87: When Business Is Slow

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What can you do when business is slow? In today’s episode, I’m sharing the advice I give to clients as they move through a slow season. Plus, I’m diving into why it is so important to show up for your business regardless of how many inquiries you have. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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This episode is brought to you by Root to Rise, a mastermind and retreat for female photographers where personal development meets business growth. During the four-month experience, students have weekly calls focused on goals, boundaries, money, and marketing.  The program also includes incredible guest teachers, a private Facebook community, and weekly Voxer hours with individualized guidance and mentorship. Sign up today to join the waitlist. 

Review the Show Notes:

Do not panic (1:15)

Have you been showing up consistently? (3:38)

Why you need to show up regardless (6:33)

How to continue showing up (9:02)

Focus on connection, not desperation (10:38)

Build your personal brand (14:21)

There is always something you can be doing (16:24)

Create a personal project or do a model call (19:12)

Episode Links:

43: What To Do About The Recession with Colie James

Portfolio On Purpose Freebie 

Root To Rise Mastermind

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Review the Transcript:

Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here, I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing business, motherhood, and life. Myself, along with my guests, we’ll get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there.

If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, The shoot at straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.

Welcome back to the shoot. It’s straight podcast. My friends today I’m chatting about something that’s coming up a lot. It’s coming up in my DMS. It’s coming up in my Voxer coaching. So I thought it’s probably time we should bring it to the podcast. Here’s the deal. I hear you. Business is slow right now. I am hearing from women all across the country in different genres, in different price points, with different levels of experience, that inquiries are at an all time low.

The first thing I want to say is, if this is you, I know it’s hard to hear this, but do not panic. Okay? The worst thing that you could do in this situation is panic. Why? Well, when we panic, we tend to try and do things out of fear. To do things out of scarcity, we immediately think, what kind of sale can I do?

What kind of promotion can I do? What kind of offer can I create? What kind of discount can I give people? And those offers, while they might bring you a little bit of business, they’re never done with intention. They’re never really well thought out. They really aren’t part of your overall plan and goal.

Okay. And. You want them to be this stop gap, but they never end up being that great saving grace that you think they’re going to be. They just don’t pan out. Okay. I can tell you from somebody who has done that before, when you create offers out of fear and out of scarcity with that energy behind it, it just doesn’t go well.

Okay. It does not go well. If it brings you any money at all, the clients, it’s are not your ideal clients. The experience is not the experience you want to have, and it ends up being super frustrating later. Okay. So instead of doing that, Instead of panicking and creating offers out of scarcity and fear, we’re going to talk about some things that you could be doing.

Okay. We’re going to talk about what the future of photography looks like, but I want you to ask yourself something first and when you be really honest. Okay. This episode is coming out in April and. If you are like most of the women that I’m hearing, this has probably been going on for months, okay? You are getting to the point where you are really frustrated.

You are really burned out. You are ready to throw in the towel. You’re ready to shut down your business and get a job. You’re ready to just not do it anymore. I want to tell you that, and we’ll talk about this more at the end, but this is not permanent. Okay, I understand how hard you’ve been working. I understand how frustrating it is.

But let me ask you this, have you truly been showing up for your business consistently? And your first gut reaction is probably, yes, of course I’ve been doing all the things and nothing’s happening, but really have you really been showing up consistently? What does that mean? I don’t just mean Instagram.

Okay. Yes, absolutely. Consistently marketing and using social media for our business is important. I’m not going to lie to you. It is important. Okay. We are visual artists. We have visual brands. People want to see our work or they want to connect with us. And a big way that that happens these days is social media.

Have you been showing up consistently? And I definitely do not just mean getting on Instagram every day and sharing your availability. Have you been consistently participating in the app in the way that it was intended? So we’ll talk about that in a minute. But other ways. That you could be showing up for your business consistently.

Have you been blogging regularly? Have you been updating your website? Have you been asking for reviews from past clients? Have you been working in your CRM and fine tuning your process? Have you been fine tuning your offers? Have you been cleaning up your portfolio? Have you taken a course to support something that you needed to grow?

Have you continued to show up for your business day in and day out, even though no inquiries are coming? Okay. So when you hear me ask that, and when you hear me explain it, can you really say, yes, a hundred percent. Now I am not trying to insinuate that. You not showing up is the reason that you are slow.

Okay. There is definitely something going on, whether we think it’s the economy, it could be because it’s an election year. It could be a zillion other things, but being consistent and consistently showing up for your business does play a part. Okay. And so what I am saying is that while it might not be the primary reason that you are not getting inquiries, it might not be helping things.

If you have just in the back of your mind been saying, like, business is slow, inquiries are slow. And because of that, you are feeling defeated and you are stopping the showing up, right? You’re not, you’re not doing the things you should be doing. You’re putting things off. You’re having that mindset of, well, I’ll post on Instagram and then I’m just not going to do anything else.

Right. And if that’s the mindset you’ve had, where you’ve really been not showing up in your best way, not being super consistent. It’s not helping you. Okay. So this is one of those things where if you were in business during the pandemic, okay, this is going to be a similar situation. You need to continue to show up consistently regardless of the inquiries.

Okay, and I’m going to reiterate this a couple of times in this episode, but here’s the thing. Here’s the why. Okay. If you need to hear a why before you listen to the rest of this episode, here’s why. Okay. This season of slowness, okay. Whatever is happening to the industry and the spending habits, this will not last forever, period.

Okay. This will not last forever. And I can promise you that the businesses. That are going to succeed the businesses that are going to come out on the other side when when the economy or the election is passed or whatever it is turns around when businesses come out on the other side and they start getting those inquiries again, and they start getting flooded and they start having all these ideal clients and things go back to quote unquote normal.

The people that are going to survive that are the ones who continued to show up when it was hard and when it was slow. And those of you who just threw in the towel, who stopped being consistent, who stopped doing the things, I’m sorry to tell you, but you are going to come out on the other side. And it’s going to feel worse because you’re going to see your peers and your competitors getting all of this business.

And you’re going to feel worse. terrible about things, right? You’re going to wonder what you did wrong. Consistency is an absolute enormous part of long term success in any business. Okay. And you have to be willing to weather the storm. You have to be willing to show up consistently regardless. Okay, in good times and bad, right?

And I’m not talking about this. It’s just a little side note. I’m not talking about when things are bad personally, when you go through seasons of struggle or trauma or grief or anything like that, obviously our, our business should get set aside during those times. I’m talking about the economy, the spending habits of our clients.

Okay. We go through seasons where everybody’s spending and everything’s great. And we’re getting lots of client bookings at our highest packages and we’re selling lots of products. And it’s great. And then there are seasons where it’s hard. Okay. The businesses that have the long term success, those women, those solopreneurs.

are consistent regardless of what’s going on. Okay. So I want to chat through a couple of things that you can do. How can you continue to show up for your business when it feels like nothing is happening? Today’s episode is brought to you by Root2Rise. a four month mastermind and retreat for female photographers.

That is where personal development meets business growth. During the four month experience, students have weekly calls focusing on a variety of topics that both better their lives and their businesses. Think topics like goals, boundaries, money, and marketing, and many, many others. The program also includes incredible guest teachers.

A private Facebook community and weekly Voxer hours where you get individualized guidance and mentoring from me on topics that matter to you and your business. One of the best parts of the experience is definitely the three day in person retreat. Consider this the most fun girls weekend ever. We eat well, do yoga, photograph three sessions, work through portfolio reviews, take headshots and build deep friendships.

I can tell you that the women who have gone through this program have had some absolutely incredible transformations. Reached massive goals and changed the trajectory of their businesses. If you wanna get on the wait list to be notified when enrollment opens again soon, you can head over to the link in the show notes and get on that list.

And now back to the episode.

So number one, I want you to really work on focusing on connection and not desperation. This is something that really is going to be through your email list and through social media. Okay, focus on connection, not desperation. What do I mean by that? I want you to connect with your people. Not desperately try and get sales all the time.

Okay. Yes. You should be selling. Yes. I want you to share your availability and your offers and your mini sessions and whatever it is you have. But when you start to prioritize people over sales connection over fear and scarcity, it is amazing what happens. Okay. How do you do that? Well, newsflash, if you’ve heard me teach on any number of subjects, you’ve probably heard me say that connecting with your audience is literally just about being a person.

How would you talk to somebody? If you met up with them at a cocktail party, you went to a birthday party, you met somebody new, you were at your kid’s play date and you met a new mom, anything like that. It’s called conversation. How do you strike conversation on social media and in your newsletter? You connect with them, share what you’re interested in, share what your likes are, what your dislikes are, share funny stories, share the huge parenting fail that you had last week, share the crazy thing that happened with your dogs, share about the new plant baby that you bought, share your favorite lunchtime hack, just connect with people.

Did you notice that nothing that I just said had anything to do with business? or photography or art. I’m talking about you as a person. What do you like? What makes you tick? What are you interested in? What are your quirks? Connect with people. Okay. The best way to do that is to share and open the door for people to connect back.

Okay. So in your newsletter, that can look like sharing stories, sharing links to things that you’re loving, lifting up other businesses. There’s so many ways. Take the focus off of your business and your offers and your desperate need to bring things in and just connect with people and on social media.

It’s the same thing, right? It’s dropping question boxes in your stories, asking quirky little questions. Right? Like, what’s your favorite holiday? What’s your favorite color? What’s the best book you’ve read lately? Okay. Sharing like the behind the scenes of your life. What, what did you, what did you have for lunch yesterday?

What was the favorite new outfit you got and where did you buy it? What’s the best thing you bought on Amazon in the last 30 days? Okay. Just connect with people and not only what’s happening in your stories and in your feed, but in the feeds and the stories that you’re consuming as well. This is a great time to start commenting, stop stalking and start connecting with people.

When you see somebody share an image or something that you like, respond to them, tell them. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that link. I ordered it and I love it. Or, oh my gosh, I read that book too. It’s a great one. Okay. Or if you see somebody asking a question for a recommendation, drop a recommendation, comment on the posts, respond in the, in the DMs and in the stories.

Connect with people instead of focusing on that desperate energy. Let it be fun. That’s a great way that you can continue to show up. And you know why that brings me to the next part. Focus on building your personal brand. Okay. All of that connecting, all of that sharing about yourself and connecting with others really at the heart of it is about building your personal brand.

What does that mean? Your personal brand is who you are. What makes you, you? Okay, it is not just I’m a family photographer in this area and this is what I charge and this is what my images look like you are so much more than that. Okay. You are a mom to three kids and you live in this town and these are your favorite colors and these are your favorite foods and these are the things you absolutely hate and these are your best friends and your favorite places to travel and this is what your house looks like and this is what your style is and this is where you love to shop.

So much goes into who you are that makes you unlike anyone else. So focus on building your personal brand. Share what makes you, you. If you’re a plant lover, start sharing the heck out of that process. Share all your plant babies, all their names, how you take care of them, what your watering day looks like, what your favorite hacks are, what you do when one of them gets sick, right?

If you’re a dog mom, same thing. If you love to travel, same thing. If you love to read, same thing. Do you see what I’m saying? Focus on building your personal brand. And if you’re not sure what that is yet, spend some time figuring it out. Let it be a fun new game. Share something personal or related to your personal brand four times a week.

And do it over and over and over and over again and just see what happens. See what kinds of people land in your inbox. From that, who want to connect with you? What kinds of relationships you can make? Okay, will it get you any business immediately right now? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point right now.

Remember the point is how can you show up consistently? I didn’t say the point is how you can start making money. The point is how you can show up consistently to weather this slow season. Other things that you can do to consistently show up for your business, share the behind the scenes of what you’re working on.

And, uh, here’s a newsflash. If you’re not working on anything, that’s a problem. Sure. You might have zero inquiries and zero sessions on the book. Does that mean that you have nothing to do in your business? I’m sorry. It doesn’t. If you are anything like any one of the solopreneurs, photographers, entrepreneurs, small businesses that I know, you have an idea list and a to do list that will last you your absolute entire lifetime.

Okay. There are a zillion blogs you could write. There are a zillion things you could do to your website. There are courses you can take. There are personal projects you can do. There are old image images that you haven’t edited personally. Okay. There are freebies that you can create. There are email funnels that you can fine tune.

The list goes on and on and on. There is something that you can be doing in your business. Sure, it might not be the sexy. I’m going to a session and here’s the behind the scenes and now I’m editing. I know that’s what you wish you were doing, but there’s other stuff to be done. Okay, what can you work on in your business and how can you share the behind the scenes of it?

Right? Can you simply share a screenshot scroll? of your website and how you’re working through it. Can you share about the process of how you’re updating images on your website? Can you share about the process of looking up keywords for SEO? Can you share the list of blog post ideas that you’re going to write about and let people vote on which one you write first?

Can you share about how you went back and edited old images in your new editing style and look how they look before and after? There are so many things that you can be working on in your business. While you are twiddling your fingers. Share that, share what it looks like to be a dedicated business owner and what you’re doing.

I promise you it makes the difference. I promise you, even if it doesn’t bring you an inquiry, even if it doesn’t bring you somebody who wants to book you right now, it is a way to consistently show up for your business. Not only are you going to be working on all of those things that you’ve been putting off forever, that you’ve been wanting to get done.

You’re also going to be sharing about the process. Do you need to say, well, since I’m not shooting anything lately and there’s no inquiries, here’s what I’m working on. No, you don’t need to share that. Okay. If you want to, you absolutely can. If you want to be vulnerable with your audience, you can do that.

I’m not saying you don’t need to, but you don’t have to do that. You can also just do the work, do the projects. Share the behind the scenes. Okay. What’s another way that you can consistently show up for your business when things are slow? Create a personal project or do a model call. Either one of those will give you a way to create while you’re waiting for paid clients to come in the door.

Okay. We are creatives at heart. That is why we decided to create a business built around photography. So it’s important that we’re creating. It’s important that we keep that flame going right and having a personal project which can be anything. Some people hear the word personal project and they immediately think, you know, Oh, it must be photographing your kids.

Sure. That’s really popular and like an easy low lift project you could find if you’re if you’re a parent. But that is absolutely not the end of the list. Okay. You can create personal projects around anything. You can create personal projects around things that aren’t even related to the genre that you photograph, right?

It could be, this could be a great way to play and learn something new, right? You could create, if you are a digital photographer, you could create a personal project around film or around video. Um, you can create a personal project around your pets. You can create a personal project around still life or food photography, okay, or lay flats.

You could create a personal project working on different techniques like motion blur and different times of types of flair. Um, you could create a personal project based on color, right? Like maybe your favorite color is red and that’s all you’re photographing are things that are red. And you like take your camera with you, and you look for really, you start really trying to be aware of the color red.

I mean, it could be so fun, right? You can create it about anything you want. I don’t care. Okay? Get creative with this, but let it be a way for you to create. And to stay with your hands in the camera and give you something that excites you. Another thing you can do is a model call. Okay, maybe you’re not interested in doing any kind of personal project right now, but you are itching to work with families or pregnant women or whatever you photograph, and you’re really missing it because of the slow increase, the slow season.

Do a model call. I promise you, people will sign up and if you’re not sure how to run a model call, how to find people who are the best fit for your project and for what you need, I have a freebie for that. Um, it’s called portfolio on purpose and it’s literally the framework that I use to create and run model calls.

And I do this at least once a year for my own. Personal creativity, but I also do it four times a year for retreats that I host. It works. Okay. And so many women have already gone through portfolio on purpose and they love it and say that it is so valuable and that honestly it shouldn’t be a freebie.

Okay. I will have the link to that and the show notes. So if that is intriguing to you, you can click on that link and get the information there. I just want to reiterate at this point, I just kind of want to circle back to the beginning. I know things are slow. It’s not just you. Okay. You are not having a lack of inquiries because your work is not good enough because your prices are too high because you have too many competitors because you’re not popular anymore.

It’s none of those things. It is absolutely none of those things. There’s stuff going on in the world and people aren’t spending the same way they used to. And who knows when it’s going to end, but I promise you it will. This will not last forever, but the key to your long term success is consistency. You have got to show up consistently for your business.

Okay. It is going to serve you so well in the long run. And so this really is a mindset game. Trust me. I have been in your shoes. I understand how hard it is to keep going when you feel like what you’re doing is not working. Here’s a great mindset shift to have, though, instead of thinking what’s working, quote unquote equals inquiries and income.

What if in this season we change that? And we change the success marker and the quote unquote, what’s working to be consistent. What’s working is you are showing up consistently. That’s all it is. You get to the end of the week and you can say that you worked inside your business. You did projects you’ve been putting off and you showed up on social media and in your newsletter every single day, or at least a few times that week, then that was a success.

And you do that week after week after week. I want to see you on the other side of this. I want to see your business succeeding when people start spending money again. And that means you need to be consistent now and you need to be willing to buckle down. You need to be willing to say, you know what?

It’s okay. It’s okay. If things are slow right now, I’m not focused on inquiries right now. I’m focused on doing the stuff in my business and showing up and trusting that when you do that, the inquiries will come. Okay. I want you to show up and blog. I want you to update your website. I want you to fine tune your CRM process.

I want you to fine tune the packages. Okay, I want you to go through your contracts and clean them up. I want you to go through your portfolio. I want you to do a model call or personal project. I want you to do all of those things. It’s plenty to do. It’ll last you a really long time. And if you can continue to do that, you will show up on the other side.

You will come through this. You will be one of the businesses that when things turn around, you’re, you’re flooded. Okay. And then we’ll deal with that other problem of you having too much business. Okay. So I hope this has given you some encouragement and inspiration today. I really hope that this has kind of reignited a passion and a drive for your business before you throw in the towel, because I don’t want that for you.

I don’t want you to throw in the towel. Okay. I want you to still be at the table. You absolutely deserve to be at the table. Okay. So here’s the question. If this podcast landed with you, would you leave me a review on Apple? It really would mean so much to me. It helps get the word out to others about the show.

And to be quite honest, my reviews have kind of stalled as of late. So I’d love a couple of fresh ones. So if you would leave one, I would love to know, and I really hope this landed with you. Okay. I hope you’re leaving encouraged and inspired and well, that’s it. I’ll see you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast.

You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at SabrinaGebhart. com backslash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gebhart photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review until next time, my friends shoot it straight.

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