One of the greatest steps of growth that I’ve ever taken in my business actually has nothing to do with photography. Sounds strange, right? It happened in the middle of off-season. I was working to grow my business, to get ready for the next wedding season, when I realized how little growing in my technical skills actually mattered if I didn’t have the systems and processes in place to care for my clients well and also run the business side of things!
I realized that I was actually limiting my growth by not having the processes in place to absorb any growth that would happen! A real chicken and egg problem if I do say so myself. Maybe that is where you are at too? You want to grow! You want more out of your business! But since you aren’t there quite yet it doesn’t seem “right” to take the next extra step. Trust me – I have been there! I have questioned, made all the excuses in the world and told myself that I’m just not “there” yet.
Why would I sign up for a client management system when I barely have clients? I can manage them myself!
Why should I pay for accounting software when I can just keep track of it myself? (And do I REALLY need to worry about taxes!?)
Why would I spend money that I don’t absolutely HAVE to spend? I’d rather save up for a new lens!
I’ve asked it all (: BUT the question that took me a really long time to ask was: What is holding me back? Would I actually book MORE clients if my inquiry system for them was better? Would I be more willing to try new things if I wasn’t always afraid that I wasn’t doing my taxes right? Would spending the money to figure this out actually mean more profit in the long run?
The answer to all of those questions was YES! Figuring out systems changed my whole business, and I hope it can change yours, too! Below I have listed all of the programs that I use to keep my business running and exactly how I use them!
I could go on and on and on about Honeybook for days. I put off signing up for so long because I thought that I was better off on my own, and I was WRONG. Honeybook is a client management system that does all of my heavylifting for all of my client communication for me! I divided this one out into sections of how it helps because it does SO DANG MUCH.
Inquiries – all of my website inquiries go straight Into my Honeybook so that I don’t lose track of people anymore! Every inquiry gets their own portal within your Honeybook where you can house EVERYTHING during the entire process of working with your client! Honeybook has an app, and it immediately notifies me any time that I get an inquiry – hello fast response times! You can even set it up so that your inquiries go into a workflow where Honeybook automatically sends emails for you without you needing to touch a button. This has completely changed the way that I am able to interact with my clients, providing them a much smoother experience!
Booking & Contracts – before my Honeybook days, I was emailing clients PDF contracts and then expecting them to print and mail back to me with a check. DEFINITELY not convenient for them in any way. Honeybook allows ALL booking proposals, contracts and payments to happen completely online. You can set up payment plans, legally sign the contracts and everything! Simply having this option for your clients increases your value and professionalism immediately.
Bookkeeping – Honeybook keeps reports of how much income I have brought in, how much of it was sales tax, how much I am projected to bring in for the rest of the year, etc. These reports make taxes SO much easier. I don’t need to keep my own spreadsheets with all of this information, I can simply click over to the bookkeeping tab on my account and download an instant report of my financials!
Templated Emails – Ever find yourself typing the same email over and over and over again? It’s a total waste of time that you could be using to grow your business! Honeybook allows you to have templates of all of your emails saved. And like I mentioned earlier, you can even set them up in workflows to be automatically sent!
Questionnaires – If you are in the wedding industry, this is huge! I can send all of my questionnaires for family formals, timelines, etc. straight through Honeybook. No more Typeforms or GoogleDocs. Everything in one place, easy to access and easy to send!
Like I said above, I could go on and on about this all day. There are TONS of other features to Honeybook. But the cost of it is nothing in comparison to the value that it adds to my business and the amount that my bookings have been able to increase because of the system that Honeybook allows me to have! If you’re ready to take the step to grow your client experience – here is 50% off your first year!
Honeybook keeps track of ALL of my inquiries and where clients are at in the booking process. Trello, on the other hand, keeps track of where all of my already booked clients are in their experience. Every single ACP wedding couple gets their own slot on my Trello board that includes every part of my client experience (from booking the whole way to after their wedding). It’s like my giant checklist of all of the things to do! This is where I keep track of who I have booked to second shoot, where I am at in the editing process, if I have created their timeline yet, etc. I also create slots for every portrait experience to track editing, sneak peeks, etc. It’s incredibly easy to use and helps me to see everything in one place! And the greatest thing of all – it is FREE!
I use Quickbooks Self-Employed to keep track of all of my income and expenses, and to pay my income taxes! It’s so nice because it links up with your bank account so all of your transactions immediately pop up and all you need to do is categorize them. There are a ton of different options for Quickbooks programs to use, but I choose Self-Employed because it actually does my quarterly taxes for me AND will export all of my data into my TurboTax at the end of the year (plus free end of year filing comes with the monthly subscription!). And BONUS the app will keep track of your mileage! Click here for 50% off your subscription!
I use Pixieset for client galleries and also printing! Pixieset allows me to set up my own print shop for clients within their galleries. Which is AWESOME because I can stay totally hands off! You will need to set up a payment processor to integrate for your orders (I use Stripe!) but after it’s all set up – it is so easy and gives your clients (and their family and friends) the simplest way to order prints of your photos!
This program has two super important uses. First, for the obvious – blogging! The program resizes all of my photos to fit on my blog, and allows me to rearrange them so that they will fit side by side. This is something that I COULD do right on my blog, but it would take tremendous amounts of time to format correctly. It is also really useful for Pinterest and Facebook posting because I can resize my images to the correct file size to be uploaded online instantly. Instead of needing to reexport over and over again in Lightroom, Blogstomp can be set up to export at the exact dimensions/specs you need for whatever platform you are uploading to!
Have you ever spent forever culling through a gallery in Lightroom? Every picture takes a couple of seconds to actually load, so you spend lots of time waiting to see if it is actually in focus or not. It’s the worst! And so, so time consuming. That’s where photomechanic comes in! The program is specifically designed for sorting through your photos, so it doesn’t have the lag time of Lightroom. I cull through all of my photos in Photomechanic, and then just put the files that are actually worth editing in Lightroom. It’s a one time purchase, too!
Other programs I use:
SquareSpace – website hosting
SpaceSaver – reducing file sizes to make harddrives last longer and cloud storage stretched further
PostVu – planning out my Instagram feed
Unfold – creating Instagram stories/ sneak peeks
Lightroom/Photoshop – all the editing and content creation
KISS Books & Millers Lab – Albums
… for how you felt and not for how you were posed
…for the joy of saying I do, and not for the stress of wedding planning
…for the romantic moments and heartfelt good wishes
Your wedding will bring some of the most transformational moments of your life, moments so important that they can never be recreated…
But they can be relived in exquisite detail.