Photography skill without marketing and business effort is just a hobby!
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.
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. This is also equally as dangerous as spending too much time behind the camera and not giving the needed attention to the business side of things.
How do we keep a balance, or let me put it in different words, how do you get more done in less time?
I was faced with this problem. The very important business side of things took up too much of my time causing damage to my business. For me, it boiled down to multitasking, and luckily we live in the era of the most wonderful apps available to make our job easy.
This is how I turned things around into a big positive in my business.
- The first step was to simplify products. We live in times where the most popular articles in magazines would be something like “Follow the next three steps and have marital bliss”. Our customers are busy and don’t have time for complicated products and processes.
- I signed up for a very good customer relationship management App. There are a few good ones in the market like Tave, 17hats, and Shootq but I opted for Studio This automated my lead management process, quotes, basic bookkeeping and general customer relations. My customer gets their own admin page online where they will have access to their quotes, invoices, contracts, and questionnaires. It took me about two days to set up and I’m 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 studio Ninja on my phone, giving me the ability to react immediately to customer interest or requests.
- For me, marketing is more of an attitude than a specific process. Whenever I have contact with current or potential customers, new business is what I drive. The best marketing you can have is very good service levels, which will create free word-of-mouth marketing. Added to this I opted to advertise my products through Facebook paid ads. It took a bit of research to get it right. Facebook gives you the ability to place your ad in front of a qualified potential customer. It is cost-effective and gives the small business owner access to effective marketing with minimal time input.
- For delivery of pictures, I signed up for an online delivery platform. I sell this to my customers as an advantage. It makes it easy for them to distribute the pictures to others. For regular customers, I create their own page and 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 their company page on their phone and show off products. This platform also gives me the ability to charge per picture if necessary. There is a lot of good ones out there like Pixiset but I opted for Shootproof. With Shootproof you can upload pictures up to 50 Mb in size. Although this type of online hosting costs money, it surely beats Dropbox and happy customers mean more business.
- Postprocessing took up most of my time and one of the biggest changes I made to the business was to pass this on to somebody that specializes in this. 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 then export the pictures with the smart previews as a catalog, without the originals and upload this to my editor. She will then do all the necessary basic edits. I then download the catalog, with smart previews, and reimport the edits into my main Lightroom catalog. The signature edits will be done by myself in order to keep that personal touch on my work.
- I can carry on but I think you get the basic idea! More apps that I use, for you to consider would be: Blogstomp, Albumstomp, Albumprufr, FastStone Image viewer and Dragon Naturally Speaking.
There are very good alternatives to all my app suggestions. I’m not pushing any specific product, but I’m definitely pushing the process of standardizing and automating the processes within your business. Keep it simple and keep the mundane tasks automated. I’ve read an article where a psychologist suggests that there is no such thing as multitasking. I kind of agree. It’s about being efficient!