’s working for you and what’s not, is a great idea.
I create a lot of my quote pictures in the winter months and I fill my diary with useful dates that I can use on my social media platforms throughout the year.
5. Sell gift vouchers
Despite this being a seasonal job, there’s still always Christmas to save my butt! With most businesses, there will be the opportunity to make the most of Christmas, by selling gift vouchers or more products. Make sure you get on top of your Christmas marketing campaign well in advance, so that you’re ready for that festive rush.
6. Run special offers
Every year, I run a Black Friday offer at the end of November, sometimes I get involved in Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, too. This year also I hosted a January Sale for all my existing customers, with a discount on products, which worked really well. Then there’s Valentines Day to think about in Feb, Mother’s Day in March and any other special offers you might want to run just to encourage a boost in sales.
7. Work on personal projects
Use your down time to focus on things you’d wanted to do throughout the year but hadn’t had the time to do. Whether that’s a specific styled photoshoot that you’ve had in mind for ages, exploring a different kind of photography or anything else you’ve had in the pipeline for a while.
This winter I spent most of my time creating and launching the Equestrian Entrepreneurs Network, which has had a super response. I came up with the idea in the middle of the busy season, but waited until work was quieter until I put the plan into action, knowing I’d have the time it needed to do it properly.
8. Indulge in some ‘me time’
If you’re earning good money in the summer months and that’s enough for you, definitely don’t feel guilty about chilling out a little bit in the winter months. There is no law that says you have to slog your guts out 365 days a year! If you make the majority of your annual income in the summer and you’re struggling to make ends meet, even in the quietest of months, then well done you!! Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy a couple of months of lie-ins and lunch dates.
9. Look back
When you’ve been going at 100mph over the summer, it’s difficult to take a step back and look at your business from a different perspective. Having an ‘off season’ allows you to do just that. Look at everything you did in business in the last year. Make a note of what worked really well and remember to do the same next year. And make a note of what didn’t work so great and can be scrapped.
10. Go on holiday
Make the most of the lull in business and take that trip you’ve been wanting to take. Book a holiday for you and a loved one, or just nip away for a weekend. You might as well take your breaks when the work is quiet.
If you’ve got any other tips and tricks, to get through the quiet months, I’d love you to post them in the comments below.