The majority of this post might sound a little like an advertisement, but when I discover and use products that I absolutely LOVE, I can't help but talk them up.
Once you actually start having paying clients, a whole new wealth of things come up that you have to start dealing with.
- They need to sign contracts. How do you get them to the client? How do they get them back to you?
- How are you keeping track of your clients information? Email, address, phone? Services they purchased, requests they have made, time/date of consultation, shoot, follow up....?
- How are you showcasing and advertising your work? Are you easy to find on the internet? How will people know how to find you?
- How are you going to deliver your products? What works best and is most cost effective for you and your clients?
- How are you tracking your expenses?
- Will you blog? If so, How?
- How will you know if you are profitable? (<----this one is the kicker!)
If you don't get a handle on this stuff early on, it will OVERRUN you. Things will get lost, you will have papers and emails all over the place and trying to consolidate it all later will be a nightmare which you will likely put off and put off and put off....and it all just gets worse and worse!
I can NOT stress the importance about having a plan and organizing yourself and your website and client information as soon as possible. Even if you are only booking one client per month. That is actually the perfect time because you will have time to do it without having to worry about not having time for current clients.
One of the very first things I did when I decided to open my photography business was decide on a website. I was relatively familiar with websites and blogs because I wrote a blog for a few years beforehand. I also knew how time consuming and draining it can be to customize/update certain websites and blogs. I really wanted something simple and beautiful that would be relatively easy to update.
I found Squarespace and never looked back.
I loooooove Squarespace. For so many reasons. I love the clean beautiful templates. I love the ease and use of drag and drop. You can integrate SO much into a Squarespace site and not have to worry about so many of the things I dealt with using WordPress. The cost is not outrageous and for what I get, it is 100% worth every penny.
My Client Management system was not such an easy find. There are a lot of great options out there but most of them cost per month and I wasn't quite ready to commit to a monthly charge when I wasn't booking a TON of shoots. I relied on excel spreadsheets and paper copies until just recently. I decided I needed to bite the bullet. I signed up for Pixifi literally about a week and a half ago and even though the learning curve is *slightly* inclined, I am already getting the hang of it. And I am totally digging it.
I can send invoices and contracts right through the system. It keeps my calendar, expenses, income, all correspondence and it integrates with my online gallery system, ShootProof.
Speaking of ShootProof, this was another amazing find that I absolutely love. When I first started out, I was using DropBox to deliver photos and sometimes also mailing out a disc. I wasn't loving either of these systems though because my clients weren't able to choose images from their gallery themselves. They just got whatever I sent them.
When I changed my prices and packages in Jan of 2014, I needed a new system. With Shootproof I can set up galleries for my clients and they can pick and choose which images they want from their package they ordered and they can also buy prints. So much easier and the clients have the images right away instead of having to wait for a disc in the mail.
The last web tool that I want to mention is also one that I have discovered recently that has saved me literally HOURS of time. Since I have always enjoyed blogging, I wanted to keep up a blog on my photography website and include images from sessions. However, sizing and re-sizing and grouping images together in a way that looks visually pleasing on a blog is not as easy as it sounds. Enter BlogStomp.
Another one of my favorite resources.
BlogStomp has revolutionized sharing images online. Instead of exporting different size images from Lightroom (hi-res for client, low res for internet etc...) you can export your normal Hi-Res images and then drag those into Blogstomp and it will resize everything and watermark as well based on what you choose. Its SO EASY. I can export once, and then in seconds have a set of images ready for my blog, and facebook. You can also group the images into collage boards, and you know that if you have ever tried to do this in PS it takes FOREVER!!! I will be a fan of BlogStomp for as long as I post things on the internet.