Azlo Customer Story - Analicia Honkanen

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Laurel Smith Photography.

They say bad things happen in clusters. And for photographer Analicia Honkanen, that adage rings true. In March of this year, Analicia’s employer, a furniture company based outside Detroit, Michigan, declared bankruptcy.

The future of her work situation was ominous. And when the coronavirus hit, her employer shut down and laid off the entire staff of 3,000. She lost her steady day job of three years as a photo retoucher.

A hard blow indeed. To make matters worse, around the same time, income from her side business, Analicia Honkanen Photography, began to dwindle. As her side business was primarily focused on weddings and portraits, she went from earning over $1,000 in revenue a month to practically zero.

It’s been about really trying to develop what my game plan is. I’ve been waking up every day trying to figure out what my goal is for the day, and how to work toward that goal.

During these unprecedented times of uncertainty, Analicia has discovered how to make the most of her days. She’s focusing on strengthening her business and carving out time for her personal goals. “It’s been about really trying to develop what my game plan is,“ says Analicia, who is a 28-year-old solopreneur based in Detroit. “I’ve been waking up every day trying to figure out what my goal is for the day, and how to work toward that goal.”

Here are her insights on how to make the most of a lull and on folding self-care into the mix:

On making the most of downtime

Focus on ways to strengthen your business. Analicia found her clientele before the coronavirus to be sparse and scattered. She started her photography business in 2016. But as she was juggling a full-time job and building her photography hustle, she didn’t have a lot of time to devote to marketing.

During this in-between time, here’s what she’s homing in on:

Establish a target audience. “While I do portraits and weddings for a variety of clients, I’d really like to establish what my target market is,” she says. She began by homing in on the types of clients she would like to work with, and how she can best attract those customers.

Dive deep into marketing strategy. She wanted to start with marketing because that would help her lay the foundation for the direction of her business. That was something she hadn’t done before.

Redesign your website. Analicia tapped into her strong network of colleagues and asked for valuable feedback on the fresh redesign of her site. “Don’t take your peers for granted, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your network,” she says.

Ramp up social media. Analicia is looking into the branding of her social media and posting regularly. A big part of that is making her Instagram more cohesive in the look and messaging.

She’s also thinking about making a separate Instagram account just for weddings. “I’m really trying to be active to engage with customers and clients,” she says.

Think of ways to pivot. While live portraits sessions might be on hold, Analicia can still offer photo editing and retouching services. She’s also looking beyond photography services to pivot to different businesses.

For instance, she also creates t-shirt designs that pay homage to Detroit. “I'm trying to like evaluate everything that I have going on for me right now to see how I can create revenue,” says Analicia.

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Analicia Honkanen Photography

On maintaining self-care

Limit social media time. Apart from her business, she avoids spending a lot of time on social media. That means no getting deep into heated debates. That also means turning off from fake news, and no “doom scrolling,” which is scrolling through the barrage of gloom-and-doom posts. “Social media can be a breeding ground for negativity,” Analicia points out.

Stay on a schedule. She makes sure she maintains a daily routine as to when she eats, works out, and does other activities such as reading.

Meditate. She also carves out time on the regular to meditate, practice relaxation techniques, and do yoga. “If I ever see anyone struggling, I tell them to just breathe, ground and re-center,” she says. “The fact that we’re all in this together and we’re going to make it through it.”

Just do it. As it can be easy to lounge on her couch all day and be on social media, when Analicia wants to get moving, she goes by Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. “I need to just tell myself to stop and get off the phone,” she laughs.

Exercise. Staying active has been a huge help with stress management. Analicia works out regularly and has been sticking to an exercise regime. She bought a workout and meal plan from a trainer she follows on Instagram. It’s helped her stay healthy and lose some weight. “Having some sort of goal has really helped me stay on track,” she says.

Get outdoors. With the weather permitting, the first thing Analicia does after she gets up is to go for a half hour walk. “If you’re staying at home all the time, it’s easier to fall into a slump,” she says. “Anything you can do to get outdoors to see sunlight is great.”

Stay in touch with loved ones. As you’re bound to miss seeing family and friends, carve out some time to connect with loved ones. “Even though you can’t see people physically, you can still stay connected with them,” says Analicia. For example, she’s organized trivia game night over Zoom with friends.

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Analicia Honkanen Photography

On tapping into resources

Look into unemployment. Analicia was eligible for unemployment after she got laid off from her day job. The good news is you don’t have to be let go from a day job to qualify for unemployment.

Under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), self-employed folks are now eligible for unemployment benefits. As unemployment benefits are handled at the state-level, you’ll want to check out the details on unemployment insurance benefits where you live.

Research available funding options. Self-employed folks, independent contractors, and freelancers are eligible to apply for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan. As an Azlo customer, Analicia decided to toss her hat in the ring and apply.

Tap into free digital resources. “Thank God for the internet because there’s so much stuff on there, and so many resources,” she laughs. For instance, businesses have been offering a lot of great free resources. Analicia has found Azlo’s webinar on small business lending. She’s also received great information via email from businesses such as QuickBooks.

Sign up for an online course. There are also a handful of free or low-cost learning platforms, such as Udemy and Skillshare. Analicia also signed up for a free premium trial on LinkedIn, which grants her access to LinkedIn Learning’s Resource Center.

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Analicia Honkanen Photography

On leaning in on community

Look for inspiration. Beyond her immediate network of colleagues, Analicia has found inspiration through the community of photographers at large.

Case in point: Photographers around the country are doing Porch Project series, where they would, from a safe distance, shoot individuals and families on their front porches.

“While it’s not necessarily paid, it’s more a way for photographers to still stay active during this time,” says Analicia. “And by giving people a memorable experience, people will remember you.”

Consider creative ways to offer your services. Another brilliant idea? Some professional shutterbugs are doing photo shoots through cell phones.

How it works is the photographer and client do a shoot over Facetime. They’ll offer direction as to how to pose. The photographer then takes screenshots and edits them. The customers get a package of professionally polished photos taken from one’s phone. The beauty is that none of it has to happen in a shared physical space.

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Analicia Honkanen Photography

Look for the silver linings

I feel that humans are very resilient, and genius in the ways they get through certain things that happen in life.

Through this difficult time, Analicia has looked for the bright spots. For instance, the ingenuity and creative solutions from fellow photographers and creatives. “I feel that humans are very resilient, and genius in the ways they get through certain things that happen in life,” she says.

It’s also important to remember that from darkness comes light. For instance, a lot of amazing tech companies sprouted from the Great Recession in 2008 — Pinterest and Venmo to name a few.

“There were a lot of talented people getting laid off from tech companies and coming together to build businesses,” she says. “So there’s something good bound to come out of this.”

Analicia Honkanen Photography Photo credit: Analicia Honkanen Photography


Jackie Lam
Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based money writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD Magazine. She is currently studying to be a financial coach (AFC®) to help artists and freelancers with their money. In her free time she blogs at heyfreelancer.com

Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information and insights, but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.


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