In the 25 years I’ve been running my corporate photography business, I’ve had the good fortune to survive four major economic recessions, including the deepest and most difficult in 2008 and the one right now. 

There are definitely positive steps you can take to survive a recession. Moreover, there are even opportunities to come out of one stronger if you can hold your nerve and work strategically. Here are my tips for getting through the dark times. 

First, when the UK went into an official national coronavirus lockdown, from the very first day we decided we needed an action plan. 

We sat down with a blank sheet of paper and drew up a list of actions we would need to take, focusing on the areas over which we had maximum control. We wanted to remain proactive and busy as we normally are looking after our clients. We also saw an opportunity to focus on the plethora of tasks we often put on the backburner through lack of time. In short, this was a big chance to give our business a major spring clean.

[Related Reading: 9 Ways Photography Can Be a Sustainable Business Despite COVID-19]

Our next move was to review our costs. We followed the sound advice offered by global accountants PWC who recommend in downturns a complete review of costs and a commitment to making sure we made them. In other words, we didn’t come away from this exercise with the same size costs. 

We reviewed all our supplier contracts and negotiated new terms with most where we could. When we couldn’t cut costs we decided to bring back in-house things we normally outsource through lack of time, such as the SEO optimization of our website.  We spent weeks, if not months, boning on upon the best means of pleasing Google to drive traffic to our site.

We also followed the general advice advocated by business experts to maintain our spending on marketing. While we couldn’t quite stretch to 8% of gross revenues, we were able to increase the amounts we were spending on improving the look and feel of our website, and we engaged a copywriter to write more punchy, SEO friendly copy. 


[Related Reading: 7 Steps for Building a Unique Brand for Your Photography Business]

And we worked hard to get high-quality backlinks to our site by writing expert technical pieces for photography magazines and blogs, and some for our local and business media. Each article we secured we shared on social media, especially Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, where we remained active. 

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In short, we targeted our marketing investment in the areas where we expected to be able to see a return. As a result of our marketing, we substantially improved our domain authority to 40 and increased our keyword ranking. In normal times we simply were too client-facing to tackle these major projects which reap long-term rewards. 

From our own experience of the power of great corporate photography, we recommend strongly that you review your corporate imagery if it hasn’t been refreshed in the last few years or if your business has changed senior personnel, brought in new products or services, or changed in other major ways. All are photographic opportunities to bring your firm’s unique story to life. This is also why you should avoid stock photography to represent your business. 

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[Related Reading: How to Build a Business in the Middle of a Recession]

From previous recessions, we knew how important it was to remain in communication with our clients even though most were not able to use our services because of social distancing measures. We maintained our regular email newsletters and continued to share technical tips and expertise, and we also spent time on the phone, keeping personal existing relationships warm. 

Lastly, we formally launched a new IT support service for clients. We had always provided an IT advisory service but this was never an area we proactively marketed. Revenues had grown slowly through word of mouth. This month we launched a new, separate website for these services, and have embarked on a modest PR and marketing program to help the business get off to a good start. 

Takeaways for Readers

Have a plan. Focus on events within your control. Be committed and work hard at cutting costs. Maintain contact with clients and customers, even if some have put you on hold. Invest in targeted marketing that is going to boost revenues, and also review your library of photographs if it hasn’t been recently updated. Leverage skills and expertise to tap into potential new revenue streams.  If you found this post helpful at all, you’ll definitely want to check out the Photography Business Training System from SLR Lounge Workshops Here.

Author Bio

Douglas Fry

Douglas Fry set up Piranha Photography 25 years ago. His firm specializes in providing professional high quality, corporate photography and video services to companies, professional firms, and private businesses. He spends a significant proportion of his time taking portraits of high profile people, company board directors, and key managers. His photographs have received positive reviews on LinkedIn and appear regularly in the UK media. As lead photographer, he personally covers about 300 photoshoots a year in London, the UK, and Europe.

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