Running a photography business sure can be stressful sometimes. It’s not just about booking clients, taking their photos, editing, and sending them off. If only it were that easy! Running a business means keeping track of invoices, updating your portfolio, maybe keeping a blog to showcase your latest work and educate potential clients, rocking your marketing system, trying to get clients through the door, etc.
You already know this, but sometimes we need to take a look at everything on our plate at once too see just how much we are taking on. These 10 ways to make your photography business more efficient will certainly get you going in the right direction!
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1. Client onboarding process
Having an onboarding process for clients is essential. An onboarding process is basically a process (could be emails, could be a pretty document, a conversation, etc.) that tells your clients in clear detail a) how you work and b) what information you need from them.
As soon as you’ve signed an agreement with them, this process should begin seamlessly. It should have details such as:
- How you can be contacted
- Your hours of operation
- How you accept payment
- What your clients’ next steps are (to fill out their questionnaires, think about the role they want products to play to help initiate a buying mindset, etc.)
- Turnaround time for photographs
- Tips that your client needs to know (ie: permission slip to be themselves (no need to perform for the camera, answer their FAQs, such as “what do I wear?” etc.)
- Consider adding a fillable area for:
- Your client’s contact information
- The location(s) of the shoot
- How they plan to pay you
- Any other details that are relevant for them to tell you as means to ensure you’re both on the same page
Get really awesome and have an entire care plan to keep them EXCITED about what’s ahead, so they stay engaged in working with you (i.e. I’ve used a mix of handwritten notes with a welcome gift + automated emails).
2. Using a social media scheduler
I’m a big advocate of using social media for all it’s worth. It’s excellent free promotion and if you use a scheduling tool like Sendible, you can practically put your messages on autopilot AND maintain a human feel.
Sendible is the scheduler of choice at Fearless and Framed®, because it lets us post to most of our social networks (Facebook Page, Facebook Groups, you can even schedule your Timeline Cover to update!, and Pinterest). There’s more included, but those are what we use for now.
(I don’t Tweet)
Our favorite part about Sendible is the Content Library + ability to set up queues.
You have some AMAZING photos + stories that are worth sharing more than once. I’m not talking spamming your audience, but the content (aka connection pieces) you build up are not often one & done. Recycle, reuse, and upcycle the goodness!
Instead of hard drive chaos – trying to organize your posts on your own computer – organize it right inside of the Sendible app. This let’s you grab and push out a new post (an oldie, but a goodie!) in seconds. Additionally, you can set up queues. We’re transitioning to a new calendar at the moment, but this is a peek of what we’re working on:
FF tells me that I’m talking about my Facebook Page and the words following are my post category (Follow Us, Old Blogs, Opt-In, Outside Articles, Product). GPG tells me this queue is for the Goodbye, Posing Guide FB Group. So you can see, I’m looking at a queue of old blog posts we’re sharing to the GPG group.
Pretty awesome, right?! I still leave lots of room for spontaneous, real life shares (plus, these kind of shares are great to save for Instagram Stories + Facebook Live anyway), yet you can maintain continuous website traffic…
even when you’re not at the computer.
Check out Sendible by clicking here. We use the Lite plan and it’s more than enough.
3. Hire a Virtual Assistant
Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think that one of the best things that you can do for your business is to outsource some of your work to Virtual Assistants (VA). While you’re running the photography side of your business, a VA can be doing some of your other tasks.
That social media scheduling? Your VA’s got it under control.
Want to put your latest work up on your site and maybe turn them into blog posts? Again, your VA’s got that covered.
Need to get those galleries prepped for your clients? Done for you.
If you need to send things out through a newsletter or you’re confused about how to even set one up, a Virtual Assistant can definitely help you.
You can even hire out some of your more photography based tasks, like editing and album design.
Fearless and Framed® runs with the help of a small team. Here’s how we currently run:
- Jillian creates beautiful graphics + our PDF files + makes my products pretty + designs / builds all of our opt-in, registration, and sales pages (I believe her role is vital, not just a perk, because our appearance has definitely given our audience a professional grade first impression as evidenced in our website traffic + growing email list. She knows how to make our content stand out on social media)
- Eboni takes exceptional care of the community daily from emails and supporting our customers, but she’s stepped up into basically running the whole show over here. I don’t know what I’d do without this woman!
- Luci does a lot of behind the scenes techy things. She keeps my email list clean, edits podcast episodes (coming soon), edits my course videos, sets up the learning experiences for our audience (that’s you!)
- Cecile is who maintains our website + does any site updates I need
Here’s a huge list of 101 things you can outsource to help get the ideas flowing in how you can free up your time.
4. Review your sales pages – they should be sell for you on autopilot
Your sales page (or investment page as we often call it in the photography industry) is one of the most important pages on your site.
Marie goes much more in-depth on this page in the Mastery Moment-Seekers Course, but the key is not to jump right in and talk numbers. You want them emotionally invested first in what life looks like on the other side of working with you. Paint that picture!
When it comes to prices, divide your sales page up (or use separate pages entirely) into different packages (for example, 1/2 day documentary, full day documentary) with prices listed for each. Even if you provide custom quotes, make sure that you put a starting range on your website. Having a price on your website is essential – it helps you avoid what I call the “Vogue Magazine” principle.
When you open up an issue of “Vogue,” about 95% of the items have a price listed. If you like a skirt or a pair of shoes, chances are, you can figure out how many clients you need to rock sessions for in order to buy them. BUT, there is always a select 5% of the items that say, “call to inquire for price.” The message on those items is clear: you can’t afford this item unless you’re pretty much Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Please don’t call.
When you don’t put your prices on your site, or you say “inquire for price list” you’re sending potential customers the same message – you can’t afford me. On the flip side, Marie suggests using your Client Guide Template as means to entice a potential client to opt-in to your email list. You can say something like:
“My rates begin at $500. Click here (<< make this a user generated pop up opt-in box) so I can send you my beautiful guide with full package details + a quiz to help you plan your best family photo session.”
5. Set a strict e-mail/social media check schedule
Let me know if this sounds familiar to you: You sat down to edit, Lightroom is open, you’ve worked on about five photos when bing! your mail notification pops up. You see an e-mail that you’re just going to go answer, “really quickly.”
It turns out it’s a client who’s asked you if you can move up the deadline on the delivery for their photographs. So you feel compelled to answer – no! You’ve got other clients already in the queue patiently waiting for their photos, but maybe you can get them one or two if they’re really in a pinch – and while you’re answering that e-mail, another e-mail comes in reminding you that you need to pay for your domain name for the year, so you do that, and then another e-mail comes in and…
…you get the point.
Before you know it, “really quickly” turned into three hours and you’re way behind where you thought you’d be.
I now check my e-mail at 9am and 2pm at the most. That’s NOT even daily. Some days, I boycott opening that Mail app entirely so I can focus on whatever inspired actions FEEL good, because we have to fill up our own cups first. Opening up Mail, Facebook, IG are quick ways to squash your inspired action.
If anything happens in-between, chances are that it’s not that urgent. I’ve never lost business or had a client terminate an agreement because they sent an e-mail at 10am and I got to it at 1:15pm (or a day later).
6. Use a scheduling calendar to keep track of appointments and tasks
Calendars, calendars, calendars. Seriously. One of the easiest ways to make your business run as efficiently as possible is to use a calendar to keep track of appointments + tasks.
Some like to use Google calendar, because it’s free, easy to use, and as you expand and take on VAs or other team members, you can share it with them really easily.
I like to schedule things in this order:
Self + Family non-negotiables (recurring events, such as journaling time, getting my hair done, football practice, & school prep / pick up, then also occasional events, such as my daughter’s cooking classes that we do every once in awhile, date nights with my husband, etc.)
Then, I’ll do my recurring, non-negotiable business tasks next. THIS CHANGES WITH THE SEASON. Set your intention first. So, right now, I’m in mode of creation. I’m creating new products + updating the old + finding new ways to connect with my audience (that’s you!) on a more human, personal level.
In some seasons, this could be working toward a revenue goal, a learning goal, back-office cleanup, anything.
The point is, whatever my main focus is goes on the calendar first in time blocks. What’s inside those time blocks had started with a 90 day goal that’s been broken down into weekly milestones, then daily tasks, and adjusting as I go (because snow days and sick kids tend to pop up at the most undesirable times, don’t they?).
Fridays are almost always my day to tend to my accounting, reflection, and a passion project.
Use any “free time” to catch up on tasks like checking email, scheduling social media, etc. – the things you could do in your sleep that takes the least amount of your energy. That way, you put your best energy to the things that actually drive your business + goals forward.
7. Create an opt-in and e-mail series to get people familiar with your business
One of the best ways to get you more clients and give them a clear expectation while having to do very little work? Set up an opt-in and e-mail series to get people familiar with your business. The opt-in series starts with a place on your site where people can subscribe to your list and in exchange, they get something for free (a checklist, or a mini-guidebook, etc.), followed by a few follow-up e-mails that end with you offering your services to them.
Here’s an example of how a sequence might look:
Email 1: 5 questions you should ask wedding photographers to avoid stress on your perfect day (they opt-in to your mailing list here and you send them this freebie in exchange)
Email 2: 5 (more) questions you should ask wedding photographers (sent 2 days later)
E-mail 3: My x favorite shoots in my portfolio (sent 2 days after the last e-mail, contains a link to your portfolio and pricing pages)
E-mail 4: Still looking for your wedding photographer? Let’s chat! (sent 3 days after the last e-mail, contains more information about working with you and a link to your sales page)
If you don’t like writing, you can work with a Copywriter or a Virtual Assistant who can help you to put together the text for this, as well as a designer to design the opt-ins for you.
8. Spend one week tracking your time and see where there’s room for improvement.
This was one of the things that changed my business for the better. When I started as an entrepeneur, I was so eager to make my clients happy that I worked any and all hours of the day, I would accept rush projects that left me behind on work for other clients, and switching back and forth meant that I wasn’t using my time very efficiently. I also realized that chatting it up in FB Groups was taking up a huge amount of my time.
So, most of the suggestions that you’re seeing in this post are me trying to channel my own errors to help you run a more efficient business. There’s still a few kinks here or there, but generally, my business now runs like a well-oiled machine.
Do this by hand or invest in a time tracking tool, like Toggl.
9. Implement batching into your work as much as possible.
Batching is a technique to help you stay productive by completing all tasks of a specific type together. So, for example, if you need to do pre-selection for photos, do all your pre-selections at the same time. Don’t do one client’s pre-selection today, another’s tomorrow, etc.
Even though you’re working on different clients, your brain still registers what you’re doing as being the same task, so it doesn’t have to shift its mental train tracks to something else. This saves you precious time.
You can batch work in Lightroom, e-mails, replying to people on social media, accounting, etc.
10. Have a TDL that is only three items long.
Having a “to-do list” for your day that’s only three items long increases productivity. In general, you should have one short task, one medium task, and one longer task. So, for example, your task list might look like this:
- Follow-up with client who inquired about my services on Tuesday
- Transfer photos from yesterday’s shoot onto Macbook
- Edit Caroline & Josh’s wedding photos
If you get through those three items, you can decide how you want to proceed with the rest of your day, but this provides a clear and easy jumping off point for you to be able to feel like you’ve accomplished something with your day rather than focus on what you didn’t do.
Which of these tips will you be implementing into your business? Do you have a tip to share with the community that we haven’t covered here? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Homework: You just spent 5 minutes of your time learning these tips. Don’t let that time go to waste. Take action! Pick 1 efficiency tip and implement it today.