When you get started in business or even when you’re a couple of years in, there is so much to do and keep track of. I’m sharing 5 business tools that I use to run my photography business.
Listen, if you’re brand new to being in business, you may be questioning if you need all these tools. And I’ll admit, if you’re just getting started, you can get by without them. However, I believe that if you want to grow faster, stay organized, and make more money, having at least some of these tools in place is important.
Business Tools: CRM – Customer Relationship Manager
Getting a CRM (customer relationship manager) has been an absolute game changer. As a photographer, you can get by without one. However, having a CRM makes client management SO. MUCH. EASIER. Honeybook can track your inquiries, manage contracts, invoices, and questionnaires. You can add automation so that it reminds you of your next step or email (or sends automatically). Things don’t have to fall through the cracks. I highly recommend Honeybook. Use my link and get 50% off your first year!
I recommend finding a CRM that fits your budget and works for you and sticking with it for at least a year.
Business Tool: Email Marketing
Next, on my list of business tools is your email marketing service. The “gurus” say that the “money is in the list”. The list they are talking about is your email list. Do you have an email list? I know that it took me a long time to finally get an email list together. Probably longer than it should have taken! And it wasn’t until Flodesk came on the scene that I finally signed up for a paid email marketing service provider.
Flodesk makes email marketing easy and beautiful. For a small business like mine, I don’t need all the heavy lifting and extreme bells and whistles that other programs have. Maybe one day… Flodesk provides you with the ability to write and send email marketing campaigns, automations for anyone who joins your list, and now they have a “Checkout” add-on that allows you to sell directly from your email.
I’ve tried a couple of other email marketing services, and I’ve found that Flodesk is the most user friendly and best for those wanting to get started with email marketing. Use my link and get 50% off!
Business Tool: Website
If there’s one website building platform that I would recommend all day, everyday, it’s Showit. I’ve been a Showit user for over ten years! I’ve seen its growth and evolution, and I can tell you it’s the best, most flexible, easy to use website builder. You don’t have to know code. You don’t have manipulate things to make it work. What you see is what you get. WYWIG.
In the past, I tried to help a friend with Squarespace (circa 2019), and I don’t know how it is now, but I hated it back then. In comparison to Showit, it was so clunky and hard to use. The “template” wasn’t actually a template…it was a map to build yourself. Again, I don’t know if Squarespace has improved in the last couple of years, but I was not a fan when I tried it out.
I’ve also tried Wix. I helped another friend build her website using Wix. Why I didn’t just start her with Showit from the beginning, I’ll never know. But at the end of 2022, I helped her with a new site on Showit because I love Showit so much. Oh and it is less expensive than Wix!
Business Tools: Gallery System
Now this one is more specific to photographer use, but I think it’s important to mention. There’s going to be an industry-specific tool(s) that you’ll want to look into to make your life easier! For photographers, it’s how to deliver your photos after a photoshoot.
For me, I’ve been using ShootProof. I like that the user interface is simple and that a non-photographer (aka the client) can figure out how to use it without any frustration.
Personally, I’ve worked with photographers who delivered my photos via Shootproof and Cloudspot. As the user, I personally preferred Shootproof. That’s one thing to bear in mind when choosing a gallery system. Try it out as the user. Is it easy to navigate and figure out what you need to do to download your photos?
Business Tools: Bookkeeping
Yes, we’re going to chat about bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is often the most overlooked task in business. Especially for creative businesses! So many creatives say they “aren’t good at math” or “not good with money”. And honestly, I think there’s a lot of fear of money. And instead of facing it head on, people just ignore it.
But in order to grow your business and “take it to the next level” you have to know where you are and what you’re working with. You have to be able to measure your progress. And a great way of doing that is with Quickbooks.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized I wasn’t doing my bookkeeping correctly. I was tracking my income and expenses, but I didn’t know I should be reconciling my accounts at the end of the month. All reconciling means is making sure that everything that the software says happened matches you bank statements. I was previously using GoDaddy Bookkeeping, which was really user friendly, but you couldn’t reconcile anything!
Does that sound terrible and tedious? That’s why you use software! Like Quickbooks. When your Quickbooks is set up properly, you just have to go in there (AT LEAST) once a month to categorize your transactions. In other words, you tell Quickbooks why you made that purchase or how you made that money. Then, once your bank statements are available, you can reconcile.
How to outsource your bookkeeping
Sound utterly overwhelming and boring? Outsource it to a bookkeeper. It’s one of those things that you need to get done properly. If you’re not going to do it, then hire a bookkeeper to do it for you. That way, you don’t have to worry about if you’re doing it correctly. Here’s who I recommend.
I don’t recommend saving all your bookkeeping for your CPA to figure out. They will not only charge you more than a bookkeeper (typically), they will also likely not do it quite correctly. CPAs are for taxes and financial planning in your business. A bookkeeper will help you keep your day-today transactions and details organized to hand over to your CPA or tax preparer.
Other options to check out are Wave and Xero. You can’t escape your bookkeeping, especially if you want to have a profitable business. You need to know your profit and loss, how much you’re spending on expenses, and what to set aside for taxes.
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