I’m a twenty-something wedding photographer in Texas who photographs couples who are ready to celebrate their marriage. Building my business has been one hell of a ride, so grab a cup of coffee (or some wine - no judgement here) and join me for my life behind the lens.
The new year is finally HERE! I love the feeling that comes with a fresh start, and it’s the perfect time to set goals and tackle some of those lingering tasks you’ve been putting off. I’m excited to kick off the year with my favorite topic – tools and systems! If you’re looking for the best and most productive year yet, you’re in the right place!
In 2018, my word of the year was “refine”, and I focused on tackling my workflows, processes, and routines in both my business and personal life. I learned along the way that small changes can make HUGE impacts, especially when it comes to systems. Finding tools that work for you is the key here, which is why I’m focusing on types of tools to look for rather than specific tools. Remember: just because I use a particular tool doesn’t mean you should use the same one. Set aside some time to experiment with different options and find what is best for you!
When I sit down with my mentoring clients, the first thing we talk about is implementing a client management system. Client Management System is an admin tool for your business. It handles contracts, invoices, questionnaires and in some cases, accounting and email automations. This important even if you are early on in your business and you don’t have a ton of clients yet. It is a big step in establishing yourself as a professional in both your clients eyes and in your own eyes. My CMS (I love Tave!) is the heartbeat of my business and it really takes care of so many things for me. If you’re looking for a good place to start in 2019 – this is it!
Our clients invest a lot of money in their photographers. We document important life moments that should last forever – you owe it to your clients to take care of those memories they trusted you with! I’m a firm believer in implementing a strong backup system, and a key to a successful backup system is to include a cloud backup. Let’s face it, it’s really great that you have a backup drive on your desk, but if (god forbid) a fire happened, that drive is gone too. Having your files in an offsite location is critical for this exact reason. Better yet, these cloud backup systems (I love BackBlaze), are cheap! $50 a year to protect my client’s most precious memories?? Uhh, Yes please!
I have a secret for you – I’m actually a pretty forgetful person. If I don’t write something down within a few seconds, it’s gone. Poof! This is where a task management tool has been so helpful for me and my tool of choice has been Asana. Its a single location where I can manage everything from client workflows, repeating tasks, business ideas, to “I should eventually do that” tasks and personal tasks. I’m also able to make tasks that I can organize later by using Siri. This is super helpful when I’m on the go! There are a ton of great task management tools out there, so give them a try and get those ideas out of your head!
How I use Asana is one of my most requested blog post topics. More content on this is coming your way soon!
As 2017 came to a close, I found myself completely overwhelmed and burnt out. At the time, I was working late nights and booking every evening I had open. It didn’t take long for that to fester into a big time problem. I needed to find a way to set boundaries between my business and personal life, stat. During a call with my mentor, she talked to me about the importance of creating office hours and sticking to them – especially with my clients. This is where an email scheduler came in for me, and it has been huge! To do this, I use an app called Polymail on my computers, phone and tablet and I love it. Polymail allows me to schedule email replies, track if a recipients has viewed or clicked on an email, and also remind me about emails on a later date. For example, I do all of my bookkeeping on Wednesday mornings. I use the “read later” feature for any receipt emails to pop back into my inbox on Wednesdays!
In my journey to refine my processes, one major pain point I identified was the tedious back and forth emails to schedule meetings and sessions. It took days to find a time that worked for everyone. Sometimes by the time I got the “yes that works” email, someone else already snagged the spot. Sound familiar?
Then I stumbled upon Calendly, a magical online scheduling tool that not only allows clients to choose a time slot, but it also factors in buffer times and my current availability so I am never accidentally double booked. I have multiple calendars that reflect different availably (remember… boundaries!) For example, my phone meeting calendar has availability throughout the week since I can have those meetings from the comfort of my office! However, my portrait session calendar only shows availably on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays since those are my only shooting days. Better yet, I set the available time slot to align with the sunset time, so my client knows exactly what to expect timing wise! I allow my clients to book a session up to 10 months in advance. This is super helpful in managing expectations regarding availability, especially when working with 30-40 clients at a time!
I know that community isn’t exactly what comes to mind when I say “business tools”. However, this might be the single most important tool to have in your toolbox. Having strong systems in place is certainly important, but nothing will top the power of people who love and support your endeavors. Connect with other creatives by finding your local chapter of The Rising Tide Society, invite other creatives out for workdays, or collaborate on fun projects with other people. This industry is extremely isolating but you aren’t meant to do this alone!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I would love if you decided to use them. Affiliate links + referrals programs help educators like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs.
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