Every once in a while I get a DM asking what program is best for “xyz.” I’m not exaggerating when I say it could take me an entire day to write every down every program that I use and why! But I thought it would be fun to put together the “Muppet News Flash” version of what I do use and why it’s so essential to running my business smoothly.
1. The Software
If you’re a creative of any kind, then you know how important your software programs are. And for photographers, ADOBE programs are a must. For Meghan Doll Photography, we use all the classics: Lightroom to sort and cull photos, Bridge for organization, Photoshop for editing and retouching, and InDesign for marketing, graphics, and design. I’m sure that just about everyone would recommend these products, and trust me when I say they’re worth the price! There’s a lot of different plans out there to fit every budget, and you can test out the apps for thirty days before subscribing.
For photographers, ProSelect is another MUST – it’s the ultimate tool for selling artwork to clients! You can upload wall displays or client photos and show them exactly how artwork will look, thanks to the frame style upload feature. ProSelect is also key for planning large gallery walls… and did I mention that once you include your frame pricing, it will automatically calculate based on the size you create?! With ProSelect, I use Ariana Falerni’s gorgeous room collections, and I love them so much that I became an affiliate! Use my link to shop her rooms HERE.
2. The Storage
And I don’t just mean cabinets and drawers! Something essential to my business is having doubles and even triples of every file safely backed up. It’s just as important for me as it is for clients – I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had people come back years down the line wanting to frame photos from their old sessions! All it takes is one hard drive to fail and you’ll wish you had set yourself up the right way from the start.
Something you may not know is that my studio was robbed several years ago. They took everything! Computers, cameras, lighting equipment – they got it all. But, thanks to my external hard drives and cloud backups stored I was able to sleep soundly knowing that at least my life’s work was safe.
At MDP, I have a Drobo hooked up to the studio computers so we can access all photos from 2013-today whenever we need. I also have 2 portable Western Digital Passport hard drives that I take home with me every night for safe keeping and utilize Dropbox for my cloud storage. In this business, it’s better to be extra safe than oh so sorry.
3. The Apps
Different businesses need help in different areas; my own business has relied on some websites for years and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could run my business with out them! But keep in mind, these go-tos are what is working best for my business, right now. Always remember that you need to find what works for YOU!
Quickbooks, Planoly, and Voxer are the current apps that I use daily. Here is a brief overview of what I use them for:
Quickbooks is my accounting program that I use for invoicing, payments, bills – you name it! It has a great mobile app that allows me to accept payments anywhere and once it’s all set up, it’s incredibly easy to use. The Tech support is amazing and it has some great how to videos on the platform as well.
Planoly is something I use in conjunction with Instagram; it’s a website and app that lets you plan months of content at once and organize it all into a grid, complete with hashtags. I’m really into batch working and this allows me to plan out weeks of instagram posts in one felt swoop.
Voxer is the newest addition to the tool kit, and after trying other collaboration apps, like Trello, I’ve found that this voice-memo system is amazing for managing projects and working with teams. It works just like a walkie talkie would and is great for communicating what needs to be done.
4. The Gear
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these last tools because they are crucial (and I mean crucial) to my success.
I’m not talking about cameras, lenses, and lighting here. If you’re not sure where to begin on those, I have another blog you might find handy: You can click HERE for my thoughts on what camera and lenses you need to start your business!
What I’m referring to here are the little things that you may not have considered… your shoot props! Not the chairs, baskets, and beds – but the arsenal of little photogenic props that are essential to have on hand to make sure that kids never loose interest in your shoot. Whether you have a studio space or shoot on-location, you can rest assured that your shoots will go smoothly with this bag of tricks ready to go.
To the left are a few of my go-to props for all of my family and baby shoots. From top left to right they are: Magic Tickle Stick (aka duster) toy truck, neutral blocks from Crate & Barrel, Squish toy from Manhattan Toy, photogenic stuffed animals, neutral-colored books.
While this isn’t a complete list, I hope it’s a helpful start! No matter what you use for backing up your files or organizing your social media, just remember this one thing: running a business, like everything else in life, is all about trial and error. Some tools will work for you, and some won’t – and that’s a-okay! Don’t be afraid of trying new programs and apps out. Sooner or later you’ll find the perfect fit.