Looking back over the past four years running my photography business, I wish I had started out with better systems and tools in place before taking on clients. As an artist, it’s easy for me to get caught in the visual elements, the service, the big-picture of my goal as a photographer and storyteller. I’m in this business to tell stories, not to create systems, right? But as a business owner, I’ve learned over the years that it’s important to always work smarter, rather than harder.
I’m sharing with you my all-time favorite tools and systems that help keep me organized as a photographer running an actual business. These tools have saved me so much time, and thus money in the grand scheme of it all. Time is my greatest, most important currency, and these photography tools all save me precious time so I can keep on documenting magic with families, creating art and spending far less time in front of my computer screen. What’s amazing is that these tools are either free or super affordable! So, without further adieu here are my…
Note: This post may contain affiliate links, but I never recommend products that I don’t love and use myself!
Blogging has become so easy and doable, thanks to the easy and super affordable Blogstomp! One of the best purchases I made for my photography business and blog, it no longer takes a million hours to put photo collages together in Photoshop. It’s so easy to drag & drop photos to create stunning collages, resize photos for the internet and batch-stomp. All in a click of a button! Plus, I can “batchstomp” the custom titles of each image – helping with my website’s SEO! I truly wish I bought this business tool earlier. If you’re a blogger or photographer, buy it now and thank me later.
17 Hats is a one-stop suite of business tools that helps small businesses (not just photographers) stay organized, systemize processes, and grow! I personally love customer communication integrations such as email templates for quick response time, daily dashboard, trackable workflows and bookkeeping (oh my!). Everything is all in one spot, one of the main reasons why I love this tool so much. Basically 17 hats is a great tool for photography business owners to organize the admin and business side of their business. It also includes booking coordination like creating custom quotes, legal contracts, an easy payment processor and invoices but I use Shootproof for that!
I have been using Shootproof since I initially opened my business in 2016, and I am SO glad I did! No need to send your clients massive Google drive files or emailed images. Shootproof has clean and stunning online galleries for your clients to view and download their images, in one batch download! Plus, they offer easy desktop uploading capabilities, email and contract templates, the list goes on. I’ve played with other gallery systems like Pixpa but Shootproof is so easy and straightforward, and ease is a requirement for my business admin tasks. Plus, I love that I connect my legal contracts and invoices through the system, keeping it all organized and in one streamlined place.
Two Bright Lights is the place to get your photographs published! This site is a collaborative online network designed to get your images published quickly and efficiently. No longer do you need to You simply upload your photos into an album on the site (or you can import your gallery directly from Shootproof – win-win!) and submit your work to a publication or multiple publications to be reviewed! It’s so worth the affordable monthly membership fee, as the more you submit and get published, the more new eyes get on your work! Plus, getting published on other photography blogs backlinks traffic back to your site! #SEOwin
Whether you want to learn how to photograph in manual mode, build a lucrative business or learn how to take better pictures of your kids, ClickinMoms is the place to be! I learned most of what I know in photography from the forums, classes, workshops and free monthly PDF guides and tutorial videos that are included with your membership. Plus, it’s a great way to meet fellow creatives and moms who are passionate about taking pictures of their kids!
Plann is how I organize and batch-write my Instagram captions and hashtags for Instagram! While I love the ‘gram, I also sometimes struggle with social media comparison, resulting in frequent detoxes from the app. However, what has really helped with my social media fatigue is enforcing time limits spent on my phone and once a week, I write and plan out all my posts for that week on my desktop! That way I’m still showing up consistently and sharing my work, but instead, I do it from my desktop (saving me time on typing my long-ass captions) and do it in one full swoop! Thus saving me more time during the week. All my hashtags are organized by subject, location, and category, so I can simply copy and paste into the caption. Boom! Easy. And it’s free!
Before I make the big leap and splurge on fancy photography equipment, I always test the gear before making the investment. Plus when you’re just starting out and growing your photography business, you probably don’t yet have or can afford to invest in all the fancy lenses and camera bodies. have all the fancy lenses you ideally want. I found BorrowLenses.com by searching how to do just that.. borrow lenses. I love this company because they make the process simple and easy. You pick the lens or piece of equipment you want, tell them how long you want it, and choose how it’s delivered. I like that you have options on whether you want it delivered to your home, to a UPS location, or you can even authorize someone else to pick it up for you if you’re busy! They also tend to have a lot of season deals and discounts so keep an eye out for those! I am a firm believer in renting before you buy and am always happy with Barrow Lenses.
One of my favorite photography business tools, hands down, is Design Aglow. From pricing guide templates to lookbook magazines, they have all the studio stationery items dedicated to the high-end photographer that prides themselves on presentation. I’ve purchased many a thing from Design Aglow, and I particularly love their client welcome packet templates, custom USB drives and photo boxes, session guide templates and client care cards. They also sell other products like ribbon, bags, tissue and studio-branded envelopes and cards.
When I first started out with my photography business I didn’t have a tool to send my style magazine PDF, so instead, I would attach a huge PDF file to the email….a bit obnoxious from the client’s POV, am I right? I discovered Publitas from a recommendation from a photographer friend of mine, and now it’s simple! With Publitas you can create dreamy online catalogs that make it easy for clients to view them online. Simply, upload your pdf file, and Publitas turns it into a catalog that you can send to clients or embed it onto your website. This is what I now use to email my pricing guides to clients. With a simple link, it’s sent, while being beautiful (and easy) for my clients to view!
I’ve taken over 15 online photography courses on Creative Live over the last four years running my photography business, and I will never stop raving about them! You caaaaan’t stop me!
From puppy photography workshops to In-Person-Sales intensives, I’ve taken them all. I’ve sat down for countless hours in front of my laptop, jotting down copious amounts of notes and filling the pages in notebooks on every topic imaginable from the broad scope of posing subjects and understanding natural light down to the very specific like understanding how to write up legal contracts or how to use language in an in-person ordering session. If the class has anything to do with creativity, they have that class listed! I’ve taken editing courses and filled every notebook on my bookshelf, and I often refer back to them, reviewing all the incredible tips and lessons that so many inspiring photographers (and now teachers) are giving back to the next generation of photographers! All the teachers I’ve taken classes with are humble of their past successes and extremely generous with their knowledge. It’s important to always remember that we photographers, artists, business owners, HUMANS are forever students.
Tip: The classes and intensives are all very affordable, even more so when they are having a sale, but if you watch the class in the 24 hours that it’s “live”…. it’s free! Check out their calendar here.
While I use FundyDesigner to design my clients’ family storybook albums, I also use Album Parrot as a one-window album review for my clients to glance over and approve the design before I send those finished albums to the printer. Plus, I love that it seamlessly connects directly with their Shootproof gallery – the online gallery that the client previews and receives their digital images.
For those photographs that do IPS (In-Person-Sales), I have found FundyDesigner to be the easiest software. I have tried other IPS programs like the semi-obnoxious ProSelect by TimeExposure, but have found that FundyDesigner is simple, straightforward and doesn’t have as steep of a learning curve. For me personally, FundyDesigner is Adobe Lightroom and ProSelect is Photoshop: ProSelect is just way more complicated than it needs to be!
This software allows you to share in-person slideshows, create gorgeous room templates for wall art as well as design albums in an easy drag-and-drop manner so your clients can preview how your art would best complement their home. And you can do all of this right there during the session preview. Again, easy photography business tools and software make my life less complicated, allowing me more time to do what I love: photograph and connect with others.
Whether you’re just starting out in photography, or have been at it a few years, my goal is to share what I’ve learned and help you as much as I can. If any of these programs helped you simplify and streamline your business please let me know. And fee free to check out my full list of favorite items and resources here! Whether you’re a photographer hobbyist or a professional that’s already paid those dues, I’ve got you covered!
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January 25, 2020
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