Anyone who runs a business – photography or otherwise – knows how hard it is to keep track of the small day-to-day tasks while remembering the big picture. That’s why it’s crucial to have systems in place that not only help you track all of those details, but that let you focus on the part you love most. Today I’m sharing the 3 things that have been essential to my own business’ success. Consider them the 3 hacks that will change your life, and your business, forever (I promise, they’re that good)!
Call it type A, call it the Konmari method – however you put it, running a business like a well-oiled machine requires organization. This means taking the time to set up your client system, and having a tracking method to follow each project from start to finish.
By having everything in one place, you won’t have to scramble between different programs to find emails, brochures, and questionnaires. Finding a client management system that can organize every step means more time to focus on what I want to be doing… documenting my clients’ families – and less time spent worrying about the behind the scenes production.
And while we’re on the topic, physical organization can be just as important as computer-based, workflow organization! For your own health and well-being, make sure the space you’re working in has great flow. Have a place for everything, make sure you get some nice light and fresh air, and – this one’s especially important for photographers – have backups and records of everything safely tucked away!
Automation has become a real lifesaver in my business. There are two types of automation that will make a huge impact on your work day. The first involves your editing workflow, because we all know how much time it takes to make images beautiful in post-production! By developing systems to make your editing easier, you will save a lot of precious time. I love to batch Photoshop actions to keep the ball rolling in the retouching arena. After the initial edits batch, I’m able to finish the images with much more speed when needed (although see the next time hack below for the real scoop on my editing wizardry).
The second type of automation I can’t live with out is email automation. Now, I know this one sounds a little scary, but trust me…it’s not! All it takes is a little set up time. By taking the time to set up the appropriate email responses when certain actions are complete, you can rest assured that your clients are getting the attention they deserve. The email automations I rely on most are session and payment reminders (and it just so happens that these automatic reminders can be the difference between an accidental no-show and an awesome, profitable session). A lot of client management programs will help you with email automations, so this really goes hand-in-hand with the first hack we talked about. Whenever you can find all-in-one help, it can totally change the game!
The final hack I couldn’t run my business without is outsourcing. Outsourcing has made me love my business even more, because I spend my time on the parts I most enjoy. I know it can be scary to loosen the reigns on the business you’re putting your heart and soul in, but take it from one who knows: thinking you’re the only one who can do it all will only lead to burn out. Whether you outsource your retouching, your accounting, or something else that’s weighing you down, let go of things that don’t bring you joy so you can have more freedom to do the things you love.
I was able to reconcile my books and stay on top of my accounts myself, but it was taking precious hours each and every week. The money spent outsourcing a bookkeeper actually costs less than the time I spent doing it myself (remember, time is money!). Another way I outsource is with my retouching. Developing a relationship with someone you can count on to retouch your images better than you can yourself is worth every second it takes to train them to do so.
So, take a step back and see what you’re spending too much time on, and where you would happier and more successful with a little help. Outsourcing can be exactly what you need to feel refreshed and ready for the future. Not sure where to start? Try this… make a list of all of the tasks you have to do in a day/week/month. Circle all of the ones you HATE doing. Star all the ones you LOVE doing. This is a great place to start figuring out what you should outsource and what you should keep on your plate.
There you have it! The three hacks that, while on the surface seem so obvious, can totally slip by those of us who own a business. We’ve got a million things going on, and sometimes we can overlook the simple things, like getting help when we need it or taking an afternoon to organize our workspace. But trust me when I say, getting organized, setting up automations, and outsourcing can be the three things that turn your business into something truly amazing. Try them out and see how your own business flourishes!