Because we love photography so much, we spend a lot of time honing our skills. Photographic skill is just one of the aspects of a successful photographic business. To run your business well, you also need to be a skilled marketer, accountant, graphic designer, and digital editor amongst others.
With all these aspects of your business, taking up a lot of your time, you might end up not spending enough time behind the camera. The opposite can also be true, spending too much time behind the camera.
It is overwhelming for the new photography business and difficult to figure out a good balance.
I was faced with this problem a few years ago. The particularly important business side of things took up too much of my time, causing damage to the bottom line. After analyzing my business situation, it boiled down to getting more done in less time. In other words, multitasking of some sort. I couldn’t afford to employ extra hands.
This is what I did to turn things around.
How do we get more done in less time?
Luckily we live in an era with wonderful App’s available
- The first step was to simplify products. We live in times where everything is fast and immediate. Our customers are busy and don’t have time for complicated products and processes. I often see very complicated package offerings with photographers and this drives your potential customer away. Make it easy to choose and easy to book.
- Next, I signed up for a good customer relationship management application. There are good apps in the market, like Táve, 17 hats, and Studio ninja. Last year a very good local App “Gatewayphotographyportal” was developed and launched, taking over lots of the mundane and time-consuming tasks, like customer interaction and image delivery, at a fraction of the cost of international products.
- Using a CRM App automated my lead management process, quotes, basic bookkeeping and general customer relations. My customer gets an admin page online, where they have access to their quotes, invoices, contracts, questionnaires and image galleries. It took me about two days to set up and I am saving a lot of time. New leads automatically get populated into the application. I do the quote and the lead management process will automatically take over from there. I also don’t phone or email for outstanding invoices because there is an automated process that takes care of that. I also have access to the App on my phone, giving me the ability to react immediately to customer interest or requests.
- Marketing is partly an attitude and also an ongoing process. Whenever I have contact with a current or potential customer, new businesses is what I drive. The best marketing you can have is through very good service levels, which will create free word-of-mouth marketing. Added to this, I also opted to advertise my products through Facebook and Instagram. Facebook for 27-year-olds and up, and Instagram for the younger generation up to 27 years. It took a bit of research and tweaking to get it right. With social media advertising, including Google Ads, we can place an ad in front of a qualified potential customer. It is cost-effective and gives the small business owner access to effective marketing with minimal effort.
- For delivery of pictures, I signed up for an online platform. I sell this to my customers as an advantage. It makes it easy for them to distribute the pictures to others. Regular customers get their online page and I deliver the pictures into different albums. This gives especially my corporate customers easy access to previous shoots if needed. It makes distribution between departments and branches so easy and salespeople can just access the company page on their phone and show off products, with easy access to my branding. I also can charge per picture with online payment options if needed. There is a lot of good ones out there like Pixieset and Shootproof. Although this type of online hosting costs money, it sure beats driving around with a flash-drive or using the likes of Dropbox and We-transfer. It is quick and fast, looks great and gives my customers a pleasant experience. Brides can pass the link around and guests can download pictures for themselves.
- Post-processing took up most of my time and one of the biggest changes I made to the business was to pass this on to a third party. When I’m done with the job I quickly do all the culling. The chosen images then get imported into lightroom and smart previews created. I export the pictures with smart previews as a catalogue without the originals and upload this to my editor. She will then do all the necessary basic edits. I will get the catalogue file back from her and it gets re-imported into the main catalogue and it’s done. It took some time for us to sort out the style of edits, but this ran smoothly within a month. The signature edits will be done by myself to keep the personal touch on my work. I can carry on but I think you get the basic idea. Apps that I use for you to consider would be Studio Ninja, Shootproof, Album-stomp, Album-proofer, Blog-stomp, Faststone image-viewer and Dragon NaturallySpeaking amongst others.
- There are very good alternatives to all my App suggestions like “Gatewayphotographyportal”. I’m not pushing any specific product, but I’m pushing the process of standardising and automating processes within your business. Keep it simple.
I’ve read an article where a psychologist suggests that there is no such thing as multitasking. I agree. It’s about being effective!