With SO many options swimming around the internet and working hard to distract you and get you to spend your hard earned money on them, it’s no surprise that we as small business owners start to stear clear of programs that take our money! BUT I am here to tell you, that as you grow your business, your expenses WILL grow too and that’s ok! So, as my business grew in the first few years, I was hesitant to spend money on programs or systems that first gave me that free 14 day trial and then charged me like crazy! I would inevitably sign up, try it for one day and then forget to dive in deeper and my trial would run out…. sound familiar? So, I am sharing my top three tools for photographers that helped SHAPE my business from the start and remain stead fast in my business to this day! These are TRIED AND TRUE!
- Client Management Software (PIXIFI!) (CMS): What is this? Before I found this, I was personally just listing clients and payments in an excel sheet and updating it as I went… this got messy really fast and since I didn’t know about a way to have my clients electronically sign a contract, I was having to print them, scan them or mail a hard copy! YIKES. WHAT A MESS! So your CMS is a place for you to keep a running list of your clients, their appointments, shoots, contracts, invoices and mine even has all your financials in there too! It does SOOOOO much more than I have just listed, including pages you can set up to sell mini-sessions to your clients with sign up appointments that will actually have them pay and sign a contract RIGHT THEN (no more waiting and getting cancellations!) and also the same thing for workshops if you offer those! It also tracks my income and you can import your expenses too! It sends out reminder emails on dates you need payments back automatically so you don’t have to remember. Pixifi also has questionnaires for your clients, templates for contracts and so much more. There are many options out there and some are more simplistic than others, but I will say that Pixifi has been the most robust, all encompassing and probably the BEST decision I made for my business since I joined it about 5 years ago.
- PHOTO MECHANIC: You probably have heard of this software but if you have not, drop everything and go get it! 😉 It’s for “culling” your images after a shoot! (Culling means the sorting of your images and flagging them to keep for editing or the ones you throw away). Because Photomechanic only pulls a PREVIEW of your image, it has no lag in load time and I PROMISE will save you HOURS of time. I can literally cull an 8 hour wedding in less than 45 min usually! (This also comes with knowing how you personally shoot and having a good recipe for that too, but more on that later!) I know it may not SOUND like a big deal, but there’s a reason almost EVERY photographer I know uses it and recommends it!
- 3. Quickbooks SELF-EMPLOYED App/Online: Basically this is the Tinder of the business world…. it’s fun and you will get a teeny little high when you are swiping right and left 😉 Hahah ok it might not be AS fun as Tinder (which I have never actually used!) but, it will make your life a ton easier! I have talked A LOT about my taxes this year with so many small business owners and this one little app changed EVERYTHING for me 2 years ago! Seriously….. it’s not like the quickbooks you are thinking of… It syncs up to your business bank account/business card (debit or credit) and it tracks ALL the transactions you make. SO, then you open up your app while sitting on a bus or waiting in a Doctors office, and you swipe left for personal transactions (that are not a part of your business write offs) and then swipe right for business transactions where you quickly choose a category! The categories line up with your Schedule C that you have to file at the end of the year (or your tax accountant files for you) and with ONE click of a button at the end of the year you can send that report to your accountant or just upload it to your own tax return if you file yourself! I have a 50% coupon for your first entire YEAR so make sure to sign up HERE for it!
So while these are my TOP THREE tools that I use, I have created a full list of basically all the programs, products (like albums, presets, prints, and softwares I use) and you an access that below to get the FULL skinny on what I use to run my business overall!