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The coronavirus is hitting every industry hard, but freelancers and business owners are beginning to truly struggle.
As a freelance photographer, how can you protect yourself from canceled contracts and people just generally spending less money on "non-essentials"?
While we don't know what the coronavirus has in store for the photography industry, we do know that there are some age-old tips photographers use during any economic recession. Here's our list of tips to survive the coronavirus outbreak as a freelancer in 2020.
1. File Your Taxes
While taxes aren't ever enjoyable, take this "social distancing" coronavirus time to complete yours if you haven't already. According to the latest data, 73% of Americans receive a refund when they file their taxes and you can use this refund to create or further an emergency savings fund.
2. Save Any Cancelled Contracts for Your 2020 Taxes
I'm about to get into some legal jargon, but I promise I'll make it as fast as possible.
There's this thing called a "force majeure" that's probably on your photography contracts. As discussed by Steve Vondran above, a force majeure allows someone to break their contract if an unforeseeable circumstance arises that prevents them from following through on that contract.
These unforeseeable events usually include things like war or natural disasters, but may include public health emergencies like the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, if your photography contracts have been canceled, it's too late for you to change your force majeure clause. However, it isn't too late for you to claim some deductions based on this lost business.
Keep your canceled contracts, any correspondence around those contracts and file them away for 2020.
While I realize not very many freelance photographers have a ton of assets they can liquidate, we all do our own type of liquidating every single season.
If you're a wedding photographer, then you know to save money from the wedding season for the middle of winter when nobody's getting married. If you're in the events industry, the same can be said of you.
Now is a great time to move funds into your savings account so that if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse, you still have money to pay your rent or mortgage.
4. Take This Down Time to update your marketing
Look at the upside of the coronavirus outbreak, you finally have time to update your portfolio.
While it can be difficult to see any positives during an economic recession, now is the time to make your website more streamlined, to update your social media accounts, and to make sure that for the clients who want to find you, they can.
5. learn new photography skills
Is there a photography skill you've been dying to learn, but just couldn't find the time? Well, now you have the time.
Learning new photography skills will make you more marketable (and in this economy, that's important). But, it will also help to expand your business in the future while keeping you entertained in the present.
6. Downsize your photography equipment
As much as it pains me to say, now may be the time to try and sell some photography equipment. Whether you have a few more cameras than you technically need to get by or you simply have a closet full of old gear gathering dust, you should be downsizing.
While the coronavirus may be hurting freelancers, you don't need to let it ruin your business.
7. reinvigorate your passion
Why did you get into photography in the first place? Have you been able to do as much of that type of photography as you've wanted to?
Is there a photography niche you've always wanted to try but haven't had the chance to yet?
Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, now is the perfect time to try your hand at some self-portraits, landscape photography or wildlife photography.
8. create contest submissions
While it's never good to rely on contests for a paycheck, there are hundreds of them with large payouts (and even more exposure). The problem is that these contests typically take a lot of time from photographers who could rather be directly working for a client.
Now is a good time to start putting some contest submissions together. Hone your portfolio. Write some entry essays. You never know what might happen.