Siân T. Blog - Tog Tales
Corona Virus - a small business viewpoint
It's already becoming cliche but we find ourselves in unprecedented times! Asking someone how they are has taken on a whole new meaning and the way we live and work is changing fundamentally.
Here at Siân T. Photography, I'm trying to make the best of things. From today, my home studio is being packed up and shut-down until further notice and I've postponed all my planned shoots that were taking place inside. The studios I use in the local area are largely closing themselves, and I feel it's the right thing to do to encourage the social distancing that is vital if we are to get through this as quickly as possible.
My clients and models have all been totally understanding, needing to also protect themselves and their families and frankly having bigger worries right now than what to do about their photographs.
Providing I and my family remain virus free, I'll be continuing to shoot outside where a safe distance can be kept (thank goodness I bought that long lens!) and where the families involved have not had to travel far to the shoot. However, everyone has been given the option to reschedule for free to later in the year as everyone must make their own decisions on what's best for them.
Obviously, like most small businesses, my margins are pretty slim - photography is not a lucrative career in the main and the costs are high. I'm fortunate to have other paid work in my first career as an information manager and for the time being I'll be focusing on that to keep us afloat. However, many of my business owning friends don't have this option and it's truly terrifying to see just how small the difference between surviving and going under really is for the self employed. I can only hope that after this is done, people will appreciate these local businesses enough to pay what their services are really worth rather than complaining all the time that they are too expensive! Sadly I fear many will not survive. Something like this shakes people's confidence, and many will not be able to face trying to rebuild their businesses when this is all done.
That's why I'm doing what I can to help out my small business friends. Shopping local and small as much as possible, sharing and promoting their work online. I've also offered to help many of them with their websites - to give them the best possible start at getting back on their feet later in the year. I'm not a website expert, but I love the process of creating simple, one or two page sites. These are easy to do using online tools like Wix and many people would simply do it themselves, but for some small business folk that's still too technologically daunting, or they just don't have the time. That's why I'll do it for them, as my way of supporting them. Yes I'm aware that I shouldn't be taking work away from freelance web designers but remember - the people I'm helping are my friends, and I know they wouldn't be able to afford a web designer even when times are good, these are not potential web designer clients!
The thing is that I love making websites, they combine the creativity of making something beautiful with the information part of my brain that loves to organise and help people find things - so weirdly its highly relaxing for me. Plus there are no deadlines to meet so I can take my time and do a good job - brilliant!
Photography wise, I will of course continue to make portraits of my family as well of for those clients who still want to have their session outdoors. I'm rescheduling events and portrait days for later in the year, partly for me and partly for others who may need something to look forward too. I'm taking new bookings from July onwards, always with the flexibility to change them for free if needed.
I'm also going to focus on my personal photography projects - getting my portfolio ready for judging by the Master Photographers' Association (thankfully that can be done online) and prepping some work for a new stock library I'm going to try. Plus I have ongoing projects to finish off, and I plan to resurrect my love of flower photography and make some new macro work. Add in the ability to find time for lots of online training, plus of course taking care of the family (including the in-laws who are now in isolation for 12 weeks so need all their groceries and prescriptions picking up and delivered) and working my full time job and I'm pretty sure I'll have enough to keep me entertained! Essentially I'm refocusing on my family and friends as well as on myself, it's time to think about how I want things to be in the future and start planning to make that happen.
I am incredibly lucky that this economic disaster is not the end of my business, so my plan is to be there for my friends who are worse affected and to use the time wisely. See you on the other side folks!
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